How sustainable is a low calorie diet?

This morning I woke up feeling anxious cause I feel less rested. This occurred ever since I had started exercising in the morning and evening. To add on, it has been about 1 week since I last consulted a doctor and I wanted to weigh myself. Shockingly despite me sticking strictly to my 1200 calories a day and exercising 5x a week, I had started gaining weight. Albeit, it was 1 kg but still detrimental to ruin my day.  Throughout my journey to the office, I kept googling on what could be reason since I am sure I had not exceeded my calories intake to have gained weight. 

It was anger and disappointment that drives me to dig deeper only to found nothing concrete except that it is normal to fluctuate and it could be water weight. I know losing weight is not easy but it was supposed to be direct and simple as ultimately, it comes down to calories entering and leaving the body.  Being in an energy deficit – taking in lesser calories than you expend shouldn’t be such a hassle and painful experience.

MAP: low calorie foods

My peers have been telling me to fall in love with the journey and the more I perceive eating healthy as punishment, it is more likely I will gain back the weight lost and yo-yoed massively as a result.

On the brink of helplessness, I indulged on research papers and articles to understand if the calorie deficit would work best for me. As mentioned earlier, I  have been taught that losing weight is a matter of simple math. This idea of ‘a calorie in and a calorie out’ when it comes to weight loss is outdated. The truth is that even careful calorie calculations don’t always yield constant results as the way the body burns calories depends on a number of factors, including the type of food, metabolism rate and even the type of organisms living in the gut. One can eat the exact same number of calories as someone else, yet have very different outcomes when it comes to their weight.

Based on the Harvard research, there are three main factors that affect how your body processes calories.

1. Your gut microbiome. Researchers have found that people who are naturally thin have different types of organisms living inside their gut than those who are overweight. It’s been said that some types of organisms in the gut are able to break down and use more calories from certain foods than others.

2. Your metabolism. Each body has a different resting metabolic rate which measures the number of calories the body uses just running its everyday functions. The more active you are, the higher your metabolism rate is which then in turn became very challenging to regain some weight because of “metabolic adaptation”.

3. The type of food you eat. Your food choices may also influence your calorie intake and not just because of their specific calorie content. One 2019 study published in Cell Metabolism found that eating processed foods seems to spur people to eat more calories compared with eating unprocessed foods. In the study, 20 people were offered meals with the same number of calories, as well as similar amounts of sugar, sodium, fat, fiber, and micronutrients. But there was one key difference: one group was given unprocessed foods, and the other got ultra-processed options. People who ate the ultra-processed food gained weight.

If counting calories is not a dependable way to lose weight, what should we be doing to actually lose the extra pounds? 

Focus on diet quality 

When planning your meals, try to cut down on or eliminate processed foods, which can drive your body to consume more. Instead, focus on choosing unprocessed foods, including lean meats, whole grains, and lots of fruits and vegetables in their natural form.

Exercise regularly (as well as vigorously). 

Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. While any movement is better than nothing, work toward achieving a more vigorous level of exercise when you can.

Sleep soundly. 

Poor sleep quality can lead to weight gain, as can a sleep schedule that is out of sync with the body’s natural daily pattern, known as circadian rhythm. A lack of sleep affects your weight in much the same way as hormonal shifts, making you want to eat more. So, addressing sleep problems with your doctor should be a priority.

Reduce your stress levels

 Stress can lead to weight gain. Controlling stress can help you monitor your weight gain.

Consult a professional

As with other medical conditions, many people will need help from a doctor. Successful weight loss may require more than just diet and exercise. Don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it.

With that all being said, let’s stay motivated and be more smart in doing physical exercises.

My Take on Bariatric Surgery

Honestly, it was not easy to decide on seeking help to lose weight as I had done it once. Back in 2015, I successfully lost 25kg within a span of 6 months but taking age into consideration where I was 21 then, my metabolism rate should be higher. Furthermore, I was fresh out of university graduation and have yet to find a job. Thus with the different variables of my current situation, I had decided to join the Weight Management Clinic (WMC) at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. 

As I am currently in a desk-bound job, it is hard to stay active during the day. On days where the work load tends to be mentally stressful, it is undeniable that food becomes my coping strategy and I will stay away from doing anything physically exhausting as well. To sum up, I began realising that it was hard for me to stand up when seated on the floor and that triggered me to get started on my fitness journey. 

To kick off, I began watching 600-lbs life on Viu because I needed to get inspired thinking that it was similar to the Biggest Loser show. It dawned upon me halfway through the episode that it documents individuals that desperately requires the surgery to stay fit or do normal daily activities without issue, Seeing that, I honestly was unsure whether I fit the category because some of the individuals are unable to shower and requires their partner to do a sponge bath, cannot walk and rely heavily on wheelchair or even getting up from the bed. 

Hence when I was advised by the doctor at the consultation in the Polyclinic, my bmi of 46 is quite concerning as well. Even if my weight was not 600 lbs, I was considered morbidly obese and needed attention. She had also advised that even if I was not undergoing the gastric bypass surgery, the WMC process will aid in transforming me with guidance from health experts to adopt a healthier lifestyle.   

So how does surgery help me in adopting a healthier lifestyle?

The doctor advised me not to see the surgery as a miracle pill as it requires lots of effort to maintain or stay on track because the side effects can be quite drastic and there are failed outcomes of the surgery. Hearing that, I knew that I will need to do my research on the various types of surgery and the reviews of side effects that I should expect before considering the surgery, in the case where I am unable to lose weight via diets and exercise. 

With limited reviews or information on how the WMC runs, I am concerned about getting pre- and post-op guidance from the doctor. For many people who proceed with weight loss surgery, life after treatment can be full of surprises — here are a few things highlighted online that your doctor may forget to mention.

1. Post-Surgery Depression

Despite a constant link between obesity and depression, for most of the patients who undergo bariatric surgery, they do experience an overall improvement in their well-being after surgery. On the other hand, depression can worsen for some based on a research by Yale University which reported that 13 percent of patients experienced an increase in eating disorder behavior, self-esteem, and social functioning – six to 12 months after gastric bypass surgery.

2. Excess skin removed by costly corrective surgery

In the case where the post-surgery weight loss is advanced and not constant to a point where your body and skin are unable to adjust, many are left with such an excess skin that it requires cosmetic surgery to fix. And unless it’s deemed medically necessary (such as a surplus of droopy skin causing a rash or infection), your insurance company will not be footing the bill. 

3. Constant trip to the toilet 

About 85 percent of patients who undergo Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RNYGB) surgery will experience extreme bouts of diarrhea known as dumping syndrome at some point post-surgery. This is the result of poor food choices that includes refined sugars, fried foods, and some fats or dairy. Prolonged poor choices will lead to mild-to-severe symptoms that also include sweating, flushing, lightheadedness, nausea, cramping. Additionally, loose stools, constipation, and embarrassing farts are other common bowel-related complaints after surgery.

4. Gym is your lifestyle change

Doctors will counsel patients on a proper post-surgery diet to help promote weight-loss success after surgery and recommends that once a patient is cleared by his or her doctor to introduce physical activity into a daily routine, gradually working up to 60 minutes of exercise six days per week is ideal for promoting post-surgery weight loss success. In other words, this surgery isn’t a quick fix.

5. Farewell Soda, Hello Water

Carbonated drinks are banned because they induce air into your belly, creating gas that can put pressure on your stomach, causing it to expand unnecessarily. Drink more water, as dehydration is the most common reason for a patient to be back to hospital. 

6. The risks of surgery are low compared with doing nothing at all.

Though weight-loss surgery has a reputation for being risky, the procedures have improved over the years and are a lot safer now. Taking into account that most post surgery patients report that the chances of having a major complication declined to  about 4.3 percent, the risks of staying obese — heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and even death – are far more dangerous.

7. Most patients highly recommended it

Though success is a long-term process to lose weight and transform to a healthier version of themselves, most people choose to commit to the same program and surgery again, if they were to go back in time. The idea of feeling better and more active in general, along with lesser medications can greatly improve the quality of life for the patients and with that, I was hooked on the idea of undergoing the same surgery. 

But as mentioned on several forums and interaction with one of the patients, I do understand not everyone going through the WMC will need the weight loss surgery. Hence, I will be researching online to check on which type of surgery will be best suited for me and understand in-depth before I go to the hospital.

There are 6 types of weight loss surgery (also called “bariatric surgery”) available. Each type has advantages and disadvantages, and I will be blogging about my opinion on each procedure.

Here is a very brief description of how each procedure will help you lose weight:

Introducing Bariatric Surgery - G & L Surgical
  1. Gastric Sleeve – you will feel less hungry generally & full sooner while eating
  2. Gastric Bypass – you will feel full sooner while eating & absorb fewer minerals
  3. Duodenal Switch – you feel less hungry generally & full sooner while eating, absorb fewer calories and minerals
  4. LAP-BAND® – you will feel full sooner while eating
  5. Gastric Balloon – you will temporarily feel full sooner while eating (balloon removed after 6 months)
  6. AspireAssist – drain a portion of stomach contents after eating and absorb fewer calories

Making an overnight oats for breakfast

Despite what bloggers have mentioned, I find it hard to enjoy the texture of oats. Thus, I was captivated by the simple recipe on a Tiktok by Fuad Alhakim. He recommended making creamy savoury overnight oats made by mixing 1 scoop of oats, 2 scoops of whey and a tablespoon of peanut butter soaked either in milk or water. Thinking that it will be delicious and not time consuming, I decided to do it yesterday evening and I was excited to wake up to breakfast the next morning.

Sadly, it was disappointing as it was too sweet and yet, not filling enough to last me even three hours. The gravy-like texture kept me associating the taste as mud and with that in my mind, it is not easy to think or taste otherwise. The only thing that consoles me is that oats are nutritious. 

I understand that most health experts have been saying that oats are high in protein and fiber,which helps to keep you full for hours. With that in mind, I might try again and top the bowl with Almond Milk which is an excellent source of calcium and vitamins D and E. Personally, I prefer bland food unless the craving for sugar spiked. I also have yoghurt in the fridge and I might add it to make it more nutritious. 

Let’s hope that I find a more nutritious and delicious recipe to make your overnight oats especially tasty. 

The Best Fitness Buys

 One of the things I struggled in my fitness journey is making my environment conducive for my workout. I have been finding inspiration on Pinterest, searching “at home gyms” but mostly it is not feasible as the arrangements involve wide space and let’s face it, it is unlikely to be feasible. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the biggest benefit of a home gym lies in saving money.

Furthermore, it is very convenient as you may skip the hassle of booking a time slot for the gym and the social distance. Essentially online virtual workouts are truly more accessible from home. You may pause between routines to get a beverage, attend to a child or even sign a delivery. Schedule is never an issue. 

Working out from home allows you to wear whatever (without eyes ogling at you) or breathing out without feeling the need to be mindful of my surroundings.  The space is yours and there is no fear about bending over and feeling exposed in your yoga class. There’s no body shaming or humiliation in the privacy of your own space.

Below are some of the best fitness buys that you may incorporate into your home to kickstart your new healthier lifestyle .

Steel dumbbell with colorful vinyl exterior coating for a strong, non-slip grip and are great for women who will like to intensify workouts such as walking, jogging, aerobics, and more.

Each kettlebell is encased with color-coded vinyl to prevent corrosion, increase durability, reduce noise, protect flooring and enhance appearance. The steel handle of the kettlebell weights provides a comfortable and secure grip for high reps, making chalk unnecessary for both men and women. Flat bottom enables upright storage, perfect for kettlebell workouts such as renegade rows, handstands, mounted pistol squats and other exercises consisting of swings, deadlifts, squats, get-ups and many more.

The material of a mat will determine the texture, stickiness, sponginess, and eco-friendliness. Most yoga mats are made of either plastic or rubber. BEAUTY OVO eco friendly yoga mat moisturizes and features higher elasticity, better abrasion and tear resistance. It lasts a long time and can endure many yoga practices.

The jump rope is smooth and fast as the ball bearing system avoids the twisting, winding or bending. It ensures stable and relaxed rotation, as the skipping rope can bear heavy load which can improve your cardio endurance, stamina and speed, while improving the muscle tension of your whole body. 

Maximum Comfort: the gym skipping rope constructed with lightweight ergonomic handles coated with 6 inch soft EVA memory foam grips for extra comfort and strong grip, so that you can take full advantage for doing exercise. The length is adjustable quickly according to your height. Suitable for adults and children.

These high-quality resistance bands are made of thickened & strengthened fabric with an anti-slip rubber layer. They’re elastic and durable with strong resistance. Perfect 3 Levels Resistance: Each color of the 3 resistance bands standing for different resistance levels: light, medium, and heavy. Different strengths will provide you with more flexibility and more options for your exercise routine, Donkey Kicks, Monster Walk, etc. These bands exercise your glutes, thighs, legs, abs, and shape your perfect curvy butt.

I am loving my red Huawei Band 4 Pro because it is very light and the battery lasts long. My needs for a fitness tracker is simply for me to monitor my daily steps and my heart rate when exercising. There are plenty of fitness watches/trackers but I like the thin aesthetic and do not hurt my wrist when using it prolonged. On top of it all, it is affordable and the band can be removed easily to charge it using a charger head instead of having a separate charger like IOS or Samsung smart watches. The lifespan of the battery is still good despite me using it for almost five years and it’s waterproof as well!

Portable Sit Up Bar

It has strong suction with 2 Suction Cups which enables users to workout on their abdominal easily.  The two-row support rods provide greater heel force and double efficiency. High density soft foam-covered handle provides comfortable padding which regulates traction on the back of the feet during the workout and protects the ankle from injuries.   

Indoor Stationary Cycling Bike 

It will come delivered with the main body of the exercise bike, all tools and instructions are in the package. Online instruction video can help you complete the assembly within 30 minutes. 

The LCD monitor on exercise bikes tracks your time, speed, distance, calories burned and odometer. The gift Ipad holder allows you to enjoy exercising and music at the same time, making it easier to keep exercising. The water bottle holder allows you to stay hydrated. Transport wheels help you easily move this cycle machine.

While setting up a home gym has high costs upfront, there is the potential to save money from your monthly gym membership and transport costs in the long run. In fact, gym memberships may run from $175 monthly (Fitness First for 18-month membership) which will eventually burn a hole in your pocket over time. I am in the midst of carving out space in the room for the stationary cycling bike before the purchase. After all, with the presence of the equipment in the house, you are bound to work out as and when you are free at home. 

If you have other useful exercise equipment for beginners, do comment below!

Potential Singapore-Australia Travel Bubble

It’s been said that Singapore and Australia would be the first countries to implement “Covid-19 Vaccine Passports” for movement within a travel bubble among Singaporeans and Australian.

As of today, Australians are already permitted to transit via Singapore without quarantine as long they complied with Singapore’s safety regulations.

With the recent Covid-19 vaccination rolling out globally, this marks the beginning of acceptance of these vaccine passports by countries across the world and reopening the borders. 

IATA is currently working with nations to come up with safe travel regulations and among these protocols is IATA’s Travel Pass, a mobile health verification app that electronically verify the traveller’s vaccination history and Covid-19 test results for cross-border security checks.

Previously, it attempted to set up something similar with Hong Kong but eventually put on hold as Covid-19 cases surged. In spite of the fact that this is not the first time Singapore has attempted a travel bubble, the Singapore-Australia proposal might just work due to a few factors. 

Low Rates of Infection

Both countries have low rates of local infection and their efforts in maintaining social distancing is commendable.  With 27 deaths out of the more than 57,000 people infected with Covid-19 since the pandemic started, Singapore has one of the lowest case fatality rates around the globe. Singapore has been praised for its thorough contact tracing and testing methods by the World Health Organization (WHO). The country has one of the highest per-capita rates of Covid-19 testing around the world, with more than 15 percent of the population having undergone a swab test. Australia on the other hand, has carried out more than 230,000 tests across the country. Though there are now more than 4500 confirmed cases of the virus in Australia, only 19 people died from the illness and 50 are in intensive care. With the death rate being less than 1 percent of confirmed cases. Australia remains steadfast in flattening the curve of the virus, with strict social distancing measures helping to lower the number of new cases.

Opening up their economy to each other is a necessity

Singapore has a large Australian expat population that has been shut out  for over a year. Furthermore, international travel for education, business and tourism contributed A$45 billion (S$46.8 billion) a year to the Australian economy prior Covid-19 and the decrease in international students had cost an estimated 17,300 jobs and A$1.8 billion in revenue.  For Singapore, an opening up would boost not just tourism, but also strengthen its position as an Asian financial centre and the premier aviation hub in the region. Australia is also the top education destination for Singaporean students and a leading tourism spot for Singaporeans in general.

In the event that the travel bubble is successful, this would be viewed as an example for more travel bubbles with other countries such as China, Japan and New Zealand. Taking into account how the nations should implement a system to mutually recognize the vaccine passports and the compatibility country to country . 

The rate of vaccination of the citizens

Almost 9 percent of Singapore’s population of 5.7 million has been vaccinated. At the current rate of 25,000 to 30,000 vaccinations a day, Singapore should have vaccinated some 80 per cent of the resident population by the end of September – enough to achieve herd immunity. Meanwhile the roll-out has been somewhat slower in Australia, only about 0.5 per cent have had the jabs.

Overcoming the hesitations

It is great news that Covid-19 cases  overall has been declining. Governments have been determined in minimizing the cases and handling the infections internally. Citizens have been accepting safety measures such as the wearing of masks and social distancing and these efforts as a whole led up to gradually reopening the border.  It is vital to remain vigilant as there are potential deal breaker which is the emergence of new strains of viruses in various parts of the world and whether the existing vaccines can deal with them.

Normality is returning, albeit slowly. There are still many variables to consider but after 2020, globally people are open to reopening the border and travelling.

Resting after 10 days of consequent working out

 I woke up last Saturday, feeling unshackled as I knew that I am skipping my morning exercise following my weekly schedule. On a couple of occasions, I walked towards my dumbbells and grip it tight but I had to resist because I knew how essential a rest day is. I wanted to learn more about low impact cardio for me to get started this upcoming week but mostly I prefer being stationary and lifting weights over jumping and big movements. 

After reviewing countless TikToks and pinterest posts, I decided that I will be doing alternate low-impact cardio and strength training exercises. If you think low impact cardio is less effective than high-intensity cardio, allow me to enlighten your mind. Some examples of  regular low impact cardio are pilates, walking, yoga, and swimming. These are great for your physique and overall health! 

1. Swimming

Swimming is my favourite activity as it doesn’t impose any weight on the joints. It enables me to be flexible and this activity is both cardio and strength training all in one! No equipment necessary!

2. Walking

This is the easiest activity and also safe for women to get started with.  Simply ask a friend or put on your Airpods and listen to your favourite Spotify playlist and the session will be a great low impact workout because it strengthens cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness, balance, endurance, and helps reduce overall body fat. 

3. Kickboxing

Kickboxing helps because there are a lot of moments involved. It is undeniable that the routine would almost always shuffle side to side with both feet on the ground and utilize the upper body as the cardio side of the workout. Rest assured that the kicks and punches are sure to make you sweat without putting pressure on the joints! 

4. Cycling

A leisure bicycle ride will burn calories, working out every limb of your body, and not that exhausting as compared to jogging or running. However, ensure that the bicycle is a good fit for you and always stay safe on the trail/road. On the last cycling session I went, I vomited because I had a huge meal prior and that is something you have to take note of to prevent yourself from having the same experience.  

5. Dancing

Zumba is a great way to get moving without the pain! Find a channel on youtube with a style that suits you and subscribe. If you’re a music or dancing lover, this is definitely the low impact workout for you!

6.  Star Jump / Jump-roping

If your knees are sturdier, doing star jump or skipping helps develop leg strength and cardiovascular endurance. Star jumps strengthen your deltoids, the large muscles at the top curve of your shoulders, and the trapezius muscles between your shoulders and neck. They also work all your major leg muscles, including hamstrings, quadriceps, abductors, adductors and calves.

I know adding the name low impact in front of anything makes it seem slower or even boring, however you will be proven wrong when you try it out! It is exciting about low impact cardio and encourages everyone to incorporate low impact exercises into your weekly fitness routines!

Overrice Vs Halal Guys

Great news for Singaporeans who have yet to try the Halal Guys abroad as NY-inspired rice bowls, Overrice has just opened up at Arab Street. Though I have yet to have the opportunity to try Halal Guys as of yet, I do sincerely love the food served by Overrice. On the other hand, I had two individuals who had tasted both and had different opinions on the food served by the Singapore’s version of Halal Guys.

Thirty years ago, The Halal Guys started as a food cart on the streets at the corner of 53rd and 6th Ave in New York City. It struck them as they see many Muslim cab drivers struggling to find a place to buy halal food and fast forward to 2021, the Halal Guys is now available in more than 90 locations within the United States, Canada, Indonesia, South Korea and the United Kingdom. They are known for its platter which consists of rice, portion of meat, some pita and its popular red and white sauce.  Furthermore, it is affordable and filling and eventually travellers around the world are joining the queue as well. 

While you can’t travel overseas to get your hands on them for now, there is a similar concept right here in Singapore.

Singapore’s version of Halal Guys, Overrice

Influenced by their personal experience and taste of the New York’s Halal Guys, a group of Singaporeans decided to open Overrice. And now, you don’t even need to travel far to get a similar taste of their red and white sauce over their fragrant rice. Located along the bustling Arab Street, Overrice’s menu resembled the popular dishes from The Halal Guys. It has been reviewed that the beef is slow-cooked to retain all its flavour, the chicken comes grilled, falafel balls are fried till golden and crispy. Despite it all, the white creamy sauce and the red sauce drizzled over the bowl taste different from what you probably tasted in Halal Guys.  

You could have the ingredients stuffed in a pita pocket (from $6.90) however I highly recommend their signature bowls instead. It consists of yellow basmati rice, fresh pita, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, the secret sauces and topped with a choice of meat (chicken – $9.90, falafel balls – $9.90 or beef $10.90). 

My eldest sister felt that though the food was delicious, the sauce was pretty lacking and the portion was smaller than what was served to her in Korea. Personally, I truly enjoyed every spoonful and wondered how a real bowl from Halal Guys might taste like. On the other hand, my peer who came back from New York preferred Overrice and found that the sauce is tweaked to the local taste buds and the beef is much much tender than what she has tasted. To add on, she finds it hassling to be queuing for at least 1 hour and prefers to pick up and make the advance order online. 

To know more, you may find them here! 

Overrice – 48 Arab Street, Singapore 199745

Operating hours:

Opens on Tues-Sunday

12pm – 3.30pm (Lunch)

6pm – 9.30pm (Dinner)

Weight Gain Amid Covid-19

Returning to the workplace after working from home can be challenging when you are aware of the sudden weight gained. Other than the absence of commuting, I believe that my tremendous weight gain was due to personal and work stress. I was too discouraged, to even try doing minimal exercise or change my eating habit since I can feel my body getting heavier during the circuit breaker period. Now that we are in phase 3, it dawned upon me that I am not alone and many of my peers or people in general are sharing the same concern virtually.

Primarily, working from home for me requires a tweak to my regular workday. I was waking up later for work and ending work later as well. Working from home empowered me to be more complacent or lazy as my siblings would be serving my lunch and dinner on my work table instead of me going to the pantry and heating the food up. This blurry line of work/home environment can be an indulgence and with enablers entertaining my every cravings impulse, the more food was delivered to my doorstep like Grabfood, Foodpanda, Deliveroo.

It has been said that the stress hormone in the brain and body, Cortisol increases as a result of pressure. With the ongoing pandemic, the cortisol level hiked and when prolonged, this will lead to fatigue, weight gain, sleep disturbance and burnt out. 

To deal with the feeling of anxiety, we ought to have better coping strategies instead of stress-eating which was my favourite cure-it-all for any tense situation.  There were weekly bubble teas on Monday, donuts as reward for surviving the mid-week and ice cream on the weekend. Needless to say, it was a short term happiness to survive my growing unhappiness. It proceeded for around five months before I threw in the towel since I realized I needed to change to save myself. Though I was reluctant to leave, I had to be happy.

Indeed, even now, I am still pondering on the off chance that I was better at dealing with my stress, will I be able to strive or persevere through the uncertain times. I took the resignation personally as a defeat despite knowing that it was a rational decision. The reasons to stay amid this pandemic outweigh the negative aspect but my heart was simply dreading each morning when I switched on my desktop and two screens. All things considered, I realized it was out of line for me to continue any further. 

Thus, I am now trying to celebrate what I have achieved since I last left the organization and share what I have learned about surviving stressful moments at work .

Being consistent with a daily schedule 

Keeping a day by day schedule is essential as following routine helps to regulate your emotions and the energy level of the day. Spare some time in the morning to write down the tasks that you need to get accomplished so that you ensure that the day was spent mindfully even if the task is to take a 2 hour nap.

Drawing a clear line between work, family and personal life 

Having work-life boundaries are more important now especially when you are facing the same walls 24/7. Make your own  separation barrier between activities that are work-related and those that are not. Rearrange your house to have a dedicated work space away from distractions, rest area, and household responsibilities. The distance created by outlining the space is important to ensure productivity on a workday and allow you to exit the work mode when needed.  


Without proper lines between work and personal activity, we tend to be complacent and dawdle especially at the comfort of the home. It may be tough but to instill motivation and productivity while working from home takes effort but it is attainable. Perhaps reflecting on what could distract you may help to tackle the issue at hand and makes it easier to be motivated and productive. It can be challenging and time consuming but is attainable to be consistent. The more that one plans the day with a routine, the better off. You may start off limiting the amount of time that you are leisurely spending instead of being productive. Setting time for downtime is fine but getting in the habit of being sedentary will slow your mind, body, and energy. 

Owning up to your excuses when not completing work 

As a working adult, do hold yourself accountable by limiting the excuses to get work done. Try not to work from your bed or bedroom which is associated to relax and sleep. As comfortable as it may seem, a productive day requires being slightly uncomfortable. 

Interacts with your colleagues 

As part of work, your awesome daily interactions with your work buddies is dearly missed during the pandemic. Engaging with them online via zoom meetings can help for team morale as everyone is still adjusting social interaction and coping with feelings of loneliness. It is also recommended for you to initiate conversations about things not related to work, as done when actually in the office.

Proper Nutrition and Hydration 

Regulating emotions is not sufficient to combat stress-eating, hence it is important to understand the risk of poor eating habits. It is recommended to eat a variety of foods daily to meet the requirement of necessary vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, proteins and antioxidants. In the case where you were not subconsciously aware about healthy eating prior to covid-19, simply just ensure to drink ample amount of water – at least 2 litres per day and limit the sugar, unhealthy fat and salt to significantly lower your risk of being overweight, and obese. To add on, decrease the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and oily food.

 Staying active

 While the stay at home order has restricted our movements, it is important for people of all ages and abilities to be as active as possible. If you are deskbound, avoid sitting or slouching all the time. Try to move around for 30 minutes by walking to the fridge to get water or stretch as this will help to circulate blood to the body. Adding more vigorous free exercises to your routine is also a great way to remain active at home.

In summary, focusing on good mental health, food habits and maintaining some level of physical activity, especially in the current times, will go a long way in warding off speedy weight gain.

Is online workout the new norm?

Coronavirus has led to a significant shift in the fitness industry as it changes how, when and where regular gym-goers exercise. Most gym and fitness coaches are going digital as people turn to online workouts after gym closures following the introduction of the circuit breaker in April 2019.

As Singapore is on its phase-3 reopening, online virtual classes remain popular as many still struggle in getting a slot for their favourite physical classes. 


Other than the limited slots and the hassle of making reservations and the social distancing, essentially online virtual workouts are truly more convenient from home. The workout videos are incredibly accessible and you may pause between routines to get a beverage, attend to a child or even sign a delivery. Schedule is never an issue. Neither is parking. Or weather as you can do them whenever you want. You only need a small area and shower is just few steps away. 

Wide selection of  personal trainers 

The great thing about Youtube is that you may look for any keywords related to the exercise that you might want to do and they will show you a list of  the channels and the personal trainers, you may likewise indicate the duration that you would like to work out for.

Personally, I was uncertain on whether I should focus primarily on cardio or weight lifting. After reading up on it, needless to say, to be achieving my ideal weight in an accelerated timeline, I got to mix up both cardio and strength training in my weekly routine and Youtube empowers me to find channels that provide what I am seeking for. 

The personal trainer might be actually far away from you however on the web, they are right there demonstrating how to do the exercise. The plus point is that you may pause the video to take a break without guilt, especially when you are unable to catch up to their speed. 

Zero cost

This is good for the pockets as it does not cost you a penny to work out but this involves discipline and willpower whereas paying monthly for a gym will make some clients accountable to make their money worth. To get started, all you need is a good yoga mat, dumbbells for weight training, elastic band and water bottle. 


Working out from home allows you to wear whatever (without eyes ogling at you) or breathing out without feeling the need to be mindful of my surroundings.  The space is yours and there is no fear about bending over and feeling exposed in your yoga class. There’s no body shaming or humiliation in the privacy of your own space.

So essentially why do people want to attend the physical class?

The personal touch

It’s all about individual needs. There are individuals who actually prefer physical interaction with a trainer in real-time, so that they may enquire in person about the specific tip on their routine. 

With actual physical class, there is someone with fitness training directing them on safe and effective ways to workout, which prevent sprains, muscle soreness and ache while a video workout is a one-way traffic.  

Lacking motivation

Motivation or willpower may be infinite for some but hectic schedules may prevent individuals from sparing time for a workout session online . Lethargy sets in when you don’t have a schedule or valid reason keeping you disciplined especially when it comes to fitness.

Many have said that going to a gym and following a routine has actually motivated them to get better and healthier while keeping them on their feet. At home, there’s always the choice of procrastinating and eventually skipping a workout.

Finding my courage in travelling alone

I had constantly been berated on my decision to travel by myself because “danger” may be involved. It dawned upon me that people simply want reassurance that it is indeed safe to travel by myself. Back in 2018, I realized that there were only two ways to go about it, either I provide more reassurance about my safety to them or I could simply convince them that their assumptions about the destination were incorrect and that it is safe in general. 

I recalled my dad and me having a small chat about his relative staying in Singapore while his children are abroad. He mentioned that them being far away from each other, they as a family are not updated day to day basis on each other’s well-being.  Hearing that, I just amicably shared that it will be a short trip to Mexico and joked that even if I am in Singapore, he is still not keen on what I do on a daily basis. He smiled over my sass and simply chided that I should not be bringing home a foreigner as my love interest. With that concluded, none of my older siblings mentioned and barred me from travelling because they knew that I would have gone on my solo trip eventually. 

I have been planning my major solo vacation trip in 2022 since then because I truly enjoy travelling by myself, being self-reliant and disregarding what people may perceive of me. Throughout my 27 years of my life, I have had a constant travelling partner (my sisters) and we have gone on numerous trips but I did truly enjoy making decisions of my own and exploring new destinations as well. It is definitely not because I dislike them (but of course, the little hiccups trigger me), but primarily because I don’t want to wait around for someone to go to places with me or to negotiate what the meal of the day would be. Mainly the freedom to do what I want, when I want it and where I want it to be is the reasoning why I choose to travel alone.

This motivation factor will never be enough to conquer the butterflies in the stomach as you waved goodbye through the departure hall. It will always be daunting and forces me to step out of my comfort zone to ensure that I am always aware of my belongings and my surroundings, but it is certainly worth it. You will discover the subconscious reactions that you expressed in an awkward situation when meeting new people, nerve-wracking situations when you are waiting for the luggages and more. I learned more about myself through my trip alone through reflection as the break from my safety net allows me to evaluate where I am in life, spiritually and socially. 

One of the things I learned about myself is that I can actually sleep 14 hours in a sitting without going to the toilet throughout the plane! 

But what can I do by myself? 

There’s a common concern by my female peers which was travelling on your own may be really boring without a companion. In actuality, with an imaginative mind, it’s quite the opposite.

Jumping on a solo trip away alone, it is a time for me to reconnect with myself and discover what I enjoy and hate. How I spend my time defines myself as a person, whether I am seeking outdoor activities like kayaking, sipping coffee at a corner of a town or by the beach. It’s all about getting to know more about who I am as an individual.

I have the choice of going with the flow or following to a strict itinerary. I have total control of my hours and activity and I may freely switch up plans without seeking approval.  

Lastly, the reason why I chose to travel alone is simply because I am sure that with the solo travel experience, it will be the  bar for any tough challenges that I will overcome. The confidence boost and the sense of achievement from travelling alone, I have been using the same mantra for any setbacks that I faced.

“How can you be crushed by a failure? You even went to Mexico by yourself to prove others wrong and came back in one piece. Try again!” 

With that same boost of morale, I am driven to be fitter and plan an itinerary for travel to happen at the later end of the year.  

Your profound sense of independence and hunger for new experiences will keep you, tracking for travel deals, leaving you willing to get out of your country once more!