Thank you Nepal for the ‘fitspiration’

It's Take Your Dogto Work Day (1)

Paragliding in Pokhara, Nepal

While Lakila was taking her gentle stride in the midst of Chitwan National Park, my son and I, along with my sister and an elderly frail American tourist (by the way, after Nepal he is heading to Bhutan. We’re so jealous!), were sitting in each corner of the wooden square frame  which was securely fastened at the back of Lakila, the 40 year old elephant.

Behind us was another elephant, who was big as Lakila and who seemed to be hungry. Along the way, the elephant would stop and gently pull leaves from the trees then put it in her mouth through her trunk.

While we were observing closely this rare moment, my son, out of nowhere, uttered something.

‘Mommy, you should be an elephant if you turn into an animal’.

A bit insulted, I was not sure what he meant exactly. He might be referring about my weight or something else. Why elephant of all animals, right? Why this gigantic creature?

‘Hmm… why did you say that?’, I asked.

‘Because you will be happy.’ He answered smiling. ‘You can eat as many plants as you wish because elephants are vegan.’

And oh, mommy’s heart melted right away! Though weird, I found it very thoughtful coming from a six year old child. It also gives me a tinge of confirmation that the idea of veganism already sank in in his young mind. 

Food was great in Nepal. Well, at least for the places we visited like Chitwan, Kathmandu and Phokara. Vegan option is no trouble at all.

However, the best take away (aside from the tomato-peanut sauce, a condiment served with plain paratha, recipe that I tried to steal from this one restaurant in Kathmandu)  from my trip to Nepal is to kindle my interest in trekking. The aha moment was unveiled in the form of short video that was shown in the International Mountain Museum in Phokara. One part of video was about the effect of global warming in the Himalayas region especially the famous peak, Mount Everest.

Nah, I was not inspired to reach the peak of Mount Everest. That will be like death sentence to me. I will be happy and fine drinking Everest beer instead. Lol!

The inspiration, which is stirred in me, is the aspiration to trek – to trek the Annapurna Base Camp – and to see the great Himalayas range. And of course, there’s this desire too to get an ‘instagrammable’ photo with the backdrop of snowy-white mantled Himalayas range and the cotton-candy-like glaciers.

Oh, I can’t wait for this moment to come. I’m so excited!

But of course, I have to touch base with reality and here’s the fact. I am not one of those hardcore physically fit peeps! I just started my physical fitness journey, by this I mean walking in the treadmill for 30 minutes, mid last year.

And here I am, announcing my ambitious desire to conquer Annapurna Base Camp (ABC).

From where I am now, in terms of physical fitness, to where my goal is, trekking the ABC, it means that I must be silly to dream this big. Damn, I don’t have even stamina to jog for three minutes in the treadmill.

But I want to trek ABC. I really do. This implies walking continuously for nine to ten days.  That requires a lot of physical preparation from my side. I mean, tons of preparation to be physically ready for that trek.

Nepal, thank you for the  fitspiration! For sure it will require hard work and discipline but I am ready to take the challenge. I may or may not make it but I don’t want to give up without trying!

For sure, I will see you, Annapurna Base Camp! And I promised you, it will be in this lifetime!

 

One year into weight loss journey and healthy living

FinalIt has been a year now since I started my healthy living journey.

I’m proud and thankful to achieve my current weight of 67kg (sometimes 66kg) through plant based eating with no cooking oil and less processed food. Of course, it was not an easy journey. It has been a tough ride and up to now I am still navigating my way.

There’s always a learning curve. There’s always pitfalls. I stumbled, not once, but many times. I cave in sometimes to my cravings. There were days I was too lazy to lace my shoes and exercise.

But life goes on. Another day comes, another new opportunity to make again the right choice – clean eating and exercising.

Yesterday I have been browsing my photos in my phone. I was amazed of how far I have come from compared a year ago. It’s from 83kg (or even more but I stopped weighing myself ashamed to be confronted of the real number in the weighing scale) to now, 67kg.

Most of my clothes have been repaired, made it smaller to fit better. Those old clothes, which I hid because it’s too tight to wear, are now back in my closets and I have been using it regularly.  Those t-shirts that used to look like a ‘fit blouse’ to me are now back to its original purpose, a t-shirt.

I used to hate selfies too because it would take me time to find the right angle to project the slimmer version of me. But now, I began loving selfies.

Now my only concern is just to find the right angle that looks best for me.  I don’t whine anymore after the photos are taken (unlike before I used to curse why I was looking fat in the photo. I guess, I was in denial that indeed I was obese.) Now I am okay with it.

I realized also yesterday that I am okay now with my body. I am not keen of achieving anymore the 58kg, my earlier goal. I think I would look very skinny at this weight which I don’t like.

I am happy with my weight now and all I wish is to maintain it. My priority now is to tone my body and increase my level of physical activity.

I am not yet sure how. I haven’t figured out the details yet. 

All I know is that healthy living is a choice, a constant choice that I make everyday. 

Cheers to healthy living! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off the wagon..

www.sports-bra-is-life.com (1)Ohh, what a shame!

The last post I wrote here is a month back. Apparently I am not so good at keeping up with this blog.

But hey, you can head to FB page for regular updates. 

Well, it has not been very good couple of weeks for me. I fell of the wagon; didn’t stick to 100% vegan oil-free and processed-free-food lifestyle. Whew!

I was not so motivated too to keep up my daily walking exercise. I had so many excuses that I cave in. 

And this makes me down. 

I don’t know what triggered this emotion, this lack of motivation and simply a mere fact of laziness. 

So now, I am slowly bouncing back, trying to be back to the groove, and I know that I am not at my most best physical condition at the moment. I miss that oomph that sets in after I do my meditation and morning exercise. 

It is funny how I notice now my body’s performance. I can sense when I am not at my level best and generally this happens when I don’t stick to clean eating. 

Unlike before (when I was not into healthy living yet), I was clueless. All I would think was to gulp enough coffee to get me through the day. 

I think this is life. This is what we call journey that is oftentimes confronted with its own ups and downs. Everyday is like combating my own demons, which hopefully in the long run, I can get to work with (these demons) harmoniously.

For now, I have to pin down this demon that drags me off the wagon of healthy living. 

 

 

 

 

Getting Rid of Yoga Misconceptions

My yoga fascination started in my college days. You know, the pre-internet era where the source of information was limited only to magazines, encyclopedias, libraries and, on rare occasions, access to experts.

Aside from the financial limitations, I simply didn’t know where to learn more about yoga. Anyway, like any kind of out-of-reach-dreams, I shrugged off my fascination and continued with my life. It was even shove to the furthest chamber, almost buried into oblivion, in my mind as I succumbed to unhealthy living and stressful work life for decades.

My fascination was again rekindled last year when my journey towards healthy lifestyle began.

Why I prefer yoga as form of exercise?

My sister, the sporty-type-person, abhors yoga. It’s a boring physical activity for her. Unlike me, the slow-mo (slow-motion) type of person (lol!), I think it’s the best form of exercise. I can do it anywhere, anytime.

There’s no need of special equipment or location. Well, of course, yoga mat is preferable.

Last year during my vacation back home in Philippines, I intended to keep the morning walking exercise routine. As I live in the province, it is quite common for households to have dogs. Not only to keep the dogs as pets but also to guard the house at nighttime and on days when no one is at home. So the first few days of morning exercise didn’t end up well. The dogs kept barking, fiercely barking, like we’re thieves. Sometimes street dogs chased us too. 

It was not really a good idea to walk around (at least in my neighborhood) but I found a great place for exercise. You can read more about it here.

At least with yoga, you can do your workout at home, in the hotel room, in the garden or beach. Wherever you can find solace, yoga is possible.

This was my main motivation to learn yoga.

But this all changed when I attended last month the Happiness Program of Art of Living. I wrote about it here

The program included breathing exercise, yoga and meditation. I got hooked with it. The following week, I enrolled in Sri Sri Yoga Level 1 which was just 5 days class for two hours each day. 

The new addiction

Do you like body massage? I found yoga similar to body massage except that the massage is done directly to your muscles.

The stretches, even it was difficult, were so soothing that I felt rejuvenated after every class. Unfortunately, the class is only for five days and there’s no available schedule until end of March. Well, I found one and it is the same program (Sri Sri Yoga Class Level 1) which will take place in end of February. Yehey!!

The real challenge actually is not the yoga but the time. Those five days of yoga class meant that I didn’t have quality time with my son after office work. But still, I want to learn under the instructor’s supervision because I am not so good at following instructions through YouTube. I know, there’s tons of  available yoga instructional videos in YouTube but they cannot see what I am doing, right? They cannot correct if I am stretching my back in the right manner.

That’s why, though it will cost me money, I still want to learn from a certified instructor. I am hoping to find like 2-3 times a week of yoga class so at least I don’t feel so guilty spending a lot of ‘me’ time.

Realizations

It is funny how Facebook and Instagram deceive us, right? For years I thought that yoga was only for slender chicks. You know, those women who have been blessed with skinny genes.

I always had this notion that yoga was not feasible for chubby person like me. How could I possibly do all those bending, twisting and like-somersaulting poses. It is impressive when you see someone who does it gracefully.  Unfortunately, I can hardly even reach my toes when bending.

So imagine my surprise on the first day of Happiness Program. The persons who taught us yoga were not slim but they could bend gracefully or stretch their arms and touch their toes. I was even more amazed with my yoga instructor for the 5 days class. No way she’s slim but she did all the Asanas pose with grace, control and effortless. While my legs and arms were trembling as we did the ‘superman’ pose, the instructor lifted her legs and arms high (way higher than mine) with ease.

Of course, how can you an instructor if you cannot perform all these yoga poses, right? But, it also gives me hope that you know, one doesn’t need to be slim or slender to do yoga.

Another thing I realized is the clothing. When you watch all these yogis in Youtube or read them in magazine, they are all geared up in tight pants and tank top. It is showing off your flesh and all your body contours, right?

Well, all the yoga instructors I met so far didn’t wore all these outfit. They wore loose, kind-of-light-weight cotton, comfy pants and tops.

And it makes sense too to wear this type of yoga clothes. Maybe I am conservative but it helps the students to focus on the yoga lessons. It is very comfy and it hides your private parts when doing all these yoga poses.

The yoga, which was taught to us, was holistic. It didn’t emphasize yoga as form of exercise only (though I admit that this was my main intention earlier).  There’s the breathing, meditation, its philosophy, mental, health and so on.

And I like this kind of yoga actually.

Last week my friend and I attended another yoga class from a freelance yoga instructor.  It was tough and very rigid despite of informing the instructor that we are beginners. He calls it as ‘physical yoga’. 

Indeed it was. 

We did one session only then we cancelled. It was not the kind of yoga we’re looking for. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letting go, for now…

August 29, 20194 in the afternoonThe Baxter ResidenceI was anxious yesterday. At the office, I had been thinking what could I eat; how to prepare my food. It felt like I was breaking up with an old affair, letting go of someone or something that holds dearly in my heart.

I had been delaying it for days but eventually I need to give it up.

My Black&Decker, which is responsible for most of my meals and snacks, has not been working properly. It is kind of combo kitchen tool which comes with blender, food processor, mincer and grinder.

This was my first ever purchase of food processor. So I really didn’t have anything in mind when I shopped around except for the price point. But as I began using more heavily the machine, its weaknesses started to unfold.

First, the blender. It cracked when I tried to make a soup. This was my fault though because I poured a hot food in there. Now I can no longer use it. The liquid spills and it is not covered with the warranty.

Second, the food processor. It seems I always have a fight when using this equipment. It has to be fitted properly so it operates. Anyway, I somehow found the trick along the way. But I would say, it is not the most convenient one to use.

Recently, the machine – it’s based, the engine  where you attached the blender pitcher – can be used only on pulse setting. You cannot switch it to other functions, like 1 and 2.

Now I understand why they (those who have been on raw and plant based lifestyle vloggers) oftentimes advocate for heavy duty blender. It is making sense now to me.

For me, this is my main kitchen tool for smoothies, for baking, for soups, for grinding my coffee beans, for making oatmeal flour, pasta sauces and so on. This machine helps me whiz up new recipes or spiced up a boring dish.

So sending this machine back to where it was purchased for repair makes me emotional. The repair will take time. Maybe two weeks or a month and I don’t have a spare unit. Unfortunately buying a new one is not an option at the moment.  

By the way, this machine was recently bought, around 5-6 months back. If it will be fixed, still I am not optimistic that it will last long considering its quality.

Perhaps it is about time that I save up for a good heavy duty kitchen tool, right? I know, it can really be expensive but at some point, I think I have to buy one if I wish to continue with my current lifestyle. I considered it as a need.

Do you have any recommendations for durable kitchen tool? Let me know.

Interrupted daily routine

I expressed this earlier in my Facebook.

My routine last week was interrupted. Lack of sleep. Unhealthy late snacks. Minimal morning exercise. 

Luckily my company offers a little bit of flexibility in our working hours. I requested to work from 9am to 4pm only instead of the usual 8am to 6pm office hours. In this way, I can still squeeze some time with my son after his school and have at least 30 minutes to do my morning walking exercise. 

I attended last week a course called ‘Happiness Program’ facilitated by Art of Living. Before you judge me (lol!), I am not kind of a lost soul seeking happiness in this chaotic world. I admit, the course title can be misleading. 

My friend and I were after the yoga class actually though the Happiness Program offered breathing exercise, meditation and yoga. Yup, it’s 3-in-1 combo package. 

To our surprise, it was a fantastic course! We were so glad that we had taken the course though my initial expectation about yoga was not met. I had high expectations solely focus on yoga though they taught it in the course, it was not the main thing. It was just a part of it. 

It was a six days training from 7pm to 10pm and on the last day (Friday) it was even longer, from 9.30am to 3pm. 

We were also asked not to eat after 3.30pm. So my friend and I ended up eating unhealthy-carbs-high snacks after the sessions.  

As much as I like the course, I struggled because of the timings. I felt sleepy the next day. I am not used to sleeping late anymore. My exercise routine in the morning was not that productive because of lack sleep. Then this late night snacks kept me feeling bloated and heavy. 

What I noticed, when my routine is interrupted, it takes me time to bounce back specially if I am breaking my eating routine. For instance, my friends and I decide to have dinner somewhere else where the food is not totally 100% plant based. 

I indulge and enjoy the sumptuous dinner. Unfortunately, I tend to skip the morning exercise the following day because of feeling heavy and bloated. As a result, I am not that eager too to eat healthy breakfast instead I opt for coffee and bread. Then for sure, I am not into cleaning eating for the rest of the day. 

Well, somehow now I am back to the groove. Actually just today. 

I am still trying to find my ways in my morning routine. Generally, I am up between 4.30am to 4.45am to prepare for my morning exercise at 5.15am. 

With the Happiness Program, we have some homework to do which includes meditation, breathing exercise and yoga everyday. I need privacy to do this and the only time I can secure my privacy is in the morning when everybody is still asleep. 

This implies waking up earlier than usual. I have been doing the homework for the last three days. I am still running out of time. I guess, the ideal wake-up time is 3.30am so I have enough time before the morning exercise. Let’s see tomorrow.

Whew, such life! 

Anyway, we don’t surrender, right?  This is the lifestyle we chose and we have to stick to it if we want to stay healthy and fit. 

So what about you? How are you progressing with your healthy and fitness journey?

 

What I eat for lunch?

Yesterday morning my colleague and I happened to be in the same elevator on our way to the office. 

We have known each other since 2014, when he joined our company, but we are not really friends. Aside from work related conversations, oftentimes it is just a simple ‘hi and hello’ in the office. 

So imagine my surprise when he complimented me about my physique; that I really trimmed down. 

I thanked him for his compliments and told him that it was a choice. Then I started my litany about my food choices, my exercise, and so on. 

This was not the first actually. What’s even surprising is these guys are conservative ones. They normally keep distance with women and conversations with them are just around general topics, nothing personal.  

I am guessing that their desire to know the secrets behind my weight loss is somehow desperate to the extent that they break their norms. Or maybe my weight loss achievement gives them a glimpse of hope. Like me, when I saw my college best friend lost a significant weight, I oftentimes phoned her and asked how she did it. Though I didn’t change my lifestyle soon despite of several conversations with her, it gave me hope and motivation knowing that someone closed to me had successfully made it. 

Anyway, one of the commonly asked questions is what I usually eat.

After eating oatmeal for breakfast, steamed veggies and fish for lunch and light dinner meal for four months, I began to hate my food. I was so fed up eating the same meal every day. Just the sight of my lunch would make me throw up. 

Slowly I began to crave my old food, the unhealthy ones. You know, the fried and dairy-rich meals. 

At that time, I lost already around 8kg and I had no intentions of gaining back the weight I worked so hard to lose. I knew that if I didn’t find remedy to my problem, then I would eventually fall off from the wagon. 

I needed variations in my day to day lunch. That’s the main solution to my problem. 

And so I started researching. YouTube was a big help. 

Then I found vegan oil-free soups. It opened a whole new world for me. 

And then, there’s the cheese. Oh so yummy cheese! The first one I tried was the vegan Parmesan cheese. Then the cheesy dipping sauce.

I discovered also baking. With zero knowledge, I tried my hand with my first ever oil-free and dairy-free bread.  I was so happy when it turned out good! Good means the food is edible to others who are not on a diet like me. lol! 

Here’s some photos of my lunch meals. 

1

I love pasta topped with dairy-rich sauce. When I discovered this vegan and oil-free mac and cheese, I was ecstatic.  I have this now as my ‘to-go’ food when cravings strike.

3

This is just steamed veggies topped with my leftover cheese sauce from the mac and cheese recipe.

Mac and Cheese

This really looks like a real burger patty, right?  This one is made of chickpeas.

Mac and Cheese (1)

This reminds me of my fave fried rice 🙂

Mac and Cheese

My all time favorite soup! This is made of spinach (lots and lots of it!), green peas and coconut milk. Yum!