I have a confession to make. I love eating and am kind of lazy. I don’t like exercise … much.

Thanks to my parents, I’ve never had overweight problems. But I did feel sluggish and guilty after a long period of being inactive.

Then I decided to change the situation and make moderate exercise part of my daily routine.

Because I’m the least disciplined person I know, it wasn’t an easy journey but I applied 3 steps to make it happen:

Daily dose of motivation.

Has it ever happened to you? You joined a gym with the good intention to go at least 4 or 5 times a week for the whole year. You did so for about 2 weeks. Then it becomes once a week. 2 monthly later, you stopped going altogether. I was one of those people.

Sustaining long lasting change often feels impossible because our will power is limited, when will power fails, we fall back to our old habits.

So I started to motivate myself everyday. I remind myself the pleasure of how to I felt after exercising; the pain of not exercising enough. And I’m strong enough to control my actions.

Make it easier by taking small steps everyday.

People say the minimum level of exercise is 30 minutes a day for at least 3 times a week. It doesn’t work for me.

3 days a week gave me too much flexibility…

Monday, too much work. Tuesday rained. Wednesday going out dinner with friends. Thursday shopping night. Friday, oh well the whole week has gone, let’s just start fresh from next week.

The solution for me is to do it every day right after I get up. Nothing over the top, just some pushups and yoga for 30 minutes.

At first, I got distracted by email messages and forgot about stretching completely. So I switched my mobile phone to flight mode every night and slept in my yoga top for a few days. I don’t need to do that any more but I never forget to stretch in the morning. Morning exercise has become one of my habits.

Enjoy it!

The more you do it, the better you’ll be come. The better you become the more you enjoy doing it.  Repeating an action for a long period of time, it becomes one of your habit.

So there you have it. My 3 steps of creating long lasting habits.

When you really want something, go for it . Make it happen.

Because you can.

Stick to a routine

The common saying is that it takes 21 days to form a habit. To me, it definitely takes much longer than that.

Consciously developing habits is new to me and I’m finding my ways slowly.

Since the beginning of 2015, I’ve been making baby steps to build routines in my everyday life. So far I’ve not slept in until 10am like I used to do. I’ve been doing 10 full pushups and 1 minutes plank pose almost every morning. I’ve been reading at least one new book each month.

Each month I’ll have a list of my personal habits goals and review it by the end of the month then make arrangement for next month’s goal accordingly.

This is the 3.5th month of year 2015 and I’ve finally come up with a morning routine that I would like to stick to.

1. Get up at 7:30 am ( with the exception on the days that I’m really ill)

2. Put yoga clothes on and brush teeth

3. Have a glass of warm water. Prepare another glass of warm water with lemon juice.

4. Mentally prepare the To Do list of the day

5. Morning stretch routine:

Sun solute. Head, eyes and shoulder roll

Pushups

Warrior, twist, half pigeon, plough, crow and wheel pose

Plank pose

Ad hoc

6. Listen to TV news. Not that the news are really news. It’s because English is my second language, news readers normally speak clear, standard English for me to improve my accent. Beside, if people chat about the news during the day, at least I know what they are talking about.

7. Have smoothie for breakfast

8. Read aloud for at least 30 minutes. If I have time, do it for one hour. And take note of the words that I didn’t know to build up vocabulary.

I’m hoping by repeating these actions day after day, I will have these habits imprinted in my system. If this morning routine is interrupted by job or travel requirements, be mentally prepared and come back to the routine as soon as I’m able to.

Stick to a routine

 

** 2 more things are now added to the list:

– Come up with 3 points that I’m grateful for/feeling happy about as soon as I get up.

– Followed by that, ask this question: What can I do today to make me a better person than yesterday?

 

motivational quote

This year I’m in a process of learning how to set up systems to achieve my goals.

One of my goals of 2015 is to be healthy and feeling good as a result of it.

I strongly dislike running & I hate my voice. Why?

I’ll be out of breath after a few steps of running. My voice is very weak with a narrow range and sounding squeaky when I talk normally.

My usual tactic to deal with things I don’t like is to avoid them by all means. But life is full of challenges and obstacles, how can we achieve anything if we just run away from our fears and discomfort? So I decided to get used to being a little uncomfortable by pushing myself doing things that I would normally avoid.

My lung capacity is very small naturally. I think that caused me to be running out of air quickly during running or speech.

How come I didn’t think of this any earlier? Lung capacity can be improved by excising right?

So I’m starting to do cardio exercise to improve my lung capacity. For 21 days (from 27 Jan to 16th of Feb), I’ll jump rope – the basic format 1000 jumps all up, every night before shower. I dislike jumping rope just as much as running. The reason I choose jumping rope is because it’s a relatively easy to access and private.  There’s a quiet corner I know that I can jump rope without people staring.

This is the second challenge I’ve set for me in 2015 after my 20 Day Plank and Push up challenge. It’s much harder but I am capable of doing it. Let’s see if I’ll be less out of breath after 21 days of jumping rope every day.

motivational quote

So I need to get my healthy food shopping list ready for 2014. If “You are what you eat” is true, I’ll be white rice and soy sauce. I’ve been living with my mum for the past year. And mum’s cooking consists of white rice, white flour and soy sauce in everything for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

This year I’m going to “eat the rainbow”, not just black soy sauce and white rice. I’ll eat a broad mix of different colored fruit and vegetables to scoop up a good mix of antioxidants and other nutrients. The whole year round. This is for sure going to be a challenge as I can easily win “the most inconsistent person” title. Sticking to something all the time is just not in my blood naturally. But I’ll put this mission out there to make eating healthy food my habit for 2014, hopefully for life too.

Followed by my 16 healthy snack ideas, here’s my

Healthy Food Shopping List As A Start:

1. Salmon among other oily fish such as tuna, blue eye travealla, sardines, blue mackerel.

Healthy Food Shopping List salmonI’ll try to eat oily fish at least twice a week.

Why: keep heart healthy. Omega – 3s can help prevent the development of heart disease.

How: Grill salmon for dinner, raw sashimi.

2. Peaches

Why: Good for strengthening the skin, and fiber for improving bowel and heart health. Peaches also act as antioxidants which may help to prevent cancer.

How: Snack or salad meal

3. Yoghurt

Healthy Food Shopping List yoghurt

Why: Maintaining and building ( I know it’s a bit to late to build now:)) bone strength. Yoghurt is a fantastic source of protein and calcium. It can also help keeping healthy tummy bacteria.

How: Breakfast, snack or dessert.

4. Tomatoes

Healthy Food Shopping List tomatoes

Why: prevention of heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers.

How: snack on a punnet of cherry tomatoes, salad, stir fry with eggs, soup.

5. Blueberries, apples and prunes

Healthy Food Shopping List blueberriesWhy: Rich in antioxidant and delicious!

How: Snack, salad, eat with yoghurt for breakfast.

6. Citrus fruit

Healthy Food Shopping List citrus fruit

Why: A good source of vitamin C, B9, fiber and a range of protective antioxidants.

How: Snack or salad.

7. Cucumber:

Healthy Food Shopping List cumcumbers

Why: A beautifying food. High water content. They help to flush out toxins.

How: snack, salad

8. Celery

Healthy Food Shopping List celery

 

Why: Low-carbohydrate, protein. Helps to reduce high blood pressure.  Celery does not lose any nutritional value when cooked. Drinking celery juice throughout the day helps to curb your cravings for rich and sweet foods.

How: Celery juice, stir fry, salad.

9. Spinach:

Healthy Food Shopping List English Spinach

Why: High nutritional value and rich in antioxidants.

How: Steam, stir fry or soup.

10. Broccoli

Healthy Food Shopping List broccoli

Why: High levels of fiber and is a rich source of vitamin C.

How: Steam, stir fry.

Alright, I won’t loose my shopping list this time – it’s on the internet. What new habit do you want to have in year 2014?

It’s become a necessity for me to search for healthy snack ideas lately. I have a huge appetite and eat all the time.

At the moment, I eat big portions for main meals. For main meals we ate lots of meat and seafood but hardly any vegetables. There are chocolate, ice-cream and chips in stock at home so we can snack on anytime (mainly after dinner). There are fruits too but I rarely eat them.

10 kgs have piled on me in the last 2 years due to my free style eating habit and minimum exercise. Though not overweight, I don’t feel good. I feel sleepy after big meals and I can see my double chin, floppy arms and layers of juicy fat around my waist and tummy. Sorry, what waist? I don’t have one.

Oh how I miss feeling good.

Thankfully, it’s not too late to change my eating habit yet.

So here’s the plan. I need to increase fruit and vegetable intake and snack in between meals. Forget about snack bars and fancy dips. I’m just going to snack on raw everything so that I know what I’m eating exactly. But don’t worry. Raw meat is not on the snack menu. I’m trying to pick 16 tasty foods for my healthy snack ideas. All of them are packed with nutrients and easily available from my local super market.



Apple

One apple a day, doctors away. Is that true? Well, we have test the theory:). They are delicious and full of health benefits. So it’s a yes.healthy snack idears -apple

 

Banana

Low in fat and cholesterol, bananas are yummy and sweet. Yes.

bananas - Healthy Snack Ideas

 

Kiwi Fruit

High in Vitamin C and a great source of fiber. Great for digestive health. Yes!

kiwi - Healthy Snack Ideas

Peach

Historians believe peaches originated in China where they were first mentioned in writings dating back to the 10th century. No wonder peaches are regarded the symbol of longevity in China. They are sweet and full of nutrients with few calories and no fat. It’s a yes!

peaches -Healthy Snack Ideas

 

 

 

Grape fruit

Grape fruit has a bitty taste that initially put me off (Yeah, I only liked sweet and fatty stuff). But after reading more about grape fruits, I started to eat more of it and  like the taste. So, grape fruit  helps to change skin complexion and increase the body’s metabolic rate. The pulp and fiber of grapefruits provide aids for bowel movements and reduce chances of colon cancer. What’s not to love about grape fruit? It’s a big yes!

grape fruit - Healthy Snack Ideas

Berries

Yes, technically they are a group of foods. That are blue berries, raspberries, strawberries, black berries, cranberries… We all know they are naturally high in antioxidant. And mostly, they are so tasty and refreshing! I love all types of berries. So it’s definitely a yes:).

Healthy Snack Ideas blueberry

Water melon

Love water melon. Sweet and juicy, water melon has high nutritive value. It’s also so fun to eat. I recently heard that 1 water melon is the equivalent of 6 bowls of rice because of the high sugar content. But it only possess natural sugar not the harmful type. Besides, who will snack a whole water melon! So it is still a yes.

Healthy Snack Ideas watermelon

Orange

One of the citrus fruits, oranges provide a healthy dose of Vitamin C, which is vital for the proper function of a healthy immune system. Juicy and delicious, it’s an easy yes.

Healthy Snack Ideas oragnes

Rock melon

A wonderful source of dietary fiber, vitamin C and antioxidant,  rock melon has also been linked to regulation heart beat. Most people love its taste too. Yes please.

Healthy Snack Ideas rock melon

Papaya

From memory, I consumed one and half Papayas so far in my life. Obviously it’s far from enough. According to research, papaya is also rich in fiber and low in  calories. The antioxidants in papaya help in controlling premature ageing. Who would say no? It’s a yes for me.

Healthy Snack Ideas papaya

Pears

Pears are an extraordinary source of dietary fiber when the skin is eaten along with the flesh. Pears are also an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin E, both powerful antioxidants and essential nutrients. Yes!

pears Healthy Snack Ideas

Nuts

Once again, I’m talking about a group of foods. Nuts are high in health-promoting fats that help regulate blood cholesterol. Nuts also a good source of dietary fiber and provide a wide range of essential nutrients. Just need to make sure I stick to the raw nuts from now on.

nuts - Healthy Snack Ideas

Seeds

Seeds are not just bird’s food. They come in different colors and shapes and mostly are are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Note to self: stick to raw seeds to snack.

seeds

Celery

Celery doesn’t sound exciting and it has a particular taste that  a  lot people don’t like. But celery is an excellent source of vitamin C and fiber. Do you know it’s also excellent in preventing bad breath?

Munching on celery is helpful in scrubbing bacteria from the back of the tongue and cleaning the teeth. Oh yes!

celery - Healthy Snack Ideas

Cucumber

Cucumber doesn’t sound like an exciting snack idea either. cucumber is a little blend for some people’s liking. But I must add it due to its health benefits. Cucumber keeps you hydrated and suppliers skin friendly minerals. I like the fresh taste of it and will snack on it more often. So yes! 

Carrots

Carrots are known to be good for the overall health and specially organs like the skin, eyes, digestive system.  Do you know carrots were first grown as medicine, not food? I love carrot juice but will start to snack on raw carrots too. Yes!

carrots - Healthy Snack Ideas

 

So there concludes my list of 16 Top Foods For Healthy Snack Ideas.

You reckon this will be enough for me to snack on for now? I’ll try not to finish everything in one go! Promise:).

healthy snack ideas

What about this snack idea for guests? Cute, tasty and healthy. I’m sure you’ll be a popular host:).



Healthy Snack Ideas

8 Tips For Feeling More Awake In The Morning

 Found this Picture of 8 tips for feeling more AWAKE in the morning. It can be a little hard to read so I’m copying the texts here:

1. Drink freshly squeezed fruit juice ( not in a carton, real fruit you cut up before juicing). Live enzymes = more energy.

 

The first hot Yoga class I took was Bikram Yoga in Sydney Brookvale Studio, year 2001. Back then that was the only Yoga studio offers Bikram Yoga in Sydney.  Back then not many people practice Yoga in Sydney at all.

I went to do Bikram Yoga not because I wanted to be cool or anything, it was because I had no idea what we were up to. It happened that I had some hip friends at the time and they dragged me to the yoga class one day. I still remember that day. There was a big empty room for people to put bags and shoes with big filtered water bottles. Next to it was this hot Yoga room with floor to ceiling mirrors at the front. I stayed at the back row, trying to follow the teacher’s verbal instruction and experienced students in front of me with great difficulty. But really, most of the time I was doing the “dead body pose” (pose number 13), the only one pose I could master from the very beginning.

Bikram Yoga in Sydney 26 bikram yoga postures

What Is Bikram Yoga?

Bikram Yoga is a unique form of Yoga that it is practiced in a room heated to 37- 40 degrees. It comprises a series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises designed to scientifically warm and stretch muscles, ligaments and tendons, in the order in which they should be stretched. Each Yoga pose except post 25, Spine – Twisting Pose is repeated twice during the practice. One class lasts 90 minutes. You are supposed to hold one post for 1 minute. It is the repetition of Bikram’s yoga series that allows beginners to develop concentration and body mind awareness.

Why So Hot?

A lot people can’t stand the heat. But I didn’t mind it at all. There are a few reasons as to why it is beneficial to practice it in a hot room:

  • Muscles, fascia and connective tissue become more elastic allowing for greater flexibility with less chance of injury
  • Promotes sweating which assists the detoxification process using the body’s largest eliminating organ – the skin
  • Heart rate becomes elevated which improves the cardiovascular system (heart and lungs)
  • Improves strength because proteins can be utilised more effectively
  • Warmer temperatures produce a fluid like stretch that allows for greater range of motion in the joints

I was hooked to Yoga for life because of Bikram Yoga.

In front of Cologne Cathedral, if only I could fly up to the top

In front of Cologne Cathedral, if only I could fly up to the top

Dresden Germany

Dresden Germany

Bikram Yoga In Sydney

Back in early 2000 before 2006, Bikram Yoga in Sydney was HOT. I mean, not only the temperature, Bikram was THE Yoga style of the era. Lots more Bikram studio opened since the one in Brookvale. Each one followed the tradition to have a introductory 10 days pass. For $20 you can practice as much as you can in the first 10 days. Every now and then, there was a new Bikram Yoga studio open. My friends and I almost tried each one of them in Sydney. Bikram offers Yoga training program in LA, USA, a lot of early students took it and became Yoga teachers later on. From what I can see, Bikram Yoga in Sydney is becoming less and less popular nowadays. People are still practising Bikram Yoga. It’s just that less and less people are keen on it. Over the years a lot yoga studios changed owners. Lots of yoga studio changed yoga-teaching style to other forms of yoga. Yes, Bikram Yoga a beginner’s Yoga class and the 26 poses never change. If you think Bikram Yoga is hard, try hot Power Yoga:).

There are still quite a few good Yoga studios that practice Bikram Yoga in Sydney.  It’s better to find one close to your home or work so that you don’t have to travel too far. If the idea of sweating for 90 minutes doesn’t scare you, Bikram yoga could be the beginning of your yoga journey.

Well, that’s the theory.

Looks like I need to eat more Oysters.

Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 12.14.08 PM

“…Exhale … and come back to a downward facing dog..” the room was hot and packed with people in Lululemon sports clothing. Our yoga teacher walked among rows of yoga mats, adjusting our postures gently here and there.  “Now bend your knees, look forward and jump on top of your mat without a sound.”

It might be the last yoga class before we fly out. I’m going to miss it while I travel.

I have an on and off relationship with Yoga for more than 10 Years. No matter how long did I drop it off in between, I always managed to come back for more. The thing is, my body craves for yoga after a while without it, just like a hungry man longing for a satisfying meal.

The Yoga class I’m taking involves a serious amount of sweat and hard work, not the picturesque sitting on a rock cross-legged, breathing-in-and-out-slowly type. Normally people comment something like “Oh you do meditation” after they hear the term “yoga”. A little bored with explaining Yoga ≠ Meditation all the time, nowadays I just go with the flow, imagining I often meditate in a beautiful ancient temple or on the white sand beach with nobody else around.

My first Power Yoga class scared me off a little. The class was small and it turned out I was the only one in the room who couldn’t do a handstand, not even against the wall. The second class wasn’t any better; I was the only one who couldn’t do crow pose. As I raised my hand awkwardly asking how to set up for this pose, the teacher glanced at me, rolled his eyes and turned away as if I didn’t exist. Feeling totally humiliated, I disappeared from yoga studio for a long time. Of course, I had many more power yoga classes after that and over the years I’ve finally learned to just concentrate on my own practice and not to be discouraged too easily.

Looking back, I wish I didn’t find so many excuses not to practice on a more regular basis for all these years like It is too hard for me. Or I don’t have time, I’m too busy with work.  Or most often, I don’t feel like doing it … The fact is no matter how much I struggle during a yoga class, it always makes me feel incredibly good afterward. I’m more balanced, more flexible and become a little stronger. It’s not about what fancy poses I can do. It’s about overcoming my laziness, my fear. Of being hurt. Of embarrassment. Of failing.

Keep doing it. It’s like anything we want to achieve in life: You’ll have to start doing, keep practicing and get better at it. There’s no shortcut.