We (women) have all indulged in talk like this from time to time.
“My thighs are huge. I can’t wear these white jeans.”
“I look like I’m three months pregnant. I need to go on a diet.”
“I’ve been so bad. I ate both lunch and dinner today. I need to run twice the distance this evening to burn off the calories.”
I’m no stranger to complaining about my body. My favourite target is my tummy and it drives me nuts as to how I can never wear cropped tops or a bandage dress because I store all my fats there. From a biological standpoint, being predisposed to storing fats around my waist has no detrimental effect on my health and I should be happy that I am healthy and relatively fit. But from an asthetics standpoint, I’m pissed that I can’t wear bandage dresses like Blake Lively.
So my “fat talk” typically revolves around how I need to lose weight on my tummy and feeling frustrated because it’s not really possible to spot reduce. Even at my thinnest in university, I still sported a small paunch (You see, this is how my fat talk starts). Continue reading Stop this fat talk
Resistant starch is the new buzzword in health circles. It started with Richard Nikoley unearthing research at his blog Free The Animal and the excitement surrounding resistant starch has been picked up by the paleo world as a type of good starch that can be eaten even as part of a low-carbohydrate diet. Resistant starch’s main role is to feed the good bacteria in our gut, and subsequently, help to reduce leaky gut syndrome, improve allergies and autoimmune conditions, reduce colon cancer risk and improve blood cholesterol. Dieters also have cause for cheer. Resistant starch can aid in weight loss by increasing satiety; it is a carbohydrate that with virtually zero impact on blood glucose.
What is resistant starch?
Essentially, resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate that cannot be digested by your body, but becomes food for your gut bacteria. Normally, starch is digested in your small intestine and absorbed by your body. The remaining non-digestible portion is called resistant starch and travels to the large intestine, where it is broken down by bacteria for energy.
I gained 2 kg over Christmas and Chinese New Year from overeating. It was your typical case of holiday indulgences. I ate everything in sight and convinced myself that I was allowed to because the holidays were meant for merry making. Alas, my metabolism couldn’t keep up, given that I was no longer a teenager. I didn’t stick to paleo eating as well – bring on the pineapple tarts and Christmas puddings.
I didn’t realise I had gained any weight (because I don’t weigh myself) until my clothes starting feeling tight on me. My stomach, which was never really slim to begin with, started protruding out and I felt self-conscious about wearing fitting clothes. Even my bra was cutting into my chest.
Was running the answer?
I decided that I would run more. Since I enjoy running, it wasn’t a chore. It just took quite a lot of time because I wanted to go for long runs and I often didn’t have an hour a day to spare. This went on for about a month before I hurt my knee and couldn’t run anymore. The frustrating thing was that my weight didn’t budge at all. I didn’t understand why it was so difficult to lose 2 kg that shouldn’t be there in the first place. To me, I was 2 kg over my equilibrium weight. I wasn’t trying to be unnaturally slim.
At the same time, I signed up for the CFA exam – which is a really tough 6-hour exam covering financial topics – for my work. My spare time was further reduced. So I didn’t have time to go to the gym now and I didn’t have time to run. I decided to look for home exercise videos.
Home exercise videos
Friends recommended Beachbody’s Insanity workout by trainer Shaun T, which was touted to be the hardest workout ever put on DVD. But you get really good results, like so:
I met a couple of people recently who are on low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diets. This diet goes by other names as well, including the ketogenic diet.
Many of us have heard of low-carb diets. They have been popular in recent years and even my rice-loving mum would tell my brother not to eat so much rice if he wants to get rid of his tummy fats. So what is the difference between simple a low-carb diet and the LCHF/ketogenic diet?
People on simple low-carb diets tend to be less concerned about the other macro nutrients (protein and fats) and eat them in any proportion they want. So they may cut out the rice and bread from their meals and eat lean white chicken breast, for example.
The LCHF diet takes this idea one step forward by significantly increasing the fat percentage in one’s diet, which is supposed to force the body to use fat as energy. So instead of eating lean white chicken breast meat, the dieter eats the fattiest part of the chicken, while keeping carbs low at the same time. Jimmy Moore lost 180 pounds on this diet.
I follow several health conscious Instagram users. They post photos of their workouts. Some even have videos so you can watch them lift weights in the gym or perform CrossFit routines. And from time to time I would receive photos of food and how they were “clean eating.”
“What’s clean eating?” I wondered.
Most of the time, clean eating involved fruits, vegetables and whole grain, and seem to be really popular with girls trying to lose weight (And girls posting pictures of their well defined abs).
What makes you feel alive? What kind of diet makes your skin glow, your hair soft and satiates you? What gives you energy to run for hours on end or helps you recover more quickly after an intense workout?
I like the word “thrive.” It implies not merely existing but living with vibrancy. It suggests a life bursting with energy. I thrive on good books, storytelling, exhilarating sports and the love of people close to me.
But here I want to focus on one specific thing: our diets.
I started thinking recently that it seems that there is no one perfect diet. Sure, there is general consensus that we should eat unprocessed food, avoid sugar and chemicals. But within this general consensus, you have vegans and you also have the paleo types. Within the paleo types, there are people who advocate a low-carb, high-fat diet as carbohydrates are unnecessary for our well being. Then there are others who eschew dairy. Then there are people who say that white rice is a safe starch and others who avoid it at all cost. It can all be very confusing.
I’ve learnt that there isn’t just one way to “do” paleo. After canvassing forums and reading blogs, I’ve realised that everyone varies in their approach to this lifestyle. As Robb Wolf says, paleo is not a religion. He recommends that each person start with the basics and experiment until he finds something that is comfortable. I found a great blog post from Robb Wolf regarding the different types of paleo (don’t you think there’s something very American about his writing style?):
The Official 7 Shades of Paleo Classification System
First Shade of Paleo –The Militant Paleo (Also known as “That Guy”)
We all know at least one of these dudes or dudettes – these are the people on the forums that can find fault in every paleo diet – except their own. They hunt their own meat, gather berries, climb trees to harvest nuts, and make dinner outside over the fire pit (or at least that’s what they tell you). This is all well and good, but for most of us – their reality is not one that we can live in. I liken this to the raw vegans or better yet, the fruititarians – a little over the top, and slightly insane. **Disclaimer** If this you I apologize – please refer to the “That Guy” post linked above and know that we love you, but we just can’t live like you. Have mercy on us. And PS – the internet is SO NOT PALEO!!
When I first started my paleo lifestyle, I felt liberated. I could eat whatever I want (within the paleo limits) and know that it’s nutritious for my body. So I started gorging on pork belly, which I love, and it wasn’t enough to have just one portion. I needed to eat two or three portions in one seating because they were too delicious. I also ate all the cheese and nuts I wanted and polished off a few ounces of cheese every day.
Sure, it was liberating. But at the same time, I realised I was becoming obsessed with food and thinking constantly about my next meal. I’ve never been like that. Since I was a child, I was always “eating to live” rather than “living to eat.” Food to me was just a way of getting energy into my body. I was never interested in travelling all over Singapore for the best roti prata or trying out a different restaurant each week. I once told my friends, “All food tastes the same to me!”
As well, it was physically uncomfortable to have my belly stuffed all the time. My stomach also looked bloated from too much food. In addition, I was adding unnecessary calories to my diet by eating things that I didn’t like (but was told it was good for me), such as heavy cream and butter in my coffee (a la bulletproof coffee). What happens is that I ended up eating things that do not satiate me because they were things I didn’t like.
It all started six months ago when I stumbled on Mark’s Daily Apple. This website talked about the Primal Blueprint, a set of principles to live by that brings us back to our paleolithic roots (thus, the name of this blog – Paleorina). It talked about the right way to eat, the right way to move and the right way to sleep. It was about making sure no processed food entered our bodies and about how grains and so-called healthy cereals were actually making us sick. It was about eating what our ancestors ate instead of the modern convenience food that contained preservatives and strange chemicals we cannot even pronounce. In return, your health and energy would soar.
I was enthralled.
I was already eating quite well in the paleo sense. I consumed very little rice. I hated pasta and pizza and stayed off biscuits ( I really really love bread – although that’s for another post). And before this I was already an aspiring hippie. Yes I was a city girl but I wanted to live my life in a way that shunned blatant consumerism. The boldest thing I tried was to wean myself off shampoo and relied on baking soda to wash my hair for one month (I didn’t stink). But to have everything articulated and put together in a sensible philosophy turned a light bulb on in my head. It clarified why we should live as simply as possible, be it in terms of eating or the products we use.
I read Robb Wolf’s book The Paleo Solution, followed by Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation book. For a more complete list of good paleo books, check out Food Education on the header.
Since then, I have started on our paleo journey here in Singapore. It’s not easy, this being the land of yummy roti prata and char kway teow. I hope that by documenting our adventures in this blog, I would be able to inspire and help other paleo-poreans. I also love to hear from you and your tips and tricks for improving your health and fitness.