Now online at The Naturalyst: paleo condiments and cooking essentials

I’ve lamented before that it’s never easy to eat paleo in Singapore. Every time I go to the supermarket, I have to read the ingredients label of everything I buy. Recently I was looking for miso soup paste and I had to study the back of every packet to find one that didn’t use MSG.

There is now a new online shop in town called The Naturalyst catering to us fussy paleo eaters. Run by a lady named Regina Soh who shares the same frustrations as me about the difficulties of healthy eating, she has stocked her online shop with essential paleo ingredients such as Red Boat fish sauce, which contains just two ingredients: fresh caught wild black anchovies and sea salt. Popular paleo blogger Nom Nom Paleo loves it in her dishes. It’s really freaking difficult to find sugar-free sauce so Red Boat fish sauce is a must.

I’m also excited by her supply of coconut aminos, which is used in the paleo world as a replacement for soy products. Coconut aminos are great when you need salty flavouring. I’ve used it to fry Shirataki no-calorie noodles. Before knowing of the existence of the Naturalyst, I bought my bottle of coconut aminos from iHerb.

So without further ado, let’s meet Regina and see what the paleo diet has done for her health.

Interview with Regina from The Naturalyst

Regina

Continue reading Now online at The Naturalyst: paleo condiments and cooking essentials

Sugar vs fats – which is worse for us?

A new BBC Horizon documentary starring twins on different diets aired in January 2014. For one month, one twin went on a high-fat diet, while the other ate high-sugar meals with little to no fat. The idea was to find out if one food group can be held responsible for the obesity epidemic. Who would emerge healthier, have more energy and lose more weight?

bbc sugar vs fat

Both of the twins were British but one lived in the UK while the other had moved to the US. They noted that in the US, sugar was regarded as the main cause of obesity, whereas in the UK, fats were the culprit. When I thought about it, I realised that low-carb diets, such as the Atkins diet, were popularised in America first. I was in the UK recently and I checked out Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer. There were very few low-carb items but there were a plenty of low-fat food for sale.  Continue reading Sugar vs fats – which is worse for us?

Intro class at Crossfit Hub

In my quest to become stronger, faster and more flexible, I signed up for a trial class at Crossfit Hub. This is one of the six CrossFit gyms in Singapore and I chose this one because it was the most reasonably priced. I went there for the 11am Sunday introduction class.

Crossfit Hub Singapore

This is the entrance of the “gym.” It was just a medium-sized space with barbells, rings and tyres for exercise. There were no machines because it is believed that your body weight is the best resistance. I like this philosophy; the machines at my gym intimidate me!

Crossfit, in the words of the trainer, is essentially a strength and conditioning workout class (I forgot to ask for her name). When I arrived, I was put in a group of four other beginners. I was the only girl. There was little in way of assessing our fitness level or any prep talk. We were shown how to do a proper squat then paired up for warm-up. Continue reading Intro class at Crossfit Hub

Yoga – three-legged downward-facing dog

Phew, what a mouthful! This pose that I’m going to get Alicia to demonstrate today is called the three-legged downward-facing dog, or three-legged dog in short, or even one-legged dog. Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana is the tongue twister if you want one.

third legged dog

This pose requires flexibility in the hamstrings and hip flexors. Notice how her back foot is grounded into the floor and she is pushing deeply with her hands. Also important is the hips and shoulders must remain square, i.e. one side of the body shouldn’t be lifted higher than the other.

I will now show you what YOU SHOULD NOT DO in three-legged dog.

three legged downward dog

This is my three-legged dog. This is a common mistake made by inflexible people like me who try to lift their leg as high as possible. What happens is that my right hip is twisted and raised higher than my left hip. My body is no longer aligned. My right knee isn’t facing the ground. I should have lowered my leg and concentrate on my hip and back rather than trying to force the height.

Today at yoga class, I told Alicia, “Okay, now take a photo of me. This is the yoga fail version of your pose.”

“Don’t call it yoga fail… Just say it’s the getting-there photo.”

She was being kind but I shall agree with her and say I’m getting there.

I found a good graphic showing how to get into this pose. As you can see, the hips should be of equal height and the knee should face downwards.

1001-down-dog-splitSource: Women’s Health Mag

If you would like to check out more of our yoga antics, click here.

Fitness inspiration – motivational or harmful?

Eat clean Source: Get Fit Inspiration

Does looking at this photo above inspire you to go to the gym and work out?

Fitspo – which is short for fitness inspiration – is about posting or viewing photos that inspire people to get fit. An example would be the photo above, which shows fit women doing some form of exercise and tends to be accompanied by motivational words such as “Strong is the new skinny” or “Enjoy your pain. You’ve earned it.”

tumblr_mainrxWunN1rg4bp7o1_500 Source: Get Fit Inspiration

I personally enjoy trawling Tumblr blogs that post these photos. Just looking at this back bend photo makes me feel like hopping into my gym clothes and dashing out for a hot yoga class.

Source: P-ointe Shoes

Look at those lines! If only my legs did this!

However, I’ve come across a couple of dissenting views online about fitspo. The argument is that all these images of fit women present an unrealistic goal for ordinary people, may encourage eating disorders and fuels an unhealthy obsession with how the ideal body should look.

“If you do not have rock hard chiseled abs, the right workout outfit, etc., you are not good enough until you do. These advertisers will make sure you know that, because their profit depends on your wallet and your beliefs about yourself. They’ll make sure you know you must work for “it” every second. Of every day. For the rest of your life.” – Beauty Redefined

First of all, I don’t think it’s unrealistic to look fit. Save for people with medical conditions, anybody can look like that if they work hard. I’m sure these people spend a few hours in the gym or ballet studio daily to get the body they want. It’s just that most of us don’t have time or can’t be bothered. There is nothing wrong with that. I would rather go out with my friends and eat 800 calories worth of yummy food and laugh over dinner than work out for two hours in the gym. Now this is my choice not to work out but it doesn’t mean that I cannot have well-defined abs if I wanted to.

The argument that it encourages eating disorders may be a more relevant argument as different people are react differently to such images. Just because I won’t starve myself doesn’t mean that someone else won’t. That being said, if you starve yourself, you are not going to get a fit body, are you? Furthermore, it’s very rare to come across a fitness blogger who moans about restrictive eating. Most of them believe in clean eating, which is eating fresh produce and avoiding processed food. Some of them are even following the paleo diet. Now if that is not healthy, I don’t know what is.

The third criticism against fitspo – that it encourages an unhealthy body image – is probably the most relevant. If the images inspire you to take a hike in the park, try out a new dance class or sign up for crossfit, then that’s wonderful. But if the images create feelings of inadequacies in you, then clearly it’s better if you don’t look at them.

I believe that the ultimate message of fitspo blogs and photos is that fitness is something we should all work towards. It takes hard work, which includes clean eating and time devoted to exercising, but it is achievable if we want to pursue it. I think this ties in nicely with the paleo lifestyle as well, which aims for peak health by taking an interest in what we put in our bodies and what we do with our bodies.

I leave you here with a picture of US footballer Brandi Chastain celebrating her team’s victory over China in the 1999 Women’s World Cup.

Brandi Chastain

My dog is a primal beast, too

Dogs are 99% wolf, did you know that?

This is my wolf.

maltipoo

She is called Pudding and she is a maltese-poodle cross. Because she is 99% wolf, I feed her a primal diet.

Don’t they look alike?

This is what Pudding eats:

  1. Meat
  2. Organs
  3. Bones
  4. Cheese
  5. Vegetables
  6. Fruits, even durians
  7. Occasional pieces of the paleo bread I make

This is what Pudding does not eat:

  1. Grains, including wheat, rice and corn
  2. Canned food
  3. Any other processed food (with additives, chemical preservatives)
  4. Grapes, chocolate and other food that are known to be harmful to dogs

This means that my little dog, who is now more than two years ago, has been eating a paleo diet longer than I have. And her diet is even healthier than mine because her food is not cooked with salt. Her health has been good and I’m happy to give her food that I prepare from scratch, knowing that there are no unknown ingredients that may make her sick. I would eat the food I give her in a heartbeat but I wouldn’t eat kibbles.

She looks nothing like a wolf but she certainly eats like one.

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