Staying healthy on holidays abroad

Overseas holidays are normally associated with lots of eating. We want to sample all kinds of delicious foreign food and we take a break from our usual workout routine. It’s not uncommon to come back with our bellies bloated and skin blotchy from poor eating! Even if the trip involved physical activities like¬†hiking for two days, it’s still possible to eat unwisely when we are not prepared with healthy snacks. Or we may pig out after our strenuous activity thinking that we have burnt enough calories!

How do we stay healthy on overseas holidays then? I just returned from my friend’s bachelorette party in the Maldives and indeed, we feasted non-stop! Actually, I thought we ate a lot less than our usual holidays simply because the food and drinks were prohibitively expensive. Here are a few tips:

  • Do a fast before your holiday

If you know that your holiday will involve a lot of eating and sitting around, it may be prudent to do a one-day fast before the trip to compensate for the extra intake. There are several ways to fast. My favourite is the Fast Diet method, in which you only eat 500 calories for women, and 600 calories for men, for one day. The next day you go back to eating normally. It’s not as difficult as water fasts and not as sugary as juice fasts. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend juice fasts at all given the amount of sugar consumed. The good thing about fasting is that¬†you do it just for one day¬†but studies have shown that even¬†temporary caloric restriction can¬†have many benefits for the body, including improvements in blood pressure and insulin sensitivity.

  • Start with a salad

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Xtend Barre class at Upside Motion

If you have been following me on Instagram (@Paleorina) you will know that I have been moaning about my knee injury. I have been unable to run without a throbbing soreness in my inner right knee and it has been driving me mad. Without running to help me expand my energy and keep me from bouncing off the walls, I needed something else to do that was low impact and interesting.

Yes, I have yoga but yoga was something very familiar to me. I wanted to try something different and exciting. Enter Xtend Barre. This is a pilates cum ballet workout that was created by an ex-ballerina in the US. The aim of this exercise was to create the long lean lines of ballerinas without actually having to take a ballet class. I mentioned in a previous post that my favourite body types are that of gymnasts and dancers so I was quite excited to try these classes!

I signed up for a one-week trial at $55 with Upside Motion that allowed me to take not only Xtend Barre classes, but also aerial yoga and pilates. In that one week, I managed to take three Xtend Barre classes under two different teachers, Laura and Saniya.

Xtend Barre Singapore

Continue reading Xtend Barre class at Upside Motion

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?

What to order at the economic rice stall

Economic rice, also known as cai fan, is one of the cheapest and most filling meals you can have in Singapore. It’s essentially a plate of rice with three to four dishes of vegetables and meat that you can select from 10-15 troughs of cooked food.

Economic rice is almost never paleo. You can ask for economic rice with “no rice” but the food is most likely cooked with corn or soybean oil. According to the Health Promotion Board, their view of “healthier oils” are:

“Saturated fat found mainly in butter, ghee, coconut milk, cream and blended oils can raise blood cholesterol levels, increasing risk of heart disease and stroke. Whereas monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in soybean, sunflower, safflower, olive, peanut and canola oils both help to reduce blood cholesterol when they replace saturated fat in the diet.”

They will award hawkers with a “I cook with healthier oil” sticker if they use vegetable oils such as the above, despite evidence to the contrary that these oils are not good for our health.

That being said, I still eat economic rice occasionally because it’s cheap and convenient. It’s definitely not a perfect paleo meal; to get anything perfectly healthy, we just have to cook at home. But we don’t have to be perfect everyday. For days where we eat out, we can minimise the damage to our health by selecting the right food items.

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Hiking in Taroko Gorge, Taiwan

My new-found enthusiasm for trail running has seen me planning more trips that involved hiking in nature. While it’s quite difficult to find friends who want to run with me in the forest, it’s much easier to find people who enjoy walking. So it was with incredible excitement that I started my recent December Taiwan trip with a hike in Taroko National Park. This is one of the country’s eight national parks and is located near Hualien City in the east of Taiwan.

We spent three days and two nights at Taroko. This trip was arranged by a freelance tour guide Ricky, who was introduced to us by a friend. I usually don’t like going on tours and being escorted around by other people but Ricky was passionate about hiking and was not your usual conventional tour guide on buses.

We went on two trails. The first was the Zhuilu Old Trail and this was supposed to have the most magnificent views in the gorge. We spent about six hours on this trail, including rest time at the top. The second was the Lotus Pond trail, which took us four and a half hours in total.

To hike the Zhuilu Old Trail, we had to get a special permit from the park that Ricky arranged for us. We started off from a bridge that spanned a valley.

taroko gorge Continue reading Hiking in Taroko Gorge, Taiwan

Namaste Yoga Festival in Jakarta – Nov 2013

A weekend of yoga with great teachers, amazing Indonesian food and relaxing hair spas – what more can I ask from a short weekend jaunt overseas?

In late November, I attended the Namaste Festival at Hotel Sultan in Jakarta. This was three days worth of workshops ranging from yoga classes to martial arts to recycle art. The yoga classes were the main attraction naturally. Because we signed up very early for the festival, we paid only S$130 each (it was a one-for-one deal) for the full festival pass. Barbara, who attended a similar festival in Hong Kong earlier this year, paid about S$500 for that event. This Indonesian one was a very good deal indeed.

The festival took place in downtown Jakarta at Hotel Sultan. We were fortunate that we were able to bunk in for three days with our Indonesian friend Rosiva who lived just 10 minutes away and didn’t have to waste money on accommodation.

The hotel grounds were humongous. All the tennis courts were converted into marquees for the yoga workshops. Here we posed at the pool.

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Kilian Jornet and his inspiring movie about scaling mountains

Reading about sports such as running or mountain climbing inspires me to go outdoors. Well-written books move me and compel me to get off my couch.

Recently, I’ve discovered the power of movies. I started with Fast Girls, which is a 2011 British film about sprinters. It was good but it was fictional. I wanted something more like a documentary.

Then I found one yesterday starring Kilian Jornet called A Fine Line:¬†Summits of my Life, which documented the athlete’s run and ski to the¬†most important peaks of all continents in his minimalist style and trying to break all the speed records on those peaks along the way.

iRunFar¬†and A Trail Runner’s Blog has a review of this film. I watched it last night and the cinematography¬†was just breathtaking. There were also some good quotes about how Kilian views and manages risk in life.

Kilian Jornet Continue reading Kilian Jornet and his inspiring movie about scaling mountains

Paleo goodies for Christmas

I love December. It’s my favourite month of the year. We have Christmas and New Year is just round the corner. Work slows down. Everyone becomes more relaxed. It is also a time for pigging out on cakes, cookies and sweets galore.

I’ll be away for most of Christmas this year in Taiwan hiking in Taroko Gorge (yay!) but I have one or two parties to attend. What better way to introduce people to your fantastic paleo diet then baking some yummy goodies for them?

This year, I’m planning to bake at least one of these paleo goodies. Click on the title for the link to the recipes!

Paleo fruitcake 

This is a recipe by Elana’s Pantry and uses almond flour as the base.

paleo-fruit-cake-gluten-free-recipe-DSC_4329

 

Continue reading Paleo goodies for Christmas

Salomon X-Trail Run 2013

I had a lot of fun at the Salomon X-Trail Run 2013. This year’s race was at Tampines Mountain Bike Park and Trail, which is an area normally reserved for cyclists.

Barbara and I arrived just minutes before the 730am race start but the start time was delayed by about 15 minutes so we had time to stretch and muck around. She refused to wear the event shirt because she didn’t like running in shirts with sleeves. I thought the shirt was really comfortable and the material was the best out of the event shirts I’ve received so far. I was able to keep cool throughout the run and I really like this baby blue colour. I also wore my football socks to run. This was the singular best decision I made in any race – the socks protected me from itchy grass and horrible mud (more about said mud later).

Salomon X Trail shirt Continue reading Salomon X-Trail Run 2013

Free-range eggs in Singapore

Edit (13/10/2015): I have updated this post with new information.

No, there are none. Well, that’s a bummer way to start a blog post I know. But I found out some time ago that our local chickens are not allowed to roam freely outside because of restrictions by the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA). Free-range eggs are as essential to the paleo diet as grass-fed beef. Not only is it more humane to allow chickens to roam outside and live like chickens, free range eggs are also more nutritious. Chickens allowed to roam around get to feed on worms, grub and other creatures they dig out from the soil. Commercial chickens that are caged up eat only corn, soya or whatever commercial feed that is given to them.

Indeed, because there are no free range chickens in Singapore, we have to be wary of mislabeling. In Singapore and Malaysia, the word “kampong” conjures up images of happy chooks running around in the dirt surrounded by children scampering around barefoot playing with fighting spiders. However, “kampong eggs” are not the same as eggs laid by free-range chickens.

I have been buying this brand called Coral eggs (from Malaysia Kampong). The packaging also claims that the eggs are anti-drug residue and anti-colouring. They sell for $2.40 for 10 eggs and are available at NTUC Fairprice.

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