FITNESS

WHAT TO BUY FROM IHERB - PART II

So just because I live in LA now and I'm in much closer proximity to supermarkets like Whole Foods & Trader Joe's and heaps of farmers markets doesn't mean I deserted my good ole' iHerb. If anything, I'm shopping on it more frequently because it bloody takes ONE DAY to get to my front door. I mean, sometimes I can't be arsed to leave home for cereal and it shows up on my doorstep the next day? YES PLEASE.

FYI, part one is HERE.

Rishi Tea, Japanese Green Tea, Sweet Matcha link

I'm a sucker for matcha but because of budget constraints, I can't spend too much money on good shit and I'm not going to apologise [or apologize? Which spelling should I use?] for that but what I will tell you is that this is sweetened, so use unsweetened milk when you make it. I make it with cashew milk, if that's available to you. Shit is good, especially when you're PMSing.

Chlorella by NOW Foods link

Since moving to LA, I've added algae to my vitamins to help my immune system and it has definitely helped. While it works for me, there are recognised side effects that you should be wary of in case you want to try it.

Nutrex Hawaii Spirulina Pacific link

Another algae. Omega 3s, inflammatory properties, crazy high in calcium, and most importantly for me, research has suggested that it helps people with allergies, or often experience allergic reactions. Story of my life, which is why I started. One of the reasons, I like to believe, why my eczema has improved so much.

Navitas Naturals, Organic, Sun-Dried Goji Berries, link

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Add goji berries into your acai bowl. It's a vegetarian form of protein, and crazy packed with essential amino acids and rich in vitamin A.

Sea Tangle Noodle Company, Kelp Noodles with Organic Green Tea

I'm torn between Shirataki noodles and these kelp noodles. You can eat these as it is as a cold noodle, or stir fry. I throw in tempeh, tofu, cabbage and whatever vegetables I have in the fridge for an easy vegan meal. Use the recipe on the packaging. It is good.

ThinkThin Protein Bars link

I love ThinkThin bars, and since I travel so much for work these days, it's been so bloody userful to carry these around and devour them on flights when a protein box costs you $20 and your meal allowance is $10 per meal. Pictured is my favourite ThinkThin bar, which I get from Whole Foods but the one I linked is just as delicious. They have a tiny bit of chocolate which help SO much.  

Madre Labs On-the-go Hand Cleanser link

Because you need to keep your hands clean, and sometimes bathrooms are too gross and sinks are too nasty to touch.

Giovanni Mixed Sanitizing Towelettes: Peppermint Surge, Grapefruit Splash link

I'm one of those people who carry towelettes everywhere but I hate when the sticky thing that's supposed to stick back on becomes unsticky and my towelettes dry up. These are essential oil-scented and individually packed. I love the grapefruit ones!

Remember to use my offer code "ZQL070" for a $5-$10 discount off your first order.

FIRST TIME AT THE BAR (METHOD)

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Faz, before 16 Dec 2014 had grand plans of trying new workouts, all over Los Angeles. Faz of June 2015 is a little bit more modest in her aspirations, especially since she is dependant on her husband and UberX

So my working out has been shot to hell the past couple of months. You know how a couple gains weight when they're happy in a relationship? That's exactly what's been happening to us. We didn't have that get-fat-honeymoon period when we first got together because John was full-on into grad school. 

I joined a gym In January and I quit a few months into because after an experience like Ritual, everything else is just noise. I hated the assholes in the gym, I hated people talking to me at the gym, and I hated being clueless and intimidated. So I quit and I started running. Unlike my brother who says that his "thing" is nothing below 42km — he's doing a 100km marathon this weekend — I have no patience for running. I like fast, painful, things that leave me breathless and crying for God on the floor.

So then I got introduced to Classpass and I decided the first class I should book is something I've never done before, and in this case, The Bar Method in Pasadena. I've seen the spot several times because my favourite poké joint is right smack in front of the studio.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

In all honesty I've never thought much of barre. I first heard about was at a studio in Singapore where I went for aerial yoga classes, but I was more interested in flipping myself upside down than I am to be using 2lbs weights.

That said, sure, I can lift more than my bodyweight and I was instructed to pick up one and two-pound weights, I totally underestimated this class. Despite the fact that I am as flexible as a metal rod, and I was the only brand new beginner in the class, the instructor, Christopher, was patient with me, and he gave me multiple adjustments, particularly for those that involved flexibility. I had trouble when it came to flexibility poses, but who knew small, tiny movements could give you that much DOMS.

I totally understand why and how The Bar Method appeals, and I can see how it sculpts a long, lean dancer body. It's less coordination, unlike dance cardio type classes which is a good thing because my arms and legs never go where I tell them to, and it burns even though I'm carrying the tiniest amount of weights. It's almost like a mix of ballet and Pilates. 

While I spent most of the class like Dopey, looking for cues from the people next to me, and with multiple adjustments from the instructor, my favourite part, was when he had the class do pushups. While most if not all the women spent their pushup time supported against the wall, or on their knees, I busted them pushups like a BAMF. I would've added a clap if not for the fact that I'd actually like to attend their classes again.

I'm definitely no Black Swan, I'd actually do it on the regular if I lived closer to a studio. The poké joint opposite them is a really good draw though. 

HOW TO DO CHEAT DAY RIGHT

I know, in the last post, I went on and on about the sucky parts about transitioning my life into my newer life. The truth is, there are a lot of plus points. Some of which include the fact that I'm finally normal-sized in this country, something I embrace and enjoy after being too tall, too fat, too big in Asia for basically, all my life; the fact that gluten-free anything doesn't cost me selling my kidney in the black market and that I love being in a city that embraces my gluten-free worshipping, cage-free eggs devouring and Kombucha-brewing lifestyle.

One of the most important factors is I am in complete control of what I put into my body. Yes, I was in control as well before, but living with my folks, I'd be tempted by the white rice my parents are having for dinner, or the keropok my mother is frying up. Somehow in the course of living together, John and I have started going on unofficial Saturday night date nights; it's our one night a week to eat out at a new spot that we've never tried before. It's also our once-a-week cheat meal.

The problem with cheat meals, or cheat days is that when you're fixed on a relatively healthy diet, you tend to feel really, really shitty after. Not because you're feeling guilty about what you had put into your body the night before (you tend to feel really accomplished about the oxtail chilli cheese fries topped with egg & the Ronin at Bachi Burger, finished with a Hershey's cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. Yes. No shame in my cheat meals.) but mostly, because your body isn't used to the amount of junk you've devoured.

I do a cheat meal a week, as opposed to an entire cheat day because one, I'd end up eating an entire bottle of Nutella if not supervised, and two, I have wedding receptions to look hot for. I've also learnt that it's too troublesome for my body to recover after an entire cheat day, as opposed to just a cheat meal. 

I have been experimenting with my body to see what I can do to dispel all the icky feeling in my body the day after a cheat meal. I am not a doctor, a nutritionist or anything of that sort. Consult a doctor or medical professional before you consume any supplements or try this method. It works for my body, and so far, my husband's too.

Whether you're doing a cheat day, or a cheat meal, start your day with either a whole lemon in a cup of warm, or room-temperature water or chugging back a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. If you can, wait between 1/2 hour to 3 hours before you have your first meal of the day.

My meals are clean and simple before my cheat meal. For breakfast, I have two boiled eggs with Sriracha, a glass of water with Sun Warrior, Raw Organic Ormus Supergreens (more details about Ormus Supergreens available here), lunch is a meat-free salad with a teaspoon of coconut oil as dressing. Coconut oil is a natural metabolism booster. It is made of anti-inflammatory, medium-chain fatty acids that burn quickly and is easily absorbed in the body without being broken down by the liver; this makes it a natural energy and metabolism booster that helps you burn stored fat.

Before I tuck in into my cheat meal, I drink some Apple Cider Vinegar again. I've worked up to 1/4 a cup, which is not necessarily what you stomach can handle. Start with a tablespoon first. Don't be lame and dilute it with water, but do it if you must. I eat a teaspoon of chia seeds too.

Post-cheat meal, I will drink a blended concoction of dandelion greens, or dandelion root, (which is available on iHerb, if dandelion greens are not available to you), fresh ginger, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (yes, AGAIN!)

The following morning, I usually wake up with my body ready to expel all of last night's food into the porcelain throne, or whatever you choose to call it. I boil a stick or two of cinnamon in a pot of water and drink it. Cinnamon is amazing at curing bloating. You can also drink it with your herbal tea (as in, boil the cinnamon with your tea) or boil apple slices and cinnamon for a delicious drink. Bonus: your kitchen will smell so freakin' good!

Let me know if you try this! Go forth and enjoy your cheat meal!

FAZ'S FAVOURITE PLACES TO EAT CLEAN IN SINGAPORE

If you follow me on Instagram, you would have noticed my incredibly obnoxious photo of my abs that I posted up a few days ago. You can't blame me. Before I turned to Ritual last year, my stomach has always been a big blob all my life.

I digress. I've been on a Shrek-assigned renegade diet for the past week in preparation for the Commando Challenge that we're taking part in on 15 Nov. That means two months of no cheat days, and it's only been seven days and I'm really tired of chicken already. 

So to inspire me to make better tasting food with what I am able to eat, here's a list of my favourite places to eat (relatively) clean in Singapore.

And in case you don't know what eating clean means, it is basically eating whole non-processed foods, that are chemical-free and with as much natural ingredients as possible. You don't have to go to health-specific cafes to have clean food, of course, but it's always better to go to places where the owners are conscious of what goes into their food, where their food comes from and what they use to make their food taste good.

For me, I mostly follow a #ritualstyle diet, which means no bread, no fruit (high sugar content), no sugar at all, and as per my trainer's instructions, rice only after my workouts and I'm intermittent fasting everyday too. My diet's more complex at the moment, and I shan't delve deeper into it

Platypus Gourmet2Go

Like the many things I've discovered in the past year or so, Ritual started me on Platypus. Their salad boxes are like magical little boxes that see me devouring greens like my life depended on them. I love them so much that I featured them in my series of places to eat clean when I "took over" HungryGoWhere's Instagram for the day. My favourite order is pictured here - medium box of greens, no carbs, salmon, chicken and smoked duck with Seville Orange dressing. Their salmon and their duck make life worth living. 

Three different sized boxes at $6.90, $8.90, $10.90 respectively. Menu, calorie content and locations available here.

The Living Cafe

For someone with gluten intolerance and a mild lactose intolerance, The Living Cafe is heaven-sent. If not for the fact that the cafe is literally located on the other side of the island from where I live, they would see me there more often. Unlike in LA where raw and organic cafes are a dime a dozen, The Living Cafe makes its mark in the dining scene by paying attention to each customer's dietary restrictions and needs.

I was asked three times what my dietary restrictions were - and the waitress came to ask again, if oats were ok. It's a trait that's very valuable to me, especially when I dine in restaurants that claim not to use any MSG in their food and I'm scratching myself like a monkey less than half an hour after my meal.

Pictured above is their raw "cheeseburger". It's definitely not for the times when you're craving a hunk of red meat, but it's freakin' delicious for a meal that's completely raw and devoid of any meat. With lettuce leaves to play the role of the bun, the cheeseburger patty is made of nuts, seeds, mushroom, oats, onions and flaxseed. There's also a raw cheese sauce slathered over the patty before topping it with more vegetables including carrots, beets and tomatoes.

Their hormone-free chicken pizzas topped with cashew cheese are fo sho' worth trying too.

The Living Cafe is located at 779 Bukit Timah Road (Just before 6th Avenue). Lunch, Dinner and Brunch menus are available online.

Meat And Green

I LOVE MEAT AND GREEN. My daily conundrum is basically choosing between Meat And Green's salad, or a shake from Ritual.

Their salad base is the same - baby spinach, seasonal vegetables, some nuts (I always opt out of beets. I hate beets) but like the menu says, you get to choose your protein. I've only tried the chicken and the chilli crab and fish (once). I keep going back to the chicken because it's the single perfectly poached chicken in the surface of the planet.

AND they have Sriracha. Life complete.

P.S.: Not clean, but their mac-and-cheese is TO DIE FOR.

84 Circular Road, open till 10.30pm on weekdays and even open on Saturdays!

Common Man Coffee Roasters

So Hollandaise sauce is not "eating clean" since it's basically egg yolk and liquid butter but it's f**king delicious. One of my favourite people in the world, Natasha, (whom I stole this photo from) and I are obsessed with this dish - you can have it without the sourdough bread that's underneath this smorgasbord of messy goodness and with the Hollandaise on the side. What makes the dish, I think, is how the egg yolks ooze out of its poached perfection on to the pillowy soft, melt-in-your-mouth braised beef cheeks. There's also rocket for good measure.

22 Martin Road, menu available here.

Hanare

Unlike some people I know who ball so hard they can make it rain with uni, all I know is good raw fish and shitty raw fish, and in my books, Hanare makes a solid Bara Chirashi Bowl. My usual order - double the fish and half the rice feeds me and Natasha even when we're at our hungriest, and that says a lot because we love our raw fish.

99B Tanjong Pagar Road, $27 for a double fish bowl. (Pictured is the single serving)

The Daily Cut

One of the newest kids on the block - which whips up a #Ritualstyle meal easily is The Daily Cut. Opened in July 2014, think of The Daily Cut as a salad box without the greens. Instead of a typical high-carb diet you can find in hawker and Asian restaurants, The Daily Cut lets you choose several ingredients to make your meal a high protein one.  

My regular box had brown rice, steak (which was really good), avocado, an egg and cherry tomatoes. And I picked the Thai dressing which tasted like it had some fish sauce, some chillies and a sweet sauce mixed together.

Here's the menu:

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1 Raffles Place, #B1-31

Other random clean eating tips in Singapore

  • Yong tau foo, as much as most Singaporeans think it is, is not the healthiest thing in the food court - the ingredients and soup are laden with some of the highest sodium and MSG content.
  • Subway is not as healthy as it claims to be. It's far from "clean eating" with the high sodium content most of its ingredients contain.
  • Just because it's greek yogurt doesn't make it healthier. Some companies throw in chocolate in greek yogurt and make it even fattier and higher in calories than some candy bars. Read and understand what you're eating before putting it in your mouth.

HOW RITUAL HAS RUINED ME

After slightly more than a year of busting my ass on Ritual's floor, I realised now that it has ruined me. It comes to you gradually, of course, but you never figure it out until suddenly, you feel like you've been sucker punched, and you don't actually mind it.

Here's how Ritual ruined me:

º I never want to work out more than twenty minutes - I am a very impatient person to begin with. I walk fast, I do things fast and I detest waiting around for shit to happen. That's also one of the reasons why I enjoy writing for the internet - I never have to wait around for print checks and to spot widows and orphans. Plonk it in, have the sub ed look through it, and you're set.

But I digress. I found myself trying out a class at a new fitness studio in the name of work recently. The obnoxious asshole that I am turned up for the media session wearing a Ritual tshirt, of course. The class was AN HOUR LONG. An hour. It felt like I could've died, been resurrected and the class STILL wouldn't have been over. And to top it all off, I didn't feel like I've worked out much for that hour as much as I would've 20 mins on the Ritual floor. I'm usually crying for my mother when my Ritual session is done.

º When some scrawny dude tells me I should stop lifting heavy because my arms will bulk up:

First I'll be like:

LUXURY

Then, I'd go:

LUXURY

º I'll never ever enter any other bathroom in a gym or fitness studio and go, "Oh, this is nice!". - Seriously. Ritual has the best showers a gym has to offer. I don't have to come face-to-face with another woman's coochie crack on display (like I had to this afternoon when I was at yoga) because there's a changing room in each shower stall. On top of that, a rain shower. A rain shower that actually has enough pressure to feel like rain. And to top it all off, they have good hairdryers - not half assed tiny ones that are made to dry, like, pubic hair or something.

º What I say to Virgin gym sales people who stop me as I'm walking to Ritual from the MRT:

LUXURY

I really do. I tried going on the treadmill at the gym while we were in San Fran and gave up, and did Ritual's travel program instead.

º I get used to not wearing shoes all the time - I really enjoy being barefoot and one of the things I love about working out at Ritual is that you don't need shoes. I am most comfortable without shoes on, so you'll see me working in the office without my shoes, barefoot at home, and I'll take any opportunity to take off my shoes. Sometimes I forget that other gyms make you wear shoes and that you actually have to bring clothes to work out. Such inhumane practices. ;o)

º I quote my trainers, and what Ritual has taught me on the regular so much that of telling people to Google something, I'd look it up, and then tell them I'll get back to them after I check with the guys at Ritual. That, or if they're members I'll send them to the right people. Everybody is invested in making your fitness experience a part of your lifestyle, and every ache, query or concerned is taken seriously and addressed. 

Let's face it - it's time you succumbed to Ritual and get a trial, if you haven't already. Just listen to me, you won't be sorry when Ritual ruins you as it has done to me. Be brave, bitchez.