Some nights I’d toss and turn in bed for hours on no end. I’d be tired as hell but no matter how long I’d try to keep my eyes closed, I just either can’t fall asleep or can’t stay asleep. Waking up every hour or so to check the time doesn’t help either, but I can’t help myself. Hours go by like minutes and next thing you know, I’d wake up in the morning feeling drained before my feet even hit the floor. Other mornings, I could swear I got at least eight hours of sleep yet my body tells a different story. The trouble was, at times I'd spend too much time thinking about work the next morning that I worry about not being able to sleep, which makes it even harder to 'switch off'.
My doctor prescribed Xanax to help with my anxiety. It helped to calm the nerves and I was able to fall asleep easily but I’d wake up feeling really groggy. I didn’t want to grow dependent on the drug so I stopped taking it after a while. I learned to manage my anxiety and sleeping patterns eventually through yoga, meditation and maintaining an active lifestyle.
However, recently I discovered a new way to cope with the occasional bedtime troubles. Blackmores Sleep Sound Formula is a safe and natural remedy that helps support the body’s natural ability for a good quality sleep. Unlike prescription drugs or sleeping pills, it actually leaves you refreshed and rejuvenated the next morning!
Blackmores Sleep Sound Formula contains naturally derived extracts of valerian and lemon balm plus magnesium to help those who are experiencing sleep difficulties or particularly disturbed sleeping patterns to achieve a restful, restorative and quality sleep.
Since I’ve already been taking Blackmores supplements (Women’s vitality multi and Fish Oil 1000), I decided to give this one a try. The fact that it’s made with natural ingredients adds bonus points in my books.
The recommended dosage as stated on the label is 2 tablets, 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. If you wake up in the middle of the night, you may take an additional half a tablet.
The natural, active ingredients include Valerian extract, lemon balm and magnesium.
Valerian extract helps to reduce the time it takes for you to fall asleep and improves sleep quality so you wake up feeling well-rested. Lemon balm provides a calming effect and relieves restlessness. Magnesium is important for the healthy function of the nervous system and muscle function. I learned that those who suffer from magnesium deficiency tend to have less time in deep sleep phases, hence, are more likely to wake up in the middle of the night.
Blackmores Sleep Sound Formula comes in a glass bottle with 30 tablets inside. The tablets come in an average size of 2cm width, I had no problem taking both tablets at a time with some water or non-caffeinated warm tea.
I took two tablets nightly for five days and woke up each morning feeling refreshed and ready to start the day. It definitely helped me to feel more relaxed so I’m able to ‘switch off’ and sleep soundly all night.
Sleep Sound Formula can be taken as long as required. However, if you continue to have sleeping problems, it is recommended that you see a healthcare professional to address any underlying issues.
Small changes to your routine can also help you to sleep better. Here are my top 3 bedtime rituals that help me to relax, sleep better and ultimately, live better.
1. Drink herbal tea
I’ll have a cup of green tea in the morning but usually skip caffeine past noon. At night, I’ll have a ‘sleepy time’ tea which is made of ingredients that promote sleep such as lemon balm and lavender flowers.
There’s just something inherently calming about a warm sip before bed, even it’s just the ritual of taking the time to do so.
2. Twenty-minute yoga
Practicising yoga for at least 20 minutes helps me to wind down as it relaxes both the mind and body. Stretching in general has a calming effect as it releases tension in the body. Make sure to breathe in deeply and exhale slowly when doing each pose to reap the benefits.
3. Relieve stress through meditation
When you're stressed out, your adrenal glands release hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which keep you amped up and struggling to snooze. I spend at least 10 minutes on meditation to calm the mind and ease the soul. It encourages me to be present and slow down all the worries that collect throughout the day. It’s a simple but powerful way to relieve stress. You just have to take the time to try it yourself!
Are you still up past midnight struggling to fall asleep? Check out Blackmores Singapore Facebook page and take part in the IQ quiz that is scheduled every midnight from 31 March to 7 April 2014. Why not put this time to good use and challenge yourself with fun brain teasers as you’ll stand a chance to win a bottle of Sleep Sound Formula (worth $39).
There are 5 sets of Sleep Sound Formula to be won every night for 8 consecutive nights. Send in your correct answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. First 5 people who gets it right wins. For more information on Sleep Sound Formula, you may visit http://www.blackmores.com.sg/products/Sleepsound
Good luck and good night!
To feel your best you have to take care of yourself. March is Wellness Month and I'll be sharing some beauty tips this week on the Luxola blog.
Wellness is a balance of the mind, body and spirit. Consciously taking care of your own wellness is crucial for your longevity and happiness. Since I'm always talking about fitness and exercise, I'd like to show some love on beauty.
I personally chose these products from Luxola to try out this week in honor of Wellness Month. It's time to give the skin a treat in order to look good and put your best face forward! I'll be posting daily for the whole week on LX Edit to share on how I use these products as part of my beauty regimen. Follow me on Instagram for the photo updates
Be good to yourself and you'll be able to give a lot more to your family, friends and at work. Give yourself a healthy treat this wellness month. I'd love to hear what do to pamper yourself, leave it the comment please. Mahalo!
It’s the first thing I get up to do in the morning and last thing I do before bed – brush my teeth. I’m paranoid about bad breath. Morning breath in particular can be quite embarrassing. There’s something a bit awkward in waking up and feeling like you need to go brush your teethbefore saying good morning to your boyfriend.
He says he doesn’t mind, but does he really?
Maintaining your oral hygiene is one of the most important things you can do for your teeth and gums. A healthy mouth and healthy body go hand-in-hand. Doesn’t it make sense to take control of keeping your teeth clean and breath fresh with the same focus you put on other aspects of your body?
Good thing there’s this new and effective product that I could feel satisfied about recommending to you – Darlie Expert Fresh. The key ingredient in this toothpaste includes an advance, active Zinc Citrate formula which provides all-rounded care for oral health.
Bad breath is caused by a build-up of bacteria in the mouth. When you don’t brush and floss your teeth regularly, bacteria accumulate on the bits of food left in your mouth and between your teeth. The sulfur compounds released by these bacteria make your breath smell.
When I was a kid, my mom used to tell me that if I don’t brush my teeth before bed, bugs will enter my mouth to feed on the bits of food stuck on my teeth. I’m pretty sure I’ve had nightmares from that…
Of course that doesn't ever happen. Better to be safe than sorry though. Protect your teeth!
The Active Zinc Citrate formula in Darlie Expect Fresh toothpaste effectively does two things – 1) Attack the source of bad breath by minimizing the formation of dental plague and tartar and 2) forms a protective shield to Defend against plaque build-up.
The Attack-Defend system provides 12 hours of protection against bad breath. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day promotes healthier teeth and gum as well as fresher breath you can wake up to every morning.
Darlie Expert Fresh toothpaste comes in a 120g tube at $5.90 and 40g tube (great for traveling!) at a promotional price of $2. It is available in most grocery and pharmacy stores such as NTUC FairPrice, Giant, Cold Storage, Sheng Siong, Prime, Watsons, Guardian and Unity.
I like that the toothpaste comes in a convenient pop top lid that can also stand on its own. No more losing a screw-on cap in the sink hole or trying to fit a toothpaste in your rinsing glass.
The minty flavor of this toothpaste gives your mouth a refreshing kick, one that I look forward to every morning!I can’t help but sweep my tongue over my teeth everytime after I brush them because it feels so squeaky clean.
After brushing my teeth with Darlie Expert Fresh toothpaste, I’d rinse the toothbrush and use it to gently brush my tongue as well. A quick breath check (cup your hand over your mouth and breathe out…) tells me that I have a fresh breath that’s ready for a kiss!
Join Darlie Expert Fresh at Chevron House Entrance for 'The Fresh Quest' on 20th & 21st March 2014 between 11:30am to 7:30pm for two fun-filled days of exciting games, freebies and promotions. Don't miss this, there's a chance you may even win an iPad Mini!
Head over to Darlie Singapore Facebook Page for more info!
I'm sure you've probably seen this latest issue of Stuff magazine by now. It's everywhere. My face on the March 2014 issue of Stuff. Big news. For me, and for Stuff Magazine Singapore who's celebrating their 50th issue this month. Congrats!
Stuff magazine Singapore has done a great job of polishing the look and style of their magazine in the recent years. Content-rich, useful and up-to-date reviews and news on the latest tech stuff - I love it. Stuff is also featuring more software and apps rather than just hardware like they used to. (Tip: Look out for the "Projects" section as they focus on Apps that can make you do just about everything on your phone.)
It's my 3rd cover on Stuff (the best one if I had to say so myself, hehe) and I love that I got to be more involved this time by modeling for their cover and also writing a review on the adidas miCoach Smart Run. In this issue, there's all the hype on wearable tech. Grab yourself a copy if you're looking for an honest review on the Google Glass, Pebble, Misfit Shine and adidas miCoach Smart Run.
Another major news for Stuff is the launch of Stuff.tv in Asia. After its launch a few months ago, they gave me the opportunity to share my thoughts as a gadget geek by writing a review on some of my favorite fitness gadgets. Some useful info for you fitness enthusiasts out there, read: '6 Perfect Gadgets For Working Out' and '6 Must-Have Gadgets For Marathon Runners'.
The website will soon be available in multi language versions such as Thai, Vietnamese and Bahasa. There's always an update in the technology world so stay informed with Stuff.tv - set it as your homepage or add to bookmarks. Do this, you must.
Oh, and if you haven't heard (because you haven't gotten a copy of Stuff, obviously), Stuff is looking for tech-savvy cover girl in this year's Cover Girl Search. The winner will pose on the cover of Stuff August issue, blog and review for Stuff.tv and become a Stuff ambassador at their offline events. Loads of amazing prizes on top of that too - a one-year modelling contract with Singapore's Phantom Models (optional), a Canon DSLR camera, a Nokia 1020 smartphone and Funan Digital Mall, Clarke Quay and Zalora vouchers and more. (I'd join the contest just to win prizes. Shh. Spoken like a true gadget geek...)
Here's your chance. It's now or never! Send in your entries here . If you refer the winner, you'll bag S$250 cash. Spread the word. Contest ends 20 March 2014 (Thursday)!
Check out the photos from our Cover Girl Search in Clarke Quay last Wednesday on the Stuff Facebook page. Feel free to overuse the Like button on their page
In other news, The planet's 10 most desirable geek girls. Thank you, Stuff.
Not too long ago, I embarked on this personal journey to be healthier. One of the first changes that I made to my diet was switching from cow's milk to non-dairy milk. There's been a lot of research that suggest we aren't meant to drink animal's milk as our bodies cannot digest it and that dairy may actually be more harmful than beneficial to our health. I must say that before you make any radical changes to your own diet, do your own research and decide for yourself.
I chose to make the switch because I'm working on eating less animal products, eating healthier and in a way that is gentler on the planet. It was one of the easiest changes I made thanks to a huge selection of non-dairy milks on the market. That, plus the fact that my uncle whom I lived with in Florida at the time only drinks Silk. He was right when he said "once you start drinking Silk, there's no going back to dairy milk".
The first couple of changes I noticed in my body after I stopped drinking dairy milk regularly is 1) my acne problem improved and 2) I felt less bloated in the morning.
So I did some research and learned that:
1) Milk contains components related to the hormone testosterone that may stimulate oil glands in the skin, setting the stage for acne or aggravating its condition. My unhealthy eating habits of fast food and junk food obviously didn't help either.
2) Dairy doesn't cause bloating for everyone, but about 70% adults have some kind of lactose intolerance, which is when the body doesn't have the necessary enzyme to break down the lactose sugar. This causes increased gassiness because that sugar is not broken down. I concluded that having cereal with dairy milk in the morning was the likely cause of my morning bloat.
Lactose intolerance can develop over time and is often a normal part of aging since our bodies produce fewer lactase enzymes as we age. It is apparently more common in people with Asian, African, Native American, or Mediterranean ancestry than it is among northern and western Europeans. Approximately 30 million American adults have some amount of lactose intolerance by age 20. So don't feel bad if you suddenly realize you can't drink like you used to! There's always a better and healthier substitute.
Silk soy milk was the first non-dairy milk I tried back in 2007 and while I didn’t fall head over heels initially, it eventually grew on my taste buds with time. To be honest, the flavor of it unsweetened isn’t my favorite, but when I mix it into other foods I don’t notice it as much. They also have sweetened varieties of course. No matter the brand you buy, look for organic, GMO-free soy milk whenever possible.
When I initially moved to Kuala Lumpur in 2010, I struggled to find any Silk or organic non-dairy milk. The only options I had were pasteurized milk, skimmed milk, sweetened soy milk or sugary 'soya bean drink'. I checked out the dry (not cold) dairy aisle and found almond milk and rice milk on the shelves but to my dismay, either the drinks went bad or just doesn't taste good... at all. Good thing I was able to get it at Cold Storage in Singapore so I used to bring a carton back to KL every time I visited. Now, you can get Silk Soymilk in Malaysia at Village Grocer, Presto, Isetan or Cold Storage.
I've since tried other non-dairy milk, and from other brands as well, such as almond milk, rice milk and oat milk. With the increasingly high demand of healthy foods, it's finally taking over big supermarkets in Singapore and Malaysia.
My favorite is Silk's Almondmilk (Unsweetened/Vanilla). However, I wished it came un a smaller size so I don't waste any! Almondmilk has a shorter shelf life than Silk organic soymilk (below) and sometimes certain stores only carry one or the other.
Silk almondmilk and Silk organic soymilk have less sugar, cholesterol and calories than skimmed milk or 2% dairy milk.
Check out the comparison taken from their website below:
Another reason to spend a few more bucks on organic: while both organic and conventional whole milk have the same amount of fat, organic has a better balance of essential fatty acids, including 62% more Omega-3s and 25% fewer omega-6s. Limiting intake of the latter can help reduce the risk of a variety of chronic conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease and autoimmune disorders. To learn more about the difference between Omega-3s and Omega-6s, spend some time reading this article.
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Here's a good reason to start drinking Silk: You can now order Silk soymilk online in Singapore and Malaysia! They don't carry almond milk (for now) as the shelf life is quite short, but you can get other varieties of soymilk including chocolate and vanilla.
Use the discount code below upon checkout to get 10% off Silk products and all other products listed except those already on promotion. Valid for both online stores until 30th April 2014.
Discount code: FAY
Here are some exercise tips you can try at home to shape up that body! The videos were made a while back, hence the long hair
You may choose to do either 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps for each exercise (rest between 30 to 60 seconds in between sets) OR if you looking to do a bit of cardio, try the HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) method. I use the Gymboss app on my phone to set up the interval timer.
To do the HIIT method, follow the sequence below:
Bulgarian split squats (20 or 30 secs)
Tricep dips (20 or 30 secs)
Squat sidekick (20 or 30 secs)
Plank squat (20 or 30 secs)
Plank twist (20 or 30 secs)
Single arm toe touch (20 or 30 secs)
REST (40 or 60 secs)
Do as many reps as you can for each exercise in either 20 or 30 seconds (depending on your fitness level) and move on to the next. Rest period is either 40 or 60 seconds (if you worked for 20 secs, rest for 40 secs / if you worked for 30 secs, rest for 60). Repeat the sequence for a total of 3 times.
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1) Start off with the legs and work on your balance and glutes with the Bulgarian split squat.
The two bottles you see next to chair are my homemade dumbbells! Look for a plastic bottle that comes in an hourglass shape so it's easy to hold on to. Fill it up with sand, beans or even just water and voila! You got yourself a recyclable 2-pound dumbbell.
2) For the arms and triceps, use a stable dining chair to do tricep dips:
Tricep Dips - Watch the video
3) For hips and legs, bring out the ninja in you with this squat + sidekick combo:
Squat + Sidekick Combo - Watch the video
4) Work up a sweat and engage those abs with this plank to squat move.
*Make sure your hands are directly in line with your shoulder in a plank/push-up position. Brace your core and make sure that your back is flat and your head, neck and spine are in a straight line. Avoid letting your stomach drop or allow your hips to rise up.
5) Move on to the obliques while keeping the heart rate up with this plank twist.
6) Lay down on a mat or towel and fire up those abs with single arm toe touches.
Enjoy your home workout!
When you are feeling good, you are not overly concerned with yourself. Things are just good. When you are feeling bad, you are usually overly concerned with yourself. Things are bad because you are bad. That is the kind of unconscious thought about yourself that can hurt you. That is why it is important to consciously think of yourself. If you do not think consciously about yourself, you will think unconsciously about yourself. When you think about yourself consciously, those hurtful unconscious thoughts can’t sneak up on you so easily.
As you think consciously of yourself, remember that you are not what you think you are. That is especially true if you think you are somehow awful. The opposite is also true. You are what you think you are. That is why it is important to pay attention to what you think you are, because you will convince yourself that you are that. If you consciously decide what you are, then you have a good starting point. You will know just where you stand with yourself.
As you decide what you are, you should ask yourself a few basic questions. You should ask yourself if you would like happiness for yourself. You should ask yourself if you would like happiness for others. You should ask yourself if you and others deserve happiness. If the answers to these questions are yes, yes and yes, then you know that you are something extraordinarily good and deserving. From that point forward, you can continue to think consciously about yourself and not allow yourself to believe any thoughts which suggest that you are anything less.
The difficulty with unconscious thoughts is that they are unconscious. They are hard to see. When you can’t see the thoughts you can still feel the feelings that they produce. If you are feeling good, good. You’re not thinking bad things about yourself. If you are feeling bad, watch to see what you think is wrong with you and don’t believe it. Remind yourself that you are wonderful and you deserve happiness.
"Embrace and make peace with where you are, and your journey toward something new will feel much more peaceful, rewarding, and satisfying."
It can be very hard to know ourselves; it’s easy to be distracted by the way we wish we were, or think we ought to be, or what others think we should be, until we lose sight of what is actually true. Since my trip to Vikasa last November, I've been inspired to meditate more in order to create self-awareness and reflect deeper on my thoughts.
Instead of coming up with a whole list of new year resolutions, this year I came up with a lifetime resolution. I'm focusing more attention on my mind and soul while taking care and nourishing my body for good health. I'd like to be more in touch with my deeper thoughts, emotions and relationships with others.
Why is this suddenly important to me?
For most of us life is a series of practiced steps. Daily, weekly, monthly routines…routines piggyback routines as months turn into years and our lives race by. Have you ever stopped asked yourself why?
Why do I follow these routines? What do they do for me? Are they moving me towards my higher goals? Are they moving me towards my life’s purpose? Are they helping me become the person I want to be?
To answer these questions and to re-evaluate our assumed routines, we need to increase our self-awareness. Being self-aware can help us re-prioritise our lives so that we live in accordance with what really matters to us; so that every day we are moving ourselves closer to the place and the person we want to be.
Self-awareness is more than just knowing our strengths and weaknesses. Becoming self-aware means acknowledging that there are things we do that keep us from living the life we want. That is why increasing self-aware is difficult; it means asking hard questions; it means facing ourselves fully; it means recognizing and admitting our limitations.
When we fully know and understand ourselves; when we can look at our vulnerabilities and not cringe, we will be able to make changes. We will be able to stop repeating the same mistakes. We will be able to consciously adopt new routines that do move us towards the person and the place we want to be.
Join me on this new journey of self-discovery. Let's get to know ourselves and open up to those who provide inspiration in our lives. Be happy. Appreciate this moment. Resist nothing. Love yourself and others. Be grateful for small blessings.
Make happiness your number one priority.
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So there. That's what my mind has been occupied with in the last two months since I updated this blog. I hope it gives you something to think about... Speaking of updates, let's pick it up from where we left off - from around November 2013 until now. Prepare for a long post!
Here's what you missed:
When friends saw my new haircut they asked "Why did you cut your hair?"
I asked myself why having long hair had been so important to me and I'll be honest, I realized it had something to do with some deep insecurities… 1) I’d play with my hair when I felt nervous and 2) most men tend to think women look more beautiful with long hair.
So fucking what.
Let's set this straight: It’s not about your hair, it’s not about looking good with make-up on. I wanted to feel confident the way I am and I wanted to try something new for myself. So I turned to my stylist Glenn, from Essensuals Bugis, and told him I want to brave a new haircut. I fell in love with it immediately. I wouldn't have known I'd like something different for myself had I not stepped outside the comfort zone.
Charles grew a mo' for Movember, changing his look entirely as the weeks passed. I didn't realize how different he looked until the end of the month when he finally shaved it off! I'm happy with my mo'less Charles.
December was Charlie's birthday and we celebrated with an intimate dinner with some close friends at Don Quijote.
On his birthday weekend, we checked out the treetop walk at Macritchie with our good friend, Mark. If you haven't been here before, it's definitely worth checking out! The view is amazing. It just feels good to be surrounded by nature.
We spent Christmas in Hong Kong with Charlie's family and enjoyed more outdoorsy stuff...
After a week in Hong Kong spending quality time with the family, we headed back to Singapore to re-pack our bags for a holiday in Bali. Looks like Denpasar airport just got upgraded to meet the high demand of tourists coming into town during peak season.
We stayed in Ubud for the first time to avoid the crowded areas like Kuta and Seminyak during the holiday season.
We had a lovely dinner at Il Giardino on New Years Eve, definitely check out this restaurant if you're craving Italian food in Bali! Romantic atmosphere, great service and really, really good Italian food. Weather was not on our side though, as it poured the whole night. We decided to skip Kuta after dinner since we figured traffic might be bad on the way there especially with the rain... and it was, even those in Kuta had trouble getting around as roads were blocked for NYE).
A bottle of wine was all we needed to top the night.
The next morning, we checked out and took a flight on Merpati airlines to Lombok. The flight was delayed for a while, most likely due to the bad weather, but I heard this happens a lot with Merpati. Despite the challenges, it was our first time in Lombok and definitely not the last.
Arcing away from the northwest corner of Lombok, are 3 idyllic atolls, where the sand is still powdery white, the water a clear sparkling turquoise, and the sunsets over Bali’s volcano Mt. Agung in the west simply spectacular. Described as pearls in the ocean and located just north of Lombok, the Gili Islands, which comprises the three islands of Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan, are fringed with white sands and lush palm trees.
We ventured to Gili Air, after we finally managed to charter a private boat to take us there. I feared we wouldn't get to go at first because of the bad weather but luckily... the sun came up for a while!
We were lucky that it stopped raining for a few hours that day because as soon as we got back to our villa, it started raining cats and dogs... all night.
We checked out the next day and drove to Kuta (Lombok) for lunch at restaurant in Novotel. I'd love to stay there next time, the hotel villas looked amazing... the best part is, the beach was only a few steps away.
After a lunch, we flew back to Bali on Merpati Air and stayed at a beach house in Padang Padang. The house was exactly 90 steps down the cliff, a bit of an adventure to get to but it was right by the beach. During high tide, usually at night, bigger waves would crash onto our decks.
It was straight back to work after that longholiday. Getting back into my usual training was a struggle at first but seeing people workout at UFIT, even the trainers, gave me the motivation I needed. I met the winners of #fitwithfay + #mygirls contest and gave them their free yoga mat plus 1-hour trial personal training at UFIT.
Hope you all enjoyed the PT session and make use of that pink adidas yoga mat daily!
When Stuff magazine Singapore asked if I wanted to shoot for their cover and write a review about the adidas miCoach Smart Run, I was more than happy to, especially being I'm a huge gadget nerd myself. Gotta love Stuff, it's a great magazine to refer to if you're curious about the latest tech toys in town, it might even give you some gift ideas for that special someone.
I visited KL for a cover shoot for Health & Beauty magazine and stayed for the weekend to hangout with old friends. How I've missed you guys!
Charlie and I spent the following weekend in Bangkok for a friend's wedding ( #JahKnightWedding ). I was pleasantly surprised to bump into #mygirls Thailand, Si Phitsinee there!
Alright that's all I have for now. Next, I'll share a bit about the adidas miCoach Smart Run, healthyMEtv, Boombot Rex speakers and my favorite green juice recipes. Stay tuned!
One of the things I enjoy about living in Singapore is the abundance of new restaurants and food options - from local delights to exotic cuisines, there's always something new to try. But of course, being a health nut like myself, the real challenge in discovering good food, is finding GOOD, HEALTHY FOOD.
So I heard about this Mediterranean joint that just opened a second outlet in Singapore after the success of its first one at Marina Bay Sands. Pita Pan is spreading the message of healthy, vegetarian eating, through Mediterranean inspired food. The new outlet at Marina Square opened its doors in August with new items added to the menu further increasing the array of healthy options available.
Presented in a casual bistro style, you can create your own healthy pita pockets choosing from a selection of up to 35 salads and sauces. The wholesome pita pockets can be enjoyed while on the go or at either of the 60-seater bistro, located conveniently in the city for busy executives.
As I wasn't able to come for their food tasting, Pita Pan had thoughtfully pre-packed lunch and delivered it straight to my home so I can have a taste of what they had to offer before checking out restaurant itself.
One my favorite treats is a piping hot batch of sweet potato fries. Now we've all heard that sweet potatoes are somewhat healthier than white potatoes. How much healthier? The main difference depends on the way it is cooked, of course. Nutritionally, sweet potatoes have more soluble fiber and its carbs have a lower glycemic index compared to white potatoes.
The sweet potato fries served at Pita Pan was fried so it's not exactly a healthy choice if you're trying to watch your waist. But if you're in for a treat, I'd say it was worth the calories!
A favourite at Pita Pan are the "pockets". Full pocket or half pocket, you can enjoy crispy, savory green, red or plain chickpea falafels, wrapped in your choice of freshly baked pita bread in plain, wholemeal, za’atar or sumac and topped with one or more of their signature salads and sauces.
Don't you hate it when you get takeout and the food gets all soggy? Surprisingly, the food stayed fresh and the broccoli was nice and crunchy. I was almost full by the time I finished the half whole wheat pita pocket with falafel and sweet potato fries, but the spicy red shashuka looked too good to save for later. So I took a pinch of the pita bread and dipped it in the red shashuka. It was pretty spicy, but really good!
Definitely a great place to check out if you're looking for a quick, healthy meal in the city center. It's good to have a full vegetarian meal at least once a week, don't you think?
Pita Pan @ Marina Bay Sands
L1-87, Bay Level br, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands,2 Bay Avenue, Singapore 018972
Pita Pan @ Marina Square, 6 Raffles Blvd Marina Square 02-183A
(if you're coming from City Hall MRT, exit at Marina Square and walk towards One Raffles Link. Take the escalator up two floors from the MRT to the second floor. You will find Pita Pan 2 just across the connecting bridge).
Operating Hours - Sun - Thu 11am to 11pm / Fri and Sat 11am to 12midnight
When life gets too hectic in the city center, plan an escape and go on a little island getaway. Take the time to relax your mind and heal your soul. Even if it's just for the weekend...
A couple of weeks ago, I ventured to Koh Samui for the first time and did a 3-day yoga retreat at Vikasa. Vikasa Yoga Retreat is set in a spectacular ocean cliff side environment which gives you breathtaking sea-views throughout the resort, be it from the yoga salas, the rooms, the infinity pool or the restaurant.
Although Mother Nature doesn't always follow the rules, Southeast Asia weather is somewhat predictable with two distinct seasons: wet and dry. I was aware that the 'wet season' in Koh Samui falls around mid-October to mid-December, but I wasn't going to let a little rain dampen my spirits. I couldn't spend another weekend in a concrete jungle.
Charlie and I booked our tickets on Bangkok Air and arrived in Samui on a Friday night. It started to pour just as we were leaving the airport but we had already planned to spend the night in anyway. Rainy weather makes staying in on a Friday night all the more cozy!
Much to our surprise, when we arrived in our room, we were welcomed with fresh fruits, coconut drinks and a bottle of white wine. A thoughtful complimentary gift from Vadim, who had invited us to stay at Vikasa.
The next morning at 9am, I attended the Hatha Flow yoga class conducted by Betti. The word Hatha means willful or forceful. Hatha yoga refers to a set of physical exercises (known as asanas or postures), and sequences of asanas, designed to align your posture, muscles and bones. The postures are also designed to open the many energy channels of the body so that energy can flow freely.
Hatha is also translated as "Ha" means Sun and "tha" meaning Moon. This refers to the balance of masculine and feminine aspect within all of us. Hatha Yoga is a path toward creating balance and uniting opposites. In our physical bodies we develop a balance of strength and flexibility, reflected in our minds as well, making us more calm and kind to others. Hatha yoga is a powerful tool for self-transformation, or evolution. It asks us to bring our attention to our breath, which helps us to still the fluctuations of the mind and be more present in each moment.
I had never practiced yoga outdoors and I must say, the sound of the ocean made the whole experience truly enjoyable. The Hatha Flow class helped me tremendously with stress, relaxation, anxiety and overall well-being.
After class, I headed to the Vikasa Restaurant for a hearty breakfast with a breathtaking view of Samui. The organic restaurant serve a combination of vegan-friendly, international, fusion, western, raw, Thai as well as non-vegetarian dishes.
I love oats for breakfast. Maybe it has got to do with a happy childhood memory I have of my granddad who used to make me Quaker oats when I spent weekends in his home. The wholesome oats served at restaurant had raisins and honey in it, sweet and delicious!
After breakfast, we headed back to our room to change into our swimsuits for a dip in the pool.
I couldn't help but notice the attention to detail on our room door number... Isn't that cute?
Our cozy room overlooks the ocean and the villa's infinity pool.
It rained again on Saturday afternoon. In fact, it was storming! We took the time for ourselves and talked about subjects that were difficult to deal with at the time. We opened up to each other about childhood memories and things that really affected us in our lives. When faced with pressure (be with work or personal) and stress, we tend to supress certain thoughts and emotions. This can really affect our behavior and actions in the present. Perhaps it was the yoga session that morning that really inspired me, but I felt clarity that day. I was in the moment. It was a beautiful day. Stormy seas, but calm underwater.
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I woke up the next day to blue skies and serenity. It was almost as if it never rained. I could say that day was destined to be sunny so at least I got to see the glorious sun and the beauty of Koh Samui just before we had to leave.
I tried meditation for the first time. There's a free meditation and pranayama session every morning from 8am to 8.40am. It was a perfect way to get in the right frame of mind for the 9am yoga class. The class I attended was conducted by Sergio.
Meditation isn't just about relaxing or sitting there and zoning out. It’s really concentrating on emptying your mind and stopping it from running. That’s not easy when we’re trained to constantly be multitasking. Doing nothing is harder than it seems.
When your mind is relaxed, you can take in information with less distortion. You’re connected to your emotions, but rather than being overwhelmed or randomized, it’s more like using your emotions as input. When your mind is ready, you are responsive. You are able to easily see the situation and respond with skill instead of react out of fear or anxiety. When your mind is resourceful, you are able to easily think the thoughts that serve you. Your creative mind is ready to solve problems with you instead of work against you
After the meditation class, I headed to the other yoga sala located nearer to my room,next to the swimming pool.
The Vinyasa Flow class was also conducted by Sergio. A mixture of slow, dynamic asana, specific sequences performed with short hold times, typically for 1 or 2 breathing cycles followed by a series of asanas with special breathing awareness techniques and a longer hold 5-7 breathing cycles).
This class was milder in terms of physical effort but the subtle energetic effects can be deeply felt if you're able to follow the instructions and precise breathing. The session went on for a little over an hour and by the end of it I was hungry for some breakfast!
A trip to Koh Samui wouldn't be complete without visiting the spa. The Vikasa Ocean Spa offers a range of luxurious services that will leave you feeling relaxed and refresh. They specialize in authentic Thai massage as well as Swedish and Indian massage styles. The spa is open air and constructed on a natural ocean cliff side.
It was a truly unique experience to get a massage in the open air that allows fresh breeze to flow and the sound of the waves just makes you feel at ease. We did the Swedish massage, which was relaxing but also revitalizing.
I wished we had more time for adventures in Samui, but I found comfort in knowing that I will definitely be back soon. After checking out, we caught up with Vadim and Kosta for lunch at W Hotel.
Konstantin ‘Kosta’ Miachin and his pioneering brand of yoga called Vikasa, represent the ‘evolution of yoga’. His practice and teachings have brought him to all corners of the world. Vikasa yoga center is dedicated to the study of yoga, holistic health and consciousness evolution.
The vision for Vikasa yoga was born on Koh Samui with Kosta’s realization that the deeper dimension of yoga is a spiritual journey and a conscious evolution of the individual. Seeing this as the ultimate human endeavor, he committed his life to supporting others on this path.
Thank you for inviting us to stay at Vikasa. The yoga and meditation classes were inspiring, and as mentioned in my interview for Livefitter and Shape magazine, I plan to take up a yoga teacher training course next year. Hopefully this brings me back to Vikasa. I have a good feeling it will!
If you answered, “yes” to any of these questions, then you are ready to go deeper into your practice and experience of Yoga. Vikasa is holding an online contest which offers 1-month Yoga Teacher Training in Koh Samui for the winner. Check out the website for contest details.
Does this inspire you? Support the Vikasa campaign on indiegogo!
For more beautiful photos of Vikasa, check out their blog.