I used to run a minute and feel tired. Today was 27.5 minutes without a break and change in pace! Still lots of room for improvement but its definitely a celebrated milestone for me!

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Are you unhappy about your weight or your body shape? Whether you are thin, or plump, or untoned, or just simply not feeling your best even by putting on your best outfit, do take some time to read on. This article might just help you find back your ideal self!

Born and spent all my life in Singapore, I am shamefaced at how bad we Singaporeans eat. 80% of our food choices consist of more unhealthy (simple) carbohydrates than healthy proteins or vegetables. Not to even mention the oily, salty, lots of gravy, lots of seasoning added food out there to whet our appetite and probably resulting in us eating more than what we should actually consume.

Nutrition is a complex subject. Here, a picture probably speaks a thousand words in explaining what makes up a healthy meal portion.

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*Image Courtesy of Harvard School of Public Health

This is an ideal Plate Portion diagram. The biggest mistake commonly made with our diet is having too much of carbohydrates (stated as ‘Whole Grains’ in the chart), and too little of vegetables and fruits.

Replace starchy processed complex carbohydrates for natural ones :

Instead of having white bread, white rice, white pasta, cakes etc; opt for wholemeal bread, oats, nuts, brown rice, potatoes, beans etc.

Obtain natural simple carbohydrates from fruits :

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Simple carbs are also known as sugar. Our body requires sugar (in the form of glucose) for readily available fuel for our brain and muscles. Having sweets, chocolates, cakes, pastries etc is very unhealthy. Choose from fruits and vegetables. They not only provide sugars but other important vitamins as well.

Find the ‘greenest’ vegetables :

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We have heard of ‘color plating’, and choose vegetables that are really green or colorful. The really colorful ones do contain more vitamins, minerals and fibres.  Choose from vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale, capsicum etc. Mix them with slight starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, corn, pumpkins, root vegetables. Best to eat some of the greeny vegetables raw.

Good protein source for muscle building :

Protein sources are aplenty. We have animal protein (your regular meat, fish, eggs, dairy products) and plant protein (peas, beans, tofu, grains, nuts, cereals etc.) In healthy eating terms, you should aim to have more plant protein than meat protein. The latter is usually high in fat and cooked with lots of oil. Plant-based proteins are easier to digest and are low in fat and high in fibre.

Our body needs all the right nutrients to function at its optimum. 3 meals a day is essential. The more you wish to lose (or gain) weight, the more important it is for you to have your 3 meals a day. Instead of cutting out a meal, go for a smaller plate instead, bearing in mind to still keep the portions right.

Many of you may ask : Why do we need to eat especially to lose weight?

Regardless of whether you eat or not, your body still carries on functioning. The body is like a machine that does its work round the clock. Because we need food to burn to give us energy, starving yourself make your body work harder finding the ‘fuel’ to burn. It is important to keep your metabolism fired up with the right food at certain times of the day. Skipping meals make you hungrier later and that sets your body off to crave for sugary and fatty food as these provide a faster energy boost as compared to a steady energy releasing protein.

Skipping meals gave you an uneven distribution of calories.

When your body skips a meal, it results in a downtime where your body is not getting its ‘fuel’ supply to burn for energy. No one meal should be so insignificant that you skip it, because without calories to provide energy, your body starts to react badly by feeling fatigue, stress, mood swings etc.

Your body is not getting the energy it needs to function properly.

Because your body is not able to function properly, your daily activities suffer. Your productivity and output will decrease because your body reacts badly in any possible way you can think of. When you are working, you might not be able to focus. When you are engaging in any physical activity, you feel tired and lack of energy.

Create cravings which will foster bad eating habits.

Sugary or starchy foods are known to give you a quick energy boost. These includes biscults, chocolates, pizzas, noodles, rice, cakes, pastries etc. These carbohydrates give you a quick perk-me-up, but it dips really fast making you feel depleted and craving for more sweets. You probably end up feeling ‘full’ from all the unhealthy snacks and junk food.

Causes overeating without realizing it.

Your guilt may get to you after having all the snacks before, and when it comes to meal times you try to ingest a usual portion of your meal. In turn, you end up overeating and what the body does not absorbed properly turns into fats. Yuck!

***

Now, if you know you have been eating unhealthy all these while, isn’t it a good time to start making a change? If you have a choice between fat, unhealthy, and feeling sickly all the time vs healthy, radiant, having bountiful energy, which would you choose?

Your health (and how you look) is ALWAYS your choice. Don’t give in to laziness or convenience.Let me know how you kickstart a good dieting habit!

Like everyone else, I don’t claim to have perfect skin. In my thirties, my skin is showing signs of aging and I am constantly battling the problems people in my age group have regarding their skin. Enlarged pores, sagging skin, uneven skin tone etc. On my ‘skincare-sabbatical’ days, I find my skin looking dull, tired and congested!

Here, I share with you some of the simplest skincare tips that everyone should be committed to follow. They are the ground rules for good skin, the most basic practices you must follow. You wouldn’t need to buy any products I use or endorse, just stick with your favorites. A little more mindful and extra awareness will show you great results in your skin!

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Spend an extra minute removing your makeup.

If you are using a oil based or cream makeup remover, increase your makeup removal process by an extra minute than your usual time. Go in circular motions with your fingers and clean out every inch of your face, especially the T-zone area. This process should take not lesser than 3-4 minutes.

Spend an extra minute washing your face.

Just as you will spend an extra minute removing your makeup, you should spend an extra minute more than your usual to cleanse your face. Pores are small pits in your face, and just a simple ‘wipe-across’ will not remove all traces of dirt and makeup trapped in your pores. Keep going in small circular motions around every part of your face. Again, ideally give it a nice gentle massage for about 3-4 minutes.

Hydrate yourself well.

Drink more water. A good gauge will be going to the toilet about 5-7 times a day.  Again, this is personal. I try to drink 2 litres of plain water a day. Increase your water intake so long you are comfortable with it. Keep to it for a week and you will see a difference.

Exfoliate frequently.

Dermatologists and experts always recommend exfoliate once or twice a week. I myself like to exfoliate at least 3-4 times a week with an everyday mild scrub. These ‘everyday’ mild scrubs are like what their names suggest – safe for everyday use. The key is to instead be scrubbing your skin really hard, go for gentle circular motions but increasing the time you scrub. Over-exfoliation with harsh scrubs may cause irritation.

Change your face towel once a week. 

Imagine the dust that settles on your towel, and not to mention how facial oil and filth that can be rubbed onto your towel. Change them at least once a week to make sure you are not having dirty objects in contact with your face.

Change your pillow cases once a week.

When we are at rest, we perspire, our skin secretes oil, dead skin cells slough off while our skin repairs itself, our hair tends to produce oil and we salivate at times. The bacteria remains on our pillow every night as we sleep. Changing our pillow cases will ensure our facial skin keeps contact with clean surfaces.

Wash your makeup brushes and sponges once every few days or at least weekly.

Most of us tend to ignore the cleanliness of our makeup brushes. Again, think keeping everything we use on our face clean. Brushes collect dirt and bacteria as we use them everyday sweeping makeup and mixing our skin’s sebum on our faces. Wash them regularly also ensures clean and neat application of our makeup.

Do not touch your face without washing your hands.

Avoid having to touch your face with unclean hands. In fact, our hands are ALWAYS unclean unless you have just washed them. Bacteria and germs are invisible to the naked eye. Always wash your hands with soap and warm water before you touch your face.

Avoid clogging your pores with facial products.

Using non-comedogenic products that promises not to clog your pores? Everyone’s skin has a different absorption ability. Some people have skin that absorbs moisture and products faster than others (probably due to drier skin). Because this varies, piling on many types of skincare products one after another could possibly be causing too much product residue on your skin. They will, eventually, be absorbed in. However, to improve the efficacy of each product, try to allow for a 5-min interval between each skincare product so to ensure they get absorbed in properly before you apply the next.

Don’t ignore the peripherals of your face.

We tend to look front-on into the mirror, and because many of us tend to focus on the T-zone area (esp. so if we have oily or combination skin), we may at times overlook the peripherals of our face. Even application of skincare products is essential to ensure our face gets the same treatment evenly. Always remember when cleansing, washing and applying skincare products, get to the edges of our hairlines, chins, under our jaws. You want every inch of your skin to look beautiful and pampered.

Use a sunblock. Always.

Many people do not realize the importance of sunblock. UV rays are the number one energy when it comes to premature aging, uneven skin tones and pigmentations. Staying indoors does not mean that if you are out of the sun, you will be safe from UV rays. UV rays are everywhere where you can see light. I recommend anything from SPF 30-50 for daily use, with PA+++. SPF protects again UVB rays, and PA+++ protects against UVA rays that does more long term damage. Opt for the more +’s, the better.

No excessive tugging of your skin.

Why do we emphasize on not tugging your skin downwards? Imagine years of age with skin losing its elasticity, resulting in sagging of our skin. Every time you have to apply products, do so in an upward and outward motion. It is said that if this action is done religiously without fail, it can delay facial sagging and creates a lifting effect.

Moisturizing.

Lastly, remember to moisturize your face ideally every time after you wash your face. Some cleansers strip off the moisture on your skin and moisturizing after washing is the best time to replenish the lost moisture. Be sure to moisturize twice a day, ideally once in the morning and once before bedtime.

Keep these in mind, and practice them everyday faithfully. Make them a habit of your skincare routine. Remember, with the right effort and dedication, you can change anything. Discard bad habits, and learn good ones. Be disciplined and you will definitely see results. Regardless of age, you can make a change. 🙂

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What are some of your must-do beauty tips? Share them with me! I would love to hear from you beauties out there.

I had the chance to meet up with a wellness coach today. He is the one who has indirectly helped me to achieve what I have today (in terms of health and energy levels). I was given me a ‘health talk’ back then and the re-evaluation of my health got me to become more conscious of what is happening in my body. In turn, I purchased some of my health supplements through him.

Following that, for the next two years, I have been eating relatively healthy. I do not drink (unless over business meetings), I do not smoke. I do not do late nights. Very good!

I too, watch what I put into my mouth. I cut off deep-fried and oily food totally. I opt for healthy choices every meal. I drink lots of water in a day. I make sure I get my necessary nutrition everyday. And just a couple of months back, I started exercising. Not too late, always better than never. 🙂

I know everything that I should do to keep my body healthy. And I am pretty sure everyone has that basic concept of what healthy living is.

However, how difficult is it to lead a healthy lifestyle? What must you do, and where should you start?

Here, I share with you 6 steps (JUST 6 STEPS) to a healthy you (GUARANTEED!) :

  • Eat well. (Get your basic nutrition right. Eating well involves complex food science and nutrition knowledge. The best way to start is to cut off sugary, oily, and processed food. Try to eat natural wholesome food as much as possible, and always opt for something that is a more ‘bland’ alternative.)

healthy salad

  • Sleep enough. (8 hrs is ideal. Get into a regular routine by trying to sleep at a certain fixed time every night. The best time to rest should preferably be before midnight.)

sleep well

  • Drink lots of water (8 glasses is what we know, however glass size differs. Ideally your body needs around 1.8 – 2.5 litres of water a day. Try the water intake calculator based on your weight here. )

drink water

  • Exercise. (Just getting your body to move as little as 15 mins a day will help. Daily running or brisk walking is a good exercise to start off with involving all parts of your body. It is said that just that little effort a day could possibly add years to your life!)

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  • Eat your breakfast. (Your first meal of the day couldn’t be more important. Read my previous post on the importance of breakfast here.)

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  • Think Healthy  (Thinking happy and positive thoughts forms a healthy mindset that gives you the awareness you need to do everything ‘healthier’.)

Happy-Woman

Simple, isn’t it? Just 6 steps to kickstart to a healthier lifestyle.

The key is to learn how to ‘fine-tune‘ your health. This means making small adjustments for optimal performance and results. The way to doing this for you is to set realistic goals. Start with a 1-3 day sugar-free diet, or choose to exercise for 3 times a week. Make small changes. Do what you think is possible to achieve but yet requires a little extra effort from your willpower.  You will soon realize that once your body is able to achieve the goals you set for the first 3 days or a week, your mental power will increase and that is when you can push yourself further to carry on the hard effort. No change is easy, and no change will allow you to stay put in your comfort zone. We are so attuned to the ‘easy way out’ that we succumb to our laziness and reluctance to change. Once you realize you are actually capable of doing it, that gives your more determination to carry on. Before you know it, you will be kicking off all the bad diet habits and basking in a wholesome lifestyle!

Buddy up with your best friend or your partner and chances are it will double the determination. We like to be given the lead. We like to be given goals to achieve. Have a companion to motivate you will help you see results faster!

For the benefit of your own health, start making a change today! Tell me how you start, and how well you keep to it! Remember, you are always able to do more than what your body thinks you can.

With love.

Want to be fair like Snow White? Here’s my little secret!

How many whitening products have you used over the years and I bet that would have cost you a lot of money. I have been into natural skincare remedies for a couple of years now, and I recommend that to anyone because it is inexpensive and effective!

In Asia, girls like to look fair. However, as we age, it is not our skin tone that bothers us that much anymore. We start to develop other skin problems with prolonged exposure to sun – uneven skin tone, redness, sun spots, pigmentation etc.

Here is one of my favorite natural remedy. Its fast, easy and inexpensive, and it couldn’t get any simpler than this!

Milk mask helps to achieve a milky white skin tone, moisturizing it to attain baby-soft and supple skin. It helps to reduce irregularity of skin tone, keeps your complexion blemish-free with regular application, and because skin is moisturized, it helps reduce any fine lines and wrinkles that might be starting to form! Did I mention too that is it has wonderful remover and cleansing properties as well?

Imagine feeding your skin like how you will feed your body. The milk offers your skin essential nutrients, like:

  • Proteins – essential for building healthy skin cells;
  • Lactic acid – a natural alpha hydroxyl acid, or AHA, which helps to remove the dead skin cells that block the pores and hamper the skin’s natural renewal process
  • Vitamins and minerals – help to keep the skin healthy and protected from infections and premature aging.

What you need :

  • A clean bowl (I use a special bowl just for my facial mixes)
  • Cotton pads
  • Mixing spoon / spatula
  • Clean facial masks sheet (optional)
  • Fresh Milk

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Wash your face clean and pat dry. Soak cotton pads into fresh milk until it is dripping wet. Apply all over your face once in circular motion. You may even find some residue of your makeup that did not get washed off clean before. Repeat until you have covered your skin in a layer of milk. You may choose to soak clean facial mask sheets into milk and apply it as a wet mask onto your face. Either way works well.

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Remove the mask by washing your face with lukewarm water. Make sure to wash it clean before you go to bed. I like to use a facial wash sponge for this.  Apply your bedtime skincare before you sleep. I prefer to go less on my products after my milk mask so my skin gets all the natural nutrients for the night!

Now, here’s Cleopatra’s favorite beauty secret for you!

cleopatra-in-bath

Give it a go! And let me know if you like it.

My life had been pretty average. Life used to just revolve around work, laze, surf, more lazing, eat, meet up with close friends, laze, surf (tech is a killer!) and sleep. Pretty occupied, I must say. But, fulfilling? I guess I’ve learnt now that its not.

Before, I treaded on everyday, just doing what was in front of me. I wasn’t spontaneous like how I want myself to be. I was afraid to try the less familiar, afraid of embarrassment, afraid of failures, afraid of ‘what ifs‘. I fall into this category of people who tries to make the best without wanting to move out of my comfort zone.

Now, I feel a changed person. Fitness has changed me. Or rather, vanity has. I wanted to change my ugly looking thighs.

The amazing thing about Fitness is it creates body awareness. Or perhaps it was Pilates that did that. Working out every muscle group in your body seems to have woken up every single one of them. They feel energized, alive, and always wanting to move! It has gotten to the point where I feel tired when I am not exercising.

So many positive things are happening to me now and I bet this has really changed my life and perspective.

Improved Posture : I no longer walk or stand with a slouch -who wants to look 10 times worse when they can look better? Standing or walking straight improves posture and allows for an even-workout for your body.

(Crazily) Healthy Dieting : I watch what I eat, closely – Working out everyday to burn out body fat and build lean muscles, how a tiny bit of junk food or unhealthy diet can write off your hard work of one session?

Spontaneous : I am more ready to try new things – Now that I feel I am fitter than before, the want to try more stuff is burning in me. Rock-climbing, horseback riding, run events, trekking…

Prioritizing the Necessary : I put my health before everything else – I’ve learned that we are what we eat, what we do, and that good health and great energy is achievable so long we have the right knowledge and mentality to change it.

Going Minimalistic : I focus less on who I am, how i look – Rather than applying loads of makeup to hide behind a lack of confidence, I am now happy with minimal, confident enough just to go au naturale and it does feel more comfortable to ‘focus less’ on yourself.

Happier : We all know exercise lift moods. When you exercise your brain releases endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine. All these work together to make you feel good. On top of that, you feel relaxed and calm after, and a deep sense of achievement when you push yourself harder and harder.

Is life hitting your hard? Is stress bogging you down? You can make the change, if you allow yourself to. The world is moving so fast everyday that the true achievers are the ones who have time for themselves, and allow for time to look within. There is nothing more important than insuring in quality health so we live happier day by day.

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It is time to do something for yourself, starting from today 🙂

With Love.

Its been a while since the fad on raw food diet, but there are still many of us who remain skeptical to it, having reservations about the idea thinking our body may not adjust to it.

I caught a segment on my local tv today, and there we have a naturopath and nutritionist introducing the raw food diet (short RFD). Here’s a little bit of research I’ve done and would like to share with my readers, hopefully me and you girls out there can start a plan to work on this together.

Why eat raw food? 

Food is believed to retain most of its nutrients when it is uncooked. In a RFD, much as most of the food is eaten raw, heating is acceptable so long it is kept between 40-47 deg Celsius (104 – 118 deg. Fahrenheit). Cooking food is said to denature the enzymes found in natural food. These enzymes help us to digest food and to absorb the nutrients properly. If food is cooked, the enzymes will be lost, and thus this drives our body to work hard to produce more enzymes to aid digestion and absorption. In the long run, this cause digestive problems, nutrient deficiency, premature aging, and unhealthy weight gain.

Cooking also promotes the formation of potentially harmful compounds in food during high heat cooking, such as advanced glycation end products and heterocyclic amines.

To summarize the benefits (you probably only be looking at this section!)

  • Cooking kills food. Most nutrients will be dead in cooked food.
  • Cooking kills enzymes in the food. Enzymes help our body to break down the nutrients.
  • Energy boost, its said that it gives you energy for a longer period of time.
  • Boost bowel movements. High fibre food helps regulate your bowel movements.Getting waste out of your body fast and frequent should only be good.
  • No controlled portions, as you hardly feel really full eating raw food. Its the carbs that make us feel full fast.
  • It helps you sleep better. As with any well balanced and healthy body, you work better, and you sleep better too.
  • Some said going on raw food makes them think and concentrate better.
  • Clearer skin. When you have a healthier body system, your skin benefits too.
  • Cleaner kitchens! Yes, you reduce on cooking and hence lesser clean ups!

rawfoodpyramid

Follow the Raw Food Pyramid as a guide to the proportions of the meal. Load up on “Eat Generously” and go low on “Eat Sparingly” foods.

 What types of food for RFD?

  • Green leafy vegetables – green leafy ones preferred. Hybrid vegetables (ie. beets, carrots, potatoes etc) should be avoided.
  • Fruits – tomatoes, cucumbers etc. Avoid seedless hybrid fruit.
  • Fats – Plant fruit that contains fat. (ie. avocados, olives, nuts etc)
  • Dairy Products – These should be raw (ie. raw milk, cheese made from raw milk etc)
  • Protein – Meat that are eaten raw (ie.sashimi, ceviche (raw fish), or carpaccio (raw meat))
  • Avoid food that could be grown with pesticides, additives, food color or dyes. Best recommended organic food range.

Transitional Strategy

This should be the most important part of the article. Most of us will find it hard to switch fully to a RFD, but the key is always adjustment. Start off with one meal a day, and gradually incorporate that into all our meals.

  1. For meat lovers, switch beef to pork, then to chicken, then to fish. This is a gradual but excellent way to let go of animal foods.
  2. Cooked food should be eaten in the evening. Try to combine this with salad or some fresh fruit-vegetable juice will be good.
  3. Starchy food should preferably be sweet fruits or roots (ie. sweet potatoes, yams etc)

Be easy and not too hard on yourself. Remember, your body sends out signals when it has problems adjusting to it. Look out for these signals.Try to keep to raw and organic food as much as possible, and try not to break the chain. It may seem tough at a start, but with discipline and faith, it should work well.

Here’s my salad for the day. Haven’t had one for a long time, with a little cheating of a small meat portion as I need my meaty proteins from all the exercising.

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Are you a raw food junkie? If not, are you ready to start your journey? Share with us how yours went, if you have already done so.

Fitness trackers are all the rage. They are devices that help us keep our fitness level in line. For many of  us, getting into fitness is like wanting to up the ‘cool’ level – we spend a great deal of money on gym gear, footwear, carryon accessories etc. And here, it is one more gadget to ‘entice’ us into getting more active.

Fitness trackers already available in the market includes Nike FuelBand, Fitbit Flex, Jawbone UP, Polar RCX5, Basis B1 etc. Each one offering basic heart rate monitoring, movement tracking, pedometer and calories meter…

fitness tracks

Shine is a small dish-like looking device that looks modern and somewhat futuristic. It can be coupled with a whole range of attachments to double up as a fashion accessory.

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Shine focuses on its high wearability, its versatility and its ease of syncing.

Wear : Lots of accessories to suit every day look. Be it just a simple clasp which holds on to your clothing, choose from either a thin band for exercising, or a watch band to add a bit of bulk for every other occasion, there’s  even a neck strap to wear, almost like an ID plate.

Move : Shine brings you through your walking, cycling, running, swimming, jumping, skating, surfing etc and even works itself when you sleep.

Sync : Syncing a device has never been easier. No more USB ports. All you need to do is place it on your iPhone screen! How easier can it get. Set your goals and see your stats.

shine sync

Misfits has decided to do away with a digital display. I guess the future of technology helps you save time even down to the seconds used to read a display screen. Tap on the device and there will be tiny dots lighting up showing how many percentage of your goal has been achieved.

misfit-shine

The Shine  syncs to an app on your iPhone. The app’s simplistic interface tells you clearly if your goals are achieved and highlights your activity.

Shine also promises to last you a lifetime! Yes! It is made from aerospace grade aluminium and guaranteed water tightness. It has also won itself the Red Dot Design Award for Year 2013!

The future of fitness. Has it blown your mind?

Buy it from the Misfits website at $99.95 USD.

What fitness device do you use? How have they helped you in your performance in training?

We have heard lots of emphasis on breakfast being the most important meal of the day. To stay slim you need a good full breakfast? What is the science behind this saying?

Breakfast literally means to break the fast your body is in from the previous night of sleep. Imagine not eating for 8 hours in a row in day time – not quite possible as we keep burning calories from movement. Food is energy and fuel for our body and without the right food and nutrition, we probably end up with low energy levels or fighting off an unusual headache.

It is proven that eating a healthy wholesome breakfast helps to increase your metabolic rate and it kicks your body to start the gear, preparing it for the long day ahead. If you didn’t have breakfast,  your body doesn’t process the next meal as quickly and it will try to hold on whatever nutrients it hold. If lunch is your first meal of the day, it will  just hold on to the lunch instead of digesting it for energy gain.

Researches have shown that for people who usually skip breakfast, weight loss will become harder and tend to put on weight easily. Reason being, when your body doesn’t get the right nutrition to start off the day, it tends to crave for other food substitutes for energy. This often include the junk food and unhealthy snacks which are high in fats (for energy) and sugars. The tendency to eat more than your usual the next chance there is food is also higher. That explains how all the cravings come about when you do not have a healthy breakfast that gives your body just the right nutrition it needs.

My motto when it comes to eating : Nothing too much, nothing too little. Just the right amount.

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A really simple breakfast with frozen spinach flower and tofu mixed into egg. Fast to prepare and high in protein. Perfect for those gym days!

Some recommendations :

  1. Oats / Granola
  2. Multigrain Cereals
  3. Nuts
  4. Yoghurt
  5. Power Fruits
  6. Eggs
  7. Vegetables

Get creative! Breakfast can be fast yet nutritious!

What are some of your breakfast choices?