Tuesday, October 25, 2016

WTA Finals and thoughts


Today was the first time that I have attended a professional tennis match live. I was technically there on business, but there were many thoughts I had. The game reminded me of the fencing matches I saw at the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore - the same ones I sat in feeling lost and confused about life a year or two ago. I remember sitting in the benches and texting my fencing Coach about what I should do about life...  I'll have to go back to that chat and do a little reading.

Many thoughts tonight.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Letting go of paper memories and dreams

This minimalism project has become so much of a heart issue...and so much earlier than I thought it would.

I spent this past week on books and papers.

It was a grueling task trying to get through all the memories and plans that I had stashed away over these years. After many days of going through hundreds of papers documenting many seasons of my life... decluttering meant that I had to choose what to keep and what to throw away - to decide which parts of my dreams I was willing to give up, and which I still wanted to keep.

I eventually gave up on a half-done psychology paper that I wrote and meant to finish for publishing with a professor in the States...but it has been put away so long, it was just time to let go. I also decided to give away all my textbooks for my Early Childhood course, most of the business notes from university days, and a large file documenting the set up of a club some 10 years ago which has grown into something beyond what I expected.

I suppose, if anything, this process has reinforced the notion that I need to now focus more on the present, and what I want to keep for the future. And to do that, I need to let go of the past.

Easier said than done though.

To be honest, I don't think I'm quite done yet - because I still held on to many "un-finished business". From my project for rural entrepreneurship for India, to a couple of old marketable ideas, to my family tree project, to the most random of books in fashion and embroidery... there still is a whole list of "interests" and "projects" that I chose to keep around. I guess it wasn't so easy to let things go as easily and thoroughly as I really should (as according to the "rules" of Marie Kondo).

It's already the start of the new week now and I'm hoping this process has brought some lasting peace and focus that I so need.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Happy in the moment.

I've been up since 4am, but considering that I must have slept at about midnight, I'm pretty happy that I was able to wake up so early. I pretty much prayed that God would wake me up so that I could get to my bakery today, but I surprised myself by choosing not to go. I chose instead to stay in bed, did some quiet time, listened to some minimalism videos and asked myself what I wanted to do with my life.

I stayed there for a good hour and a half or so. I eventually got up, showered and now am sitting down with a nice cup of tea and simply enjoying my little space in life now as the smells of the cool early morning rain wafts through the house.

For the past few weeks I've been working on my minimalism project. I kinda mashed a couple of minimalism and decluttering concepts together - mainly that of the 4-box method, the Konmari method, as well as the minimalism challenge of trying to get down to (hopefully) 300 things. But I've targeted first the goals of establishing exactly how many things I have and getting it down to 700 first. I'm still a little nervous about the higher 700-item target - considering that I already have slightly over a hundred items of clothing (not including all my accessories and shoes!).

I've started on clearing out my administrative life about a week back and it has been going great so far. I've finally sorted out most of my most important files of finances and insurance that were bothering me and I just have that of clearing through my personal portfolio and some other random papers I've kept since my university days. I need to go through books as well. I'll prolly get that done by the end of this week.

Interestingly, what this journey has done so far has been more uncomfortable than not. I've been challenged to look at areas of myself that I've disliked - including some kind of irrational fear of finishing or completing things... which perhaps is linked to other irrational fears I have... but that's something I think I'll have to dig deeper and figure out over time. It's a little complicated because I will think of weird things like how "complete" is "complete"? Which, perhaps sounds randomly philosophical, but it makes a little more sense when I talk about my embroidery project...or any art form. What's to say that a work is really "complete"? Only the artist knows, right? But how about the perfectionist artist? It's probably rare for them to ever say that any of their pieces are "completed".

This is a lesson about "letting go" isn't it? :)

Okay, enough thoughts for the morning. :) I shall enjoy another half an hour of it simply sitting with some of my other files and planning what tonight's organization project is going to be.

This year's motto: Simplify to Clarify.

It's good to say that I'm happy right now, even if just for this simple, quiet, moment.

Monday, September 26, 2016

To live for myself

It's almost 3 in the morning and let's just say I've come here to once again commit to a reboot.

I've decided that I'm just going to focus on my life and my stuff now. I'm not going to think about everyone else's life, issues, problems, hopes, dreams, and clutter. I'm just going to focus on mine and getting mine in order.

I've restarted my de-cluttering/minimalism project. Except that this time I'm actually going to take stock of everything I own and hopefully get down to a manageable number (whilst I try to tune out all the other rubbish that exists around me).

I have to own my own life, health, relationships and my own success.
I am choosing to run my life the way I feel it should be run - a fulfilling 5-day workweek, a clean and simple room and office, a sustainable and growing financial state, time for family friends and personal hobbies, and a healthy mind and spiritual walk with the Lord. THAT is how my life is going to be run.

I keep getting asked this question about "What is your passion?" "What would you stay up all night doing?" and taking an honest look inside... these are my weird and wonderful answers (because this is who I am).

Ariela would stay up all night
1. Organizing and Cleaning (which I LOVE)
2. Doing up a jigsaw puzzle (solving something?)
3. Playing some game
4. Blogging/Writing (as I'm evidently doing now)
5. Maybe doing some cool craft activity like embroidery or cross stich or knitting... if I had some sort of project.
6. Maybe cleaning out some data (which is much like #1)
7. Reading/researching/writing about something that really interests me.

I also have stayed up all night trying to get through some Korean drama series or movie marathon, but I doubt that's going to be revenue generating in any way.

So here we go.

I am writing this because I'm going to use myself as a social experiment subject about whether de-cluttering will really help improve one's mental, physical, emotional, and financial health. I'm going to take stock of all I own and throw out everything that is not me, or that I do not love (including relationships/friendships). And everything I'm going to focus on for the next few months would be whether I am truly interested in it and whether it brings me joy. If it doesn't, I will drop it (unless it's some sort of responsibility, of course).

But other than that, I'm just going to not give two wits about any one else's opinion on how I should run my life anymore.
I believe that I've been a good girl most of my life (that I don't intend to change), and I've got some pretty solid values I will not waver from... the only difference is that I'm now deciding that I'm not going to run my life the way everyone else would like me to.

I need to respect myself as a human. I'm not a puppet. I'm not someone else's dream/hope box. I am not someone else's crutch. I am not someone else's servant/secretary.

I am a unique individual, made with unique gifts and talents. I am a unique human blessed with dreams and hopes of my own.

I am taking back control of my life.
No other human should be given those reins.
Only God owns me and if He changes tack, I'll go with it.
Beyond that, I simply can't live someone else's expectations or try to help someone else to "straighten out their lives" for them anymore. There are too many people whom I've been trying to make happy... and it feels like I've been living life for so many people, but not really for myself.

Let me take care of mine now... and if God calls me to help you with yours, trust me that I'll come running. But for now, I need to love myself more.

First step, back to decluttering and minimizing my life to the basics of what I really love.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

a little fear

Is it possible that one of the basic human fears is that of being left behind?

There's just something about the need of feeling relevant. Of feeling like you're somewhat ahead of the curve, or at least on par with the rest of the world.

Today I wonder if I've been left behind.

Perhaps it's because I've somehow reached a stage of physical maturity where people now quite often ask me if I'm so-and-so's wife, or whether I'm married. It's become so recurrent nowadays that it's somehow something that I actually have to consider how to respond to... or at least I've been somewhat tempted that I should have some sort of plethora of creative responses beyond my normal embarrassed "no"-and-blush routine.

It's weird - this stage of life.

I wonder if this is in any way normal.

I should really invest my time thinking about more useful things.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

from a place of mistrust

Today I'm writing from a place of mistrust. It's as if a glass of hot water has been poured over a flame that I expected to set off fireworks. Or rather that I found the flame more harmful than helpful as I had hoped and expected it to be. I thought it was a blessing - a light to guide the way - and yet, I've been getting burned.

I've come to a crossroads where I realize that a lot of life is a game of cards... and that trust is underrated - with all certainty.

I suppose I have learned a few things - though I wish it weren't this costly a lesson:
1. Never fully trust a sweet talker.
2. Always look for actions.
3. Be ready with a contingency plan - always.
4. Trust your gut and the wisdom of many. Listen to it. Trust those thoughts - more than the excuses.

I feel like part of me is changing... like the idealistic me is becoming more aware of how not-idealistic the world actually is.

God, what are Your thoughts?
 Please make things clear.

Monday, July 11, 2016

On love and singlehood

It's the wee hours of the morning and I'm blogging in Singapore Changi airport whilst waiting for a staff to arrive.

It was a pretty interesting past weekend... What with me taking on a challenge of meeting someone random from an online dating site, and having a real-life brush with being hit on by some guy in a GrabCar. This weekend I was posed with some questions that I never really had to give an answer for - at least not to non-aunties.

I was commented on and asked questions by these two men...
"I think you're very pretty, why are you still single?"
"I'm sure you have a lot of guys chasing you."
"You don't look single. Such a pretty lady cannot be single."
"Are you picky? Or just oblivious?"

And other random stuff like that.
Of course there was some creepy stuff that ensued with the GrabCar guy - including "Where do you live? Where do you work? Can you add me on Facebook?..." To which my super-introverted self pretty much freaked out to.

It's a pretty weird feeling for me, tbh.
Contrary to what these guys seem to think, I really haven't had too much experience with guys... Nor have I had the experience of being hit on so directly. I am honestly so inexperienced that the only social-defense-ammunition I had in my head was to try to answer politely and yet find a way to disengage from the conversation (which seemed a far better option to jumping out of the moving car). Perhaps it may seem weird to some (considering I'm "supposed" to be a grown woman of some sort), but it was an utterly terrifying experience to inexperienced-me.

Beyond terrifying, what the experiences did was that they created a certain disconcerted feeling within about my singleness. Disconcerted for the fact that I was caught off guard with no social rules for how to respond to such uncomfortable advances, and disconcerted for the types of questions that I was posed with and an uncertainty to why I've been apparently so "unlucky in love" when these guys apparently thought that I shouldn't be.

I ended up spending the evening talking to my sister and my father about these encounters and gleaned some insights (I believe that a 3rd party point of view can be a lot more accurate, and provide a quicker access to truth, than introspection sometimes).

This is what I gleaned from their perspectives:
- I've apparently have had guys hit on me before, but I was oblivious and/or have forgotten
- My sister thinks that the observation that I am pretty is accurate (which I actually disagree with)
- My father believes that because I treasure loyalty so much, that part of me is still sillyly thinking that I need to continue to be faithful to my ex-boyfriend (which I partially disagree with. "partially" for the fact that I don't know if it's a blindspot in me somewhere).

I've had another chef also ask me "How old are you?" "Are you married?" "Why not?"

It's weird. I've never been asked such questions at such a high frequency over such a short period of time.
Maybe I'm starting to look old... and that I need to get on with that part of life faster. Or something.

Many thoughts.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Whole30 Journey: Ravenous and Stressed!

W30 Day 10

How I'm feeling: Grr...

I had a bad day today.
I think it was a bad day.

I ended up getting off work early to just get home to cook something to eat.

I was RAVENOUS.
But I was determined not to pick up carbs so late at night... I rummaged through my pantry and fridge and played the "what can I cook up in my head that tastes good" game. I eventually decided on a tuna sushi roll and this was it:

Curried Tuna Seaweed roll with japanese Cucumbers and Pomegranate Rubies.
Sorry that the lighting wasn't great.
This was the inside.

Start with
1 can of tuna in spring water (drained)
1 medium white onion (chopped)
Half a red bell pepper (chopped)
Some sliced white button mushrooms

Stir fry in a little coconut oil with
Cracked black pepper
A dash of sea salt
Paprika
Garlic powder
Curry powder

Finish with
Sliced Japanese cucumber
Pomegranate seeds
Roasted seaweed

I usually only can finish half a can of tuna, but I pretty much ate up the entire recipe... of which the filling lasted me something like 5 seaweed rolls? :) Curry is my new garlic powder and I love it! Part of me did wish that I could have eaten it with some cheese or sour cream of some sort... but hey, I enjoyed the flavours anyway.

I had frittata for breakfast. :)

I'm pretty sure today was mainly a day of stress eating.

I did question whether it might have been the tea or something.
I just felt really tense, stressed, and generally irritable. I don't know why... but I think I should monitor this.

I'm headed for my first ever Yoga class tomorrow.
I have generally stayed away from Yoga because of the possible spiritual symbolisms behind it, but somehow I've rationalized to think that perhaps it's not all that bad after all and honestly, my heart is about exercise and stretching my body and very much not about worshipping some random God with stretches.

I'd obviously stop if I found it too weird though... let's see how it goes.

A lot of thoughts in my mind today.

It's also midnight and I'm still awake. I think it's the lack of sleep that's getting to me. :(

Whole30 Journey: I WANT CHOCOLATE

It is random, but I want chocolate.

I also would like a doughnut.

And cheetos puffs. I feel like I could eat a whole bag.

Oh, or those Tostitos scoops with a nice fresh salsa...with melty cheese. You have to have melty cheese.

Aaand... now I'm thinking of Tacos.

All this whilst I'm also feeling like I'd like to just lie down and sleep.

I'm not hungry. I shouldn't be - considering how I had a huge frittata in the morning. Plus I had a huge bowl of watercress soup at lunch, and fruits. Why am I feeling so emotional and stressed out?

Oh what I would give for a choux puff right now. I don't need any fillings in it.. just a nice, big, crisp, buttery choux puff.
Oh, or a croissant.
Or a pastry crust...a quiche perhaps?

What is happening?!

Whole30 Journey: Dark Days?

Lunch today:
Grilled chicken with some baked sweet potatoes with a side of
fresh raspberries, mangoes and salad leaves. :)
W30 Day 9
Can't believe I could be at Day 20 if I didn't have to keep restarting. >_>

How I'm feeling: 
Sticky from a walk (and random aerobic exercise in the park) earlier this evening... and sleepless cause I just ate some homemade sweet potato crisps, a couple of mango cubes, and a bunch of cashews.

W30 Dark Days?
I'm not too sure, but I think I've gone down a dark road since my two overnighters at the office this past week...that, coupled with the comments on weight loss and seeing the numbers at my recent health check... something has changed.

As much as I'm still treasuring the discipline and all that has come from doing the W30, somehow the comments about my weight loss has shifted something in my psyche to be very much conscious about that indirect resultant part of this journey - which was not my initial intent. Anxiousness about work has also thrown me off and I'm back to sleeping at 2am in the morning. :( This is not good. I have to somehow reset this. My focus was about health, regaining control over different areas of my life, and just...getting life back on a happy road again. :/ Okay, I'm going to focus on getting back into momentum again this week.

Food wise I've still been pretty disciplined though.
I went back to Parkway this week and picked up two more Larabars. Bought some seaweed, asparagus and restocked on my organic mulberries (that I now really love to snack on) :). I just need to get into the momentum of three square meals. It seems tough to 1) not miss meals at work, and 2) not to snack.

But I'm going to try.

I've decided that I'm also going to try to chill a little more, and try to "get a life" more.
Things at work are still crazy and terrifying, but I'm choosing to prioritize things that ALSO matter to me. Things like family, my relationships with my friends, my relationship with God, trying to get more integrated into church-life, practicing my German and prepping myself for other languages I want to pick up... stuff like that.

This W30 process has made me start thinking about my "ideal life" vs life as it is now.... as well as my "ideal self" vs who I am right now. I guess physically I'm on the right path... but emotionally and intellectually, I seem to have shelved a lot of things for my work. There were/are a lot of things that matter to me - climate change, animal welfare, making a difference in the lives of others, learning languages, living simply and efficiently (if that doesn't sound too weird). I guess part of me is starting to realize that I have to care for myself too.

Life is not all about work and scary life things.
I need to remember that - and focus on that.

Okay, it's past 1 am. Time to hit the shower and hopefully catch some shut eye.
It's Monday tomorrow. It's the start of a new week.

God, please give me the grace, favour, and wisdom to weather this season through.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Whole30 Journey: I have good news!

But first, the mandatory food pic. :)

Smoked Salmon with two delicious blistered eggs
with a side of fresh cherry tomatoes and blackberries. <3
THE GOOD NEWS

My blood test results came back and my thyroid is apparently working again. Some of the numbers are a little high, but they have entered "normal" ranges! I am happy! NO MORE MEDS!

I told the doctor that it might be because I eliminated all allergens out of my diet. (I tried to make it simple... although it's a little inaccurate because other things like eggs are technically allergens too), but he said it was unlikely and it was more likely due to a reduction in stress. I'm not sure about that, but perhaps it's an indirect cause - like because of the W30, I'm a lot more disciplined in my sleeping times and meals I eat, which has resulted in a more operational body.

Unfortunately I had to pull two all-nighters this week that has messed up that pattern a bit, and I'm back to feeling tired and slightly irritable. I feel like I need a lot more sleep to recover from the all-nighters.

INTERESTING THINGS

One thing about my med checkup was that I had to take my weight for the checkup - just for them to monitor me or something. I couldn't resist so I took a peek at my weight. Turns out from the time I was sick to now (after almost 2 weeks of on-off Whole30) I have lost something like almost 10 kilograms (which translates to 22 pounds). It sounds like a lot, but I'm pretty used to my body fluctuating up and down really easily and quickly - which is not necessarily a good thing.

But hey, I'm not complaining.
I'm not going to be measuring my weight again anytime soon... maybe in 4 months when I have to go for another checkup.

But for now, I'm just going to focus on enjoying my food, getting enough rest, and being disciplined in the areas of my life I want to ideally be disciplined in. And maybe I'll just "track my progress" by how I'm fitting better into my clothes again. I have this huge section in my wardrobe I used to be able to fit into before depression+hypothyroid (whichever came first), so I'm just looking forward to being able to wear some of my favourite things again. :)

IRRITATING THINGS

I didn't realize that sugarfree mints are out of the Whole30. >_<
I don't want to restart this again, so I'm going to just say I'm doing a Whole60 or something now.
This is just ridiculous constantly saying "okay great, I'm back to Day One". It makes one feel like some total dud.

I wonder if it was the rubbish in the mints making me feel rubbishy though. But I generally don't feel so good.

Anyway, we're now at Day 8 (I think).
I'm tired, so let's just get to food.

STUFF I'VE BEEN EATING

I marinated some chicken overnight in olive oil, garlic powder, black pepper, paprika and some herbs.
Just grilled it up in the morning and put it over some blanched broccoli. Was pretty good.

It's apparently cherries season. :)
This was a happy lunch.

I LOVE smoked salmon.
I just wish I could have it with some cream cheese and dill though.
I miss those flavour and texture combinations.

This was just some stir fried white button mushrooms with cherry tomatoes
with sliced Japanese cucumbers and smoked salmon.

Thought to just put this here because these were the only two brands I could find without "sugar"
in the ingredients list. I never knew they sometimes used sugar in smoked salmon.
How interesting huh?

That's about it for today. I need a nap...
And I also need to throw out my breathmints. :(

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Whole30 Journey: I think I might be at the "I need a nap" phase

Day 4
(though it could actually be Day 15 if I didn't have to restart so many times)

How I'm feeling:
A little tired

Breakfast:
Grilled chicken, avocado and cherry tomatoes in roasted seaweed
Peppermint, Nettle & Gingko Tea

Lunch: 
(yay, I got hungry! At about 12ish)
Some almonds and mulberries 
A handful of pistachios
Same as breakfast except in a smaller portion, with some salmon on the side, and topped with shredded seaweed.
I didn't enjoy my lunch at all because I was so stressed by work. :(

Snack 
(about 430pm)
About 20 grapes
I actually think  I might have been stress eating. :(

Dinner
I'm not sure if I'm going to have any today. I honestly would just like to read and get to bed early today.


RANDOM THOUGHTS

I woke up at 7ish again today. Hurrah!

I've begun to prioritize sleep over a lot of things. Sleep is for healing. Healing is good.

Tbh, the chicken was leftovers from last night's dinner. I'm not sure if the chicken had honey or sugar on it, but it had a weird sweetness on it. But for today I'm not going to question it. I doubt it was sugar. I just don't want to have to restart this again! 

I'm surprised I'm actually eating avocado. I used to avoid them like the plague because of the fats I know they contain. I really can't believe I'm actually eating them now...but I guess I've learned to appreciate them. Perhaps they exist to teach me that fats really make one full! It's a wonder though how we can eat so many fries, crisps, and KFC. I wonder if one can get jelat on avocado.

I've also begun to drink more water. I think I'm slowly introducing disciplines of my ideal life back into my current life. Disciplines like drinking water, journaling, trying to leave work on time, having walks at night... These are habits that make me happy.

I was somehow really peckish today. I think it was the stress.

Even though I have two bars which have cocoa in them, and I even have a can of unsweetened cocoa now, I've somehow developed a dislike toward the thought of eating them. I really haven't been in a chocolate mood at all. Maybe this is how I really feel about chocolate. I'm not sure if this should be a bad day.

Quite a few people have told me that I've lost quite a bit of weight. I'm not going to step on a scale anytime soon - as per the "rule book". But I do look forward to the day I can wear my jeans again. :)

I am convinced that losing weight is pretty simple - eat protein, sleep early (like, 10 or 11pm), drink lots of water, and get exercise. That's about it.

I'm looking forward to getting to a supermarket tonight.
I know it's only been a few days, but I am tired of tuna and eggs.
I'm going to get me some bacon, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and whatever cool things I can find tonight. Maybe that'll be better.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Whole30 Journey: More shopping and home-cooked tuna cakes :)



Yay! Tuna Cake success!
Recipe Below.

How I'm feeling:
Peaceful

Sunday
Breakfast: 
Tuna Cakes with half an avocado and some tomato
Lunch: 
Lemongrass tea
Snack: 
A small apple and some cashews
Dinner:
Leftover breakfast :)

Monday
Breakfast: 
Tuna Cake Sushi - Tuna with Alfalfa and Cherry Tomatoes rolled in roasted seaweed
Some pineapple slices
Lunch: 
Green Tea
Dinner:
Carrot Cake LaraBar (so delish!)
Tuna seaweed roll with cherry tomatoes (I ran out of alfalfa >_<)

I have to say I had a really good weekend. One solid "me-time" weekend (even though I popped into office for just a little bit on Saturday). I haven't had a solid weekend to myself in a really long time. Perhaps it's this awareness that I have to take care of my health that I've started realizing the importance of taking care of other areas of my life too. Work has somehow now taken a secondary place in my life. Stuff needs to get done, yes, but health needs to come first.

The discipline that has come with doing the Whole 30 has helped me tremendously in this I suppose. I've become more aware of the things I eat and of getting some exercise into my daily routine...even though it's mainly been just walking.

I pretty much spent most of my Saturday with my father (which I really appreciated because I haven't spent time with him in a REALLY long time). We just went out and I tried to teach him about nutrition along the way. He's really been struggling with this new daily routine of having to take heart and diabetic pills after his heart attack. It pretty much demands a lifestyle change that's totally unfamiliar to him. He has never really had to take pills in his life. I suppose it doesn't help either that his favourite foods are amongst the likes of chicken rice, char kway teow, and prata (standard delicious Singaporean fare).

So I've finished the Whole30 book (though I think the first book - "It Starts with Food" - was a much more useful "left-brain" kinda book for me) and I've left it with my mother in hopes that her understanding of nutrition will also help influence the foods we choose to put in our house. I'm hoping it will educate her a little so she will stop eating really unhealthy things like Fish & Chips and letting my dad gobble up her leftovers. I really worry for his health a lot. I love my dad and would like him to live a long time. <3

Sunday was an awesome day of spending time with girlfriends and supermarket shopping at Parkway Parade!
I think since the Whole30, I've been obsessed with supermarkets and what my food options are. I didn't get to pick up the canned mushrooms and bamboo shoots because they were too heavy for me to lug around, but I got a whole ton of other stuff. I can't wait to get my hands on some bamboo shoots though! I miss eating crunchy non-nuts things. :)

Here's some pics from my Sunday shopping trip and my haul!
I got them from Cold Storage, Fish Mart Sakuraya, and this awesome store called Four Seasons Organic Market. They're all at the basement of Parkway Parade in Katong. :) I was a happy girl.

Here's Four Seasons Organic Market.
I was happy with all the options!
It was like a little paradise for me... but you still gotta read your labels here.
I wasn't sure if I could eat this, but I took a picture anyway just for reference. 
This place has the largest variety of LaraBars that I have seen in Singapore so far. :)
Hurrah! Gold mine!

They had other brand options too but it seemed only "The Primal Pantry" ones that were Whole30 compliant.

I've been wanting seaweed so I bought some to make some non-grain sushi. :)
Only the Roasted ones were compliant. All the 'Seasoned Seaweed"s had sugar and soy in them.
I did see one seasoned seaweed in the Korean market that was made with only Sesame Oil,
but that's grey area I don't want to play in.

Here's my final haul for the day (other than the seaweed).
The bars and the coconut slices were from Four Seasons, the cocoa was from Cold Storage.

These were from Cold Storage! Don't they sound delicious? Not to mention they were on clearance...
but it turns out that sprouted flaxseed is not really Whole30 so I had to give it away. :(

STUFF I COOKED/ATE

This was the making of my Tuna Cakes.
In there I have:

1 can of tuna chunks in olive oil (drained)
5 cloves of garlic (finely diced)
1 medium onion (diced)
1 large stalk of celery (diced)
About half a cup of coconut flour
Paprika
Garlic Powder
Cracked Black Pepper
2 eggs


It tasted...mainly of coconut at first, but the garlic powder (not salt!) and the paprika evened it out.

I need to have a less pungent binder. Maybe I'll try with less coconut flour and more egg next time.


This was what my plate looked like. It was SO filling.
I actually was full at that first cake and some avocado later.


This was what I totally couldn't eat anymore.
I think I definitely should have stopped earlier.
Interestingly, I thought the hot sauce spoiled the natural flavours so I didn't quite touch it in the end.


This was breakfast this morning.
I LOVE seaweed and I thought to make things more interesting today.


I definitely miss sushi, but this will have to do. And it was pretty good actually.
I think it'd have tasted better with some avocado...or cheese. I miss cheese. >_<
This was my delicious Carrot Cake LaraBar.
I love it that I can actually see bits of carrot in it. :)

PHYSICAL WINS
I've been waking up at about 7ish am in the morning that hasn't happened for a long time. I believe the quality of my sleep has also improved. I slept in for an hour more this morning though... but I think it was more of a Monday-morning thing. Also cause I could. :)

Another interesting (and hopefully not TMI) thing that I've noticed is that it seems my toilet-time regularity has improved. It looks like my body now knows to empty itself of waste first thing in the morning. I used to be constipated for a couple of days and probably averaged number 2s something like 3 times a week? So I suppose it's quite nice to have a daily "emptying" in the morning for the past few days. It's a nice start to the day.

The first week of me embarking on the Whole 30 saw me having some weird tummy troubles, but I wasn't sure if it was because of my flu. But anyway, I'm glad that that has kinda cleared up.

WEIRD THINGS
A friend I met yesterday said I was looking "pale". I didn't think that it was too much of a compliment. I thought I was supposed to have rosy cheeks or something with the clean eating. Maybe it's just a process. :)

I've gotten two bumps on my back. I don't think they are "back pimples" but I really hope not. I haven't ever gotten things like that in my life. In fact I've probably only ever gotten like 2 pimples in my life, so this is really weird for me. Please go away soon!

CHALLENGES
I know I'm supposed to be eating three square meals a day, but I realized that that part of discipline has been really hard for me - especially at work. Thing is, I usually have breakfast around 10am and somehow this new "protein-loading" in the morning keeps me full for a really long time...and when it hits something like 4 or 5pm, it's pretty much almost dinner time so I usually just have a snack (which I know is not supposed to be allowed) or weather it out till dinner. I'm going to perhaps try to plan to eat a smaller breakfast and see how that works out. I gotta try to get my body in a rhythm. I'm just so used to a eat-"focus on work that I don't notice I'm starving"-snack cycle.

And just to be more objective, here's a category I thought would be important to add so I can check in on that progress:

STUFF I HOPE CLEARS UP BY THE END OF THIS MONTH
- Hypothyroid stuff (blood tests out in 3 days!)
- Other stuff related to autoimmune problems: scalp issues, dropping hair (stop please!), dry skin, this irritating patch on my leg, this huge random weight gain, lethargy (which seems to now be clearing up). Please go away!

To be honest, I believe it may take me closer to 3 months to really "heal up". But I whatever it is, I'm just looking forward to better health.

And cheese at the end of this.
I miss cheese.
Please body, don't be allergic to cheese.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Whole30 Journey: Supermarket shopping and happy thoughts

Breakfast today was SO good... and also really filling.
This lasted me a solid 8 hours before I started feeling peckish.

How I'm feeling: 
Happy

Sleep:
Surprisingly couldn't really get to sleep last night. I think it was because I was really anxious about work.
Either that or it could also have been that I ate some foods that probably contained some sugar and random non-Whole30 stuff (I just didn't have the heart to tell them I strictly couldn't eat certain foods). But I don't know whether it was physical responses or guilt that kept me up.

What I ate today:
Breakfast: A tomato omelette (2 eggs) topped with alfalfa, and an avocado on the side... and a little bit of DELICIOUS Frank's hot sauce.
Dinner: A small gala apple and a handful of cashews with green tea
Post-dinner: A lovely cup of tea

Today was a great day. I made it a point not to go to work in the morning and just focus on feeding myself right in the morning. I think the blood test I had to take this past week and the on-coming results next week has put me on my toes about what I'm feeding myself with.

I unfortunately just couldn't bring myself to make a stand at my dinner last night and had a little nibble of random things on the table - including sambal kangkong (ergh, shrimp), assam fish head curry (oh, it was good stuff. Though I mainly took a slice of tomato, an ocra, and some fish), beef rendang, 3 pieces of belinjau and some longtong (sigh, vegetable oil). I did have a coconut though so I had an excuse to miss dessert... and also to keep me full and happy. I have this thing about coconuts nowadays. :)

But yes, today I'm back on track. Breakfast was so wonderful that it kept me full for something like 8 hours till I finally started feel some hunger pangs and decided to have an apple and some nuts. :)

But because of the dinner last night - with all its "unknowns", I prolly have to restart. I'm restarting the Whole30 so many times, it's not funny anymore. Although I have to also say that it's pretty much come to a point that it doesn't really matter so much anymore because I'm not restarting it because of big "I NEEDED THAT MUFFIN" reasons, but more for controlled "oh, I can't really avoid that at this occasion" and "oops, I forgot that had that ingredient" reasons. And usually, I'd have only consumed very little traces of the seemingly offensive non-Whole30 ingredients. However, I'm pretty glad at how determined I am about this whole diet overhaul and I'm excited to see if these short two weeks might have made any improvement to my hypothyroid issues next week.

Right now, I'm just focusing on getting the right things in my body and just checking in on how I'm feeling physically as I change my diet. (Interestingly, I had a few days of really dry and cracked lips last week. I don't know what that was about.) Hopefully this time I'll be able to pull through 30 consecutive days. (It's surprisingly difficult if I'm going to be this strict with myself). In the meantime, I've been having a good time visiting supermarkets and trying to stock my pantry with happy Whole30 stuff..I'm just enjoying the process now. Though I have to say, shopping Whole30 can be really quite pricey. Or perhaps it has been my choices of items to stock up. These are two receipts and some pictures from my shopping escapades.


As you can see, I've been trying to head to the more "atas" supermarkets in hopes that I might find more options.

That hot sauce is awesome! Totally recommended. It's not really "hot-hot" (Singaporeans can take a lot more heat), but it works.
It's just something about the peppers and the vinegar and the salt... so good. :)
The coconut flour is a hopeful purchase that I might be able to make some delicious salmon cakes one of these days.
Saw this tea and couldn't resist. Doesn't it sound delish?!
The Larabar was a "let's try it since I'm reading so much about it" buy.
I'll prolly have it when I really need a pick-me-up. Maybe around Day 20 or something.

These are the Whole30 approved Larabars (as taken from lifehealthhq for anyone who'd like some reference).
That coconut cream pie and chocolate coconut chew sounds so good!
Sounds like Haupia. <3 I have to find them!
And here was my "biggest temptation" during supermarket shopping:

From the ingredients, they are technically fully Whole30 compliant...
except for the rule of "no cheating"... and when I put it in my basket, it felt like cheating, so I knew I had to take it out. :(

It has been an interesting process so far. A friend from Australia is in town and she made a comment that I'm looking exceptionally beautiful these days... and I didn't know what to think and basically shared with her that it might be because I've been eating clean for a few weeks. And perhaps so.

I'm going to keep a log of the things I eat these couple of days and see how things turn out.

My mood has improved though, and I'm not sleeping or feeling lethargic as much. :)
I think my focus is slowly getting back in check... maybe it's this "being in control" "disciplined" thing that helps.
Next week I'm going to start on some yoga and try to get exercise back into my routines.
I'm enjoying this process.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Whole30 Journey: Day Two

Feeling: Hungry

What I ate
Breakfast: Warm water, pineapple slices, some cashews
Lunch: Green tea, pineapple slices, some almonds
Dinner: Hopefully something more substantial. I NEED PROTEIN!

Went supermarket shopping again this morning for breakfast and it was pretty tough. I think I've somehow have it locked in my brain that I can only take fruits and nuts (which I'm actually pretty sick of), and that my protein has to be cooked at home (of which I am also sick of eggs).

I dropped by a Cold Storage in Paya Lebar this time and all I had in my basket at the end of my shopping trip was two punnets of blueberries, some pre-sliced honey pineapple slices, a box of green tea (without brown rice bits. I double checked), and four cans of tuna. (I am surprised though how much more rubbish is put into the "flaked tuna" cans. Chunks it is)

I was a little disappointed that I can't seem to find my plantain chips though. I'm starting to wonder if I should make my own, but I honestly don't have the time to cook on weekdays. :( I eventually had some pineapple and cashews for breakfast, and the rest of the pineapple with some almonds for lunch, with a glass of green tea. It doesn't sound very filling - and it wasn't. But I unfortunately don't think it's quite appropriate to make like a cat and eat canned tuna at work. I shall try to whip something up at home tomorrow morning with the avocados that have finally ripened.

Tonight's going to be a challenge as I have a dinner appointment. I have given up on trying to avoid canola oil and vegetable oil whilst eating out (it's totally impossible unless I force all my colleagues and business partners to eat at salad stops/whole30 bars which are not available in Singapore), but how do I explain sugar, soy and grain...

These are the recommended items for tonight's dinner at Tambuah Mas and the issues I'm going to have with them (other than vegetable oil in all of them):
- Tahu Telor (fried beancurd and eggs): soy, sugar, may have flour
- Rendang Lembu (beef rendang): sugar, may have flour
- Ikan Pedas (grilled seabass in banana leaves): sugar, may have soy sauce, usually too spicy to eat alone and has to be eaten with rice
- Sop Buntut (spicy ox-tail soup): may have MSG, may have soy sauce, I'm not sure about sugar
- Udang Belado (fried succulent prawns in chilli gravy): I'm allergic to prawns, definitely will have sugar
- Gado Gado (mixed vegetables with tofu, crackers and spicy peanut dressing): LOVE this dish, but tofu = soy, crackers = grain. Sigh.
- Sayur Lodeh (cabbage, long beans and beancurd in spicy coconut milk): Soy, usually has some sugar too, usually served with rice... grain.

Argh, how is this going to work out?
I definitely need some protein tonight. It's only 4pm and I'm hungry.
I technically have a right to be hungry though. After all, all my poor body has had all day has been green tea, pineapples, and a some nuts. Poor body.

On the bright side, there's a pretty decent supermarket there.
Maybe I'll be able to get some decent (non vegetable oil fried) plantain chips. I am craving crispy. :)


On other notes: 
It's "strictly" Day 2 because of all the slip ups I've had, but I technically started on this last Monday... so it "could have been" Day 12 today. I have to say that I'm pretty proud of the discipline I have been able to exercise though. It's been a long time since I've felt SO in control of my choices. And it's nice to have a solid reason to be able to just walk away from things that are just not good for my body.

I also took my latest blood test yesterday at the clinic to check my levels of hypothyroid stuffies. Hopefully, if the Whole30 is working out for me, my numbers will look a lot better next week when the results come out. I'm looking forward to it! (I just hope that I'm not one of those who actually needs to cut out eggs and nightshades from my diet for real results. I don't think I could live without tomatoes forever.)

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Whole30 Journey: Done in by green tea! :(

Just when I thought I was doing pretty well with my home-made omelettes at breakfast and nuts and fruits throughout the days (though I've been REALLY hungry at points), I was done in today by a silly cup of hot green tea. The irritating part though was that as my friend was tucking into a wonderful Japanese meal (of which pretty much all of the menu contained soy, grain, or sugar), I opted for green tea. Even more annoyingly, I even told her (as I prepared the cup of green tea), "Actually there are some green teas that might have flour in them, so this might not be a safe option either." But I thought it was a pretty decent Japanese place so I "tucked in" anyway.

As we were at the cashier, I saw they were selling some packets of the green tea they served, and I curiously decided to look at the ingredients...

ARGH! That second ingredient after "green tea" is "brown RICE"
RAWR!
I can't believe I was done in by a cup of green tea.
At least last week I had to reset due to two whole saba fish meals that had soy in them. That's at least a little more worth the reset. >_>

Part of me is thinking "It's just a tiny bit of brown rice in a few cups of green tea, don't be so dogmatic." and the other part of me says "no cheats, no slips, no excuses".

Sigh.

Reset.

Welcome back again to Day One, TOMORROW.
AGAIN.

Apparently this is normal for noobs to restart a couple of times. I've read that somewhere.
They should also empathetically include that this is also irritating for noobs.
Rawr.

Now to decide whether I should have something naughty for dinner today since I'm resetting tomorrow. :)

Monday, May 30, 2016

Whole30 Reset: Back to Day One

I took the Sunday off and spent the day doing things I loved the most - I walked to the library, read, borrowed the two Whole 30 books, and went supermarket shopping.

So it turns out my last week was a "half-baked" Whole30. I really should have read the book first to be certain whether I was following it correctly (So if you're planning to start the Whole 30, I'd encourage you to first read "It Starts with Food" to understand the science and what it's really about, then to go on to the other book). I think I've gathered enough from the first book to know I'm pretty much on the right track now, so I'm not going to cheat, today I'm back to Day One.

I'm back to Day One because I had legumes on the first day last week, I had saba covered with soy sauce twice, as well as ate out - which probably meant that I had consumed canola/vegetable oil as well as sugars somewhere in there. But it's okay, I'd rather know that I REALLY completed the Whole30 to a T than have a half-baked experience.

I shopped at Cold Storage thinking that they'd give me more options, but it was pretty tough. With the Whole30, the entire bread, cakes, pastries and cookies section is out. Dairy is out. Most frozen things are out. So are the alcohol and beverages as well as the cereals and snacks aisles... suddenly one realizes that your only options in a supermarket are in - 1) the fresh fruits and vegetables section, 2) the nuts and herbs section, 3) eggs, 4) SOME meats - actually the Cold Storage that I was at didn't have any grass-fed options, and 5) some canned vegetables, fruits, or fish. I don't know what else was available... but they didn't have my plantain chips. :( So yeah, life gets.... simpler.

It's been quite an interesting experience so far... though I'm pretty early in the journey so my creativity is likely to be limited.
This was my sad dinner last night:


I mainly felt...like a cat.

I ate about half a can of this. It basically was tuna chunks in spring water, with some cracked black pepper, paprika, and nori (roasted seaweed). I had some almonds with this... and I can only say that almonds don't seem to go very well with canned tuna. I think I shall fry up the tuna next time...perhaps with some onions. :)

I have to say that though that I slept really well last night at 1130 (which was a surprise because I have been having bouts of insomnia), and I surprisingly woke up at 4am. That has not happened for a VERY long time. I went back to some reading, and fell asleep again till 9am. I'm not sure if that was fortunate or not that I had a second round of sleep, but I shall be thankful anyway.

I think it was the time at the library that really helped me destress. It was amazing how much lighter (in terms of stress and anxiousness) I felt just being in a corner of the library and reading. I think I even had a 5 minute nap in between my reading. I love libraries. It's like being in the company of many brilliant minds and people with extraordinary lives... and picking up a book is like having the privilege of a one-on-one with them as they share their experiences and wisdom.

Breakfast this morning was a bit more eventful than last night's dinner. I had my househelper help me make it as I washed up (as I was in a rush!). :) I chose a base of olive oil to fry two eggs with the remainder of the tuna last night, some black pepper, and paprika. I think topped it all off with some lovely alfafa sprouts and nori. :)


It felt like happy food.

I didn't really get a chance to sit down at a table to have breakfast. I had it in the car on the way to work, but I did try to ensure to enjoy it as much as possible in that moment. A handful of cashews later, I was happy. :) I didn't finish all of it though and polished the rest of it off for lunch, along with some cherry tomatoes I keep in my office pantry and a handful of almonds... and a few dried mulberries just for a little sweetness. :)

I do need to plan for dinner though...
Maybe I'll just have a nice little pear and some cashews. :)

So far the day has been going well. I'm happy, I'm rested.
I do forsee that I might get sick of eggs somewhere in this journey, but I feel like I might have the discipline to pull through. :)
Not being able to eat out is going to be tricky, but hopefully, with enough planning, I'll make it through.