Green therapy

Life, Lifestyle

Hi there, it’s been awhile since I’ve written – a lot’s been happening! I’ve just moved flats to a beautiful new part of London with its own garden space. I’m not sure about you, but I didn’t realise how much of an impact green space has to wellbeing until I moved!

The outside entry ways to our old flat looked like this:

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The outside entry ways to our new flat looks like this:

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Big difference, huh?

Previous to moving, I’d say the happiness level leaving the house was probably a 6 out of 10 on a good day, especially as I stepped out on to the street. After moving, my general happiness is about a 9 out of 10 on most days! Seeing greenery, hearing birds, has made a significant difference.

Action of the week:

Try adding some greenery to your space and see how it works for you! If you don’t have garden space, find ways to incorporate some greenery, with plants in your house. An increased number of plants will also help oxygenate your home, so your air quality will improve.

If you think you will “kill” all of your plants, try making a terrarium. They require very little water, and are very low maintenance. I made some this weekend, while planting some into various pots. Took a little less than an hour to put together once having the materials. Enjoy your week!

xx Min

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Meatless March Recap

Lifestyle, Nutrition & Well-being

So it’s the end of Meatless March… how did you fare?

Actually I really tried my best to be good – but found that old habits really die hard. My husband was cooking dinner, and immediately added the usual fish stock broth to our soup. I tasted it and knew immediately but what could be done that point? I ended up eating that delicious and well-made dinner – and didn’t give myself a hard time about it.

Let’s face it. We can’t be “perfect, always following ridiculously high standards for ourselves and getting down on ourselves when it doesn’t work out exactly to plan. Isn’t life bigger than that? Sometimes there are unexpected changes, and you have to adjust to them. Remember, that is OK, you’ve done your best with what you have, in that given moment. Think about the overall progress you make and don’t discount all you’ve done!

So overall, my Meatless March ended up being 28 out of 31 days being meat (including fish) free! I’d say overall it is pretty good. Plus, I also cut out dairy and other general animal products such as honey during this time too. I’ve also learned another important intuition about myself from this process. I’m a very active person, and for my body, a bit of fish here and there feels very nourishing and good for me – and felt at times really depleted when I didn’t have heavier meals.

If you were able to join this challenge with me – think about the takeaways. What kind of a lifestyle do you lead? Are you very active? Or do you spend most days cycling in to work, or light walking, etc? Try to listen to your body more, and “hear” what it’s asking you for. Some days, you might feel a bit off eating meat and other days you feel like you really need it. Honour your body and what it’s asking for, likely you’ll feel better for it.

Staple for a veggie diet: whole grains

Lifestyle, Nutrition & Well-being

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Shouldn’t I be eating more protein? How do I make sure I get enough on a vegetarian diet?

There is a big misconception of carbs being the “bad food”. In fact, whole grains are packed full of iron, B-complex vitamins, fiber, essential enzymes AND protein. Try out some new types of whole grains, either in baking or cooked foods!

  • Wheat germ (1 gram protein to 2.5 grams carbs)
  • Oat bran (1 gram protein to 3 grams carbs)
  • Quinoa (1 gram protein to 4.5 grams carbs)
  • Amaranth (1 gram protein to 4.5 grams carbs)
  • Wild rice (1 gram protein to 5 grams carbs)
  • Teff (1 gram protein to 5 grams carbs)
  • Barley (1 gram protein to 6 grams carbs)
  • Brown rice (1 gram protein to 9 grams carbs) – remember not to just watch protein. Did you know this grain has the highest vitamin B content of all rice?

Look forward to some recipes involving whole grains ahead!

Another tip: Before cooking rice, soaking your grains overnight to eliminate the phytic acid in them. Phytic acid is on most whole grains and it prevents you from absorbing zinc!

March Challenge: Meatless March

Lifestyle, Nutrition & Well-being

 

VGKids Sticker Template

As many of you know, I’m a pescetarian (eat no meat / land animal, but all seafood is OK) that also avoids dairy (amongst other foods I know I have intolerances to). Changing how you eat comes slowly, as you get to know your body’s responses to foods, exercise, and how it changes in different environments. I stopped eating red meat in particular, because I noticed difficulty in digesting it, but still eat fish as I didn’t have much trouble with it.

As part of the journey to being a holistic health coach and my holistic nutrition program though, I am making myself open to experimenting more with what works for my body also in terms of things like energy levels. This *may* mean I venture back into eating certain types of meat I crave, but firstly, I would like to try a full vegan diet for one month and see how I fare.

I’ll be posting my transition to eating a meatless (and actually vegan) diet, from recipes to applying knowledge from my nutrition program. 

I would like to open the challenge to all of you this month to make it a “Meatless March”. Try out even one week of cutting out meat in your diet, and in the process also listen to your body’s cravings, energy levels, feelings and responses to eating food. Are you with me? I’d love to hear about your thoughts and how you do throughout this month too! 

How to design quick, impactful workouts

Fitness, Lifestyle

Happy Monday, fellow misfits!

Do you schedule your alarm clock, only to press the snooze button twice, then wake up in a panic as you’ve slept in for 30 minutes? As a person that schedules my workouts in the morning, I usually feel a pang of guilt as I’ve scheduled an hour workout but now there’s only half that time. The thing is, sleep is also a very important part of recovery, and your overall health. If you’re short for time, instead of cutting down on essential pieces of your life besides exercise – try to make your exercise regimen more efficient. 

In honour of starting a new job this week, I thought a post on getting in quick, impactful workouts would be fitting – as I’m sure I’ll be increasing the frequency of these.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a very effective, efficient method of training when you’re short for time. It involves (as it says) intervals with sprints on timers, that will increase your heart rate giving you a cardio workout at the same time as working on muscular endurance. You can design your own HIIT workout and put it into effect easily – all you need is a timer (you could use the Interval Timer on the iPhone or Workout Timer on Android) and a set of 5-10 exercises you’d like to do. Plus, you could do the workout anywhere, indoors, outdoors (such as on a mountain), with or without equipment.

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Depending on your fitness level, there will be variation in:

1. Duration of each exercise set (30 seconds is easier, 60 seconds significantly more difficult)

2. How heavy your weights are (depending on the exercise)

3. How long is your rest period in between sets (~10 seconds or none)

4. How many sets you do (2-3)

5. How many exercises you want to do (5-10)

For instance, a sample HIIT workout for a beginner could like:

Rotate through each exercise below, 30 seconds per exercise, with a 10 second break in between each exercise. Complete 2-3 sets. (~10 minutes if doing 3 sets)

  • Squats (no weights)
  • Jumping jacks
  • Push-ups
  • Mountain climbers
  • Tricep dips

If you don’t feel like designing your own workout, there are tons of resources out there with free workouts, including a website devoted to HIIT workouts as well as examples on Pinterest, YouTube, etc.

Looks like time constraints are no longer an excuse… happy training this week!

Simple tips to healthy eating

Lifestyle, Nutrition & Well-being

In this post, I want to share some quick, easy tips to eat well without it being a hassle. Here are some easy tips to get you started:

1. Learn to really listen to your body. Eat slower, and stop when you are beginning to get full. Save the rest for later.

2. Eat more frequently, it’s better to snack on smaller meals 5-6 times per day rather than the three large meals (you ARE eating breakfast, right?)

3. Try to make each meal a composition of slow carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. E.g. A hearty lentil soup, apple with raw nuts, fish and salad, etc.

4. Eat a small something before and after you work out.

  • Pre-workout: something easy to digest and carbohydrate rich, like a smoothie about a half hour before
  • Post-workout: immediately or within the hour, have a protein and carbohydrate rich snack like a protein granola bar

5. Don’t think you need to cut out everything that’s delicious, but limit consumption of treats (e.g. a slice of cake, coke, etc.) to once day per week.

6. Limit eating processed foods, and foods with high sugar and salt content.

7. Don’t forget your fluids – keep your water bottle around and drink throughout the day as you get thirsty.

What should I eat?

Lifestyle, Nutrition & Well-being

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People often come to me asking “What should I eat?”. The truth is, there’s no one answer for everyone.

What you should eat depends on very individual specific traits, including:

  • Activity level (sedentary, active, elite athlete)
  • Body type (ectomorph, mesomorph, endomorph)
  • Height & weight
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Goals (lose / gain weight and desired body composition)
  • Lifestyle (can cook or really too busy to)
  • Food intolerance(s) or allergy
  • Your activity level, body type, height and weight, gender and age form the basis of your metabolism and your goals, lifestyle, and food intolerances determine how you should design a diet that works for you.

Seems daunting to consider this all, right?

What I want you to realize here, is not how much to consider, but that every person’s body is completely unique, and so is your lifestyle. Whatever your goals are, they will be manageable if you make small changes that work for you – without detailed calorie counting.

In fact, as a trainer, fitness instructor and amateur fit model I’ve experimented for over 10 years with diets including calorie counting – and found it’s generally unproductive and annoying! Steady progress, and building an ability to listen to your body, how you respond to certain foods while following some key guidelines to change your eating patterns will do you more good in the longer term.

How do you get started? Click here for some simple tips to healthy eating habits to take on this week.

The season of gluttony is here…but mindful gluttony is key to a happy new year

Lifestyle, Nutrition & Well-being

Wow it has been a crazy time the last number of months, from getting married in October and relocating to London, UK! I feel like I blinked and it’s already the middle of December with the season of Christmas upon us. It’s been a bit of a culture shock in the UK, the festivities here are grander, there are more people and copious amounts of mulled wine, cider and the like all around.

It’s easy to get “wrapped up” around all of these activities and especially slip into an eating frenzy. I certainly don’t advocate for such strict diets and never enjoying oneself – but how about making healthy, freezable meals and reduced sugar, fat content sweets?

Here’s an array of easy meals you could cook, and bake to warm you up this holiday season. Great thing about all of these dishes are the portability – put it in a container and heat up later, or take the baked good as a mid-morning snack!

For hearty eats

Vegetarian chili with homemade goat yogurt

Vegetarian chili with homemade goat yogurt

Korean fluffed egg soup with spring onions

Egg soup

Parsnip fries

Parsnip fries

Zucchini wholewheat pumpkin loaf

Pumpkin zucchini loaf

Wholewheat chocolate chip peanut butter cookies

Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

Zucchini chocolate cake (tastes like a fluffy brownie)

Chocolate zucchini brownies

Adopting daily practices for the better

Lifestyle
I’ve been to an interesting set of conferences including the GROW conference, as well as the Brain Conference these past couple of weeks which inspired and changed my views. Firstly, I’ve realized if you want anything you have to be willing to figure out what you must do to get to where you want to go and make it a daily, weekly practice to work towards it. Sounds simple, but it isn’t. There are traps. Previously, I thought that being employed at a company they would take care of my learning trajectory, career objectives, etc. There was this path in management consulting, so well laid out and the job got so demanding I didn’t make time outside of it to continue thinking about, and working towards my life goals. 
 
So what are some practices to incorporate into my life that would be beneficial to a positive change in re-wiring my brain and develop a solid foundation to tackling any new challenge?
  
  1. Begin a daily practice of gratitude. Ask yourself “What am I grateful for today?” and list a few things
  2. Identify small things you could do that takes a few minutes or less that bring you joy, and begin a daily practice of doing them throughout the day (e.g. buy someone a coffee, ask someone how their day went, go out for a 5 minute walk in the sun, etc.)
  3. Invest in yourself. What are some skills you would like to acquire? Take a painting class, go to improv, etc. 

The power of goal setting

Lifestyle, Nutrition & Well-being

Life always just happens – there’s always a ton on the go! With everything going on from socials, wedding planning, OT at work… life is really full of great distractions that creep up at every turn.

I read an interesting article from the Harvard Business Review recently which really brought to significance how important it is to continuously assess that you’re moving towards your purpose / vision, and keep focused on what is important to you especially as you become more successful. This helps you stay focused to your fulfilling what you would like to in life, and eliminate actions that aren’t essential to your vision.

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See full article here: http://gregmckeown.com/blog/the-disciplined-pursuit-of-less-harvard-business-review

Goal Setting

Life hasn’t been really “working” the last few years for me, and it shows up with disappointments of not being committed to something I want (e.g. looking amazing for my wedding, etc.) and I realized it’s because I’ve stopped the use of effective goal setting and execution over that same time period.

So I spent some time today breaking down the  goal setting process, how I’ve done it in the past and what I think is really needed to make it work. It includes these attributes:

  1. Defining my vision: what would I be if I were to achieve my vision? What does it actually look like?
  2. Keeping motivated: what mediums works for me to keep me inspired and remind yourself of my vision?
  3. Making goals SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely).
  4. Telling everyone (family, friends, work, etc.) what you’re trying to do and how important it is to you. This is important as it helps you and your network draw boundaries with the distractions that come up between others.
  5. Celebrating milestones (and getting more inspired): stepping back and seeing all of the good work you’ve done, and patting yourself on the back
  6. Keeping motivated with like-goaled individuals: getting a friend / joining a community that is trying to do what you’re doing and celebrating achievements together

One of the goals I’ve set for my life is the broad goal of being an inspiration for “everyday wellbeing” and looking amazing for my wedding in 5 months – but what does that really look like? How will I achieve it?

  1. If I were well everyday, I would feel rested, be full of energy by eating nutritiously and exercising regularly, and play / see friends / do a hobby I really enjoy. My “looking amazing” for the wedding  includes being in the best shape of my life.
  2. I recently created a vision board as a collage of photos, quotations which I’ve turned into my computer background to keep me inspired daily using http://www.fotor.com/
  3. I define wellness through the four segments: 1. Resting: I’ll sleep between 7-8 hours every day, 2. Fitness: I’ll start training for a half marathon in August and Gran Fondo in September, and set weekly training plans 3. Nutrition:  I’ll eat as clean as possible, cutting out processed food, home cooking with weekly meal plans including one cheat day. Alcohol will be limited to one drink / week. 4. Play: I’ll “decompress” every day for a half hour through meditation, and socialize with friends through exercise or something active whenever possible. Embedded in my wellbeing goal is steps to look my best on wedding day through fitness and great nutrition!
  4. This is a big reason why I’ve started a blog 🙂
  5. I’ll do a celebration after my half marathon and Gran Fondo from Vancouver to Whistler!
  6. I have a list of friends already that would be on board with me to inspire one another.

I’ll try things out between now and the next 5 months to this set of short term goals – and re-create more seeing the success from these!