People often ask me, “How do you food bloggers stay fit?” I look down at my belly and am puzzled at why they’re asking me of all people. It certainly doesn’t look like I know the answer to the question (though in reality I do – I just don’t practice!)
I would love to share the secret, though it shall not come from me, lest I be dubbed a hypocrite. My friend Mei (a.k.a. Ciki ) is a rare breed of food bloggers and hardcore foodies who’s incredibly fit. One glance at her and you could tell. Just ask all the male gym-goers who stand behind her during Body Combat classes. I’m sure they’ve had plenty of glances for themselves. Mei has graciously agreed to deliver these precious secrets through my blog so that all may enjoy food and a superfit body.
Enjoy the read and prepare to feel guilty!
Firstly let me just say that the most important component is exercise. I hate it when I hear people say… “Oh, I can eat ANYTHING and don’t do a thing, and I NEVER put on weight!” Yes, that may be so when you are 16 and still a spring chicken but believe me , a time will come when age catches up with you and you’d wish you had trained your muscle a lot sooner to be toned and tough. I am a firm believer in muscle memory. The earlier you start teaching your muscles, the better.
1. Banish fat, build muscle! (bet you never thought you’d here a foodie say that!)
Having a strong core will protect you from sports injuries in older age as well. Core strength refers to the muscles of your abs and back and their ability to support your spine and keep your body stable and balanced. For me, I do cardio exercises 3 times a week for 40 minutes to an hour. Weights training for 40 minutes twice a week. No good thing in life comes free. You want to enjoy your food, fit into your size 6 jeans and most importantly have a healthy heart? Get exercising.
2. Always eat food that requires minimal preparation such as sashimi that is rich in omega3.
It has been established that fish oil is good for the heart. It helps lower cholesterol, increasing the HDL good cholesterol and lowering the bad LDL. It gives you protection from stroke and heart attack. I try to eat this at least once a week. With so many Japanese restaurants in KL, this is not a difficult practice at all.
photo by @hairyberry
3.No dyes, no die.
Eye food that is dyed beyond recognition with great suspicion and above all, do not eat food that is brighter and redder than the party outfit you are wearing. Just imagine, there have been controversial claims stating that artificial coloring is behind the rise in kids’ behavioral problems, like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (read about that here). It may or may not be true, and I have to admit that I did eat this red “tulang” dish is Singapore… but I think once in a blue moon is probably fine! I’ve only ever done this once my entire life and I tried this last year… it wasn’t a blue moon though… maybe red?
4. Once you go brown, you never go back.
If you must eat carbohydrates in the form of bread, opt for the brown version instead of white. The brown bread is considered to go through less processing than the white bread. Brown bread is made up of the entire wheat grain which is high in vitamins, minerals and proteins. For white bread, after the bran and germ parts are removed, potassium bromide, chlorine dioxide gas or benzyl peroxide is used to bleach the flour (Man, that can’t be good! In fact, it sounds down right bad!) Yes, as a rule of thumb, the less processing the better. Same goes for rice.
5. Shake the Salt Habit
Omit adding extra salt to your food. Please people… love your body and love your kidneys. Taking too much salt will just burden your kidneys, and if for some reason your kidneys can’t eliminate enough sodium, the sodium starts to accumulate in your blood. Because sodium attracts and holds water, your blood volume increases. Increased blood volume makes your heart work harder to move more blood through your blood vessels, which increases pressure in your arteries. Such diseases as congestive heart failure, cirrhosis and chronic kidney disease can make it hard for your kidneys to keep sodium levels balanced. So, just remember this the next time you reach for table salt! (Don’t take my word for it, read Mayo Clinic’s article on “Shaking the Salt Habit” )
6. Eat tons of chili and garlic – fresh chili has vitamin C and garlic is good for the heart. The key to garlic is allicin, which is broken down into the foul-smelling sulphur compounds which taint breath. These compounds react with red blood cells and produce hydrogen sulphide which relaxes the blood vessels, and keeps blood flowing easily. So the next time someone screams at you – “Your breath stinks!!” … yell back… “But I have a strong heart!”
7. Opt to walk everywhere . Refuse to take a taxi and if you must, walk between food destinations. This will burn extra calories and get you hungry for the next binge and shoot. Extra points of you accomplish this on high heels (kidding! that’s bad for your spine actually).
8. And I mean walk EVERYWHERE . Did I fail to mention… everywhere! Don’ t take the elevator, walk up the stairs. Park at the furthers lot in the carpark and walk. Trust me, your body will thank you for it later and you will feel stronger for longer, without getting easily winded.
9. Stay away from starchy carbohydrates especially for the last meal of the day . Eating glutinous rice for breakfast or lunch is not half as bad as a couple of hours before you sleep. You do not need to burn any energy just before you go to bed and these carbs will not be utilized and instead turn to fat in your body. For me, I eat breakfast and lunch but no carbo for dinner. (Stay away from that Hokkien mee, you hear?! )
10. Dance to work off calories at every opportunity . Dance at the club, at the bus station, whilst queuing for the loo. Remember, the iPod is your friend. Okay, so maybe you cannot dance at every single opportunity without be mistaken for a loony but what I am saying is that a sedentary lifestyle kills. Get off that couch and do some gardening or mopping and cleaning. Don’t lounge in front of the TV all day and then complain you cannot climb a flight of stairs without heaving like a b*****d.
11. Never eat supper after a night out clubbing. Roti banjir is a no-no. The last meal should be 3-4 hours before you go to sleep.
Deep fried fatty foods are a no-no too.
12. Stay away from sugary sweet desserts or if you must, have only half and share the other with your companion food blogger. Remember to remind each other to stay strong. Haha! Easier said than done, especially when you have such talented bakers for friends. Like I said, all things in moderation. Once in a while is fine but then, back to the gym to burn off that sugar and fat!
13. Join a Marathon! Take part in the great KL or Singapore or (-insert country-) Marathon at every opportunity, or any other race for that matter. Extra points if the run is above 10KM!
14. Exercise even when on holiday . I always bring my trusty Asics with me on holiday so that even if I cannot find people to play ball with, I can at least put on my shoes and go for a run.
photo by @kennymah
15. A glass a day, keeps the Doc away?
One glass of beer, wine or whiskey is fine, but draw the line at one! A patient once asked his doctor (and this was told to me – so funny but true) “Doc, if I don’t drink all week, can I just drink 7 glasses on Sunday instead?” The answer my friend is NO. This is not monopoly where you accumulate your “get out of Jail” cards for a rainy day. One a day is one a day!
In conclusion, God gave us life, and he gave it so that we may live it abundantly, so why waste a second of it. Everything you eat, eat in moderation I say, with a generous amount of exercise thrown in for good measure. Banish that sedentary lifestyle… Live Long and Prosper!
If you like what you just read, please visit Ciki at her blog Cumi & Ciki Food & Travel Blog