By Faith Chanda
Recently, my husband experienced some alarming symptoms that we thought might have signaled a minor heart attack. After appointments with several doctors, some uncomfortable tests and a scary few days, his cardiologist was satisfied it wasn’t a heart attack but sternly recommended a much healthier lifestyle… for both of us. Fatty, high-cholesterol foods were out, vegetables and plenty of exercise were in, which meant cutting down on red meat and starting a daily walk. Suddenly the struggle was real and we needed some help.
Our meal planning was going to need a major makeover. While Singapore may tout high-end restaurants and lavish brunches, it is also possible to eat out here at local hawker markets with a huge variety of choice, albeit loaded with fat and salt, for very little. With busy lifestyles and imported supermarket produce coming at a premium, it’s easy to fall into the trap of opting for this over meals prepared at home. Personal trainer and nutrition coach Michelle Lavergne advises, “Nutrition is possibly the easiest to understand, but the hardest to implement. Old habits can be hard to break and nutritional habits can be exceptionally difficult to change.” So, what we needed to do is build new mealtime habits. I sent out a distress call (text message) to our friends and family asking for healthy recipes for our family dinners and was rewarded with a great selection of website and cookbook suggestions.
Singapore offers many a service that will deliver a variety
of freshly grown fruit and vegetables to your doorstep to kickstart your healthy menu planning. Companies such as Avo & Co., SuperNature, Zenxin AgriOrganic, and Quan Fa Organic Farm all have subscription services in Singapore that will deliver a selection of fresh vegetables
to your doorstep.
Just like food habits, exercise is another difficult pattern to change. Our daily walk gets longer and faster as time goes on. But we know it’s not enough. Lavergne suggests some low-level weight lifting is the way to go. “Endless cardio isn’t doing you as many favors as you expect, and it’s actually been shown to have a smaller impact on weight loss than previously thought. One of the keys to weight loss is lean muscle mass, and strength training, not cardio, is the best way to increase those lean muscles. So, get lifting!”
Another tip is to find your fitness ‘tribe.’ It can be really helpful to have a group to exercise with to encourage and challenge one another. Jaye Puia is Health and Wellness Coordinator at Stamford American International School. “I run bootcamp sessions for parents five times a week and have noticed that creating a ‘fitness community’ helps people to feel connected.” As a result, they are more committed to their workouts and the friendships they’ve built with fellow parents are an added bonus.
Perhaps the most important piece that ties it all together is mental and emotional health. Corporate CEO, Aikido martial artist and trainee Pilates instructor, Sharan Pinto, is no stranger to stress. Sharan says “fitness and a good exercise routine help manage my day-to-day stress, alleviate anxiety and clear my mind so I can make the tough decisions my job requires. Exercising increases energy levels during the day and encourages good sleep at night, both of which are critical in this increasingly stressful world.”
Early on, my husband and I discovered that we have very different mental approaches to our fitness journey. He likes to go ‘cold turkey’ and cut out bad choices and influences right away. On the other hand, I need time to get used to the idea of change… any change, but especially big change. And while we walk together every morning now, his pace is faster than mine, so we soon end up on different parts of the path at the same time. So this is our metaphor for our journey to better health – we’re both doing it, but in different ways and at different paces. In the end, we’ll both be better for it and grateful to be
Living HEALTHY in Singapore.
Faith’s Finds for Living HEALTHY in Singapore Healthy recipes
• The Healthy Kitchen: Recipes for a Better Body, Lifeand Spirit by Andrew Weil, MD and Rosie Daley
• Cook Love Eat with Sarab: Creative Recipes from the Global Vegetarian Kitchen by Sarab Kapoor
Vegetable subscription services
• Avo & Co. - www.avoandco.com
• SuperNature - www.supernature.com.sg
• Zenxin AgriOrganic - organicdelivery.sg
• Quan Fa Organic Farm - quanfaorganic.com.sg
Favorite walking spots
• From Gardens by the Bay East, along Kallang River
across pedestrian bridge at SportsHub
• Fort Canning park loop
• Botanical Gardens