Happy #BodyPositivity Week!

I unintentionally took a month off from writing here, mostly because I was away in Sweden with family for two weeks, and I was burying my nose in work and my personal life. But now that Buzzfeed is celebrating Body Positivity week, there’s no way in hell I wouldn’t give my two cents’ worth! 😉

As someone who has constantly struggled with body image and self-love, and also been the target of body shaming – right from when I was a little girl, up till adulthood – I would say I’m very familiar when it comes to the topic of loving/hating your body.

I am happy to say that these days I am the fittest I’ve been all my life, and I’m finding more reasons to love my body for what it can do rather than what it looks like. I still have days where I find the reflection in the mirror a tad upsetting, but I reassure myself by telling myself that I’ve come so far from the days of being a chubby girl who was horrified at the sight of that vacation photo, which marked the start of my fitness and weight loss journey. It’s roughly been about 4 years since then.

I chose to share this particular video from Buzzfeed because I totally get why a compliment on someone’s weight loss may not necessarily always be taken the right way. It’s because no one knows the struggle, the bad days and the personal dilemmas that someone has had to fight through to come out 10 or 20 pounds lighter. Was the weight loss really because of personal motivation? Was it for vanity’s sake? Was it because of social pressure? Was it due to medical conditions or medications? NO ONE WOULD KNOW EXCEPT THEM.

And that’s why telling someone they look like they’ve lost weight may not always be well-received, even if your intentions are good. Instead, if you wish to compliment someone on their looks (because dang, they deserve it!), try telling them their outfit looks really flattering or that they seem exceptionally chirpy that day or compliment/thank them for something they’ve done to make your day better. The whole point is to take away the focus on their SIZE, because honestly, IT DOESN’T MATTER. Sure, they probably have lost a ton of weight but unless you know them super well (like eternal BFFs), making them feel special about WHO they are will make them feel tons better than WHAT they look like.

I don’t want to ramble on, because I know I can when it comes to body image issues, so I’ll leave you here. I’d love to hear your thoughts, if you have any. And please, please, please, know that you are so much more than those numbers on the scale. I know it’s hard to accept, but that’s the truth. 🙂 Enjoy the video!

Love,
Wani xoxo

 

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Personal Workout Motivation Hacks

I think more times than not, I actually have to muster the motivation and dedication to workout – just like most of us. Everyone has their own little thing they do to prepare for a sweat session, from eating well to putting together a sick playlist to look forward to listening to. I thought I’d share with you some of my own nifty tips on how to prep yourself mentally and in some ways, emotionally, for a workout (because I’m sure we all hate that mental quicksand we trudge through just to convince ourselves that the workout will be worth all the effort!).

Start the day with a great meal – Notice how I didn’t say breakfast. That’s because some of us don’t eat breakfast (I’m not here to judge) and only manage to work up an appetite a little closer to late morning. So, whatever your first meal of the day is, make it COUNT! Get in the good stuff, like protein, complex carbs, vitamins and maybe even a bit of coffee, if you need it. It’ll set the tone for the day (read my previous post about this here); control the things you can, and fitting in a workout is one of them.

Wear your workout attire early – If you work from home like me, I like to wear my exercise gear from the moment I get out of bed. For me that sort of forces me to put those clothes to good use since I’m already donning them. On that note, I also try and shop for sports bras and running tights (read: my latest workout gear haul really burned a hole in my pocket!) that are cute or colourful and bright so that it makes me want to wear them more often, and it also makes me feel good wearing them. This in turn makes me wanna workout, because I feel empowered. Not sure if I’m the only one who feels this way, but it sure helps! Alternatively, if you work at an office, you can perhaps cheat on your office wardrobe choices by wearing your sports bra underneath your blouse, or if your workplace allows more casual options, wear your workout tights with cute flats to get you in the mood.

Sneak in a nap, if possible – I’ve developed this new habit of taking a nap in the middle of the afternoon, right before I work out. To maximise the nap’s benefits, I actually have a small bite to eat; not too much though, you don’t want a food coma or worse, indigestion! If I’m not feeling like a snack, a small shot of coffee right before my half hour nap will allow me to feel completely refreshed when I wake up, and I’m more than ready to attack that HIIT session!

CHOCOLATE – Okay, this might not be the best way to fuel your body before the workout, but I metabolise sugar pretty quickly. When I eat a full proper serving of dessert, I go through the whole sugar high-crash pretty fast, so I thought I’d use that to my advantage and use as a pre-workout snack. I break off about two to three squares of dark chocolate half an hour before my workout and hydrate well, then I’m good to go!

I hope this handful of tips will be able to help you in your daily goals of squeezing in a workout, even when it seems like you’re low on energy or simply lazy. 😉 What are some of the ways you prepare for a workout? I’d love to hear from you guys. 🙂

Love,
Wani xoxo

 

Squat for More Than Just a Better Booty

I’m a self-professed fan of squats. Squats of all kinds, and I’d like to believe the proof is in the derriere. 😉 In fact, I feel like no workout is complete without adding squats in, even if it’s upper body, abs or cardio day. SQUATS are LOVE. ❤

I think it’s safe to say that most people perform squats for the benefits of a rounder, firmer and perkier booty, along with amazingly strong and solid-looking quads (damn, them #squatgoals). But did you know that squats are also great for improving overall strength and health?

First, we must understand what muscles are engaged when we perform a proper, regular squat. There’s a lot going on, but essentially, you can count on your quadriceps and hamstrings to do the bulk of the hard work. The four muscles that comprise the quadriceps, known more commonly as the quads, run along the front of the thigh. The hamstrings are the three muscles running along the back of your thigh. Working together, the quads and hamstrings allow you to flex the thigh and extend the leg. And let’s not forget the gluteus maximus, which is the largest muscle in your rear end, that’s also in on this party.

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A break down of squat knowledge 101

Second, is performing a proper squat. The rule of thumb is to not allow your knees to go past your toes (when looking down in a squat position) and that your back remains flat (i.e. not rounded).

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Yay’s and nay’s of a beginner’s squat

If you’re finding yourself constantly struggling to find the right form (which is important, because it can prevent injury and maximise the squat’s benefits), set up a box or a chair to assist you. Film yourself performing a set of squats and observe where your lower back starts to round. Set up the box or chair this height, then perform your squats but sit briefly on the box in each rep. Focus on keeping your lower back straight and pulling your shoulder blades back to maintain your lower back position and good upper back posture.

Now that we got form and function out of the way, let’s talk about how great this one simple move is for your body! Even though the main focus of squats are centred around your leg muscles, squats also promote muscle growth around your entire body. The exercise is so intense that it creates an anabolic environment and makes the body release hormones, that are vital for the growth of muscle tissue, thus improving strength in your upper and lower body.

One of my personal favourite advantages of squats is how it improves your posture by working on building better balance. The balance that you need to do them will help to sit, stand and walk tall and straight. It will also strengthen your back muscles, and gradually instill a natural upright posture when walking and sitting – with chest out, tummy in and shoulders back. I have noticed that I now walk without slouching, which reduces the shoulder ache I used to frequently experience. 🙂

Oh, and don’t forget about those joints! The bending and stretching of your knees will strengthen your knee muscles and allow more oxygen and blood to flow around the joints, thus helping to keep them supple and strong.Speaking of blood flow, squats improve circulation as well. Good circulation means that more nutrients and oxygen reaches vital organs and muscles.

The benefits even extend to aiding your digestion, believe or not; squats help you to remove waste from the body. The muscular action of the squat improves the flow of fluids in your body and eases the passing of waste through your bowels, so it helps to keep you regular too. Who would’ve thought?!

Your entire body will thank you for squatting, no doubt, and if you’re looking to add more power and depth to your squats, feel free to add weights or barbells as you get better at it. All this talk about squats is making me really look forward to my workout later (yes, I’m odd like that!) so I really hope this piece provided a little more information about the humble squat, and if you have a favourite squat move/variation, I’d love to hear about it!

Happy squatting! 😀

Love,
Wani xoxo

 

For the Fearless Women

This post is impromptu. In fact, I’m typing this out as I sit alone having a nice cuppa coffee and having just had a solo brunch.

I went for my regular therapy session today and only just realised that today is International Women’s Day. I normally wouldn’t be really enthusiastic about saying much about it, although I do support the causes it’s promoted throughout the years, but this year it’s different for me.

During today’s therapy session, I allowed myself to be vulnerable and a target of my own insecurities. We visited my anxiety issues and went deep down to the very core of WHY.

And what I discovered was that, the reason I never felt the ability to let my guard down, to let people’s opinions of me really affect me and be fearful of judgement, is because I have never felt safe.

I don’t know where or what safe is. It’s not a place or a person or even something imaginary. I have no safe zone. I have never felt safe. And that’s what took the hardest for me to admit, before I broke down in tears in my therapist’s office.

I admitted to my years of denial. My struggle to handle my false sense of confidence.

So what does this revelation have to do with today? I know how hard for it is for women to be vulnerable, for fear of being seen as weak. For the risk of being seen as without morals, in certain situations. Women have a lot more at stake when it comes to their reputation, even when all they’re trying to do is build that very same reputation and earn a just amount of respect and equality in society.

So today, my wish is for all women to be brave enough to step up and be fearless. To not allow their minds to convince them otherwise of their greatness and courage. Today made me see myself in a light that I have refused to acknowledge for ages, but I am glad that I am beginning to embrace it.

That is my wish for all women this International Women’s Day. To love and accept without judgement, to storm this society with the unadulterated bravery. I draw inspiration from women who have been able to defy the odds, and I can only hope those of you reading this out there know that you too, are amazing women. 🙂

Love,
Wani xoxo

Breakfast Isn’t Just About Fuel for the Day

We’ve all heard how breakfast is for champions and how it’s the most important meal of the day (for obvious reasons). I could rattle on about how it’s essential to feed your empty belly first first thing in the morning, because it’ll set the tone for the rest of the day’s meals. And I could advise you on what the best breakfast options are, so that you can keep fuller for longer and maintain your blood sugar levels.

But I’m not. Today I want to talk to you about the benefits of breakfast that have little to do with how satiated you’ll feel and how nutritious it is for you. Today, I want to share with you how breakfast is very much a mental satisfaction for me, as much as it is an emotional act.

Having something to look forward to eating when you’ve essentially been fasting for an average of 8 hours is undoubtedly rewarding, but putting your health as a priority at the dawn of a new day is also very satisfying. I guess it’s the same type of satisfaction one gets from working out in the morning. Alas, I’m no early bird, just so you guys know. 😉

But filling my belly in the morning when I DO awake, has made me slow time down in a sense. I take this as a moment to treat myself, like I would regard any ‘me’ time. It shouldn’t be a quick sip of coffee, a bite of cold toast and off to work. Even when I was working a full-time job, I made a conscious effort to have at the very least, 15 minutes, to sit down and eat my morning fill.

It set the tone for the day; it made me more willing to make smart choices throughout the day, in fact. I would mentally note that I started it with a healthy breakfast and I didn’t want to ruin the streak. Plus, with my hunger appeased, I definitely was able to focus on more important decisions at work, rather than what I should stuff my face with at lunch just cos I was starving. 😛

I can personally vouch that breakfast can lead to you creating a beneficial habit that will lead you to develop a sense of ownership of the choices you make, as well as self-motivation to want to keep your body clean and healthy. This can bring you to feel empowered in another aspect of your life, by practicing self-discipline and self-respect for your own wellness.

If you’re currently having trouble fitting in breakfast before rushing off to work, start with waking up 10 minutes earlier, and have at least fruit and something to drink. Do that for a week, and attempt to work it up to 15 minutes, then 20. On weekends, when most people have the pleasure of taking slow mornings, put in that extra effort to cook a lil’ something. It could be anything from preparing oats, to making eggs or trying a new baking recipe. I know it seems like too much work for something when you’re barely awake, but trust me that it’ll make the hugest difference in your outlook for the day. Let me know how breakfast affects you, and if you’re planning on starting to eat before your day begins, I’d love to hear about how it’s going for you! 🙂

Happy Monday, everyone!

Love,
Wani xoxo

Faking It Till You Make It: Where to Draw the Line?

I watched this really interesting video on YouTube last week and it really struck a chord in me because it’s something that my previous therapist told me. Little did I know, that other people have adopted the same mantra to live by, when they feel like they need an extra confidence boost.

“Fake it till you make it” is what I’m talking about, and it’s something I’ve actually personally lived by for many years. For someone who’s struggled with her self-esteem for as long as I can remember, that was probably the only mindset that got me to where I am today. But not everyone adopts that mentality for the sake of facing their shortcomings to become a more confident, self-assured individual. Some may unknowingly use it to get ahead in their lives, or use it to put down others or even to flat out impress the people around them just so that they can be liked or accepted. So, where does the pretense stop?

I did a short, impromptu Periscope session a few nights ago, and I thought I’d extend the discussion here on my blog just so that we can all have a good talk about what this phrase really means either personally to you or in general terms. Do leave your comments below and I’ll be sure to reply every single one of you! Till my next post, have a good week ahead!

Love,
Wani xoxo

How Spin Class Got Me In a Tizzy

I walk into this packed room filled with about 5 rows of stationary bikes, snugly positioned next to each other – about 6 in each row. Everyone seems to know what to do; adjusting this and that, and I look over to my cousin and meekly ask for his help. Then the instructor sees me, the new face, as lost as ever, and walks over to show me how to adjust the bike according to my body.

It looks easy enough, but I know I’ll probably forget how to do it myself the minute she walks away. Because I still have no clue what comes next, I take visual cues from the other participants in the class and climb onto my bike and start my warm-up with an easy pedal.

Then the torture begins.

I thought starting Shaun T’s Insanity program was tough; spin class is a whole other world. During the 50-minute class, the first 20 minutes were the most agonising. It was a real task keeping up with the instructor’s pace and my thighs were screaming bloody murder. My heart was working triple the effort I’m used to, and I honestly felt like I was going to be wiped out by the end of the class.

I do have to admit though, I really only started getting into the rhythm during the last 15 minutes of the class and could finally find the mental focus to push through the muscle strain and motivate myself to do my best.

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YAY me! 😀

For anyone looking for an excellent workout to shake up your routine, I would definitely recommend trying a spin class. And when you go, give it your all. But I also have to highlight this super important reminder: make sure you’re feeling good that day, physically, and that you have at least a basic foundation of fitness. I kid you not, spin class isn’t as easy as it looks. I’m very used to the gruelling physical expectations of HIIT, but I did not expect spin class to test my limits. I’m glad I did it, but I don’t think it’s something I would do regularly.

Not because it’s tough (although yes, I wouldn’t volunteer to put myself through that sort of pain again!); I just don’t enjoy it as much as HIIT. So, from one spin class virgin to all those others out there, I would say give it a spin (haha, pun totally intended!), and see if it’s your new thing. Unfortunately for me, I’ll take my circuit training any day. 😉

For those of you up to the challenge, here are few pointers for your first time:

  • Don’t be shy about asking for help adjusting the bike to your height and body requirements. You’re going to be on that bike for quite some time, so it’s important you feel comfortable.
  • Listen to your body. As much as it feels like you should try and keep pace with the instructor, don’t over-exert yourself till you’re in excruciating pain. Even if he/she asks the class to up the resistance but you know you can’t handle any higher, keep at the current setting (or even turn it down a notch). Never feel bad about not being able to ride as tough as everyone else is.
  • Remember to bring along a water bottle to class! You’re definitely going to be parched!
  • At the end of the day, just like any other workout, have fun with the music! Yes, its going to be really tough to get through, but as I sit here with my thighs as sore as ever, I’m so damn glad I really went for it and got out of my comfort zone.

Love,
Wani xoxo

Mastering the Art of Masturdating

If you misread the title as “Mastering the Art of MasturBATING”, I don’t blame you. It’s the same reaction I get when I tell people this is something I’m trying out, as part of my recovery process.

So what exactly is masturdating? Simply put, it’s dating yourself. It could involve going out for a meal, watching a movie, visiting the latest exhibition or anything you might do on a date… but with yourself. Isn’t that kinda sad, you ask?

The whole concept of masturdating isn’t to create a pity party for yourself and wallow in the company of one; it’s allowing yourself the opportunity to enjoy your company, and really feel at ease and comfortable doing things alone.

Being an introvert, it probably comes a little more naturally for me. But since I’m also suffering from depression and anxiety, it could potentially be counter-productive. I brought this issue up during my last therapy session, and my therapist gave his stamp of approval as this could be beneficial to my healing process, when done in small doses – say once or twice a week. Anything more than that could cause me to withdraw myself, which isn’t very healthy given my unstable state of mind and emotions.

So far I’ve had dinners and sat in the cinema alone, which is all good, but I’d like to try attending classes or even go to events by myself – something that will definitely push my comfort level. About a year ago, I took masturdating to another level by going on a solo vacation – something I’d never done before in my life.

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It was scary but exciting. I treated myself to bike trails, solo meals with loads of reading, 2.5 hour massages, staying in the villa all day binge-watching TV and chilling by the pool. Once I get my finances in order, I’d definitely love to do it again. So, what are the benefits of masturdating?

  • You learn about what you love, and don’t love. By having to spend time with yourself, you slowly figure out what your peeves are and what turns you on. And I don’t even mean sexually; I mean the type of company you’d like to surround yourself with, and what keeps you happy.
  • You prioritise you. You don’t have to go out to impress someone, which is usually the case on a date. Just be you and go for things that’ll make you feel special. This also assists in building self-love, which in turn will benefit your friendships with others and future relationships, because you know what you stand for and what makes you tick.
  • You start taking responsibility for your happiness (along with your journey through life). By taking control of your happiness, you will also naturally want to be the captain of your life choices so that you know you’re headed for contentment, success and ultimately a fulfilling life! No more waiting and depending on others to make you happy. 🙂

Even if you’re currently in a relationship, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with going on the occasional masturdate. In fact, it could help your existing relationship by constantly checking in with yourself and giving yourself some TLC. If you find it a challenge to get past the initial uneasiness or shyness of going out solo, this piece of advice from solo activity expert Rebecca Ratner, who co-authored ‘Inhibited from Bowling Alone’ might help. She recommends trying a class, or mentally re-framing your masturdates as something functional. Ratner said, “Doing things that feel ‘date-like’ alone will be really tough for people. It’s a lot easier for people to do things alone when they think of them as functional – for example to learn something.” With that in mind, workout, cooking or craft-making classes are the best ways to get started on your masturdating experience.

If you’ve masturdated before or are thinking of starting, I’d love to hear your experiences! Personally, it’s quite liberating, although there will undoubtedly be instances that I wish I had someone to share the moment(s) with. But I know I need to stay focused, and know that this will benefit me in my recovery. I wish you all a great week ahead!

Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others – Parker Palmer

Love,
Wani xoxo

 

Two Weeks Into Therapy: An Update

This week I attended my second therapy session with the psychologist, and have been on fluvoxamine for slightly over two weeks. I know everyone’s recovery journey dealing with depression and anxiety is different, so I thought I’d like to share mine.

Plus, writing is always therapeutic for me, so this definitely helps. 🙂

The first two days on the anti-depressant was incredibly tough. After researching on possible side effects, I waved it off thinking I wouldn’t be affected as much (cos I usually don’t have a history of suffering from medicinal side effects). Boy, was I so wrong.

The first day threw me into a spiral of anxiety where I felt like the room was constantly spinning. I was jittery, worried, upset, angry, everything at the same time. My suicidal thoughts were amplified; I literally wanted everything to end right then. My mind couldn’t even focus on taking deep breaths to calm me down, so bad that I would go right off the edge. I had to coop myself up at home for my own safety and sanity. I felt like I was literally going crazy. What made me hold out for those two days, I don’t know.

But I did, and magically, the side effects vanished on the third day. The anti-depressants are supposed to help with insomnia, but so far, I’ve only had some of the most restless sleeps ever. It’s made me tired and sleepy during the day, forcing me to take about an hour’s nap every day just to survive the day. 😦

Mood-wise, I’m trying to give myself reasons to stay positive. The last therapy session was a morale booster as my therapist said I seem to be in a more positive mindset. I even shared with him my self-harming days when I was a teenager, with only the passionate desire for a better life to hold me back from losing myself. He then told me I am a fighter, which made me well up with tears, touched by his encouragement.

On the flip side, as positively as things are going, I have been referred to see a psychiatrist as well, due to my present state of mind, which is still very vulnerable and fragile. So, it’s back to IMH (Institute of Mental Health, where I attended therapy sessions for a year, about 8 years ago) for me, which I’m not really a fan of due to the distance from home, but if it means I’ll get the help I need, I’m up for it.

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As for my break-up, I’d be lying if I said I’m getting over it. I don’t think I’m over it even in the slightest. I cannot let it go, not just yet. I cannot find any way to forgive myself for what I’ve done to lose the man I love. I’m still very much in love with him. But that’s something I cannot do anything about. I cannot force these feelings to vanish, and perhaps they’ll always be there. But right now, I simply am trying my darnest best to heal myself, and perhaps the forgiveness will come when I least expect it.

I know I’ll be okay one day. But not right now, and I have to be patient enough with myself to be okay with that. I hope you all have a great weekend. 🙂

Love,
Wani xoxo

 

CHANEL LES BEIGES Foundation Review | 2 Skin Types

I recently decided to collaborate with one of my best girlfriends, Nora (@itsmenoraadnan on Instagram and YouTube), to review Chanel’s latest foundation in their Les Beiges series.

I’m seriously no expert on make-up, but once in a while, when I do feel like dolling up, I want the products I use on my face to feel light, effortless and damn well matte! You see, I have pretty greasy skin, so I naturally gravitate towards skin care and make-up ranges that target combination-to-oily skin. In this YouTube video collaboration, Nora and I have banded together to create a 20-minute long review that tests Chanel’s Les Beiges foundation on both our skin types (Nora has dry to normal skin, even sensitive in some areas).

Don’t worry, you don’t have to subject yourself to sitting through the entire video if you don’t wish to; Nora’s review comes first, while mine starts around the 12:53 mark. Just to let you guys in on a little extra something, I even worked out in the foundation just for kicks, so you can watch for yourself if this pricey gem of a foundation is worth the investment! 😉

Overall, I would say it’s really lightweight and makes your skin pretty flawless in terms of evening out skin tone (not so much in terms of coverage though, boo!). But it’s not something that will literally take you from early morning all the way to evening, all while remaining intact. I would save this for special occasions when I know I’ll be indoors and not doing too much running around. Hence, if you’re a die-hard Chanel junkie, then by all means, get it. If not, it’s worth doing a wee bit more research and finding something else to spend your hard-earned moolah on! I hope you guys enjoy the video, and remember to give a THUMBS UP, SUBSCRIBE and COMMENT! 🙂

Love,
Wani xoxo