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Does Gluten Free = Healthy?

The term “Gluten Free” (GF) has been plastered all over food packages, menus and health websites. It is as though gluten has become the biggest health enemy that everyone should avoid.

Does gluten free = healthy?

Miracle Health Claims

I’ve read/seen/heard countless of times about the miracle health claims of going gluten free. So many promise exaggerated health outcomes that it makes me sick in the stomach.


Weight loss and improved energy levels (sound familiar) are among the most common “health claims”. FYI, there is no evidence. 😀


Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat and some grains like oat and rye. In cooking, it helps the dough to rise and contributes to its texture. Gluten becomes a problem only if you are truly intolerant towards it (Celiac Disease).

Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune condition that destroyes the lining of the small intestines (reaction to gluten), leading to malabsorption of nutrients from food. Symptoms include pain, extreme fatigue, diarrhoea etc. For them, avoiding gluten is necessary.

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The symptoms can be vague. Sometimes,  irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is the triggering of sensitive nerve endings in the gut, is mistaken for gluten intolenrance. Recent research has shown that IBS might be caused by the malabsorption of fermentable sugars found in wheat such as fructans (and not gluten). It could also be other things like food additives, soy or dairy. You would have to do a restriction/elimination test to find out (before blaming it on gluten)!

This does not mean that these foods are bad for health. Avoiding gluten when you do not have a problem may be unnecessary. In fact, they may be unhealthy.


-Cutting out gluten would mean that you are avoiding a lot of wheat based products, which are good sources of B group vitamins, FIBRE, calcium and iron.

-Some gluten free products are HIGH in SUGAR (added during the food manufacturing process) as it makes them more palatable. (Weight loss? Maybe not)

-Could lead to a negative change in the bacteria composition of the gut. The right composition of gut bacteria is essential to the immune system.

Fun Facts:

-Gluten Free products are extremely expensive. Don’t waste your money.

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-My GF friends despise GF foods. They miss the normal taste of CAKES. Be THANKFUL that you do not have a problem with gluten. So, EAT YOUR GLUTEN. ;P

Take home msg: If you do not have a problem with gluten, think twice before reaching out for a gluten free product!

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If you are caught up and confuzzled by all the health/nutrition jargon, the healthy and safest approach would be to focus on consuming from ALL the FOOD GROUPS.


It is THAT simple and you can never go wrong. :)


Plyometrics – JUMP!


It’s Me!

Quick Update:

-Loving second semester of my Masters program! Always learning new things 😀

3 Months ++ of ZERO running (does running for the train count?)

What have I been up to since getting off running?

If you are wondering, I haven’t been sitting on my butt. I can’t sit still. 😛 I cannot NOT do anything. I’ve been doing heaps of body weight circuit training and cycling!

Most of the exerises that I do involve some sort of jumping. I find that it is a REALLY good way to get my heart rate up. Because I have plantar fasciitis, I’ve been incorporating it with a lot of care! I try not to aggravate it too much and have full days of rest + a lot of stretching + foam rolling the feet, calves, hips, butt, hamstrings (SO GOOD!)!

So, let’s talk PLYOMETRICS! Plyos have been a huge part of my training (lately). I love how my training has made a 180 degree change from pure running to pure circuit training. I’ve always been doing some sort of strength training (but it was never consistent). I found it REALLY hard to incorporate other forms of training when I was running. And I was not doing as much cross training as I should. Injury has forced me out of my comfort zone and I’m loving every bit of it!

IMG_4817Every time I start jumping, I remember why I chose running. 😉

If you can see the silver lining, amazing things can come from seemingly “bad” situations/conditions. It is all about perspective and how you deal with “failure” or “change”.

BACK to plyos.

Plyos involve a lot of quick EXPLOSIVE movements. Think jumping and bounding.Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

The goal is to get your muscles to exert MAXIMUM force (EXPLODE) in the shortest amount of time. This means going from eccentric contraction (muscle lengthening) to concentric contraction (muscle shortening) as fast as possible.

Imagine you are trying to jump onto a box. What do you do? You would bend your knees and lower your body slightly before trying to jump. That bending/lowering is basically the eccentric phase where your muscles are prestretched to store potential energy. The jump is then the concentric phase where you release all that stored up energy.

Plyos require a high amount of force, which can lead to stronger bones, joints, tendons and ligaments.


– Increases POWER & SPEED
-Increases ENDURANCE
-Increases intermuscular coordination and neural drive = Strength and efficiency
-Reduces landing force
-Improved dynamic balance in older people
-Weight bearing = stronger bones (increase in bone mass)
-Decrease risk of ACL injuries
-Better static and dynamic stability
-Aerobic capacity – increasing blood lactate, heart rate and oxygen consumption



IMG_3338-Jumps (box jumps, squat jumps, jump lunges, tuck jumps, broad jumps)

IMG_2068-Hops (single leg hops)


-Death jumps

-Plyo push ups


Pick and mix! You can do a few sets with a definite amount of reps or set the timer (30 seconds work:30 seconds rest etc). You can alternate between plyo and non-plyo moves for active recovery in between each move.

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-Plyos are an advanced form of training (athletes). Make sure you have a good fitness base, flexibility, strength, coordination and range of movement.

-Make sure you warm up for at lesat 15-20 minutes before any form of exercise (esp plyos)

Start slow from lower intensity movements before progressing into more explosive and advance movements

-Engage muscles

-Ensure proper biomechanics while performing every movement




NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training 4th edn 2012 (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins)




An Athlete’s Mindset – True Grit

The RIO Olympics 2016 have come to an end! I can finally get back to my “normal” sleeping schedule.


This was probably one of my most-watched-live-events and it was worth EVERY WAKING MINUTE!

I guess everyone who managed to tune in to the RIO Olympics have taken home something.

As an amateur athlete, trying to be my best at my chosen sport, I can ONLY IMAGINE how hard olympians work. I truly believe that you get out what you put in. Your success is measured by ALL your blood, sweat and tears. And of course, having God behind your back! I cannot talk about success without adding in that spiritual element. But that’s just me. 😉


We can all learn a thing or two about these athletes. They all have similar characteristics. STRONG both MENTALLY and PHYSICALLY. But the mental aspect will determine what the physical aspect will do.

Belief. Determination. Discipline. Fearless.


You have to BELIEVE that you are capable. Be DETERMINED to achieve. DISCIPLINED to follow through. And FEARLESS when it comes to pushing beyond your limits.

Athletes are defined by their failures and bad days, and NOT giving in.

For the weekend warrior, thriving and striving to train for an event or just to stay active/get fit, you can probably relate to some of these:

-Waking up in the wee hours of the morning when everyone else is tucked in their warm comfy bed just so that you can get that workout in

-Sweating it out, huffing and puffing away (and possibly looking like a dead chicken)

-Dreading the process of the workout, where every step just seems endless


-Pushing yourself to the point where you absolutely DO NOT want to do this anymore

-Constantly tired and sleep deprived

-Waking up with aches and pains

-Unsightly tan lines, dry hair, dead black toe nails, blistered feet, cuts and bruises

-Days when you miss the podium by a fraction of a second


Giving 110% during training but still failing time and time again

-Days when your coach screams “ONE MORE REP!”

-Days when you think of skipping your workout (that inner battle)


-When you are afraid to look at your training schedule because you know it will only get harder

-When you miss out on important gatherings/events involving family and friends

-When you are on a strict diet, watching the rest devouring sweet treats and snacks

-The times spent nuturing an injury and then getting another injury (and possibly another)

-The fear of losingIMG_4970

-Days when you’ve had a bad workout on top of having a bad day

-The times when you trained to your max, ready to take on a race, only to be disappointed by the outcome


-When everyone else is asking you to give up and telling you otherwise

-When no one is behind your back

-The physical and mental pain of pushing through your workout AND on race day

IMG_4967-When you feel your muscles BURNING, heart PUMPING, lungs BURSTING

-The day you question your sanity, thinking “IS THIS WORTH IT?! WHAT AM I DOING?!”

-The day you feel you have NOTHING left


-The day you want to quit and throw in the towel

And then…



Deep in that dark pitt…

You see a ray of light shining through. In your heart and in your gut, you know that you STILL want this. You dig deep, searching for that hope and belief you have within yourself, and then you hang on to it.


You push through. You fight the negativity.


And when you overcome the impossible, you smile because you know that all the BAD days were worth it.


We all have bad days. It is what we do with them that will eventually shape our success and personality. And this applies to EVERY other aspect of our lives.


Sucess comes to those who stick to what they say they will do, long after the motivation and positive feelings have left. Day in, Day out. Only a few are willing to fight through their current emotions.

Do YOU have it in you?


Ways to Add Some MOVEment to Your Daily Life

Hello from the Sunshine State!

From my last post, I hope that you have made some effort to MOVE a little more?IMG_2990

If you haven’t, here are some tips!

1. At work/school

Yes, I know that work/school load forces you to sit for most of the day. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Drink more water

When you drink more water, nature calls! That means that you would have to MOVE (to the toilet). Drink a cup of water every other hour or so. Water is good for your body, keeps you hydrated (especially under the aircon) and it is good for your skin!Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Use a cup instead of having a big bottle near you. That way, you’d have to get up and get water = MORE MOVEMENT! #toughlife but trust me, it is worth it.

Lunch hour/Snack time

Meal times are a great way to get up and about. Even if you have packed your own lunch, take it outside! Have it under the sun. IMG_3911You’d get your dose of Vitamin D, some movement and it helps to clear the mind! We all need a mental break from work. You’ll be feeling fresh and ready to smash out the rest of the work day. It also helps with post-food sluggish-ness.


I tend to have VERY tight hips, shoulders and upper back. The lost in range of motion in these areas have caused lower back pain over the years. It gets WORSE with sitting! Every 30-45 mins or so, I would get up and do some light standing stretches. IMG_1045

This is my favourite dynamic stretch!IMG_2950

Twist your upper back to your right while driving your right knee towards the left. I do 5 reps on each side.

2. Transport

Traffic can be a nightmare. Some spend up to 3 hours just stuck in traffic! It is an absolute waste of time plus you end up with more SITTING.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

You can:

-Get up earlier (avoid traffic)

-Get off work later (slot in some workout time after work to beat the traffic! Great way to kill time!)Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

-Park further away (brisk walk)

-Cycle/walk to work/school (I know this is not possible/feasible for everyone. But if it is, DO IT!)Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

-If you’re in a train/bus, walk around if possible. Just make sure that it is safe and that you’re not disturbing other passengers.

3. At Home

Cut out time spent on screens (TV, comp, game consoles, phone etc). Spend more time with your family over fun games or do some CHORES! I don’t know about you but I LOVE to clean! It satisfies the OCD-ness in me and I find it very therapeutic.

4. Anywhere

TAKE THE STAIRS! If you know me from my Uni days, you’d know that I NEVER take the lift. FullSizeRenderEven if we had to climb 16 flights of stairs! Sometimes, I take the stairs at malls too.

These are just some of the many small ways that you can add some MOVEment to your day.

The HARDEST part is getting it done!

You might think: PFFFFT! These small changes wouldn’t change anything!

1 year = 365 days x the rest of your life

Start setting some small goals and get to it.

Our human bodies are made to MOVE! You’ll feel SO MUCH better!

*Again, this is your cue to get up!*


Sitting – The New Smoking?

We all know that physical activity is important for general health. The typical guideline for physical activity (in a week):

150-300 minutes of MODERATE intensity (power walking, walking, house chores etc)


75-150 minutes of VIGOROUS intensity (running, cycling, swimming, rowing etc)


A combination of both


at least 2 days of strength trainingIMG_5105

To the already-active individual, hitting the recommended hours in this guideline would be a piece of cake! I know many people who can complete it in 2 days (myself included)!

BUT! (there’s always a but)IMG_6701

If you are sitting (sedentary) for most of the time when you are NOT being active, you’re not much better off than the physically inactive person.

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If you workout for 60 minutes or more but spend the rest of the day seated (work/school/etc), then congratulations! You’re an Active-Couch Potato! Sounds cute but the effects are not that cute. In fact, it can be life threatening. Active-couch potato-ing has been associated with unwanted metabolic biomarkers (decrease in insulin sensitivity) [1].

What is “sitting”?

Sitting (or sedentary behaviour) includes behaviours that do not use much energy (less than 1.5 metabolic equivalents) during the hours that you are awake [2].


Examples: Driving/commuting for long hours, seated at a desk for work/school, watching tv, meal times, chilling by the beach etc


Technology has both improved and worsen the situation. On one end of the spectrum, there are many available trackers/step counters/health apps/fitness apps etc that can encourage movement. And on the other end, it contributes to more SITTING! From online shopping to food delivery. Heh, we don’t even need to go grocery shopping or cook our food!

Sitting and Health

More sitting time has been associated with obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart problems.


This is an easy one. If you eat more than you expend = weight gain.

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In essence, if inactivity is not offset with a decrease in food, you’re heading for obesity land.

Type 2 diabetes and Hearth Problems

Our body cells use energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which are made from blood glucose (carb) and triglycerides (fat). Sitting decreases the demand for ATP (because you’re not using much of it) and downregulates the mechanisms that are used for drawing glucose and triglycerides from the blood into the muscle cells. These include the GLUT-4 transporter protein (needed for blood glucose to enter the cell) and lipoprotein lipase (enzyme that breaks down triglycerides to free fatty acids to fuel muscle cells).IMG_1726

This is also “sitting”!

This will ultimately lead to MORE glucose AND triglycerides in the blood which are well established risk factors for developing heart diseases and Type 2 diabetes!

If you think you are active, THINK AGAIN!IMG_1647

How many hours do YOU spend sitting?

This is also your cue to GET UP and MOVE!