This is me 2 years ago:
Today, I turn 28.
When I was a little younger, I could eat whatever I wanted without worrying about putting on weight. These days, it feels like I can get fat just by drinking water. Have you felt this way about your body before?
Apart from watching my waistline, I realize I have started using my age as an excuse not to do certain things, such as “I’m too old for Zouk” / “I might break my bones while bungee jumping” / “Skydiving will cause my heart to stop, I’m sure of it” / “I’m too old for these cutesy Hello Kitty spectacles”.
Time to rethink these! I’m not old. I’m only 28!
Unfortunately or not, with a name like mine, people tend to expect me to age GRACEfully (Thanks ah, Mom and Dad). So here’s what I have been doing, and what I intend to continue doing to help me age with as much grace as I can muster. Basically, it’s how I plan to live the next chapter of my life. 🙂
1. Always Giving My Body The Rest It Requires
I’m no longer 18 and able to burn the midnight oil without having signs of fatigue show on my face for the next couple of days. Also, being seated in front of the computer for prolonged periods of time gives me stiff shoulders and makes my eyes really tired.
Thus, I take a nap when I’m feeling sleepy and get into bed by midnight (sometimes, 10pm, when I’m really exhausted). I also schedule a ‘rest’ day after a day of tiring workouts.
I no longer keep late nights just to watch idol dramas or play computer games because I have made health my priority.
Just recently, I hurt my back while executing a 50kg deadlift in the gym. It might have been serious if I did not take the next 3 days “off”, with a digital detox, and got off the grid, went for more walks, and got a lot of rest. Our bodies are amazing – they can heal themselves if you let them. Just make sure you listen to your body.
2. I Don’t Wait For Burnouts Before Taking Breaks
Life in Singapore IS stressful, and this is not about to change anytime soon. So whenever possible, I go on a holiday. If I have to escape the city by heading underwater or climbing a mountain, I do it. I get to a place where I can cast all my worries behind. It is super liberating!
I don’t do battle with my body; I work with it. I plan my holidays ahead of time, so I don’t just take advantage of cheaper travel fares, but I also make this time for recharging and rejuvenation my priority.
3. The Older I Get, The More Exercise I Do
It seems funny to me now – I used to feel like dying when I ran the 2.4km for NAPFA tests. My lungs would feel like they were on fire and my legs would be as heavy as lead.
In my 20s, I started (rather late) to join races. First it was 5km, then 10km, then 14km.
I also hit the gym twice a week now. When I’ve had one buffet too many, and my jeans feel tighter, I go out for a run, have a lighter meal, and try to cook at home instead of eating out.
Our bodies tell us when we’ve been over-indulging, or when we’ve been exercising too little. If we choose not to pay heed, there will come a day when our weight balloons or when our health fails. Don’t wait for that to happen.
4. Eating What My Body Needs, Then Eating What I Want
Whenever I feel like I’m catching a cold, I’ll include garlic and ginger in my cooking. And whenever bowel movements aren’t as smooth, I’ll eat bananas and drink a lot more water.
Because I listen to these warning signals my body gives me, and adjust my diet accordingly, I rarely (if ever) fall ill. And even when I do get sick, I recover pretty fast.
I sometimes wake up in the morning feeling really hungry, and get very tempted to just grab some biscuits and eat those first. But I know my body is in need of nourishment so I’ll eat fresh / raw foods, like an avocado, first.
On top of that, I’ve also successfully cut out fast food from my diet. In fact, when I recently ate a MOS Burger meal because I had some time to kill between appointments, I felt sick right after, and drank lots of water just to flush out whatever I had eaten.
Also, the smell of popcorn makes me nauseous, so it’s one thing I don’t eat. Popcorn is junk food so I’m not surprised my body doesn’t want me eating that.
5. Remembering That Age Is Just A Number = No Stress
I get upset when I spot new lines appearing on my face because I am pretty diligent with skincare. However, those lines on my neck just took me by surprise. I take them as a sign that I need to apply moisturizer more often.
I know of bloggers who are in their early twenties and already getting fillers. The only fillings I’ve ever done are dental fillings.
And guess what, I don’t wear makeup. I realized early on that makeup was actually giving me clogged pores and breakouts when I don’t cleanse it all off properly, and even when I do.
So if I have dark eye circles, I don’t try to conceal them. I just get more sleep. If my skin is looking dull or dry, I drink more water and eat more fruit. Makeup simply masks these signs and make ladies imagine they have good skin, till they apply makeup remover. *wink*
When people ask me why I have good skin, and barely visible pores, I give them the lazy answer of “SK-II”. But it’s definitely more than that. And it starts by taking that gunk off my face because my body has already told me it doesn’t like all that goo.
6. Doing More Of What Makes Me Happy
There are days when I wish I have more than 24 hours in a day, when the thought of being able to grow 2 more arms seem appealing, and when stress levels are increasing together with my workload. Have you had such a day before? I bet you have.
That’s when I experience things like writer’s block, stiff shoulders and other aches and pains.
To counter them, I just take some time off work (though it may seem impossible), breathe, feel centered again, and do something fun, like starring in my own comic strip:
We all need a Doraemon, don’t we?
And when I am feeling happier, I return to my work and I’m much more productive at work.
Don’t force yourself to your ‘breaking point’. Have a break and have some fun. You’ll be able to complete your tasks even faster, I promise.
7. When It Gets Really Stressful, Choose To Smile Instead Of Frown
The happier I am, the younger I feel. But sometimes Life just takes a turn, and the rug’s pulled out from under me.
This blogpost got me a lot of flak. It was about my visit to Dolphin Island at Resorts World, Sentosa. Out of the blue, MONTHS after I’d uploaded the blogpost, some people just started attacking me on Twitter.
When I am under stress, I feel my stomach getting queasy, as if there’s a sudden surge in gastric juices. This is when I have to remind myself to just notice the stress, stop for a moment and take a deep breath.
In a calmer state, I try to resolve the issue, and choose to smile instead of frown. I managed to explain my point of view, what I was doing there, and even helped link to their site via my blog. These “haters” eventually came around and said they appreciated what I did.
8. Don’t Compare Myself To Others: Some Things Are Beyond Reach
Those days of being slim enough to model for blogshops seem to be behind me now. I see those stick-thin bloggers (or rather, instagrammers) these days and WISH I can be like them. But I know I have to embrace my body for what it is. I’d just starve to death trying to be as thin as those girls.
Fortunately, I’ve had the amazing opportunity of interviewing local supermodel, Sheila Sim, and award-winning actress, Cate Blanchett, on what beauty means to them.
In the interview with Sheila Sim (click here), she shared that “There will always be someone skinnier, there will always be someone more beautiful, there will always be someone who is more attractive. But they are not you. See yourself in a positive light. Stop comparing and becoming negative and unhappy… Modeling has made me strong in the mind. People always come up to you to say nasty things. You are too skinny or too fat. You are never just right. Believe that this is what I am. You can sometimes get insecure but it shouldn’t linger on for too long. Bad hair or breakout… move on. My skin is not so good today but tomorrow it will be better.”
And in the interview with Cate Blanchett (read it here), Cate shared that a beautiful woman is “Someone who is generous, engaged, not so conscious about herself… A beautiful woman is not conventional, not airbrushed.”
Since I’m past the age (and size) for modeling for blogshops, I move on. I do what I am good at. 🙂
Someone wise once said “A flower does not think about competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.”
9. When I Feel Bored, I Create Something Awesome
There are days when I wake up feeling lethargic even though I have had many hours of sleep (too many, sometimes). That is a feeling of not having something I want to wake up to. I know this happens to many employees who have to drag themselves out of bed to get to the office. It does happen sometimes to self-employed folk like me too.
When I’m feeling this way, I know something needs to be done. I have to get those creative juices flowing again, so I make things. Like this dress made from ribbon and M&Ms, as well as the owl keychain from clay:
I feel happiest when I am in a creative sort of mood. And life’s too short to spend your day feeling bored at work. Whenever possible, make your day AWESOME! 🙂
10. Nothing Like A Good Challenge To Make Me Feel Alive & Engaged
When I feel like I’m in a rut, and my days aren’t quite exciting anymore, I set myself a new challenge. 🙂 Last year, I set out to write and publish my first book, ‘Blogging For A Living’. It went to the ‘Bestsellers’ list.
This year, when I again hit a plateau, I started work on my second book. 🙂
Don’t wait for things to happen. When you make things happen, you feel alive, charged up, and happier than you’ve ever been.
Thank you for joining me on this journey. To more amazing years filled with happiness, good health, and awesomeness, for you and for me! 😀
Happy Birthday To Me…