Hi, people. I have an eating disorder.

(TRIGGER WARNING!  If you suffer from an eating disorder and feel you might be triggered by a detailed retelling, please do not read.)

Hello, people.

Yesterday, I managed to catch the last few minutes of a friend’s radio talk airing on Facebook Live.  There, she discussed whether it’s better for emotions to be hidden or revealed.  I did want to leave a comment but the show ended before I can even complete half a sentence.

But the question hit home and I spent the rest of yesterday’s waking hours thinking about how I would’ve answered if someone asked me face-to-face, “Are emotions better hidden or revealed?”

My siblings would definitely say I’d reveal.  As far as they know, it really is that hard for me to keep a secret.  (That’s why they don’t tell me their secrets because I’d surely tell our mother.)  That’s also as far as I know.  Keeping secrets has always exhausted me, emotionally and physically.  I tend to feel intensely, and one disadvantage of being me is I can’t discriminate between big and small things: for me, everything is a big thing.  It’s exhausting.  Keeping secrets is as if I’m giving something more merit than it’s actually worth.  Putting words to it – either by saying it out loud even to just one person or writing it down – reduces its intensity.  It significantly lessens the burden of having to carry it inside.  Get it?

But one thing that I have hidden is that I’ve been suffering from anorexia for a long time.

For those who have heard it for the first time or know little about it, anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by obsessively limiting the amount of calories taken and encouraging activities to utilize these calories, for the sake of being thin.  According to my research, I fall under anorexia binge/purge subtype.  (I haven’t had an official diagnosis, though.)

And yes, it is a mental illness.  And it kills.

Many times, I hinted or told family and friends that I wanted to see a psychiatrist – because I knew something bad was happening to me.  But mental health is still stigmatized in the Philippines that either they didn’t take me seriously or they told me, “No, you’re not crazy.”  Because I wanted to be liked – and nobody likes to be around sad people – I decided to pretend.  (And also because, honestly, I thought I can’t afford treatment.)

All the while I was suffering and self-hating, but on the outside, I appeared happy and full of sunshine.  In office fellowships, I hopped from table to table, danced, and sang a lot so I could avoid eating altogether.  And if anyone caught me having a handful of nuts or chips or drinking sugared water?  Rest assured my dinner later was a glass of water with two packets of psyllium husk to flush it all out.  My meal the next morning would be two HIIT sessions.

I was the girl who’s scared to get hungry because I brought lots of food on trips, but I’d exercise it all off in the room.  Also, they’re all full of fiber, low-fat, and low-calorie.  And when I get home, the fasting would begin.

I’d be grateful for any situation that kept me from going out with friends or co-workers because it kept me from having to eat.  I’d make every excuse – restroom, need to get something I was pretty sure would be hard to find, too tired – when with my family at restaurants.  Even now that we have started our lunch delivery business, I dread being forced to taste the food and eat the leftovers.  I’m late a lot at work because I would jog 8,000 steps to burn the calories.  My waking hours are 100% predominated by thoughts of food, specifically, how to survive every day without needing it.

You know what makes me happy?  Being told that I got thinner.  Or that they envied my discipline.  Or that they wanted to do what I do.  But then, these doesn’t give me contentment.  Instead, they would push me to go further.  I’d eat less and exercise more to be thinner, to be more disciplined, and to never be beaten.

On the other hand, one thing that distresses me is being told to gain weight.  I remember telling well-intentioned people, “What are you talking about?  I gained an inch around my waist!” or,  “You just don’t see it but I look horrible without clothes.”  The other is seeing other girls losing weight faster than me.  I’ve learned that these two are typical behaviors of eating disorder sufferers: a distorted view of their bodies and competitiveness.

I wish I could tell you how it all started but the truth is, I don’t know.  Maybe it’s going through adolescence getting called ugly and fat, or having feelings that were not reciprocated, or not fitting into beautiful clothes.  Maybe it’s growing up in front of the TV and seeing all the advertisements that said I had to be thin to be accepted and liked.  Maybe it’s all those physical check-ups that required me to line up with girl classmates who were most interested in comparing weights.  Maybe it’s hearing people who make fun of fat people.  Maybe it’s being noticed by guys only when I started losing weight.  Maybe it’s this ridiculous expectation – that may or may not be espoused by the community itself – that vegans have to be sexy.  Maybe it’s all of these and other things I don’t consciously think of.

But I could tell when I decided to stop.  It was a Tuesday night from many months ago and I found myself laughing at a good priest because he is obese.  I stopped, shocked, and I muttered to myself,

“Who are you, monster?”

I never thought I would say something like that.  Growing up looking different, I knew how painful it is to be judged for something I have no control over and I can’t change.  I made the decision a long time ago to see only the beauty in other people.

Then, I laughed at someone for not being thin.

I realized, painfully, that I have been looking at others that way for some time.  He got fat.  She lost weight.  Her arms are huge.  She’s so thin.  I know I never wanted to be like that.  I never wanted to be this vile person who defines someone else according to her/his weight.  It was unacceptable.  That’s when I decided to put a stop to this.

You may ask, if I’ve been aware of my eating disorder for a long time, why haven’t I stopped it at the onset?  TRIGGER ALERT again.  I’m going to be brutally honest: I didn’t because the eating disorder is like a badge, a trophy.  Every step further down is a testament to my discipline and determination.  Most people can’t achieve what I have achieved.  Most people can’t do what I am able to do.

In my case, it was also sort of an illicit relationship.  It’s like the eating disorder is seductively whispering, “Look, everybody thinks this is all effortless.  But only you and I have to know of all our hard work.  This is our dirty little secret.”

But secrets lose their intensity once we put words into them.  As words, someone else can see them.  Now, we can see them as they are.  They lose their illusion.  They lose their seductiveness.  They lose their power.

I haven’t recovered yet, mind you.  I still find myself binge eating and purging.  I still find myself obsessively exercising to burn every possible calorie I have taken in.  My relationship with food is still unhealthy.  I still find myself labeling food as good and bad.  I still find myself finding excuses to skip meals.  I still feel bad that I ate at all.  I still look at myself in the mirror and want to change parts of myself.

But I’m trying.  I’m trying really hard.  And it’s hard.  There are times – like right now – that I cry because I have to go through this illness and ask myself why I can’t just be normal and carefree like everybody else.  There are times I doubt if I even do want to recover from my eating disorder, if I’m ready to lose all my gains now that I’ve gone this far.  But I remind myself that my mental health is most important right now.  My eating disorder made me acceptable to other people, but it cost me my self-respect, happiness, and what would have been beautiful memories.

I’m relearning to respect myself, to nourish my body, to accept my genetics, to accept the fact that I’m never going to have a social media-worthy bikini body, and that’s okay.

Typing this post had been hard and painful… but honesty is supposed to hurt, right?  I hope I made it clear how important it is to be honest with our feelings.  Others may not understand.  Others may not accept.  Others may judge.  Still, say it.  Our peace and happiness are worth much more than someone else’s reaction.

So, to answer the question, definitely, to reveal.

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First Time at Good Food Sundays at Mandala Park… or what I ate last Sunday

Hi. I’m Patti and I’m an addict.

I’m addicted to food.

Maybe it’s hard to believe. In everyday life, I refuse food beverages offered to me. I don’t have breakfast or lunch with my office mates. I rarely eat at meetings or parties.

But I can justify myself. First, I’m vegan. I don’t eat animals and animal-derived ingredients. I’m also on a whole foods plant-based diet so I try to stay away from processed food and fried and sugary stuff – even if they’re vegan. I’m eating high-carb, low-fat so nuts, seeds, avocados, and coconuts are also limited. (ATTN: I mean banana cue.) Finally, I’m not a salad person.

Plus for the most part I only completely trust vegans to prepare my food. That means my boyfriend Francis, my sister Angel, my brother Joey, and myself.

But all my thoughts actually revolve around food. I see people and think about how they eat. I see sick people and think about how food can heal them if they only let it. I see fitness people and think about how sad it must be to view food as calories. I see plants and wonder if they’re edible. I see soil and feel grateful because plants grow on it. I see animals and think there’s no way they can be food. I see non-vegan food and think of the different ways the awesome vegan world can veganize all of them.

And so last Sunday has to be one of the happiest days of my life. Francis and I dropped by Mandala Park at Mandaluyong City for our first ever Good Food Sundays experience.

It was all food.

Beanuguan by Vutcher

We had peanut butter sandwich for breakfast on the bus and were seriously famished by the time we reached Mandala Park.

Side Note: You can get there via public transportation by alighting at MRT Shaw Station or EDSA Crossing. Ride a jeepney with the sign “Kalentong/JRU” and alight at A. Mabini St. Cross the pedestrian lane. (There’s a tarpaulin with “Good Food Sunday” so it’s impossible to miss it. But if you’re paranoid like me, just watch out for KFC.)

It was still early when we arrived at 9:45. We had vegan siomai for starters but I forgot to take a picture because we were so hungry. It was okay, but not at all worth the P50 ($1) tag price for four pieces.

By 10:30, many of the stalls were already set up. We first ordered two bowled rice meals from Vutcher (by the owner of Zero Basics, a local, sustainable vegan brand of toiletries where I bought my shampoo bars). We had beanuguan – veganized version of a Filipino dish made with pig’s blood – and burger steak. Both were so filling and delicious.

Burger steak by Vutcher

I actually thought Francis’ burger steak was more enjoyable. But that’s just because of the amazing mushroom gravy. My beanuguan was light and tasted guilt-free.

S’mores by Delicielo

Then, we had a s’mores cupcake and a cranberry and oatmeal cookie from the vegan cake brand Delicielo. No kidding, my heart stopped at a bite of that chocolate cupcake. It was really that good. It was just a bit sad that the frosting wasn’t the sticky, firm mushroom you’d find on normie s’mores but I seriously fell in love with that cake I can’t say anything bad.

As for the cookie, it was also yummy but I prefer my cookies chewy and a bit moist.

“Beef” and mushroom linguine from The Good Choices

By then I was already full to the throat. On normal days I only have smoothies or fruits for breakfast but I already had rice and desserts. I was not even in the mood to walk anymore that Francis had to beg me to come with him to The Good Choices.

He said, “I can’t leave here without nachos and pasta.

So, of course, as the dutiful girlfriend, I indulged my beloved.

Longganisa Nachos from The Good Choices

And I didn’t regret it a bit. Both dishes were excellent but the longganisa nachos was the best thing I’ve ever eaten in possibly ten years. Until now I can’t get over how filling yet incredibly light they were. I can’t wait to get home and make my own version… but I’ll forever be dreaming about their longganisa nachos.

He maybe can’t believe he’s having beer for breakfast.

I came in at 45 kgs and left at 50, but as the owner of The Good Choices said, “Anyway, it’s just one Sunday!”

I was full. I wanted to have ice cream from Ocivic or Delicielo but if I open my mouth for another bite I’d faint. Hahaha. (Not true though. Before leaving we stopped by The Real Happy Cow to buy cheese and took a free taste of their incredible chocolate cookies. So delicious.) Too bad my stomach isn’t big enough for The Real Happy Cow’s “beef” rendang. Next time. Promise.

So I went home to Nueva Ecija a heavier yet happier woman.

I’m going back someday. But I’ll make sure I’ll have lots of containers for all the take outs I’m planning to get.

What She Did Last Summer: Beachin’ at Birdland

Summer has ended with me going to the beach exactly once. I know, right? It’s one perk of being an adult.

That once happened for my parents’ 32nd wedding anniversary. (I still get awed whenever I think they still love each other after so long. Gives me hope.) I normally wouldn’t, but I skipped my ministry’s renewal for this – because mama and papa aren’t getting any younger. It’s also our celebration because papa is now diabetes-free.

Last year, we went to the beautiful paradise in Pagudpud, Panzzian Beach Resort. That set the bar. So this year, we wanted somewhere with the same serenity and found Birdland Beach Club in Bolinao, Pangasinan.

Birdland is considered as one of the best honeymoon destinations in the Philippines. It’s quiet and serene, not to mention the drive to the eco-resort was straight out of a Pinoy horror classic. We kept joking that we should wear our shirts inside out so we won’t get lost.

It was high noon when we arrived and it was so hot. Good thing we were treated to a cool glass of iced tea and wet towels to refresh ourselves. (At this point I reminisce about the complimentary coconut mint shake at Panzzian.) Then we went straight to our rental: the Sarah Vaughan.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I took pictures of the place. But it was a two-storey villa that coulf fit 8 people. (My sister Angel and her husband couldn’t join us because of work duties.) The owner, Michael, said that it was their original house but moved out after a scary experience with turbulent waters. It was nice, but because it faced the West Philippine Sea, it was really hot inside. Also, the AC kept shutting down. (Apparently that happens during summers and peak seasons in Bolinao.)

Aside from that, the place was beautiful… in a virgin, untouched way.

I originally wanted to swim as soon as we arrived but I had to go back to Dagupan to fetch Francis so I missed that half day. Anyway, if you’re wondering what those cabanas are in the middle of the sea, those are public-use anchored balsa.

The place has hundreds of bird houses (thus the name). The website said they are houses for migrant birds. So kind of them.

The place is perfect for my brother Joey’s new ocarina.

We swam at daybreak! This was the view from the middle of the sea. Haha. So pretty. I kinda wished we rented cabanas instead of the villa instead. Look at how picturesque the lady in the hut was! Perfect for #wokeuplikethis.

And we witnessed this beautiful sunrise.

And that crazy girl was me. Hahaha.

I’m honestly scared of seas because of the unknown creatures I might encounter. But we found these pretty starfishes. We returned them to the water at once, doncha worry.

This is perhaps the best view I’ve seen. The beagle.

There was a lady doing yoga on another balsa. But I can’t do yoga so I just had Francis take this #sexyback shot. It was also my first time wearing a swimsuit, by the way. Hahaha.

And Joey and Francis semi-bonded.

Later on we joined mama and papa at the banks for the obligatory family photo, although incomplete.

We had our breakfast at 8. They’re serving mostly organic and local dishes, prepared with no MSG. Unfortunately, there was not a lot of vegan options. The only vegan food for breakfast were the white rice, fresh tomatoes, fried eggplants and the binungey (sweet sticky rice in a bamboo) so beware. Beware also of the ensaladang talong because ours had fish sauce. (We didn’t ask until too late and we three vegans were itching already.) The food was also really expensive. (We brought in mangoes and were charged corkage.) I didn’t take pictures because the table wasn’t vegan.

My family’s #summer2018 wasn’t as great as last year’s but why should I complain? I appreciate the fact that the owners are trying to preserve the place as it is, building cabanas that would rot in a few years instead of permanent structures, and building without destroying the original features of the dead corals. It’s nice to know there are businesspeople who also genuinely care for the environment.

Now I’m thinking where we’re up to next summer.

Kayla Itsines’ BBG 12-week Program Review + Tips for Beginners

Hi there! I finally got to post something again. I admit I had been lazy and uninspired to write. But here I am again, reporting for duty, sir!

So, anyway. I’m happy to report that I just finished Kayla Itsines’ 12-week BBG challenge last week. Yey, me! I still can’t believe that I was able to get over my fears and complete the entire challenge. I’d tell you all about this later.

I’d also like to report that I decided to redo the challenge instead of moving on to Week 13. This is because I’m still not that confident and I feel like I didn’t give my 100% to the workouts. Personally, I can’t leave things like that so I am starting over with Week 1 and giving it my all this time.

So, here goes my journey.

Flashback: Why I Started to Become Fit

When I was growing up in the province, the adults’ idea of “healthy” was being fat… or at least chubby. Since I was never the skinny kid, I got the malusog compliments and even won in two “healthy child” awards during Nutrition Month, where we were gauged by our physical appearance. So, at an early age, I thought that being skinny was a gauge of malnutrition.

Things started to change when I left the very provincial Occidental Mindoro and settled in Nueva Ecija for high school. I was unpleasantly surprised to learn that skinny is the measure of health here. Here, I first learned that I was overweight… and when you’re overweight, you get laughed at. I had always been this it-may-be-my-attitude-but-it’s-your-problem kind of teenager, though, so being laughed at during our annual physical check ups didn’t bother me.

But things turned worse in college. I met my first love and he would always tease me about my weight. I thought I wasn’t really that fat. I was just overweight but I was not obese. He teased me anyway. I would like to believe he didn’t mean to be rude and damage me forever, but in the end that’s what happened: I started to believe nobody would love me because I was fat. (I’m not blaming him. I take full responsibility for reacting to his words the way I did.)

Hence, my self-confidence was totally wrecked. I started to believe whatever I achieved in life would be secondary to my physical appearance. I envied the people who stayed skinny despite eating all that junk food. I even blamed my parents for my genes. Any reference to my weight literally made me cry. I abhorred having my pictures taken because I’d hate the way I looked in them anyway. I loathed shopping for clothes because the pretty dresses on the mannequins looked horrible on me… or didn’t come in my size.

When I started to earn, I became obsessed on weight loss products. There was a time I drank slimming coffee from China and I literally blacked out and palpitated I stopped drinking coffee all together. Then, I bought those expensive fat blockers which promised to allow me to eat my favorite lechon and made me just fatter in the process.

Then, I became vegetarian and banished all the weight like magic.

Here is the point where you ask, “Isn’t this supposed to be a review of Kayla’s BBG? I didn’t sign up for a lecture on the benefits of a plant-based diet!” Hahaha. Yes, I’d start in a bit. Just let me finish.

In short, I became skinny by eliminating animal products in my diet. In 2016, I completely eliminated eggs and dairy, too, and chose to pursue the vegan life.

Alas, contentment is far from me. I was skinny, but I realized that for a woman approaching her 30’s, skinny didn’t look healthy. I did enjoy when people thought I was younger – but not because I actually looked youthful, but because I was teenage-thin. I looked weak and sickly. I started wanting something else. I wanted to be like Doutzen Kroes: lean and strong.

I also began thinking that by looking unhealthy, I was not being a good poster girl for veganism. (Yes, I have this not-so-secret illusion of being veganism’s poster girl here in my city.) Instead of being able to promote the benefits of not eating animals, I’d turn people off because I looked sickly.

I stopped wanting to be skinny. I began to want to be fit and strong.

My BBG Journey

In December 2017, I downloaded the SWEAT app. I discovered it because of Hong Kong Youtube fitness icon Emi Wong, who started her fitness journey with Kayla Itsines’ BBG. I had just started exploring Instagram by then (ikr, late bloomer here), and I was intrigued by the #transformationphotos of #bbggirls and #kaylasarmy.

Just a bit of background first. BBG stands for Bikini Body Guide – a fitness program and community created by Aussies Kayla Itsines and Toby Pearce. BBG started out as two books of two circuits of two sets of four 7-minute resistance workouts. (That was a tongue-twister!) The books covered Weeks 1-12 and Weeks 13-24. Soon, the books became part of the SWEAT app, available on Google Play and the App Store. The app also includes a meal guide. (It has vegan but I didn’t follow it.)

By the way, SWEAT is a paid app. I preferred the one-year subscription, which set me back with $115 (almost PhP6,000.00). Some would say paying the subscription was not worth it since you can just watch free workout videos on Youtube. But I’m the type of person who loses interest easily, and having paid for the program forces me to continue, since I want to get the most out of the money I paid.

Because I was never a #fitnessgirl even in my school days*, I began my BBG journey with two rounds of the four-week pre-training. You can read about my pre-training journey here. I did the beginner’s program twice because I thought I wasn’t ready yet for the 12-week challenge.

After Week 4 of my second round, I’ve decided to move on to the 12-week challenge. I wasn’t strong yet. I still struggled with my burpees, push ups, sit ups and jump lunges. But I knew I was stronger than I had been. Plus, I started to enjoy waking up early and start my day with an intense workout. After all, exercise releases endorphins, so I felt that my days were happier and I had more energy.

The program was a never ending struggle. In the beginning, I can’t do standard push ups yet, so discovering that I had to do mountain climbers with push ups was frustrating. Then, I found myself doing standard push ups, but before I can celebrate, burpees with push ups and raised push ups were being demanded of my unfit body. I also have a hate-hate-relationship with jump lunges that I want it removed from the program entirely. Lol. By the way, jump lunges exist in the program almost every week. How cruel, right?

But as the weeks progressed and the workouts became harder and more complicated, I found myself looking forward to every new week. I’m continually surprised at the things that my body can do and my endurance. I realized I love donning my workout clothes and I even have more sport bras than regular ones now. Haha!

By Week 8, people started noticing slight changes in my body. My boss even asked me if I worked out because my body was looking “sexy” – to which I happily said yes. Francis also noticed my not-so-jiggly arms anymore. As for me, I’m loving my arms and thighs, and I can see the subtlest signs of abs when I wake up in the morning. Lol.

Now, I’m not going to lie and post all raves about BBG here. After all, this is not a paid ad. Lol. But my BBG Journey is not all pleasant. There were times when I doubted myself because I can’t see the awesome transformations of other BBG girls happening to me. Some of them saw an incredible transformation in weeks’ time. Every now and then, Kayla would share transformation photos of others who are in her program and I’d ask myself, “What am I doing wrong?” Also, I have this bad habit of lurking over some people’s Instagrams and when they post their gains and mine do not measure up, I’d hate myself and sulk. No, I don’t blame the program, Instagram or Kayla, but all these #gains posts pour negativity over me.

The best thing is Kayla would post motivation messages on her account. She would constantly reminded us, her girls, not to compare our progresses with others. Everybody is different and every body is different. My journey is unique.

Right now, I’m on my Arms and Abs day of Week 1 (second round). I’m also incorporating HIIT workouts by my ever-favorite Emi Wong on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays (just because I discovered that my body isn’t really in good terms with LIIS, which makes me sleepy and lethargic afterwards).

All in all, my 12-week BBG challenge journey was an awesome experience. Would I continue? Of course! After all, I paid for it. Lol. More importantly though, BBG 1.0 is a great way to kick start one’s fitness lifestyle, just like it did Emi Wong’s.

Tips for Beginners

For all those who wish to start with BBG, here are some of my tips to begin your own fitness journey:

  1. Get apparel you enjoy working out on. I love sports bras and yoga pants. Even if you’re working out at home, it’s more motivating if you’re channeling sporty vibes.
  2. Designate a specific space where you will workout ALL THE TIME. I forgot where I got this tip but the point is have a space that will remind you to workout each time you see it. Mine is this small rectangular space between my bed and dresser.
  3. Have your water bottle within easy reach. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
  4. Having said that, replenish those lost electrolytes by taking a teaspoon of sea salt with water after your workout.
  5. Get enough sleep! This is an absolute necessity, regardless of what program you follow. Your muscles have to recover. Currently, I get seven hours a night, but my target is nine.
  6. In the end, any workout program will not work without proper nutrition. BBG has a built-in meal plan, which I don’t follow, but I still make sure to eat clean and check my calories and macros. I’m fortunate to be vegan, cooking my own food, and following a whole foods, plant-based diet, so eating clean isn’t hard for me.
  7. Having said that, don’t stress over dieting. Don’t be overly obsessed with your calories and macros. Make sure you enjoy your food or else you’d start to think healthy eating is a burden and unnecessary suffering.
  8. You don’t have to buy special equipment. I have two 9-pound dumb bells for all the workouts that involved lifting (including squat and press, step ups, and crab walks). If you don’t have any, you can use filled up water bottles, or none at all. IT’S OKAY TO MODIFY.
  9. Listen to your body. If you can’t do the specified workouts, find alternatives. There are always modifications. Personally, I still find jump lunges hard, and I modify spider push ups and raised push ups.
  10. Probably counter intuitively and she might hate me, I don’t recommend following Kayla on social media. Or at least I limit myself to the motivational posts. The reposted transformation photos cause me distress and make me second-guess myself, so I’m learning to avoid seeing them. Don’t compare your progress with others. EVERY BODY IS DIFFERENT.
  11. And finally, have a positive mindset over exercise. Psyche yourself that exercise is not a chore, or a burden, but a beautiful gift you are giving to yourself and to the world. After all, by keeping yourself healthy, you contribute to a healthy world. Through another app (Fabulous), I created this mantra that I tell myself before I start exercising: “Discipline is my asset. My discipline is for myself, for the planet, and for the animals.” Repeating my purpose keeps me motivated to continue despite the struggles.

So, there goes my BBG 12-week challenge journey! If you’re a fellow #bbggirl or a fitness newbie, you can comment on this post to share your journey and struggles. Stay healthy and strong!


Add-ons:

*My chosen PE’s in college were PE 1 (lecture), walking, duck pin bowling, and cheer leading (which involved nothing but learning the cheers and arm movements and cheering for our basketball team). In high school, I pretended I had asthma to skip volleyball.

Restaurant: Juicesabel

I say Francis and I succeeded in our very short Singapore food trip last weekend. And the crazy couple that we are, as if spending all that hard-earned moolah to eat vegan in a foreign country was not enough, we decided to drop by another vegan restaurant the minute we landed back on Philippine soil.

This time, it’s Juicesabel.

Juicesabel is a small 100% vegan restaurant located at (the rather scary) The Collective at Malugay St., Makati City – an around 20-minute Uber ride from NAIA T1. Honestly, once we got there, Francis and I were suddenly unsure if we wanted to eat there, given the location. It was what Francis called “artsy” but – call me a snob or an illiterate – I saw no art amongst the vandalism. (And the yellow goo dripping down a pillar would have made me run instantly if I had breakfast that day.) By the way, what limited knowledge I have on art I learned from undergrad so.

Going back. Juicesabel. As a constantly hungry vegan, I always research about restaurants. Juicesabel, I first heard about on Manila Vegans. Their specialty, if I’m right, is cold-pressed juices, but they’re also quite known for their burgers.

We choice Juicesabel because the other choices (Green Bar and The Vegetarian Kitchen) were too expensive for this #TeamKuripot.

Juicesabel is a tiny restaurant with four tables. There’s a stairway but we’re not sure where it led. We didn’t ask.

It was nice that when we came in, there was already three people. Two of them were having a conversation about veganism in the Philippines. Soon, three more entered and the small space became crowded and cozy at the same time.

Because I still can’t get over the to die for rice from the Indian vegetarian restaurant in Singapore, I was in the mood for more rice. Normally, I’d keep to pasta or salad, but I ordered the mushroom tofu sisig with vegan egg, which came in with red rice and a side salad. Francis ordered the burger steak.

Eveything was yummy, especially the egg yolk, which tasted like the real thing! Huhuhu. My poor boyfriend has a certain distrust in food that tastes and feels like animals. For me, though, the sisig needed a littlr kick.

But what really took our hearts was the vegan lechon sauce that accompanied the burger steak. The burgers themselves tasted like okoy (or squash fritters) with a dash of cumin. (My palate is starting to remember Indian flavors. Hahaha.) But the sauce was the real deal. It was like every Filipino’s favorite Mang Tomas – sans the cruelty!

We also had mocha and red velvet frappe. Unfortunately, were too excited to take pictures before devouring them. But wth. My red velvet sent me to vegan heaven.

We also had burgers and fries for take out. Francis had the double patty cheese burger (which he said was awesome but I won’t know because he ate it at home) while I had the smoky BBQ (which was also the burger steak patty, huhuhu).

All of this for the surprisingly low price of PhP1,000. Now that’s something. 😎

I left a fully satisfied vegan woman… who’s also 10 pounds heavier.

P.S. Pets are allowed in Juicesabel. Plus plus plus.

Foodtripping Singapore

It’s our first anniversary month!  To sort of celebrate this, Francis and I did two things for the first time: 1) we traveled abroad, and 2) we traveled abroad together. Our first stop (among hopefully a gazillion more stops)? Singapore!

He’s too tired to wake up for the obligatory pre-check in photo 😂

Why Singapore? Our first reason is it was on sale on Jetstar when we booked last July pa. Second, it’s in Southeast Asia so it’s Visa-free. And we found out there were a lot of vegan and vegetarian food there. (Although not as many as Thailand, of course – Thailand’s heaven.)

Touchdown!

The moment is we stepped out of the plane, I was 100% sure that I was going to fall in love with this Singapore. Changi Airport is beautifulllll. (I’m a city woman, you know. Shopping is my happiness.)

And I suck at fake walk shots.

Since we’re both amateurs at this, Francis and I actually got lost on the way to immigration and ended up in the Sanrio display.

Not a Hello Kitty fan but swings are my weakness.

Anyway, soon we found our way to immigration. The first thing we did was get the 2-day tourist pass for approximately Php630 (SGD26, with SGD10 refundable upon return). This is truly every tourist’s magic key to the country. It gives you free rides on the incredible MRT and the public buses.

Please don’t mind my nail. I forgot. Hahaha.

From Changi Airport, we headed to our hostel in Little India to check-in our things (which we weren’t a lot). Then we set forth onto our first mission: our first meal of the day.

Meal 1: Pizza and Ice Cream (Dinner)

Having done our research beforehand, this pizza guy and ice cream girl decided to go to Brownice, a 100% vegan restaurant at Sin ming Centre. It pegs itself as an Italian vegan ice cream and kitchen.

Forgive us for choosing Western first. But February 9 is apparently world pizza day!  We’d hoped to show the omni pizza houses that vegan pizza can beat them anytime.  Hahahaha.  Plus, I read that the ice cream at Brownice is really nice.

Burrata

As I expected, Francis almost spat out the pizza on his first bite. Unlike me, he isn’t amazed with our food tasting like meat. But soon, he began enjoying it.  Because what’s not to enjoy?  The soy ham really did taste like ham… or at least as I remember, since I haven’t had ham since 2012.  It also has sundried tomatoes, which I really love in pizzas.

Since I’m an ice cream woman, we also had the ice cream. I got strawberry (the recommendation of the kind lady who led us to the store when we got lost) and Francis had the earl grey. Mine was seriously the best strawberry ice cream in the world – including non-vegan variants. But Francis’ was the best ice cream ever.

We spent SGD24 for our dinner and Patti was a happy woman.

We were too tired to do more walking so we returned straight to the hostel after dinner.

Meal 2: Two Indian Breakfasts

Ananda Bhavan Restaurant

The next morning, we set forth to make our very short Singapore experience a fruitful one.  We started by looking for Ananda Bhavan, a vegetarian restaurant at Serangoon St., which was just walking distance from our place. We passed by this pretty flower elephants by the intersection.

Then we walked on to our destination. According to our research, the oldest Indian vegetarian restaurant in Singapore would be open by 7 a.m. and it was.

Unfortunately for us, it was very early so they didn’t yet have rice meals yet. So, we helped ourselves with what was available: samosas and something that looked like a corndog but had a huge chili inside… but not after a difficult convo with the cashier whose English we can’t quite understand. Haha.

The samosa was yumminess. It was the second samosa I had in my entire life and now I know what it’s supposed to taste like. Heaven! I’m officially in love with vegan Indian food.

The chili corndog was not delicious at all. In fact we left our leftovers at the Chinatown hawker center later.

Anyways, it was so cheap. Two delicious samosas and three not delicious chili corn dogs just cost us SGD4.

Komala Vilas

Being itinerary-less, we were surprised to discover that the Little India we were looking for was just a few steps away.  Personally, I’m excited to explore Little India and find that iconic colorful house where America’s Next Top Model once held a photoshoot.  I especially loved the colorful buildings.  Then, we found this by accident:

and of course we cannot pass up the chance to have another breakfast.

The helpful cashier/manager showed us which of the items were vegan.  Envious of an Indian man eating there, Francis was determined to try the paper dosai.

Which, like many Indian dishes, was supposed to be eaten by hand.

And OMG. I thought I make decent curry but this is curry. It was heavenly. The spices were just perfect.  Of the three dipping sauces, my favorite is the tomato-based one on the left.  The flavors were so subtle yet so yummy.  Francis loved the curry in the middle.

Francis would soon declare that this was his favorite amongst everything we ate.

After our satisfying paper dosai breakfast at Komala Vilas, we walked around to check out the heritage walk and look for the iconic colorful house I mentioned before.

Finding this, coupled by my delicious hearty breakfast, my day was officially done.

In-between Meal?

But that’s crazy. We only had a few more hours left at Singapore and we’re not wasting them. We rode the MRT to Chinatown, hoping to find vegan noodles.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any.  And honestly, we were getting dizzy and sick with the sights and smells of dead ducks everywhere that we immediately left after a mug of sugarcane juice at the hawker center.

We headed straight to Marina Bay to have the obligatory Merlion shot.

We also had our short stint at Jubilee Walk but we were so hungry by then.

Meal 3: The Chicken Rice

Then, the highlight of my weekend: my faux chicken rice experience.

From Raffles Place, we rode an STS bus to Ang Mo Kio. The bus itself wouldn’t be driving to Avenue 10, where the hawker center we were looking for was. But the kind and cool bus driver – he said I’m a cute girl, hahahaha – asked us where we were going and said he was going to drop us off at Avenue 1 where we would ride Bus 45. It was a very long drive and I fell asleep one quarter of the way.

Then finally, 33 Vegetarian Food.

I seriously won’t leave Singapore without having chicken rice.  Along with laksa, sambal, and nasi lemak, chicken rice is a quintessential Singaporean dish I’d always been curious about.

And the long, boring ride was sooooo worth it.  I almost cried as I savored the poached faux chicken.  You really don’t have to miss your favorite food once you go vegan.  (But we’re more WFPB vegans so faux meat is just an occasional treat.)

By the end of the meal, Francis and I were so full.  My biggest regret is I didn’t get to eat vegan laksa… but someday I will.  Maybe next year?  Hahaha.

Two sets of chicken rice was for SGD15.60.

We shopped for pasalubong at a nearby store before going home.

Last Supper: The Most Delicious Rice Meal Ever

We went back to the hostel for a quick rest before dinner, since we decided to head back to Changi Airport before 9:30 pm to return our passes and refund our SGD10. We decided to have our last dinner at Ananda Bhavan because Francis still hasn’t moved on from wanting that dinner set meal he’d missed at breakfast.

But before that, a quick stop at a nearby mall’s foodcourt to have taho and would you believe it? Vegan pan de coco!

You don’t know how I feel. Soft bread stuffed with coconut is my favorite bread and I haven’t had it in years.

So anyway, Francis bought the dinner set and I had two sweets from Ananda Bhavan. Sorry to say we were too overwhelmed by the size of the dinner set (apparently enough for four people of our appetite) to take a photo. But it was delicious! Francis liked the spicy curry with squash while I loved the eggplant one with the peanuts. (If my research skills are as good as I think they are, it’s called “baghare baingan.”) And their rice is so soft and fluffy.

I think I gained 10 pounds after this trip.

Back Home

Our flight home is at 6:25 in the morning. I know right? Anyway, our Changi experience was so tiring and a bit frustrating, not because Changi is frustrating but because we were super sleepy. Good thing we found beds at the snooze lounge and got some sleep. We even got a free foot massage through the massage chairs.

Thoughts

  1. I love Changi Airport! I haven’t been to many airports but the restrooms alone are enough to convince me this is indeed the best airport in the world.
  2. Singapore is hot – even hotter than where I live. But the heat isn’t painful on the skin.
  3. I’d go back for the chicken rice. And by then I’d make sure to eat laksa.
  4. I’m obsessed with Indian food now.
  5. Singapore is a vegan-friendly country.

Well, that’s my long narrative of our Singapore trip. It’s more like a food trip, isn’t it?

My BBG Beginner Journey

So, yeah. That was my fourth (and last) full body workout under my second round of the beginner program. The first time, I knew I wasn’t ready for BBG yet – I can’t get past five no-push-up burpees, can’t do a standard push-up (let alone a mountain climber push-up), and my commandos sucked – so I opted to redo my pretraining. I still can’t get past seven no-push-up burpees without cursing, can’t do a standard push-up, can’t do mountain climber push-ups, and my commandos still suck. But Kayla Itsines, co-creator of the BBG program and the Sweat app, is right:

So I have decided not to do a third round of the beginner program. It’s not that I think I’m strong enough… but I know I’m stronger now. I can already do straight leg sit ups without having my feet pressed against a wall – and I can do about 50. My push-ups still involve my knees on the mat, but at least I can do more than 15. I’m improving, bit by bit. And bit by bit is better than quitting.

More importantly though, I see minor yet important changes in my body. My legs are still huge (blame genetics) but my thighs are getting toned. My arms don’t jiggle as much anymore. My midsection is taking a nicer shape (or at least right when I wake up). With proper lighting, I can sometimes see the makings of abs. You may think I’m shallow pala – you’re entitled to your opinion – but these changes make me happy.

Because these changes make me feel strong and in control. I know for a fact that I worked hard, despite being a fitness amateur. I tried my best and managed to complete two rounds of the beginner program. Yes, all the legs, arms and abs, and full body workouts in eight weeks. I managed to eat clean most of the time. I drank lots of water. I got enough sleep.

I’m proud of myself.

And it’s empowering.

Next Monday, I’d be starting with the BBG program. It scares me. And it excites me at the same time. Just like what I said before, it’s not like I’m strong enough, but I’m stronger. I believe I’m stronger.

I’ll let my belief be my ammo.