Recipe: One-Bowl Hemp Peanut Butter Cookies (Vegan, Keto)

Brace yourselves… I just made vegan keto cookies. Vegan. Keto. Cookies. That also happened to be packed with protein, omega 3s, and fiber. That also happened to be delicious. And light.
Okay. I have to be honest: I love my carbs and can’t imagine living without rice and bread. But I’ve been thinking of trying vegan keto for quite some time, just so I can have an opinion about it. I’m perfectly happy with my healthy and balanced diet and don’t need to lose any more weight, but I don’t want to go around bashing something I know nothing about. I’m still wary because I’m worried about getting enough protein since most plant protein sources are also higher in carbs, so I don’t think I’m diving into the vegan keto thing anytime soon.

Anyway, I got bored being home alone on a Friday and decided to finally make something out of hulled hemp seeds sitting in the fridge. (I ordered it from iHerb last year and almost got me a problem with the law for importing hemp. Hahaha. Philippine laws.) I also have an unopened bag of flax seeds that I need to use before it expires.

So, enough with the long intro. Ladies and gentlemen, here’s the recipe.


Yield: 24 1-tbsp cookies


  • 1/2 cup stevia-sweetened peanut butter (I used Lily’s Peanut Spread Lite)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 cup hulled hemp seeds
  • 2/3 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour


  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Here, I just used my trusty turbo oven.
  2. In a bowl, combine peanut butter and milk until smooth. Stir in baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla extract.
  3. Stir in hemp seeds, ground flax seeds, and shredded coconut and mix just until combined. Add in coconut flour if mixture is too runny.
  4. Shape into tablespoon-sized balls and flatten between palms. You may also use the bottom of your measuring cup to flatten the dough. If desired, you may also make it a bit fancy by adding that crisscross pattern by pressing the top with the flat side of a fork. Make sure to wipe the fork after each press because the dough will stick onto it.
  5. Arrange on your baking sheet. Keep a good space in between because, believe it or not, they will spread. Bake for 12-15 minutes in the oven.
  6. Once baked, let cool for about 5 minutes before transferring onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

I’m not really a fan of super sweet desserts, so my cookies taste fine for me, but you may add more sugarfree sweetener if you prefer yours sweeter.

Enjoy! But don’t eat it all in one sitting, okay?


What I Ate in a Week: Pig-out Style

Hi, guys! I’m back, I think.

I was getting rid of unnecessary stuff on my phone and PC and found these food pictures that I took last week and I remembered that I have a WordPress blog! Is this the effect of aging or B12 deficiency?

(Yesterday, I was horrified that I had to Google the spelling of “hustle.”)

So, before I delete the foodporn from my gallery, I’d post them here.

The backstory is that I spent the last week of November in Makati City for a national conference of librarians in the Department of Education. I was honestly looking forward to it – even though that meant our small vegan lunch delivery business, which i realize I haven’t shared here yet, would have a brief pause in operations. I felt I needed a break from the routine (and the dullness of country life). Moreover, I’ve been dying to test the vegan/vegetarian restaurants my online vegan friends flock. The week-long conference was an opportunity I can’t pass up.

On Sunday (Day 0), my boyfriend Francis accompanied me to the venue. That and also so we can go to Good Food Sundays at Mandala Park (Mandaluyong City) for the second time.

We planned to do a mukbang using his new Canon DSLR. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to do that because we entertained two interviews for college researches about veganism. Of course we loved those, too. We’re always open to sharing our life as vegans to anyone who wants to listen.

The picture above is everything we ate from 11 am to 3:00 pm. We had the vegan rendang and jackfruit not tuna pie from The Real Happy Cow, pork belly in cranberry sauce from The Good Choices, empanada from Vutcher, ramen from Katsu House, and cinnamon rolls and mango cake from Delicielo. Don’t judge! Living in the province, going to places like this is something of a special occasion.

But my special occasion lasted until Thursday. Haha.

On Monday’s dinner, me and my friend Em ate at this Mediterranean vegetarian/vegan diner Hummus Elijah. Em apparently loves falafel and Hummus Elijah is quite popular amongst my online vegan friends so it was a given. Being located just a few steps from St. Giles was a plus factor.

The falafel sandwich was not over-the-top and was not greasy at all. The falafels themselves were light and soft. I haven’t had a lot of falafels in my life but this is my kind of falafel. Seems really healthy. Rating: 6/5

As for the hummus: it was my first time having it and… hmmm. Am I weird for not getting the hype?

Okay. So, that was Monday.

For Tuesday, I ordered lunch at Plate Mafia. It is an all-vegan lunch and dinner delivery service that caters to select places in Metro Manila. They’re also our inspirations for our business here in the province. For lunch that day, they served vegan tortang talong (traditionally roasted eggplant fried in egg batter), ginataang paksiw (nori-wrapped and breaded tofu stewed coconut cream witg petchay), and red rice. I also got dinner from them, vegan caldereta (traditionally beef stewed in tomato sauce and spices but they made it out of banana heart), which I had for next day’s lunch.

Because for dinner, I went to Cosmic.

Now, I have to tell you my quest to Cosmic. It is this new vegetarian/vegan restaurant that is gaining popularity among the vegan community here because of its food, ambience, and affordability. I was pleasantly surprised to know that Cosmic was just also near St. Giles. But I was torn among Cosmic, another falafel place called Beni’s Falafel, which is also just within walking distance, and 101 Hawker Food House. I literally spent an hour walking around Century City Mall deciding where to eat and trying to burn some of the calories I consumed on the last two days. (Makati is heaven for vegans and hell for the wallet.) By 6 pm, Em DMed me on Insta inviting me to have dinner with her and her boyfriend the following day at Beni’s Falafel. So that’s crossed out. I decided to go to 101 Hawker Food Place in Beacon Tower since Cosmic is just nearby. But there was no available Grabcar afer twenty minutes so I decided to walk to Cosmic, chosen seemingly by default.

But that was just the beginning. You see, ever since I was younger, I had this image of Makati as a posh city. But Cosmic is in this congested and scary street that looks like it belonged more in Manila City. (That is not because I dislike Manila’s mayor.)

Now, I’m going to give you a little tip so you won’t get lost: just follow the directions on Google Maps. When you reach Ministop (which is across 7 Eleven), you’d see a small opening on the right, still on Gen. Luna Street. There’d be no sign: just a computer print out on a bond paper of the Eye of Horus. That’s it.

The quest to finding Cosmic ended there. But it was well worth it. The place was small, but had a cozy Boho ambience that I love.

Believe me, I was shocked to see the prices. The food was cheaper than most of the vegan restaurants I found online. I had enoki tempura (P60), miso ramen (P150), and vegan leche flan (P90). Overall, the food was delicious, but the leche flan was a bit of a letdown. (But don’t mind me, Cosmic. The search for the best vegan leche flan is still ongoing.)

For Wednesday, as I said, I had the dinner I ordered from Plate Mafia the day before for lunch. Then, for dinner I went to Beni’s Falafel (not vegan but there’s a separate vegan kitchen), with Em and her boyfriend. (Thank you for the treat!) I had vegan schnitzel – which was yummy and healthy, considering I had all the oil at Cosmic the night before, and a coconut dessert called malabi, which initially smelled like Victoria’s Secret perfume but later grew to my liking. I also took a bite of the falafel and hummus. I must say Hummus Elijah’s were better.

(Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to snap photos because I was a little shy around her boyfriend. Hahaha.)

On Thursday, which was technically the last day of our conference, I finally decided to go to 101 Hawker Food House in Beacon Tower. I did, during lunch, and I was late for our closing program because of the traffic. (So, lunch traffic is a thing!) I had…

Vegan nasi goreng! I think that serving feeds four people. It was cheap (P150) and really greasy and delicious.

101 Hawker Food House is not a vegan restaurant but they have a separate vegan menu, which was awesome. Buti na lang I changed my mind about ordering the laksa because the serving was huge!

That was the last day but if you thing the food stopped there, you’re wrong! I also had some goodies delivered by The Late Night Vegan. Would you believe there’s vegan isaw (grilled chicken intestines) and polvoron (powdered milk candy) now? Courtesy of The Veggie Guys and Dessert First Pattisserie.

In the end of five days, I lost a lot of money and gained a lot of pounds. 😂 But it was worth it.

Would I repeat this week-long eating spree soon? Sure. But I won’t do it alone because I need to split the bill. (I didn’t get to eat Green Bar donuts as originally planned but that’s okay because I’d rather save that special day with Francis.)

By the way, I also had some fruits, bread, rice cakes, oatmeal, nuts, and Veganola peanut butter energy balls in between all that delicious stuff. (I also used the stairs instead of the elevator most of the time and jogged for one hour every morning. But that seemed to do nothing to purge the calories away. Lol.)

So that’s my what I ate in a week blog post. Now I get why vlogs like this are popular on Youtube. It kind of gives me an objective view of everything I put in my mouth and makes me feel accountable.

‘Til next post! Ciao.

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.

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!


*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.