Why You Shouldn’t Be Scared Of Carbs

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Carbohydrates. Potatoes, White Rice, Pasta, Bread.

Comfort food.

An essential deliciousness, that is an everyday staple for the majority of a population.

Carbs fuel the body, are natural and taste amazing. If you’re into training and looking after your bod, then you’ll be more familiar with the likes of slow release carbs like sweet potatoes , brown rice or purple rice and various grains- maybe that ol’ ‘kee-no-wa’ (quinoa ) that nobody actually knows how to cook.

Carbs are an awesome and essential resource for your body after training.

Here’s the sitch: You do a hardcore HIIT session and feel like a machine, pumped, iron legs, dripping with a satisfied sweat.

Then, because you’re restricting your diet to no carbs and more fat, you make an over buttery omelette that tastes bleurgh, feel satisfied that you’ve had your protein and energy hit ( from the fat) , but wonder why you’re feeling a bit ‘off’ later in the day.

This is what has happened: Your muscles love you for the protein, but hell, they are not thanking you for the lack of glucose essential for boosting your tired bod. So now it’s decided to throw a strop and slow down in an attempt to reserve energy.

Not great when you have another 5 hours at work.

We’re not even talking about carbs on a ‘stuffing your face with pasta salad’ level, we’re talking friendly, low GI carbs that slowly feed your body with a much-needed boost of energy.

Unfortunately, due to the Keto, Low carb type diets, we have developed a minority of potato dodgers who freak out when they come into contact with a grain of rice. Yes, I am talking about this on a personal level. I used to have a breakdown if  ate more than half a banana in case it took me out of ketosis. Ii thought I ate loads of carbs when I had 150 g of rice once a week. This could be you people.

NOT HEALTHY.

I was part of the high protein high fat crew, which works amazing for some, but what these advocates of low carb forget to mention is that not one diet fits all.

I had no energy and felt fatigued, constantly injured, nauseated and grumpy AF. People knew that I was lacking in carbs if I suddenly became irritable on an evening, or snapped when the bloody ice machine wouldn’t work.

No carbs make you miserable.

However, you learn how your body works, and over the years, I have adapted to  carb back loading around workouts, which basically means eating your carbs on a night time (not necessarily in large amounts). This works for me, and not eating carbs in the day when my body might store them as fat and instead on an evening when it will be stored in the muscles as glycogen is now a habit.In all honesty, I just love it, because I know I get a big bowl of sweet potato or sticky brown rice after a hard training session on a night.

Tangents aside,  I am going to tell you all the reasons why carbs are your friends and why, if you train regularly  you should eat them like the carb monster you truly are.

They Keep You Full

Satiety. This is the feeling of a satisfied full. Not too full, not still hungry, just right.

That’s what I recommend aiming for at meal times. On a low carb diet, you can slip into the habit of being constantly ‘too full’.  An hour or so later, when your blood sugar drops, due to the lack of carbs, you are starving again. This leads to overeating and feelings of guilt. Imagine if you just ate a small portion of dripping in butter sweet potato, or a salty hot bowl of soy sauce smothered brown rice and egg.

You will feel comfortably full, and have no need to nibble before bed.

They Fuel Your Next Workout

Think of carbs as your fuel for that insane workout you want to smash tomorrow before work.

Here are two different scenarios, so you can compare:

Life with no carbs:You can’t wake up, press snooze multiple times and roll up to the gym with only half an hour to spare. Instead of attempting a hardcore sesh, throwing weights around, you opt for an easy half an hour run. The result, you’re starving, but don’t have time for a decent breakfast. You have burnt a few calories, not built any muscle or strength and you may as well have stayed in your cushy abode.

Life with carbs: Alarm goes off just as you’re putting on your trainers. You actually run to the gym ‘cos you got time to burn. Those pull-ups you couldn’t complete all week? Well, how about  three sets done. BOOM. Sprint home, shower, banana protein shake with honey and a fried egg consumed. All before work. You are amazing.

See where I’m going…?

They Boost Your Serotonin And Dopamine Levels Aka Stop You Being A Bitch

Seratonin and Dopamine are brain chemicals that make you happy. Serotonin keeps you calm, relaxed and promotes an overall feeling of well-being.Serotonin helps you sleep peacefully and more easily, ahhhhh.

Dopamine is its partner in crime. Not only does it boost motivation and drive, but it plays a part in feelings of pleasure and is our natural anti-anxiety pill.

If your body is lacking in carbs, then this dream team are lacking too.

The low down is; when you consume carbs, your body releases insulin, which causes a process that ultimately wakes up and boosts your serotonin directly. Pair that with a bit of protein and your on the path to triggering good ‘ol dopamine too.

Good vibes all round ay?

Keep Blood Sugar Stable And Maintain Your Weight

Those who fear carbs ( yes i can see you there, hiding in the meat aisle) are seriously missing out on a secret. Yes, carbs will help you lose and maintain weight.

Why? Well when you don’t eat carbs you end up weak (as discussed above) grouchy and have crazy bloody sugar spikes when you do eat a bit of carbs, your body clings on to any fat in an attempt to survive, instead of repairing and building muscle.

How does having consistently balanced blood sugar (and hormone) levels sound?

When your energy is stable, you don’t have ridiculous dips during the day and your body really utilises what you’re putting into it, to repair and improve itself. Do you want to feel like superwoman? Then you know what ya gotta do!

The Conclusion

Choose sweet potatoes and happiness.

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Try this comforting dish after a hard HIIT session:

Ingredients

1 Large Sweet Potato

½ tbsp Non-Salted Butter

1 tbsp Chopped Chives

Salt & Pepper

Chop Sweet Potato into cubes and boil in slightly salted water for 20 minutes, or until soft and you can put a knife easily through them.

Drain in a colander. Melt the butter and chives in the pan. Add the sweet potatoes and smother in the butter with a bit of salt and pepper for a minute or so.You can even pan fry them for extra crispiness like the above!

Serve with even more butter or alongside a big chunk of meat or fish.

NOM NOM NOM.

 

Why Me And Garlic Are No Longer Friends

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Garlic. The base ingredient to every dish that’s worth eating. Garlic is a bulb from the galactan family that is an easy to prepare, delicious and necessary part of human life.

Garlic is just something that you eat, no second thoughts about it, it’s just too good to not.

Or so I thought.

Being half Italian (who would have known) I have lived through years of garlic being a daily supplement to my diet. It’s good for health apparently- makes you live longer, your Dads uncle, he’s like 80, he eats garlic every day with a glass of wine and copious amounts of coffee.The garlic is literally, what keeps him going. Apparently.

So all through my childhood, tweens, teens and twenties I consumed it in everything alongside my enemy number one (gluten) in pasta sauces, salad dressings, hummus, marinated with meat. The list winds on.

Then I hit 21 and it all turned to shit, literally.

Daily bloating, stabby stomach pains and gas. Alongside this, nausea sets in and you can spend a whole day in bed, hating life.

‘Must have had gluten yesterday in something’ you think. It’s torture trying to figure out what you can’t bloody eat now. This went on until I discovered the FODMAP diet.

Garlic you ill bitch, you’ve been sneaking around hiding in sauces, soups and god know’s what, trying to be my Lil’ bezzer and the whole time you’ve been stabbing me right in the bloody abdomen.

Why? WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY?

That’s it now. You’re gone. Even in Vietnam you’re my number one in google translate không có tỏi- yeah that’s right! NO GARLIC.

Not even cooked, not even when everyone is like, ‘Em’s give garlic a try, it will be fine cooked.’ No, it will not be fine. You know why? ‘Cos garlic, you’ve done it again.

You are a LIFE RUINER. As I lay on my bed with my laptop balanced on my distended tum , like a prop mocking me . You will not do this again. I’m serious. GARLIC – YOU ARE NO LONGER, MY FRIEND.

I don’t care if I’m Italian, I don’t care if you taste bloody unreal. You are the apple and I am Eve. But I ain’t a dumb bitch who listens to random slithering things. Nope

Cya.

Arrivederci.

Galactan be gone! I’ve got me a new best mate.

It’s called peppermint tea.

This Weekend Workout Will Motivate You

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Is your usual workout driving you insane with boredom, or have you totally lost focus of your goals?

It’s normal to wonder why you are doing something and realise you’re not actually getting anywhere. If you want to make changes in your workout regime and get yourself feeling fab once more, then read on.

This post will focus on simple exercises that can be incorporated into your week to stay in shape and keep you focused (at least for a few weeks!).

Like you, I get bored easily with too much routine, so I use the below exercises as core movements and drop them in and out of my weekly workouts, depending on how I feel.
Currently I have about five body weight/ free weight routines I switch up. I try to do a few runs, cycles and HIIT sessions to get things over and done with quickly on busy days.

Read more over at my guest blog on La Holista.

6 Strategies To Conquer An Eating Disorder

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Eating Disorders of any kind are tricky things. They tend to nestle their way into your life through different avenues. They can be triggered by various life events, feeling’s and situations. They are like an authority who tells you what you can and can’t do, and are constantly lurking around like an irritating little bitch.

My experiences with Eating Disorders is that they seriously take over every molecule of your body until you become it. They can seriously bugger up your personality, your family and your social life if you let it. I became someone no one recognised. I wasn’t the spontaneous, food loving girlfriend or the fun mate who used to say yes to impromptu outings.

I was the nervous mess, who had a panic attack whenever anyone spoke about going for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Everything I put into my mouth was measured, weighed and calorie counted. If I went over my 1000 kcals a day then it was considered a massive failure.  I would tell myself I was fat, I would purge binge purge binge purge until I had no energy or anything left in me. I was weak and feeling nauseous constantly and unable to concentrate or focus on anything. I had to tell my mates that I could no longer go for dinner and had to do non-food things, just so I could enjoy being with them and not be worrying constantly.

I would get stressed if anyone used my food because I had calculated everything and was worried that if I got over hungry , I might binge and purge and then make myself worse. One of the main problems was that I suffer with PCOS and intolerance to gluten-I manage this through a low sugar and carb diet in order to keep any symptoms (aka acne and abdominal fat) at bay, as discussed in my PCOS article. You can understand how this threw a whole new spanner into the works with an Eating Disorder.

It was shit.

Read more over at my Guest Blog on La Holista.

 

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Breakfast For One In Saigon

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Breakfast as you know, is my favourite meal, and living in Saigon is no exception to this.
I can’t access the protein powder that powered me through the day in the UK, and walnuts with Greek Yoghurt comes out at about £6 for a small amount. 

This means i have had to come up with new recipes to keep my sweet tooth satisfied.

Berries are just not really a thing here- you can buy strawberries from the side of the road, advertising themselves as ‘Dalat Strawberries’. However I am slightly wary about the conditions these are grown in and the authenticity of their Dalat-ness.

BUT pineapples are in season, as are papaya and to my relief; lovely ripe yellow bananas have suddenly reappeared, after disappearing before and after TET holidays.

So here is a lovely lil’ take on my original sweet omelette. I am slowly becoming addicted to it. Help!

Ingredients:

1 Ripe banana chopped

⅓ Pineapple incl soft core (or papaya) chopped into small squares 

3 Eggs

1 tbsp Butter (or event better coconut oil)

100ml Soy/rice/coconut/milk

1 tsp honey

1 tbsp homemade almond butter or peanut butter ( I use La Holista’s )

Sorry the pics are a bit rubbish but it tastes amazing!

Fry the pineapple in half the butter for a couple of minutes until slightly golden.  

Whisk together the eggs & milk of your choice. Then add the other half of the butter to the pan and add the eggs and banana. Keep it on a low heat and use a spatula to push the edges down so they don’t burn. 

  When it is still a little bit runny, but mostly set, flip it over in half and turn the heat off to ensure it doesn’t overcook. Serve up with the almond/peanut butter and honey smothered all over it. 

So yummy!  

On lazy days I sit in the sun and eat it avec chopsticks on my balcony…as you do in Asia. 😉 
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Skincare in Ho Chi Minh City

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Ho Chi Minh City has many, many positives and like any place, it has it’s downsides.

One of those, being the difficulty to keep usually beautiful  skin perfect in an over polluted city.

I have first hand experience of this. In the UK my skin was lovely. After years and years of struggling with teenage to mid 20’s acne and being on multiple antibiotics, I finally had it under control through  a low GI, low sugar and low dairy diet.  I swore ( and still do ) by Liz earle cleanse and polish and some French skincare, and that’s about it.

Fast forward a few months and my skin to living in Ho Chi Minh was still totally fine, but I had begun to notice little blocked pores on my chin, jawline and around my nose. My friends had also complained about breakouts in the same area. This got my thinking, what is causing it? Just the pollution or something else too?

Believe it or not, I have a really awesome international diploma (CIBTAC) in skincare as well as health and nutrition ( my info isn’t all made up ya know 😉  ) so I do like to think I know a thing or two about helping problem skin, after dealing with it for a couple of years in my ‘yoof’  and with stressed clients!

The way I deal with it is to analyse  and review any possible  causes and tackle them one by one.

This is what I would recommend to anyone struggling with strange breakouts in a polluted city:

  1. Diet

What are you putting in to your body?  I was diagnosed with Polyscystic Ovaries a few years back, which can cause troublesome skin. After persevering, I solved this by stripping back my diet to pretty much zero sugar, and eating only low GI food products. I would call myself a little bit of an expert  in how sugar affects your insulin levels and increases hormone production in the body. Its interesting, I recommend having a research around, and feel free to ask me questions about how insulin imbalance can wreak havoc on skin. You will know if your skin troubles are hormone related if breakouts are usually situated on the jawline, they’re near your thyroid gland and if that’s blocked ( usually the case with high levels of insulin resistance) then you should really focus on your diet!

I also suggest keeping up your hydration levels, especially in a hot city. I drink about 4 litres of water a day here and it definitely helps. Less alcohol too guys and girls!!

  1. Protect your face people!

My best investment hands down is a pollution mask and a massive helmet with a visor. Having moved just outside of the city, my commute is longer, dustier and dirtier. Imagine sweating profusely and having to be sat for for up to 20 mins in the middle of hundreds of motorbikes in an already polluted city. Add street food vender bbq smoke and construction work left right and centre, and you can understand why your skin isn’t looking too great. Get yourself a mask now*. If you don’t ride a moto, get some bloody huge sunglasses instead of a helmet and you’ll be sorted.

  • remember to wash your mask every few days or I just stock up on disposables!
  1. The Water.

Now I don’t think the water affects my skin in HCMC, however I have had experience living in London and that water is HORRIFIC. Hard water hates me. It leaves a lovely layer of grease on your skin. Think what is does to your kettle- lovely hey?

I researched this when I was living there, and if I could have afforded it, I would have had filters attached to my taps and shower. Something to consider if you have the dolla!

Ok, so we’ve looked at a few of the possible causes and prevention methods.

Now, what can we do about it?

Here’s what I have done to treat my skin here in HCMC and it will most definitely help you skin sufferers too:

  1. Cleanse thoroughly.

I use Liz Earle Cream Cleanser every morning and night. This is bloody hard to get hold of here, but I am lucky and get my family to ship it over. If you can’t go to those extremes, there will most likely be something similar here – its Asia for god sake, everyone is obsessed with skincare!

On top of this I brought an AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Cleanser) with me called ‘Priori Skincare, Gentle Cleansing Gel’  It’s running a bit low, but I have sourced another similar brand called Derma-e  (sometimes available from Saigon Scent and also Phu Quoc airport randomly!) they do AHA and BHA cleansers. My friend also told me about Paula’s Choice, which I heard can be ordered online to Vietnam.

I use the AHA cleanser every few days if my skin gets a bit ‘bumpy’ or if it’s been a particularly humid day.

  1. Squeeezeeeeee

This isn’t technically the best thing to do, but if you have really blocked pores, a little bit of extraction ain’t gonna hurt. It’s rank, but the most satisfying thing ever. Just make sure before you get those little black heads out, you wash your hands and use tissue. Remember, be gentle!

  1. Exfoliate

Post extraction, I use my favourite exfoliator,  Avene Gentle Purifying Scrub  or  Liz Earle Gentle Exfoliator  if you can get hold of it here, or order online.

Do this twice a week and look out for any other exfoliators if you can’t get the above, with jojoba beads that won’t scratch the surface of your skin.

  1. More masks.

I have sworn by face masks for years. The best one I have ever used is Comfort Zone Active Pureness mask. I use this on my t zone and Liz Earle Nourishing Treatment mask for my cheeks and neck.

However, there is a new bad boy on the scene, Dermal.

My friend Amber, having lived in Korea for a while (known for its awesome skincare) introduced Dermal’s collagen sheet masks to me. OMG they are life changers, my skin has never looked so bloody good after using one of these.  My fave is the Royal Jelly collagen mask. Royal Jelly is promoted in Asia to have acne curing properties and the ability to speed up scar healing. If you are an avid tanner like myself (tut tut!) you need to make sure they don’t contain whitening ingredients first, however a bit of pearl powder can make you look fabulously glowy!

Use a mask once a week. Do it a day or so before an event, just in case it’s the first time using a product and you get some kind of reaction. The rashy look isn’t the most attractive in selfies.

Dermal facemasks are available on Amazon or in Guardian stores in Ho Chi Minh.

  1. Tone

In the UK I never toned my skin, only after threading treatments. Here it’s essential. I wash my face in the middle of the day sometimes, but if you’re at work and can’t do that, a toner works wonders. Even pure rosewater, which contains Vitamin E will do. It just lifts any pollution and grime from your skin. Also invest in some Avene Spring Water Spray if you can get your hands on it!

  1. Moisturise

Every morning, I apply a light layer of Avene Hydrance Optimale Light Spf 20. Living in a hot country, you need spf every single day. This stuff is non comedgenic ( doesn’t block pores) and keeps skin hydrated, which is essential when keeping oil at bay. Believe it or not oily, problem skin gets worse if dehydrated so get on it.

On an evening I apply Avene Ystheal Anti Wrinkle Emulsion (I’m getting on a bit now) and I wake up with lovely glowy skin.

By following the above steps, within 2 weeks my skin is back to its normal self, and I have recommended this regime to a few of my friends, so we will see how they get on too.

If you have any questions, just comment below and if you think your friends or family may benefit, share share share.

We all want beautiful skin at the end f the day, there’s no reason not to have it!

 

Learning something new.

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Back in the UK, whilst I was finishing my dissertation, I procrastinated by writing blog posts. One of them was the ‘Post Uni Bucket List’. The list was written as motivation to get through a hard time- basically a narrated daydream, of a world that wasn’t filled with literature reviews and citations.

My passions ( you may have gathered) lie in the food and health industry, so the two points that were high up the list were; to get back to Kickboxing and then back that up  with learning the completely new art of Yoga, in an attempt to gain  some much needed flexibility.

Why did I not already do these activities in the UK?  Cost and time, mostly.

In Saigon, neither of those are large barriers to personal goals. A positive, in a crazy place-another factor to those who stay in Saigon, long after they were meant to leave.

Since moving to Thao Dien, a wonderful little ‘bubble’ of expats, based 5-10 mins (how fast can you drive?!) outside of the city, I have started to settle a bit more. To keep implementing a feeling of belonging and a sense of achievement, I finally joined a gym around the corner. Bodyshape offers pretty amazing facilities and classes. It is not cheap, however fitness is my thing, and I would rather spend my hard earned Dong on my health and sanity, over cheap rum on Bui Vien any day!

Kickboxing and boxing are offered at the gym. I am not so hot on regular boxing, but as I couldn’t make the kickboxing, I went along anyway.

Bloody glad I did. The instructor was awesome, he listened to me when I dropped in to the convo about my kickboxing past and seemed thrilled to be training me in proper leg work.  Kickboxing gives you a feeling of euphoria. I don’t know if it is just me, but when something comes back to you, as if you had never stopped-it’s the best feeling ever.

I’m not going to brag, but I still got it.

Even the feeling of frustration when my foot work was rusty, which was followed by nostalgia of how hard it was when I first started, was amazing. I understand that the first weeks are harrrrrrd. It is a physically and mentally strenuous sport, like all martial arts. It takes a lot of brain power and patience to get the drills right, whilst trying to not get whacked in the face at the same time.

Even knowing that I have insight into why I am finding it hard, is exciting, it’s something to work towards and overcome.

To be a good kickboxer, you need perseverance, endurance, high cardiovascular ability, strength and most of all, flexibility. The last one is my biggest struggle.

That’s why my next mission was yoga.

Fast forward to today. I completed my first ever, proper one to one yoga experience.

I am an absolute total novice when it comes to Yoga and taking into consideration that I cannot relax to save my life, it is a massive thing for me to take on.

My new Yoga instructor is a teeny tiny, beautiful (aren’t they all) Vietnamese girl with a six pack.

I felt HUGE compared to her, but you kind of get used to that here.

Deep breathing was the first task. It’s the opposite of how I know how to breathe, you use your stomach muscles and concentrating on when to breathe and how to do the movements is the hardest part.

I was absolutely abysmal.

This is not a feeling I am used to.  I am good at sport and fitness, hitting a wall so quickly in something, was difficult to overcome. The amount of times I nearly gave up in that hour lesson was ridiculous. Instead, and possibly due to lots of experience trying to get better at things, I decided to do the exercises but asked for the easiest versions, instead of tackling the ones she gave me, really badly.

The instructors here lack patience, or so I have found. Maybe it is just the language barrier though. Who knows?

My instructor was bending me backwards, standing on my arms and twisting me into painful positions, all whilst I tried to breathe and not fall over. That sense of not knowing how to do it and the irritation of ‘why can’t I just do it already?’ was empowering, strangely.

I thought you know what, in 3 months, I am going to be marginally better, 6 months; I will be a pro-ha!

It did me good not being the best at something for once, doing something so unfamiliar really made me appreciate how hard others work to achieve things. Not to mention my Vietnamese students, they do so well learning English at a young age, it was refreshing to relate with how they must feel every time they just don’t understand what I am saying, why they might misbehave and give up.

Patience definitely develops with age, and I can identify that in myself now.

It’s an addictive feeling, trying to learn something new and it’s given me another purpose to stay in this place, as homesick as I am some days. It makes being here worth it.

To pick up kickboxing, something that makes me feels amazing again. Then on top of that, have the chance to really learn Yoga, a completely new activity that I have longed to try, but haven’t had the luxury to, is a phenomenal thing. Especially when one of them ends with deep breathing, essential oils and a massage and stretch out by your instructor.

Not a bad way to kill time in the heat.

The One Mill Mission (Saving money in Vietnam)

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Saving money is a large reason as to why I moved away.

I earn less but live off hardly anything.

Rent and bills is cheaper and the quality of life is much higher. I live in a traditional Vietnamese house for a really cheap deal- however I am going to be moving out of the city (I say out- 5/10mins) soon and will be paying around £70 more, but for that, I get ; a pool, tennis courts a big balcony, a bath (hell yeahhh!) and nice views. I will also be in a very chilled area with lots of expats and cool places to drink coffee and hang out.

Transport to work and back is probably around 20p. I fill up my tank for £1 and it last at least 3 days.

Food is the biggie. You end up spending the majoriy of your wage on eating out and socialising.

At the moment my weeks consist of working 5 hours during the week and max 6 hours on a Saturday and a Sunday. It’s a huge contrast to the 9-5 slog back in the UK so there is lotsss of free time to sit in coffee or smoothie shops and chill/waste money.

To combat this, at first I tried cooking at home, then realised that without an extractor fan, you get very hot, sweaty and smoky. Then I tried to just have salads and tuna but this got boring very fast. I then started cooking with Tofu to kind of fill the meat shaped hole ( doesn’t quite do it). I truthfully live off omelettes, boiled eggs, fried eggs, spinach and tomatoes when I cook at home haha.

I really miss cooking but it is just not enjoyable here – I am hoping the new place is easier!

Having recently had my health check and being diagnosed with being anaemic I have started to think about eating for my health a bit more. I am torn between saving money,  or splashing out once a week for a big steak filled with iron.

However, I have decided to keep to my new mission/experiment.

Aim: Live off 1 million vnd a week (£30) for a month.

So how am I going to do this?

  1. Cook more….

I am just going to have to do it. Plan my meals and stick to it, and start making more substantial stuff rather than salads. Meat is of questionable standards, so I am thinking fish or pork would maybe be a good option.

I will also look at eating more fruit. I am spoilt here for fruit, but struggle to eat many of them, so bananas, pineapple, pomelo and papaya ( ooo the 3 p’s;-)) will be purchased throughout the week.

2. Stop buying coffee!

On average my daily coffee is around 20k, this amounts to about 55p. The Vietnamese coffee is really strong, and with not being very well etc, It is probably a good idea to cut down on it and limit it to a couple of times a week instead. That extra 100k or so could be loads of fruit that will last days rather than hours!

3. Cut down on the smoothie addiction.

At £1 a go, it sounds cheap but when you’re on a budget they’re not essentia

4. Eat out once a week maximum.

I will generally spend around 150-200k vnd (£6?) when eating out. This will be the biggie, as we all go out a lot, so just meeting for drinks after food may be an option….

5. Limit Vietnammm orders to when I am really craving something!

For all those who are unaware  of the amazing app that is Vietnammm, it is a revolutionary tool that allows you to order from pretty much any restaurant/café/smoothie shop in Saigon. It is awesome. I am obsessed with ‘Prem’, a vegan wholefood place and Guanabana who do cashew nut milk cacao smoothies mmmmmm. You can even order cake, icecream, pastries etc I could go on, I have no idea why England has not done this yet!

You can probably understand why this is an issue for me saving money, but if I want to travel, I am going to have to be strict.

6.Workout for free!

This is easy, I haven’t joined a gym yet here because I have been doing mainly body weight circuits, HIIT and a bit of running and walking. I think, when I move to D2, I would like to find a really raw, old school gym with proper weights and join a martial arts or sports team along the line, but will have to find the best location and prices, if the outcome is to save money.

So, they are the frugal steps I am going to take to save money in  this little experiment.

Any more will be gladly welcomed!

his is just a personal goal ( I like goals) in an attempt to save around $600 in 4 weeks, however it could be extended if it’s doable.

The 1 mill mission excel sheet is half filled with numbers from this week and even with a glass of Prosecco, the results are impressive.

Updates coming soon !

Staying Healthy in South East Asia

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One big thing that KEEPS happening to me in Saigon, is being Ill. In the UK I was never ever ill, and my diet was totally sugar, garlic onion and gluten free. I was walking on the beach every day and exercising 4-5 times a week and used to pride myself on feeling the fittest I have ever been.

Here, due to all the alien bacteria, I contract everything going and seem to have suffered with mild heat stroke, have previously developed a chesty cough and was hit with a random bout of flu at some point. Not to mention the countless stomach upsets!

It took a while to figure out why I felt like absolute shit the hours after running here. Heat stroke feels like a massive hangover and really throws you. Top this with a cough (from the pollution) its not great.

Luckilly I am slowly figuring out how to combat this and be a bit more sensible with my health, so I don’t derail my fun times here ( and there are lots to be had, every day is a weekend remember ;-))

Here is a list of things to do to stay healthy whilst you are in Saigon, or any other South East Asian City

  1. Stay Hydrated. When I first got here I was drinking so much water, like 4 Litres a day and sweating buckets.It is so so important to drink water here, if you want to prevent headaches and lack of concentration ( or more serious stuff) drink drink drink!

2.Don’t exercise in the sun and heat. I am a bit of a hypocrite, as I actually still do this, but after having mild heat stroke a few times I have developed a few tactics:

  • Run with a bottle of water early in the morning (you have to be up at  6am) or after dark (6pm).
  • Join a gym with AC (lots of them here)
  • Drink LOTS after a run in the sun.
  • Listen to your body and wear a pollution mask. If something is up pay attention, don’t be a fool (like me) and exercise orover exert yourself when totally ill, just because you ate loads the night before… you will get heat stroke and feel ill for days. Same with a pollution mask, your cough will be getting worse because you’re not wearing it.

3. Wear Suncream!

If you live here, you will probably ride a motorbike or be on the back of one. You could be in the sun and stuck in traffic for at least an hour a day. I am usually sun conscious, but because it is sunny pretty much everyday, (sorry! I know it’s winter in some places) it is so easy to forget to apply suncream. Having had a few moles taken off in the past, I have started wearing it if I know I will be out in it for a while-make sure you do too!

4. Wear mosquito repellent!

You will get bitten a lot if you visit Asia- especially if you happen to rub up against some greenery. I have days when I am lucky and never get bitten, then some when I have about ten bites on one leg. In other countries they are just an irritation, but here, you have to be really careful as Dengue Fever is quite common and can write you off for weeks. Unfortunately the mosquito spray is rubbish here, so bring some with you! * My saviour at the moment is REMOS.

5. Drink Less Alcohol.

As you all know, before I came here I stopped drinking, and whilst I am here I hardly drink, and only have one or two when I really fancy it. However, if you live here or visit you will be well aware of the amazing night life that can suck you in. As long as you are sensible you will be fine, but like any city, petty crime is rife and you might lose more than your phone. The alcohol also isn’t 100% legit so its advisable to watch what you drink and where you drink too. Being hungover in 40 degree (Celsius) heat is no fun so remember point 2.

6. Watch what you scoff.

The food here is amazing, but it is mixed with so much crap like sugar and MSG that it totally buggers up your digestive system if you’re not careful ( making you ill- a lot in my case.) So I would advise eating stuff you know you can tolerate and limiting your café sua da’s to a couple a week 😉 I use google translate to get by without garlic and onion- most people understand what I mean after lots of pointing though.

You will figure out where is good to eat and what is safe, just make sure everything is hot and try and avoid chicken from a street food stall (unless you fancy playing chicken roulette 😉 ) Also the cold shrimp in steamed spring rolls won’t kill you- just eat them, its worth it!

These tips, taken from my own experiences, will hopefully make your stay here much more doable!

Home comforts when in Asia.

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Saigon effectively caters for every western need. This is one of the reasons I decided to start in a city rather than jump straight into a place more remote.

In previous blogs I have spoken about not being able to get some food stuff, which is understandable, I’m not in England!

Things I have struggled to get is girly oiletries, such as the vital blackhead and rough skin killer; exfoliator.

Every exfoliator has whitening chemicals in here, which is not going to help me  keep my tan… so thinking outside the commercial box, I have resorted to making sugar, lemon juice and olive oil scrub which has lasted ages and does the job at a percentage of the price.

Something I am really concerned about not finding is my precious Liz Erle face cleanser. If you use it girls, you will know that this genius product takes off every bit of dirt and grime (needed when you are driving within the lovely fumed filled streets in 35 degree heat) and keeps your skin looking fresh and glowing. I have used it for years, and due to the luggage restrictions, had to settle with just one big bottle for my time here eek!

My amazing friend Amber surprised me with something I was DESPERATE for the other day-

Batiste Dry Shampoo. Somehow she had managed to get hold of some, along with some Yorkshire tea. It was one of the best birthday pressies ever haha! I am rationing it to a spray every 3 days and a cuppa every week haha.

Something I knew I would miss is my protein powder. Without my big scoop of vanilla goodness in smoothies, I have to go without smoothie bowls and protein shakes. Nuts for some reason are really expensive and berries are ridiculous so scrambled eggs are a big thing in my diet at the moment!

Another thing you really take for granted, is having access to simple health products and supplements. I have spent so much money on random ship at multiple pharmacies across Saigon trying to find Peppermint Capsules and other tablets that just don’t seem to exist here. The dragon elixir I was given instead of peppermint is insane I have no idea what it is or if it is even working, or just a placebo. Who bloody knows?

One more thing. Insect repellent. I usually use the BEST one ever from Amazon that is Deet free and about £7 but I never ever get bitten with it. Unfortunately, due to the amount you need to use on a daily basis, I ran out in the first few weeks, meaning I have had to resort to Saigon’s shit, highly ineffective version ‘Remos’.  It is basically lavender oil in a diffuser bottle with a bit of Deet thrown in. I am a walking piece of meat for these mozzies. Some days I must be that sweaty, they don’t go near me but yesterday I accumulated at least ten huge lumps.

So attractive right now.

Birthday Times

It was my birthday last week and I had been craving soooo much food. Luckily for us expats there is a saviour hidden on Hai Ba Trung Street in D1.

Annam Gourmet Market.

This place lovely readers, is phenomenal, but I will get back to that in a sec.

My Birthday began like this;

Following a gorgeous meal at Ciao Bella with my housemates and friends the evening before, that included free Prosecco, Gluten free Ragu, Limon cello, jasmine flower bracelets and delish merlot (amusingly for the staff, we took the leftovers home in a water bottle for afters) I woke up surprisingly early.

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7 am

Leap out of bed… it’s my birthday and I want to make the most of it! Get running gear on and join the locals by the canal in the sun for a birthday run.

9am

Head to a cool place called Guan banana in D1 for a PROTEIN SHAKE , obviously had to go all out and have banana and peanut butter.

10am

Fanny around for a bit in town then head to the place of dreams- Annam.

The exterior is similar to Harvey Nics on Briggate in Leeds, black, flash and enticing. It is like being in a UK deli. But so much better.

I couldn’t contain myself and wanted to be like ‘fuck it’ I’ll buy the whole shop, then realised I’m skint and need to actually save money.

Here are a few things I wanted to buy but couldn’t afford:

  • Big bars of Lindt Choc.
  • Magners Berry cider.
  • Prosecco
  • Mixed nuts
  • A Coffee machine
  • Italian Coffee
  • Gluten Free Porridge
  • A whole roasted Chicken
  • Christmas Pudding
  • Christmas Cake
  • Almond flour
  • Gluten Free pasta
  • Berries
  • Total Greek Yoghurt
  • Macarons
  • The whole salad bar

What I actually bought after spending an hour loitering:

  1. Mint Tea (better than Dragon Elixir)
  2. A small bar of hazelnut Lindt choc (my fave ever apart from fruit and nut and caramel yum)
  3. Gluten Free Granola
  4. Proper honey

I can’t WAIT until Christmas when we can all chip in on Christmas everything at Annam. Living in D3, you forget that there are huge districts such as 1/2/7 that provide for all expats needs. If ever I feel a bit like ‘ARRRRRR GET ME OUT OF HERE’ I just have to drive e 15 mins and there’s trees, shops, deli’s , quiet roads. Fabulous.

Obviously I didn’t move to Vietnam for that, but it’s great to know it’s all there if I need it!

12pm 

Grab a wrap n roll fresh spring roll, just because its my birthday.

2pm 

Get an icecream (or rather 10 scoops and toppings) fromI love Kem. Just because its my birthday.

4pm 

Went to work for two hours.

7pm

Went to 5 Oysters for a Vietnamese feast of Oysters(obvs) these were the cheapest ever at 10k each ( like 30p) followed by copious amounts of ban xeo, spring rolls, duck and tofu. Followed by sweet potato and corn from the street food stalls consumed with a Saigon special on our roof.

Can you see the running trend here? Haha its what my birthday’s are all about! FOOD.

Living in Vietnam has really shook things up, and I realise that the UK isn’t all that bad. However I can’t see myself every moving back there. The warmth, cheap way of living and career opportunities is just too much of a benefit at the moment. After I have travelled around a few places next year for my hols, I think I might look at planning a trip home. Christmas would be amazing but a few special people are getting married in the middle and end of the year so it’s going to be a tricky one eek!

I am projecting now so will leave it there with a question-Has anyone ever relocated to a place, that made them really appreciate their home comforts? Have you moved to Saigon and had to adapt to using home   made exfoliator…. Answers below as I would love to know where to pick up some of the previously mentioned items!

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