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My 4 absolute no-nos when it comes to healthy living



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What makes you so magnetic to this blood-sucking pest.



Still waters, standing pots, and messy clutters are really attractive to them. So are you.


For those of you who’s had trouble sleeping, it may be for reasons similar to my case. In the past few months I’ve been doing quite well, as I can’t recall a night I’ve spent going sleepless like I did so many times last year. A large part of my insomnia stemmed from anxieties and my overthinking tendencies. Thankfully I’m all better these days.

The only sleeping problem? M-O-S-Q-U-I-T-O-E-S.

Continue reading What makes you so magnetic to this blood-sucking pest.

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How sleeping naked makes your life all the better



Disclaimer: The information below is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional help. Before beginning a new exercise regimen or making any other changes in your lifestyle, always consult with your physician and/or a certified coach.


Not everyone feels comfortable baring their skin, much less for hours. But I find that skipping the PJs is one of the greatest ways to make sure I get a really deep sleep, even above minding the right hacks and eating the right foods.

You see, I’m not alone in this. There are numerous studies that suggest stripping down can help improve the quality of your sleep as well as your overall health. Unfortunately, we women are much shyer than men when it comes to sleeping nude (at least, in the Canada, and in this “Going to bed naked” survey).

So I’m here to change that.

Take this 2008 study. Participants were instructed to wear thermosuits that lowered the temperature of their skin by a slight 0.4 degrees C, a difference you can easily replicate by taking off your nightgown. The result? They stopped waking as much during the night and also spent a longer time in the deep stages of sleep. Even better than that, sleeping in the chillier temps, say, anywhere from 18 degrees C and below, has been shown to amp up your metabolism during the day AND prevent you from getting diabetes, according to a New York Times report.

Still not convinced? Read on:

Continue reading How sleeping naked makes your life all the better

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Foods to help you sleep better tonight



Disclaimer: The information below is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional help. Before beginning a new exercise regimen or making any other changes in your lifestyle, always consult with your physician and/or a certified coach.


For the past month since I returned from my trip to the States, I’ve been sleeping really well. As you may know, I was quite a bit of an insomniac for many months before, and have been enjoying my daytime activities these days because of good sleep.

Regular exercise, calming activities such as yoga and pilates, as well as other healthy habits certainly play a big part of the sleeping puzzle. But what you may have never considered to help you sleep better is your daily diet.

Continue reading Foods to help you sleep better tonight

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Some zzz hacks I’ve picked up along the way



I’ve been having serious trouble sleeping for months. There were at least 3 nights in a month where I either can’t sleep at all or force myself into a 2-4 hour siesta. This isn’t because I was as busy as I used to be when I was still working at my full-time job, and neither was it because I fell into my on-again, off-again depressive episodes. It’s the constant battle between the natural night owl that I’ve always been and the morning lark I’ve trained myself to be in the last couple of years.

You see, not everyone is created equal. Just because an abundance of research shows morning people are generally happier, healthier, and more productive than night owls doesn’t mean that if you want to be happier, healthier, and more productive, you are ultimately obligated to become a morning person.

To me, this is a classic case of the victim mentality and a lack of self-acceptance: What I found most important after all this time is to get in touch your body’s natural circadian cycle, accept it as it is, and start working your schedules around it, as opposed to forcing yourself into something else entirely (or, in worst case scenarios, someone else). All “shoulds” in this world are nothing but BS if it doesn’t work for you, including everything I’m about to say in this post.

Believe me, running a half-marathon after a sleepless night was like a really, really, really bad hangover. Even when it felt so good in the moment  (you’re literally running on zero brainpower, and long-distance runs are 99% mental work and 1% physical), almost as if you’re on LSD (all you do is letting your heart go all out, all the way), the after-effects of an all-nighter can last for months. Making drastic changes to your internal clock so suddenly, and/or punishing yourself for not rising as early as you “should’ve” been, these things only exacerbate the toll. Before you know it, you’re walking brain-dead hours on end, day after day.

Tons of trials and errors later, I found these are the best strategies to get me some quality sleep on a consistent basis. And really, it doesn’t matter if you’re a lark or an owl by nature. What matters is the sleep itself, and that it is the golden ticket to feeling better, thinking clearer, and looking younger:


1. Prioritize it. Nothing – I repeat – nothing will work if you don’t actually put it first thing on your mental must-do list, and that means making sleepytime above everything else. Think about it: If it’s just going to be another task to tick off, it’s not going to be a job well done. Accept that sleep is a necessity and never a luxury. Every stress and cell damage in your body can only heal and repair themselves thoroughly while you’re asleep.

2. Keep a consistent exercise regimen. You don’t have to do HIIT every single day of the week or vow yourself to become a gym rat. Moving your butt regularly simply prevents the daily stress from building up. Best to keep the aging hormones at bay if your goal is a restful sleep.

3. Keep your heaviest meals earlier during the day. The last thing you want as you sleep: Bloating, difficulty breathing, and night sweats. Your body produces heat as it metabolizes food, so a large palate for your dinner, especially if it’s a late one, could trigger some serious night sweats that’ll wake you up every hour or so. Whenever you can, lighten up your last meal of the day to enjoy a long, uninterrupted sleep.

4. Take fish oil supplements. A recent Oxford study revealed the correlation between higher omega-3 fatty acids in the blood with better sleep quality. I’ve tried this intervention on myself for the past two months and seen the benefits extend beyond fewer sleeping problems. Though you only see this becoming effective by week 2, I think a daily dose of fish oil is worth a shot for all-around health. I’m a lot less anxious than I used to be throughout the day and just worry less overall, particularly about things I don’t need to worry about. (Hey, in my defense, I’m highly neurotic.)

5. Smell lavender. Rubbing a drop or two of lavender essential oil on your temples works wonders to drain out all the stress and anxiety in your head. I also enjoy sniffing the scent right out of the tube, and my current bottle is a tiny travel-friendly 10ml one from Utama Spice, where I also got my virgin coconut oil for this DIY facial mask.

6. Drink white tea. Or chamomile if you like, as the sedative effects of the herb is one the oldest claims in the history of civilization. Personally though, white tea works better for me to achieve that sense of calmness. And if you haven’t tasted the white stuff before, the Chinese staple tastes almost exactly like green tea (they’re made from the same plant), except that it’s much milder and has a slightly sweeter undertone. Obviously you’d want to opt for a decaf one if you’re drinking it to unwind before hitting the sack. But for the most part, I drink white tea throughout the day.

7. Now this one only applies for the bookish types: Read a book you actually want to read (i.e. comic books, romance novels, and other trashy paperbacks – you know you want it) and lose yourself in it. For anyone who loves to read, I’m sure you have a hilly stash of page-turners you plan to ingest somewhere in your bedroom. You want to read them for different reasons – for more scoop on the subject, for the NYTimes Bestseller label, for learning how to write like the particular author. I get it. But reading fancy proses aren’t likely to induce sleep. As a matter of fact, I get even more self-conscious about my shitty drafts every time I’m reading classic literature before bedtime. Having said that, I find that a lighter read, specifically a fun and engaging chick-lit, is the best bet for getting myself completely absorbed in a story. I’ve recently finished Lindsey Kelk’s About A Girl on a joyous night, and am holding my bladder for its sequel, What A Girl Wants, that comes out this July.

8. Always have something to wake up to/look forward to the next day. Trust me, you’ll be worrying less for the rest of the day if you have your day all planned out before the alarm rings.

9. Breathe deeply. I find this a good practice throughout the day. Deep breathing every half an hour or so would basically propel your level of relaxation to climax itself by the time the night rolls around. Inhale as if your lungs could fill a whale each and that your belly could rise to the top of Everest, and then exhale veeery slowly with a slow “ahhh” sound under your breath. It’s like a mini-detox that altogether cleanses the blood, lowers blood pressure, increases circulation, calms your mood and soothes your soul. Bottom line: Just always remember to breathe. Try these fab controlled breathing techniques from TIME.

10. Take a warm bath a few hours before bed. This is perhaps my favorite remedy of all, because it’s so simple and effective (here’s a 2009 study showing how it’s helped insomniacs). Sleep scientists have long professed that the optimal body temperature for sleep is between 18-21°C. And the fastest way to drop from your regular 37°C? Trick your thermodynamics – raise the water’s temp to a comfortable high until you get that warm and fuzzy feeling. As soon as you get out of the shower, your body temp will cool down at a rapid rate. We get that sleepy feeling whenever our body temp drops, so by the time you’re done toweling off, you can ease your way into a deep, relaxing slumber.

11. Stretch a little (or a lot). Wherever it is you feel tightness, elongate it. Whatever’s comfortable for you, do it. Whether it’s doing the butterfly stretch, a pelvic floor move, or multiple variations of the bridge, ease the tension that’s built up throughout your day. I love doing Tara Stiles’ simple yoga for bed time.

12. Just let go. Now, a deeper look beyond everything I’ve learned in the past months: Falling asleep is like saying to your outer reality that you trust it’ll all work out in the end. Inside you surrender, putting your trust wholly in God, and bringing yourself entirely into his divine hands with all your fears, your anger, your angst and your worries. You feel shameful for presenting yourself in that light in the face of your greatest father figure, but you can’t carry that guilt everywhere you go during your waking hours. I believe it’s humanly impossible to exist in a state of fearlessness on a day-to-day basis without some kind of divine intervention, simply because our lives don’t get any easier. Nonetheless, accept that you can’t control everything. Prayers work, even on nights you don’t feel like praying. You’ve got a nagging problem? Everyone does, and you don’t have complete control over it. Might as well sleep on it and wait.


These days, I’m happy to be keeping a more regular sleeping schedule. Though I’m not particularly proud of it (sleeping in the wee hours, waking when everybody’s having their lunch) I’ve sticked with it for over a month now, and people around me have noticed that I’m no longer running on cortisol 24/7. I’m a lot more chill and comfortable with myself than I’ve been for so long. The only thing that bugs me is that it took more than half a year to figure out what works (stuff I listed above) and what doesn’t work for me (stuff not listed above).

Other things you should know: You’re hearing all this from a person who doesn’t drink coffee and alcohol. Obviously, these beverages factor in when it comes to regulating your sleeping patterns. Just remember to drink them sensibly and in moderation.

Any of these hacks you’re looking to try? Let me know how it goes.



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Update #3: NISIM F.A.S.T. shampoo and conditioner

*UPDATED* I apologize for doing this review with the interference of my personal life. I’ve gotten rid of it – and now here’s a more comprehensive overview of NISIM’s products!



Please refer to this post, on 2 weeks after using NISIM F.A.S.T. shampoo and conditioner, and this one, 4 weeks after using the products.

Today is exactly 6 weeks since I started using the products.

Again, compare my photos from the beginning till the end.


Didn’t seem to grow that much, do they? :(



I gotta confess: For the past 2 weeks, I haven’t been doing as the instructions told me to do so (as I did on the previous 4 weeks). There were times within these last 2 weeks I was so busy I didn’t leave the conditioner even for a minute before I quickly washed it off. I also used the shampoo only once (when the instructions tell you to do twice) before you use the conditioner, whereas in the first 4 weeks I’ve been religiously following those instructions, in addition to good diet, great sleep, and using my leave-in conditioner. I also haven’t even been applying my leave-in conditioner for the past 2 weeks, except maybe once.

I haven’t had lots of sleep. In case you didn’t notice, I put on extra concealer under my eye to hide my black under eye circles. It’s more obvious on the second photo.

Just in the previous entries, these pictures are taken in the morning after I woke up. I believe on my first entry, my hair was a bit more than 9 inches. In the second entry it was almost 10 inches, and now it’s still almost 10 inches.

So that’s still a much longer hair growth than the average growth of half an inch per month.

It’s humanly impossible for hair to grow shorter, unless you’re losing hair. And if you do, I suggest you start thinking of getting biotin supplements, like the one that I’m taking now from GNC. I find that the biotin content, with the addition to eating enough protein everyday, helps your scalp to grow more voluminous hair. Also I have to give credits to NISIM F.A.S.T. shampoo and conditioner for having less to no hair falling out when I brush them now. I started taking GNC supplements long before I use these products from NISIM, and during that time, on a daily basis, I can see strands of my hair pulled out as I brush them, and they would fall miserably to the ground. Considering how much stress I’ve been lately, it’s amazing that I stop falling out my hair, and I can safely say my hair is at its strongest.

However, according to my picture this morning, I’m pretty much not growing any hair for the past 2 weeks :( On a side note, though, I guess this is just because your hair behaves differently every morning when you wake up.

Overall, I think NISIM F.A.S.T. shampoo and conditioner does help in hair growth, although if you’re not one of those people who wash their hair everyday like me, I do not promise whether it will work for you. The instructions specifically said that you must wash your hair everyday, therefore using both the shampoo and conditioner everyday. This is the instructions as I quote from their website:



Fast shampoo and condtioner works best when it is used daily. Shampoo: Wet hair, apply shampoo and work into a rich lather. Scrub entire scalp thoroughly and rinse with warm/hot water. Repeat. Conditioner: After shampooing apply the moisturizing conditioner onto hair and massage in thoroughly. Allow conditioner to permeate the hair for 1-2 minutes and rinse with warm/hot water. Style as usual.




Like I said, for the past 2 weeks I’ve only been using the shampoo once, and I did not wait for the conditioner to be absorbed into my scalp for a minute or two like I did during the first 4 weeks I’ve been using these products. Besides this factor, clearly the fact that my lack of sleep completely affects the hair-growing hormones I’ve been expecting and watching the results for those 4 consecutive weeks.

Now I learned that sleeping is a huge part of human hair growth, just because that’s when the human growth hormone levels, or better known as hGH levels, are at its peak the moment when your mind starts to relax and your body’s about to go into a deep sleep, i.e., REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. When you merely close your eyes for the night and wake up to the restroom every 2 hours, that doesn’t count as sleep. When your tinging head gives you headaches throughout the day and all you feel is anger, stress hormones (namely cortisol) affects the production of your body’s GH levels. (See: Growth hormone (Wikipedia)).

Even though I’ve been eating well everyday, diet isn’t as much a big factor as sleep is, because getting enough sleep means regulating a healthy metabolism. Even while still supplementing my diet with GNC products, it is proven here that nothing else will work if you don’t get your quality time of sleeping.

I would buy these products again and is recommending others who are desperate after a bad haircut to use NISIM F.A.S.T. shampoo and conditioner.

Periodically massaging your head with olive oil, coconut oil, and essential lavender oil helps stimulate your follicles to grow too, but do it only when you’re ready to go shower as your hair will become really greasy. On an important note, I conclude and strongly emphasize that if you want to grow your hair longer, faster, these are the most important things you must be doing: Do get your sleep, and when you do, sleep well. Minimize and cope with daily stress, and commit yourself to eating healthy.












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Food Diary: Get your sleep!



1 whole avocado

golden apple

1/3 c sliced mango



chicken sandwich




jap chae


WATER:  4 liters + innumerable little cups of green tea and other teas






  •  I just want to let people know, or remind those who already know, the fact that if you starve all week, you won’t die. But if you don’t get your sleep for a whole week, your body will reject your soul.
  • I know it’s too deep for a food diary footnote!!! But I’m serious anyway. I have a thing for people getting lack of sleep or disrespecting the necessity for a human being to sleep.




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What I’ve learned so far as a student


May 2012



I can’t believe it’s already May. At this time of the year last year, I was utterly depressed, just relocated to another neighborhood (which is different from the present), and almost gave up school.

Today, this year, a week from now, my spring semester is over. A week after that, I will be walking down the stage in my cap and gown to receive my graduation certificate (blank one, since I’ll still be taking classes through the summer). I’m not that depressed anymore, I’m still stressed, but the healthy kind. I think I learned better at managing stress and controlling my emotions over the year, largely thanks to God for sending me the perfect angel at the perfect time last year, in late May, when I first met my boyfriend.

Anyway, for the last few weeks that I’ve been hiding in my room to keep working on my final art pieces, I haven’t got the time to go out. I missed the world when they’re watching The Avengers. I’ve always been in love with superhero movies, but at the moment my leaving school is first priority. While it’s taking 3 months of my life left, I want to focus on making it useful for me later in life. I know I’m not pursuing this professionally, but still, it’s worth to consider it when all else fails.

Over the years, I found 2 different types of artists. The talented ones, and the hardworking ones. The talented ones are more deadline-oriented, while the hardworking ones need to put much more effort in a larger amount of time to produce a great piece. They will both have the same level of result. The talented one naturally loves art; the hardworking ones depended on their strong character to keep going and achieve their best. They are driven by improving their character so that they’re able to produce great pieces. The talented ones, however, are driven by their intentions out of each individual piece they’re working on and just get in the flow. Of course, nobody’s ever absolutely either one of them. We’re always in-between these two types of artists, or workers, for that matter. But after being 5 years in college, I learned that focusing on improving your character is the best way out. Because a) you’ll have a stronger character in other aspects of your life, and b) your works will remain consistent. You’re not influenced by the ups and downs of external motivations, but you’re driven by your passion from the inside.

You might think that I’m talking about certain people I actually know. Yes. As I was describing both types of artists in the last paragraph, I have 2 friends in mind. Both girls are very well-received in my school department, but in different ways. The talented one is known for her quality of work alone. The hardworking one is known for her, well, hardworking-ness. Whatever you ask her to improve, she will do it. Whatever you ask her to do, or to help you, or just anything aside from making art, she’ll do it, without the grunting.

She goes well with the saying:




“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”







I think she’s a very admirable character. I look up to her not because of her art, but her character. She’s my bench mate in class and also a devoted daughter of God.

Also, over the last 2 semesters that I’ve bounced back up from my depression, I learned that being creative matters. Creative people are generally open-minded and open to new things. However, beyond creativity is perspective. Sometimes, we want things to go a certain way and we’ve prepared everything so carefully for it to happen. But it didn’t. And the best way to get out of that negative feeling is to see what you can learn from that experience. Open-mindedness teach us to learn from experience. Creativity can only do so much – when we’re in love with our final pencil rough revisions and get ready to move on with the coloring the piece, sometimes, your whole cup of coffee may just spill on the line drawing you’ve spent more than 3 days to do. It’s tempting to complain; but nothing’s going to solve the problem, especially if you have a deadline.

Every week from the last year, I do more complaining about the difficulty of each assignment than I actually put more effort into the work. That doesn’t help. The only solution I found to the problem is to write everything I want in a private diary during my breaks, and then just keep on doing my best with the work. That’s when I realize that when you’re in art school, you need to be more equipped with your character much more than developing your skills, because skills can always develop but to keep improving, you need character to move pass the skills and keep persevering.

I really admire that hardworking girl I mentioned. I won’t give out any form of identity here, but that she inspires me a lot to be a better person.

Anyway, there’s another third girl who’s talented AND hardworking, and during the next 7 days of our final week, she will sacrifice all her sleeping time everyday. Now that’s just plain crazy. Or maybe I just love sleeping too much to sacrifice it, and she loves art so much that she can sacrifice her most basic human need of all to function properly in our everyday life – sleep.

It’s a matter of perspective, creativity beyond perspective. What can you learn from the reading experience out of this post?






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Give in and trust


January 2012




sophie-s-worldI’m excited about my current addition to the library, Sophie’s World, the Norwegian classic written by Jostein Gaarder. This is officially the first novel I’m reading in 2012.

The question of Who are you? have fascinated philosophers, religions of the world, and many other curious people for ages, which is a central theme to the book. As we read the pages, historical answers to this question begin to surface, as answered by the geniuses ever lived in the past. Through Sophie’s journey of discoveries, she answers the question in the only way that is meaningful to her, and that’s my purpose of choosing to read this book.

I had one of the best sleeps I’ve ever had last night. I think it’s because I leaned on Him before I go to sleep. So then I woke up this morning and asked myself, What can I give today? What can I give the world today, just the Creator has given in abundance?

I spent the afternoon still brainstorming for more ideas about my logo design assignment for my boss. In the end I came up with 5 distinct looks in addition to what he asked for, 3 designs. He said that’s okay, so I guess that’s okay.

I spent the later afternoon reading the first few chapters of the novel, and then I fell into one of the greatest naps I’ve ever had in my entire life, maybe the last time like this was when I was a child.

I have not given that much today. But I have. I believe it’s not enough just yet, but it’s definitely enough to comfort my friend today so that it prevents him from doing something stupid tonight. What have I given there? I’m not sure, but I think I put my trust in him that he won’t do anything stupid to himself.

Trust. That’s what I have living inside me since I came to existence. There’s a living thing, a Spirit inside me guiding everything in light and darkness. It’s not exactly a voice, but a feeling. A nonjudgmental feeling that helps me navigate through life with all decisions I have to make. Maybe that’s what they call confidence. Sometimes, they say I need to tune it down and be humbler. The truth is, many times, I think I don’t deserve a lot of things that I have. Scientific studies, however, show that self-esteem is never a factor of how well or how worse you will do in life. What matters is self-discipline and self-control. I talked about it with a friend, and I immediately knew that I’ve got the perfect solution for this problem: “Take what’s yours at the right moment.” Most of the time, when your ego overruled His Kingdom, you speak of things you don’t mean. So, I figure, maybe trusting the living Spirit is the best way to show that you’re a confident person.

The worst thing I found out today is that my dad has been having high blood cholesterol and triglycerides levels in his body, and that letter was received in 2006, 6 years ago. I see that he’s a bit smaller in frame this year compared to back then. I caught him eating bananas in the middle of the night too, which is a much better decision than eating all that candies we placed just beside those bananas in our house. I don’t want to give my dad too much pressure anymore financially. I’m finishing school real soon, and then soon I’ll be out making money on my own. I already am, but I think I can do it on my own to support myself. Later on in life, I still have a tiny hope that my dad and my mom will take care of each other, settle their problems they’ve had in these 20+ years, and renew their love that can be as healthy as their daughter. In the meantime, I have a responsibility to make myself happy and healthy. It’s no use for me to worry about things that haven’t happen or might never happen right now.

I hope my dad’s doing better. He has always been the one encouraging me to do things I love, things that I am passionate about.

I think I can give passion in abundance to the world. I can show that passion through my writing.

Happy reading, as I happily read my new novel. Then get some sleep after that, because sleep does really great things for you.


You’ll Be Nicer.
Exhaustion takes a toll on your morals, according to a recent study in the Academy of Management Journal, which showed that a lack of sleep increased deviant and unethical behavior and made people more rude.


 You’ll Be Sharper.
Shorting yourself on rest ages your brain by four to seven years, say researchers in London. Middle-aged women who slept fewer than six hours a night tallied scores on memory, reasoning, and vocabulary that resembled those of senior citizens.


You’ll Live Longer.
Chronic insomniacs are more likely to suffer a heart attack than those who sleep well, according to new research in the journal Circulation. Other studies have linked lack of sleep to a higher risk of dying from a stroke and developing breast cancer.


You’ll Be Slimmer.
Women who slept five hours or fewer per night were 32 percent more likely to experience major weight gain over 16 years, according to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology. “Too little sleep causes an increase in ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone, and a decrease in leptin, which helps you feel full,” says Northshore Sleep Medicine’s Dr. Lisa Shives.


You’ll Look Better.
It’s called beauty sleep for a reason! Swedish researchers took photos of people when they were well-rested and then again when they were sleep-deprived. Strangers rated the plenty-of-z’s shots as more attractive.


I certainly feel a lot better after having a great sleep and a great nap consecutively. You can too.


You can read the original FitSugar article on the benefits of sleep by clicking here.