Body News, Health & Fitness, Wellbeing

6 Surprising Health Benefits of Foot Reflexology

When it comes to pain management, there are two types of people in the world: those who grin and bear it, and those who don’t manage it well at all. And the best place to spot these two camps? At any foot reflexology centre, of course! Tan Lili speaks to two co-founders of recently opened parlours to find out why more and more young people are drawn towards this holistic therapy.

If there’s one guilty pleasure I don’t ever wish to give up, it’s gotta be my almost-weekly visit to a foot reflexology centre. I can’t even remember when or how my obsession with this treatment began, but it’s become one of my favourite ways to decompress – and probably the closest I’ve been to experiencing the delicious tension between pain and pleasure.

For the uninitiated, Chinese practitioners believe that the different nerve-rich areas on the soles of your feet correspond to specific parts of your body, so by applying pressure to targeted points, it stimulates the body’s natural healing ability. This helps rebalance the body’s Qi and promote a sense of wellbeing.

Different parts of the feet are said to correspond to different parts of the body.

Different parts of the feet are said to correspond to different parts of the body.

Interestingly, what was once deemed as an ancient 3000-year-old Chinese practice has recently gained a foothold among the younger crowd as a form of modern holistic therapy. Jumping on the bandwagon are The Good Sole at Quayside Isle, and Feet Haven at Serangoon Garden. “I guess the main reason is due to the proximity of various operators and shops,” says Nicholas Poh, co-founder of The Good Sole. “More shops are opening in shopping malls in Singapore and, naturally, they are able to reach out to a wider audience. Not to mention, it has amazing long-term benefits. I’m one who goes for foot reflexology regularly since I was young, and I absolutely love it.”

Below, Nicholas and Dennis Toh, CEO and co-founder of Feet Haven, tell us more about the different health benefits you can enjoy from foot reflexology:

Boosts blood circulation

The skilful techniques of practitioners are said to improve blood flow and circulation, carrying along oxygen and nutrients to your body’s vital organs to promote organ function and cell growth. An improved blood flow and circulation brings with it a whole host of health benefits, some of which can be found below.

reflexologyReduces pain

An experience backed up by countless studies, pressing certain points on the feet prompts the release of endorphins – a class of neurotransmitters that is often referred to as the body’s natural painkillers.

Alleviates insomnia

Because foot reflexology brings about a relaxed state of mind and relieves stress, it can help improve improve the quality of your sleep in the long run. The Good Sole’s Nicholas used to have insomnia but he swears he’s been sleeping like a baby ever since he got hooked on foot reflexology!

Improves digestive system

The digestive system is a pretty complex one; it involves a whole lot of organs and other systems (nervous and endocrine), which is why all of us experiences digestive problems at many points in our lives. There are several digestive reflexes on the feet that, when pressed, give your digestive system a real workout, relieving common problems like constipation, indigestion, flatulence and bloating.

Kicks up energy levels

If feeling sluggish after lunch is a near-daily struggle, you might want to consider getting a foot rub. Exhaustion and fatigue can be due to low blood sugar levels; by working certain points on the feet, it may help regulate the levels over time. Foot reflexology also stimulates the production of adrenaline to give you an instant perk-me-up.

Enhances memory and concentration

When pressure is applied to the brain reflexes on the feet, it helps facilitates blood circulation and the delivery of nutrients to the brain, resulting in increased mental clarity. In fact, a study conducted in China found that foot reflexology helped enhance the memory of senior patients suffering from dementia.

The Good Sole is located at #01-19 Quayside Isle Sentosa Cove, Tel: 6268 4842; Feet Haven Reflexology is located at #01-01, 136 East Coast Road, and 4A Maju Avenue, Serangoon Gardens.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as (now, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction.

Body News, Health & Fitness, Wellbeing

How To Nurture A Positive Body Image

Avoiding negative thoughts about the way you look may not always be easy, but learning to love yourself—inside and out—is a beautiful thing. This article by Canyon Ranch will help you take that all-important first step.


Cultivating a positive body image can be challenging. We are often our own worst critics. When you look in the mirror, you may zero in on one area of your body that you wish was smaller, smoother or just plain different. But chances are you’re the only one being so hard on yourself. The people who love you aren’t looking at your thighs or your crow’s feet—they only see the person who always makes them laugh, the one who cooks magnificent meals and lights up the room with a smile.

Recognizing and celebrating the inner beauty that others see shining through rather than focusing on “fixing” your perceived flaws is an important step toward cultivating a positive body image. Removing the phrase, If only I looked like… from your vocabulary is another. “We all spend huge amounts of time comparing ourselves to others,” says Ann Pardo, M.A., L.P.C., B.C.C., director of life management at Canyon Ranch in Tucson. But in the end, these comparisons often do little more than lead us further down a path of negative thinking, of striving for some unachievable body ideal. So, the next time you notice yourself engaging in self-criticism, consider using these suggestions to shift gears and change course.

1. Focus on You
With the daily barrage of “perfect” bodies we see in magazines and on television, comparisons are all but inevitable. But research shows doing just that can lead to a negative body image. Whenever you catch yourself playing the comparison game, consciously decide to stop. Let your logical brain take over: Remember that no one is perfect—the images you see in magazines have likely been airbrushed and retouched. And don’t forget that everyone is unique; try not to use others as a reference point for who you should or can be.

Try this: Stay away from the mirror if you're not feeling so good about yourself today.

Try this: Stay away from the mirror if you’re not feeling so good about yourself today.

2. Step Away from the Mirror
Constantly checking (and obsessing about) your appearance and perceived physical flaws also reinforces a negative body image. If you find yourself often sneaking a peek at your reflection, consider setting limits. Allow yourself to look in the mirror as you get ready to go out, but only once or twice. If you give yourself fewer opportunities to critique your appearance, you may find that you think less about your looks and spend more time thinking about other things.

3. Look at the Positive!
Self-esteem improves when you begin looking at yourself as the sum of all your parts, not just your looks. This “whole person” approach means not focusing on what you lack, but on everything you have to offer and that you do right. Every few days, jot down a different set of five positive attributes: personal strengths, abilities, achievements, things you admire about yourself and like about your looks, things you did or do well, and so on.

4. Exercise, Eat Well and Pursue Your Passions
Taking care of your health and allowing opportunities for personal fulfillment sends the message—both to others and to yourself—that you are worthy and valued, which helps increase self-esteem. Be sure, however, to think of workouts and your diet as a way to stay healthy, not a means to the perfect body. “Our culture is extremely misinformed about weight and body image,” Pardo says. “Very few people understand that mental and physical fitness are what really matter.”

5. Tweak Your Self-Talk
Listen carefully to what you tell yourself. My skin is horrible. I am uglyHow did I get so fat? Some people are so used to putting themselves down they don’t even realize they do it. But it’s never too late to change the dialogue. Try this: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a close friend. Also remember that feelings aren’t facts; just because you may feel unattractive one day doesn’t mean you are. This isn’t easy, especially if you’ve been engaging in negative behaviors for years, but once you learn to recognize the negative self-talk, the next step is to alter it. Make an effort to put a positive spin on whatever you otherwise would have criticized.

6. Dwell on Solutions, not Slip-ups
Focusing too much on mistakes can deal your self-esteem a major blow, Pardo says. If you fall off the diet wagon, for example, don’t label yourself a failure and give up. Instead, consider that the diet you chose may not have been right for you. Explore what went wrong, but in the context of how you can change or do better next time. A mistake or failure is an isolated incident, not indicative of who you are.

Bottom line: “Living in joy and contentment is a much better goal than correctly following some diet based on vanity rather than on self-improvement for the greater good,” Pardo says. Be kind to yourself, and set your sights on happiness, not perfection.

Make Happiness your goal today!

Make Happiness your goal today!

This article was contributed by Canyon Ranch. Canyon Ranch is a pioneer in the field of health and wellness will be bringing its integrative and customized wellness programmes to Treasure Bay Bintan, a resort destination on Bintan island.

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Career, Character & Soul, Health & Fitness, Self-Improvement, Wellbeing

10 Signs You Need A Break – Tan Lili

But if you find yourself agreeing to all 10 of them, Tan Lili reckons you might want to consider going on a year-long sabbatical. 

We may all be busy running the same rat race, but some of us are so hellbent on completing it (haha) that we forget to stop and rehydrate along the neverending journey. Here are 10 telltale signs you need to take a break before it’s too late.

1. You find yourself vacillating between stewing in unbridled rage over non-issues …

Need. To. Strangle.

Need. To. Strangle.

2. … and laughing hysterically for absolutely no reason.

This clicking pen makes the funniest sound!

This clicking pen makes the funniest sound!

3. And heaven forbid last-minute changes to your schedule.

I can't.

I can’t.

4. You live for Beer O’Clock.

Did someone say "beer"!?

Did someone say “beer”!?

5. You’ve forgotten how your best friend looks like.

What she said.

What she said.

6. Instead of counting sheep, you mentally check off your to-do list.

6. Checking off to-do list - check.

6. Checking off to-do list – check.

7. You are seriously considering the feasibility of snorting coffee powder.

Because, why not?

Because, why not?

8. You wish someone could pee on your behalf.

Peeing is so overrated.

Peeing is so overrated.

9. The energy it takes for you to summon up a smile has officially become your way of keeping fit.



10. Vacation pictures make you want to curl into the foetal position and drown in your own pool of tears.



Jokes aside, though, I’m sure you don’t need any reminders about stress and its link to a myriad health problems. Apart from physical illnesses like heart-related diseases and weakened immune system, stress can also lead to mental disorders. “If you don’t end up identifying a method to handle your stress then it eventually can lead to a heightened sense of dysfunction,” says Dr Steve Bressert, author of The Impact of Stress on Psych Central. “This may result in increased anxiety or a sense of depression because you’re not mastering your world.”

Know that taking a break every now and then is a necessity, not a luxury. And I’m not just talking about work; we all need some time away from the hustle and bustle of life to recharge our mind so we can come back and take on the madness with renewed vigour.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as (now, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction.


Health & Fitness, Wellbeing

Habits So Bad, They’re Actually Good For You – Tan Lili

Teetotalers, you may want to reconsider your choices. Don’t quote Tan Lili; this study says it all!

bad habits 2

A 2010 study on the link between alcohol consumption and mortality has resurfaced on the Internet the past couple of weeks. Boy, am I glad for it – and I’m pretty sure some of you would share my sentiment, too!

In a statement that goes against what we were led to believe for a very long time, the findings showed that moderate and even heavy drinkers tend to live longer than those who abstain from alcohol. Here’s a breakdown of the mortality rate of the 1,824 participants aged 55 to 65, over a 20-year period:

Abstainers – 69%
Heavy drinkers – 60%
Moderate drinkers – 41%

These findings have stunned many, even the researchers. One possible explanation for the results is that alcohol is associated with social interactivity, which, in turn, plays a big part in maintaining mental and physical health. But before you break out the bubblies, it’s crucial to note that alcohol has an effect on your brain chemistry, which can lead to a whole host of problems, including dependency. The rule of thumb is to stick to moderate drinking – i.e. no more than three drinks a day. Well, that’s good enough for me!

This study got me curious about other seemingly nasty habits that actually boast certain health benefits. Read on.

Get angry

When channeled appropriately, anger not only results in better decision-making but also keeps your wellbeing in check! By “appropriately”, I mean not lashing out. The trick is to give yourself some time to (A) figure out the trigger; (B) regroup your thoughts; and (C) come up with a course of action. Read this article for more ways to rein in your inner Hulk.

bad habits 3Get (a little) dirty

Mothers, the next time your child gets his hands dirty at the park, STOP FREAKING OUT. A 2012 Finnish study found a link between biodiversity and human health, claiming that immune systems rich in biodiversity – be it because you are constantly surrounded by biodiversity or because of the microbes on your skin and in your stomach – are more resilient and, therefore, at a lower risk of allergic, inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. This is all due to the primary role of our immune system – to detect and distinguish pathogens from harmless, healthy tissue. For the role to function properly, our immune system needs to be exposed to a wide range of organisms early in life. We old folks may have missed that window, but it’s still not too late for our kids.

On the same note, keeping your house overly sanitised means destroying all the nasty and harmless germs, which makes way for more serious strains to invade the environment. In other words, a little messiness is not a bad thing! (I hope you’re reading this, Mum.)

F**k, yeah!

Separate studies found that swearing can provide short-term relief from pain as well as help employees better cope with stress and develop team solidarity. Not suggesting we should start cursing like a sailor, of course – the pain relief was significantly less apparent for those who swear a hell lot. So, as with all indulgences, swear in moderation, my friends.

Sleep in on weekends

My love for my bed has never changed all these years. Turns out, my bed loves me back! Sleeping in on weekends has been found to boost your immune system, improve your memory, reduce stress as well as help you live longer. Interestingly, a recent study also proved that those who wake up to an alarm are three times more likely to be overweight than those who wake up naturally to their body’s internal clock – relying on the former messes up with your sleep schedule, which causes you to eat at irregular times and slow your metabolism.

Drink your kopi

See, I knew Garfield was an excellent role model. Two to three cups of coffee a day can actually help lower the risk of depression by 15% in women, revealed a recent study. Not only that, coffee is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which may help protect against chronic diseases like Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and cancer. Now, excuse me while I make myself my third cup of coffee for the day.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as (now, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction.

Body News, Health & Fitness

Material World Team Does The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The Material World team does the Ice Bucket Challenge and besides posting up our video, here, we would like to share 5 facts about the challenge.

1. ALS is short for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). It is also often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” and is a progressive neuro-degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body.

2. While many may have criticized the Ice Bucket Challenge for being a gimmicky, self-promoting stunts for those who want to up their social media presence, the Challenge has raised some US$13.3 million for the ALS Association between July 29 and August 17. Compared to the same period last year where the association only managed to raise US$1.7 million.

3. In Singapore, it is better known as Motor Neuron Disease (MND). For those of you taking this Challenge, you may make your donation to SPD, formerly known as the Society for the Physically Disabled. It is a non-profit organization that helps about 4,600 people with disabilities including those suffering from MND through a wide range of programmes and services to encourage self-reliance and independence. You may donate through their GiveAsia page. Click here to donate to the SPD.

4. Interesting fact: Former US President George W. Bush had initially refused to do the Challenge and was simply going to write a cheque. But his wife, Laura Bush, doused him with ice water anyway. He then challenged Bill Clinton.

5. Celebrity Pamela Anderson has refused to take on this Challenge, stating that ALS Association funds outdated and cruel animal testing. In a statement, she wrote, “Trying to cure human diseases by relying on outdated and ineffective animal experiments isn’t only cruel – it’s a grave disservice to people who desperately need cures.” She has challenged medical researchers and charities: switch to what she called “sophisticated” non-animal testing methods, such as computer modelling and using “human volunteers”. We can’t speak for Anderson or ALS Association but if you want, feel free to make a donation instead to a charity of your choice.

The Material World will be donating $400 to the SPD (see Point 3). We hereby challenge the following individuals/groups to take on the Ice Bucket Challenge and make a donation. We are daring …

JANE NGIAM, Editor-in-chief of Tatler Singapore

JOCELYN TEO, Assistant Vice President, Communications at CK TANG Limited, and her TEAM

BOON, Co-founder of Beauty Cleanse


Good luck!

Material World

Health & Fitness, Wellbeing

I’m No Longer Hostage to Fluctuations In My Weight … and Happier For It – Denise Li

Why do so many of us allow a number on the scale to dictate our happiness, wonders Denise Li.


Despite telling myself I will avoid doing so, I stepped on the scale this morning. The number was slightly higher than when I first arrived in Belgium a few weeks ago. Previously, this would have precipitated a full-blown freakout on my part: Vowing to cut out sugar and dessert, making sure I work out more than usual, going on an insane guilt trip every time I put food into my mouth, etc.

But today, I found myself calmly assessing the situation.

Since arriving in Belgium three weeks ago, I have encountered, eaten and drank copious amounts of the following:

1. Fries and mayo

2. BEER!

3. Fries and creamy hot sauce

4. Chocolate

5. More chocolate

6. Giant-ass waffles

7. Deep fried sausages

8. Fries and some unidentifiable sauce

9. A snack known as bitterballen (deep fried balls with an oozing liquid centre … yes, I laugh every time I eat it too cos I’m mature like that)

I also happen to be with a man who has made it his mission to keep me well-fed during the six weeks I’m here (“We know what happens when you get hangry …” he says), and we’re not impervious to the “happy couple weight gain”.

As I ran through in my head all the factors that made me gain weight, I found myself doing something I have never done before: Shrug it off.

Why? Because I refuse to let a number on the scale dictate my happiness. Because I know my body well enough to know that the weight gain is temporary, and that it will go back to what it was when I return to Singapore and revert to my usual schedule and workout routine. Because I know that the number on the scale really doesn’t mean that much in the grander scheme of things: I am still keeping myself healthy through regular exercise and MMA training. Because I know I really don’t want to give up Flemish stews with bottomless fries and chocolate just so I can be at my perceived “ideal” weight on the scale.

It’s funny how one little number can rule over so many of our life choices. I spoke to someone recently who had established a pretty good workout routine. She was incorporating a lot of weight training, in addition to regular cardio workouts. From how she described it, it was a really well-rounded training routine that I believe more women should do. The problem? She had just decided to stop weight training because it was causing her to gain weight.

I had experienced the exact same thing a few years ago and I know how demoralising and scary it can be. When I first started working out a few years ago, I started bulking up two months after I’d started my thrice-a-week muay thai training regime. A lot of clothes suddenly didn’t fit. When you’ve finally committed to a regular exercise regime, putting on weight – the opposite effect of what you’d wanted – is really the last thing you need. It is downright discouraging. But I decided to stick with my regime, and a couple of months later, I leaned out. The reason for the initial weight gain was because I gained muscle before I lost fat. I think this is especially true for a lot of women.

A lot of people have asked me how I manage to stick to my workout regime. It really comes down to this: I don’t plan my workouts based on numbers on a weighing machine. The number on the machine doesn’t tell you: How fit you are; your proportion of fat to muscle; whether you are able to complete your first 5k, or survive a gruelling session of boxing training. Once you realise this, you’ll find OTHER reasons to work out:  For the love of it, for the increased levels of energy, or because it helps build mental toughness, for instance. These will be the reasons that’ll motivate you to stick to your workouts over the long run.

About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys training in MMA, and doing conditioning workouts. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets and Instagram @smackeral83.

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Body News, Health & Fitness, Wellbeing

When It’s More Than Just A Stomachache – Tan Lili

How do we know if that nagging discomfort is simply a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or something worse? Tan Lili speaks to a gastroenterologist and an urologist to find out more.

This abdominal pain is not a first-world problem, thank you very much.

This abdominal pain is not a first-world problem, thank you very much.

All of us experience abdominal pain many times in our lives, but because stomachache is so common, diagnosing the cause of it can be difficult. At best, it is mild and can be effectively treated by self-medication – which is usually the case; at worst, it could be a sign of something sinister and lead to life-threatening consequences if not managed early.

The most common cause of abdominal pain, according to Dr Lim Lee Guan, Specialist in Gastroenterology & Consultant, Raffles Internal Medicine Centre, is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Studies showed that the prevalence of IBS in Singapore was 8.6 percent in 2004 – up from 2.3 percent in 1998. But how do we know if the pain is caused by something more serious?

“Abdominal pain may be sometimes be caused by serious conditions, such as acute appendicitis (severe pain in right lower abdomen) and acute cholecystitis (inflammation of gallbladder, usually with pain in right upper abdomen),” says Dr Lim. “In females, abdominal pain may also be caused by gynaecological conditions, such as ectopic pregnancy. These conditions may be life-threatening if they are not managed early. These conditions require specialised treatment in a hospital, and could involve surgery.”

Below, Dr Lim explores the different causes of abdominal pain and their symptoms.


A condition in which you suffer from abdominal discomfort that’s often accompanied by diarrhea, constipation, or alternating diarrhea and constipation, IBS is the most common cause of abdominal pain in Singapore. Management includes lifestyle and dietary adjustments as well as medical treatment. Some of the former include avoiding stimulants such as caffeine, dairy products and artificial sweeteners; drinking lots of water and avoiding carbonated beverages; and maintaining good physical fitness.


A burning sensation felt around the lower chest area, heartburn is caused by gastric acid refluxing into the oesophagus/food pipe. It can be treated via over-the-counter antacids, which work to quickly neutralise acid and soothe the burn. Lifestyle changes can also be adopted to improve your heartburn symptoms, like eating slowly and avoiding trigger foods such as caffeine.


Stomach and duodenal ulcers are caused by variable factors such as Helicobacter pylori and medications (e.g. NSAIDs), which result in the thinning of the layer of mucus that is supposed to protect your stomach from digestive juices. This, in turn, causes painful sores in the stomach lining or small intestine. Medications are usually prescribed to alleviate the symptom; if the ulcers perforate and bleed, an endoscopic treatment would be required.

Gastroenteritis (stomach flu/food poisoning)

Common symptoms of patients with gastroenteritis include abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases, you can get dehydrated, in which case you may need intravenous hydration. Most acute gastroenteritis cases improve with symptomatic treatment, although in some cases antibiotics may be needed.


The pain is felt over the lower right part of your abdomen, and it can either come on slowly or manifest as sharp, stabbing pains that worsen with movement. Caused by an inflammation of the appendix, it requires immediate medical attention and surgery to remove said appendix (don’t worry, we can all live without it). If not treated quickly, the inflamed appendix may perforate or burst, which could lead to peritonitis – a potentially fatal inflammation of the abdomen’s lining.

Since the abdomen constitutes the part of the body between the chest and pelvis, you should never rule out urological conditions when experiencing abdominal pain. Here, Dr Fong Yan Kit, Specialist in Urology & Consultant, Raffles Urology Centre, explains two possible causes:

Bladder Infection

It is very common among women – most would have at least one infection in their lifetime. The typical symptoms are lower abdominal pain, associated with painful and frequent urination. Bladder infections are generally not serious and can be treated with antibiotics.

Kidney Stones

Pain caused by obstructing kidney stones is one of the worst pains one could ever experience. It typically starts from the loin then radiates to the groin. The treatment depends on the size and location of the stones. While small stones can usually pass through the urinary tract, larger stones would need to be fragmented through either shock wave or laser therapy.

This list, of course, only serves as a general guide to the more common causes of abdominal pain. Always consult your doctor if your, um, gut tells you your condition requires medical attention.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as (now, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

Health & Fitness, Wellbeing

Cool Ways To Beat The Heat – Tan Lili

Our tropical climate leaves us plenty to be grateful for, but sometimes the heat can get unbearable – even for Tan Lili, who’s always preferred sunny weather to a cloudy sky. Read on to find out some interesting ways you can use to cope with our hot and humid conditions.

Nope, not exaggerating at all.

Nope, not exaggerating at all.

To get to work, I take three different buses. By the time I walk to the first bus-stop from home, I would already be wiping sweat off my face, carefully avoiding my freshly-concealed under-eye area. By the time I arrive at my office, I’m a walking tower of perspiration. I know it’s horribly unladylike of me to air my armpits in public, but if you had to spend 10 minutes walking up a slight slope in this heat, you’d be long past caring too.

And don’t get me started on my nightly hot and bothered affairs. Not in the figurative sense, obviously.

Since confining myself to an air-conditioned room 24/7 is out of the question – (a) it’s environmentally unfriendly, and (b) my Sahara-dry skin might actually start to crack – I decided to look up ways to cope with this unbearable heat.

Sweat It Out To Cool Down

It may seem counterintuitive – and not to mention, rather embarrassing – to ignore the sweat that’s coming out of every pore on your skin, but wiping off sweat actually causes your body to produce even more. Reason: Sweat doesn’t cool you down, but the evaporation of it does. To cope with heat, the human body sends more blood to the surface of the skin to release heat. At the same time, the heat kicks your sweat glands into overdrive, which helps cool the body because of the subsequent evaporation of sweat.

Sweaty and sexy: Only in photoshoots, otherwise mutually exclusive

Sweaty and sexy: Only in photoshoots, otherwise mutually exclusive

Be Aerobically Fit

The human body has an ability to acclimatise to heat stress and, according to a researcher, the more aerobically fit you are, the better your ability to do so. “Training induces a lot of the characteristics that you typically see in somebody that is actually heat-acclimated,” says Heather Wright, a research officer at the National Research Council Canada in Ottawa, Canada. “With heat acclimation as well as with training, your resting core temperature decreases. As your temperature increases with exertion … it takes a longer period of time before your temperature reaches high levels, which are of concern.”

So, the fitter you are, the more sweat you produce and the faster you cool down. Using the same explanation as above, an unfit person “heats up” faster during an exercise because his body is less acclimatised to heat stress but takes a longer time to cool down. In other words, I should probably get my ass off the couch and start exercising. Damn.

Use An Anti-Perspirant

Okay, so sweating is wonderful and all, but looking like I’d just finished a marathon doesn’t exactly make for a good first impression when meeting a client. Recently, Denise wrote about Triple Dry, an anti-perspirant that contains active ingredients to regulate the amount of sweat released by the body. The way to use it is rather specific – you have to apply Triple Dry for four consecutive nights before you sleep at night and, subsequently, you only need to apply it every two or three days. Material Mom Deborah Giam also reviewed it in this post (you get to win a set for yourself!). I haven’t tried it yet, but I suppose there’s no harm giving it a shot.

Cool Your Pulse Points

Pulse points are essentially the areas of your body where you can feel your pulse. By lowering your blood temperature in those spots – neck, wrists, insides of your elbows and knees, and the area close to your temple – it has a cooling effect on your body. Grab an ice cube from your office freezer, wrap it in a towel, and apply it to any of the pulse points for a minute. Repeat this step every other minute until you feel less Human Torch and more Iceman.

Daisy Dream Marc Jacobs, from $88 for 30ml

Daisy Dream Marc Jacobs, from $88 for 30ml

Take A Shower

When it’s especially hot, try this fail-proof method of lowering your body temperature: take a cool shower once or twice a day. It is effective, efficient and, more importantly, an essential part of personal hygiene. It’s a well-known fact: The less you sweat, the fresher you smell. However, what many don’t realise is that sweat is actually odourless; it’s the combination of sweat and bacteria found normally on your skin that causes the bad smell, which is why maintaining your personal hygiene is so important.

To smell even fresher after your shower, spritz on the new Daisy Dream Marc Jacobs (from $88 for 30ml, available from August 2014). This fruity-floral fragrance smells so light, refreshing and, for want of a better word, pretty, it might just make you forget about the insane weather!

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as (now, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

Branded Content, Health & Fitness

[Material World x Breathe Pilates] 30-Days Pilates Challenge – Matthew Fam

If a session of pilates leaves your legs wobbling by the end of its duration, try doing consecutive sessions in 30 days. Sounds crazy? Not quite. Breathe Pilates’ 30-Days Pilates Challenge is perfect for everyone of all fitness levels committed to a healthier lifestyle.

If there’s one workout you must get involved in, it’s this. Taking place in August 2014, the 30-Days Pilates Challenge provides first-timers an opportunity to commit to a fitness regime, while allowing seasoned practitioners to hone their practice. And we’ve got the lo-down on how manageable undertaking this challenge can be:

What’s so good about pilates?

It involves a contraption that skeptics may confuse for a medieval torture device. But you’d be surprised at the bevy of health benefits ranging from weight loss, increasing one’s muscle tone, to recovering from sports injuries! Its an all-in-one workout that’s part strengthening, part rehabilitating.

20130707_B6555175What kinds of exercises can I expect from the 30-Days Pilates Challenge?

There are three types of exercise you can expect to do during this challenge: reformer, tower, and mat exercises. And none of these involve impossible contortions, rest assured.

“Reformer and tower exercises make use of different parts of the reformer, a bed-like structure with a series of pulleys and springs. On the other hand, mat work involves the usage of simpler equipment such as therabands or free weights on mats to challenge the body,” shares Ru Shin, participant of last year’s 30-Days Pilates Challenge.

The focus of these sessions rotates throughout the week, so all your muscle groups get an equal chance at a workout. “We would be assigned different instructors during the challenge. They would alternate their focus between abdominal and spinal articulation, arms and legs, and cardiovascular activity.” Suffice to say, these 4 weeks will have fitness regimens specially tailor-planned for you.

Can I join the 30-Days Pilates Challenge if I have zero experience?

If being able to touch your toes feels like winning the Olympics gold for gymnastics, don’t give up your pilates-practicing ambitions just yet! This programme is suited for people of various fitness levels. “I was a total beginner!”, exclaimed Ru Shin of her experience.

Be it those recovering from an injury, disciplined gym users, or people whose idea of exercise is their daily walk to the refrigerator, this challenge is built for anyone along the fitness spectrum. “One of the great things about the challenge is that it suits nearly everyone- young (the youngest student was 14 years old and came with her dad!) and old.”

The small group setting ensures that trainers give you a more personalised coaching.

The small group setting ensures that trainers give you a more personalised coaching.

Will I be able to cope with the intensity of 30 days?

Relax. The trainers will not expect you to wrangle yourself into a pretzel. “The sessions increased in intensity as the weeks progressed, so by week 4, exercises were significantly more advanced than week 1,” says Ru Shin. Its gradual intensification means that you’ll be well accustomed to the basics before moving on to intermediate workouts.

At the same time, the challenge would not consist of superficial poses that one could easily replicate without the trainers. You will be breaking out a sweat. “After some of the sessions, my arms and legs were shaking like jelly. I even ached in places I never knew had muscles! It wasn’t smooth sailing. I had recently given birth at that time and wasn’t exercising regularly before starting the challenge. But after the first few days, I started to get the hang of it.”

Some participants of last year's 30-Days Pilates Challenge and their trainer.

Some participants of last year’s 30-Days Pilates Challenge and their trainer.

What’s different about this pilates challenge?

This is not the same as attending a pilates gym for 30 consecutive days. Its comfortable group setting allows you to ease into the rigour of workouts without feeling self-conscious. And you get individual attention from the trainers too, so you won’t be lost while awkwardly yanking random pulleys looking totally ridiculous.

“The group was just right- there were 5 of us- which enabled the trainer to pay attention to each student. The trainers were all very good. They demonstrated the exercises before letting us commence. Moreover, they would take the time to check that every student had proper postural alignment during the exercises!”

On top of that, Breathe Pilates’ emphasis on a holistic lifestyle transformation is underscored with an option for healthy cold-pressed juices you can enjoy after workout sessions.

How will I be able to commit to these 30 days in light of hectic work schedules?

Sure, it’s one thing to maintain discipline in a fitness regime, but how does that stand when busy work schedules get thrown into the mix? Here is Ru Shin’s tip: “I signed up for the challenge weeks in advance and was able to plan my schedule. I would start work earlier just to make sure I would be able to make it for the sessions on time. I also tried to push business trips just before or after the 30 days. I really wanted to do something about my fitness so I made it a priority to attend every single session. No excuses.”

Ru Shin and her daughter.

Ru Shin and her daughter.

What improvements can I expect after the 30-Days Pilates Challenge?

You don’t even need to wait 30 days for visible benefits from this challenge. “Even within the first week, I noticed improvements in my posture. As the weeks went by, I became stronger and more toned; my back was hurting less and I had higher energy levels throughout the day.  Most amazingly, a shoulder injury that I was nursing bothered me less. I was well on my way to recovery!”, says Ru Shin.

Yes. A fitter, healthier you is definitely within reach.


The 30-Day Pilates Programme lasts from 11 August to 5 September 2014, Mondays to Saturdays. Register now for an Early Bird Special of $650 (usual price $680)! Daily Juice option, $140, includes 3 bottles of 250ml cold-pressed juice provided for 30 days.

Breathe Pilates is located at #09-33 Novena Medical Center, 10 Sinaran Drive (8 participants); and #02-05/06/07 Tides, 217 East Coast Road (10 participants). For more information or to make an appointment, call 9835 5683, email, or visit

Gyms & Trainers, Health & Fitness, Workouts

The 6 Weeks That Changed My Life – Vanessa Tai

She doesn’t usually admit this publicly, but Vanessa Tai has struggled with her weight ever since she was 12 years old. However, she’s finally found a way to lose weight effectively, and better yet, keep it off.

I’ve felt self-conscious about my size ever since I was very young. I know I’m not obese or even grossly overweight, but having always been slightly chubbier and pudgier than my peers, the way I look has always been a source of insecurity. Over the years, I’ve tried all kinds of methods to keep the weight off. Short of going under the knife, I’ve tried everything from crazy diets (eating nothing but grapes for a week, for example) to even going for acupuncture a few times a week. I even had memberships at different gyms and exercise studios. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to work, or it would work for a little while before I gave up or lost interest.

Knowing of my struggles, Simon Pink invited me to try six weeks of personal training, three times a week. If you’re a regular reader of Material World, you’ll probably know Simon is Deborah’s husband, and both Debs and I attend his boot camp sessions once a week. However, as much as we joke around with him outside of boot camp, Simon takes his work very seriously and it shows in the number of regular boot campers that show up each week. When he offered me this personal training trial, I jumped at the chance as I was planning for a backpacking trip then (I’m actually on it now!) and I thought it would be a good idea to rev up my fitness levels as this trip is pretty intensive, activity-wise. And so, I soon found myself trooping down to Fort Canning Park three times a week at noon. The rest of the Material World team couldn’t decide if I was brave or insane … probably more of the latter.

But the truth is, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long while.



First, Let’s Talk About The Sessions.

In week one, my weight was 59.3kg and I had a whopping 30 percent body fat. Numbers aside, I was constantly feeling sluggish and had to drink several cups of caffeine a day to keep me going. I wasn’t exercising all that much – just boot camp plus maybe a run once a week – and my lack of fitness was apparent in that first week. Simon ran a bleep test on me which is where you’re made to run continuously between two points and as the test progresses, the interval between each “bleep” shortens, forcing you to run faster and faster  and I got a score of 6.5. The fitter you are, the higher your score is. My score was nothing to shout about, but at that point, that was all I could give.

In addition to cardiovascular workouts, we also worked on strengthening my entire body, using a mix of TRX equipment, resistance ropes, and sandbells. One of the exercises we did involved me pushing off on one leg from a seated position on a low bench. It was excruciating! I felt like I had zero strength in my butt muscles at all. In fact, my muscles felt so atrophied that I imagined this was what physiotherapy must feel like. Needless to say, my glutes were sore for days.

I’m not going to lie to you; each session was very physically demanding. In fact, there were times where I felt like bursting into tears and calling it quits. However, there was something inside me that felt like I couldn’t let Simon down, and soon that translated into me realising I, too, should not be letting myself down. And so, I pushed on. It certainly helped that Simon maintained his upbeat and good-natured self throughout my endless griping and complaining. But no, his cheeriness doesn’t mean he goes easy on you though. He made sure I did all my reps properly (“no half-assed efforts,” he’ll say) and always ensured I maintained the right posture during each exercise. For example, he was befuddled as to why I couldn’t seem to be able to do a proper push-up my hips kept moving downwards, seemingly on its own but he kept correcting my posture until I righted it by the third session.

As the weeks progressed, the sessions increased in intensity but I felt like I was better able to tackle the exercises. I don’t think it was simply because I was getting fitter, but I also felt like my threshold for discomfort had increased exponentially.


Me in the zone.

The Mental Factor

By the end of the second week, I could feel a marked improvement in my energy and confidence levels. I felt fitter and stronger, and was definitely less mopey and melancholic, which is my default state of mind. Like what Dr Mark Liponis of Canyon Ranch advised, “As you build your physical strength, you’re also getting mentally fitter. You become more determined and resilient, and you don’t get as worried about things happening to you because you know you’ll be able to handle it.”

That described the transformation I experienced over the course of six weeks. While I used to give up easily whenever I encountered problems, I now find myself either gritting my teeth and pressing on, or trying harder to find alternative solutions.

The transformation didn’t just translate to fitness as well. Throughout the course of six weeks, Simon also regularly dished out nutrition advice (which foods to avoid, what to eat more of, why certain foods are not suitable for my body type, and so on). I cut out all processed food and replaced my usual hawker fare with salads for lunch. In the past, I used to get ravenous whenever I went on such detoxes. However, it seemed easier this time round. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been exercising so much that my body naturally craves nutritionally-rich foods. In any case, I hardly crave for fast food and sweet drinks now. My energy levels were also markedly improved; I hardly feel lethargic anymore even though I’m also sleeping fewer hours each night.

And the new, slimmer me!

And the new, slimmer me!

My Thoughts
Personal training is not just about shedding kilos. It’s about an all-round transformation, from your body to your mind. Of course, if you’re looking for an effective way to lose weight safely and quickly, personal training is an excellent option. In fact, I think the six weeks I went through is the perfect regiment for brides who are looking to lose a few extra kilos just before their wedding day. In six weeks, I lost 2kg and two percent of body fat. I’ve also dropped a dress size from a UK10 to UK8, and I definitely feel like my arms, thighs, and bum are firmer and more compact. The best part is, everyone who’s seen me recently has complimented me on the visible difference in appearance. Aesthetics aside though, I am amazed at how quickly my body has responded to solid exercise and nutrition. My bleep test is now at 10.1 and I can run for over an hour without feeling tired. Above all, I am grateful at how this surge in fitness levels has also boosted my confidence levels and capability to problem-solve.

10/10 will recommend.


Simon Pink Fitness

9171 4927

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 27-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

Beauty & Shopping, Food & Supplements, Hair, Health & Fitness, Skincare

The Multi-Functional Oil You Have To Try – Matthew Fam

We’ve all heard of oils that beautify your complexion and give you shiny locks of hair, but Matthew Fam has found one that you can actually eat for a nutrition boost while ticking all the beauty boxes for great skin and hair! Here’s why he’s going loco for the coco(nut oil).

o-BENEFITS-OF-COCONUT-OIL-facebookIt’s a nutrition must-have!

Uhm… Logically speaking, isn’t eating oil unhealthy? Well, not this one. Coconut oil is a rich source of saturated fat that aids in weight loss. What’s different is its chemical structure of medium-chain triglycerides that allows the body to digest it more rapidly, thus using up more energy.

In fact, 15 to 30 grams of such fat can increase 24-hour energy expenditure by 5% (that’s about an extra 120 calories burnt a day!) Its high lauric acid content also bolsters your immune system by fending off viruses such as the common flu, for instance.

You can cook it with rice, use it as dressing for salads, or just ingest it as it is. What I usually do is to add a tablespoon of the oil into my breakfast of soy milk, seeds and oats- and it totally ends up tasting like CHENDOL. Mind. Blown.

Plus, it’s easy to find a jar of this multi-functional oil from your local supermarket. You can even purchase a jar and have it home-delivered from health food websites like these.

2269941It gives you beautiful skin and hair!

Coconut oil works as a great moisturiser too. The luxuriously nourishing oil turns into a paste-like consistency below temperatures of 24 degrees celsius, so I leave a jar of it in the fridge. This way, it’s less messy for me to scoop the solidified, fluffy substance to spread on skin.

I have dry skin on my legs, so this beauty fix was perfect for an overnight moisturising treatment. The oil is absorbed well by skin, and you don’t have to worry about staining your bedsheets. I was surprised at how applying a dollop of coconut oil left a mild, fragrant scent that wasn’t overpowering at all. In addition, my legs definitely felt smoother the next morning!

If the thought of smearing food on your skin or scalp grosses you out, there are plenty of coconut oil-infused products out there for you to reap its benefits, without the potential ‘ick’ factor. Try Organix Weightless Hydration Coconut Water Shampoo. It’s non-SLS formula (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, a drying detergent ingredient in most shampoos) gives you shiny, silky strands.

cdentistryIt’s a major oral hygiene booster!

You’d be surprised to find out that the benefits of coconut oil even extend to oral health! The next time you get your hands on a jar of this miracle oil, try out oil swishing- an ancient Indian practice that dates back thousands of years.

What you need to do is gargle a table-spoonful of oil in your mouth, as you would with regular mouthwash, for 10 to 20 minutes. It is said to reduce bacteria and plague from your mouth, and gradually whiten teeth. When you expel the solution, the naturally transparent oil should now have a milky colour.

Sure, it shouldn’t replace regular brushing and flossing; but who doesn’t want a gorgeous smile, right?

With these all-encompassing benefits that ensure a healthier, more beautiful you, I am officially hooked on coconut oil!

About the Author: Matthew Fam is a contributing writer of Material World, and has worked at Cosmopolitan Singapore as an intern and Contributing Beauty Assistant. He writes, teaches, and performs for the stage. Matthew enjoys museum visits, Singaporean Theatre, and spends too much of his undergraduate allowance on magazines. Follow him on Instagram @mattjfam.


If you liked this article, you might also like:

1. The Fat Singaporeans Don’t Eat Enough Of – Deborah Tan

2. Top Weight-Loss & Nutrition Myths, Debunked – Tan Lili

3. [Material Moms] Why This Fruit Holds The Kiwi To A Mother’s Heart – Delphine Tan

Health & Fitness, Wellbeing

Is Osteopathy For You? – Denise Li

If you have a sports injury and prefer a non-invasive approach to healing, why not give osteopathy a go? 


I’ve been living with a knee injury that I sustained during muay thai sparring awhile back. I wasn’t sure if it was a meniscus or ligament issue … but the reason that I’d been putting off getting checked out properly is because I feel that many doctors tend to be a bit “conservative” in their approach. The last thing I want to hear is them telling me that I should lay off the martial arts – I can’t imagine anything worse than a life without it! Also, my impression is that some doctors might be a little enthusiastic in recommending surgery. Again, this is not something I’m personally a fan of as I feel that it should be a last resort.

Now, I’m not saying that doctors are bad or that I personally recommend living with pain, cos that can really affect the quality of your life! I was, however, on the lookout for an alternative solution that could speed up the rehabilitative process without requiring any drastic action, so when the opportunity to try osteopathy came up, I jumped at the chance.

Prior to my visit to The Osteopathic Centre, I had only a vague idea about what osteopathy entailed. I know they did things like realign the spine to fix certain back problems … but that’s it really. But as I’ve been even more active than usual of late, I knew I had to have my knee checked out as it was limiting my progress in certain areas of martial arts (not being able to kick properly or executing certain grappling moves due to difficulty in bending my knee joints).

I visited The Osteopathic Centre’s clinic at Chevron House and was greeted by Jenny Mullen, an osteopath with over 13 years experience as a rehab specialist.

She first made me do a series of movements to determine what exactly was causing the pain, after which she concluded that it was likely a meniscus issue. She then went on to tell me that my weak glutes and some stiffness in the hamstrings was likely worsening the issue; osteopathy works on the principle that various parts and functions of the body are closely related. Weakness and stiffness in one part could have a knock-on effect on other parts/joints. Jenny also pointed out that the injury was worsened by the fact that there was some imbalance on one side of my body – probably due to me overcompensating for the injury.

Next, she massaged the area around my injury and my glutes to loosen up the muscles. Before our session ended, she prescribed a series of four exercises that are supposed to help strengthen my glutes and the muscles around my injury to better protect it. She also reminded me that it was important to do these exercises religiously at home to aid in the recovery.

The massage really helped (especially in relaxing my super tense glute muscles), and though I felt a slight soreness in the days that followed (as she predicted), I definitely saw some improvement. I continued exercising as normal, but the pain was alleviated somewhat. Of course, I did my best to follow through with the exercises that she had prescribed, as you need to be diligent with doing your “homework” to see any real improvement.

As with most types of treatments, you cannot expect miracles after just one visit. But I’d definitely recommend osteopathy if you have any muscle, joint, or ligament issues and prefer a gentler, non-invasive approach to treatment.

Jenny Mullen, osteopath with The Osteopathic Centre

Jenny Mullen, osteopath with The Osteopathic Centre

Here’s Jenny to tell you a bit more about osteopathy’s all about:

What exactly does osteopathy entail?

Osteopathy examines posture, muscle length and strength, range of motion at joints and integrity of joints. The emphasis of osteopathy is on the interrelationship of structure and function of the body.  Osteopaths take an in-depth medical history to gain an insight into the overall health of the individual. Osteopathy is based on the theory that the various parts and functions of the body are closely inter-related, and that health depends on the integral functioning of the various body parts. Osteopaths aim to find the root cause of the problem, often they will assess the joints above and below the site of pain to ensure the body is functioning optimally. Osteopathy predominantly utilises a hands-on manual treatment approach although other modalities such as rehabilitative exercise prescription and taping are also used. The osteopathic training includes joint manipulation techniques.

Osteopathy seems to be considered an “alternative” therapy. Why is that?

Osteopaths are now considered primary healthcare providers. Within the UK they are now integrated within the National Health Service. The osteopathic curriculum has changed over the past ten to fifteen years to incorporate more evidence based research to follow a similar pathway as general medicine.

What sort of ailments can osteopaths help with?

Osteopathy aims to restore normal function to the body by utilising treatment modalities that assist the bodies natural healing process. Some of the common ailments that people seek osteopathic treatments for are:

Muscle and joint injuries of the upper and lower limb, ligament injuries, neck pain, back pain, repetitive strain injuries, sports injuries, postural abnormalities, osteoarthritis, sinus problems, pre- and post-natal neck and back pain, feeding problems for babies, torticollis.

What sort of ailments can’t osteopaths help with?

Osteopaths use a holistic approach by considering your past medical conditions, diet, levels of activity and emotional state to consider the whole person. Through this process it may become apparent that referral is needed to a specialist in that area – as osteopaths we refer to GPs, podiatrists, orthopaedic surgeons, dentists, Pilates and yoga instructors depending on the needs of the individual. Osteopaths cannot prescribe medication or administer steroid injections.  If you are suffering with a general medical condition such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, lung disease then a general practitioner should be your first port of call.

You mentioned that osteopaths can also help newborns who have trouble latching onto their mother’s nipple during breastfeeding. Do tell us more.

Osteopathy can help babies who are experiencing problems latching when breastfeeding. At the Osteopathic Centre, we work closely with mothers and children. We receive referrals for babies with tight jaws, tightness in the neck muscles and tongue tie. Very gentle and simple osteopathic techniques can be used to loosen out the muscles of the jaw and neck and to encourage the sucking reflex. We teach the parents simple exercises to encourage moving the jaw forward and stretching out the neck muscles. Usually, for latching problem,s the babies respond very quickly and may only require 2-3 treatments.

What can a patient do to ensure that she benefits as much as possible from osteopathic treatment?

The philosophy of osteopathy it is a tool to aid the body’s natural healing process, hence the patient also needs to work with us to accelerate healing. This may involve being prepared to break bad postural habits, increase activity levels and follow an exercise rehabilitation programme.

The Osteopathic Centre is at Body With Soul, 44 Rochester Park, 6779 0660; Level 23 Chevron House, 9760 1556; and 22 Siglap Drive, #01-02 Bowmont Centre, 6446 7236

Material World was invited for a trial at The Ostepathic Centre and was not paid for this review. All opinions are the author’s own. 

About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.