Deborah Tan, Opinions

The Fitness Story I’ve Been Afraid To Write – Deborah Tan

Do you feel guilty for not embracing fitness like a super athlete? Deborah Tan wants you to know that you are definitely not alone.

Why do some of us find it so hard to embrace fitness?

Why do some of us find it so hard to embrace fitness?

It’s Monday. The beginning of the week is often identified as the best time to get started on a fitness programme or a diet goal. However, I would like to talk about something that have been plaguing me for months, something that’s been eating away at my self-esteem and, to a certain degree, my health. Before I begin, however, I would like to clarify that what I am about to write is a personal response to what I am seeing and feeling, and in no way is it an attempt to diminish anybody’s efforts to get healthier or fitter.

I feel like a rebellious child talking about this: whenever people talk about fitness, eating clean, cutting carbs, losing weight, gaining muscle mass, shedding a dress size, etc., the feeling that wells up inside of me is not, “Yes, I should get my act together.” Rather, it is, “I’m totally going to do the opposite.” I cannot explain why I have developed this repulsion towards fitness. I’m not sure when it began and what sparked it off.

I have been trying to write about this topic but have aborted a couple of attempts prior to this one because I didn’t want to sound like I’m trying to tell people what to do with their bodies. But I need to talk about this because I’m trying to explain why I feel the way I do. I don’t resent anyone for embracing fitness, for doing what they think is best for their bodies. I just want to know why I’m not inspired to do the same.

This Is Difficult To Write
First, this is a topic that I’ve been struggling to write about because whenever I got started, I would find myself backtracking or deleting bits that contradicted with other bits. On one hand, I believe that we all need to exercise and to eat as healthily as we can. On the other, I hate it whenever people talk about their weight. Whenever people go, “I am 60kg, I want to lose 10kg”, I just want to wrap my hands around their necks, shake them violently and scream, “I AM 70KG AND I THINK I’M FINE. WHY WOULD YOU THINK YOU ARE NOT?!?!?” Then a small voice in my head would chide me and go, “What’s it to you?”

I get it. It’s not my business to tell people what they should do with their health and bodies.

But why do I feel so oppressed, so bitter, so frustrated and so annoyed at anyone who is trying to achieve greatness with their bodies?

I want to hang up my trainers for good.

I want to hang up my trainers for good.

The Fitness Inspiration That Isn’t Inspiring Me At All
If fitspo is meant to inspire lazy bums like me to embrace fitness, then I must possess an inborn immunity against it. Whenever I see motivational messages superimposed on images of sweaty, toned, strong bodies on Instagram and Facebook, I just want to shout, “STOP!!” I can’t appreciate cheesy quotes like, “Sweat is fat crying”, “Pain is weakness leaving your body”, “1 hour is just 4% of your day” etc. When I see them, I just want to go, “Give me a McSpicy Extra Value Meal. UPSIZED!”

It used to be that we just need to exercise 30 minutes a day, try to eat 5 servings of fruit and veggies, and cut down on sugar and junk food. Now, when I go on Facebook, I’m confronted with status updates of people able to do the 300 Workout in under 6 minutes (whatever that means), with articles on how to eat clean, and selfies taken at the gym.

To me, fitness is starting to feel like the new “designer handbags”. Once, it was all about people flaunting their shopping. Today, it’s people flaunting their superhuman willpower and discipline. For those of us who just “do the bare minimal”, over-the-top fitness is the passport into an exclusive club where the members are all laughing at the rest of us for simply being … human.

I Do Want To Be In Good Shape But
I’m not rejecting good health. I appreciate the after-effects a good workout gives me. However, I constantly feel like I’m not doing enough. Yes, I know someone else can turn this around and say, “It’s just like how you’ve made your Work a priority, so I should be able to make my Health a priority.” But … why does Fitness feel so much more oppressive than say, Career, Family, Children, Education, etc? The only thing I can think of is that there is an element of competitiveness about it. “Hey! I can lift 15kg! Can you?” It’s not something I want to compete in but why do I feel like a lesser human being for not obsessing over it? I don’t know … I just don’t know what to say.

I don’t have a body image crisis. I do think I look good. But whenever I hear people bemoan how they are not losing enough weight, not pushing themselves hard enough, not eating clean enough, I feel I have no right to celebrate myself. I feel like I’m the one who’s in denial and that I should really lock myself up in a cell and not let myself be seen in public.

When is enough enough for these hardcore fitness bunnies? In a way, fitness-related posts on social media are doing the exact opposite of inspiring people to work out – to me, they feel more like fitness bullying. I don’t want to talk about fitness the way everyone is doing on social media where it’s all about going harder and becoming stronger. It’s like fitness is the new anorexia club, only instead of becoming thin through not eating, we are trying to be “strong and thin” through fitness and, like anorexics, we bask in the “control” and “discipline” we have over our bodies.

I don’t see why I have to strive to run a marathon when I can do 10km and not ache like an elephant has sat on me.

I don’t see why I have to go out of my comfort zone and be in pain when all I want is to work out and be able to string coherent sentences afterwards.

I don’t see why I have to eat clean when I just have to do everything in moderation.

I reject the notion that I have to ache. I reject the notion that I have to practice self-restraint when it comes to food and drinks. I reject the notion that I have to exhibit superhuman levels of discipline and willpower in order to see results.

I mean … is it really not possible for me to just do the bare minimal and look good?

Do you feel the same as I about this topic? What is it about fitness talk on social media that upsets you?

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. Every time she tries to get back to fitness, her bronchitis acts up – she believes this is her body telling her that it is allergic to exercise. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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.

Food & Supplements, Health & Fitness, Workouts

6 Ways To Lose Weight Without Stepping Into A Gym – Matthew Fam

Not all of us can afford pricey gym memberships. And let’s face it: where do we even find the time? A fit bod may require discipline, diet and exercise – but fret not. The everyday woman can achieve a svelte figure with these six simple ways to lose weight the healthy way.

1. Stair Climbing
Works up a sweat and it’s absolutely free! All you need to do is find a high-rise building close to you (HDB flats are excellent; the higher the better.) Unlike heading out for a run, your exercise plans won’t be halted during a rainstorm. Plus, it’s a great way to suss out the cute guys in your neighbourhood!

Focus on tightening your core and gluteus as you lift your weight each stair. Once you reach the top of the block, take a lift to ground level and repeat. Avoid descending stairs, as the downward impact can strain your knees over time. Climb three times a week for 30 minutes per session, and you’re well on your way to a trimmer physique.

P.S your butt muscles are so going to thank you.

Do you have any idea how much sugar is in packaged fruit juices?

Do you have any idea how much sugar is in packaged fruit juices?

2. Forgo that Fruit Juice!
Here’s a secret that not many of us are aware of: contrary to its health-savvy promise of vitamins what-have-you, packaged fruit juices are a total calorie bomb. And it’s not good calories we’re talking about – these artificially sweetened nectars are packed with sugared syrup!

Go for the real deal (self-blended juices allow you to experiment with various flavours) or swap with regular drinking water. Can’t live without your fruit juice fix? Dilute half a glass with water instead.

3. Fast Food
Sometimes, a girl has got to have her cheeseburger- and that’s cool! You deserve an indulgence every now and then. Blotting oil from your fries may be a tad extreme for some people, so try this simple tip instead: replace your fries for a cup of corn or salad side. Better yet, ditch the carbonated drinks (a medium-sized cup of Cola contains 10 cubes of sugar!) for bottled water.

Just 1-2 teaspoons each day will do!

Just 1-2 teaspoons each day will do!

4. Psyllium Husk
This is the miracle health supplement to look out for. Psyllium Husk is known for its weight loss benefits due to the fibre’s filling nature. The powdered husk draws water in to become a thick, gel-like paste that fills your stomach up, so you’ll eat smaller portions and shed excess weight. It also functions like a scour to gently scrub away bad cholesterol within your intestinal tract, while giving you a hit of fibre in the process.

There are two ways to enjoy it: 1) mix 1 -2 teaspoons of the powdered husk into your breakfast cereal or oatmeal. Alternatively, you may also 2) stir it with water to form a paste. Consume 30 minutes before a meal, so you’ll feel fuller by the time you eat.

Sweet, but oh so dangerous.

Sweet, but oh so dangerous.

5. Caffeine Cravings
I’ll be expecting an angry mob if I ever dare suggest slashing out caffeinated beverages from your diet. But you should know that globs of condensed milk are used in food court or coffee shop varieties. This sabotages the calorie count of some of your favourite drinks.

Take a cup of kopi (black coffee with condensed milk) for example: a small serving racks up 113 calories. No big deal, you say? Have several cups a day, everyday, and your waistline will be paying the price. Try asking for less sugar. Or go sugarless altogether: a serving of Kopi O Kosong (black coffee without milk or sugar) rings in at just five calories.

Shake that booty!

Shake it!

6. Dance Dance Revolution
Okay, not that old school arcade game. I’m talking about you plugging in your amped up mp3 player. In the privacy of your room. Dancing like your life depends on whether you can squeeze in that two-sizes-smaller pair of jeans by tomorrow.

Seriously though, get moving and clock in some cardio with this easy weight-loss method. (I recommend Spotify’s custom playlists to groove to.) Thrash about and even flail your arms- no one’s watching! Just remember to lock your bedroom door when busting those moves: someone once walked in while I was in a bout of vigorous dancing. Awkwarrrd…


So, what methods do YOU use to stay fit and healthy? Share your tips in the comments section!

About the Author: Matthew Fam is a contributing writer of Material World, and has worked at Cosmopolitan Singapore as an intern and freelancer. He writes, performs for the stage, and teaches drama at secondary schools. Matthew enjoys museum visits, origami, and is passionate about Singaporean Theatre.

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2. Let’s Get Moving! – Tan Lili

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Health & Fitness, Workouts

Mission Accomplished: Great Eastern Women’s Run 2013 – Denise Li

If  the number of running events organised in Singapore is any indication, it seems that pounding the pavement is the sport of choice of people in Singapore. This website tells me that there are a whopping 13 running events organised for the month of November alone!

Participants at the Great Eastern Women's Run 2013 - 10km Category (2125x3200)I’m sure you know by now that all four founders of Material World took part in the Great Eastern Women’s Run just yesterday morning. I don’t compete often, but I have to say, I always enjoy the GE Women’s Run, as the atmosphere is always friendly and encouraging – which is not always the case, especially in mixed-gender races. The latter tends to have a more competitive vibe and gets a little intimidating at times. The other thing I like about the GE Women’s Run is that the routes are always well-planned and scenic. This goes a long way in tempering that monotony that sets in during a long run.

Besides the route, there are other factors that make the GE Women’s Run one of the top running events in Singapore, in my opinion, such as …

– Lively carnival atmosphere.This year, there was a powder room where runners could go and freshen up after their runs. There were also stalls offering Nando’s chicken, as well as free muffins and hot dogs for them to refuel.

– A massage station, courtesy of Tiger Balm Active. Seriously, those legs will be in desperate need of a rubdown after running for two hours straight.

– Well-placed hydration points. There was one after every kilometre along the route.

– Pacers. This was the first year that pacers were introduced into the race and it was definitely useful for people who had aimed to run the race in under 2hr30min, 2hr20min and 2hr10min respectively as it helped them better plan their run.

So what exactly did Material World’s founders learn from running a half-marathon (it was the first time for myself, Vanessa, and Deborah)?


MW’s founders proudly donning their finisher’s tee!

Vanessa: “For this half marathon, I told myself that I want to run the entire route without walking and I did it! How? Through a combination of motivational music, self-encouragement and looking around for things I can be grateful for – the cool air, Nature and my good health. Running the half-marathon has reinforced my belief that optimism and a sense of gratitude can help get us through any tough situations!”

Lili: “My willpower has been truly stretched and tested during this year’s GE run. While I’ve taken part in many 10km runs before, I’ve only participated in one other 21km run – during which I walked for about 20km. To say I trained well for this year’s run would be a great lie; I’d just come back from a 10-day Taiwan binge-fest just two days before the race, and I had only run once or twice a week in the months building up to it. In the morning of the run, however, I told myself that running a half-marathon under three hours is something I’d want to fulfill before turning 30. With that in mind, I felt all pumped up and ready to race myself – not anyone else – at the starting line. I was off to a great start, but at the 17-18km mark, I was thisclose to giving up and just limping slowly towards the finishing line. That was where the power of mind over matter came in; I reminded myself of my personal goal, and that really egged me on to keep on jogging. I’m glad I did, because I can now check one item off my “Before 30″ list! I’ve learned that when you set a goal for YOURSELF, your resolve will strengthen – even if your body starts to weaken. Now, on to pamper my poor, achy body …”

Deborah: “Can I be honest and just say, ‘Nothing’? I would love to say how doing a long distance run has taught me things about endurance, perseverance, and determination. But I already knew about all these even before this half-marathon. Deep down, I have always known this about myself: that if I put my mind into doing something, I would eventually get it done. I am never one to get distracted by the people around me so it wasn’t even about focusing on my pace. This half-marathon – if anything – is just a physical representation of what I’m like on the inside.”

Denise: “I learnt that a little healthy competition can be a huge motivating factor to get things done. I’m a pretty chill person about 90% of the time, but I’ve realised that the ‘alpha’ part of my personality really emerges when it comes to sports. That was probably what propelled me through this run, especially when the going got tough about two-thirds into the race. Although I was tempted to start walking, I didn’t do so when I realised that no one else around me was walking. Instead, I focused on one person in front of me and worked on either pacing her or overtaking her. In the end, I finished the race in 2hr17min, well under my goal of two and a half hours. I think part of the reason why people fall off the fitness bandwagon is because many of them don’t really have a goal they’re working towards; signing up for a race or competition can be wonderfully motivating and I definitely recommend it to anyone who needs the push to keep training.”

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. Her next goal is to run a 10k in under 50 minutes. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.

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Friends, Relationships

The Power Of Peer Pressure – Vanessa Tai

In about a month, I will be running my first 21km race, together with the other Material World founders. Now if you know me personally, you’ll know that I used to hate running. As Denise mentioned in her post, it’s a monotonous activity – “when you’re pounding the pavement, every second feels like a minute.” So how did I transform from being a non-runner to being a half-marathon participant?

Peer pressure.

I may be yawning but at least I made it!

I may be yawning but at least I made it!

On my birthday this year, Debs and Lili eschewed the traditional birthday cake-and-beer route and dragged me to the running track instead. There, I discovered that running with friends isn’t as boring as running alone. In fact, it can actually spur you on to run more (hey, if they’re not stopping, neither am I!) From that day on, one thing led to another and I soon found myself running almost every day with Debs, waking up at ungodly hours and actually -gasp- downloading running apps and setting training goals. While I’m still not confident about finishing the race with a decent timing, I’ve definitely noticed a marked improvement in my fitness levels. For one, I can run longer distances without getting worn out and my energy levels are definitely way higher. But for me, the real bonus is how my clothes aren’t as tight-fitting as before … score!

According to Celestine Chua, founder and life coach at Personal Excellence, positive peer pressure is when “your friend encourages you to take action in an area of your life which you’ve been neglecting or are doing poorly in,” or when “your friend accounts you to goals that you’ve set for yourself.” This is certainly true with regard to my newfound running habit. If it wasn’t for the constant cajoling of Debs and Lili (I use cajoling here, but we all know some bribery was involved), I wouldn’t have started running and subsequently reaped its many benefits.

Of course, there is negative peer pressure as well, which I’m sure most of us would have experienced at one point in our lives. As we grow older, peer pressure is no longer the stereotypical scenario of your friends persuading you to try a cigarette or to nick a few items from the drugstore. It’s subtler, but no less toxic. In a not so distant past, I used to feel very pressured to keep up with appearances because of the company I kept. This meant buying designer goods and dining at expensive restaurants even though I could scarcely afford it.

Do you feel pressured to keep up with your friends?

Do you feel pressured to keep up with your friends?

Because I was relentlessly comparing myself to the people around me, I often felt frustrated and miserable. According to Chua, constantly comparing ourselves to others is actually a reflection of our own insecurities. Unfortunately, constant comparing only feeds the insecurity and doesn’t solve the problem. Here’s what she suggests:

Focus on solving those insecurities at the root. For example, if you are always comparing how others are in great relationships but not you, then work on attracting a compatible partner into your life. Secondly, focus on being the best version of yourself and live your best life by mapping out your personal goals and achieving them.”

As for me, I soon found my own voice and beliefs by forcing myself out of my comfort zone and taking part in various activities on my own. When you’re not hiding behind your friends’ achievements, you start to discover things that you’re good at and what you truly believe in (versus what your friends influence you to believe.)

Regina George ... the most toxic friend there is!

Regina George … the most toxic friend there is!

If you’re reading this and feeling vexed over certain friendships, ask yourself these questions:

1. Is your friendship causing you more anguish than joy?
2. Is he/she putting in little or no effort in the relationship?
3. Does the same issue keep cropping up even though you’ve tried addressing it previously?
4. Does your friend constantly expect you to adhere to his/her lifestyle?
5. Is the friendship preventing either of you from growing as individuals?

If you answered “Yes” to any of the above questions, perhaps it’s time to re-think your friendship. We each have a limited time on Earth; why spend it with people who make us feel lousy?

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 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. She likes her friendships the way she likes her beauty-regime – low-maintenance but effective. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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Food News, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle, Workouts

Sunday Healthy Sunday

What’s your favourite thing to do on a Sunday morning? Sleep in? No judgement here, because all of Material World’s founders are guilty of doing just that too! But we found ourselves mixing it up last Sunday with our “yoga in the park” event, which we jointly organised with the good folks at Wawawa Bistro.

The weather looked quite threatening when we woke up that morning. In fact, it was raining in the West side of Singapore, where Deborah and Vanessa were coming from. Though it was cloudy in the East, the rained held at Bedok Reservoir … at least until we were done with yoga!

The lovely (and super toned) Jingshi, yoga teacher

The lovely (and super toned) Jingshi, yoga teacher

Our 21 participants arrived early or punctually for the event (good job, guys!), which was due to start at 10.15am for the class led by Lu Jingshi, who currently teachers yoga at Yoga Movement and Viva Fit. She’s been a yoga teacher for four years now and says of her job, “After teaching a few classes, I really enjoyed it and decided to make a career out of it, as it’s hard to find a job you truly love! It’s very fulfilling too when you see the happy faces of your students who managed to do challenging postures, or experience benefits from their practice with your assistance.”

Esther, one of the participants of our yoga event last Sunday

Esther, one of the participants of our yoga event last Sunday

Most of the participants were new to yoga, and wanted to use this opportunity to find out if it was for them. One of them is Esther, 29, who says, “My exercise regime involves swimming and pole-dancing once a week each. Today’s my first time trying yoga!”

The class covered the basics of yoga, which included a basic vinyasa sequence, sun salutations, as well as ab- and leg-strengthening exercises, all expertly guided by Jingshi. Actually, it was hard to tell that many participants were doing yoga for the first time, as most seemed to be holding the poses really well!

The outdoor area just behind Wawawa Bistro at Bedok Reservoir proved to be a great location for a spot of outdoor yoga, with some shade provided by surrounding trees. It happened to be breezy as well (thanks to the impending thunderstorm), which helped make the experience really enjoyable. Jingshi put it best when she said, “I think it is fantastic to be able to do yoga in the open and close to nature. Yoga focuses on connecting the breath with the mind and body, so it’s important that the practice environment is open with a good supply of fresh, clean air. Unfortunately, most studios are unable to provide fresh air as classes are conducted in an enclosed space.”

Hard at work doing the chair pose

Hard at work doing the chair pose

Denise and Vanessa get in on the action too. Denise is, anyway ... we're not exactly sure what Vanessa's doing!

Denise and Vanessa get in on the action too. Denise is, anyway … we’re not exactly sure what Vanessa’s doing!


Fitness, friends, and food … what more do you need?

After an hour of hard work, it was time for brunch! Wawawa Bistro had a healthy brunch tailor-made just for this event. We started with a light wild rocket salad, which was tossed with berries and almond toast in a grapefruit balsamic dressing. It was really refreshing – great for whetting the tastebuds for the mains.

Wild Rocket Salad

Wild rocket salad

For the main course, participants had a choice of either the honey chicken breast, or a grilled salmon. The chicken breast was served with marinated vegetables and a lemon sauce that gave the dish a nice zing. The salmon proved to be a hit, with participants commenting that it was well-cooked and satisfying.

Honey chicken breast

Honey chicken breast

What’s a good meal without a sweet ending? We had a choice of fresh fruit or blueberry yoghurt for a creamy and guilt-free end to a great meal.

Blueberry yoghurt

Blueberry yoghurt

Though it started to rain halfway through the meal, it did nothing to dampen the high spirits of the participants who took the opportunity to make new friends or take the chance to catch up with old ones. The relaxing ambience of Wawawa Bistro, coupled with the lovely surrounding greenery of Bedok Reservoir certainly made it a conducive environment to rest, relax and mingle!

To cap it all off, the kind folks at Maybelline prepared a goodie bag for each of our participants to take home! The goodie bag included a Baby Lips Dr Rescue in Pink Glow, $6.90, which heals dry and chapped lips while giving it a hint of colour, as well as Clear Smooth BB UV White Cream,$17.90. The latter promises to even out your skin tone, minimise the appearance of pores, hydrate the skin, conceal imperfections and much more. Plus, with SPF50/PA+++, it protects skin well from damaging UV rays too. it’s a steal of a beauty product at just $17.90, we think!

Maybelline Clear Smooth BB UV White Cream, $17.90

Maybelline Clear Smooth BB UV White Cream, $17.90

Happy participants with their Maybelline goodie bags!

Thank you, Maybelline!

What a fab way to spend a Sunday. It’s (almost) making us rethink our habit of sleeping in. 😉

Wawawa Bistro is at 901 Bedok Reservoir Road. Tel: 6285 8038. Read our review of its regular menu in this post.

Maybelline is available at Watsons and Guardian pharmacies. 

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My 3-Day Vegetarian Challenge

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Food & Supplements, Food News, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle

My 3-Day Vegetarian Challenge – Denise Li

I had been toying with the idea of going vegetarian for awhile after I read a series of articles about the cruelty involved in the meat industry. I’ve also familiarised myself with all the arguments making the case for vegetarianism; excessive consumption of meat can have detrimental effects on the environment and your health (Vanessa has written about it in detail in this post, too).But ultimately, it’s the cruel treatment of animals (such as making cows walk to their deaths down narrow corridors so they can’t turn back around) that really weighs heavily on my conscience. Also, I have two dogs that I love very much. If I can feel empathy for them, surely this sense of empathy should be extended to other four-legged creatures as well?

But it’s all too easy to push all of that to the back of my mind when a delicious Wagyu steak is presented in front of me. I can’t deny it – I love me a good steak. I love my char siew, pork belly and bak kut teh. I live to eat, and it’s hard to imagine cutting meat out of my life altogether. But I am also NOT OKAY with the fact that animals are bred to die, and know nothing but horrific living conditions in their short time on Earth.

So when the folks from Full Circle PR, who does the PR for Mediterranean vegetarian restaurant Pita Pan asked if I wanted to take up a three-day vegetarian challenge, I jumped at the chance. They were on the lookout for active people to go on this challenge to see if a vegetarian diet could complement their lifestyles.

For three days, I had food prepared by Pita Pan for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with the menu planned based on my workout schedule of between 1 to 1.5 hours a day. Breakfast was usually one of their shakshoukas (eggs poached in tomatoes, chilli peppers and onions), accompanied by freshly squeezed juice. Lunch and dinner would comprise a main (such as pizza or falafel with pita) and a salad. Here were some of my favourite dishes:

Green Shakshuka, $13.90

Green Shakshuka, $13.90

I LOVED all of Pita Pan three Shakshouka dishes, but the green one was my favourite. Its main ingredient is baby spinach, which is chockfull of nutrients such as vitamins A, B2, B6, C and K, as well as omega-3 fatty acids and trace minerals. The eggs also gave a dish a much-needed protein fix. It’s really the perfect dish for athletes, really.

Couscous and soup, $11.90

Couscous and soup, $11.90

A tasty, hearty soup accompanied by flavoured cous cous, this makes for a very filling and satisfying post-workout meal. The soup also has a good mix of vegetables (carrots, cauliflower and more), as well as chickpeaks for protein.

Another dish I loved is the pita bread filled with veggie shawarma, $17.90. The shawarma is made from high-grade soy, and perfectly replicates the texture and taste of lamb. I’m not usually a fan of mock-meats, but this one is definitely a winner. The good ol’ Margherita pizza, $12.90, was also well-done here. The crust was thin and crispy and it came with a generous amount of cheese.


I had expected to feel “deprived” for the three days that I had fully vegetarian meals at Pita Pan, but it turned out that my fears were totally unfounded. The portions at Pita Pan are generous for their reasonable prices, tasted amazing and kept me full for a long time as some of the options are rich in protein. Perhaps the one thing that weight-cutting athletes might take issue with is that the meals can be quite carb-heavy as almost everything comes with pita bread. If that’s a problem, I’d suggest swapping the white-flour pita for a healthier wholewheat one, or skipping the bread altogether and ordering one of their special Middle Eastern-inspired salads to accompany a main.

I’m not sure if I have it in me to become a full-fledged vegetarian just yet, but I can totally see myself going vegetarian 50 percent of the time. For someone who’s admittedly not the biggest fan of vegetables, I’m glad that Pita Pan’s offerings go beyond just salads. Come to think of it, I found their Middle Eastern/Mediterranean-style salads quite palatable too, as they were chockfull of “chunky” vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers, rather than boring leafy greens.

Pita Pan is at #01-87 The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands and #02-183A Marina Square (The Dining Edition).

Material World was invited to do a three-day challenge with Pita Pan 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. She thinks hummus must be God’s gift to vegetarians. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.

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Why I’ve Stopped Looking at Fitspo – Denise Li

When I joined Pinterest about a year ago, I did it with just one intention: to motivate myself to stay on the health and fitness bandwagon. What better way to do so than by looking at boards full of fit-looking people (fitspo), accompanied by slogans such as “Strong is the new skinny”, right?

Well, I stopped being active on Pinterest roughly about two months after I signed up for my account. Partly because I wasn’t a big fan of the interface, but mostly because I’d decided that it was no longer, well, healthy, to gaze at perfect washboards abs and tight butts. Here are three reasons why fitspo pictures make me feel uncomfortable.

Images like these only serve to further objectify women.

Images like these only serve to further objectify women.

1. A lot of the pictures feature women wearing very little

Most of the fitness models in the pictures are wearing nothing but g-strings and tiny bikini tops and most disturbingly, the shots usually chop off her head, thus turning the attention to parts of the female anatomy. To me, this is nothing but yet another clear instance of the objectification of the female body, and I felt uncomfortable being complicit to that. The message seems to be “If I work out and get fit and toned, I will be more attractive to men.” You don’t need me to tell you how wrong that mentality is, do you? Fitspo pics merely elevate yet another unrealistic beauty ideal over others, taking us a huge step backwards in the fight for body acceptance.

2. Not all fit bodies look the same

There’s a theory that that are three body types: ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorphs. Ectomorphs are the naturally skinny types who find it hard to gain weight and muscle. Endomorphs tend to be rounder and stockier in body shape, while mesomorphs have naturally athletic figures that gain muscle and get toned very quickly. Because of the different fat percentage and muscle mass these three types of body have, the same workout will produce very different results in each of them. But just because the mesomorphs will probably be the first to see results among the three body types doesn’t mean that ectomorphs and endomorphs aren’t fit. My point: it’s not a good idea to use how a person looks as a measure of his or her fitness. And you should definitely not unnecessarily torture yourself by holding yourself to those standards. Fit bodies can take all shapes and forms and if you’re fit and active person, why beat yourself up over the fact that you don’t have a six-pack? Case in point: Sumo wrestlers. They may not look like Usain Bolt, but they are amazing athletes in their own right. This point kinda ties in with my last point, which is this …

3. Fitspo only highlight one benefit of fitness

Throughout the most part of my 20s, I tried and failed many times to maintain a consistent fitness regime. My motivation for starting again had always been: to lose a few kilos to look better. I did not enjoy running or going to the gym. So after a month or two, I simply lost the willpower and discipline to maintain my regime. But I’m happy to report that I’ve been exercising regularly for the past four years or so now. Why? Because for the first time in my life, I felt truly engaged and interested in the sports of my choice (muay thai and boxing). To say that I wasn’t at least partially motivated to look better would be a lie, but the desire to get better at what I did was definitely the bigger push factor in maintaining consistency. Because of that, I began to see improvement in other areas of my life; I could focus better at work, my self-esteem improved tremendously, I was happier knowing that I had something enjoyable to do at the end of each day, and I derived immense satisfaction from the other non-work related goal in my life.

Maintaining my fitness, in short, gave me a renewed passion for life. And that’s something no picture – rippling muscles and tight butt notwithstanding – will ever be able to convey.

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. The only person she aspires to be is a better version of herself. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.

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5 Life Lessons I Learnt From Boxing – Denise Li

Also, protect yourself at all times.

Also, protect yourself at all times.

At my boxing gym, we usually end the one hour session with about five minutes of sparring. We’d spar with our partners for about a minute and, after the minute is up, we’d switch partners.

Now, boxing is one of those skills that’s relatively easy to pick up … but hard to master. There are only a few basic moves (the jab, cross, hook and uppercut) but it’s also extremely technical, with lots of footwork and head movements involved. The best way to pick these up is by sparring. After all, you can spend hours and hours hitting a bag, but at the end of the day, the bag doesn’t hit back (as my coaches are so fond of telling me).

As I write this, I am still recovering from the sting of having my ass roundly kicked by one of my sparring partners a couple of days ago. I wasn’t physically hurt, but my ego did take a bit of a beating. As I pondered about the best way to deal with my “defeat”, I realised that there have been a number of lessons about life I’ve learnt in my years of doing martial arts, which I think is worth sharing, here.

1. There Will ALWAYS Be Someone Better Than You


I’ve sparred with people (men and women) of all levels and it can be disheartening to spar with someone who outclasses you by a mile. You’ll start to question all the training you’ve done and start wondering whether you simply dreamed about the skills you thought you had. Though self-doubt is one of the most uncomfortable feelings ever, I think it can be healthy so long as you don’t let yourself get bogged down by it.

There will  only be a few people (Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Hilary Clinton) that will be at the top of the game, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us should stop trying. What boxing taught me is that I can choose to let myself get intimidated by a bit of friendly competition, or I can step up my game and do better than I did during the previous session.

I take heart in the fact that there is always someone better than me (in boxing, and in life) because it assures me that striving to become better isn’t impossible. After all, if someone else has done it before, then so can I. Life becomes meaningless the moment you stop striving.

2. To Achieve Your Goal, Be Prepared To Do Things You Don’t Like


Though I hate doing them, I know strength and conditioning exercises are crucial for every boxer to build a strong core and better stability as there’s a lot of fancy footwork that’s involved in the sport. Squats and burpees are my Archille’s heel, but I’ve learnt to grit my teeth and push myself through each of the excruciating exercises. Whenever I find myself losing focus, I remind myself about why I put myself through this sort of torture: To become a well-rounded boxer.

Does that sound a bit like work? I think there are definitely some similarities. At work, most of us are required to wear many hats. Administrator one minute, social media strategist the next, report-writer in yet another. It won’t be fun and games all the time – duh, that’s why it’s called “work” – and the sooner you make peace with this the better. No matter how unpleasant the task, try to put a positive spin on it: Will this make you more efficient in the long run? Will this help you touch base with contacts that will prove useful in the future? You never know.

(Of course, if it involves a moral and ethical issue and you’re not prepared to put aside your principles to get something done, then don’t do it.)

3. Know When To Step Back


When I first started learning martial arts, I was doing muay thai (kickboxing). I had to switch to pure boxing (which only involves punching) after I’d injured my left knee during muay thai sparring just over a year ago. I’m pretty sure the injury happened because I was over-training – I was putting in one and half hours a day of full-on training, three to four times a week. Couple that with an exhausting full-time office job and not enough sleep and it was a recipe for disaster. Just before the injury, I could feel that I was on the brink of over-straining my  ligaments, but I neglected to listen to my body, and got myself hurt as a result.

Two lessons here: (1) It can be counter-productive pushing yourself beyond your limits. Sometimes, you might function better trying to squeeze in doing less in a day and instead, giving your body and mind a chance to recharge through a good night’s sleep. (2) An unfortunate incident can be a happy accident. My injury put me out of commission for a couple of months, and when I returned to training, I decided to focus just on boxing rather than muay thai. Now, boxing is my one true (sporty) love.

4. Be Prepared To Change Your Strategy

Most boxers have a certain “style” they find it difficult to deviate from, probably because a certain series of moves and combinations have worked well for them in the past. But just because a combination works on the first 10 people you compete against doesn’t guarantee that it’ll work against the 11th.

The key words here are “adaptability” and “flexibility”. Plans are great, but with so many factors at stake, it’s so easy for plans to go off the rails. You have to be prepared to change your strategy when a particular course of action isn’t working out for you, instead of stubbornly sticking to the original plan. Life’s full of curveballs and you must be ready to change your game plan at any minute … or you’ll put yourself at risk of being knocked out. (Literally and metaphorically)

5. Lastly … No, You Won’t Be Able To Use Your Moves In a Street Fight

Image: Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li

Reality check: Even if you’ve been training for years, do NOT under any circumstances stay and engage during a street fight. You’ll never find me a YouTube video titled “Girl takes on three burly guys … and wins”, contrary to what my friends think I can do.

If you ever find yourself being attacked, the two best strategies for getting out of it alive are:

(1)   Slash and run. My friends tease me for this, but having travelled alone for a bit, I’m not one to take my chances. If you’re walking home alone late at night, hold your house key between your middle and fourth fingers. If someone attacks you unexpectedly, slash him in the face with the key, then make a run for it. Failing which …

(2)   Kick him in the nuts. And then run.

That's me and my fiance Alain. But we only fight like this when we're in the gym.

That’s me and my fiance Alain. But we only fight like this when we’re in the gym.

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. She’s determined to step into the boxing ring one day. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.

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THIS Activity Is As Hard As Finding Love – Denise Li

Just recently – the Monday of this week, in fact – I embarked on a new relationship. It is my fourth one in four years, and I am tired. Tired of looking, feeling hopeful, and then, inevitably, having to deal with the eventual disappointment. After my first love unceremoniously dumped me with nary a warning about a year ago, it’s been one tumultuous relationship after another. Each and everyone of them had their pros and cons. I tried my best to make them all work. But in the end, something had to give. I’m not even sure if it was them or me. But I knew in my heart of hearts each and every time that it was time for us to part ways. Some people have suggested that I should be by myself for a little while. But I don’t like being alone, I am – in fact – a bona fide serial monogamist.

Looking for a new gym is exhausting and mentally draining business, I tell you. And having “serial-dated” quite a few gyms in Singapore, I think I’m well-qualified to offer a few tips as to have you should go about looking for the right one for you.

couplegymYou know how people say that while there is no such thing as the perfect man, there is a perfect man out there for you. The same concept applies with a gym. Fitness is not a one-size-fits-all thing. Some folks might reap the benefits of hiring a personal trainer and working out in a chain gym. Others might prefer the warm and communal atmosphere of a yoga studio. And there are the Crossfit or Insanity workout folks who enjoy nothing more than being pushing themselves to their ultimate physical limits.

And with that, let’s delve into the questions you should ask yourself when you’re on the hunt for the perfect gym.

“Am I ready to explore my options?”

So most people wouldn’t settle with the first “okay” person they come across, and that’s good, cos it shows you have standards. With the number of gym options out there, you need to play the field to find out what it is you want out of your fitness regime. You never have to compromise. If you are a busy person who needs a gym with a flexible schedule, by all means, check out some of the chain gyms out there. These gyms will have multiple outlets you can visit and within each, a large variety of classes (Body Combat, spinning, yoga, etc) you can attend. If there’s a certain discipline or skill you would like to pick up, do visit the various martial arts gyms or yoga studios. If it’s maximum results you’re after but do not have a lot of time to spare, it might do you well to opt for a fitness bootcamp. Take the time to figure out what you like best. If you’re in this for the long haul, you’d better enjoy it!

“How do I feel after the first date?”

Most gyms here do offer trial periods or classes for free or at a discounted rate. There are also loads of offers on group-buying sites. Use these trial classes to get a feel of whats out there. When you’re at the gym, do take some time to check out facilities that may prove to be important to you in the future. Do the gyms offer multiple showers? Are the gyms clean and sanitary? Other than the facilities needed for you to do your workout when you’re there, what else can the gym offer? And if you’re at a gym which offers group classes: are the trainers clear in their instructions? Are they patient? Do they spare the time and effort to ensure you’re executing the move correctly?

“The vibe seems right … what should I do next?”

It can be very exciting when you and your potential new gym “click”, but hold off signing on the dotted line (and giving them your credit card deets) until you’ve had a good, hard think about whether you’re ready to commit to your new relationship. Some gyms require immediate long-term commitment on the day you sign up (potential creep alert!). Are you sure this is something you’re mentally prepared for? A long-term gym membership that you don’t use – just like a clingy partner – will just keep taking (money from your account) without giving anything in return.

As for me, I have a very good feeling about my new “relationship”. We had instant chemistry and have gone on a few dates, and it seems to be going well so far. I really hope it’s “the one”. I am ready to settle … because the truth is, I’m really just a one-gym kind of girl at heart.

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. She thinks her new gym is amazing, just the way it is. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.

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Friends, Relationships

A Toast To Female Friends – Deborah Tan

Friends who drink together ...

Friends who drink together …

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post about dying friendships. I would just like to make it clear here that I don’t have friendships dropping dead around me every other day. This unfortunate phenomenon happens … maybe … once every couple of years, where many of us experience a life-changing event like marriage, childbirth, relocation etc. Remember the saying, “Your friendship won’t change as long as you understand that friends change”? It is definitely true and something worth bearing in mind. But as and when a relationship does end, you just know it.

Today, I would like to talk about the importance of having female friends.

You are probably curious. Isn’t that like a, “Duh? You’re a woman, of course you have female friends.”

That’s not quite true for my case.

While I have some solid friendships with women, for a period of my life, I found myself more comfortable hanging out with the guys. It wasn’t until my first job in a women’s magazine that righted the male-female balance again. And I’m honestly happy when that happened.

Friendships with women are lauded often, much written about, and portrayed poignantly in mass media from books to movies.

Who else can give you the empathy you need when you just can’t pick yourself up cos it’s “that time of the month”?

And who else will willingly share their egg tart with you?

And who else will willingly share their egg tart with you?

Who else can nod understandingly along as you rant and rave about bitchy co-workers, AND not judge you for putting down your “fellow women”? Who better comprehend the strange dynamics we women have amongst ourselves – where one moment we are all “for the Sisterhood!”, one moment we go, “I wish her nice boyfriend dumps her!”?

Who else can display such indignation on your behalf when you bring up the topic of your exes, or announce that your crush has set his sights on someone else?

Women friends – they may not make sense all the time (like rationalising why it’s okay to spend $5,000 on a bag) but they always make it.

They know when you are ranting, you are not asking for a solution. You are just asking for a listener.

They know when you are feeling insecure about yourself, they should chime in with something positive like, “It’s his loss, you know you are going to find a much better man in 5 minutes!”

A friendship with a man is like possessing a toolbox – you know it’s got the ability to fix many things but you may not always need to take it out.

A friendship with a woman is like wearing a bra – only has one function but without it, everything points down.

Post-run picture! Join us if you can!!

Post-run picture! Join us if you can!!

Having strong ties with your female friends have health benefits too:

1. It’s been found that women with strong social female ties live longer than those without. Those without strong social ties with other women face health risks similar to overweight people or smokers.

2. Time spent with female friends is a great de-stressor. While men have a “fight or flight” response towards stressful situations, women are more likely to “tend and befriend”. Which is why when we are stressed, we tend to our young (and maybe bake some cookies), and seek some face-time with a female friend. When we spend time with our female friends, our bodies naturally produce the hormone oxytocin, which is a natural feel-good hormone that can help mitigate the effects stress has on us.

3. If your female friends have a healthy attitude towards their bodies, you are more likely to feel more attractive too. This shows the impact our girlfriends have on our self-esteem – if positive, this bond can be a powerful thing for our body-confidence. So be sure you are generous with your compliments! There’s nothing that quite makes a woman’s day when she receives something as simple (and genuine) as, “That dress looks great on you!”

The Material World team goes to a running track near the Botanic Gardens to run at least once a week. If you feel like you need some buddies to keep you on track for a fitness goal, why not just pop down and join us? Leave us your name and email address in the form below and we’ll send you a weekly note informing you of the time and place to meet up!

Material World Running Club

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and is really worried that she won’t make it past 12km of her half-marathon. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

Arts & Events, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle, Workouts

Registration For Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2013 Opens Today – Tan Lili


Ever wonder why running events are so popular here? One of the reasons: Despite the mental swearing that often takes place during the run, there’s something immensely satisfying about crossing the finish line.

Forget feeling like a boss; that moment you cross the finish line, you feel like you could be anyone, and you could do anything. However fleeting that moment of delirious joy, it makes you forget the last hour(s) of sweat and agony … at least, until the pain catches up with you the next day. Regardless, you run for that glorious moment – which you can relive over and over again, thanks to the variety of running events held every month in Singapore.

I may or may be listening to Whitney Houston’s “One Moment In Time” as I’m writing this.

Of course, one cannot talk about running events without mentioning THE running event of the year – the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS). This run has a special place in my heart; SCMS 2007 was my very first running event, and I’ve developed a taste for this mass sporting activity ever since.

If you’re also a fan of SCMS, well, the wait is finally over. Registration for this year’s SCMS, which was recently awarded Best Sports Event (Local) at the Singapore Sports Awards 2013, officially opens today. While you can register online from 6pm this evening, do check out the on-site registration at The Event Square, Waterfront Promenade @ Marina Bay, if you’re nearby. The first 300 on-site registrants will get a SEIKO timer alarm clock, while the next 500 will receive a limited-edition gym bag. There will also be lucky draws with 15 SEIKO watches (each worth $494) to be won. Plus, on-site registrants get to enjoy a $5 discount for all categories (except Ekiden).

The participation quotas for the highly popular Half Marathon and Ekiden categories have been increased to 12,000 and 300 respectively. For the latter, only on-site registration is available. This table below shows you the participation quotas for the remaining categories, as well as the registration fees:


Categories / Rates*



Maximum Participation Quota



Direct Mailer Rates (4 July – 12 July)


Early Bird Rates (4 July – 26 July)


Normal Period (27 July – 30 September)

Full Marathon – 42.195km





Half Marathon – 21.1km





10km (Men / Women / Wheelchair)





Kids Dash – 750m





Ekiden – 42.195km (6 runners / team)



*Receive a 15% discount for payments made using Singapore-issued Standard Chartered Bank credit cards.

The on-site registration for the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2013 will be held today, July 4, 2013, at The Event Square, Waterfront Promenade @ Marina Bay (next to Bayfront Link), from 11am – 4pm. You can also register online from 6pm onwards.

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. If you can’t already tell, she is quite a geek at heart too. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets

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