Image and Lifestyle

Fashion, Style, and Professional Impression in Hong Kong

A minute on the lips…

When I was a teenager, someone told me “remember, a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips”.  I think of that now after the holidays when everyone (including myself) is trying to lose 5-10 pounds.  Ugh!  It’s not easy.

Losing just a few pounds requires effort.  You have to REALLY want it.  Fortunately, I’ve already shed 1 KG in 9 days from working out and eating right… feeling slightly hungry before bed, daily sweat sessions and cardio with the jump rope, reducing my intake of refined carbs and processed foods, and increasing my water consumption.  1KG is just 2.2 lbs, but it all adds up.

If you want to lose weight, you definitely can… but you need to be realistic and want it more than you want other lifestyle choices such as sugars, excess food, alcohol, laziness, and comfort.  YOU have control over what your body looks like, and you can choose to build your own body however you want and make a decision to live and eat well.  Maybe you’ve just skimmed over those last few sentences like “blah, blah, blah”… but it’s true that you really have complete control over the way you look.

Some of my tips for trimming up a bit:

  • Drink two large glasses of water after waking up and before meals.
  • Drink 1 large glass of water after each meal.
  • Make sure breakfast is 50% fruits; lunch & dinner are 50% vegetables.
  • Avoid eating and drinking foods that weren’t in existence in the 1800’s (this is a good one).
  • To curb cravings between meals, drink hot tea.
  • Limit fried foods and processed foods as much as possible.
  • Add psyllium husk to foods to increase bulk and aid digestion


Filed under: Belly, Belly and Core, Exercise, Fitness - Motivation, Health, Healthy Eating, Losing Weight, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Look and feel your best in 2011

Resolve to look and feel your best in 2011 with positive changes in your lifestyle, habits, and appearance.  See the below for my take on building a healthier and more attractive body.

1.  Create S.M.A.R.T goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound).  It’s easy to say “I want to lose weight in 2011″ but you need to consider the details.  For example, “I want to lose 4 pounds each month for 5 months so I will be 20 pounds slimmer by June 1st.  I will reduce my caloric intake by 500/day by cutting refined foods (alcohol, candy, white bread) and begin walking at least 20 minutes per day.”  S.M.A.R.T goals will help you achieve.

2.  People in great shape look and feel better.  Would you pay USD$5,000 right now for the body of your dreams?  Of course you would!  Ok, so use that money and purchase a gym membership, personal training, new workout gear/clothes, a kayak, hiking boots, etc.  Commit to your decision to look and feel better.

3. Book an appointment with a dermatologist to discuss products for your age and skin-type.  Maybe you want a few injections or fillers, scars/pigmentation/veins removed, or just need to drink more water and sleep better.  A dermatologist will tell you the truth and hook you up with the products and creams to suit you best.

4.  Find a wonderful salon/spa.  I rave about the Mandarin Oriental Salon (HK) because they are specialists with hair, face, feet, nails, etc.  Invest in a relationship with a wonderful stylist and technician and trust them on beauty and grooming advice.  Look after yourself.

5.  If possible, only buy fresh food.  It’s that simple.  Fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, cheese, dairy, nuts, eggs, tofu, whole grain breads… and even chocolates.  Consider buying chocolates from See’s Candies which expire relatively quickly vs. packaged chocolate that lasts 6-12+ months on the shelf.   Always go fresh and try to avoid needing to open a wrapper to consume your food.

6.  Take care of your wardrobe.  If it has a stain, a hole, reminds you of a bad experience, hasn’t been worn for 2 years, or you just don’t like it – it’s out.  Don’t rationalize or feel guilty for getting rid of it.  Use a dry-cleaning service to ensure your clothes look their best, purchase lint-rollers for home/work/car, take your shoes to the cobbler seasonally for care and upkeep, use jewelry cleaner regularly, and buy quality hangers so your garments hang properly. for my personal shopping and style services.

7.  Smile and de-stress.  Take a holiday, get more sleep, book spa appointments, watch a movie with a glass of wine… do whatever it takes to chill out.  Make your happiness, goals, and health a top priority for the new year.

Filed under: Beauty, Dressing Style Tips, Exercise, Facial, Fitness - Motivation, Grooming, Hair, Health, Healthy Eating, Hong Kong, Losing Weight, Manage stress, Skin care, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Healthy Eating Plan – 3 weeks

Hello Friends,

If you’ve been following along, you’ll know I have just 3 weeks to finalize preparations for a 250K ultra-marathon across The Valley of the Whales in Egypt.  Fitness training aside, nutrition is an important component of being ready for the race.  I will not be reducing my caloric intake or cutting out carbohydrates because 1) I need carbohydrates for energy and 2) I am not trying to lose weight. Rather, I will be cleansing my system to flush all unwanted toxins, perhaps lose 2-3 pounds of body fat, and stock up on essential vitamins and minerals – such as iron.  Therefore, my menu will be void of alcohol, refined sugar, caffeine, and most processed foods – except yogurt, milk, and dried fruits.  Removing the caffeine will be the largest challenge.  Since I am iron deficient (common among female athletes), iron is especially important.  Thus, citrus fruits, beans, nuts, leafy greens, red meat when lean, and iron supplements will be a focus.  The other focus is getting my body as clean and hydrated as the next three weeks will allow.  The following plan still very closely resembles my day-to-day eating plan, built around the principles of ‘clean eating’

7:00 Wake-up; pre-breakfast I always drink 1 large glass of water (which has been poured the night before and sits on my bedside table so I do not forget) as soon as I am out of bed with 1 antioxidant and 1 multivitamin.  This water gets my brain and body moving.

7:15 Breakfast:

  • 1/2 cup uncooked (1 cup when it is cooked) large, rolled oats over the stove-top – not the instant kind – with 1 teaspoon ground flaxseeds, a handful of mixed unsalted almonds and walnuts, approx. 20 blueberries, and a splash of milk
  • 1/4 fresh orange
  • a handful of another fruit – grapes, 1/4 apple, pomelo, etc.
  • large glass of water with round lemon slices

10:30 Portable Snack:

  • 1/2 cup natural yogurt – low fat or regular.  Just basic white yogurt with healthy bacteria like LactobacillusBulgaricusStreptococcus Thermophilus and Lactobacillus Acidophilus.
  • Add: 1/4 fresh fruit – apple, grapes, or blueberries, 6-8 nuts, 2 tablespoons dry muesli or leftover oatmeal from breakfast
  • Tall glass of lemon water

1:30 Lunch:

  • Some kind of veggie stir-fry or lettuce wrapping (light on the oil and sauces, no sugar) with chicken, tofu, scallops, or prawns
  • Bowl of veggie/protein soup such as bean soup, egg & spinach soup, tofu and corn, etc.
  • Small bowl of brown rice
  • Small bowl of steamed choi sum
  • Large mug of hot non-caffeinated tea or hot lemon water

4:00 Snack:

  • Short, steamed milk from Starbucks with a piece of fruit or 1/2 cup of the prepared granola/yogurt/fruit option sold Pure IFC.

6:30-7:00 Dinner:

  • Stick to the plan and avoid fine-dining before the race.  Dinner changes daily but closely resembles lunch.

9:30-10:00  Snack:

  • 1/2 orange, some nuts… maybe a few gulps of milk, etc.  A small amount of food just to calm my hunger pains.
  • Other supplements: Omega-3s/Fishoil, Iron, and round 2 of anti-oxidants. is a wonderful website to help you determine your caloric needs and create an eating plan.

Filed under: Health, Healthy Eating, Losing Weight, Racing, Ultra Marathon, , , , , , , , , , ,

Healthy Eating – Top 10 for Dining Out in Hong Kong

Sichuan Cuisine Da Ping Huo; L/G 49 Hollywood Rd. 2559-1317


A HUGE part of Hong Kong culture is food.  It is a city with food from every corner of the world and every province in China… and it is delicious at every price.  With the average office worker at their desk until past 8pm, many people hardly have the energy to fix dinner at home – so we go out to eat.  A lot.  Staying trim when you live off menus requires a bit of restraint and skill.  I will give you my personal tips for healthy fine dining, casual lunch on-to-go, and snacking. 

 1.  Take control over where you eat.  If your partner or group is craving drinks and bar snacks, suggest a restaurant that has drinks and a festive environment… but healthy options as well.  Mexican, for example, is a good choice.  Fajitas with a diet coke won’t do damage… and your friends can enjoy margaritas and nachos in bliss.  

 2.  Share, split, divide… and conquer!  People in Asia love to share food – family style.  Take advantage of this and be sure to order something different from your companion for variety and nutritional balance.  Fine dining western restaurants in HK see nothing unusual about this either.  Steak, ribs, pasta, bowls of noodles, salads, fish –> all share-worthy and most restaurants will even split it for you in the kitchen.  One entrée with 2 sides of vegetables is usually enough for 2 people. 

 3.  Most restaurants do not put sides of vegetables on their menus.  But, ask and you shall receive.  Make sure to specify that you are trying to be healthy and would they please not use any butter or oil on the steamed vegetables?  Restaurants want to please you – so just ask. 

 4.  Healthy snacking on-the-go?  Short, skim lattes; an apple in the gym/hand bag; whole-wheat roll from bakery – eat half and throw the rest away; pint of milk from the 7/11; a Ziploc bag with 2 handfuls of mixed nuts; a can of protein shake or Slim-Fast carried with you and added to a glass of ice later in the day; buy your lunch and eat half at 10:30; half at 2:00.  

 5.  Sparkling water.  Order a large bottle when you sit down to eat and the bubbles help fill you up.  Add lemons and limes for flavor.  Continue to sip water between bites and dishes to help become full and aid digestion.  Plus, most restaurants use too much salt, so this helps balance your fluids and bloating. 

 6.  Talk to your waiter/waitress.  What is healthy?  What are your fresh vegetables today?  What do you recommend?  People in Hong Kong sometimes have long discussions with their table servers about what to order and dish modifications.  And, they will tell you if you have ordered too much food.  Or, ask them “is this too much food for 2 people?”  You can always order more….  By the way, they only bring the check and come to the table when you flag them down.  This is the HK way of being polite. 

7.   Utensils are helpful.  Eating with chopsticks forces you to carefully pick up each morsel of food.  If you are using a knife and fork, place them down while you chew your food so you aren’t in a continuous eating motion.  You might consider asking for your utensils to be removed altogether so you literally cannot eat anymore.  If people have ordered cake and you really don’t want to eat it, ask the server to take your dessert fork.  Putting your fork and knife in the “finished” position will ensure the whole plate is removed quickly.  Send it away when the thought crosses your mind to avoid cleaning your plate.  Out of sight, out of belly.

 8.  Make reservations.  Request a table at the restaurant of your choice.  Control over your meal will help you anticipate what you will order during the day.  Book a table with a view so you have something else to look at and talk about and the focus is on the conversation instead of the food. 

 9.  Wine, bread, & dessert.   Truthfully, I have never sent away an approaching bread basket.  Who can resist hot bread?  I try each variety they offer, eating about 1/3 of the piece…with a bit of butter.  Then, ask them to remove it once I’ve had my fix.  One glass of wine won’t hurt, and dessert is perfect for sharing with a cup of peppermint tea to aid digestion.  You have to enjoy food… in moderation.

10.  Eating dinner early is healthier and can save you money at many Hong Kong restaurants.  Check with your favorite places for their early bird specials and set-dinners.  The prices are lower, the food is lighter, and you are home, showered, and in bed by 9:30 for your 6am wake-up to go exercise.  🙂

Filed under: Healthy Eating, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

Healthy Eating in Hong Kong – Your Helper Helps

Hello Friends,

One of the wonderful aspects of living in Hong Kong is the relative ease of employing a full-time, live-in “helper” to assist with domestic duties such as house work, grocery shopping, and cooking.  Ahh…groceries and cooking!  Those last two subjects are the downfall for most of our healthy diet disasters.  If you employ a helper, or perhaps you have a partner with a knack for cooking, it is essential to discuss your diet concerns so he/she may take over the grocery-list and meal preparation, thereby eliminating your home temptations.  Below with my personal preferences for managing a healthy home diet:

1.  Mutual respect and appreciation are essential.  Not every meal will be perfect, but always thank the cook.

2.  Tear out healthy recipes from magazines (Clean Eating, Healthy Living, etc) and discuss them together to make sure you have the proper tools and ingredients.  Make a folder of the meals which are OK and list foods which are not in your healthy eating plan.

3.  Ask your helper/partner to write down the list of healthy groceries (then stick to it) or make arrangements for him/her to do the bulk of the grocery shopping.  If you go to the store yourself, try to stay to the outside perimeters where all the chilled and fresh items are found… avoiding the inner aisles where temptation awaits.  I try to go to fresh markets or less expensive stores for fruits and veggies… broccoli should cost about HK$4.00, not $50!

4.  Similar to pt. 3 above, try to ensure the majority of your foods are not from a can, box, or bag.  The less processing and the fewer the preservatives, the healthier it will be. 

5.  Ideally, your helper/partner will also prepare your breakfast.  Breakfasts at home are always healthier. The following is my everyday breakfast: 

  • hot tea (with a splash of whole milk)
  • 1 large glass of water
  • 1 cup cooked steel-cut oats made on the stove (3 minutes) with half water and half skim milk
  • handful blueberries
  • handful of walnuts or almonds
  • 1 teaspoon ground flaxseed
  • a plate of fresh fruit which my fiance and I share
  • OR, alternatively I will prepare a protein shake if I have had a large dinner the previous evening

6.  Lunches and dinners are up to the cook depending upon available ingredients, but all follow these guidelines:

  • Each meal is at least 50% vegetable
  • One small plate of steamed green veggies at each meal: choi sum, broccoli, green beans, etc. (eat first while hot)
  • Brown rice instead of white rice.  Whole grain pasta instead of white pasta.  Sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, etc.
  • Nothing fried.  We use non-stick pans which eliminates the need for excess oil.
  • Protein at every meal: tofu, eggs, chicken, seafood, beans, quinoa, nuts, etc.  No red meat.

We are fortunate to employ a wonderful helper who is also a fantastic cook.  The photos above are examples of her meals (which are huge and I cannot finish) but balanced, fresh, and healthy.  If you do not have the assistance of someone else in the kitchen, soups made on Sunday evenings will get you through several evenings.  Omelettes, stir-fry meals, and store-bought roasted chicken with the skin removed are speedy options. 

Have a great week!

Filed under: Domestic Helper, Health, Healthy Eating, Hong Kong, Losing Weight, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , ,