Blood, Bone (marrow) & Soul

It’s true that you never know you got your back until things get real.

After I mentioned both brothers not being matches as my bone marrow donors, several people had reached out to me asking me how they could help as potential donors.


ET Love Hard

Entonces, to help you help me and others in need of bone marrow donors, I’ve compiled some easy-to-understand information here, courtesy of the Hong Kong Bone Marrow Registry 香港骨髓捐贈者資料庫  ,  (National Marrow Donor Program USA) and Josep Carreras Leukaemia Foundation (Spain).  Please click on those links for locations.

  1. How to be a donor (Register with your local registry)
  2. What are they testing for
  3. What happens if you ARE a match

Now it is stated that ethnicity is a factor when matching so this bit of info is for my non-Malaysian friends: I am of Chinese descent (great-grandparents were immigrants from China).

Nonetheless, for those of you who aren’t likely matches for me and had reached out to me asking how you can help – THIS, please.

You may help by registering as a donor because you may save someone’s life.

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This is the registry for Malaysia.

Malaysia Stem Cell Registry   (Institut Penyelidikan Perubatan, Jalan Pahang
50588 Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur) Tel: 0326162790.


Hong Kong Registry’s: Red Cross: 8 locations

Taiwan’s Registry

Singapore’s Registry

Australia’s Registry

Japan’s Registry


Additionally, you could still donate blood.  We need it 🙂

A guide written on Sassy Hong Kong 

Prioritizing Health, Ain’t Just About Yours

Picture this…

You just received news that someone you love and care about had been diagnosed with cancer… it’s a bloody devastating moment.

You rush over to the hospital because you need to see if he or she is coping and because you know that someone would be counting on you to be there.

You get there only to be told that you would not be allowed to be in the same room for weeks…

…because you have a little cough and sniffly nose that has gone on for too long…

…because your special person’s immune system is destroyed from chemotherapy and could potentially, EASILY, catch an infection.  An infection he or she might not be able to fight off, increasing chance of fatality.

So you’re stuck there, right outside the ward room’s door, looking through the window, aching to reach out, to hug and kiss your muse, to say “I love you” and “You’re going to get through this”. ..but no, you’re pacing out there kicking yourself about why you’re not in better health.  The LITTLE cough and sniffly nose that your immune system is working to fight each day could be a bomb for a patient with zero working immune system.

Laying there, you can see the patient’s face, there’s a need for a long comforting hug, there’s a need to be held and be told he or she is not alone in this fight…but you gotta wait til you’re healthy enough.

NOW you start to pay attention to your health, sort out that cough and sniffly nose, study your daily stress triggers, have you been sleeping enough, what could be causing this lack of recovery from a little cough and sniffly nose, why do you always feel tired, have you scheduled in anytime to freakin’ CHILL (especially if you live in Hong Kong), is it the food that you’re eating affecting your mood and ability to recover…

We’re so caught up in the chase.

Yes.  Many of us are always chasing; some chase career ambitions, some chase money, some chase societal status…etc.  Is it odd that we don’t hear many people share that they would chase health over anything else?

“Oohh this cough? yeah it’s been about a month but ohhhh that’s nothing, it’ll go away, come on we got a deadline to work with here, but first, Coffee!”

“Clinics are just gonna give me the same damn thing I can get over the counter, I’ll save my money and just get some Ibuprofen from the pharmacy, same shit”

homer smart

We kinda forget that, in order to achieve what we envision, we could use a healthy body for the ride (mind and soul included, never detached in the first place, who started this whole mind-body-soul thing anyway?)


You probably are too.

Now, if you haven’t learned how to take a step back, reflect, dig deep and truly love yourself yet…

For the sake of your life partner, your mom, your dad, your brother, your sister, your best friend, whoever you are close to and will probably regret not being able to be there when they need you the most, PRIORITIZE HEALTH.

How? Many ways, try lots until something works for you.  Personally, perception is a heavy influence on my attitude, that includes being malleable.




Bits to share:

MIND TRAINING – The app called “Headspace” now has a “Cancer Pack”.  The creator of this app is a cancer survivor himself, very relatable to patients.  For unguided meditation, I find that sitting in a garden filled with birds chirping, with the scent of fresh dewy plants and a light breeze of fresh air REALLY helps, OR, sit on a quiet beach.  For active meditation, I put on a specific playlist, get lost in the music and allow the body to respond through movement.

NUTRITION – knowledge is wealth.  I don’t mean keep up with every magazine but actually studying journals, articles of science and other more credible sources.  If you dislike doing your own research, find a professional but more importantly, ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS.

EXERCISE – Get a teacher to teach you how to do them, this includes running with ideal running gait.  If your body is an Aston Martin, you wouldn’t take it to that dungy mechanic who has a questionable sobriety level, and whom you haven’t questioned about his working experience just so you could save a few bucks now, would you?  Personal Trainers range in rates; some charge more because they have more social media followers (I shall not rant. I shall not rant. I shall not rant.), some charge a lot less because they are new to the industry and are just hungry to get any clients they can.  You wanna pay peanut trading for caviar?  Go figure.  Honesty and communication, so ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS.

RELATIONSHIPS – not just the romantic ones but your friendships are relationships, your relationship with your mom, your dad, your brother, your sister, your co-worker, your boss, your neighbor, your teacher, your student and so on.  Now, having a great relationship to me isn’t about always meeting up or always be messaging each other; it comes down to the quality of time actually spent in each other’s presence.  Are you fully present when engaged in a conversation?  How are you trying to strengthen your connection?  What do you hold back about being honest with them?  Why can’t you stop making the conversation about you instead of holding space and listening intently?  Who do you feel worthy keeping in your life, and do you feel worthy of them having you in theirs?

Some of my favorite thinkers and speakers: Esther Perel and Jiddu Krishnamurti

SOLO TIME – Does the thought of eating out alone scare you?  Watch a movie alone?  Travel alone?  Please, don’t let it scare you.  You won’t know if you like it until you try it.  You also won’t realize how much you depend on external stimulants to feel secure about yourself.  All you need is a pinch of curiosity with big splashes of experiences, to get that potion of “finding yourself”.  In actuality, it’s the actions that you take for growth that forms who you are; we are always changing, and it’s not so bad 😉

HONESTY – accepting the cards I’ve been dealt with, be honest with fear, be honest with belief, be honest with expectations.

An honest moment, I was glad I didn’t read the report about having pneumonia until after I was given the OK to be discharged.  A little like a better-I-didn’t-know situation because I would have been highly concern anytime any visitors even breathe funny.

And honestly, I started out thinking this post will be a short one this time <emoji shrug>.

Next one will probably be a while, “checking in” at the hospital in Hong Kong tomorrow for the next chemo cycle, admittance is roughly a month.

My next post might just be…

cat sup

(IF I’m administered some highly competent painkillers again)



Fear Upon Cancer

It’s a big word.

I don’t speak for everyone but I would bet that we don’t speak about it enough.

Fret not, this ain’t a post where the objective is to leave you feeling depressed and down on life.  On the contrary, I hope this leaves you seeing “fear” in different perspectives, even uplifting.

Fear is a familiar concept for me, without having felt it on countless occasions, I wouldn’t have experienced all that I had so far.

Did I have any fears about moving to Spain by myself at 32 years old?  OF COURSE!  I was determined to do it anyway.

Did I have any fears about ending my last relationship with a kind and compassionate partner yet deciding it was for the best?  YES.  Does the thought “Will I ever meet anyone that good again?” sound familiar?  We’ve all been there.  I had to do it anyway.

Did I have any fears about moving to Hong Kong, pretty much starting over, working for other people, having bosses to report to, after having been Viva Vertical ladyboss for 7 years and was just starting to climb the ladder in the entertainment circle?  YUUUUP.  Did it anyway.  I was hungry for experience, for growth.


Did I have any fears when I shot the first episode of Body Blaze, that moment when you realize there are a LOT of people manning several cameras and lights and directors and producers and more people aaaaalllllll watching you host a show for the first time?  No script, ham-it-up-American-style, execute exercises with perfect form, be in tune with your demonstrators behind you, try not to squint, try not to sweat…  YESOMGiTWASNERVEWRECKING.  When I embraced my insecurities, everything changed.  The star of the show became something called having The Right Attitude.  Do it.

Did I have any fears when I decided to leave all my American friends and mom behind for Malaysia when I turned 19?  YOU BET.  Despite it, I saw more of what I don’t want and chose to do something that could morph into a million more things.  I did right.

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Perception of fear varies within all of us.

Personally, I have found it useful when I accepted those fears and find a way to use that energy.  They were used as my fuel.  Having said that, I can now share that I think about death quite often…without anyone worrying about me (because today’s society has shown signs of being more emotionally fragile than ever, hearing someone think of death might just make them call docs on me).

So let’s elaborate.  I think of death because we will all die one day.  When I was about 12 years old, I had this weird thought that I wouldn’t live long and that I should quit school and just work to help my parents support the family  (I DIDN’T quit school, my parents handled THAT conversation).  In my teens, I was stretching myself out juggling multiple jobs, shifts, school.  The motto then was “I better do all this shit now when I’m young and able”.

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For the past decade, thoughts of death kept coming, they never really stopped.  Instead of fighting it and injecting more thoughts into why I was experiencing them, I had to make it useful, at the very least.  So I thought of death in the form of departure timeline and contribution.  I visualized my funeral and my tombstone many times, after each visualization, I always ALWAYS felt more motivated and amped up about pursuing whatever goal I had at the time.  Interesting morph of goals from self-centered career orientated to now wanting to be a decent human with opportunities to contribute to society on a larger scale, additionally, to quote something Jim Jefferies popularized – “try not to be a cunt.”  In short, I feel more purposeful in living, despite living with more uncertainty.

Mira (look), just because I’m coping with cancer doesn’t mean I feel entitled now and know all about life and its wisdom, it isn’t the reason why I’m writing.  It has, however, prompt me to wanna share more of what goes on in my mind that I think someone could benefit from reading.  Embracing death makes life even more meaningful, and I’ve never been more in-tuned with how I feel, how I interact with my family and friends, how I interact with folks I’ve never met on social media, how I prioritize what is purposeful and how I realize this is a rare opportunity to learn something valuable for future contribution.


Perception isn’t everything but it sure as hell is a Hall of Fame Player.

My most recent little fear is losing a big part of myself – my sensuality, feeling pretty, feeling fierce, feeling strong.  This new haircut had a lot to do with it, it’s like losing the one thing that made me feel like I look the part of sensuality.  The combined feelings are what I thought drove my movement to music, I wasn’t sure anymore, truth.  So when I decided to reconnect with music and movement at the studio, I actually felt nervous.  Had to do it anyway, I had to know.

Filming every song helped me – it reminded me to be present with my movement, to flow rather than plan, to feel rather than execute.  Took a while, since I didn’t last long through each song, there was a lot of panting after only about 45 seconds of freestyle.  All types of music were played, my usual style wasn’t fully back and I didn’t have hair to flick but hey, I got to move, I kinda danced, I noticed a lot more neck isolation, I wasn’t completely lost – that was enough for me.  🙂

Shared it on my IG and Facebook.

Now… how do I deal with this fear of swimming without a nose clip…

Eleanor Roosevelt Fear





Unfamiliar Feelings – The Diagnosis

As cliche as it is to drop a blog post during a time like this, I’m flippin’ doing it anyway.

Also since I have lost the desire to be on Instagram and Facebook much, this would be the closest to this crazy-wonderful digital world we stay connected on.

What did I mean by “a time like this”?

Early April, I was diagnosed with AML – acute myeloid leukaemia (fuck, that felt weird typing it out).

This happened literally right after I had been traveling a bunch and just as I had arrived in Spain.  The train ride from Madrid to Alicante was probably one of the worst rides I’ve ever had, as I was experiencing an odd type of fever – odd in the sense that it had been 2 days in a row, shivering uncontrollably, loss of appetite, foggy-mind-to-its-max, and a weird soreness to the body from doing jackshit.  Cutting it short, survived 2 more days of self-medicating til I decided it’s proooooobbbbaaallllly a good idea to visit a doctor then.  A check-up turned into a blood test, which turned into a transfer of hospital, which turned into more blood tests (8 jabs within a day, holymoly that’s my record of jabs, which have been ALL LEGAL, mind you) and a platelet transfusion, which turned into chemotherapy – and here I am.

Where am I on this journey?  I wish I knew more than you now know but we just really don’t for sure, do we?  There will be more chemo cycles with a chance that I’d need a bone marrow transplant.  I have no idea how my body will respond to each cycle of chemo and how likely or soon for remission (inserts a <shrugging> emoji).

But hey, I ain’t writing this post to share about what all happened and its timeline, so moving on.  This post is about “the feelings” – noting them, being aware of them.  (I must admit, I don’t remember much feelings while I was on morphine, just pain… and then hellooooo, morphine!)

I was, still am, well aware, that I might be lapped involuntarily with waves of emotions, particularly the ones we’re all not fond of.  Truthfully, I am not surprised I’ve been more calmed than disturbed.  I haven’t reached a conclusion on why yet, then again, must I?


There were moments that were surreal and I felt a little numb, ok perhaps not numb but very unfamiliar in identifying with the feeling, then accepting it.

Like when the first doctor in ER had told me what they found in my cells, what I am likely to be diagnosed with until they could confirm the next day, departing as his shift ended with “I am sorry and good luck to you” with such sympathy that I have never witnessed, until then, directed at me.  Describing it as numb would be incorrect, it felt – unfamiliar.

By the way, I had the funniest and kindest batch of nurses, despite the language barrier.

docs nurses quote

Like when my dad got the first possible flight out of Moscow and flew to Alicante to be with me and I witnessed a different type of hardship on his face when he opened my hospital room door.  I am not talking about tears or uncontrollable sobbing but the unspoken understanding between father and daughter that we were both hurting – him seeing his child in that state and me seeing my father suffering from sadness.  That was the first moment since the whole ordeal when I felt a pang of sadness, that my dad has to go through something like this – somehow, it motivated me to remain calm and collected.  That has been the process so far: FEEL -> IDENTIFY -> ACCEPT -> CHOOSE REACTION.


Like when my mom got her flight out of Knoxville to embark on a multiple-stop journey to Alicante, and all I could think of while waiting for her arrival was that how much she would enjoy the panederias (bakeries) here in Spain.  HEY, we’re croissant-people <shrugs>.  I don’t get to see my mom much.  For the past 14 years, we’ve seen each other on 2 occasions (now 3) and spent an accumulative time of almost a year together.  Nonetheless, we optimized those times the best we could.  She had been through a shitload of shit and still has to put up with shitty people around her just to make ends meet. I know my mom won’t be able to afford to keep flying between Tennessee and Hong Kong (once I am cleared to fly out of Spain), thus realizing cancer isn’t just expensive for me but costly for my loved ones.  In the most unfitting situation, I felt the deepest sense of gratitude, of worthiness, at the same time, feeling utterly helpless.  What a mix.

mama and i hospital

Like when I felt the strongest preference to shave my head instead of watching my hair fall out each day at a volume of a doll’s wig…a BIGASS doll.  Good Laaawwdy I have never seen so much hair fall out the way it did…and it led to a concern of vanity… I didn’t want to see myself resembling Gollum.  Yup, in this situation, still vain <shrugging monkey>.

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Like when reality kicks in – how the fuck am I going to work and sustain unknown months or years?  Will I hinder recovery progress if I force stress upon myself for the sake of income?  Why can’t I allow myself to dip into savings without the sense of being a failure?  Am I letting pride in the way of practicality and best chances of healing?  This is the most self-doubting period I’ve experienced – ever.   (…Where’s that morphine…)

This fetus-like position stuck for weeks when I had gastritis pain

Like when I learned who had taken the time and effort off of work, to drive and fly over just to be with me at the hospital.  Having company around did more for me than I expected, as I usually treasure my solo time, never had I appreciate company this much.  It’s not the type of company that needs chattin’ to the entire time, chattin’ actually wipes me out, but their presence that gave me encouragement and strength.  My friends in Spain who have been nothing but helpful, supportive and encouraging, surprising me with photo cards and gifts. Even my lovelies who couldn’t make it to Spain but took more time out of their days to send me messages of love, in the most fun ways.  I had never been more certain of who truly cares about me than ever, and who are capable of loving hard.  This is the most loving period I’ve experienced – ever.


There are many more unfamiliar feelings but I will stop here for now.

I’m taking the days one at a time, as fatigue vs energy plus mood kinda varies each day.  Daily meditation and reading Krishnamurti has certainly helped in dealing with accepting this course of nature.  Catching up with messages from the wonderful online network also proved delightful and touching, especially the ones who took the time to share their personal struggles.  Reintroducing functions and movement like walking, walking for a longer time, walking on an incline, stairs, balance, proprioception, joint mobility, isolated activation on underactive muscle groups.  (Although that looks like a lot typed out, I am realistically only doing 3-8 reps of something before having to take a long ass break to do another set).  For those who are wondering why that reintroduction was needed – I was in the hospital bed for 25 days hooked on to drips, fasted 6-7 days out of that due to pain.  Walking for the first time out of my hospital room to Richard’s car felt….INTENSE.

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Will I keep blogging?

I think so.

Writing this out was therapeutic <thumbs up>.  Hope this helps you if you’re going through something similar with a loved one who is ill and could use a little insight.  Everyone is different obviously, that doesn’t mean we can’t be similar either.

Something I’d like to share on that is spot on below.  Thank you for this one, SH.

Cancer Changes People

How to Feel Fit Again After Summer Break


Who doesn’t love a little hiatus from a hectic Hong Kong city life from time to time?

Of course, everything has its price.  It is unfortunate that we can’t leave those extra calories behind along with those Summer beaches – so the reality, we shall face.


Look at it this way, we go on a break to reset our state of mind and wellbeing, that includes taking a break from the strict schedules and rules you set in order to achieve your health and fitness goals.  Hitting a RESET button have its benefits too, where some come back with duty-free size motivation and drive to get cracking again.  If you’re new to resetting, here are some tips to help.


I don’t mean that literally where you physically follow them in person (important disclaimer!).  If you don’t already have a list of ‘fitness influencers’ you follow on social media, find one.  There are different types of fitness influencers – some who inspire others through their passion and profession as coaches, some who inspire through posting workouts and exercises, some who post selfies because they are proud of their fit journey end up inspiring others, some who write, some are celebrities who share their training and many more.  Each of us are driven differently so motivating factors will differ too – that’s OK, we don’t ALL have to be fans of Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Empower yourself with knowledge, learn from credible resources, change your digital wallpaper, listen to educators’ podcasts – do whatever it takes to get you off your behind and back on that vitality track.




Chances are, you indulged in food and drinks that you normally keep out of your daily nutritional choices.  Foods containing wheat, eggs, dairy and sugar are some of the common ingredients that cause bloating, gas, indigestion and sinus related discomfort.  Other effects also include poor concentration (brain fog), tiredness, and a splash of the lazy kool-aid.  These substances in the body do not disappear overnight and the best you can do to supplement a successful comeback is to drink lots of water.  How much? It really depends on the individuals needs, there is the good ol’ guideline of 8 glasses of water a day plus you may monitor the color of your urine for signs of dehydration.



Pulling yourself out of that lazy state is difficult – we know.  While you’re being lazy, there’s a 90% chance you are consuming social media content.  Let’s put that into some better use now, shall we?  Participating in viral active challenges through social media may be used as a tool for accountability.  Besides, there is something refreshing about a new task, goal or challenge that serves some crispy motivation.  Recently, we picked up the #22pushupchallenge on our radar.  See the campaign’s website HERE for the challenge details.



Be careful about that voice in your head, beating yourself about eating what you ate and not hitting the gym on holiday. What happened, has happened.  Move on, don’t look back, that guilt trip is one big no-no for a #throwback.  Reinforce thoughts that will set the mood for the day, heck, say them out loud to yourself in the mirror if you aren’t easily irked out.  You can commit to something as simple as getting 10 minutes of head space right when you wake up to surrounding yourself with people who support your healthy lifestyle goals.  If you haven’t thought about training your mind before, TRY IT.




Allow the body to adapt again, especially if your summer break was particularly longer than the average one week holiday.  If you are a true traveller, that might mean Summer breaks(plural), which is a lot more time away from the same fitness level where you left off.  Have trouble drawing the line of taking-it-easy and go-hard-or-go-home ?  MAKE A PLAN, and stick to it.  Don’t know how? Get help from a personal trainer or a coach.  We are in this bizarre fitness world because we want to help people while maintaining an active lifestyle.  Finding that balance doesn’t come easy, so we tend to plan A LOT.  Being so personally held accountable for doesn’t suit you?  Do the next best thing and join a small group training class, starting at the very beginners level.  You’re taking it easy, remember?

Here are some cool classes listed by Lifestyle Asia.

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The Best Fitspiration

Have you been active most of your life, always feeling pretty fit and confident in your capabilities, until that one challenge of changing your physique comes along and all of sudden, no activities you do seem to get you the lean-ness that you suddenly have a strong desire for?


Just me?



The past year had been about resetting my mindset when approaching training, from understanding my objectives, what it takes to achieve them, to managing my expectations.

OK, sure but what does that mean?

Let me use the below as examples to elaborate the above.

Those 8 – 12 weeks transformations you see plastered all over social media are pretty subjective to the individual’s history in activity level, eating behaviour and overall mental wellbeing.  Just because the other girl or guy who appears to be around your age, went from chubs to having six pack abs, it doesn’t mean that you will achieve that standard of progress too.  We all stem from different activity background, nutritional behaviour and manage stress differently, hence why variables on how long it would take, how strict diet needs to be, and how much cardio you have to do – should not be cookie cutter and promise cookie cutter results.  My reality is that I had to be much stricter on my food and training intensity to see similar progress compared to someone who hardly ever lifts, their bodies response to newfound structure would be greater to start.



There’s more to a selfie, a before-and-after photo, a photo of their post-workout meal – those are all evidence that the person had worked hard, is working hard and don’t plan on giving up.  Let’s call that person Yap for now.   Yap wakes up by 5am on training days so she can fit in training before work, eats all of her own prepared meals, stays home to cook some more, hits the daily water consumption target, takes her supplements, manages her time to avoid unnecessary stress, and sleeps enough.  Yap also keeps up with her social life, despite having to endure snide remarks, eye-rolls and jokes from her friends and colleagues about not drinking alcohol, or saying no to a cupcake.  It almost becomes a lonely journey but since Yap had her vision to #makeshithappen, she continued anyway.  Posting photos of her physique, post-workout meals, quiet Saturday nights…they resemble the social sacrifices Yap made, the mental strength to commit to something, the physical strength to change her body and the fresh autonomy she has over her own body.

That’s doing WHAT IT TAKES.


Yap had always thought that being knowledgable and strong was all that mattered to be considered fit.  She was intimate with Mr Clean Eating as much as she was with Mr Binge Eating.  Overtime, the home wrecker called Biological Clock made it gosh-darn-difficult for the affair with Mr Binge Eating to continue without obvious repercussions. So Yap increased her exercise volume, dated Mr Clean Eating more, for the objective of getting leaner.  However,  she failed to recognise other important variables in that equation.

Yap humbled down and looked up seeking help from those with experience, since everything she has done to get leaner had not worked.  #butletsbehonest not sticking to any plan long enough wouldn’t hold many promises to begin with.  What does one do when admitting to that reality?


Saying you want to “get leaner” is the same as saying “I just want to lose weight”.  Do you want to lose weight overall? or do you want to lose fat weight?  How much of “get leaner” is lean enough for you to be satisfied that you are leaner?  Why is this important to you?  Why will it make you happier?

What was missing for Yap was measurable accountability and identifying its position of priority.




You might have guessed it – Yap is me, I am Yap.

I’ve been around in the fitness industry for a while yet the biggest game changer for me was when I came clean (to myself), kicked my ego to the curb, be a coachable client myself, invested in learning what I really don’t know, and reclaimed the reigns from a social media addiction – an addiction that is detrimental to body image perceptions.

This study from University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine talks about the risk of eating and body image concerns.  “In an effort to battle social media-fueled eating disorders, Instagram banned the hashtags ‘thinspiration’ and ‘thinspo’.”


On the other end of the spectrum, unrealistic and false expectations on what is “fitspo” and “shredded” can lead to similar effects.  An example, if someone who is vascular, lean and a coach herself, posts a video of herself pinching her own layers of skin complaining how she can’t stand being fat and is in “bad” condition, and you watch it because you follow her – it’s pretty hard NOT feeling a little shitty about your own condition.  It isn’t her fault for posting it, she is entitled to her own expectations of herself, we just need to be sensible consumers of social media.




why can’t your best fitspiration…

be YOU?

Invest in YOU.

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What I Learned From a Parkour Session

In this video, I also talk about getting a lot of people asking me which are the best gyms in Hong Kong, the best place to learn Pole Dancing, the best studio to learn circus arts or aerial arts in Hong Kong, where to do aerial yoga(like) classes.

OH! and parkour – probably one of the BEST way to train while traveling with no gym access 😉


All links to the gyms and schools are in the youtube video description!



Emily Lola Tan

The Perfect Workout

“They have a greater effect, a greater consequence, a greater benefit,” Seto says. “Maybe because you’re so flexible when you’re younger, you can spring maybe you don’t see that big a benefit in stretching, rest and recovery, icing, all of that. You can get away with eating unhealthy. Now, as you’re getting older, it makes a huge difference. That little 2 to 3 percent difference as you’re getting older is huge.” – Dr. Judy Seto, the Los Angeles Lakers’ head physical therapist.


For a mere 30minutes of floor time, Koby Bryant’s preparation was described as an “all-day” process.  High performance athletes place heavy emphasis on movement prep, mobility and recovery, on the contrary for us “normal” folks, prep-work before a workout is often cast aside when the smashing workouts precede as the cooler kid.

How many of us have rocked up to our group class before thinking it is OK to be late, it is just the warm up we’re are missing anyway (pffffft), or are so consumed with chasing WOD time and weight numbers that we ignore beneficial movement prep work or post-workout recovery drills?  How many of us suffer from at least one injury or discomfort in our bodies, yet claim about not having the time to do the “dirty” work of prehab/rehab exercises?

Living in a city that never sleeps, like Hong Kong, comes with its price.  We tend to pack our schedules so tight that a one-full-hour workout seems like a luxury.  I’m not saying to forget everything else and jiggle your life priorities around but there is certainly no harm with sneaking in small tweaks here and there.


This list below was originally posted on Equinox’s blog and a darn good list that is.

If doing all 8 in one session and every session works for you, good for you.

If you are only able to implement just ONE tweak in your next session and build your way up to the rest, it isn’t failure either, YOU ARE STILL ON THE RIGHT TRACK.

The important thing is to remember WHY you work hard in your workouts…I hope that includes harnessing a durable body for as long as you live and playing the sports you love #traintheywayyouplay

1. Take Care of Your Tissues. Start your workout with foam rolling, yoga balls and massage sticks to release trigger points, improve tissue quality and maximize blood flow.

2. Warm-Up Well. Dynamic warm-ups (versus static stretching and/or cardio-only warm-ups) such as toe walks, heel walks, inchworms, and butt kicks better prepare the body for a workout by raising core body temperature, lubricating joints and preparing the central nervous system for the exercise ahead.

3. Turn On Your Core. Doing movements such as planks, quadrupeds and bridges early in your workout (after the warm-up) can help activate your core, which insures good posture and helps protect your back during the workout.  TRX Pilates classes place more emphasis on direct core training, let a knowledgable instructor lead you so you have a good base to start with.

4. Choose Multi-Joint Movements. Incorporate upper and lower body exercises that work more than one joint (for example, dumbbell rows work shoulders as well as elbows while bicep curls work elbows only). Not only are these exercises more time efficient, they are also more functional because the body rarely moves only one joint at a time.

5. Move in Every Plane. This targets muscles from every possible angle, creating synergy within the body so you don’t develop imbalances that can lead to injury.  Smart coaches train their athletes in every plane for optimum performance, you don’t have to miss out on this.

6. Pull More Than Push. Most of us need more stretch in the front of our bodies and more strengthening in the back. Doing a 2:1 ratio of pull to push can help improve posture, reduce injuries (particularly to the shoulders), and create a more balanced body.  Did you know TRX training is considered one of the BEST pulling equipment?

7. Hit Heavy, Medium and Light. Designate one day for heavier exercises with fewer reps (8 or less), one for moderate weight exercises for mid-range reps (8 to 12), and one for lightweight exercises with higher reps (12 to 20). Rotating the “rep ranges” helps train different muscles and maximizes overall muscular fitness.

8. Stretch Your Limits. Take time at the end of your workout when muscles are warm and receptive to do some static (slow and sustained) stretches. This will help restore muscles to their optimal length and reduce tension.  If you need guidance, check your gyms and studios if they conduct mobility classes.  OPS in Central, Hong Kong runs 2-3 mobility sessions a week.


5 Things I learned from a Contest Prep

  1. I became (or I’d like to think so) very knowledgable in every division available when it comes to women’s bodybuilding, aka physique  building, aka body sculpting, aka aesthetics training.  Yup, confused yet?




2. I never knew I could think about food in so many ways.  You think about food when your alarm goes off, when you work, when you train, when you’re on the toilet, when you’re having sex, when you go to bed….



3. I transformed into a culinary veggie chef that would be fired from any Michelin starred restaurant and became a highly knowledgable veggie whiz…after all, we need to know which veggies make us drop fart bombs, so I’m actually saving the world.

(Left) Fish soup with spinach & peppers

(Center) White fish with green beans, fresh spinach and garlic stuffed baked peppers

(Right) Tuna with green beans – easiest travel food ever


4. You got to know the people around you better, some turn out to be more judgmental than expected while some turn out to be incredibly supportive and surprisingly intrigued.  Keep them around.



5. Though it is in fact a challenge, it FELT EASY being disciplined – it didn’t FEEL difficult waking up between 5-6am to fit in training sessions, it didn’t FEEL difficult saying no to cupcakes at a cupcake party and meal prepping got easier as options reduced.  It just FELT easier to stay on track when you have a very clear deadline and I had never felt more focused.  I FREAKIN’ LOVED IT.


What surprised me the most on my FIRST contest prep, was that it wasn’t HELL.

I learned a lot more from this prepping process but I guess FOOD should only take up two points out of five.   It wasn’t that I felt starved or dangerously wavering through my hectic schedule but it was more of an appreciation for every calorie I got to consume.  Every calorie became fuel to my Aston Martin (Yeah yeah I know the common reference to your body might be a Ferrari but I’m an Aston Martin girl so beat it), every bite was like me savouring the moment when you tap on that pedal and hear that sexy sound of your engine revving (I also realise I miss driving).

Age might matter, it might not but I sure as hell didn’t give a shit anymore when I bust out my travel scale at restaurants to weigh my food.  It felt AWESOME to not care!  Being 30 and only just started doing this have its pros and cons.  Naturally when you’re in your early 20s, your Aston Martin responds better to every tweak of tuning, your friends are equally as vain so you probably have a bigger support group, you have less commitments in life and more time to focus on recovery…I could go on with the list of excuses.


Letting age define your mindset can hinder your prep psychologically, so be aware and approach wisely.

The turf on the 12th floor at Odinson (Sheung Wan)

I recognised what COULD be different if I had done this in my early 20s as opposed to now, I took on feeling whatever feelings it came with, and then I let those thoughts go along with the feelings.  They never came back.

Analyzing the experience, I think being wiser now enabled me to have a healthier prep, as we know ourselves best, and I know I would have gone to extreme measures if I were younger.  So it was a healthier prep in comparison to an extreme crash diet method, not that being on a calorie deficit for a long time is in any healthy.  Being more capable of rational thinking largely contributes to a positive learning experience…also, you care less of what people think of you, which happens when you’re driving an Aston Martin 😉

So there – how was my contest prep?

It was GREAT! I learned lots about myself, I learned lots about nutrition and training and I learned more about the sport my dad took part in (BODYBUILDING…not Bikini…just clarifying…).  I also got to know my partner Alix James better, who was even more patient and supportive during the process.  Supportive beyond just saying “baby you can do it just stick with it” – supportive being helpful with my meal preps when I have super long days, helpful with groceries, helpful by eating clean himself so my home environment becomes less daunting, helpful by going on walks with me when I’m too tired to do other types of cardio – he was just everything you could have asked for as a significant other.  The community of Hong Kong Nutrition Guide is lucky to have his guidance 😉

Things can be as tough as you want it to feel like but it doesn’t have to be.  (though it might be cooler to say YES I WENT THROUGH HELL AND BACK SO I’M TOUGHER THAN NAILS SUCK IT )

Thank you to Nick from Odinson for the nutrition and training guidance while enduring my endless questions.  BTW, Odinson’s juice bar partner Mr Green Juice also started using my favorite protein brand Island Supplements in their smoothies!  Awesome strength coach, delicious protein drinks, sexy equipment, conveniently in Sheung Wan – brilliant space.

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As for – what’s next?

There are still tons to learn, a lot more progress to be made, a lot more improvement to be made, a lot more GAINS to achieve… and my journey in this sport has only just begun – STOKED!