Wednesday, September 30, 2020

7 steps for self-improvement we can do now

So it's Day 200 of our GCQ/ECQ/MECQ/I don't know what it is anymore. Aaaaaaand I'm now at 130 lbs. Yep, I gained weight. I was actually losing weight at the start of quarantine. I was 130 lbs in January but I was 125 lbs by April. I was eating homecooked meals (well, we didn't really have a choice when quarantine started), exercising, biking, finally sleeping 8 hours. I felt great!

Then I became depressed. Remember when I told you how I've been? Ya. That happened. I was wallowing for around 6 weeks. Stopped exercising. Stuffed my mouth. Couldn't sleep. Even when I started feeling better, I just couldn't start exercising again and I couldn't stop eating. Considering all that, it's a miracle I only gained 5 lbs! (Big blessing - it's hard for me to gain weight.)

Then one day, I was scrolling through my Instagram and Welch's, my blog sponsor, had a post that reminded me I had fallen off the wagon. 

I may not be overly overweight but I realized that it's the last quarter of the year and I don't want to end the year the same weight - or heavier! - than when I started it. That would just be another reason 2020 sucks but this time it would be all MY FAULT! But I can always start fresh, as Welch's so wonderfully reminded me. 

So can you guys be my accountability partner? I'm going to start improving my health, my body, and my habits again. And here are the steps for self-improvement I need to take:

1. Wake up before my kids.

Because I sleep so late working on articles, preparing for homeschool lessons, and spending my much-needed alone time, I wake up later than my kids. They're fine - the boys eat their breakfast and start doing their chores. This is good, right? But as soon as I get up, they bombard me with "Mama, look at this! Mama, I did that! Mama, can I do this?" And to the groggy me, it's jarring and isn't really not the most calming way to start my day. I feel like I lose control of the day.

2. Meditate.

I started doing this in August, scheduling my Bible study every morning. I've been a Born Again Christian for 30+ years but meditating on God's Word is hard for me. And it still is! But around the second week, I started feeling excited about what I'm reading. I think it's because I'm older and I have a better perspective on life, faith, and God now.

3. Just drink water and healthy drinks.

At around June, I started drinking a lot of Coke, coffee, and milk tea. So bad! Even though I still drink water and Welch's 100% Grape Juice, their goodness was outbalanced by all the sugary and caffeinated drinks I was consuming. But since 2 weeks ago, I am now just drinking water, black tea, ginger and turmeric tea, and Welch's. I don't feel so bloated anymore!

Ever since my family started drinking Welch's around 3 years ago, we've slowly and then completely stopped drinking sugary powdered juices. Real fruit juice is naturally sweet anyway so adding sugar completely distorts how it tastes. Plus, you can't beat the Vitamin C and antioxidants, which not only help strengthen my immune system, it also keeps my skin clear and improves brain function. Definitely a must for a middle-aged woman like me!  

4. Go on the Smaller Portions diet!

I actually eat healthy. Almost all our meals are homecooked. There's almost always a salad or a vegetable dish on the table. My problem is I cook soooo well, I eat so much of my cooking! Oh dear! I love my cooking. My husband just said at dinner tonight, "You make the best tinola." And I do. But I end up eating maybe up to three platefuls of my cooking. It's terrible haha So I'll still prepare my yummy healthy meals but I really need to eat just one serving only! 

And of course, wash everything down with just water or Welch's grape juice because, as says, "Those who drink 100 percent fruit juice, including grape juice, possess a lower mean body mass index, smaller waistline and lower insulin resistance."

5. Start exercising.

I tried a few times this September. I have exercise apps but what I like best are the walking videos of Leslie Sansone. I should do it more often! Pray for me haha. By the way, when I exercise, I drink just water or Welch's 100% Grape Juice. I don't need energy drinks because Welch's has tons of natural-sugar energy in it already. Plus, grape juice made from Concord grapes has a beneficial effect on the heart and blood pressure.

6. Spend less time on social media.

Facebook especially is a time-sucking monster. I sometimes get shocked that I start scrolling at 11pm and then it's suddenly 3am! My sleep suffers. My work suffers. My mental health suffers. Must really manage my time on Facebook. My plan is to set a timer - 30 minutes! - and follow it strictly. I can get so much done, I bet. All those saved hours I can use to sleep, exercise, read a book, paint, work!

7. Sleep!

Yes, sleep! It's the most neglected area of my life. Scary because studies show that consistently lacking sleep leads to lower immunity, higher risk for diseases, and early death. I haven't really been getting 7-9 hours of sleep for more than 10 years (thanks, motherhood). Such a bad habit.

I specifically chose these steps for their immediacy. I can do them without having to do anything big, like sign up for a skills class, or join a support group (I already have Lean In PH!), or buy a gym membership. Many times, we can't take that first step to improve ourselves because it takes a lot of work and the thought tires us out even before we start.

My list is simple and super doable. So I have no excuse. I'm really going to start these steps for self-improvement. I'll update you on my Instagram and blog my progress on my birthday next month. Wish me luck!

Source: "What are the benefits of Welch's Grape Juice?",

*This post is brought to you by Welch's 100% Grape Juice. Welch's 100% Grape Juice, Juice Cocktails, and Sparkling Juices are available in all leading supermarkets, drugstores, and convenience stores. You can have your favorite health drink delivered right to your doorstep! Visit the Ace Food Service website, or place your order in the following online groceries: Metro Mart, Lazmart, and Waltermart.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Leaving the PH? Grab The Overseas Fabulous Pinay by Donna Avellana Kunzler! (a book review)

I just put down this super interesting book, The Overseas Fabulous Pinay: A Modern Filipina's Handbook on How to Thrive Abroad. It's by Donna Avellana Künzler. She may have a foreign last name but she's Pinay through and through. Donna was born and raised in Cavite and took up accounting because all she ever wanted to be was a CPA like her dad. However, she became an Information Technology Auditor and Consultant instead. Her #ovfabpinay life started almost 20 years ago when she moved to Singapore for work. From there, she moved to the USA and then to my favorite city, London. Always because of work (how lucky is this woman?). She is now based in Switzerland, working for a Swiss global company, responsible for finance process governance and standardization in the finance organization. 

Donna's a new mommy to a baby girl and I really admire her because she was working, writing and producing a book, and making a baby all at the same time! That's amazing! I know this because - full disclosure - I helped edit the manuscript so my deadline was the most unusual in my editing career: I had to finish editing before Donna gives birth. And there's no pushing that deadline haha I was also working when I was in the delivery room with my first baby but I had already turned over most everything to my staff. A whole book is a whole different story. It's personal. It's also like a child. So for Donna to be working on her book and preparing to give birth is a whole new level of devotion.

The author is talking to the bold Pinay who wants to leave the constraints comforts of home and be on her own abroad. No mommy and daddy, no allowance, no friends, no yaya, no driver, no boyfriend or husband. Gosh, just writing that down is so exciting. I've always wanted to work in London or Singapore, far far away from everyone I know and who knew me. But - after making careful decisions - life became just too good here. No regrets! But that's a dead part of me that was prodded awake by Donna's book.

Because Donna is so conversational, even chatty, the book is so easy to read. It literally feels like I'm sitting on my couch, sipping my coffee, and chatting with a friend. Well, the author is the one doing the chatting while I'm eagerly listening.

It feels fast-paced, though. Is that a bad thing? Well, no. I just feel like the author was rattling off all her useful information (there's a plethora!) and I haven't absorbed anything yet and she's already off on her new topic. That's why I'm glad this is a book. I can go back and take notes. I feel like if this was a talk, I'd be asking her to "Wait, wait, let me just write that down!"

I think Donna anticipated this. Her book is well designed to highlight the lists upon lists of tips, advice, documents, rules, and many more. So you can easily find everything you need to know. There are colored boxes, checklists - it's really quite a useful reference book. In fact, it was a finalist for Best Interior Design at the 2020 International Book Awards. 

Speaking of awards, Donna's book is a Gold Winner at the Nonfiction Book Awards."This is a really upbeat book that is helpful and inspiring for anyone considering moving overseas. It has lots of tips, lists and questions to consider both before and after a move," the review says.

As you can tell, it's worth your pesos to grab this book and worth your time to also read it. And don't let those awards intimidate you - this is such an easy-to-read book. I do think you won't finish it in half a day since there is a ton of information to process. So take it slow and pay attention, especially when you reach the chapters of settling abroad.

Every single part of the book offers practical tips. What I found especially useful was the chapter on the unique lifestyles of each country. I've always been a tourist, staying at hotels and going to places that catered to the foreigner so I've never actually experienced how it is to be a local. 

So all of Donna's stories about paying attention to the culture was eye-opening because of course people treat tourists differently than they do people they work with, no matter what country you came from. As they say, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." I also liked all the stories on how to find a home, getting a driver's license, and being aware of rules and certain ways of life that comes from living in a cold country or a disciplined country. 

For example, I was amazed that in Zurich, you have to buy official trash bags. And they are expensive. You can't just use any trash bag like we do here in the Philippines. Trash is also segregated and you better make sure you sort your trash because if you don't, the district council will issue warning letters to you, your neighbors will complain against you, and you just might find yourself homeless. Serious stuff! 

I would've wanted to know how to find work and move to another country, though. Donna didn't address that because that wasn't her experience. She's lucky enough to have gotten job offers before moving to the countries she's lived in. But for my husband and I who are contemplating moving abroad since we're not happy with where our country is going, we'd love to know how to grab those good jobs. 

We're told by our immigration agent that we need to move first then look for a job there. That's terrifying. We're old so it may take time for us to find the good jobs and neighborhood that we can live happily in. But we have kids so we can't afford to fail. So it's like a chicken-or-the-egg thing for us. Do we look for a job first and hope the employer asks us to move there? Does one of us go first and establish our home? Do we just risk it all and move everyone and hope we don't hate our new life? Tough decisions.

Another thing I wanted to know was sure tips on how to become a permanent resident or citizen in the country we're moving to. Are there secrets? Will it cost a lot of money? Will it take years upon years? Those issues were important to me but weren't discussed. Maybe those will come up in her next book (I hope she writes The Overseas Fabulous Pinay Mom!) or in one of her online talks.

Yes, Donna has lots of online talks! Just visit because Donna always has events lined up. She has other #ovfabpinays over for chats about how to live fabulously abroad. Join the #ovfabpinay Facebook community and follow @ovfabpinay on Instagram for more updates. Donna is very friendly and encouraging of her fellow Pinays who would love to start a new life abroad.

And of course, do grab your own copy of The Overseas Fabulous Pinay: A Modern Filipina’s Guide on How to Thrive Abroad by Donna Avellana Künzler. It's a really good read! Get it at major online book shops Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Amazon for P750. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The SalesVIP boys are ready for Rockwell Voyager, an interstellar Halloween adventure!

The boys are excited about Halloween this year because they get to go trick-or treating because of our favorite Power Plant Mall. Wait. Isn't it bawal for kids to go out according to quarantine guidelines? Yes. You're right. Bawal lumabas ang mga bata ng bahay unless they're going to a medical facility so pleeeeeease keep your kids at home. 

So how did Power Plant manage it? Well, if the kids can't go to the mall, the mall will go to the kids! Rockwell malls Power Plant Mall, Santolan Town Plaza, and The Grove by Rockwell will go ahead and celebrate Halloween with Rockwell Voyager, an interstellar adventure boys and girls will enjoy! On October 31, Rockwell will take our kids trick-or-treating to... OUTER SPACE!!! No COVID there!
They were so excited!

Joke haha. The galaxy will be your very own home. So the kids will have fun but still be safe and sound right at home. Let's do this, parents! Here's how to begin the adventure:

1. Get the interactive Space Voyager Kits!

It's a jetpack. They're going to need that to blast off into space as Certified Space Rangers. Inside their jetpacks are:

- an exclusive access pass to a DIY astronaut mask workshop
- top secret space missions
- space badges for parents to award their little Space Rangers for every game completed
- candies, snacks, and treats (and nice treats, too, not those cheap sweets)

They can't wait for Oct. 31 to open their Top Secret Missions! 
Handy bottle of sanitizer before eating the snacks! (I ate the Snickers. Oops.)

2. Get a chance to win special space-themed gifts from Toys R Us!

On social media, post your child's best graduation photo showing their completed badges. Make sure to tag Power Plant Mall and Santolan Town Plaza on Instagram and Facebook with the caption: “Space Ranger (name) reporting for duty at Rockwell Voyager. #RockwellHalloween”. Your photo may win your kid toys!

Checking out each item. Parang birthday party!

That's all you need to do, moms and dads! Have fun this Halloween with your favorite mall but in the safety of your own home. The Space Voyager kits are only P1000 each. Buy one for your kid by sending a DM to Power Plant Mall’s Facebook messenger.

Check The Rockwell List for more information about the Halloween event. Follow Power Plant Mall, Santolan Town Plaza, and The Grove by Rockwell’s Facebook and Instagram pages for more information.

P.S. Dear Power Plant, my kids were so happy to get their jetpacks. They super miss their most favorite mall in the world and can't wait till it's safe again to visit you.