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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I Worked Out for 30 Days and This is What I Learned

Last month, I started working out again. I had gained back some of the weight I lost before the wedding and I felt lethargic from being in the house all the time. I also knew I had to start taking care of myself to prepare my body once Jay and I decide on having kids. But I'll be honest with you. My reason for wanting to work out and lose weight was this:

I wanted my thighs to stop chafing. 

It may sound simple to many of you. I know I can just wear cycling shorts or half slips underneath my skirts/dresses. I know I can put baby powder and/or lotion to reduce friction between my thighs, even put deodorant. I tried these, but thigh chafing has been bugging me for a long time. I would see other ladies who are the same size (sometimes even bigger) as I am, and watch in awe as they walk in shorts and skirts and dresses seemingly without a care in the world or the chafing between their thighs. I would wonder whether they're wearing something underneath that allows them to walk comfortably. And I would scratch my head when I prove they aren't. Hoooow?!

So instead of suffering and wondering all the time, I decided to hit two birds with one stone and just start working out. I would lose weight, and I would get rid of thigh chafing in the process. Easy peasy!


One Day or Day One. Choose wisely!


Not. I knew the challenge was to KEEP WORKING OUT. Like many good habits I tried to form in the past (applying body lotion every night before sleeping, dry body brushing, eating healthy), I would end up pumped with adrenaline in the beginning, usually the first three days, then fizzle out by the fourth day. So this was my short-term goal: to keep going beyond day 4. I didn't know if I could do it, in fact I highly doubted it, but here I am 30 days later and I'm still at it!

I only exercised during the weekdays, so that's 5 times a week. There were a couple of days I missed so I made up for them by either doubling my workout the next day, or working out even on a Saturday. I also started slow. I searched for beginner workouts on YouTube, and did those that were 10 minutes or less. Gradually, I increased my time and the intensity of my workouts. Sometimes I would do a 10-min HIIT workout with 20 minutes of yoga. Or sometimes I would do a 5-min standing arm workout coupled with a 30-min Zumba session. When I couldn't do some of the movements, I would modify them, but I kept moving. 

I love High Intensity Interval Workouts (HIIT). According to Shape Magazine, HIIT refers to any "workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity or even complete rest." Most of these workouts involve cardio exercises, so it will get you sweating in no time. These workouts are best for people who love to say they don't have time to exercise. HIIT workouts are fast, convenient, and there are no equipment necessary. Best of all, they work. Researches have shown that short HIIT workouts are better than spending an hour at the treadmill. If you're really pressed for time, you can even work out for 4 minutes using the Tabata protocol!

Now I will start to introduce weight training to my routine as well. This is to tone my muscle and also help in burning fat. 

There's a saying that motivation is what gets you started and habit is what keeps you going. That proved true for me. I had my why, and I kept going because eventually my body became used to working out, and my mind became conditioned to include a workout for a complete weekday. But I also learned the importance of having rest days and listening to your body. I skipped a workout once because I lacked sleep and knew not to push myself. 

I weighed myself when I started and also measured my waist, hips, and thighs. I was told sometimes you'd see no weight loss but find it on the tape measure. Thirty days in, my progress is slow but sure. I lost four pounds, one inch each on my waist and hips, and half an inch on my right thigh. I am satisfied with my progress but also know I can do more. 

How? By eating better. I admit I had a hard time saying no to carbs and fast food and my kind of sweets (a.k.a. cakes and pastries). I saw the difference when I substituted rice with kamote for dinner for a week. I lost two pounds. Then I gained them back the following week. I also plateaued by week 4. Are you working out and not losing weight too? This article provides possible reasons why.

What was my biggest surprise during the last 30 days? I discovered I could hold a plank longer than I thought! One day I took a video of myself planking and was ready to stop at 20 seconds. I always found it hard to hold a plank, my body shakes and my body just gives up. But that day, I was shocked I held it for 45 seconds! I know, it's still under a minute, but if you knew how physically weak I am, that's a big achievement. So I slowly kept increasing my time after that and I am now up to the minute mark. One day I will do two minutes, just watch me!


video

I don't know why my site cut the video to under 45 seconds. 

Here are three workouts that I find most effective. I am so happy for discovering free workouts, because paying for a gym membership is way low on my priorities. I also love that these workouts involve the barest of equipment (just a mat!), and can be done anywhere. 



This video is from the Emi Wong's StayFitandTravel Youtube Channel. This is what I did on my first day of working out and it was perfect. I ended up subscribing to her channel. I love her workouts because I feel the burn and sweat starts dripping on my mat a few minutes in. Most of her workouts also require no equipment and she modifies them for beginners. It helps whenever she says "I know it's hard but remember, I am doing it with you. No pain no gain!" Haha. It's true though. Pain means it's working!




I discovered Tracy Campoli's workouts when I searched "standing arm workout no equipment" on YouTube. That's really my main criteria, so I'll have no excuse not to do them. You can do this while watching your favorite KDrama, while waiting for your dinner to cook, even at the office when you're itching to get out of your cubicle. Work those arms instead of stressing out on your deadline!



And finally, this one's for my thighs! Ooh when I did this workout I was so sore the next day. But I loved it. It's from the POPSUGAR Fitness YouTube channel. They have short-but-effective sets. One of my favorites also is this 5-Minute Standing Flat Belly Workout. 

I made my Instagram stories the daily repository of my fitness journey. That way there's some sort of accountability to stay focused and not get lazy. Follow me for video recs and hopefully meal planning in the future too!

Do you have fitness and workout tips for me? Leave them in the comments and let's work out together!




Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Wedding Supplier Review: Preps at Oakwood Premier Joy~Nostalg Center Manila

This is a long read, but hopefully it will help you in your search for a good hotel for your wedding (or other event) preparations.

When I was researching for a good hotel to hold our preparations for the wedding day, I was looking for one with big rooms, affordable rates, good natural lighting, and one that was not strict with the number of people and outside food coming in. My search led me to Oakwood Premier Joy~Nostalg Center Manila in Ortigas. It received a lot of good reviews with former brides. Later on, another plus point was that they didn't have extra charges for shooting within their hotel premises. I remember during my brother's wedding, we had to do a guerrilla shoot on our way to church because the hotel only permitted shoots when the reception would be done there. Others charge exorbitant fees and don't even allow aerial drones.



The one concern with Oakwood was it was far from our church, the INC locale of San Francisco in Del Monte Avenue, Quezon City. But when I learned that my on-the-day coordinator handled a wedding with hotel preps in Oakwood and an even further church in the INC locale of Capitol (Commonwealth Avenue), I became confident that we could do it. This was more because I trusted my OTD.

We initially booked two rooms in November, two one-bedroom suites for me and for Jay who will stay with his family. Later on, I thought Jay needed his own room so he can relax during his last night as a single man (hehe) and in the morning the room needed to be clean for the photo and video shoot. He was going to stay with three women in the other one-bedroom suite and I knew there'd be a lot of things there. So in January we booked another studio for Jay. We got this at a higher rate so my first tip is to book as early as possible, because the nearer you are to your wedding date, chances are the rates will be higher.



We booked my room for three nights, my in-laws' room for two nights, and Jay's room for one night. The day before the wedding was our check-in. We arrived late and since I had my wedding gown delivered to the hotel, the wedding gown arrived before us. I just called the concierge and asked them to receive it for me. When we arrived, it was at the lobby but it was arranged in an orderly manner, the gown in the mannequin was on a hotel trolley and the skirt part was covered with a black trash bin bag.

During the booking I indicated that the rooms will be used for a wedding so when we arrived at my room, there was a cake with "Congratulations!" written on top. That was a sweet gesture. I also said if it was possible for them to give us a room at the side facing Podium so we can have as much natural light as possible. It wasn't followed, but my room had big windows on two sides so we were still able to maximize the natural light.



We got married on April 7, and that was the time Oakwood introduced the one-time cleaning charge when a room will be used for weddings, functions, and other events. These were the rates:

Studio - Php2,000
1 Bedroom - Php2,500
2 Bedroom - Php4,000
3 Bedroom - 5,000

They were also charging Php200 per extra person, and Php50 per piece of extra luggage per guest (only 2pcs per guest allowed).

I was surprised. At the time of our booking these charges weren't implemented yet, and though I know it's the hotel's prerogative to change their rules, I thought it would have been proper to inform their clients especially since we indicated we were going to use our rooms for wedding preps. The receptionist I spoke to these charges were open to negotation, so I said we were only going to use one room for the preps, my room. So they had me sign the waiver (photo below) and charged us for one room only. As for the Php200 per extra person, we weren't charged for any extra persons during the wedding day. I'll discuss the extra luggage charge in the latter part of my review.



The night before our wedding, our florist delivered our entourage flowers. This was a surprise to me as this was not what we agreed upon. She just told me they were at the hotel lobby already after the fact. We were at the church for our wedding rehearsal so I wasn't able to do anything about it anymore. When we arrived, I was informed that they brought the flowers up to my room already. I appreciated that effort from them.

Our rooms were indeed spacious, Oakwood is a serviced-apartment more than a hotel, so we had a working kitchen complete with stove, ref, microwave, cutlery, plates, even a dishwasher. We also had a washing machine in our rooms.




Come wedding day, all of my suppliers, entourage, and other family members were able to move freely in my room. Since it's a one-bedroom suite, the living area is separated from the bedroom. My entourage HMUA set-up in the living room, while my own HMUA set up at the bedroom. Oakwood gave us keys that had access to the floors of the three rooms so our suppliers (coordinator, photo, and video) were able to transfer conveniently. Food deliveries were also allowed, provided we will meet them at the lobby and bring the food up ourselves. This was taken care of by our coordinator.

This photo was taken by my cousin. Oakwood really has spacious rooms.

During the preps my rooms had a ceiling leak. The area near the closets and bathroom was leaking. It was tolerable at first, until it became big and the carpet was soaking wet. My bridesmaids were having a hard time moving from the living area to the bathroom to fix themselves. I heard my bridal assistant (I was being made up then) calling housekeeping (or whatever department handles this) about it. She called several times, up until we were about to leave the hotel, but I didn't see any officer from the hotel check the room. I have a vague memory of a maintenance personnel checking it, but what my bridal assistant told me was that they wouldn't be able to fix the leak at that time. So before we left, my coordinator told me the arrangement was that we'll just transfer to another room when we get back from the wedding (because we still had a lot of stuff in the room).


After everybody finished their lunch (we ordered from Amber), my coordinators did a good job of cleaning everything up. Even the bed was fixed, so I thought there was really no need for the one-time cleaning fee. I understand there might have been former clients who trashed their rooms (probably had poppers/confetti or spilled champagne and what not during their video shoots), but they should check for damage AFTER the event and then assess whether to charge the fee.



After our wedding, we returned to Oakwood and that was when we transferred to another room. The leak still hadn't been fixed. There was just a bucket under the ceiling where it was leaking. My coordinator also informed me that they were being charged the Php50 per luggage fee, and they weren't allowed to use the trolley to bring the things from the wedding back to our room.

Since my coord didn't want us to incur any more charges, they brought the things up on their own. This didn't sit well with me because I was a paying customer, I was checked in for three nights, and technically, those were still my things. The luggage fee were only applicable to the wedding suppliers who would bring stuff up during the shoot.

But at that time I was so tired from everything that I just made a note to discuss it upon checkout.




When we were about to check out, I discussed with the receptionist all of my concerns. I told her the one-time cleaning fee should be a case-to-case basis. I also asked her why no one was able to fix the leak in our room. It caused so much hassle to everyone. We discussed all of this in a hurry because Jay and I still needed to buy something at SM. So I settled our bill and we left our stuff at the concierge first.

But everything was still bothering me, and I also asked my friend who's a manager at Manila Pen if they were charging a fee for rooms booked for wedding preps. She said no. So after we returned from SM I asked if I could speak to the manager on duty at Oakwood. It took a while, but I waited. When I spoke to the manager, I expressed my disappointment in a very cordial way. I did it out of concern, really, because Oakwood has a good reputation and good standing as a venue for wedding preps. I told him how no one even apologized for the leak, how no one assisted my coords for our stuff when I was still checked in (for two more nights). I said, "What if I was a guest and I shopped really hard and came home with dozens of bags, would you charge me for them?" He apologized for this and said it shouldn't have happened.



The ending was, our one-time cleaning charge was waived. But I think this was more because my room had a leak. If it didn't have a leak, I don't think they would have waived it. Still, I'm thankful that the manager was very receptive to my feedback and he handled my concerns well (which is more than I can say for the receptionist).

This happened in April, and in the wedding group I joined, someone took the initiative to contact Oakwood. It was resolved that everyone who made a booking before April 1 would have their cleaning charges waived. But after that, the charges would apply.



TIPS:

1. Check the rates at booking sites like Agoda or Booking.com. We booked through Agoda and their rates were much lower than what Oakwood gave us. Book as early as possible.

2. If you want to further save on cost, book rooms without breakfast included. Since Oakwood is not strict with outside food, you can order fast food delivery, or you can also cook in the functional kitchen.

3. Look for a hotel that has a lot of areas you can use for your photo and video shoot. Oakwood didn't have a lot of these. You can only shoot in the rooms, hallways, lobby and outside the hotel. But what I love about Oakwood's rooms are the huge windows and abundance of natural light.

4. Clarify with your hotel first about extra charges, and read your booking contract until the fine print. So you'll have something to back you up in case you will contest charges that come up during check in or check out.

5. If you'll still go for Oakwood, ask your suppliers to bring their own trolleys, or ask your coordinator to help them.

6. Talk to hotel management cordially. Let them know about your side, and if it's possible to have a workaround with your concerns. I believe everything can be fixed when we don't let out heightened emotions get in the way. At the same time, be firm with your stand.


Supplier Contact Details:

Oakwood Premier Joy~Nostalg Center Manila
17 ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City 1600
Telephone numbers: (632) 637-7786 / (632) 910-8888
Email: premiermanila@oakwoodasia.com
Website: www.oakwoodpremiermanila.com

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Wedding Supplier Review: Our Wedding Rings by Tolosa's Jewelry

You will be wearing your wedding rings your whole life so it is important to invest in them. They can still be within your budget, but make sure you research on reputable suppliers that do quality work. I've read a lot of problematic vendors who don't follow what's in the contract and create a lot of headaches for brides and grooms. I'm happy that our chosen jeweler was hassle- and stress-free.

Tolosa's Jewelry is owned by my bother's high school friend Kris. His family has been in the jewelry business for many years and they have a shop in Sta. Mesa, Manila. But because I already sent Kris the designs I wanted via FB Messenger, we didn't have to go to their shop. We just met in QC to discuss the details. I sent him three designs we were choosing from, and then he sent me price quotations for each pair. Jay and I discussed and decided on a design that was both beautiful but also within our budget. Our bands were made in 18k white gold and smooth finish, only mine had 5 pieces of small round-cut diamonds. Jay's band was also thicker since it's for men.




This is one important tip I'd like to give brides out there. Discuss with your jeweler the thickness of your band. When Kris asked me whether I'd want my band to be the same width as the diamonds, I said yes. Of course I had imagined something similar to the photos I sent him, but you know, photos can be deceiving hehe. So when we got the rings, I was initially surprised that my ring was thinner than I imagined. BUT! Eventually I found it to be perfect because it went well with my engagement ring. If my wedding band was thicker, I'd be too hesitant to wear my two rings together because they'd look too much, too over-the-top for my taste. But with the thinner wedding band, my two rings together now look just right.

Here's how they look like when worn together:

This is my Instagram post after trying out the Happy Skin nail polish that's why the bottle is included in the pic. Hehe!

Still, it would be wise to discuss specifics with your jeweler. I don't care much about jewelry and I trusted Kris so I didn't have that many questions. I knew they would deliver and they did! A week after our first meeting, our wedding rings were finished. Kris also said they can do rush production of wedding rings (as in two days!), but those are usually for simple wedding bands.

We got a good discount from Tolosa's Jewelry, and they also threw in free engraving for us. :) I think it's just manual engraving, so you might want to check their output first if you're looking for a machine-style engraving.

We made a down payment during our first meeting and paid the rest once we got the rings.

TIPS:

1. Know your ring size. Kris brought as measuring device with him so it'll be accurate. He also suggested we meet near our wedding date since there are instances when the bride and groom would lose/gain weight, and the finger size would be affected. He also advised to get a size that's not too exact, to give way to future pregnancies for the bride. Not to worry because if you have a ring that's a bit lose, you can do this hack! You know those colorful rubber cords you wrap around your phone charger so it doesn't get destroyed? Cut a couple of loops of the cord, wrap it around your ring, and it'll be snug as a bug on your finger! I've seen a lot of brides do this trick.

2. Discuss the band thickness and the diamond sizes.

3. Check if you're allergic to certain metals. This will save you time and money! Some people are allergic to nickel, et al. and it will be sad if you won't be able to wear your wedding ring, or if you have to replace it.

Click on the link below if you want to inquire about your wedding rings or your other jewelry needs. Happy preps!

Supplier Contact Details:

Tolosa's Jewelry Facebook Page