“Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you ate.”
T-minus two hours till the Lululemon retreat in Sentosa begins. I am so excited (and honoured) to be invited and find a three day yoga-wellness retreat secretly thrilling.
As delighted as I am, I have to admit the idea of a getaway with hardcore fitness experts and yoga enthusiasts fills me with trepidation. If ever imposter syndrome were a real thing, I’m living it right now.
You see, it was only four months ago that I made the conscious decision to do a 180 on my fitness and health. I grew tired of growing tired (imagine walking up a flight of stairs and feeling like you’re going to die – lol). Tired of always falling ill, feeling lethargic, and unable to keep up with everything.
Of course, it was never this way. After a few bouts of walking pneumonia, asthma, misdiagnosed illness and all the steroids and antihistamines that came with it, my metabolism and mental health just ground to a halt. When you feel so terrible about yourself, you tend to want to self-soothe (via black truffle tagliatelle and spa sessions) instead of confronting the root issue.
As Elizabeth Gilbert says, “I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.”
It was and is still hard. There are days where the only things motivating me are:
a) cute outfits from Lululemon (I know, I’m shallow but they keep it fresh)
b) the feeling that I need to close the rings on my Apple Watch I have to say, having this super machine on your wrist where you have real data in real time about how active you are is an eye-opener.#facts
Some days I am literally astounded by how many steps I get in, how full of energy I am. Other days, I pull out the yoga mat and get some mountain climbers in just to edge the ring a bit closer to close. Mr Mmerci will tell you I have been spotted on my back, waving my limbs about like an overturned ladybug just to get my Moves in (Again, I know right. Who am I?!)
c) the idea that training costs a bomb and I hate the idea of wasting money. There’s a whole level of accountability when a trainer is thrown into the mix
And every time I get in my tights, put on my watch, I think: you showed up. You’re here. You showed up. Even if this is as fast as you get, as strong as you get for today, you showed up.
Yesterday I managed to walk 3km in 30 minutes, a record for me. If only the me of 6 months ago could see me now. Sia sung, healing is difficult.
So, to the Alli of tomorrow and three days from now: now matter how uncomfortable (or amazing) it gets: show up. This is true self-care.
We’re thrilled to share that for the month of October 2018, you’ll be able to find Mmerci Encore at the following locations in Singapore:
Lululemon – 79 Duxton Road, Level 4
Dancevault – 20 Cecil St, Level 4
Our sensorial delights have popped up at Lululemon and Dancevault, and you’re welcome to visit these spaces to try, sniff and sample our artisanal aromatherapy treats to your heart’s content!
When I started 2018, I made it a personal goal to get healthier, fitter, and importantly, stronger. Strong not skinny has been my mantra in this health journey and it was made all the more better with the arrival of my Applewatch Series 4. It enables me to daily track & hit my exercise and movement goals (aka my rings), has reminders to stand and ‘Breathe’… it also monitors glucose levels, the UV reading at any time of the day (helpful as I actually like walking around my neighbourhood a lot), and alerts emergency services if you have a fall.
Now I’ve caught you up to speed, one of the things I love the most about it (and I never thought I would), is the fact that you can sync your Applewatch to your friends watches and view their fitness updates as well.
The old me would have totally shut down the thought, but in the spirit of being accountable and finding new ways to stay motivated, I added a few super healthy, super fit friends on my watch.
Let’s be clear: you should want to exercise for yourself. This is not about proving yourself to anyone else, or competing with others. For me, it’s a way to train my brain and body to keep showing up for myself. However, there is something really great about having people encourage you when you’ve finished a workout or blitzed your Move (calorie burning) goal for the day.
Image: David Karnezos Photography
A few words to help inspire and get you moving if you’re more inclined to veg out or give up:
- “Tell yourself you are strong.” At the very start of my journey, I’d get horrible migraines and headaches every time I worked out. After every workout, I’d have some mystery sniffles or feel like absolute death. I hopped on YouTube and was stretching to an episode of Yoga with Adriene and I had just about had my limit when she said, “Tell yourself you are strong.” Wow. Why had it, in over 30 years, never occured to me to tell myself I was strong? I had told myself plenty of times that I didn’t have the energy or that I was sick and therefore, excused. But never that I was strong. Something in me shifted in that moment, and I try to replace my doubts with this mantra whenever I feel like I want to throw the towel in. Maybe the reality is that right now, you aren’t strong. Maybe you’re fighting chronic illness, or an exhausted parent, or battling so much at work. I encourage you to do this one crazy thing and think yourself strong. Don’t wait to feel strong to tell this to yourself. Just keep repeating it, even when you aren’t totally convinced yourself. Push and see what happens.
- “Just trust yourself.” My personal trainer said this to me as I balked at the idea of doing something without barfing (believe me, it’s happened before)… I think it was lifting 30kgs or something. Just try, and trust yourself.
- “I’m moving for my mental health.” You have a choice: stay still and glum, or go for a walk and clear your head. At the risk of sounding into a fitness blogger (of which, I am not), countless studies and experts encourage you to get moving in order to balancing your mood, counteracting the effects of anxiety and depression, helping to alleviate stress and boosting self-confidence all round.
- “You don’t have to be beautiful like them, you can be beautiful like you.” I watched Amy Schumer’s I Feel Pretty on the plane from New York twice. The scene of her SoulCycle Soho surrounded my models is something that resonates with me as a thiccc girl. But as we all know, you’re not going to find more motivation by hating on yourself so be proud you’re there – and showed up for yourself.
- “Move because you love your body, not because you hate it.” You are not here to punish or get revenge on yourself.
- “Honour your pace.” I love this quote so much, I put it on Mmerci Encore inspiration cards and randomly with our clients. Slow is still better than sitting down and scrolling through Instagram for an hour…
And if you need essential oils to help you feel enlivened and motivated pre or post sweat session, opt for:
These oils are great for helping you up and go. Aside from some of them helping to detox and aid in digestion, they also with intention setting and help boost willpower. Diffuse these in your workout space (if working out at home), or sniff them from the bottle when cravings arise and replace that need for junk food with something equally as peppy but guilt-free. Hopefully that pause as you inhale the essential oils helps you reframe and remember your health goals – I’m trying to remember the same too, as I have zero willpower when it comes to sweet treats and tend to indulge more when overwhelmed or stressed. As with everything if you have medical concerns, please see your physician first and don’t ingest essential oils – regardless of how clean and organic they are.
To read some other things that help me feel great about myself, check out what I shared at Her World and read about my wellness and lifestyle tips that have worked for me so far.
“I am inspired by things that have character, personality and strong features. They can be a little odd or strange but at the same time, very beautiful.”
— François Nars
Edgar Allen Poe once wrote that there is no exquisite beauty without strangeness. And sometimes, there’s no better way to celebrate your own unique beauty than giving yourself to colour. Lots of it.
Enter Nars x Erdem’s latest collection, Strange Flowers – an offering of unreservedly bold lipsticks – six to be exact, two blushes, two shadow palettes, lip powder palette & more handpicked by Erdem Moralioglu, of the eponymous label himself.
“I have always been interested in exploring the codes of femininity, and to me flowers represent the wonderful strength of the feminine,” says Moralioglu.
The shades and to-die-for lacquered box evoke Erdem’s -delicate prints and sumptuous silhouettes—though I’m personally struggling to ever use any palettes as they’re simply too pretty… a happy problem, I assure you.
Strange Flowers is part of an ongoing collab between the iconic beauty brand and the hauntingly romantic fashion label who have been creating these signature looks (oft characterised by dewy skin paired with an unexpected eye and daring lip) since 2013.
So now begs the question: what perk-me-up shades are you dying to try?
“Always, over and over, these days and nights will come, the anxiety, the aversion, the doubt. And I will still live, and I will still love life.”
— Hermann Hesse
A few days ago I caught myself hyperventilating mid-conversation. I had to take a big gulp of water and walk away for a bit.
It’s not the first time my incorrect breathing has gotten me in a bind. I once passed out in a hot yoga class simply because I forgot to breathe. Or rather, instead of really embracing that I was a beginner, I was acutely aware of how I was totally sucking at the poses, how I couldn’t move with the fluidity of others… just too in my head. Sipping at air, anticipating what was to come next instead of just being ok with feeling out of my depth. And then I passed out, and the teacher had to drag me out. It was terribly glamorous.
The same thing happened last week at the dentist. It was a routine clean, but it turned out to be a mini pranayama session as the doctor realised I was holding my breath and therefore, not able to open my mouth for him—which is kind of not what you want when you pay $600 for a dental appointment.
It reminded me of the time I walked into Per Van Spall’s office at Como Shambhala.
Notice how when you entered you spoke in a high pitch with a shallow breath, he said at the end of our session. You were not speaking from your diaphragm.
You were speaking from here, he said, and proceeded to point to his throat.
You were speaking from your ego.
Notice how your voice has deepened.
That moment unlocked something in me. When I speak into the moment with honesty and not fear, something just shifts.
The more we attempt to control a situation and get hysterical or speak in measured words instead of getting down to the core of who we are, the more it somehow manifests in the body. (It explains why you can seethe with anger or shake with rage or tremble with fear).
Ever since that encounter, I’ve been really mindful of listening to my body before reacting and it’s been a lot easier to stop and reframe situations just by paying attention to my breath.
But back to a few days ago where I really was hyperventilating. Knowing what I know, I was instantly able to pause, examine my intentions, and start again. It was actually pretty freeing because you don’t have to wait till tomorrow to start again.
Every moment can be made new by taking one deep breath.
If you’re after some immediate relief, the best balancing aromatherapy oils to help encourage patience, self-grace and an honest exchange with others (in my book), include bergamot essential oil and peppermint essential oil. Eucalyptus essential oil is another great one, literally helping to clear the air, while promoting better breathing.
And while you’re at it, if your heart needs a little re-examining, aside from prayer, journalling, meditation, walks in nature, I’ve always found geranium essential oil and ylang-ylang essential oil helpful in terms of bringing you back to center and gently rebalancing moods. There’s truly nothing worse than beating yourself up about something you said, or replaying on loop what can no longer be fixed.
And with that I finally realise why yoga teachers bang on the way that they do about breathing… Hope these suggestions help you.
“I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story—I will.”
– Amy Schumer
As we were heading out to lunch today, my friend and trusted aesthetic doctor, Dr Rachel Ho of La Clinic asked me how Mmerci started.
My mind immediately went to the days I was writing and editing beauty. I just recall trying so many products till my skin was inflamed and sensitive year-round. It used to be a joke among my colleagues that my skin would break out with just water.
As you can imagine, being the face (and voice) of the beauty department by the age of 24 – fully immersed in writing, presenting, sharing about it meant that I fell into some warped universe where I pressured myself to not only act but look the part.
I guess it didn’t help – walking into certain clinics to interview or review treatments only to be blatantly told by some doctors that there was something wrong with you. Would you like diet pills? (Funny, I never had a problem with my body… till that moment). Something to zap the cellulite away? (What, this? I’m good). Always something to fix. For all their well-meaning words and intentions, I just felt worse about myself.
For the record, I’m not painting all aesthetic doctors with the same brush as many are great, but Dr Rachel is – just putting it out there – a rare find.
Beyond breakouts, I recall the time I broke down in tears in the studio while getting my Editor’s Note portrait shots taken. I’m shy and have always been better behind the scenes, but this was a moment of pure stage fright. I was absolutely wooden and terrible to shoot. If I had booked me as a model, lets just say I would have called my booker and gotten a replacement On. The. Spot.
The photographer was so exasperated at my ability to ‘give’ to the camera, he shouted in Mandarin: “You have a black heart!”
And then my heart just sort of fell to the floor. I dissolved into tears and was Done with a capital D.
And so, Mmerci started as an anti-beauty beauty journal of sorts. It marked my return to the soul, and things that are beautiful to me.
That doesn’t mean I don’t need help from time to time. Who doesn’t want smaller pores and more refined skint? But the main distinction this time is: only I get to determine what I would like to improve about myself. Not my partner. Not my friends. Not my doctor. Nobody else.
Only I say what I would like to correct or refine. If I want that super expressive furrow ironed out, and it makes me feel better about myself, that’s my call to make.
Also, it’s 2018. Everybody has had a little something done. Get over it, people.
Perhaps that’s one of the upsides about aging: you just grow into yourself and by listening to your intuition, become more confident in sharing what works for you.
Getting cosmetic treatments is not anti-feminist. Criticising women who get them is.
Which is why it’s important for anyone considering any aesthetic procedure – whether it’s a lunchtime refresh involving lasers or something more extensive – to visit someone who isn’t just well-qualified (that’s a given) but someone you trust. Trust to listen to your concerns (instead of forcing their ideas on you). Trust to not take your insecurities and use them against you. Trust to think about your safety and health in the long term.
I had been personally searching for someone who was warm & could explain things at my level, someone who is goodhearted, views you objectively but with kind eyes, and has a killer aesthetic instinct about how to help you be your best you. And for me, that person happened to be Dr Rachel.
You never feel rushed, you never feel like your questions are dumb or ridiculous. She’ll openly talk about anything from the pros and cons of fillers, to her latest favourite cafe in town. And as any patient staring down the barrel of a needle will tell you, bedside manner is everything. She of course, has that in spades.
Aside from being a talented doctor with years of clinical experience under her belt (she’s best known for her threadlifts), she’s also a mum to baby S, an incredible calligraphy artist, and the on-call aesthetic guru at Buro 24/7.
She’ll also go down in my books as the first doctor who let me explain what I’d like to improve about myself, instead of suggesting I make 101 changes on myself without listening to my needs. I know that I’m in good hands because I feel really positive and cared for after every encounter – social, medical or otherwise. And I know for a fact, after a session with her, that she and her team are fantastic at what they do.
Some helpful questions to ask yourself when shopping for the right aesthetic doctor:
Do they put the patient’s safety first?
How much experience have they had and where?
Are they caring and genuinely concerned for your wellbeing?
Are they sharing and fully disclosing information in an educational, open and honest way?
How is their bedside manner? Do they make you feel at ease? Are they patient and helping you understand what’s next? Do they help manage expectations or seem to be rushing on to the next patient?
How is their skill – are they heavy-handed or prefer to work bit-by-bit?
How do they talk to and relate with their team? How are the support staff, such as the nurses?
Well, there are many paths to beautiful. For some it’s holistic, and for others, it’s a mix of modalities and treatments. Here’s to finding the right combination that works best for you. x Alli