Category Archives: Reviews

And I too jumped on the nuun bandwagon

If you are a runner training for anything, you have at some point heard about nuun.  I have even tried buying it when they were having a super sale, but sadly they won’t ship APO/DPO/FPO (hey, those serving our country overseas deserve some hydration too, don’t you think?), so there was no way for me to get it.

Jocelyn, who I almost met when she came to the Philippines many months ago, was super nice and sent me a couple of bottles of nuun to try out, and I finally got it last Friday, right before heading to Shanghai.  I was curious, so I tried it out right away on my way to the airport.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much.  I’m a big airborne fan, and totally believe that if I take a couple of tablets when I feel that familiar scratching on my throat, I can prevent a cold, but tasty airborne is not.  So since they’re both similar looking tablets, I was expecting nuun to taste very similar to airborne.

Thankfully, I was wrong!  So far I’ve only tried the orange flavor (she sent me that and a citrus fruit one), and it was refreshing and not at all overpowering.  Wish I had tried it back in my marathon training days!  Considering I’ve had my share of dehydration (even without running involved), I’ll definitely be guzzling some nuun from now on.  Add me as another convert!

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MyFitnessPal Review

As I mentioned this week, one of the iPhone apps that been super helpful in terms of weight loss/accountability is the MyFitnessPal app (if you don’t have a smart phone, you can access all features in the website instead).

In case you’re wondering, MFP (can I just call it that for the rest of the review?) is 100% free.  There’s not even a free vs paid version, so you get all the features for free.


I’ve been using it for about a month and a half now.  Just like everyone else, I HATE counting calories (who likes doing that?), and MFP is basically counting calories, but without you actually doing the brunt of the work.

To set it up, you input how aggressive do you want this weight loss thing to be (1/2lb a week?  2lbs a week?) and from there it’ll give you the goal calorie per day, which you can adjust it if you’d like.  For example, my net calorie goal is 1,400/day in order to lose 1lb a week, but I changed it to 1,300, so it gives me a bit of leeway for weekends (which is when I’m not so good about eating the right things).  That way, if I can keep it around 1,300 five days a week, I have an extra 500 calories I can splurge on during the weekend (not that I actually try to eat those extra calories, but eating out quickly adds them up).  I’ll admit that most weekend I go way beyond those extra 500 calories…  (But this allows me to have the occasional day not worrying too much about it.)

The really cool part of the app?  Once you’re done logging for the day, you click on “complete this entry” and it will tell you “if you ate every day like you eat today, you’ll weigh XXX in 5 weeks” – on good days that number is encouraging, on bad days it’ll show a weight gain and it really makes you want to be better!

It has a HUGE food database (even recipes from Cooking Light, a cookbook we use a lot, is there), and on the odd chance that it doesn’t have what you want, you can manually input it and have it saved to use it again.  On that note, if you tend to eat repeat meals, you can save them as a meal, and add later with one click, and another really cool feature is that you can scan barcodes and it will add that to your calorie count (I tested with both Brazilian and Filipino manufactured things, and it worked!).  Once you add an item once, it’ll be saved on your “recent” for quick access as well.

You can keep track of weight and measurements.  You can keep track of exercise and water consumed.  And it also gives you a breakdown of fat/carbs/protein intake, if you’re keeping tabs on that.  (It gives you a standard percentage setting for those, but if you go to the website you can change the percentages if you want to do a low-fat or high-protein diet, etc.)

The one thing I DON’T like?  If I input, say, 100 calories burned from exercise, it then ups my food allowance by another 100 calories.  There’s no way to change that, and I know I can manually calculate the difference, but it becomes too much work, so I never input exercise (except for the one screen above as an example).  I don’t like eating my calories burned!  I want them both to work towards weight loss, plus, we all know calories burned during exercise is not an exact science.  And what if I was doing long runs, where I would easily burn 2000 calories in one run, do I just eat all of them back (of course not!).  (And yes, I checked, if I input 2000 calories worth of exercise, it ups my food allowance by another 2000…  Ugh.)

This is also one of the reasons I haven’t worn my fitbit in a while – I linked it to MFP and then it overestimated my calories burned by a LOT, and I kept getting extra calories to consume.

Despite the drawbacks, I love the app and have been using it faithfully.  I definitely recommend if you want a quick easy way of keeping track of what you eat, specially if like my you are trying to lose weight (or even to maintain it).

Have you tried My Fitness Pal?  Have you tried another similar app?  What are the good/bad you have noticed?


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Second Haircut in Manila!

I know, I know, it’s a bit ridiculous.  After all, we got here back in April, so a normal person would have had more than 2 haircuts in 10 months.  Specially when that first haircut happened during month one.  That’s right, I spent 9 months without going to a salon…  My hair was tangling so easily lately, that I’ve been wearing a ponytail constantly in the last couple of months.  Why so long in between cuts, you ask?

One, because I’m lazy (it’s true…  It’s also the reason my facials and microdermabrasion appointments, that I already paid for, happen every 3 months, instead of every other week…). 

Two, because I was scared.  During my first haircut here the hairdresser didn’t seem very confident, and though it turned out ok at the end, I had to fix a couple of things here and there at home (the shortest layer was so thick, it looked like a kid had taken scissors to it). 

Then I went to get a facial there, and the same lady that cut my hair did my facial, and she spent 10 minutes on my face, 1 hour (no joke!) giving me a head massage (have I mentioned I hate head massages unless it’s during a haircut when my hair is wet and the person is not pulling the strands out with every move – it was HELL).  So I lost all faith in that woman and that place (Studio 119, at the Picasso Building, if you’re wondering… Right next door to QiWellness which is the best massage place ever). 

So I was afraid of trying a new place.  When you live in an Asian country, you’re never sure if they know how to cut non-Asian hair (I wish my hair was thick and straight like most Filipinas…  but no luck).

A new salon just opened in Salcedo, Makati, and I thought why not give it a try?  So on Tuesday I made a last minute appointment and walked into Hair Philosophie, sporting a quasi-Rapunzel look…


That’s what 9 months of neglect does to a person’s frock…  See the shortest layer?  It was around chin length after my last cut.  And you can see how the ends are a mess, and why they were easily tangling? (Despite how my hair looks, I tend to have the kind of hair that I can comb my hand through anytime and it goes straight through – when it tangles so much it’s a sign I took things too far for too long).

I left the salon sporting hair like this… (any change in color is due to lighting, I guess my in-person hair color falls between picture 1 and 2?)  A bit shorter than I’ve had in years, but I love it!


Sure the hair was dried with a blow drier so it likely looks nicer than normal (remember the lazy part?  Yeah, I air dry my hair 99.99% of the time, and yes, even in DC winter – frozen icicles of hair are fun, no?). 

I also invested in a “hair spa” with some deep conditioning stuff to help the dryness (P1,500, if you’re wondering).

But even after air drying when my hair will poof like usual (sometimes being straight, sometimes wavy – I never know its mood until it dries out), it’ll still look better than the before picture!

I highly recommend the salon!  My cut with a senior stylist was P750 (about $17.50, I love Manila prices!).  My stylist was Junel – the most flamboyant man I’ve met in Manila so far (and he was hilarious, so entertainment AND a great cut in one?  Perfect!). 

Hopefully this is enough motivation to get me back there within the next 6 months…


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Yum, Bohemian Spa Wafers!

I know, I know, between travel and (lack of) running, talking about wafers all of a sudden might sound confusing.  But remember these friends of mine, Tomas and Lenka?  They just started their own company selling Czech wafers in the US, called Bohemian Spa Wafers.  And they sent me TWO free boxes (yay!).  At no point they mentioned saying anything about it on the blog, but I tried it, loved it, so why not share here?  Maybe that way I can get more free wafers?  (I kid!)  (Sorta)

Web Boxs4a

I’ll be honest, I saw their website and checked the price for a box.  $7.99 for a box of wafers?  Ouch!

But then, I got the box home and these things are HUGE.  Like bigger than my face huge.


Now 8 wafers, each bigger than my face (and I don’t have a particularly small head) for $7.99 no longer sounds like a bad deal, right?

And the most exciting part?  They were DELICIOUS!  Light and airy and super yummy.  Tomas gave me both the hazelnut and coconut flavors to try, and the hazelnut was my favorite!  (My parents and Karl munched on them too and also loved them!)

Right now you can read more about them or buy them online through this link or if you live in the DC area, it’s on sale at a few stores (with hopefully more to come in other areas).  Check them out!  They come in hazelnut, coconut, chocolate and cinnamon (and you can get all four flavors for about $28).  Or like them on facebook as they’ve been posting trivia questions once in a while, and you get a chance to win a free box or two if you’d like to try them as well (yes, I’ve been totally answering the trivia.  Again, yum!).

If you’ve tried them before let me know what you think!  (Or even if you heard of them before – I had never heard of these wafers until Tomas introduced me to it.  And yum!)

Update:  Tomas read what I wrote and is sending me more flavors to try!  Score!


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