In the game of life, the rules seem simple: eat well, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and stay positive and happy.
Playing by these rules, however, can be a challenge. Long hours at work make getting to the gym mission impossible, and stress can cause sleepless nights and a beauty sleep deficit.
In addition, keeping to a healthy diet can be quite a challenge when Singapore is a gloriously yummy food paradise. And haven’t you heard that diabetes has become a national problem?
Despite all the obstacles in your path as you try to bring balance to your body and mind, and live life to the fullest, you can get your health on track if you set your mind to it. And it can be fun — and achievable.
Kickstart your health journey with the AXA Health Challenge, a series of weekly challenges to encourage improvements on your diet, fitness, mental well-being and sleep. There are 10 prizes to be won each week and they include a Fitbit Flex, $100 Decathlon Gift Card, $50 Decathlon Gift Card and $10 worth of Mobike credits.
Starting your health journey takes just small, simple steps. Need a little inspiration? Read on to discover how four working professionals are getting their #healthygame on in different ways.
"As a full-time working mum of five-year-old twins, my days are very long. They start at 5.15am and end around midnight; in between, I get chores done, prepare everyone for school and work, squeeze in 8km morning runs, get to the office, pick up my kids, have dinner and enjoy family time.
"Accomplishing all that means eating well. That's why I plan home-cooked meals around easy-to-find ingredients and simple, healthy recipes. I strive to serve dishes with less sugar, salt and oil, and avoid relying on takeaways. When we dine out, we never have fried food. Even when I bake, I adjust the amount of sugar I use in cakes.
"It takes just five minutes to make ham, tomato, cheese and cranberry toast for breakfast. For dinner, I create poke bowls with quinoa, smoked salmon, cherry tomatoes, butterhead lettuce and purple carrot. I sometimes cook Chinese-style steamed pomfret served with rice or plain porridge. Both take less than 45 minutes to prepare.
"When I don't have time to cook, I buy multigrain oat rice from a popular Taiwanese chain eatery, or lighter fare such as fish soup mee sua or yong tau foo. We are what we eat, even though I indulge in roti prata and carrot cake occasionally. Moderation is key."
— Lynnette Chia, graphic designer
"I've always been a light sleeper; I get easily affected by any sound, light or movement within a short radius. I am easily awoken by the sound of the tap running in the ensuite bathroom, the glow of a mobile phone, or when my partner turns in his sleep. Such interruptions can leave me bright-eyed and fuming, sometimes till dawn.
"So I've taken proactive steps to fine-tune my own pre-bed rituals for an ideal sleep environment. This has been a lot simpler than I imagined. I start with a strict rule — no gadgets an hour before bedtime. This is the biggest hurdle I face, since I consume a very heavy digital diet.
"The rest of my routine involves adding a few drops of lavender oil on my pillow and drinking a glass of milk at room temperature. Both relax me and give me that torpid feeling that's so conducive for sleep.
"And finally, I put on my sleep mask, which effectively obliterates any trace of light. Thanks to this ritual, I find that I get my quality sleep, even if it's less than the recommended eight hours a day."
— Tina Wang, marketing manager
"My workdays are super hectic as I power through a long To Do list from 8.30am. So I make exercise my form of escapism. I run (outdoor and indoor), trek, practise yoga and climb stairs. On days when I feel stressed or low, I extend my workout by 30 minutes.
"I believe adrenaline releases bad vibes. For instance, I love pushing myself mentally and physically to complete the last kilometre during a 45-minute run. I feel so good afterwards. Satisfaction guaranteed! When I don't like how I look or feel, I tend to feel negative. That's toxic not just to myself, but everyone else around me.
"I also make an effort to be active throughout the day. I take an energising 10-minute walk outdoors during lunch-time, and choose the stairs over the lift whenever possible. I also alternate between standing and sitting at the office — it helps with blood circulation and maintaining good posture.
"There is no ideal day to exercise — every day is another day to do something. Make exercise a habit, so it becomes your lifestyle. I don't understand how many say they have no time to exercise. If you want to, you can always find time.”
— Dewi Sriwahyuto, digital strategist
"Stress is very much part of life in Singapore, so mental wellness is essential. For me, that starts with a positive mindset, and smart lifestyle habits. I wake early each day to clear my mind and go through a mental checklist of the tasks ahead. I meditate using a mobile app during my morning commute. I make time within the week to slow down for a cup of coffee and a good read.
"I inject instant positivity to my day by reminding myself that no matter what I'm going through, someone else is going through more. I find little things to be thankful about, such as friends I can count on. When I feel down, I keep myself distracted and try not to over-think things.
"I go to bed every night knowing tomorrow is an opportunity to be happy. I also try to find ways to improve in different areas in my life; I feel that it reflects optimism that things will get better if I pursue them.
"My job is a stressful one, I believe work-related setbacks should never be taken personally. I see the glass as half-full, always. Negativity is never helpful, it's a salt-to-a-wound situation. Problems are much more pleasant to tackle if you see the humour in it, wherever possible. Smile when you can, look back on negative episodes and laugh about them eventually."
— Czaraim Carreon, project manager