If you’re married, attached or dating, V-day can either be romantic and memorable, or a potential nightmare. If you’re in charge of planning the occasion, the worst you can do is be boring with the details, and that means mass-produced ideas that will see you both end up eating with everyone else (and their grandmother), and you paying a small fortune for an ordinary bouquet that every or recipient will be flaunting.
This is the one time in the year that you should throw convention to the wind and avoid the same-old. Well lucky you, as you’ve come to the right place. And there’s still time to dive into HSD’s list of not-so-common V-Day ideas to dazzle your beloved.
HIRE A PERSONAL CHEF
If you both dislike crowds and prefer to dine at home, take that romantic dinner for two to the next level and splash out on a personal chef from www.personalchefsingapore.com – they offer customized dining experiences just for two, complete with bespoke menu, tableware, floral centerpieces and butler.
BUY A LASTING BOUQUET
While it’s tempting to call your usual florist for an order of roses, don’t. We have a better suggestion: Head to the nurseries and buy your sweetheart a pretty pot of mini roses, which will be symbolic of your relationship taking root and blossoming under both your care. Not like that exorbitant bouquet that will wither in a few days.
GET ROMANTIC WITH THAT GIFT
That always means jewellery. It doesn’t have to be big and status-changing like a bling proposal ring, it just has to be tasteful and meaningful, like pearl earrings, a charm bracelet, a vintage brooch, or a set of stylish stack rings and bangles.
GO FOR THE EXPERIENTIAL EFFECT
The idea is to create an experience that she or he will be talking about for weeks or months. If your other half loves staying active and being in the great outdoors, a scenic run through Marina Bay Sands or the Botanic Gardens that ends in a wine and cheese picnic can be utterly romantic – try PicNeeds, Hocus Pocus Events, Beauteaq, The Shake Affinity or Plan B, any one of these picnic makers can easily set you up. If the city is where his or her heart beats, rent a convertible – try www.acedrive.sg – and pick a route that includes the magnificent Singapore skyline. Your babe can have champagne while she or he feeds you strawberries.
STIR UP SOME MOVIE MAGIC
Recreate those early movie dates with a mini movie marathon at home made up of her favourite romantic films. Or go whole hog and rent a small cinema hall for just the two of you and ask for a screening of a movie that means something in your relationship. Check out www.theprojector.sg, www.wecinemas.com.sg or www.cathaycineplexes.com.sg
DO GOOD TOGETHER
Bring V-day joy to others, like old folks, marginalized children, the disabled, the mentally challenged or animals. Sparking joy for others can be a fulfilling way to celebrate a day of love.
SPA THE DETAILS
The couple that spas together, stays together. Indulging in a relaxing, luxurious couple spa session has its benefits – it helps you both to relax and recharge, so you can be even better together. Check out Willow Stream Spa at The Fairmont Singapore, Remede Spa at The St Regis and Auriga Spa at Capella Singapore. In fact, make it a spa-cation just for two.
ENJOY EACH OTHER’S COMPANY
At the end of the day, all the bling, bangs and whistles in the world won’t mean a thing if you’re not all there for your special someone. So stop with the whatsapping and Instagramming. Give each other your full attention and simply enjoy the special company. The rest of the world need not know what you mean to her/him, only you both do.
A man’s wardrobe is both a reflection and symbolic of his life-stage and progression. I should know. As a young graduate, all I could afford back then were generic office shirts and department-store-bought work pants, sometimes acquired on discount. A while later, my work wardrobe evolved to include tops and bottoms from accessible boutique brands like G2000. To this day, I still consider their price-friendly merchandise true ‘office staples’ that every young corporate should have.
While I understand the need for pocket-friendly workwear, I’m also a firm believer of well-tailored suits, shirts and pants, because I think nothing looks sharper and more professional than bespoke apparel made just for me. It had always been a dream of mine to acquire a selection of custom-tailored jackets, pants and shirts, a goal I had a mind to work towards. But that came much later in my life. You could say I was a late-adopter of the tailored look, having ventured into that exclusive world only quite recently. Even when I could afford it, I fought shy of it. I realise now that the reason is that a visit to the tailor for an average Joe like me can be a little intimidating, and tedious. The process is protracted and repetitive — from taking measurements, upteenth visits for fittings, right down to the selection of fabrics from thousands of swatches in hundreds of catalogues. It can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months, before one can set eyes on the final product. Compounded by confusing jargon-ish acronyms like MTM, MTO, getting a bespoke suit, dream or no, can be angst-ridden and definitely test your patience.
My years in media have fortunately connected me with some prominent names in the tailoring scene, one of which is Closeknip, a newly-launched tailoring service, with a fresh and friendly approach. If you’re already a fan of style-forward, made-to-measure clothing, you’ll be pleased to know that Closeknip is backed by the people behind the established bespoke tailoring label PIMABS. Closeknip is a leap off its founders’ expertise, gained from years of experience in dressing men. Closeknip’s secret lies in its proprietary system that reduces the entire tailoring process by more than half the time — guys, we are talking serious breakthrough process disruption here, a reinvention of the way men consume personalised menswear.
A shorter time from start to finish aside, a visit to the Closeknip showroom is an experience in itself. It is nestled cozily in up-and-coming Cavan Road, (within the now-cool Jalan Besar enclave), which is also inevitably attracting a cluster of hipster cafes and creative agencies. Created to make every guest feel welcomed, the warmth and hospitality of Closeknip starts with drinks by its long and handsome island countertop, from which a guest can choose a great selection of whisky and gin. The rest of the showroom is decorated to feel like a bachelor’s pad — cutting-edge leather couch, beautiful wall painting and a sleek walk-in wardrobe.
The concept of Closeknip is really to keep things simple yet personalised, and in line with the fact they the brand specialises in well-made everyday clothes for everyday people. Through understanding your style personality and lifestyle, the team builds the foundation of your bespoke wardrobe and adapts it to your sartorial preference. It does not have a house style and it does not dictate looks. Most important is that it keeps things basic. With its expertise and methodology, and on such a platform does Closeknip build a winning wardrobe that reflects your personal taste.
Closeknip’s personalised menswear begins with an incredibly detailed fitting process that reduces the guesswork. This takes away the stress and anxiety of anticipating the fit, and it allows customers to focus on what will make them feel comfortable and confident. This is possible, as a result of the huge amount of data the team has collected for over two decades in the business of dressing men; all this just so Closeknip can achieve superior fit in a single visit. After all, Closeknip knows that the most vital components of personalised menswear is the detailed, disciplined and thorough use of fitting samples created for most, if not all body shapes and sizes.
The core belief of Closeknip is more with less. The team knows that creating something simple takes years of experience and experiment — but it’s worth the while for mastering a perfect piece of apparel, with the least number of details possible.
WARDROBE SHIRT BUNDLES start from $450 for 3 shirts. Suits starting from $699.
The best way to describe our favourite CNY snacks is ‘more-ish’, because we hardly ever stop at one piece or type. Diet or no, training or not, many of us, like my husband, are bona fide CNY cookie monsters. His appetite turns monstrous when it comes to these celebratory snacks and I know first-hand that he can, and has, easily demolished two jars of pineapple tarts in about the span of an hour.
My CNY poison is bak kwa. Those sweet, salty, oily, caramel-y slices of meaty goodness are my main weakness. During the festive season, I’ve been known to clear out a kilo of it all on my own. Can’t help it. I go weak in the presence of its umami superpowers.
I know a friend who has a once-a-year kueh bangkit dependence. Those fragrant melt-in-the-mouth coconut-y cookies seem innocuously light, so she thinks nothing of throwing back a handful each time. Speaking of other ‘lightweights’, unless you stop at 1 or 2, there’s nothing lovely about what a tin of love letters can do to your waistline too.
Those who don’t have a sweet tooth aren’t spared, no thanks to other can’t-stop-eating-them snacks like savoury, spicy hae bee hiam rolls. The sweet, salty, spicy combination of flavours is a diet-killer, like really good peanut-ty achar. I should know. I’ve spooned out and scarfed down a whole jar while watching an episode of Friends. That’s both hae bee hiam and achar.
But then it’s once a year and CNY wouldn’t be so huat unless you get to enjoy and indulge. But if you fail to prepare, you’ll also be preparing to fail. So, whether your Kryptonite be peanut cookies or sugee cake, a quick check with His Style Diary’s CNY snack calorie counter below will help you plan your next workout well, especially after an attack of the munchies.
A piece of pineapple tart is about 80 calories, depending on the type of pastry and the source of the pineapple filling (full fruit or just jam). Assuming there are 24 pieces in a jar, polishing off the entire bottle means you’ll need to burn a whopping 1,920 calories.
Per piece is 23 calories. They’re deceptively light, but that also means you tend to eat more, so just keep in mind that 10 tiny pieces will add up to about 230 calories.
These delightful rolls pack about 110 calories each. It’s tempting to grab a stack or a fistful of them, but be sure to work out the sums pre-workout.
Hae Bee Hiam Rolls
They’re so mini, they can’t be that high in calorie, right? Wrong. Each tiny poh piah is a not-too-shabby 22 calories. Because they’re sweet, salty, spicy, has both protein and carb, some of us make a meal out of it. Consider skipping one (meal) and spending it exercising if you do.
This premium snack is a real labour of love to make, but the really good ones are every person’s Achilles Heel. It doesn’t help that they’re great with coffee. With one sliver at 160 calories (it’s egg yolks galore), it’s just as well that the home bakers I know don’t make them in very huge trays. Phew.
As a kid, I absolutely loved these sugary sponge balls. Happy to report that I’ve outgrown them. If you haven’t, take note that each sweet orb is no less than 40 calories. If you don’t want to look rotund like a kueh bahulu, better bounce right into the gym before you decide to have a go at some.
Tiam Kueh. Tee Ker. Sweet sticky cake. Call it what you like, prepare it how you may – battered, deep-fried, with or without a slice of yam in the middle, it’s awesome. Equally awesome is its calorie count. Per average serving (about the size of a woman’s palm) is close to 500 calories, so eat it sparingly.
Nearly 200 calories per slice, and nobody stops at just one, which is already rich enough. While writing this, I’d wolfed down about 3 slices, not counting the 2 I had with lunch. That’s a scary 1,000 calories, almost half my entire daily calorie intake!
If you’re just joining us on our strength training series, please check out the first part here. As we mentioned in the previous part, the point of strength training is to lift heavier and heavier loads. That forces your muscles to grow, so that they can handle the increasing burden. When your muscles grow, your body becomes more efficient at burning fat. Your body begins to look more taut, you fit your clothes better, and your health improves.
The best way to approach strength training is to think of it by the week. Within the span of a week, you would have trained every major muscle group – chest, back, upper/lower legs and glutes, shoulders, arms, and core. Each week, you’ll be hitting each muscle group with 60 – 75 heavy repetitions. As you go through the following weeks, your goal is to be lifting more and more weight every week, while keeping the same rep range, and keeping a strict, good form.
You’ll find that the rep ranges are low in the following guide. Keeping the rep range low allows you to move more weight, and make full use of the 60 – 75 repetitions you can do a week.
Some fitness magazines tout the “muscle confusion” method, claiming that your muscles need to be caught unawares before they decide to grow. Otherwise, they’ll get used to what you’re doing, and simply plateau. This “confusion”, be it actual science or bro-science, is incorporated in strength training – in the form of an increased load every time you hit 8 reps. The simple need to lift a heavier burden is a reason good as any for your muscles to grow. If you overload correctly, they will definitely grow.
“Strength training isn’t rocket science,” said Einstein. No, really.
The following is an example of a weekly routine, assuming you hit the gym 4 days a week. Remember the rule: once you hit 8 reps on any set, increase the weight on the next set by 5 – 10 lbs. If you do 6 reps in the first set, but only 4 in the second, lower the weight next time. If you hit 7 reps in the second, try for 8 next week at the same weight. The minimum you should do is 6 reps on any set.
Day 1 – Legs
Think of your legs as three parts: the quadriceps (quads) at the front of your thighs, the hamstrings behind the quads, and the calves. For some people, calves are hard to grow. You can throw in another 2 sets of calf movements on another day, if you wish. I suggest doing so on the day you train your back, after the major movements.
The back is really part of a chain of many muscles, known as the posterior chain. Specifically, training the back involves mainly the muscles between the neck and the hip. Think of it as upper back (base of the neck down to the shoulder blades), the lats (flanking your upper back for a V-tapered look), and the lower back (mainly the lower section of the muscles keeping your spine in place, erectors spinae).
*Even for a seasoned weightlifter, keeping a strict form when performing the deadlift can become difficult after the 6th rep, especially when the load is heavy. I recommend keeping the rep range between 4 – 6.
Day 4 – Shoulders / Arms
Since the shoulders and arms are stimulated indirectly when you exercise the major muscle groups above, you’ll find that the repetitions stipulated for them are lower. Think of your shoulders in three parts: the front, the side, and the back.
Developed together, they give you the round “cap” look and broaden your frame.There’s also the traps, which extend from the base of your neck to the shoulders. Think of your arms as biceps and triceps. The former gives you the desirable “Popeye the Sailor man” flex, the latter is what actually gives the upper arm most of its bulk.
Total reps for shoulder muscle group: 56
Total reps for arms muscle group: 32
What about resting?
The recommended rest interval is between 2 to 3 minutes, and no longer than 5 minutes, in between sets. You want to be sufficiently rested to give your best for the next set, but you also want to maintain intensity in your workout. To give your system a chance to recover fully, take a week-long break from lifting weights every 8 weeks.
If you’re only just starting out at the gym, your first week may be a trial-and-error period. You’ll need that time to figure out how strong you are, and what weight to use for each exercise, so that you get in that 6–8 rep range. You will also need time to learn and practice strict form for each exercise.
What about my abs?
The core refers to the muscles around your trunk (between the chest and your hips). The core also contains everyone’s dream muscle group: the abs. Let’s be clear – no matter how hard you train your abs, they will not show until you’ve lost the layer of fat that conceals them.
Most people will not be able to hit 60 weighted reps on the core area in one sitting. It is prudent to split your core workout into two days, with at least one day in between. Here is a list of some weighted core movements you can consider:
Decline crunches with medicine ball
Hanging / Incline leg raises with dumbbell
Cable crunches (kneeling)
In case you have no idea what these listed exercises entail, there are plenty of good online resources that demonstrate the movements, and what form is demanded. My preferred sites are exrx.com, and bodybuilding.com.
How often should you visit the gym? Truthfully, only you can answer that question. How much time are you able, and then willing, to devote to building a better physique? The general consensus favors splitting your routine – devote one day to each muscle group. People who prefer not to travel to the gym daily can merge muscle groups.
There are some strategies to keep in mind while doing so. Prioritize larger muscle groups (back, legs) early in the week, in case you end up missing gym days as the week goes on. Try not to put “connected” muscle groups back to back. Working out your back activates your posterior chain, meaning your hamstrings and glutes get a workout too. Diving into a leg workout right after, or even the day after, might compromise the amount of weight you can lift.
Remember, the point always is to try and hit the iron as heavily as possible. Last but not least, if you’re lifting heavy, which you should be doing – limit your workout to 90 minutes, once a day. If you’re there longer, you may be doing too many reps, or squeezing too many muscle groups into one day.
For those unaware, free weights refer to dumbbells and barbells. Machines keep you in a stable position, which you may feel more secure in, but they are not as effective as free weights in training your stabilizer muscles. Those are the little, less seen muscles which, if trained well, will help you lift heavier weights in the future. Always choose free weights.
I shall conclude by leaving you with the tips you should always remember:
Progressively overloading your muscles is the best way to gain muscle mass.
Choose compound exercises that allow you to increase the weights safely.
Stay between 2 – 3 sets of 6 – 8 reps per exercise; 60 – 75 reps total per muscle group per week. Your last rep on each set should always be a struggle.
Once you can do more than 8 reps on any exercise, it’s time to raise the load.
Rest between sets, for at least 2 minutes, and no more than 5 minutes.
For your abs to be visible, you need to reduce your body fat percentage to 6% – 9%. That requires a dedicated diet along with a smart strength training routine.
Take a week-long break from lifting weights every 8 weeks.
You will feel fabulous. Yes. It’s his promise to you.
Once you’ve internalized these tips, you’ll be free to create a strength training plan that fits your lifestyle and your goals. Tune out the next fitness fad you see on fitness magazines. You know the fundamentals now! For those just starting out, you’ll be seeing “beginner gains” very soon. For those who frequent the gym already, try out this strength training method of doing heavy, low-rep sets. You may be surprised to find that you’re stronger than you think you are – and at the gains you make. Get at it, guys!
Is “working out more” on your list of resolutions this year? You may already have a plan, but how do you know if it’s going to work? If weekly publications of men’s fitness magazine is any indication, the world of physical fitness, training, or “getting in shape” is convoluted and rather intimidating. However, as with most complex subjects, the science of “working out” is underpinned with a few basic fundamentals. Once you are clear about the basics, you’ll be able to navigate your own fitness journey – and see actual results.
I’ve gained about 30 lbs since I started “strength training” regularly – not all muscle, I confess, but most of it is. I won’t be getting a modeling contract any time soon, but I’ve consistently received compliments about the way I look. I’ve also found it much, much easier to find clothing that fits me – I fill them out better with a more muscular frame. I’m more confident, my annual physicals always return with stellar results, and… I enjoy my workouts. Well, most of the time anyway.
Albeit at a slower pace, I am still seeing improvement in my physique. The thing is, I’ve been doing pretty much the same thing now as I did when I first started in 2013. Sure, I’ve switched routines and exercises around, but I follow the same fundamentals I learnt when I began my journey – and they still deliver. And now I’m sharing them with you.
Why strength training is the best way to gain muscle
Strength training is largely based on lifting weights. The point is to get stronger, or, being able to lift more and more heavy loads. In order to do so, the muscles in your body have to grow. Scientific research has borne out these truths:
Calories give you energy. You gain weight when the calories you consume exceed the energy you expend. Conversely, to lose weight, you need to expend more energy than you consume.
It is easier to consume calories (eating, drinking) than it is to expend calories (activity, exercise).
The more muscle mass your body has, the more energy you expend, even at rest.
To gain muscle mass, you must force your muscles to grow. Muscles only grow if they need to bear loads greater than they can currently.
The most efficient way to overload your muscles is lifting weights. Why? Weights offer reliable, systematic progression. Being able to increase the weights at structured intervals, you can progressively overload your muscles, forcing them to keep growing until you hit your goal.
That brings us to the first conclusion:
The most effective way to gain muscle mass is progressively overloading a routine involving lifting weights.
Why should my goal even be gaining muscle? No matter if you’re overweight, underweight, or just an average guy – gaining muscle is a sure way to improve your physical fitness. Some guys say they just want to be lean, not bulky. Sure, lean muscle is exactly what lifting weight produces.
In fact, it’s quite difficult to “become bulky” without the help of steroids. Also, when your body is forced to gain muscle, other healthful benefits follow – reduced mental stress, better concentration, improved testosterone levels, and so much more. The crux is that you fully understand what lifting weight is all about, and how to do it with proper form and frequency.
The Basics of Strength Training
This is what research in physical science and sports medicine tells us:
Compound exercises stimulate more muscle than isolation exercises. The more muscle is stimulated, the more potential for muscle growth. An example of a compound exercise is the flat bench press. On the contrary, a concentration bicep curl would be an isolation exercise.
Each muscle group responds best to an average of 60 – 75 reps of intensive training a week (with the weight set at 80% of your maximum strength).
This brings us to our second conclusion.
A good strength training routine should include mainly compound exercises, which allow you to safely and progressively increase the weight.
For each exercise, the repetitions should be kept low for each set, so you can lift the most amount of weight. Your strength training routine should be structured on a weekly basis.
Now for the nitty-gritty.
For each compound exercise you do, you should set the weight high enough so that you can only perform between 6 to 8 reps, in strict form, for each set. The final repetition should bring you to “failure” – the inability to perform another repetition.
Keep your set frequency for each exercise between 2 and 3. Once you’re able to perform more than 8 reps on any set, increase the weight by 5 – 10 lbs. If you can do 6 reps in the first set, but only 4 in the second, lower the weight. The minimum you should do is 6 reps on any set.
To conclude this first part of our series, here’s a quick recap on the things you should keep in mind:
Any guy can benefit from incorporating lifting weights into their fitness program. The most effective way to gain muscle is to lift heavy, and progressively increase the weight. Therefore, you should do mostly compound exercises, which allow you to safely increase the load. Your routine should involve low repetitions, so that you can lift the most weight possible throughout each set.
#1 Tip from Arnold: Kittens are optional.
Ready to give strength training a shot? Stay tuned for the next part in this series to get an example of what a weekly routine looks like. We’ll spell out what exercises you can do for each muscle group, and how long you should be resting in between reps. We’ll also tell you how often you should be hitting the gym weekly, and talk about the elusive 6-pack abs every guy wants.
2018 was a big year for sneakers and as it turns out, the fashion sneaker trend isn’t going anywhere fast. From chunky dad inspired kicks to throwback running shoes, these are the trainers you should be investing in for 2019.
Louis Vuitton Run Away Pulse Sneaker
Riding on the popularity of the women’s Archlight, the men’s equivalent Louis Run Away Pulse is made for the rugged guy with a preference for a hiking boot-style sneaker. Designed with metal eyelets for the two-tone laces as well as an augmented black rubber sole, the shoe is available in several variations including the one pictured here in iconic monogram patent canvas. We’ll be running away with a pair of these kicks for sure.
Balenciaga Triple S
Having built on the popularity of its debut during the fashion house’s AW17 show in Paris, Balenciaga’s Triple S sneaker now boasts countless iterations and is credited with kick-starting today’s “ugly” sneaker trend. Described as “heavy-duty, high fashion-spec footwear” by Balenciaga designer Demna Gvasalia, the shoes offer a clunky silhouette with an elaborated sole composed of three different layers. They are available in myriad colourways including the latest “split” versions.
Versace Chain Reaction
Versace’s Chain Reaction sneaker was designed to embody the strongest elements of the brand’s identity including its lightweight, chain-linked rubber sole that takes inspiration from iconic Versace chain jewellery. First seen on the label’s AW18 runway, it only took a matter of months for them to become an incredibly sought-after style.
Jimmy Choo Diamond
Born from the idea of how it would feel to step into a multi-faceted diamond, playing with the sense of lightness and clarity the different angles reflect, Jimmy Choo’s Diamond sneaker is a luxury offering perfect for those wanting something more streamlined while still making a statement. Developed and designed in Italy, the shoe features a flat classic shape that is inlaid with an innovative transparent diamond-inspired sole, so your feet can literally ‘shine bright like a diamond’.
Alexander McQueen Exaggerated Sole Sneakers
The aptly named Exaggerated Sole Sneaker from Alexander McQueen is instantly recognisable thanks to its larger-than-life rubber sole which measures approximately 45mm (because let’s be honest, bigger really is better). The ultimate “dad sneaker”, the shoe also features the brand’s signature leopard print design on the bottom of the sole and the Alexander McQueen logo.
Gucci Flashtrek Sneakers
Inspired by the hiking world and designed with an oversize shape sole, Gucci’s Flashtrek sneakers are perfectly on trend without being too practical. The shoes feature a mix of upscale leather, suede, and canvas panels in various shades, as well as an ultra-rugged rubber sole and a bright red rubber Gucci logo on the tongue – ensuring they look just as good walking on slick city streets as they do on muddy hiking trails.
Redefining the season’s sports-luxe aesthetic, Prada’s Cloudbust sneaker was released alongside the re-launch of its beloved 90s cult sports line, Linea Rossa, and offers a design that’s part throwback trainer, part futuristic running shoe. The style features a bold Velcro fastening front strap, rubber panels, and a glossy bubble mid-sole that provides expert cushioning and comfort.
Dior Oblique B23 high-top sneaker
For his first collection for the brand, Dior’s menswear artistic director Kim Jones successfully married streetwear and sophistication by enlisting a team of collaborators and playing with elements of transparency, as seen on the B23 high-top canvas trainers. The iconic Dior logo is covered with an opaque, plastic outer-layer, while the sole boasts patchwork elements.
These days the fashion crowd are just as obsessed with Chanel’s logo sneakers as they are with the Parisian brand’s iconic handbags. Crafted from a mixture of wool, nylon, lambskin and suede calfskin, the trainers feature an interlocking “CC” logo on the heel, accompanied by Chanel branding which has been etched into the side panel. The waffle-inspired rubber sole also has the “CC” logo imprinted on the bubbles and there are four chic colourways to choose from.
On most Saturday afternoons of my childhood and teenage years, I wandered about the Tanjong Pagar salon in Singapore that my mother visits unfailingly. Run by Malaysian immigrant mothers, the place was constantly abuzz with Cantonese imperatives and chitchat, Sandy Lam crooning from a bulky hi-fi set, and a Mandarin soap opera playing on a tiny TV, turned down low with Chinese subtitles on. The place wasn’t large, but there were enough leather swivel chairs, extendable shower wands, and hairstyling paraphernalia to keep me somewhat occupied, while Mom got her shampoo, blow dry, perm, and news about the latest fiasco her stylist’s son had gotten himself into.
On the occasions when I got a haircut – a #2 buzzcut, exclusively, till I was 10 or so – the common refrain from my Mom’s stylist was this: wow, his hair is just like wire! It stands straight up at any length! My Mom concurred heartily, quite impressed as she watched my hair fall off my head, perhaps at how she birthed my supernatural hair, perhaps at how the electric clipper hasn’t yet shorted.
I feel you, Paddington bear. All the time.
In my late teens, when vanity urged me to more upscale salons in posher malls, I received the same compliments (?) about my hair. One stylist, who made the mistake of using scissors and nothing else, confessed how he had to rest a while in between my cut. Did I mention he was 6’ tall and a proper gym rat?
It may begin to sound like I disagreed with these intrepid stylists, but I didn’t. My hair was hard to cut, and even harder to manage. Gel stood no chance, and when wax came around I found it depleting much too quickly for my pocket money to catch up. I tried relaxing it once, chemically, but after one shampooing – days after, as prescribed – it straightened out, like nothing had happened.
Too, much, conditionerrrr.
Before social events like weddings, I found myself conditioning, even masking my hair, in a bid to soften it hours before. Even then, getting my hair to look the way I wanted it to look was often an exasperating task that left me, literally, pulling my hair out. In college I simply waxed my hair into a Johnny Bravo pompadour, since the only way my hair would go was up, up, up.
The Benefits of Co-Washing
Things have changed since I discovered co-washing. I shower twice a day at least, and I used to shampoo every time I shower. For a few months now, I only shampoo my hair after I’ve been to the gym. For all the other times I shower, I use a cleansing conditioner for my hair. Doing this has left my hair less bristly, easier to manipulate, and dare I say, more lustrous. How does it work?
Being around salons a lot of my life, I’ve often heard hairstylists say – it’s so much easier to style your hair when it’s not squeaky clean. Hairstylists have encouraged me repeatedly to wash my hair less. Shampooing too often, which I was clearly doing, strips the hair of the oils your scalp produces, causing more static friction to occur between strands. That makes your hair frizzy and unmanageable. If you’ve used a “volumizing” shampoo from a drugstore brand, you’d know how squeaky your hair becomes while you’re rinsing it off – because the drier your hairs are, the more static is formed, and the “poofier” your hair gets when it dries.
If volumizing shampoo had a video label… this would be it.
For me, showering without shampooing is murder. To feel like a clean, presentable person, I need to do both every time. I’ve tried using “gentle” shampoos – sulfate-free, oil-infused, even $30 a bottle brands – and none of them are quite gentle enough. Conditioning might help, you say, but it either all gets washed down the drain without effect, or leaves my hair palpably greasy and my scalp itchy. Also, it’s a little like putting a salve on after you’ve skinned your knee. How about not skinning your knee in the first place?
With a cleansing conditioner, I get the best of both worlds. My neurosis isn’t aggravated (nor is my scalp) since I feel like I’ve cleansed my hair truly and gently. My hair remains healthy, not greasy, and not stripped either. Even on days when I style my hair with wax, the cleansing conditioner is capable of washing it out. So, for guys who routinely style their hair with products, co-washing is still an option.
The Chemistry Behind Cleansing Conditioners
Cleansing conditioners make use of very mild surfactants, mainly behentrimonium chloride or cetrimonium chloride, to gently remove impurities. They’re also packed with nourishing ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, argan oil, and other emollients that double as lubricants to help lift styling products off the hair and scalp, so they can be rinsed off.
You may find that you need to “massage” the cleansing conditioner through your hair more thoroughly for it to achieve the clean you want. After all, they’re extremely gentle. Take the time to enjoy the nice fragrance, and imagine the nutrients getting absorbed into your hair! You’re paying for this, you know?
Enjoy the experience. Learn from Sumo-san.
If you intend to try co-washing, look out for the words “co-wash” or “cleansing conditioner” on the label. They’re usually placed in the shampoo or conditioning aisle. They mostly come in pump or squeeze bottles, but do also pay attention to ones in jars. The ones I like are As I Am Coconut Co-Wash Cleansing Conditioner, and ApotheCARE Essentials The Replenisher Cleansing Conditioner. If you use lots of styling product, or have issues with excessive oil-production (just make sure it’s not caused by excessive shampooing), you’d prefer As I Am, or one which lists behentrimonium chloride or cetrimonium chloride near the top of the ingredients list.
See how it works for you. Start by replacing your shampoo with cleansing conditioner every other time you wash your hair. Or, if you’re like me (see: neurosis), only use shampoo when you find your head’s quite gross, like after the gym, or a run for example. The point is – shampooing less is better for your hair. If you need to wash it somehow without shampooing, using a cleansing conditioner could be the answer!
It’s the start of a brand new year. We got everyone here in our His Style Diary team to share their personal goals and resolution for 2019. It was so much fun putting it down in words. Have you written yours?
2018 was a dramatic year for me, both personally and professionally. Some would even describe it as a roller coaster ride, going up at happy times and plunging suddenly and scarily when I hit the bumps and rough spots. All things considered, it was a year of learning – about myself, people, friendship – and one spent acquiring new knowledge and skills.
Enough said, let’s look forward into 2019. This will be another busy year for me, with lots on my to-do list. More importantly, it is time to apply what I’ve learnt in 2018, and put all of it into action. Being long-winded isn’t one of them, so I’ll get on with it. Here are my 5 new year resolutions.
Declutter and tidy up (Marie Kondo style… not quite)
In 2018, my partner and I moved into our beautiful new home in Tiong Bahru and we also were honoured to be featured in Home & Decor Singapore. But trust me, keeping an apartment in showflat condition is no mean feat. So I am ‘somewhat’ inspired by Marie Kondo, after I watched her series on Netflix on the art of tidying up and getting my life (and wardrobe) organised, though I am not sure yet if I can take her advice about ‘communicating spirituality’ to my house, and thanking my underwear for its year of service, before I toss it into the bin.
If you know me, you’ll know that the gym is my second home, not only because I’m always training there, but also because that is where I regularly give fitness classes (have been for the last 20 years). But the older I get, the harder it is for me to stay in shape. It’s certainly no longer like it was when I was 25. Not forgetting that years of hard training have left me with some injuries that need my (and medical) attention now. So the goal for 2019 is to maintain my physique (maybe bulk up a bit more) and spend time working on correcting any injuries and muscular imbalances. And yes, more Pilates and yoga as well. Urghhh.
Travel for Leisure
My previous job required me to travel frequently, which more or less killed my desire to travel at other times. In 2019, I am going to devote all my travelling to leisure – maybe a trip to the US, Italy, Seoul, HK and multiple trips to Bangkok, different parts of Thailand in fact.
I was an almost incurable shopaholic and would go nuts on fashion apparel, shoes, bags and accessories. I recently came to the realisation that I was dependent on many of these material items as a way to affirm myself and as a measure of my self worth. I know now that every designer bag or pair of shoes I buy will always find itself unused, and collecting dust in my wardrobe, and I would still be that same unhappy person (and poorer as well). So in line with my #1 resolution to declutter, I shall explore a minimalist way of living – maybe live on a capsule wardrobe, reduce my carbon footprint and be green for once.
New addition to my fur family
A year and half ago, my partner and I adopted Tigar, an abandoned Siamese cat from the SPCA. While I may not be the best paw-papa around (I’m stern and no-nonsense), my partner and I both do our best to give Tigar a safe and happy home. Sweet-natured Tigar in turn has taught us so much about unconditional love. It’s in the plan this year to find Tigar a ‘sibling’, but we are still debating between a dog or another cat, or maybe both. Who knows?
Here’s to achieving your goals for 2019. Enjoy it, and may it be the year you start living your life to the fullest.
In a utopian world where, if every day, each one of us receives $87,600 in his/her bank account, what would we spend it on, especially considering that what’s left at the end of the day cannot be saved, but disappears from our accounts?
If you haven’t already guessed, the $87,600 in the imaginary world I cited is really a metaphor for time. Fact is, each of us has 8,760 hours in a year to spend – more or less – as we need to and see fit. And the startling truth is that whatever’s left cannot be rolled over for use the next day. Something we often forget.
I like this metaphor as it forces me to think about how I hope to spend my 2019 – without regret.
Mother Teresa said that we can’t all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love. I want to do just that. I want to make a tangible difference in mundane or dire situations, in happy and sad times. I want to have a better effect on the people in my life, as well as those who will come into my life.
To do that, I need to develop intangible attributes such as humility, patience, gentleness, kindness generosity, faithfulness, hopefulness, perseverance, a joyful and forgiving heart.
With even the smallest differentiation in mindfulness and integrity values, I know that the trajectory of my life will change. It’s simple mathematics. I want to work on the intangibles, so as make tangible distinctions. That is the direction and shape I want my life to take.
The plan is to persist in making this my life’s work in progress, but you can still ask me again in 2020!
Another year has passed, and a new one has shown up on our doorstep. I’ve long stopped making new year resolutions several years ago. It’s not due to cynicism that comes with age, although when I was growing up, I had often heard older people lament about the futility of new year resolutions. It seemed many people enthusiastically form resolutions at the stroke of midnight on 31 December, only to break them days or weeks later.
The real reason is that I’ve come to a personal realisation that a new beginning isn’t just restricted to
an anniversary of a date, such as a birthday, first day of the month or the subject matter at hand; the
first day of the year. Each new dawn and every new second offer just as much of a chance for a new
start to whatever we aim to do differently. We should not become prisoners of our past and accord
it any negativity over our future. The present moment is what would soon become the new past and
one that truly counts towards the future we aim to have. That said, my goal for this year is to always
remember that, and continually strive to be a better person than the one I was a day, an hour or
merely a moment before.
I’ll tell you a quick story. When I was around 11, most of my friends didn’t want me as a friend anymore. These same friends also told me why. I was an insensitive, haughty prick. Sure, I had issues to deal with inside myself, but that year I resolved to change – psychoanalysis be damned. By sheer will, by persistent prayer, by placing it top-of-mind – I shall be different. I was like a dog with a bone.
When I turned 13, now in a new school, I remember reflecting. I remember thinking, I’m ready to befriend new people, and offer them a better me. I had, indeed, improved myself. It took a few years, but I had checked off an important resolution that altered my future relationships and social well-being.
Most of 2019, I’ll be 30. I’m not the type to mull over the milestone decade, but I do crave that drive of purpose, that joy of accomplishment, that I had those years ago. I haven’t made a resolution since.
I don’t wish to repeat my pre-teen faults, but I can say in honesty that I’ve lived large in the past decade. Life has been a big blessing, and I’ve indulged. In some ways I might even have squandered my good fortune, simply letting time pass as I floated carefree on the calm surface of a pool in summer.
2019 will be a year of restraint for me. Goals must be concrete to be fulfilled, I hear my self-help book-reading memories say. Fine. Wiser spending. Simplifying my skincare regimen. Read the books I have before buying another. Better organization of my time, so I accomplish more. Being more deliberate in my leisure so I enjoy it more thoroughly, instead of mindless Instagram scrolling that leaves me unsatiated and lethargic. More self-reflection, lest I let the wild horses of the moment drag me away, and I forget what I’ve learnt, or even to learn. Restraint, deliberation, reflection. If you find me ambling down the sidewalk muttering to myself, those would be the words I’m repeating in my head.
It’s the night of the 23rd of December. You’re lying in bed and scrolling your Instagram feed with glee. You can’t help sporting a silly grin as you think about the half work-day you’d have on the eve of Christmas and the sumptuous dinner you’d have with your buddies later that same day. “Yay”, you say to yourself. Your lids start to get heavy when suddenly, a single thought have you bolt upright with horror – “I haven’t bought my gifts yet!!” If this is you while reading this article, fear not, for we’ve compiled a list of five cool last-minute gift ideas that will help you make it through that Christmas gift exchange dinner. And with swagger, too.
Deliveroo – Gift of food
You know that burger joint your buddy really likes? How about sending him a delivery of his favourite burger and truffle fries by using Deliveroo. The story behind Deliveroo goes as such that the founder moved from New York to London and found much difficulty in getting great quality food delivered. He therefore decided to solve his own problem and well, in turn solve the same problem faced by many other city dwellers. They claim to partner with the best restaurants – from hotspots to national favourites – and to deliver your food in an average of 32 minutes! All you need to know to fulfil this gift to your friend is his address and to make sure that he’s home during the period that you intend to have Deliveroo make the delivery. Now tell me, who doesn’t like a nice warm surprise meal from their favourite place to eat at? Go download their app now or simply place the order on deliveroo.com.sg
Photo credit: Deliveroo.com.sg
Audible – Gift of books
Does your friend love to read but laments that she just doesn’t have the time to do so nowadays (go on, blame your phone)? Well, a gift subscription to Audible would be the perfect gift for her then. Audible is a company that produces digital audio version of books, magazines and newspapers in addition to radio and television programmes. It was started in 1995 as a digital audio player manufacturer before it slowly gained success over the years, first with Apple in 2003 to provide their catalogue of books on the iTunes Music Store to subsequently being acquired by Amazon in 2008 for US$300 million. An Audible gift subscription is great for someone who spends a lot of time on their commute as they could simply plug in their earphones and relax while a book is being read to them on Audible. It’s also simply perfect for those who spends quite a bit of time every day driving – now they can keep their eyes on the roads and “read” at the same time!
Photo credit: Audible.com
Spotify – Gift of music
Spotify is a music streaming company founded in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2008 and as of now, provides its services in 78 countries and regions globally. Its services are termed “freemium”: basic service comes with advertisements or automatic music videos and paying for a subscription removes ads and also accords you a better streaming quality. Does your friend seemed perpetually plugged in to music? This would make a fantastic gift and it’d only take minutes for you to give her a gift subscription on their website.
Photo credit: Spotify.com
iTunes – Gift of entertainment
Does your pal have that one or two movies that he has failed to catch at the cinema? Give him the chance to watch it over the Christmas break then. You can do it by searching for the movies on the iTunes store and then follow the instructions to rent them as a gift for him. Once done, he will be able to watch them at a time of his own convenience. You might even help him score a private movie date with his love interest. Now, how’s that for a good gift?
Photo credit: Apple.com
Giving.sg – Gift of charity
Perhaps your buddy has all that he needs and you simply can’t think of anything to give him. Not at the last minute, anyway. How about doing some good in his name then? Giving.sg is an online platform that allows you to select which charity or cause you’d like to support with a monetary donation. Once you’ve made your decision, all you need to do is to follow the online donation instructions and you’re done. If you’re donating to an IPC (Institutions of a Public Character), you’d even be able to claim tax deduction. Doesn’t that just sound perfect? You get to give a gift and help fund a charity or cause, and at the same time, claim some tax deduction for yourself. That truly is what we call a gift that keeps on giving.
From near-endless hotel buffets, Chi-Chi restaurants, to coastal hangouts, His Style Diary’s got you covered. But why brunch you may well ask, considering we’re likely to be eating all day (and night) during the upcoming festive season, from Christmas Eve right through to Boxing Day?
Because brunch lets you sleep a little longer than breakfast after a late night, yet gives you a head-start over lunch. And it always comes with everyone’s favourite tipple, champagne, also known as happiness in a bottle! And that 11am to 3pm time slot is also just perfect for eating, drinking, talking, and dreaming up new adventures for 2019!
Feel like Alice and her entire cohort from Wonderland at The White Rabbit restaurant, a charming former chapel from the 1930s. For Christmas Day brunch, definitely tell the whole clan – family, friends, even the little ones – to head there. Besides a full festive buffet including favourites such as Traditional Honey Glazed Ham from the Live Section, Fresh Oysters at the Seafood Bar, Ibérico Pork Collar with sauerkraut and fried bintje potatoes, and Gnocchi de Pomme de Terre King Edward potatoes in a light truffle jus topped with shaved seasonal truffle, the young, and young-at-heart will appreciate candy floss and a bouncy castle at The Rabbit Hole outdoors. For a sweet ending, we have it on good authority that the Christmas Tree Brownies are a must-eat.
Adrift by David Myers goes under the sea for Christmas brunch. The light and easy spread is a gentle reprieve from all the heavy eating before and after Christmas Day. Plunge into its exquisite Grand Plateau Seafood Platter ($128++) that includes Alaskan King Crab Leg, Hokkaido Sea Urchin, Big Eye Tuna, French Mussels and langoustine. Take your taste buds to a higher level by adding toppings of caviar (from $98++ for 30 grams) and wash it all down with a bottle of champagne (from $180 per bottle). If you must have meat, definitely order the Smoked Peri Peri Chicken Platter ($88++), a sizzling feast of wood-fired Peri Peri Chicken, and scrumptious sides such as Sherry Vinegar Watercress Salad, Shredded Mustard Leaf Cabbage Salad and Peri Peri Spiced Potato Frits. Spice fans will like the fact that the entire chicken is brined in spice and citrus, and then smoked and barbequed to perfection before it is glazed in a special hot sauce. The Grand Plateau Seafood and Smoked Peri Peri Chicken Platters are available for the month of December.
The eclectic Como Cuisine keeps it rather tight and restrained for Christmas brunch, which is just as well. Their spread stars many firm favourites such as Warm Festive Salad, Lobster Salad, Green Eggs and Ham, Turkey Crunch Burger, Porchetta, plus a Cake Table consisting of 6 types of melt-in-the-mouth sweets.
They serve a medley of seafood – Fine de Claire Oysters, Chilled Boston Lobster, Alaskan King Crab, and Pan-seared Hokkaido Scallop with Celeriac and Black Truffle Sauce – and Christmas classics like Whole Roasted Turkey with Chestnut Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce and Giblet gravy from the carving trolley, also 63°C Organic Egg with Bell Pepper Ragout, Crispy Parma Ham and Black Truffle Emulsion freshly made at the live station. On for 25 December 2018, from 12pm to 3pm at $258.00++ per person, which includes complimentary aperitifs served at Astor Bar from 11am to 12pm.
If you like dining with everyone and their grandmother, opt for the Candy Wonderland Christmas Brunch which happens on 25 December 2018, from 12.30pm to 3pm at the Grand Ballroom Foyer. Savoury, sweet, hot, cold, healthy and sinful delights await hungry people from 1 to 99. Prices: $238++ per adult, with free flow of Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve NV Champagne, wines, beers and nonalcoholic beverages; $208++ per adult, with free flow of non-alcoholic beverages; $118++ per child (from 7 to 12 years old), with free flow of soft drinks and juices, and $78++ per child (from 4 to 6 years old), with free flow of soft drinks and juices.
Don’t fancy crowds? Make a reservation to Capella Singapore’s Private Brunch Affair instead. It’s on from 1 to 30 December 2018, from 12pm to 2:30pm (Brunch/Lunch). Venue: Chef’s Table and prices are: $258++ per adult, with free flow of Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve NV Champagne, wines, beers and non-alcoholic beverages. A minimum booking of 10 persons at one week’s advance reservation is required. Contact 6591 5089 or email email@example.com.
An activities-filled brunch for the family, with highlights such as a ‘live’ band, a photo booth, kiddy rides, carnival games, a bouncy castle, and even a guest appearance by Santa. The food does not pale in comparison. Tuck into Christmas turkey with traditional stuffing, cranberries and giblet sauce, glazed gammon ham with candied ginger and a selection of seasonal desserts such as Christmas stollen and panettone. Prices: $238 per adult includes unlimited pours of Champagne Barons de Rothschild Réserve Ritz Brut NV, draft beer, house pour red/white wines and soft drinks; $119 per child (from 6 to 12 years old) and $60 per child (from 3 to 5 years old). All prices include unlimited pours of soft drinks and fruit juices. Pre-payment is required. At the Grand Ballroom (Level 1) on 5 December 2018, from 12pm to 3pm.
They offer an international spread with delectable edibles such as fresh seafood, pan seared foie gras, Hokkaido Scallops with Ruby Grapefruit Basil Nage, Porcini Mushrooms and Truffle Risotto in Parmesan Wheel, plus Slow-roasted Butternut Pumpkin Velvet Soup, Traditional Slow-roasted Turkey with Garlic and Rosemary Christmas Trifle, Fullerton Housemade Panettones, Chestnut Cassis, Pecan Nut Toffee Tarts and Eggnog Shooters. All on 25 December 2018 from 12.30pm to 4pm, with last pour for drinks at 3.30pm. Prices: $260 per adult without alcoholic drinks; $328 per adult with house-pour champagne, wines and cocktails; and $125 per child. All prices include access to the kids’ playroom and bouncy castle.
Casual CoastalThe Kitchen Table at W Singapore, Sentosa Cove
Take advantage of being in the tropics, head for the beach this Christmas and dine coastal style. The Kitchen Table may be casual, but it serves an indulgent brunch in the luxurious and relaxed coastal community of Sentosa Cove. From light and easy to heavy and sweet, you can blame the food coma later on tomato gazpacho, burratina cheese, oysters and caviar at the bar, Truffle & Cecina Pizza, Chicken Shawarma, Canadian Lobster, melty Pork Lechon and a range of flavours from the ice cream trolley. Prices: from $148++ per person, includes free-flow of wines, cocktails and mocktails; additional $20++ for champagne.
The smorgasbord of delights is pretty impressive for this joint that’s really more famous for its pool parties than food. Get there in time to enjoy the bracing sea air, as well as fresh oysters, prawns and lobsters at the Seafood Bar, a selection of appetisers, from salads to roast beef and pasta; add to that Roasted Striploin and Honey Glazed Baked Ham from the Carving Station and yummy mains like Chicken Ala King, Steamed Snapper and Lamb Navirin. If you’ve a sweet tooth, tuck into Log Cake, Panettone, Fruit Cake, Pecan Tart and Bread and Butter Pudding. If you have a taste for the tipples, get ready to get happy with their fine selection of wines and beer. All on 25 December 2018, from 11.30am to 2.30pm. Prices: Bottomless Brunch at $128++ per Adult (+$35 with Bottomless Tipples); $58++ per child (from 5 to 12 years). Children 4 years and below dine for free when accompanied by a paying adult.