Friday, January 6, 2017

“Fit and fab this 2017”
Sun.Star Davao, Jan. 6, 2017

The struggle is real.

As we age, our metabolism slows down and because of this, we have to rethink our diet and sedentary lifestyles.

Until I was 42, I have been amazingly blessed with an ideal weight (for my height) no matter how much I ate or did little exercise. However, my body had a way of seeking revenge. Last summer, all the eating binges finally took their toll and there was, for the first time, stubborn excess pounds that just wouldn’t budge.

I resolved to eat lesser carbs, junk food and sweets. I continued to stay away from soft drinks. I also did some tweaks in my work space that allowed me to use a standing desk for a few hours. Thankfully, these subtle changes helped improve my well-being.

For this article, be inspired by these three passionate moms who victoriously battled their health challenges, and empowered themselves to be FIT and FAB this 2017!

Chief Financial Officer
Mom to five kids ages 15, 7 and 4 (triplets)

Can you share to us your old lifestyle?

“I was not a heavy eater so portion was not an issue, but I was a fan of junk food like chips, ice cream, French fries, creamy shakes, anything fried as well as high-carb food like white rice and pasta.

I had basically no exercise aside from the daily walks to and from, and, do household errands. My clothes were usually baggy, oversized shirts from plus size stores and nothing from local off the rack. My medical test/s came up within the normal limits, except for being obese/extremely overweight.”

What made you decide to change into a healthier lifestyle?

Mainly because I would love to have my old lifestyle back without restrictions. I was active in my younger years. I used to engage in different sports like playing competitive golf. I also loved to dive, be in the water and explore the islands, I used to love going to the gym and lift. I did want to be confident and wear anything under the sun as well but mostly importantly, I would like to set a good example to my 5 kids to live a healthy and active lifestyle.”

How long did it take for you to notice the difference?

“I did a strict Cohen Diet for 6-7 months and basically lost around 60 lbs.”

Describe your new lifestyle.

“I eat low carb/high protein and hydrate. I do portion my food especially when I eat out (special occasions and Sundays) and try to pick the healthier option on the menu. I try to stay away from buffet or fast food chains.

I exercise 3 times a week (1.5 hours average) but I try to go 4 times if I can. I rotate boxing, spinning, running and HIIT/Functional Training because I enjoy them!

When it comes to fashion choices, sky is the limit but I still stick to my all-time faves which are athletic and loungewear.

My Peak Heart Rate and Resting Heart Rate during stamina training has improved significantly, thus, playing rough with my 5 kids is a breeze. I don’t have to stop and catch my breath. As to medical test/s, fortunately, I did not really have that many issues to start with, anyway.”

What worked for you to make the transformation possible?

“I did the Cohen Diet until I reached my comfortable goal weight (not necessarily ideal weight as per “charts”). When I reached my target weight, I ate healthier, even on cheat days. I did calorie counting (calorie in versus calorie out). I moved and trained with a trainor/fitness coach. I never cheated reps.

Tech that worked for me included Apple Watch paired with Polar Heart Rate Monitor, MyFitnessPal App, Nike + App for travel. And, I never forgot to hydrate!”

How do you feel now?

“Confident and strong”

What is your advice for other parents who want to be fit and fab this 2017?

“When you stumble, RESET immediately!”

Basti's Brew Manager
Mom to 3 girls ages 10, 7 and 3

Can you share to us your old lifestyle?

“Ever since college, I've tried to stay away from red meat. I preferred to eat chicken, seafood and vegetables but I do have a sweet tooth. I had to eat dessert after a meal, and I ate rice. 

When I transferred to Davao, I joined my husband regularly in the gym. I joined aerobics, Yoga and cardio exercises. I started gaining weight after I had a baby so I had to change clothes sizes. Style choice was not really limited but I had to buy bigger sizes.”

What made you decide to change into a healthier lifestyle?

“After my second baby, I was diagnosed as hypertensive which I got through genetics because both of my parents’ side had it. My doctor said I got it really early; in my mid- 30's. Due to my health condition, I had to be more careful with what I ate and lessen my intake of sweet treats. Diabetes was also a health issue. My doctor told me to exercise regularly to take care of my heart.”

Describe your new lifestyle.

“I still prefer seafood and chicken. I was introduced to the Paleo lifestyle by my Crossfit friends. Paleo lifestyle is a way of eating that recalls the more natural way that human beings eat prior to the rise of highly processed modern food. In other words, Paleo is to eat real, whole food with no preservatives. I'm not really hardcore into the diet. Sometimes, I get to eat white rice, cakes and grains but I avoid processed food.

I bake Paleo treats on the side called Paleo Palate wherein I use gluten-free alternatives like almond and coconut flour and use natural sweeteners like honey and coconut sugar. I do eat out but I choose what to eat wisely.

I also do Yoga and Pilates. I used to be really conscious of showing my arms in sleeveless tops and dresses but now I've become more confident. Going a size lower really is awesome.

Health wise, I'm still hypertensive with maintenance but it's in a normal stable level. All blood work is normal.”

What worked for you to make the transformation possible?

“I think that with constant exercise and being careful and conscious with what I ate really helped with the transformation”.

How long did it take for you to notice the difference?

“I feel that age does really matter. In my 40's, I find that it takes time to really lose weight because the metabolism is much slower. It's a slow process but I'm getting there. And, now I'm seeing changes as my body becomes more fit.” 

How do you feel now?

“I feel really good. I don't tire easily and I don't feel my age!”

What is your advice for other parents who want to be fit and fab this 2017?

“They should love their body by nourishing it with healthy natural good food, and to exercise. Go find one that makes you happy, be it be Zumba, Yoga, TRX, Crossfit or running. It's important to take care of our health and our body because it's the only one we've got.”

Wellness coach
Single mom to an 11-year old boy

Can you share to us your old lifestyle?

“Five years ago, my weight was 128 pounds. I spent the whole day just waiting in school for my only son. But, sometimes, I would go out with other mommies while the kids were having classes. Eating out was our form of bonding. We loved to eat at buffet restaurants.

In addition, while waiting in school, we would eat snacks even if we were not hungry. As long as somebody offered food, I would readily accept it. However, every school year, I noticed that I was getting bigger until I reached 158 pounds.”

What made you decide to change into a healthier lifestyle?

“Being overweight was very challenging. I had a hard time riding the jeepney and tricycle. I would pant. It was also hard to choose my clothes and most of all, I was always hot-tempered.

There were actually three times that I had a difficult time breathing. I thought I was going to die. I asked myself, “What would happen to my son?”. So, I went to my doctor and she advised me to lose weight.”

What worked for you to make the transformation possible?

“I tried diet pills, coffee and tea but they had no effect because I ate more calories than I burned. But, the real transformation began when a friend of mine invited me to join a 10-day fat loss program in a Nutrition Hub where I attended lectures about proper nutrition.

There was a wellness coach who guided and monitored me: my water intake and food that I ate. We did calorie counting for 10 days. They also gave me a personalized meal plan and program. I was taught the difference between fat loss and weight loss. The coach likewise stressed the importance of exercise.”

How long did it take for you to notice the difference?

“I religiously obeyed my coach and the program they gave. I lost 2 kilograms and 2 inches in my waistline during that 10-day program. So, I continued and attended seminars until I became one of the wellness coaches and opened my own Nutrition Hub here in Davao.”

Describe your new lifestyle.

“I do planking 2 mins. daily; Zumba 2-3 times a week; and do lots of walking.

As of now, I’m 61 kg. (my ideal weight is 51 kg.) I still enjoy my favorite foods. I still eat at buffet restaurants, in moderation, as long as it does not exceed my daily calorie needs which is 1200/daily.”

How do you feel now?

“I feel healthy and fit. I can eat properly. I can wear whatever I like and whatever is in vogue. And, thank God, at 41, I have no health issues.”

What is your advice for other parents who want to be fit and fab this 2017?

“If one of your new year’s resolutions this 2017 is to lose weight...start now, not tomorrow, but NOW! And, remember, the key to being successful in this fitness journey is that it must be 80% proper nutrition, 20% exercise, and 100% mindset.”

E-mail the author at Visit

Saturday, December 24, 2016

“Delightful Dahilayan”
Sun.Star Davao, Dec. 24, 2016
The splendid sight of endless rows of pineapple elicited the biggest smiles from the kids as we leisurely drove by Camp Phillips in Bukidnon.

As if on cue, they began to playfully sing in unison, “I have a pen. I have a pineapple. Uh, pineapple pen!”. Last song syndrome (LSS) alert! They just couldn’t resist seizing the moment.

          I have always wanted to schedule a family trip to Dahilayan but just thinking about the long driving hours overwhelmed us. Fortunately, I chanced upon an awesome airline seat sale to Cagayan de Oro City which cut our travel time significantly and scored an enticing room promo as well. Finally, the much-awaited journey to Dahilayan was a go!

         Arriving at Dahilayan enchantingly felt like we were in Baguio or Tagaytay with the ubiquitous pine trees and cool mountain breeze. It was still early for our check-in time at Pinegrove Mountain Lodge but luckily, there was already a well-appointed room waiting for us even on a bustling Saturday.

Adventure awaits

          After settling in, we trooped to the ticket booth to purchase our ZipXtreme package at Dahilayan Adventure Park. For the price of PhP1,200, the special discounted package included the 840m zipline; 320m + 150m Zipline; Dropzone; Python Roller Zipride and Ropes Course. Other rides at ‘Mindanao’s Favorite Extreme Playground’ were the adrenaline-pumping Sky Tower Base Jump and Flying Lizard Canopy Glider.

       With an exhilarating drop of 100 meters, we zoomed through the breathtaking rainforest  canopy at 60-80 kph via ‘Asia’s 1st longest dual zipline’. 

After braving this incredible zipline, the shorter and more kid-friendly version came next.

               Our action-packed morning left us famished so we took a breather and devoured our late lunch at Pinegrove’s restaurant. 

           The filling meal provided us the much-needed energy boost for our 3rd activity, the Tower of Power Ropes Course, a 12-stage high and low wire obstacle course with a multisided rockwall to boot. Among the four of us, it was my nimble 10-year old daughter who effortlessly moved from one obstacle to another.

               Meanwhile, the 500-meter Python Roller Zipride, “Asia’s first zipline roller coaster”, allowed us to zip, rattle, roll, drop, swing and bounce with wild abandon, much to the enjoyment of our thrill-seeking family.

               Our culminating challenge for day one was the Dropzone, a heart-pounding 120-feet freefall ride touted to be the Philippines’ first extreme pendulum swing of its kind. Pulled up by a crane then dropped suddenly at lightning speed and swooped to within feet of the manmade lake’s surface only to repeat the intense swinging motion again, in a crazy pendulum style, gave my poor eardrums a shock as my partner (a.k.a. beloved eldest daughter) screamed her lungs out.

(To watch the mother-daughter SCREAM QUEENS in action, click the video below)


            After dinner, roasting s’mores over an indoor charcoal grill while sipping our comforting hot cocoa drink capped the magical foggy night. 

             It was still a few weeks before the Christmas season during our visit. But, the Pinegrove’s rustic log cabin interiors, festive Christmas pine tree and decors coupled with the nippy evening air prematurely unleashed our Yuletide spirits.

               The following day, we decided to sleep in and take our brunch before indulging in another fun-filled afternoon, this time, at Dahilayan Forest Park. 

             With an entrance fee of PhP50 for kids and PhP100 for adults, this favorite family destination offered various rides and activities such as the Luge (PhP600 solo/PhP800 tandem), ATV (PhP750), Buggy (PhP1,000 for 2), Zorbit (PhP250), Barrel Train (PhP100), Bungee Bounce (PhP150), Trampoline (PhP50), Mini Golf (PhP150), Tree Top Adventure (PhP250) and Hanging Bridge (PhP100).

                We spent a stimulating hour at the safari-themed miniature golf with our active girls acing a hole-in-one each, or should I say a ‘Hole-in-Huang’. Towards the end of our golf game, the fog thickened and rain began to fall so hard that all our plans for the remaining hours were cancelled. 

             That is the peculiar thing about Dahilayan. You can wake up to a sunshiny day then, without any moment’s notice, gray skies and rain appear. However, the torrential downpour may dampen our itinerary but definitely, not our family’s wanderlust.

Road trip

               On the day we were set to leave, we woke up extra early to try out the luge. After crossing the hanging bridge, our punctuality paid off as we were the first ever riders for the day. 

            Maneuvering the freewheeling gravity cart on an asphalted trail was, in the words of our kids, “Awesome!”. 

              Two rounds of luge after, we enjoyed a quick breakfast before meeting our driver Gerald from LAX Shuttle at 10:00 a.m. 

            Since our flight from CDO to Davao was rescheduled, we booked a van instead to exclusively bring our family and I all the way from Manolo Fortich to Davao.

            The expected exhausting ride back to Davao on a holiday turned out to be a pleasurable one with good roads, zero traffic, and an efficient driver. Before we knew it, by 2:00 p.m., we were at the Bukidnon-Davao Highway, and by 4:00 p.m. at our very own home, heads and hearts full of prized memories from our delightful Dahilayan adventure.

         The Pinegrove Mountain Lodge, Dahilayan Adventure Park and Dahilayan Forest Park are located at Barangay Dahilayan, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon. For more information, check out their Facebook pages.

      For bookings and inquiries, LAX Shuttle may be reached at contact numbers (0917)7101529 or (0925)8100529.

 E-mail the author at Visit