A Friend In Me

A Friend In Me

Hi guys,

Esther was apart of an organising committee that successfully hosted a great party/initiative that celebrates children and parties. I asked Esther to give a little insight into how much effort goes into organising something at this scale!

The event was last Sunday 15 April 2018 and I asked Esther to give a little feedback prior.

Here’s the summary of what was on offer:


Enjoy 🙂

Hi Belinda,

Just a quick note about this Superhero themed event. (Here’s the link to the Facebook event page)

How do we plan it all?
friend in me
Great work ladies 🙂
Basically, they are 3 of us that constantly messaging each other day and night to organise, finalise and brainstorm the party and we do have a few other volunteers helping out too.
We also managed to get all our partners involved too!
So we are 4 days away from the party.
This week we are finalising the schedule as some entertainers have last minute changes and we had to reshuffle everyone around which was an inconvenience to the others but we found a way to make it work 🙂
In the end we just had to work together to find a solution as the event was only 4 days away!

This is our 2nd year running this community event and it is bigger and better then last year as we have a bigger venue and hoping to raise more money for the Ronald McDonald House which is a charity doing great work for kids.

This week we are picking up and printing some sponsored vouchers, goodies for the goodies bags, bean bags for the quiet room for special kids and BBQ burner for the sausage sizzle. It’s all happening!
We definitely had fun and will return next year 🙂
On Friday, I will pick up some bread from Bakers Delight, sausages from the butcher (Ascot Vale Meats on Union Road) and on Saturday fruits from a local green grocer (The Happy Apple) and cupcakes from Mister Nice Guys.
We will also spend all day Saturday (day before the event) getting together to pack the 300+ goodies bags, wrapping up the raffles prizes and finalising the party.

Beside that, earlier in the week on Monday we checked the venue to finalise the set-up.

The plan on Sunday (event day) is basically getting there at 7am to set-up and confirm the vendors at 8am and allow them to set up with a final briefing at 8.45am before the doors open!
Super Leki and Owlette 🙂
We can’t wait for this as we had planned for this since last year July (almost 9 months of planning!!) and in only the last 6 weeks we had been more focused on delivering it.
We are so excited and LET’S PARTY!!!

Plan For Your Xmas Appetite

Plan For Your Xmas Appetite

Christmas is almost here like literally 8 days away.giphy

We all have so many Christmas parties and maybe holidays this time of the year. What do you do when you get so caught up with it especially when you are eating well and being physically active? Do you let yourself go into lapse and let all your effort gone down to the drain?

I am going to discuss how we are going to manage our lapses.

A lapse is a brief and small slip in your efforts to make healthy changes. A lapse might be overeating at parties for a day or two, or skipping your physical activity for a week while on holidays or too busy catching up on Christmas shopping and lunching/coffees with friends. Experiencing a lapse is normal. You should not view them negatively.

To deal with lapses, it is important to be prepared for them. If a lapse is left unchecked, it can sometimes grow into relapse. A relapse is a full-blown return to your previous habits. It usually results from a series of small lapses that snowball into a relapse.

Lapses can sometimes be a trigger to give up on your goals for healthy changes, but they don’t have to be! Lapses can be a chance to learn about yourself and can help you to become stronger in your will to change.

The key to sticking with your new healthy habits is to work out your strengths and weaknesses.

You can then learn to identify your lapses early and deal with them before they turn into a relapse. You can also plan for a lapse so you are in control of how often and how much you lapse.

Here is a task to help you make a controlled, pre-planned lapse in eating.

My plan for a lapse:giphy (1)

  • What will you eat that does not belong to your healthy diet?
  • Amount to be eaten?
  • When and where are you likely to lapse?

My own rules for lapses:

  • My future lapses can be:
    • A single occasion eating a pre-planned amount of a favourite food
    • A special occasion when I can eat whatever I want and how much I want
    • A day off from lifestyle change that I give myself
    • Other (be specific)
  • How often can I have such a lapse?
    • Every second month
    • Once a month
    • Every second week
    • A couple of times a week
    • Everyday
    • Several times a day
  • What rules for lapses should I have for holidays or other times when I’m not following my normal daily routines?
  • Ask some questions and know what you’re getting as unlike packaged food, food bought from cafes and restaurants does not have to show nutritional information, so choosing the healthier options may not always be obvious, or easy. Here are some questions you can ask.
    • What’s in the dish?
    • Can you swap fries for a healthier side eg. Roast potatoes, salad or vegetables?
    • Can the dressings and sauces be placed in a separate dish on the side?
    • Can you have a smaller portion of meat and larger portion of salad/vegetables?
    • How is it cooked? Can it be grilled instead of fried?
    • Can you order an entrée sized meal instead of a main? Or can you share a larger meal with a friend?
    • Can you add some lemon, lime or orange wedge to add flavour to tap, mineral or sparkling water?

giphy (2)What would you do on the Christmas Day itself?

I would suggest go for a long walk before the day start and it’s going to be crazier. Enjoy the day and perhaps go for another walk after the meal. It doesn’t have to be long, 30 mins it’s a good to start. I hope this would help you managing the festive season.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

My Take On Schools

My Take On Schools

Hope everyone is enjoying Melbourne’s summer weather.

Belinda has suggested to me to write up about the difference of education system between Malaysia and Australia.

What a coincidence as my partner and I talked about this not long ago. We don’t mind our little one goes to the public school and don’t really mind he goes to Prep at 5yo even a lot of parents that we spoke to would hold them back if they think their child is not ready for it.

In Malaysia, the education system is really different from Australia. We start kindergarten at 3-6 years old. You either attend 2-3 years of kinder which I did for 3-years and then enter Grade 1 at 6 years old. I believe in Australia there is a “cut off” date of when you could go to prep according to the month of the year. In Malaysia, you attend school according to the birth year. So, by saying that, if you are born later in the year then you’ll be the youngest in the class (I was born in November and I was one of the youngest in the class).

Adapted from Wikipedia – Kinder to Primary School in Malaysia

“There are no fixed rules on when a child needs to start preschool education but majority would start when the child turns 3 years old. Preschool education usually lasts for 2 years, before they proceed to primary school at age 7. Preschool education is not compulsory.”

In Malaysia preschool education is mainly provided by private for-profit preschools, though some are run by the government or religious groups. Some primary schools have attached preschool sections. Attendance in a preschool program is not universal; while people living in urban areas are generally able to send their children to private kindergartens, few do in rural areas.

All schools admit students regardless of racial and language background.

Malay and English are compulsory subjects in all schools. All schools use the same syllabus for non-language subjects regardless of the medium of instruction. A National School must provide the teaching of Chinese or Tamil language, as well as indigenous languages wherever practical.

I started in Grade 1 as 6yo and attended a Chinese school as my Mum thought it would be a great idea learning Chinese given our background. Unfortunately, my Mum didn’t like the teaching methods as it was too simple especially with Chinese writing/characters. So, then I switched over to a Public primary school at Grade 2 and continued on here all the way to Year 11.

Year 12_b
My Year 12 friends in Melbourne, 2016

Adapted from Wikipedia – Primary to High School in Malaysia

“Public secondary education in Malaysia is provided by National Secondary Schools/The Malaysian government and Malay is the as the main language medium of instruction. English is a compulsory subject in all schools.”

Secondary education lasts for five years, referred to as Form 1 to 5.

Form 1 to Form 3 are known as Lower Secondary, while Form 4 and 5 are known as Upper Secondary.

Most students who had completed primary education are admitted to Form 1 but there is a minimum standard to achieve in primary school become you are admitted to high school.

At the end of Form 3 a Lower Secondary Evaluation is taken by students. Based on these results and choice, they will be given three streams to choose from, (1)Academic Stream (Science/Art), Technical and Vocational Stream, and Religious Stream. The Academic stream is generally more desirable. Students are allowed to shift to the Arts stream from the Science stream, but rarely vice versa. [Belinda edit: This seems very similar to being in Year 9 and picking elective subjects for Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE)]

At the end of Form 5, students are required to take the Malaysian Certificate of Education examination, before graduating from secondary school.

My main observation with the education system in Australia compared to Malaysia is that in the last two years of high school really make a big difference to be accepted locally or going to oversea to study at University. There is a very low chance of being accepted into a local University being a non-Muslim with only 10% acceptance rate.

Adapted from Wikipedia – University in Malaysia

Tertiary education is heavily subsidised by the government.

Students have the option of enrolling in private tertiary institutions after secondary studies. Private universities are gaining a reputation for international quality education and students from all over the world attend them. Many of these institutions offer courses in co-operation with a foreign institute or university — especially in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia — allowing students to spend a portion of their course abroad as well as getting overseas qualifications.

Many private colleges offer programmes whereby the student does part of his degree course here and part of it in the other institution; this is called “twinning”. Some of them are branch campuses of these foreign institutions. A branch can be seen as an ‘offshore campus’ of the foreign university, which offers the same courses and awards as the main campus. Local and international students can acquire these identical foreign qualifications in Malaysia at a lower fee.

Year 12_a
My Year 12 friends, reunion in Kuala Lumpur, 2015

I didn’t do quite well in Year 11 (too involved in playing sport) and didn’t get an offer to study in the public school Year 12. I took some time off and went to work part-time. I realised I really like sports and I did a Diploma in Sports Injuries in a local program.

After 18 months I completed the course and I decided I would like to continue in this field and went back to do Year 12 in a private college so I could go to an oversea university since I didn’t qualify for the local university. Unfortunately I was late to enroll as everyone had a head start being a month ahead of me and I was also the oldest in the class. I struggled to catch-up and it was a big challenge as all the subjects are taught in English.

I also struggled with Maths and I hired a tutor to help me. I chose odd subjects so I could get high scores to get into University – Maths and English are compulsory subjects then picked subjects: Biology, History and Malay then I got accepted into the Australian Catholic University and did a Bachelor Degree in Human Movement.

PS: On top of going to school, a lot of my friends attended extra tuition classes after school. I did a few sessions and hated it. My mum hired private tutors for us. All I can say, I didn’t like studying back then.

School also divided into 2 sessions, morning from 7.30-1pm and 1.15pm to 6.30pm Monday to Friday which makes a very long day!

Staying Active Whether At Home Or On Holidays

Staying Active Whether At Home Or On Holidays

Hello everyone.

Hope you are enjoying the warmer weather.

We have taken this opportunity to stay outdoors if possible like playing with our dog, a bit of fun with the soccer ball, skate boarding (pushing our lil one) and of course gardening.

With our busy lifestyle, we don’t really go away on the weekends. We only do that when I have a race where the race is further than an hour drive. If this is the case we usually organise a stay for 1-2 nights which is our ‘mini holiday’. So, it’s a win-win for us!

Finishing the swim leg and transitioning into the bike then run!

When would be our next mini holiday?  My race season starts in November which is either in Altona or in Elwood and so no mini holiday. My race buddy and I had signed up a race down in Safety Beach in December. We literally just booked 1-night accommodation near the race site. We would get there early  for lunch and explore the area before checking in. The day before race day we try and chill out as we need to conserve our energy.  At night, we head to a local restaurant or pub and my friend and I will carbo load (more on that next time) which helps with energy and our race performance the next day.

If we are staying in a self-contained place, I would pack pasta and bolognese sauce there to heat up as our dinner. In the morning, my friend and I will get ready for the race and my partner and our boy will get there later as the race doesn’t start for another 1-2 hours. They are my number one support crew.

After the race, we would have a nice brunch and get ready to head home. This is my race weekend completed then we get ready for Monday and the standard working week.

The next triathlon will be in Portalington and Mount Martha in March 2018. That would be our last two races for the season and the last of our ‘mini holidays’.

It does sound like everything we do revolves around my triathlon schedule. Our perspective is that if there’s no real purpose around travelling then we are not interested to travel. We think it is so expensive holidaying locally or interstateWe would rather save money for our yearly oversea holiday.

Chinese New Year in KL, Malaysia

We did have one extended holiday earlier this year visiting Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (back to my hometown) for Chinese New Year for few days and 14-days in Japan (my 40th Birthday present) and back to Kuala Lumpur for another 7-days!

It takes at least 6-9 months to plan especially booking for flights. I would do some research for flights cost first and have an idea how much we would need to budget and book 1-2 months later.

As for accommodation, it’s better to do some research online and book sooner too as we found it gets expensive closer to date or it may be fully booked. I’ve found it better to book accommodation where you can cancel without penalty. This is helpful as I sometimes find better deals after doing more research online.


I like TripAdvisor compared to Booking.com as a general guide for things to do and accommodation . My partner and I also like to exercise while we are away. So, we make sure the hotels we are staying either has a gym or gym near the hotels. We found that hotels with a gym is either expensive and or is not really a gym that meets our needs. So, we would tend to go for a run every second day instead.

For example when we were in Japan, the accommodation we were staying in had no fitness facility available and the local gym was expensive as casual fees were crazy at around US$50 per person. So, we would make do and go for a run and take photos in between our “sight-seeing slash running effort” to maximise our time. Our lil one was with my family when we were out exercising.

So when would be our next overseas trip be? We don’t think there is one for a little while as we recently bought a house (HOORAY!) and we’ll need some renovations!

Disneyland, Tokyo Japan

We are planning a trip to Japan in April 2018 with another couple which may involve a cruise trip from China to Japan and back. But it’s early days yet. Who knows?

Fit Mama!

Fit Mama!

Hi everyone.

Hope we are all over the winter season. It’s spring time meaning time to get back into fitness.

Today I am going to talk about how I am fitting my busy schedule in a week. Working 3 days a week on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, stay at home mum for the other 4 days a week and an aged group triathlete training 6 days a week with 2 sessions each day.

My training sessions are based on periodisation (eg. 12-17weeks before the first race starts). Race season starts in November and my base training starts late July. Basically, it lasts about 6-8weeks to build up my fitness. Then, training will be more specific like doing bricks, intervals and longer session. Race finishes in early April and I will have a 3-months break which generally I take 2-weeks off with no training and then start with minimal training and takes around 30-60mins, 1-2 sessions a day. During the season training, I will have 2 swim sessions, 3 strength sessions (1 functional strength and conditioning in the gym and 2 Tabata or HIIT sessions at home), 2 wind trainer/spin bike sessions at home/gym, 1 long ride on the road and 2-3 run sessions (intervals,  trail and a long slow distance.


Our lil one with us during the Annual Good Friday Appeal Outdoor Training session with friends and clients. He is making sure Daddy is doing the correct technique!

My typical week starts on Monday which I work from 6am to 11am and up at 5.05am, and I have a few hours break which I do my strength and cardio sessions range from 50mins for functional strength and conditioning and 50-60mins of cardio on the spin bike. Then, a protein shake, shower and lunch and back to work for another couple of hours before picking up my son from the childcare. My partner does the drop off in the morning. My partner would go to the gym after his work and we have dinner together when he is back from the gym before 6pm. Then, we have a little play time before our little one have a bath and playtime again. His bedtime is around 7.30 – 8pm and usually my partner put him to bed as he prefers daddy to do so.  Once he is asleep, my partner and I have our couple time talking about our day and relax watching tv. At the same time too, we get ready for next day work where we make our breakfast, lunch and snacks. Plus, preparing my workout gear and work stuff.

Tuesday where I wake up at the same time as my partner at 5.45am. I’ll get ready in my workout gear and wake up our little one at 6am if he’s not awake. Tuesday is my turn to drop him off at the childcare at 6.30am. I would go for a quick 45-60mins run before work starts at 8.30-11.30am in a medical clinic. Then, I’ll have a few hours break again where I would go to the pool for a 50mins swim. Then, a protein shake, shower and lunch. Work resumes at 2-6.30pm (or later as it depends on the length of the consultation). I’ll be home around 7.15pm. This time my partner would pick up our child around 5.50pm after his gym and will already feed him dinner by then.  This time, I’ll be giving him a bath and spend some play time with him before his bedtime where daddy puts him down.  It would be a same routine for us each night getting ready for next day.

Wednesday is my off day. I would still wake up at 5.05am to train on the wind trainer between 30-45mins before my partner goes to work at 6.15am. If our little one wakes up between those times, he could look after him before I finish the session. Then, I will do a 30mins Tabata or HIIT session. Sometimes the session doesn’t complete in 30mins if our little one already awake. It would take between 45-60mins to complete them.  Then, I will get myself ready for the day with him. Normally, I would take him to the pool for a play for 60-90mins. Then, we will head to the shopping centre for lunch and we love sushi and walk around there to do some shopping for the next few night dinners. He would sleep in the car when we come home and I will have a few hours of quiet time where I try to catch up doing my clinical reports and preparing for the next day work. During summer, my partner plays golf after work. So, we will have dinner without him. By the time he is home, our little one would be in bed. Generally, my partner and I go to sleep around 10-10.30pm.


Trying to lift the kettle bell while I am training in our lounge room!

Thursday, I would get up at 5.05am to get ready for work from 6-12pm. Of course, I will have 30mins break somewhere in between for another round of breakfast. I would have two by then. I run Mums and Bubs Class on that day too. I am so passionate about it as I could teach new mums how to exercise right and how to get back on track. There is so much to teach because it is just not about exercise. There a lot to consider as once we have a baby, our body physiology changed and to make sure we are not rushing to get back to our pre-baby body, we need to understand what is the right thing to do. About 12.15pm, I would get changed and get on to my training sessions. My sessions are 60mins interval or trail run and 50mins swim. I will have a few hours of resting where I would catch up with emails and updating work Facebook page. Work resumes at 4-5.30pm. Then, I will pick up our little one from the childcare and preparing dinner. Normally, our dinner is pretty quick and easy to prep like meat in the oven and steamed veg or salad. We have a same routine every night.

On Friday, I will be up at 5.05am for training. Same as Wednesday schedule. Every 2nd Friday, my partner has an RDO, if so, I can have a sleep in and train later around 6.30am. Our little one has Ready Steady Go Kids on that day. He loves it. Then, we would come home after and have a rest and lunch. Then, we would either be at home to have a playtime or out at the shopping centre for a few hours. He would play a little more at the play area or the rides and eats all the way from one end to the other. He can’t stop eating. Friday night is our movie night, we would watch a kid’s movie first and once he is in bed, we would watch our movie. We would go to bed at the same time too.

On Saturday, it’s my day off of training but will start an open water swim in a few week times with a group and a coach. I am looking forward to it even though it’s in a very cold water and maybe choppy.  When I return from the swim around 11am, my partner will head out to the gym and we have lunch after. We would either go out to do groceries, or staying home to do some work around the house like cleaning and organising the place. At night, we would either go out for dinner with friends or do take away. If not, we would stay home spending time watching a movie or a tv program. Our little one goes to bed around 8-8.30pm.


Swimming session. Practicing underwater submersion!

On Sunday, I would go for a long run and finish around 8.30am and have breakfast together. Then, my partner goes to the gym or goes out for a ride. We don’t really do much on Sunday. We could either catching up with family or friends or just stay home to do some more house stuff. Around 4.30pm, I would make dinner for the week. I would cook a big patch where it would last us for few meals and for freezing. It is also time for me planning my clients’ program for the week.

How I manage my work is by doing bits and pieces during my break time and at night. As for our little one, we would take him to do some activities like swimming and sports. We think he has done enough at the childcare like readings, playtime, arts, etc, so we don’t do much of that at home. The only different is we play Mandarin educational CD during the day or night for him to learn on top at home speaking with him with 3 languages.  We do the best we can and most important is to plan ahead and team work.

Introducing Esther!

Introducing Esther!

Thank you Belinda for giving me this opportunity to write in your new blog about my experience as a Mother.

Hi, my name is Esther.

I live in Melbourne and now I have a little family which includes my 2.5 years old boy and a partner who works for the fire brigade. I am originally from Malaysia and came here to study a bachelor degree in 1997 and left to Singapore for work opportunities while waiting for the approval of my Permanent Residency (PR) application.

I returned to Australia in 2004 and applied to study a master degree in exercise rehabilitation. So I am now an Accredited Exercise Physiologist.

I met Belinda through the local council’s Mothers Group program in 2015. We all been through a lot with our little ones and we still manage to keep in touch even though we live are far apart. Good old Facebook and Viber for communication!

I work 3 x days a week on my own business based in 3 locations around Melbourne VIC. Keeps me busy but I really enjoy it!

I must say my partner and I were a bit surprised as we were not planning on having kids. Early on I was prepared to be a single mother but we both learnt to accept the big lifestyle change and we’ve grown to love the process of parenthood.

The main subject I’d to share with you all today – is my pregnancy story.

I enjoyed being pregnant and it was the most wonderful experience. Believe it or not I was due to work the day our little one arrived and I messaged my clients that I am going to have a baby! I’m sure they were excited for me as I was 😊


The whole contraction thing is not a great feeling. I didn’t even realise I was having contractions the whole night while I was at home. I was constantly going to the bathroom, feeling unwell and I thought I had a bout of nasty food poisoning.

A friend told me you will know when the baby is almost here as you will get severe period pain. But, I never experienced period pain so I had no idea what to expect. Later that night things ramped up for the worst and I downloaded the contraction App and started to monitor things.

Around 6am, my partner woke up and asked me what is wrong as I was crouching in pain and I told him that I think I am going to have the baby. He rang the hospital and the lady was saying “go and have shower and take your time to come in” but I was like ‘no way’ – I was ready to go! The journey to the hospital was horrible having a few contractions on the way.

Once admitted at 8.30am, I told the midwives that I wanted the epidural because of the pain. They insisted that I have the gas and the some mild analgesia but I still persisted and asked for stronger pain relief. The nurse still didn’t want to administer the epidural and I went along having the gas but kept vomiting. Finally the nurse gave me some anti-nauseous medication which helped a lot.

My pain was worsening and I was strongly considering Cesarean surgery. The contractions were getting closer and closer and the nurse asked me to lie down and she monitored me closely. I kept insisting for the epidural and I finally got the doctor to give me the relief I needed.

Then… when the next contraction came the midwife apologised and said that we couldn’t give you the epidural as we can see your baby’s head. I was so fatigued and drained as the nurse told me the next contraction you will feel a burning sensation as she lifted my leg to an awkward angle. Yup!!! Burning sensation! After about heavy 3 breaths between pushing our little boy arrived safely into this world. All done at 12:26pm – 3 hours of labouring.

I was encouraged to start feeding this little bundle of joy immediately and I was amazed after that all that effort I’m here with my son!

Around 2pm – I was out of bed for a shower and walked to the shopping centre with my partner to have lunch. Guess what I had? Sushi… 😊