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My 4 absolute no-nos when it comes to healthy living



Most people who don’t know me well think I’m an absolute health nut when in reality, I’m far from orthorexic. Of all the places I’ve lived in the world, I think Frisco has taught me the most in ways I should think consciously about where my food comes from and how they were grown, but that’s that. I still eat chocolate everyday (yes, everyday) and the occasional pizza.

By that, I’m implying that a good balance leads to optimum health. In fact, you’ll realize that the more you swear off something you really enjoy and start depriving yourself more, you’ll only come back to them more hungry and more foolish the next time. In general, it’s always unwise to go with absolutes. Nothing ever comes good out of extremes, but there are 4 common lifestyle habits that I absolutely (and I mean absolutely) reject. Call them my non-negotiables of life.

Study after study have shown how these habits aren’t all that good for you, but young guns are adopting them everyday through extreme peer pressure and intense media exposure. Just a decade ago, we aren’t faced with this much external influence as we do today, what with social media and 24-hour news cycles brainwashing you all the time. I hope with my sharing this post that it’ll convince you to strip these 4 unhealthy habits away from your life. Otherwise … here they are:


1. Smoking


This is coming from a person who’s never smoked a cigarette in her life.

I’ve met people who can’t survive a day without finishing a pack. I’ve met groups of people who insisted I get into the car first because they need at least 30 minutes outside to “breathe” and “get some fresh air”. I’ve met people who’s wrapped illegal stimulants for me and wanted me to give it a try, ’cause “everybody’s high here except you”. As if you can’t have fun without it?! And no, I refused to try it until I was glad later on that I was the only one sober in the room. Somebody has to go to work, you know.

“My uncle has smoked for over 50 years and he’s lived longer than Mr. so-and-so who absolutely doesn’t smoke!” Most of them claimed. Like, duh, of course everyone’s built differently. Odds are bound to happen. There are many lifestyle factors besides smoking that determine your health and longevity such as sleep, nutrition, physical fitness, relationships, and spirituality. It’s just that for me, I simply won’t accept the cigarette no matter how much you pressure me into it.

When I was in first or second grade, I was stung by an open smoke on my left arm by a big, fat, wealthy-looking old man in some business convention my parents had to attend in Singapore. It was a super crowded room, so people were pushing each other around. Even though the man gave me the cigarette burn by accident, in the end he just looked at me and my burn without saying a word, as if my hurt didn’t matter. I remember staring up at his expressionless face, and then he just walked away (and probably go burning other people’s forearms as if they’re open ashtrays).

I’ve despised/loathed/intensely hated smoke ever since, especially those coming out from inconsiderate peeps because that makes us non-smoking bystanders a secondhand smoker who’ll do much worse than them and have fat kids. Not cool.


2. Soda

Now this one I have way lesser contempt. My 2 elder brothers are big fans of Coke (and Pepsi, and 7up, and later on Dr. Pepper) during childhood, and they’ve always assumed I couldn’t handle the burning sensation in my throat (because I can’t tolerate too much fizz) so that I’ll pass my sodas to them. I’d have a sip or two and then give them the rest.

This still rings true today, just that fortunately, they’re not such big fans of soft drinks anymore. Over the years I’ve grown to dislike carbonated drinks of any form, including conventional fruit juices, even though fruits are my thing. So if it’s a special occasion, let’s call it a day of high tea instead of toasting with champagne. Besides, these soft drinks often contain excessive amounts of sugar and other artificial and/or alternative sweeteners, no nutrient whatsoever, added colorings, too much caffeine, and some alcohol. You mix all that up and you get some serious bone, heart, kidney, and dental problems.


3. Snoring


My dad’s a huge snorer, and I don’t like it. I’m a big sleeper, so it really disrupts my sleep.

Since childhood, I vowed to never marry a man who snores, and I’m praying so hard that my soon-to-be husband will never do. One thing I know now is I’ll have control over a large part of his health once we’re married, so that’s a relief. But I’ve always wondered: What makes some people snore and others don’t?

Well, there are plenty ranging from caching a cold to just lying on your back, but it’s all to do with air flow regularity – snorers aren’t capable of moving air through nose and mouth freely into the lungs when they sleep. Lying on your back is arguably the healthiest sleeping position out there, but your throat falls backward to partially block the airway through your throat, causing you to snore. There may also be some kind of congestion in your nasal pathway that partially blocks airflow, making flow become more forceful. Also, tissues throughout your mouth, tongue, and throat thicken as you age, and this creates a much narrower airway. Snoring happens when these bulky tissues vibrate as you breathe in.

This is why older men who are overweight are most susceptible to snoring, as this demographic implies weakened throat muscles and excess fat gathered in the throat area. Worst part is, once you get into the habit, snoring tends to get worse over time.

General health guidelines (you know, exercise, nutrition, limiting alcohol and NO SMOKING) can stop the severity or prevent snoring at all, but here’s how I’m going to prevent my fiance from transforming into a snorer: Maintaining a healthy weight and diet, feeding him a daily vitamin C, playing even more tennis, challenging him to run long distance with me, getting him regular massage, restricting him from coffee after 5pm, and sleeping with my back facing his face so he’ll come snuggle me and therefore sleep on his side (instead of on his back).


4. Sun-tanning (or any other form of tanning)

I’ll be lying if I say I’ve never gone under the sun for longer than an hour unprotected, because I have. But never once in my life have I intentionally went out in bikinis1 to bake my skin under the sun.

As I get older, I realized I have a lot to thank my nagging mom for. Of all the things she keeps reminding about, it’s the dangers of unprotected sun exposure. It’s not just for vanity reasons (check out my post on premature aging2) – you’ll actually up your risk of getting cataracts in your eye or worst, go blind.

The rule of thumb is to go out with huge sunglasses and a huge hat with your whole body slathered with an SPF 35 sunscreen or higher, and then reapply the sunscreen every 2 hours or so. Really, it sucks, and I don’t always reapply because it’s so sticky and my mom is not always around to watch, but you don’t want to go blind and you don’t want to look old when it’s not even your time yet, so yeah.


What about you? Do you have any absolutes when it comes to protecting your health?



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  1. This one‘s worth the splurge. []
  2. In East Asian cultures, it’s deemed beautiful for you to have super pale, porcelain-white skin. Speaking of which, Asian skins are generally more prone to a host of skin issues because we’re not blessed with as much pigmentation as that of other ethnicities. []
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