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Too Busy Disorder

Something quite terrible has been afflicting many of my loved ones lately. My entire community seems to be down with it, and for a while there, I’d caught it too. In fact, I’m still fighting to overcome it, and the ironic thing is, the more one blindly resists, the more it seems to invade both brain and body. So, what’s this illness I’m talking about? TOO BUSY DISORDER.

You’ll know Too Busy Disorder by some very clear signs. First, your daily calendar is always full, and yet you feel like you haven’t accomplished a thing. Each week is punctuated by meaningless meetings, “networking” events, and tasks that you’ve somehow been roped into without your conscious consent. At any given moment, you’re usually doing several things at once: checking Facebook, changing the baby, downing wine, sending an email, applying mascara, appeasing your boss- all in one breath.  Half the people in your life are wondering how you manage to do it all while the other half seem to be hinting that you should be doing more and the ironic part is, it feels like every single one of them has it out for you in some weird, ultra-competitive, “my busy is more important than your busy” way. You see, Too Busy Disorder is a killer. It destroys your relationships, decimates your dreams, zaps your energy, and eventually, Zombifies your mind.

Other symptoms of Too Busy Disorder include:

·      Being unable to finish a complete sentence without sighing.
·      Using the words “stressed,” “overwhelmed,” “crazy” and “busy” constantly.
·      Becoming BFFs with the word “YES.”
·      Interrupting each thought with a social media check.
·      Facet joint pain in the back of your neck… from staring into your iPhone all day.
·      A sex life from hell (umm… because you’re too busy to have sex).
·      Texting on the toilet, and cuddling up to your devices in bed.
·      Trading in real relationships for Facebook “friends” and Instagram likes.
·      Dreaming about finding that new job… constantly.
·      Experiencing full-blown resentment from always trying to please others.
·      Throbbing aches in your dominant hand, particularly the thumb, from typing so much.
·      Chucking out the notion of pondering questions about the meaning of life because… who the hell has time for that?
·      Prioritizing a pointless appointment with someone you hardly know over having dinner with someone you love.
·      Feeling like nothing in your life is working out; you’re treading water on all fronts.
·      Forgetting what your kids- or your dogs- look like.
·      Inability to focus on one task for more than a minute or two.
·      Exceptional exhaustion, and increased reliance on stimulants like coffee to get you through.
·      Lack of real interest in anything… and obsessive interest in everything… at the same time (yes, it’s possible. If you have a severe case of Too Busy Disorder, you know exactly what I’m talking about).

A few months ago, during a minor meltdown after a demanding week, I decided to take a seat and do one of the things that I love doing- coach. However, I hadn’t seen that particular client in a while. You see, that particular client was me and I had been very busy hiding from certain aspects of myself in order to continue to deny that that the way I’d structured my life just wasn’t working anymore. And, what I discovered during that coaching session with myself has been absolutely invaluable moving forward. All of this “busyness”, all those feelings of obligation and that mysterious pressure to achieve, are completely and totally self-imposed in order so that we may steer ourselves away from the really scary stuff in life- our biggest dreams, our juiciest and messiest relationships, our deepest intimacies, our loudest insecurities.

Here it is again, in a nutshell: If you have TOO BUSY DISORDER, you can pretty much bet that it’s because you’ve chosen to avoid what’s truly important for what just feels “manageably” important. Except, it’s not manageable, and it’s not really important.

If you don’t believe me, look around. How many relationships do you see disintegrating? How many people do you know who are following their true bliss in life and doing what they are meant to do? How many folks are hating doing what they once loved because they’re just too overwhelmed to see the joy and meaning in it? How many times have you logged onto social media, only to realize that it’s like tuning into a schoolyard of 5 year old children vying for attention (because they’re not cultivating fulfilling relationships offline)? How many new aches and pains and dis-eases are suddenly popping up due to the way we all exist now? And, how many times have you felt like life was personally passing you by, despite your lack of time?

After I’d done a little coaching on yours truly, I turned to my husband and said, “honey, I’m creating a bucket. And, if something’s not in the bucket, then fuck it.” And, that’s just what I did. I made a bucket, and I put all of the things in it that were truly valuable to me, making sure that it wasn’t too heavy or overflowing with ambition. It had to be a bucket that I could easily carry- more like a sandpail for the beach. Here’s what’s in my bucket:

·      Quality, device-free time with my husband.
·      Meaningful coaching with a very small number of clients ( I quantified this)
·      Playing with my dogs.
·      Writing each day.
·      Going on adventures.
·      Meditation and prayer.
·      Time for reading each evening.
·      Creative or enriching activities that will help me serve others or learn something new.
·      Exercise most days of the week.
·      Tea dates with friends.

And… that’s about it.

No more racing around to networking events or uploading crap to Instagram or logging onto Facebook or taking an appointment when I don’t have time. No more reacting to WhatsApp or phone calls or random requests. Those things just don’t fit in my bucket. There isn’t much room for the “YES” word in my pail either, and if it doesn’t make my heart sing, then, well truly, fuck it.

We human beings are just not meant to be spreading our attention so thin, giving to all and no one at once, bargaining for love through a shiny machine. Introverts and sensitive souls especially tap into their power not by throwing themselves in the chaos of the world, but by slowing down and tuning out in order to really tune in.

Since creating my bucket, I’ve discovered a lot more space in my life to do what I was meant to do, and what we’re all meant to do in one way or another- stare fear into the eyeballs and get on with the business of living an impassioned, meaning-soaked, thoughtful and colorful life.  I haven’t browsed my social media accounts in nearly two weeks now, and that feels awesome. I’ve written the first draft of a non-fiction book and started a draft of a novel and that feels- after so many years of denying this piece of me- intergalactically amazing, particularly because I'm simply writing what I wish to. I get to do deeper work through my coaching with a small group of big-hearted, incredible women and I am forever blessed because of it. And, my relationship with the love of my life is beginning to flourish again- we’re diving into projects and adventures together, instead of mumbling, exhausted, over our cell phones. Beyond all of these “DO” things, it’s just so beautiful to have space again, space to lounge around in my pajamas and let my mind dance while I sit with the feeling of this majestic unfolding.

So, here’s to doing LESS, and may we all know the difference between what’s in our bucket and what should be filed under “fuck it.”



Smartphone-free, One Day at a Time


If push came to shove, I’m betting that the vast majority of you reading this right now would be able to give up a vice or two for at least a month, be it booze or chocolate or online shopping. I’m sure that some of you already do this regularly, whether for Drynuary or Lent or to fit into a fancy dress. And, there may be a good number of you who have chosen a more mindful and sober life, eschewing things like alcohol, tobacco, processed foods, or pills. But, what if you were asked to give up your Smartphone for at least thirty days?

Where I live in Singapore, we are some of the most digitally addicted people on the planet, boasting the highest smartphone penetration rate on the globe. Nomophobia- the fear of being without one’s mobile phone- prevails. About the size of a tarot card, these inanimate wizards gently pull us out of ourselves and into a shiny, filtered future crafted primarily by strangers we seem to know and trust. Our smartphones offer the ultimate in escapism- conscious and yet unconscious, responsive and yet aloof, continuously shifting its tricks to the tune of our moods. This is precisely why the Smartphone is a potential disaster for anyone susceptible to an addiction… which includes all of us.

I’ve been addicted to something for the majority of my life since birth, beginning with the wrinkled thumb of my left hand, which morphed my two front teeth into diving boards. The thumb sucking eventually gave way to food, cigarettes, love, booze, and benzos, all of which offered velvety rabbit holes of escapism where I could curl up and see the world as what I wished it to be instead of what it actually was. That’s the sucky part about addiction- the initially warm and fluffy den of it all eventually makes you feel like you are ever so gradually boiling to death.

Which is why, when I felt those telltale edges of anxiety creep up six months ago after a strong six years of sobriety, I began snooping around to see what kind of pit I’d fallen into. The first thing I did was make a list of the evidence by asking a simple question: what was I seeking to do in my life that I wasn’t achieving and WHY? There were about thirty things on that list, large and small, with a common theme woven throughout- I was failing at achieving most of my goals due to shortcomings in time management.

Next, I began journaling each morning upon waking in an effort to tap into which emotions were leading me astray. Some of the usual characters began to pop up- fear, insecurity, and dread- but the one that was particularly interesting was “overwhelm,” something I had worked so hard to overturn and which- given how I had reordered my life since exiting the corporate grind- had no place in my being. Finally, I looked at where my time and my emotions were being directed to, immediately realizing that I was gripped by an addiction both insidious and yet acceptable enough to be seen merely as a necessary evil of our era.

My Smartphone, that simple little device I’d used to control the flow of my daily life, was now controlling me. Endless hours were being siphoned into text messages and Whatsapps, beckoning reactions instead of responses as they filtered in with their tinkling, sparkly bells. The enjoyment of a meal or a vacation could only be confirmed upon Instagramming it. Texts like, “what’s better: quinoa or barley?” were suddenly urgent matters; staying on top of emails became a futile game.

By the time I realized what had happened, some of the damage had already been done. I could no longer spend great swathes of hours alone without scrambling to find something to distract me. My thought patterns and language were changing- less rhythm, more sound byte. And, all the things deemed most important were being interrupted continuously by the crude punctuations of beeps, bells and buzzing from something that had supposedly been designed to support daily life, rather than overtake it . So, on June 29th, I removed the heart of my iPhone- its SIM Card- and tucked the deadened device in a drawer, replacing it with a grey Nokia bar phone that does little more than tell the time.

Since then, life has taken on a very different pace, each day marked by flow, trips and slips. I’ve written the first half of a meaty book, poured my evenings into Yogananda’s written works, and spent more time staring into my third eye- as well as the sky. I’ve also overlooked two appointments, missed birthdays and events, and felt the embarrassing pull of FOMO (fear of missing out) each time I’ve logged onto Facebook from my home computer. I’ve lost a few social media friends, perhaps because I’m no longer constantly engaged, and some of my true friends have heartily complained as well.

All the inconveniences are sorely felt- no Spotify on the go, no camera to capture a special moment, no media streams to distract me while I’m waiting in line. But, so are the benefits- the freedom of a wandering mind, a happier husband, feeling less like a servant or a consumer and more like a human being who can once again create something beyond the ephemeral, or just sit quietly with whatever’s going on between the ears.

It’s been nearly a month without my Smartphone and I’m just not ready to rejoin the rest of the developed world yet. I still feel those edges of anxiety boiling beneath the surface which makes me wonder if I can go back to it at all without tumbling into the hole again. Several people have said, “just delete your apps,” or “have more self control” or “leave the iPhone at home,” and I cannot help but wonder if they’re not just other addicts staring down into those tiny panes of glass, those windows of denial.

The truth is, I’m still hooked. I peek over at the shiny apps gleaming from my friend’s Samsung Galaxy, conceptualize a slick photo or video, lament the fact that I’m no longer rowing on those rivers of distraction. I nearly salivate when I think about holding it in my hands again, or tucking it into a pocket with the earphone hanging out, or even scheduling an appointment without having to write it down in one of those silly diaries from the caveman days.

Perhaps we’re all cyborgs now, I wonder. Instead of thinking of it as an addiction, I could consider it an extension, a plug-in with a few major bugs. Here’s the thing- we’ll find a way to justify whatever pulls us out of the listlessness and longing that comes with being human. That’s addiction at its core- a pursuit of self-soothing that eventually morphs its victims into muted, mindless characters enslaved by their fix of choice. Addiction or extension, I’m going to pass on the zombification… at least for now. One day at a time.

Would you ever consider giving up your mobile phone? How about the Internet, or even Facebook? How long do you think you could live without these technologies? Leave your thoughts below; I'd love to hear from you. Did you like this post? If so, please share the love!




TF's Healthy Holiday Gift & Goodies Guide

'Tis the season for a little extra belly padding thanks to holiday sweets and treats... and a little more thought about health and fitness resolutions for the New Year! Get your loved ones and yourself off to a sprinting start in 2015 with something that will inspire and surprise. Here is Tangram Fitness's round up of health-conscious & hassle-free Christmas gifts & goodies available locally in Singapore and online. Keep your eyes peeled for some special treats below! 


Are you still scribbling your life goals and dreams on napkins, paper scraps, the back of receipts? If so, the Passion Planner may be just what you need. It's an all-in-one day planner, to do list, goal setting guide, journal and gratitude list with motivational quotes to keep you inspired. 
I have ordered Passion Planners for all of my current clients via Kickstarter. :-) It's tough to say whether they'll be manufactured and shipped by Christmas, so if you purchase it as a holiday gift, you may wish to email the Kickstarter video and note to the recipient.


I discovered these leggings very recently during a trip to Florida, and was completely smitten when I found out that they are made from recycled bottles. The colorful Teeki prints and perfectly snug fit add a splash of extra motivation and fun to your workouts. They're so unique and comfortable.



Packed with beautiful, unique and easy-to-follow recipes, The Paleo Kitchen is perfect for every foodie, whether or not they follow the "Caveman" approach to nutrition. Their Chocolate Bacon Brownies and Rosemary Sundried Tomato Meatballs are two of my favorites; I have yet to find a dish in this cookbook that isn't divine! 
Available through Kinokuniya


My husband, a total gadget head, is drooling over the Microsoft Band- a smart watch and fitness tracker rolled into one. Track your heart rate, steps, sleep quality and calorie burn with this ambitious little device. They're selling like hotcakes, so if you plan on leaving one under the tree, secure it quickly!
Order through Microsoft



Few training methods are more effective for building muscle and torching fat simultaneously than the humble kettlebell, which can be used just about everywhere. Newbies should begin with a lighter weight: 8kg, 10kg and 12kg kettlebells make a good starter pack for both men and women!


The benefits of meditation are well-known, ranging from stress relief to heightened concentration and creativity to increased happiness and awareness. Committing to a daily meditation practice only requires a few minutes out of your morning and evening- and it's much easier if you have a designated place for it. Look for a meditation cushion that's comfortable and fuss-free. This one is for purchase at Evergreen Buddhist Cultural Centre in Pearl Centre. 


Get them weight training early- very early! ;-)  
This super cute barbell rattle keeps baby
interested and occupied, as well as aiding
in dexterity development and hand eye 
coordination. Available on 






The "Iconic" bag by Stella McCartney for Adidas is feminine yet utilitarian, with pockets for shoes, toiletries, and an exercise journal. Available at select Adidas outlets. 


From smoothies to soups to protein shakes, this hot pink little number has you covered. No need for a fancy juicer- KitchenAid blenders always come out on top for their power, price point and reliability. Available at select KitchenAid stores. 


Every woman needs a dream and a
 room of one's own to accomplish it. 
Woolf Works, a calm and inspiring women's co-working space in Joo Chiat, offers entrepreneurs, artists, creatives and stay-at-home moms the space and community to pursue their passions. As a holiday treat for Tangram Fitness fans, come into Woolf Works for the day for a free trial AND get 50% off a private Pilates session with Amie Wang of Play it Fit (subject to availability, email for more details)


If you're looking for the perfect pre-workout snack to fuel your kettlebell session, try nut butter and banana slices on whole grain bread 60-90 minutes before you head to the gym. Kareen Lai of Mums In Sync has officially launched her yummy premium brand of nut butters, Nuts About Butter, which can be delivered right to your door in Singapore. This is the perfect stocking stuffer for runners, weightlifters, and yogis alike.


As a licensed Massage Therapist and multiple Ironman triathlon finisher, Pink Ginger Founder and Lead Therapist, Neridah Lock, intimately understands the injury prevention and pain management needs of today's athlete. Pink Ginger is giving all Tangram Fitness clients 25% off on a 60 minute massage booked through from now until Monday, Dec. 15th. Be sure to include "Tangram Fitness" in the enquiry form! 



For those ready to step off that treadmill and get into the weight room, "The New Rules of Lifting for Women" is a fantastic resource for getting started with a strength training program. Available through Kinokuniya and


Banish the post-workout fuss with elegant, easy and wrinkle-free pieces from Dragon Fly Resort Wear. Maxi dresses, jumpers and breezy separates guarantee a fabulous look following a serious sweat no matter how sweltering the day is.


You know the drill... you're jogging along, bopping to your favorite tunes, when all of the sudden your elbow catches your headphones wire and your earbuds go flying out of their canals, taking your device down with them. It happens to pretty much everyone! With the new Beats wireless ear buds, the issue is eliminated and the tunes are amplified. 
Purchase through the iPhone store. 



Serve up something scrumptiously healthy and hormone-free this Christmas with The Barbie Girls wide selection of antibiotic- and hormone-free produce from Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Christmas hams from an ethical and clean family farm in the UK are on their way to Singapore, and they have special selection of Festive Packages as well.


Wishing you a healthy and hassle-free holiday season that inspires you to get moving, motivated and mindful in 2015! If you haven't signed up already, clarify your vision and your action plan for a fit, fabulous New Year at the "Creating Your Vision for 2015" workshop, this Saturday, Dec. 6th at 10am. Be kind to yourself! 



Strength Training for Life

- Hurdle over your fears. Close your eyes if you need to. When we walk alongside fear as our companion, we are on the wrong road. You’ve heard it before- “what you’re looking for is on the other side of fear.” That’s true.

- Forgive and release. Forgiveness doesn’t mean condoning or accepting someone else’s issues. It means recognizing our shared humanity and connection, and honoring yourself enough to release your heart from resentment.

-Develop unbreakable, non-negotiable, rock solid habits and practices. Running. Prayer. Weightlifting. Meditation. Writing. Gratitude Lists. Start with one and do it for at least six months before you add another. Make it yours.

- Cultivate kindness. Some of us were born kind, raised in kind families, and treated kindly throughout our lives. Most of us have experienced our share of unkind experiences. Don’t let that make you bitter. Practice kindness each day. Be especially kind to the vulnerable- children, animals, the elderly, the disadvantaged and disabled, the unkind, the angry, the hateful.

- Find a creative way to express that brilliant, revolving kaleidoscope within you: painting, writing, sculpture, singing, violin, beadwork, photography, dance, what have you. Get it out and let it fuel something uniquely splendid.

- Go out and explore the world. Hang with people who are very different from you, break out of your own social comfort circle. Learn as much as you can about the places you go. Taste the food, try the language, soak up the sites, and appreciate the diversity of the world while setting any judgments aside.  

- Learn as much as you can, as often as you can. Feed your mind and your soul with books and experiences that will broaden your conception of what’s possible and open your imagination up to new possibilities. Commit to continuous growth through lifelong learning. Keep your brain fresh and alive!

- Do the hard things. We evolve and expand by cultivating our strength, grit, tenacity and bravery. Cry through it if you have to, but do the hard things. Running the marathon. Having the tough conversation. Starting the business. Writing the book. Letting it go. Being there. Speaking the truth. Walking away, and towards. 

Light and Lifting,




Stressed to the Max? Here's How to Relax!

Chill out- it's good for you! 

Chill out- it's good for you! 

Are you stressing? In a city where long work hours, crammed MRTs and small living spaces are the norm, stress is unavoidable. In fact, during my health assessments with potential clients, I ask a few questions about the levels and types of stress they may be experiencing, and I have yet to meet anyone who tells me that stress is not a factor in their lives. Whether it’s your job, your family, financial pressures or social obligations, stress likely plays a role in your reality. Acute stress—the stress we feel due to some type of short-term event or situation—can actually be beneficial by boosting cognitive function and alerting you to potential threats. After all, acute stress has had a big hand in protecting the human species over many thousands of years. 

Chronic stress, however—a constant and sometimes debilitating stress that occurs over an extended period of time—can lead to some serious health challenges, including obesity, depression, diabetes, heart disease, and sleep and digestion problems. When you’re chronically stressed, your body’s “fight or flight” response is continually on, secreting the “stress hormones” cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream over a prolonged period of time, resulting in immune response depression, high blood pressure, blood sugar elevation, significant loss of calcium from the bones, fat accumulation, and loss of muscle mass. Studies also show that stress can cause metabolic changes in the body, contributing to obesity. High levels of cortisol due to chronic stress can also lead to a major accumulation of abdominal fat and severe loss of muscle tissue in the extremities. And, of course, chronic stress has a tendency to trigger addictive or unhealthy habits in order to cope, like overeating or binge drinking.

How can you reduce stress in this crazy busy world? Read on for six stress busters that, applied over time, can turn rough seas into smooth sailing.

1. Exercise: Physical activity ramps up the production of endorphins, “happy hormones” that dull the feeling of pain while triggering positive, energizing feelings throughout the body. In addition, regular low- or moderate-intensity exercise can reduce the body’s stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol (be careful, however- overtraining can drastically increase these hormones, with detrimental effects!) Physical activity is also a good way to put your problems aside and focus on the task at hand, whether it be lifting a heavy weight, setting a personal record, or holding a challenging yoga pose.

2. Meditate: Mindfulness meditation is the practice of using focused attention to remain in the present moment, usually through concentration on the breath. Meditation has been around for thousands of years, and with good reason. Studies show that cultivating a daily mindfulness practice can help relive chronic pain and reduce anxiety. Neuroscientists have found that people who meditate regularly are better able to control the alpha waves in their brain, which helps to minimize distractions.  Just meditating ten minutes per day can have a powerful positive impact on your mood, focus and overall sense of wellbeing. 

3. Unplug: In the past ten years, our lives and our behaviors have been dramatically jolted by email, texts, laptops, Facebook, Twitter, smart phones, and all the other gadgets and sites we’re now permanently attached to. For some reason, we now feel the need to be “on” 24/7 and fully responsive at all times. Studies show that, as much as we fight it, the human brain needs some downtime away from stimuli and expectation. Scientists have also found that many hours spent on search engines and social media can actually rewire the brain and shorten our attention spans while increasing stress hormones, which in turn are shown to reduce short term memory. Carving some time out each day to unplug can help you unwind and reset while allowing the brain both rest and creativity. Consider setting aside a full “no device” day each week, or taking a device-free holiday every once in a while!

4. Take a “forest bath”: In Japan, a “forest” bath refers to taking a leisurely stroll through the woods, soaking in the myriad scents of the soil, the leaves and the flowers while listening attentively for the mating call of a bird or the gentle croak of a frog. It’s also a recognized relaxation and stress management activity in Japan, first promoted by The Forest Agency of Japan in 1982. In a number of experiments conducted at Nippon Medical School, regular forest bathing is shown to decrease stress-related diseases and actually boosts a component of the immune system to battle cancer. While “forests” might not immediately come to mind when you think of Singapore, reservations like Bukit Timah and MacRitchie are wonderful sanctuaries to take a “bath” and chill out amidst the hustle and bustle of the busy red dot.

5. Eat some salmon: Omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish—particularly mackerel, trout and salmon—have numerous health benefits, including lowering triglycerides and blood pressure, reducing inflammation throughout the body, slowing down cognitive decline from aging and regulating oil in the skin. Research also shows that they appear effective in the prevention of stress and depression by slowing the body’s release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, immune factors that respond to infection and disease. Be careful, though- not all salmon are created equal. When you have the choice, opt for wild-caught salmon or sustainable sea farmed salmon from companies that can guarantee no antibiotics are used- it’s worth the few extra bucks. If you’re looking for a local supplier, check out The Barbie Girls here in Singapore!  

6. Snack on some stress-busting superfoods: Rich in antioxidants and vitamin-C, blueberries are fun little stress-fighting super berries. Need to crunch on something? Grab a handful of almonds, packed with zinc, magnesium, B2 and E to boost the immune system and fight anxiety. Feeling particularly grouchy? Break out that dark chocolate- it’s good for you! High in flavonoids which promote relaxation, chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, a chemical related to amphetamines that stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain and can promote feelings of joy and excitement. Need something to wash it down with? Grab a cup of chamomile tea, which has been shown to reduce stress levels by up to 50% if consumed regularly over a period of eight weeks or more.

Still stressed? How are you trying to tackle your anxiety? What stress busting method works best for you? Leave your thoughts in the comments section! I’d love to hear from you.



© Tangram Fitness 2013