Tips for Better Living
Healthy eating and a bit of exercise and rest are always things at the top of our list.
Summer is always a time for relaxing and trying to inject some good healthy habits into our lifestyles, as we take a break from the busy routines of family, work and school.
Healthy eating and a bit of exercise and rest are always things at the top of our list. But then comes the challenge of maintaining these good habits once the holidays are over.
On these pages, we speak with just a few people in town who offer some simple and effective tips for healthy living, taking care of our bodies and our environment - from maintaining an active and balanced lifestyle, to eating right, reducing toxins in the products we use daily, and cutting down on plastic.
We even check out some innovative new clothing designs from talented local fashion designers using functional and eco-friendly fabrics.
On June 9, an energetic group of health enthusiasts of all ages, sizes and backgrounds, gathered at the St. Regis Hotel Macao for a day of fun, exercise and education, as part of activities being held by like-minded folk all over world for Global Wellness Day.
A non-profit event with the slogan “One day can change your whole life,” the first Global Wellness Day was celebrated in Turkey in 2012.
Since then, the popularity of the day has grown tremendously, and this year people joined activities in 100 countries at 5,000 different locations. And in Macau, the event was organised by Cintia Leite, a former high school art teacher who started her company, ManaVida, just one year ago.
“I grew up here in Macau, and so did my husband. I was a school teacher at the School of Nations, and I found a lot of people were coming to me and asking me how to donate to certain causes, so it seemed there was a gap between society, the community, and non-profit organisations,” explains Cintia.
“ManaVida is a company and a social enterprise. For every activity and event we do, we take out from our profit and give it to charities and associations we support. We are trying to be a bridge between the community and the associations, and I think it is working quite well,” she adds.
As the company was gearing up to celebrate its one year anniversary, Cintia, who had participated in a Global Wellness Day (GWD) event a few years earlier, decided to get more involved and applied to become the official GWD ambassador in Macau.
“I had to go through a whole application process,” she recalls. “They give the title to an individual who can have an impact and is able to bring the community together. GWD has a very similar mission to ManaVida, mainly to increase awareness about how you can change your life.”
Cintia now has the title for two years initially, and after the success of this year’s event (despite having to relocate to the indoor facilities of the St. Regis due to bad weather), she hopes to grow the scope of the event next year.
“We want people to come to these events, learn something that they can bring home with them and change their lifestyle. We’re not saying change 100 percent, but just little things.”
The event included pilates classes, some high energy Bollywood dance instruction, a range of stalls for local wellness businesses to present their products, as well as a number of workshops to teach people some useful tips for improving their lifestyles.
“With my teaching background, I really wanted to run workshops. Education is very important, and it’s important to get kids to learn things as well,” says Cintia.
One interesting workshop was hosted by Rooftop Republic, a social enterprise that promotes urban farming and sustainable living in Hong Kong through rooftop gardening.
Another workshop by Rawlicious, taught attendees how to create nutritious and delicious dishes with only raw ingredients.
And the very popular local healthy-eating store in Taipa Village, Blissful Carrot presented a workshop on how to make Kambucha fermented tea.
Finally, recently launched local business Hairy Men Republic demonstrated how to blend essential oils to help reduce stress and improve sleep and appetite.
The goals of Global Wellness Day are actually quite simple: basically to help people recognize the value of their lives by pausing and thinking, just for one day, and to try to be free from the stress of everyday city life and bad habits.
The organisation has a 7-Step Manifesto to help people make some positive changes to their busy, modern lives:
1. Walk for an hour a day
2. Drink more water
3. Don’t use plastic bottles
4. Eat healthy food
5. Do a good deed
6. Have a family dinner with your loved ones
7. And go to sleep by 10pm
“So trying to encourage little lifestyle changes that can bring a big impact,” notes Cintia.
The manifesto indeed reflects what ManaVida is trying to achieve in its own activities in Macau, and not only on one day of the year.
ManaVida organises community running events on the first Sunday of every month, and larger scale activities every couple of months.
“We have ‘You and Me’ exercise classes which are for parents and children every Saturday, and also Pilates classes which I run every week,” says Cintia.
They also hold ‘Sweat and Clean’ events where participants do some exercise and then go and pick up trash. And ‘Sweat for Others’, where people can come and pay for exercise classes and activities, and ManaVida then uses the funds raised to help charities.
“At the moment we are supporting Cradle of Hope. And in Thailand we support a project called the Tree of Life.”
And for a less strenuous evening, ManaVida hosts “Blow Your Mind” – screening documentaries for people to see what is going on around the world in regards to health and being eco-conscious.
“We showed a short documentary called A Plastic Ocean, which had a big impact and the kids were quite shocked,” says Cintia.
With the rapid development of the city in the past decade, Cintia believes Macau residents are definitely in need of some support when it comes to being healthier and happier in life.
“People are getting very stressed in Macau, even depressed. It all starts in the mind and this affects the body. It’s very tough for shift workers, they are very mentally exhausted. The pace of life is getting more competitive,” she observes.
“A lot of our clients are local Chinese people who are starting to realise that crazy diets and plastic surgery don’t work,” she adds. “You have to have a holistic approach, physical and spiritual. You have to stop for a while, rethink your lifestyle, find your balance and set your limits. Eat healthy, organic foods if you can, and be active, keep moving. It’s easier to say than do, but for sure there are ways to do it!”
圖 Photo Courtesy of Script of Memories
I’m a chef and about three years ago, I started to be more aware of what I eat and the way I feed my body. One day, one of my best friends convinced me to try a raw vegan cake and that moment changed my mind about desserts, recipes, ingredients and about my business. I started to read and learn a lot about raw food, and soon after I became a raw chef, doing an intensive course with one of the best Raw Chefs in the world. And this is how Rawlicious was born – my raw sweet kitchen.
Raw food is food that has not been heated above 48C, even within the process of drying, dehydrating and high-speed blending. When we apply heat to food (more than 48C), we destroy its enzymes. When the temperature is higher than 58C we destroy many vitamins and nutrients, and when the temperature is higher than 100C we can destroy 70% of the amino acids and antioxidants. So, raw food is living food, food in its natural state.
Eating more raw foods helps us to obtain plenty of nutrients in an easy-to-digest manner, one that our bodies are naturally suited for. The important benefits of raw foods include better digestion, better hydration, more energy, better sleep, a stronger immune system, and beautiful skin and strong nails.
It’s not necessary to be completely raw or to declare yourself a “raw vegan” to get the benefits of raw food. Just make sure to consume at least some raw vegetables and fruits every day and it will bring a great improvement in your life.
Raw food is very complex, interesting and very tasty: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains and beans, edible flowers, sea vegetables, superfoods, oils, fermented foods, teas, medicinal mushrooms, natural sweeteners and spices - each of them provides our bodies with nutrients and healthy benefits.
My best seller is my Lemon cake, a very refreshing dessert. I love chocolate, so my chocolate sweets are my favourite and I always play with ingredients when it’s about chocolate. For a main dish, maybe the most interesting for my customers is pizza. It’s a big curiosity: how can a pizza be raw vegan? Zucchini and seeds make my pizza crust very delicious.
My menu is specially created with ingredients that I can find easily in Macau, especially in the market, and I also fight against plastic and use only wood cutlery and coconut bowls.
Collaboration with ManaVida
圖 Photo Eduardo Martins
Two years ago I had a lot of friends taking pills to help them sleep: pills for depression, pills for pain, pills for stress, pills for everything, but they had a lot of side effects. With essential oils, it’s all natural. I believe we have to find balance in our lives through nature, and this is what essential oils can do.
When I started using essential oils, the peppermint oil had a big impact in my life. I used to suffer from a lot of feelings of dizziness and the peppermint oil was my life saver. For me, my life has changed completely since I started using essential oils. For my children, it helps with their concentration and studies. To help them relax at night and sleep better, I use Lavender.
Essential oils have a lot of different uses. The most popular products to make are for household use. Laundry powder is usually the most toxic thing in our homes. My son used to have eczema and we went to the doctor a lot, then I changed to homemade powder and it disappeared.
Now all my kitchen products - hand soap, detergent, cleaners - are all homemade. They work even better than the normal stuff you buy in the shops and it’s very cost effective. Essential oils are expensive, but they are highly concentrated so you only need a few drops to make the products. Each small bottle has about 100 drops.
I don’t sell the products that I make. Basically I promote the oils, and teach people how to use the oils to make their own stuff. I buy my oils from a US company called Young Living. They have been established for 20 years and have their own farms and control all the production, from seed to bottle, so there are no added synthetics or other oils.
People started recommending the products because they saw the benefits, and then they wanted to learn more, so now we organise workshops. We started with a small group of about a dozen people on Facebook and now we have around a thousand.
Lots of mums come to the workshops because they want their kids to be healthier and not exposed to synthetic or chemical-based products. We spend an afternoon together, chatting and having fun, then they take the products home to use them.
I teach how to make facial masks, nail serum, wax blend, deodorant, foot balms, laundry powder, washing detergent and kitchen cleaner. It’s not difficult, it’s just like cooking or arts and craft. It’s a process, but now I have replaced all products in my house with natural, homemade ones based on essential oils.
圖 Photo Eduardo Martins
A GREENER FUTURE
Evironmental health is one of the most important factors in healthy living. Many diseases are related to pollution, but in Macau these days, we often overlook this. There are so many disposable plastic items in our daily life, everywhere. Our organisation, Greenfuture Macau, tries to encourage people to use less plastic. It’s not good for the environment and it’s not good for our health.
For over 20 years, scientists have been researching the long term effects of the chemicals that we ingest from plastic. And everyone agrees that when we burn plastic, we release toxic chemicals into the air. But in Macau, less than 20 percent of the plastic is recycled and the rest is incinerated. This is really an issue we need to pay attention to and there are many individual lifestyle choices we can make to improve the situation.
We do a lot of workshops focused on this topic. Most people are aware of the problem, but they don’t know what to do, so now we are trying to give people alternatives. It’s not just about awareness, but also public participation.
Every year we do coastal cleanups. Today there is more plastic in the ocean than fish. We try to go to coastal areas that are not so easy to access, organise a trip and clean it up altogether.
At some local schools we encourage the kids to run a program to recycle plastic bags from home. We set up a box and they can bring clean, dry plastic bags from home, which can then be taken to the local markets so that the store owners can reuse the bags. The local freshmarket shop owners are happy to do this. They can send a good message to show to their customers, “we are trying to help the environment”.
The ultimate goal is to reduce the consumption of plastic bags by reusing them and extending their lifespan, and to help the students change their communities and change their families; they are all involved.
We also just launched a new an app which uses Google Maps to help find places that can offer you free water to refill your water bottles. You can bring your own bottle to restaurants, cafes, libraries and local centres so you can refill them, and there’s no need to buy disposable plastic water bottles. We have around 200 locations currently and we are trying to cooperate with the government to expand it.
More and more people in Macau are becoming aware of environmental issues and are willing to take action if they see a problem.