THE post-Raya hangover: You find yourself waking up after at least three days of patchy memories consisting of a swirl of meat, ketupat, meat, icy sweet drinks, meat, coconut milk in everything, meat, Raya cookies and, guess what, even more meat!
Every year, as a result of feeling sluggish over a complete indulgence with almost zero self-control during the Raya season, I would wind back a little via detoxing.
And by detox, I mean eating cautiously for a whole week with absolutely no red meat, fried food, white sugar, carbs, processed food, caffeine and shellfish.
If it sounds like torture to you, that’s because it is. But a beneficial one at that.
To make it interesting this time, I decided to pick out a little competition to keep me motivated.
I scanned potential candidates and eventually settled on a promising nominee — a male colleague named Yoganathan, whom I initially felt I could totally outrun in this little contest.
We agreed to share our gastronomic journey throughout the week to compare ourselves.
THE COMPETITION KICKS OFF
I explained the ground rules to Yoga, who seemed unfazed by the menu limitations. This worried me a little.
Day 1 started off positively. As I ate my breakfast granola, I smiled in insincere sympathy over the regret he must be feeling about his own breakfast of apples and a cup of green tea.
For lunch, we both seemed to be doing well, sticking to a vegan menu while Yoga had a steamed salmon.
I was boosting with confidence at my own tenacity, until dinner came and he showed me a picture of some oats he was having.
I was impressed. I could never survive having just oats for dinner.
I woke up on Day 2 feeling a sudden pang of hunger, so I resorted to have a wholemeal toast. I was sure that Yoga would’ve given up by now, his dinner oats sending him off the edge, but he told me his breakfast was a plate of apples and half a boiled corn (are you kidding me?).
This time around, I was pressed for time to make all my own meals due to work, so I resorted to my go-to ready-made arsenal: healthy lunches from La Juiceria’s raw food bar, Jack O’s all-natural chicken patties for dinner, and smoothies from the various health outlets around town.
There is so much access to healthy options these days. Gwyneth (Paltrow), I’m following your advice in resourcing detox food and not using time constraints as an excuse!
The sugar withdrawal was real. Stopping cold turkey after days of eating all sorts of Raya cookies showed its effects on me on Day 3 onwards.
In a moment of temporary relapse, I secretly ate a pineapple tart in my office locker. All right, fine. I actually had two of those. But of course I didn’t tell Yoga about the four pieces of pineapple tarts I ate in disclosure.
The next few days seemed like long days at a barren, blazing hot desert with no end in sight. Or at least that was how it felt in my mind.
I thought about all the rendang I had during Raya, reminiscing the good days when I was eating all the festive dishes five times a day.
On the fourth night, I had only roast veggies for dinner and I went to bed still hungry. I recalled watching a model on TV eating the exact same thing and announcing she was stuffed. What lies!
Another test came in the form of the many, many office Raya parties through the week. It was bad enough that I was missing carbs but the fact that there was an all-day buffet right there in the same room made it so much worse.
On the last day of the detox, Yoga came by and showcased his lunch of just chicken and salad.
I smiled in encouragement as I went ahead for a cold bowl of cendol from the office party, officially ending my detox period with a sweet, calorie-spiked bang.
WILLPOWER IS KEY
By the end of the programme, I lost all my Raya weight and no longer felt like a glutton. It is safe to say from this little mission that willpower is always key to plough through this challenge.
I’m sure that the detoxing rules were something unfamiliar to Yoga, but he was determined to be a worthy competitor and I applaud him for all of those nights he settled for just oats for dinner. Even I can’t pull that off.
But most of all, the whole experience is a reminder that a little healthy competition is always an amazing boost to keep ourselves motivated in achieving our goals, even when it’s about getting back on that healthier saddle.
A GEOSCIENTIST BY DAY AND ASPIRING WRITER BY NIGHT, AMAL GHAZALI
PONDERS ON EVERYTHING, FROM PERPLEXING, MODERN-DAY RELATIONSHIP DILEMMAS TO THE FASCINATING WORLD OF WOMEN’S HEALTH AND WELLBEING. ALL DONE OF COURSE , WHILE HAVING A GOOD LAUGH. READ MORE OF HER STORIES AT BOOTSOVERBOOKS.COM