10 Tips on going vegan…

Firstly, well done on moving in this direction- you are not only making the best decision for you and your health but also doing a fantastic job for animals and the planet. OK so my top 10 tips for going vegan.

1UNDERSTAND WHY YOU ARE GOING VEGAN. Whether it’s for your health, animals or the planet, understand your reasons and be passionate about them it will encourage and motivate you in your transition.

2. BE PREPARED. Being prepared with your food is so important when you are vegan. It can be difficult to buy convenience foods, so don’t leave it to chance. When you are going to work or have a long day, bring food and snacks to keep you going. It is difficult at first, checking labels etc, but stick with it- anything worth having or doing takes time and a little bit of effort. It is getting easier day by day with many high street stores such as Starbucks, Marks and Spenser’s, Sainsburys, and more, starting to stock vegan meals-to-go. Also, so many restaurants adding vegan options to their menu but even still, it’s best to be prepared – it’s a great habit to get into anyway much more healthy and cost effective.

3. STAPLE FOODS. Everyone has ‘staple foods’ usually they are things that go with everything and are used in many meals. My staples are oats, peanut butter, cinnamon, chickpeas, avocado and quinoa. These items generally make up the bulk of my diet. For example; overnight oats, peanut butter on toast, homemade energy balls, hummus, quinoa salads etc. Also, these items last a few days in the fridge as long as they are stored correctly.

4. COST. People are under the impression that being vegan is expensive but oats, rice, grains and lentils are all so cheap and full of goodness. When you do your first big shop to stock up on all your new vegan items, you may spend more than usual but you will have your staple pieces that you will use over and over.

5. HAVE A THICK SKIN. Everyone you know or maybe even don’t know will become a nutritionist when you go vegan. The will tell you that you will be lacking “this, that and the other” and maybe even fire questions at you such as, ‘where do you get your protein?’ And many others you will become accustomed with very soon. But don’t let this deter you, the longer you are vegan the more confident you will be answering such questions and you will probably find yourself enjoying educating people.

6. RESEARCH AND LEARNING. If you haven’t already, watch Earthlings, What the Health and Cowspiracy and maybe buy yourself some vegan cookbooks or have a look online for meal ideas and inspiration. Remember- “knowledge is power”. Since being vegan I feel like I learn something new about nutrition every single day.

7. EATING OUT. Do yourself a favor, if you are not going to a full vegan restaurant, save yourself some time and unnecessary stress and check the menu before booking. Lots of restaurants are really helpful if you contact them prior to booking. They may potentially prepare you a separate meal, also remember not all wine is vegan so again do your research beforehand.

8. IT’S NOT BORING. Becoming vegan was the best life decision I ever made and I have never ‘missed out’ on anything. I still go on nights out, have food binges and enjoy life, but when I do it, it causes harm to nothing and no one. So be open-minded, try new foods or maybe even join vegan groups to meet like minded people.

9. THE AWAKENING. Be prepared to see life differently. You will start to see situations and people differently – embrace it. Your taste buds will also change, so you will start to taste food exactly how it should taste.

10.BE PROUD OF YOURSELF. Be proud of you and your amazing decision. For your health, animals and our amazing planet. It may take time to all click into place, but don’t be disheartened- remember why you made this decision in the first place!

#vegan #vegantips #theawakening #plantbased #foodprep

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The Right people around you…

Sorry it’s been a while since our last post, I have been super busy training – I took two fights in a week! But aside from that I changed gyms and it got me thinking about how important it is to have the right people around you.

A lot of people, businesses, and gyms go through the motions of life and making money without a lot of thought or compassion to other people’s thoughts, feelings and needs. But in a sport such as Thai boxing where you can actually get seriously hurt I realised how important it was/is that when I trained, my trainer cared about it and about me. When I step in that ring I want and more importantly NEED to know, he has my back, it might just be me in there fighting, but knowing someone cares feels like you have an army behind you and means the absolute world.

Mindset in a fight sport is everything, you can be fitter, stronger more powerful than your opponent but if your head is not there well good luck! I have learned that having the right people around you that genuinely care changes everything.

So the reason for writing this? Surely we can apply this to every aspect of our lives.

People that have genuine interest in you, people that care about you, people that care about what you are talking about, people that ask questions and actually care about what the answer is…Surely these are the people we want and maybe need to be around for our own health, happiness and mental health?

My plan is to only surround myself with those on the same mission as me…..Maybe we all should do the same?

(I won both fights too!!!)

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Vegan Athlete

I have written this to debunk the ‘protein myth’ but mainly talk about how I fuel myself with plants.

It annoys me so much hearing how much of “this and that” the vegan ‘diet’ lacks. That will also be the first and last time I will mention the word ‘diet’. Being vegan is not a diet. Vegan is a lifestyle, a way of living, a way we choose to eat and live cruelty-free.

I train Muay Thai Boxing in Thailand. I train 6 days per week, two 2-hour Muay Thai sessions per day, along with 2 runs – that is 5 hours of training PER DAY. Whilst training I have never felt weak, never felt under-nourished or felt like I was lacking anything, simply because… I am not.

A typical training day for me includes,

  • 5.30 am 5k Run
  • 7.30 am 2 hour Muay Thai class
  • 3 pm 2km run or sprints
  • 4 pm 2 hour Muay thai class

A typical food day for me includes,

  • Breakfast normally consists of oats, I have a huge bowl of overnight oats, including dates, peanut butter and banana topped with soy yogurt.

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  • Snacks in between training are usually energy balls/ or ‘protein’ bars ( all homemade)cinnamon and date power balls
  • After training I have a huge evening meal, normally something like jackfruit wraps with hummus and vegetables

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I eat big portions because I don’t count calories- I count nutrients.

I work my body hard physically so I like to give it the fuel it deserves after training sessions – this also helps with recovery.

Everyone seems so caught up in a vegans protein intake whilst forgetting plants, oats and grains are all stacked with first-hand protein alongside other goodness. My morning meal, usually overnight oats, for instance, packs a whopping 30 grams of protein, and aside from the protein, oats have a well-balanced nutrient composition- they are a great source of carbs and fiber and are loaded with vitamins and minerals ( such as iron, magnesium and vitamin B6 which are all essential for a healthy, functioning body). My listed evening meal- jackfruit and hummus wraps, jackfruit is known as the ‘jack of all fruits’ as a rich source of vitamins, minerals, carbs, electrolytes, fiber, fat and protein, basically everything I need after a training session. Paired with hummus, which is made with chickpeas I have a well-balanced, ‘high protein’ meal. Chickpeas are also great for inflammation and digestion. My evening meal is around 28g of protein. The general guidelines for protein ‘requirements’ for an average adult is said to be 1g per KG of body weight, so as a 50KG female, and without listing my snacks etc per day I  am hitting my recommendations and then some!

Admittedly, as a vegan we do tend to eat larger portions, or perhaps eat more frequently,  but as our food is plant-based, it digests a lot quicker and leaves us without the after-dinner bloated feeling.

I have been vegan for nearly 2 years now and I have honestly never felt better or been in better physical shape.

My training is extreme and I am not recommending you follow what I do at all. I am simply making the point that you can train as much as I do and still fuel yourself through plant-based living. So not only are you doing many other wonders for animals, the planet and your health, you can rest assured you can exercise and still provide your body with what it needs and more being vegan.

‘Not only can you survive eating plant-based, you can thrive!’ source: www.whatthehealth.com

According to Harvard Medical School, “studies are confirming the health benefits of meat-free eating. Nowadays, plant-based eating is recognized as not only nutritionally sufficient but also as a way to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses.”  source: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/becoming-a-vegetarian

Patrick Baboumian – Powerlifter 

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“This is a message to all those out there who think that you need animal products to be fit and strong. Almost two years after becoming vegan I am stronger than ever before and I am still improving day by day. Don’t listen to those self proclaimed nutrition gurus and the supplement industry trying to tell you that you need meat, eggs and dairy to get enough protein. There are plenty of plant-based protein sources and your body is going to thank you for stopping feeding it with dead-food. Go vegan and feel the power! http://www.wholefoodplantbasedrd.com

Pure Vegan Heaven – Chalong

pure vegan front

So I wish I would have taken a picture of our faces when we first found this place! Pure Vegan Heaven is situated on the well known Soi Ta-iad Road in Chalong, it is basically a fitness strip with lots of well known Muay Thai gyms – Tiger Muay Thai, Phuket Top team, to name a few and lots of Cross fit gyms.

Pure Vegan is only small, but first impressions were clean, trendy and VEGAN FOOD! Since finding this place we have been many times and tried various dishes on the menu – which is full vegan with lots of options

My favorite is the Mexican bowl but all of the dishes we have tried have been spot on and well presented

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Mexican Bowl
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Falafal Bowl
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Summer Rolls
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Breakfast wrap
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Rawsome plate

As you can see from the pictures, the portion sizes are very generous (Happy Sara)

The food is definitely a 10/10 from us, however I will mention the smoothies and coffees are unfortunately not great 😦 but we are still regular food customers!!

Service is good, the girls will come to the table to take your order. Sometimes the food is a bit slow – but certainly worth the wait. Prices are very reasonable, you can get 3 meals for around 500 Thai Baht (Around 10 English pounds) oh and yes we do order 3 meals!

I believe there are also Pure Vegan Heaven restaurants in Koh Phangan and Chiang Mai – Amazing to see full vegan restaurants opening around Thailand. Pure Vegan Heaven is part of PURE VEGAN HEAVEN GROUP LTD -which seem to be smashing-it in Thailand. They also own Acai Cafe, we haven’t been as of yet but it’s next on our list as we have heard good things about it.

acai cafe group pic

So if you are in Phuket, Koh Phangan or Chiang Mai, Pure Vegan Heaven is certainty worth a visit – you won’t be disappointed!

Just a note they are closed on Sundays 😦

Thanks guys

Kuala Lumpur Visa Run

So, you have loved Thailand but it’s that time where you need to extend your visa. Well here is everything you need to know ( no BS INC).

We chose Kuala Lumpur simply because it was the cheapest option after pricing various flights. The first point that I will make about the ‘Visa run’ is that absolutely everyone you speak to will over-complicate the whole process, BUT, don’t panic it’s actually really straight-forward and I will give you all the info you need.

I am going to cover –

  • What paperwork you need
  • What to expect
  • Clothing
  • Where to go if you forget something
  • Other general tips nobody seems to tell you ….

So I am going to go straight in with an up-to-date list of what you ACTUALLY need for your visa application…

  • Visa Application Form – You can download this off the site http://www.thaiembassy.org. They don’t have any on the premises so make sure you do this. You only need one of these- we were told we needed 3 each by a stress-head, nope just 1 guys
  • Accommodation Information – Where you are living in Thailand. We brought a copy of our housing contract.
  • 1 photocopy of your passport photo page
  • Your Passport
  • 1 up-to-date passport photo
  • Flight out – This is to show you actually have intentions of leaving after your extension – now if you were to book a cheap flight somewhere for 2 months later and don’t use it welllll that’s none of my business!
  • A photocopy of your return ticket – your flight in and out of Thailand ( to KL and back)

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Make sure you have paper copies of all of the above- they wont accept electronic versions.

So when we arrived in Kuala Lumpur, we were quite under prepared, we had everything we needed, but nothing printed out. So we went exploring and Kuala Lumpur is full of beautiful shopping centers and the first one we went to ( Suria KLCC) had a DHL Internet cafe, so we were able to print all relevant documents with no hassle- BOOM!IMG_0965

We were all set for tomorrow morning, the embassy opens at 9:30 am (only until 11:30 am) and everyone you speak to will tell you to get there super early as the queue is huge- well, we got there for 7:45 am and there was 1 person in front of us and by the time we actually started going in, there was only a total of 15 people in the line. You will first walk through to a desk where your paperwork will be checked and at this point we were told we had no photos!!! So we were sent away to go and get some. If you find yourself in the same position, no stress, the hotel over the road does them BUT not until 10 am, so as we were so early, we jumped into a taxi and asked him to take us to a photo shop. 10 mins later we where done and on our way back to the embassy, phew!

When we arrived back there was only 3 people in front of us, no big nasty queue, thank the lord! So we are back to the desk, paperwork gets checked and we are given a checklist and a number.

Once in the Embassy , it’s like waiting in the dentist- you just sit there and wait for your number to be called. ***Just a note, there are no toilets, no printing facility’s, no photo booth and no smiles inside the embassy)***

Once called, you give your passport and paperwork and sit back down. You will be called back up within 5 minutes to pay – the tourist visa is 150 ringet ( around £30) and basically that’s it until the next day (you leave your passport with them!)

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Clothes – Again everyone makes a big deal over what you need to wear. Liam dressed business smart – shirt and trousers, most men were the same, I had long genie style trousers on with a T shirt with short sleeves. I have heard of people being turned away because of incorrect clothing so I think just to be on the safe side, wear long trousers and a top that covers your shoulders- no particular colors needed, my top was bright yellow!

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This is the picture that is outside – so it’s no wonder people are confused!!

We picked our visas up the next day with no drama, this time you go between 2:30 – 4:30 pm. We waited about 45 minutes for our number to be called then we left with our extensions 🙂

If you are going straight to the airport after picking your visa up, we recommend you use a grab taxi, as you will get the price before you even get in. The airport is quite far from the embassy, about 50 minutes, we paid 65 ringet for our taxi but there are taxis waiting outside the embassy that will try and charge you anything up to 100 ringet .

We stayed at the Lodge Paradize Hotel- it was cheap and cheerful ( we paid around 550 Thai baht a night) and it certainly served it’s purpose, basic but very clean and tidy. It was about a 25 minute walk to the embassy, but everything is really easy to find and we just Google-mapped it.

A final note, Kuala Lumpur is beautiful, so give yourself enough time to enjoy it. The sites are stunning and the people are so friendly. We went Monday – Wednesday and wished we could have stayed longer.

Last Tip – Don’t pay a company to do a ‘Visa Run’ it’s so simple to do yourself!

Anyway, enjoy your stay, hope this helps and any questions give me a shout

#visarun #Thailand #Kualalumpur #visa #Malaysia

10 Tips for Training Muay Thai in Thailand

So you have decided to go back to the Muay Thai roots and train in Thailand? I have been here for a while now- training and fighting, so I have put together a few things you need to consider.

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Water – Remember you’re not Thai! It is really hot and humid, even in the rainy season, and they train twice a day! Make sure you drink water or even better pick up some electrolytes from a local pharmacy ( 50 sachets for around 250B) I find these better whilst training as they don’t give you as much of a ‘water baby’ and more importantly will replenish the salts you will lose through sweat (also don’t gulp your water, it wont be nice if you take a body shot!)

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BE ON TIME – This is a HUGE pet hate of mine. Muay Thai is about respect and discipline so…..HAVE SOME! If your session starts at 730 am, be there! Even better be 5 minutes early, it won’t go unnoticed.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY – Rest is so important and highly underrated here. Most gyms are closed on Sundays so rest, go the beach, catch up with friends, CHILL! Don’t be a hero and train, even most Thai fighters have Sundays off. Also if you’re a few weeks in and start feeling really weak and uninspired, this means you need a break, have a day off – your body will thank you for it!
CUT YOUR NAILS – Girls / Boys / Fingers and Toes!!! It’s not nice clinching someone with claws guys, get them cut!
THE RIGHT GYM- Do your research, find a gym that’s right for your style. Have a look how their fighter’s fight. Speak to people that have trained in Thailand before etc. If you are coming solely for Muay Thai, it is so important you are happy where you are training i.e. 1- Are you learning? 2- Is the atmosphere good? 3- Are you looking forward to training at 7.30am (or even earlier) every morning?! If the answer to these questions is No then my advice would be to cut your losses and move elsewhere because if you are not smiling when you are training, WHAT’S THE POINT??


RESPECT THE TRAINERS – Make sure you show some respect to the trainers. Some can speak better English than others but “thank you” is universal – Use it!
SPARRING WITH THAIS – If you are lucky enough to get a chance to spar with the Thai fighters (not every gym does this) then do yourself a favor and DON’T try and bomb their head off. This is their life and job which is generally why they only tech spar, if they cant fight, they probably can’t put food on the table so leave the Ego at home and relax – You will 100% learn more sparring this way anyway.


STAY AWAY – If you are sick, stay away from the gym, it’s not fair on everyone else and it’s also a sure sign your body is trying to tell you it needs a rest. Also, its pretty annoying when you are trying to train and someone is coughing and spluttering!!
EAT WELL – Give your body the fuel it needs after your sessions. You can’t put water in your car and expect it to perform, so nourish yourself to get the best out of your training.

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ALL LEVELS -Remember, Muay Thai is for everyone from beginners right the way through to top level fighters. So take your time, enjoy the experience and meet some amazing people along the way .

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If you can think of any more tips or advice feel free to comment – hope this helps!

#muaythai #thaiboxing #training #boxing #traininginthailand #Thailand #healthy #tips #muaythaicamp #fighter

Teaching in Thailand

On a sunny day out shopping in Chester, England, Sara and I decided on a whim to book a one-way flight to Thailand that would be departing in a little under a years time.

We had not long returned home from a few weeks travelling in Thailand and were suffering from not only the holiday blues but the “what-ifs”- “what if we would have stayed?”, etc.

After booking our flights to Bangkok, for a few weeks we were in shock and excitement mode- shocked that we had been so spontaneous and excited at the opportunity.

I began researching what was required to secure a teaching position in Thailand and after a few hours I realised that many people had many different opinions about what was actually required and what was not.

After some thorough research and an email here and there I finally found some definitive answers (or at least it worked for me!)

Firstly, in order to be eligible to teach in Thailand you will need to have completed a degree. The subject of your degree does not particularly matter unless you have a degree in Education or perhaps Mathematics or Science as some schools offer an increased salary for degrees in these fields. You will also need your degree transcripts!

Secondly, you will need to have completed a TEFL (or equivalent) qualification. When I was looking for a course to complete my TEFL, I was working full-time in the Hospitality industry so a hands on, classroom course would not be an option for me, so I decided to book an online course that I could complete in my spare time.

As you will see if you decide to search for available TEFL courses, there are so many different companies offering anything from a 120-hour course at £200 to a 150-hour TEFL Masters course at £350+. To be honest, I had a look on Groupon and found that they had a course available for around £50 and booked that (whilst saving some “new life” money).

The next most important thing I needed was a criminal record check (Disclosure and Barring Service or DBS formerly CRB) from my home country. I ordered the basic check for around £30 online using the Post Office website and a little over 2 weeks later, I received it in the post.

As the weeks and months went on, I began to worry about finding a teaching position in Thailand as I didn’t know anybody that had worked there before, just neighboring countries, and decided I would send off a few applications to see if I heard anything back.

When sending applications and CV or resume, it is a standard requirement to send a full-length photograph along with your application. However, I would recommend sending a photograph where you are smartly dressed rather than Saturday night’s photograph with the lads or girls!

Also, just to be extra sure you are who you say you are, it is standard to be asked to send a photocopy or photograph of your passport page with your application.

After a few days I received a couple of offers for a Skype interview, which I gladly accepted!

The interviews were fairly basic and I think they just wanted to get to know me and my personality as well as my hobbies and whether they feel that I would fit in to their team in Thailand rather than whether I knew the different between present perfect tense and future progressive!

Finally, a month before our departure from the UK, we visited the Thai Embassy and purchased our 90-day Tourist Visa which costs around £25-30 and requires you to fill out a short application for and then pick up your visa the next day!

So, here I am in Thailand!

It’s been a long journey from booking our flights and jumping on my TEFL course at any spare moment, but… it was all worth it in the end!

For future reference when applying for teaching vacancies here in Thailand, a monthly salary for a full time teacher (usually 18-20 teaching hours per week) ranges from 35,000-40,000 baht on average and then as previously explained, there can be extra payments depending on whether you are a native English speaker or whether your degree is in Education or even Maths or Science.

Liam.

P.S. If you have any queries, drop me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I get back from the beach!

#teachinginthailand #teaching #Thailand #TEFL #livingthedream #thailandtips