Actually the amount is miniscule, regardless of what your scale may show and here is the reason why – water retention. When on vacation, we tend to eat saltier foods. Because our body wants to level out the amount of sodium, it tends to hang on to water to keep the ppm at a safe level. Once back home and on your normal diet lower in sodium, the excess water and sodium will excrete out as urine.

Another reason why we retain water is climate change. Since you will be vacationing in a place that is hotter than what you are used to in the US or Europe, your body will retain fluids in the form of swelling in the hands and feet. If you stayed long enough for your body to acclimate, the swelling would go down, but it takes at least 14 days for that to happen.

A third reason for retaining water is eating more carbs than you are used to. When carbs are digested, they are turned into a sugar called glycogen and stored in the muscles. Because there are 3 molecules of water for every molecule of glycogen, and you are storing more glycogen than normal, you will retain more water.

So even though your scale may show a perceived weight gain of 3 to 5 pounds after a week’s vacation, your real increase in mass is probably around 1 pound. The rest of the gain you’ll lose fast once home.

Most people don’t maintain their same level of exercising while on vacation, and eat more than normal, but don’t fret. The tightness you feel in your clothes is only temporary, so have fun while on vacation. As far as a decrease in your fitness level … it takes at least a month of no exercising to have an appreciable decrease.

Vacation Tips

People tend to go on an extreme diet before going on vacation in hopes of losing a few pounds, because they know they will gain a few while gone. The problem is the body senses the reduction of calories as famine, so it becomes more efficient and burns fewer calories. Instead eat normally so your body is burning calories normally.

As part of eating healthy, you should be intuitive to your body’s clues as far as when hungry and when full. You’ll get these same cues while on vacation. All you have to do is heed them sensibly.

Don’t deprive yourself of food you really want. If you want to have that decedent dessert, have it. Just be sure to include it in your daily maintenance calorie count. That might mean having one or two fewer drinks during the day, or maybe not eating dessert at lunch too.

Pinakbet Recipe in English

If you want to order a vegetable dish in the Philippines, it will invariably be pinakbet. It is a native Filipino dish that is made up of at least 6 vegetables. They are bitter melon, eggplant, string beans, pumpkin, tomatoes and okra. The base seasoning is something called bagoong or shrimp paste. To the non-Filipino, bagoong may appear very strong smelling, even pungent. But once you get used to it, bagoong adds great flavor to many dishes.

Bagoong comes in regular, sweet and spicy flavors. For this recipe, most people use regular.

Here is the pinakbet recipe in English.



  • Pork, ½ pound (optional);
  • Pumpkin squash, ½ pumpkin;
  • Tomatoes, 4;
  • Purple eggplant, 2;
  • String beans, 8 long strands;
  • Okra, 14;
  • Onion, 1 small;
  • Garlic, 4 cloves;
  • Ginger, 1 tablespoon;
  • Bagoong, 5 tablespoon;
  • Salt;
  • Pepper;
  • Coconut oil, 1 tablespoon;
  • Water, 1 cup


Cut the vegetables into small pieces as in the picture. Dice the onion, mince the garlic, and cut the ginger into small pieces. Slice the pork into small to medium size.

It is important to cook the vegetables in a certain order because they will take different amounts of time to cook.

Heat the pan with the coconut oil. Add the onions and stir fry for 1.5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for 30 seconds.

Add the meat and stir fry for 4 minutes. Add the bagoong and stir fry for 30 seconds.

Add the tomatoes and stir fry for 2 minutes.

Pour in some water. Add the pumpkins. Stir fry for a few seconds. Let it cook for 5 minutes.

Add the the rest of the vegetables and stir fry for 1 minute. Add more salt to taste. Cover the pan and cook for 8 minutes.

Taste the vegetables to see if it is soft.

Serve with steamed rice and enjoy!

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise and one of the best ways to get around when on vacation in the Philippines. Not only do you get to see places you wouldn’t otherwise see if you took public transportation or part of a group in a van, but you’ll burn a whole a lot more calories (to offset the calories in those drinks with the little umbrellas in them). And you just never know where walking will take you; you might see something that requires further exploring thus increasing your number of steps. For your safety, just always be aware of your surroundings and never walk alone in unfamiliar areas.

To know just how many steps you are getting, and if you are close to your daily step goal or not, wear a pedometer, or one of the newer accelerometers, from the time you get up until you go to bed. Many people establish a goal of 10,000 steps per day. While this number may seem daunting at first, it is not that hard to attain if you count each step you take all day long.

If your room or places you visit are above ground floor, take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. The steps all count and it uses different muscles than walking on flat surfaces.

One great form of walking is on the beach. There are many fantastic beaches in the Philippines. We have no shortage of beaches. Regardless if you are walking in soft or wet sand, it will kick your butt! If the beach is clean and free of debris, consider walking barefoot. It uses different muscles than walking wearing footwear.

Along that same line, trail walking (in footwear) also uses different muscles because of the unevenness of the trail and having to step  over or around rocks and boulders. We also have many trails in the Philippines that lead to breathtaking vistas. Be sure you have ankle support, like high-top shoes or hiking boots so that you don’t sprain an ankle.

If you do have to take public transportation, get off a stop or two from the stop closest to your venue and walk in the rest of the way. Same on the return trip.

Walking while on vacation doesn’t seem like fitness training at all. With all the new sights and sounds encountered while exploring on foot, you most likely won’t realize just how many steps you are getting until you look at your step counter.

While you may eat and drink more than normal while on vacation, walking is a good way to burn calories and keep weight gain at bay.

Pho is one of my favorite dishes. I like it because of the delicious combo of fresh herbs, rice noodles, and chicken bone broth. Pho is a popular Vietnamese dish. It is normally served with beef. That is called Pho Bo.  Chicken is the second most popular. It is called Pho Ga.

Normally you would need to go to a restaurant to enjoy a good bowl of pho.  However, it is not always convenient to make a trek to a pho restaurant here in Manila. So here is a recipe for easy pho ga that will show pho lovers to make it at home.


For the broth:

  • Whole chicken;
  • Cardamom, 1 seed;
  • Anistar, 4 stars;
  • Cloves, 1 teaspoon;
  • Ginger, 1 big root;
  • Lemongrass, 2 stalks;
  • Onion, 1;
  • Salt, 1 tablespoon;
  • Fish sauce, 4 tablespoons
  • Brown sugar, 1 bar or 1 tablespoon

For the bowl:

  • Rice noodles;
  • Cilantro;
  • Green onions;
  • Bean sprouts;
  • Basil;
  • Hoisin sauce;
  • Chili sauce;
  • Lime;
  • Jalapeno pepper, optional


It will take you about an hour to prepare the broth.  Boil about 12 cups of water in a big pot.  Add all ingredients for the broth to the water when it boils.  Make sure to use a container for the anistar and cloves so that it will be easier to strain later.  Simmer for one hour with the lid on the pot.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the ingredients for the bowl. Chop and slice the herbs to put into the bowl.

After an hour, take the chicken out of the pot onto a cutting board. Give it about 15 minutes to cool down.  Separate the meat into small pieces.

Strain the broth of everything. The final broth should be free of any ingredients.

Bowl a pot of water.  Put the rice noodles inside the pot of water and cook for 30 seconds. Take the noodles out and put it into the bowl with the herbs.

Add the chicken pieces to the bowl. Squeeze some lime into the broth. Serve hot and enjoy!

If there was a dish that represents Filipino food, it would arguably be Chicken Adobo. This dish is very easy to make and tastes delicious. Some people have said that this dish came from the Spaniards. Others have said that the native Filipinos actually made this dish long before the Spanish colonists. Either way, it is a dish that most Filipinos eat often. You can also make it with pork but chicken is the more popular meat.

Normally, chicken adobo is fried in oil as part of its preparation. This is the unhealthy part. I have a Healthy Chicken Adobo Recipe that does not require frying the chicken. The best part is that it is just as yummy if not more. I also don’t use sugar in the recipe.


  • Whole chicken, chopped into pieces;
  • Soy sauce, ½ cup;
  • Vinegar, ½ cup;
  • Garlic, 6 cloves, chopped;
  • Ground pepper;
  • Ginger, optional;
  • Bay leaves, optional;


Place the chicken pieces into a large pot. Pour the soy sauce and vinegar into the pot. Put the ground pepper on the chicken. Put a lid on the pot and bring the sauce to a boil. Then simmer the chicken for 40 minutes. The longer you simmer the chicken, the more tender the meat becomes.

About 10 minutes before you finish simmering the chicken, heat your oven by setting it on broil.  After 40 minutes, remove the chicken from the pot and place the pieces on an oven safe tray. Leave the sauce in the pot. We will use it later to drizzle on the chicken.

Place the tray of chicken into the oven. Broil it for about 10 minutes or until the skin becomes crispy.

After the chicken is done, take it out of the oven. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.  As a healthy bonus tip, serve it with raw spinach.  Drizzle the sauce from the pot on the chicken, the rice, and the raw spinach.  

Enjoy your healthy Chicken Adobo that is baked instead of fried.

Traveling to the Philippines from the USA or Europe will definitely give you jet jag. Because of the long flight and time zone difference, it is important to have a strategy for getting over jet lag quickly so that you can make the most of your vacation.

Before talking about exercising when experiencing jet lag, let’s first define what it is. Basically, it is an interruption to our biological clock – what controls us waking up and going to sleep, among other biological functions – known as the circadian rhythm. It most often occurs when rapidly traveling across as little as two time zones. If left to recover on your own without any type of intervention, it can take up to nine days to get your body back in synch. Generally speaking, it takes about a day per hour of time zone change for recovery.

Our title question goes much deeper than that. For example, the time of day we exercise affects it as well as exercise consistency before and while traveling.

UCLA did a study awhile back on mice and found their circadian cycles could be adjusted based on the time of day they were exercised. Exercising early in the morning shifted their heart rate and body temperature to an earlier time; exercising late in the day shifted it to a later time.

If this same results holds true in humans, then we would benefit from exercising early in the morning if we are flying east and later in the afternoon or early evening if heading west. Actually follow-on studies using humans this theory to be true. So if you know the direction you are heading, adjust your exercise schedule well ahead of your travel plans, so your biological clock is pre-set ahead of your travel.

Amherst College did a study on humans that showed regular exercise – regardless of when done – helped recover from jet lag quicker. In this case, it appeared the rhythmic schedule of exercise put the biological clock in sync to a daily routine. As applied to diminishing jet lag, participating in a regular exercise program at the same time every day prior to flying and maintaining that schedule around the same time each day once back on the ground in your new location will help keep the body in tune with the time of day. In other words, it associates the time of day with exercising, thus making it easier to acclimate to your new time zone.

Another study out of Brazil, spanning over 20 years, found that regular exercise turns back our biological clocks keeping us younger than we really are. Research has also found that younger people recover faster from jet lag than older folks.

Study conclusions recommend keeping to an exercise schedule prior to traveling and once back on the ground. The act of exercising not only makes you younger than you really are but keeps your body in synch with the time of day – both making it easier to recover from jet lag.


When you visit the Philippines, you will undoubtedly see fruits and vegetables that you are not accustomed to in your country if you are a Westerner. One vegetable in particular will appear very strange looking. It is shaped like a large cucumber. It has many bumps like melted wax on a candle. It is called “ampalaya” in the Philippines. The English word for it is bitter gourd.

Yes, it is not an attractive looking vegetable. Yes, it tastes bitter, especially if you don’t prepare it properly. Yes, we eat it here. Yes, it is tasty. Yes, it is really good for your health. Research has shown that ampalaya helps with diabetes. You can read more about that in this research report here:

Now, let’s proceed to making a popular dish here in the Philippines called Ginisang Ampalaya.

You will need the following ingredients:

  • Ampalaya, 2 or 3
  • Tomatoes, 3 or 4
  • Onion, 1
  • Garlic, 3 cloves
  • Eggs, 3 or 4
  • Coconut oil, 1 tablespoon
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Here is how to prepare the ampalaya so it will be less bitter. This step is really important for an enjoyable dish.

  1. Cut the ampalaya into big chunks. Use a spoon to remove the core of seeds. You should be left with just the hollow hole.
  2. Wet the ampalaya chunks then rub salt on the outside and the inside of the vegetable tube.
  3. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes on a plate or cutting board.

While the ampalaya is being treated with salt, slice the tomatoes and onion. Mince the garlic. Beat the eggs like you are going to make scrambled eggs.

Rinse the ampalaya so that you will remove the salt. Slice it into thin wedges.

Using a wok or frying pan, heat the coconut oil.  Add the onions and saute it for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the ampalaya and saute for 5 minutes. Season with salt. Move the ampalaya to the side of the wok to make a hole in the middle of the wok. Add the  eggs. Let it cook for about 3 minutes. Add some salt to the eggs.  Then mix the eggs up by stirring it quickly. Mix it up with the ampalaya. Add the tomatoes and mix it up with the ampalaya and the eggs. Stir fry for 3 more minutes.

Serve it hot with rice. Yummy and good for you!

Many of my more daring readers have asked me how to ask their online Filipina for her naked picture.  If I were more prudish, I would find that a really shocking question. Certainly, when guys ask me for my naked picture while chatting, I would be totally put off. This ranks right up there with the guy sending me his unsolicited naked picture. A normal girl would hit the BLOCK button so fast it would leave The Flash in the dust.

First let me say that there is nothing wrong with nude pictures.  A well done body can be a work of art. It’s just that most women find it weird that a guy would obsess with pouring his eyes over a woman’s body in 2D.  Make it doubly true in a conservative culture like the Philippines.

Look at it another way. You’re on a dating site. You are chatting with many potential partners. The guy is chatting with several women at once while he is narrowing down the field. The girl is chatting with many guys in her inbox as she gets to know each one so she can decide whom to pick as the one that she truly likes. Then some random guy asks her to send him her naked pictures. If that guy expects her to share with him her naked pictures, doesn’t he suppose that fifteen other guys may have the same request? If she honors that request several times, she would have exposed herself to many guys, all in a short period of time. What kind of crazy chick would do that? It’s like walking into Central Park and opening your kimono. Nuts! And yet, there are guys that ask all the time.

Furthermore, what kind of guy would want his potential girlfriend to send naked pictures of herself to every guy that asks? Nuts again!

Don’t Be That Guy

So my advice as a chick is this:  D-o-n’t B-e T-h-a-t G-u-y!

Don’t be that guy that she blocks after the first or second or third or fourth message.

Don’t be that guy that makes her stereotype all guys as jerks.

Don’t be that guy that forces her to run away and delete her online profile.

Right Way and Wrong Way

Remember how I said that there is nothing wrong with nude pictures? I’m sure you do.

There is a smart way and a lame way to go about getting her to feel that you are the one that she will be intimate with. When I say intimate, I don’t mean sex at this point. I mean to have a genuine connection.

The lame way is to beg, cajole, demand, or otherwise force it. For me, that never works. I have no idea why some guys continue to do this when all they are doing is making themselves look like jerks. We won’t spend anymore time talking about the lame way. You know who you are.

The smart way is to seduce her over time with words. Get to know her first. Use humor. Be witty. Use your charm. Make her feel that you are interested in everything about her. Ask questions in a fun way. Give insightful answers about yourself. Give and take as you would in any normal conversation.

When you use humor, keep them neutral at first. Don’t go straight to dirty humor. That is a recipe for being blocked too.

Here’s an example of one that I blocked:

“Welcome to my loving world baby.”

First of all, what the heck is your “loving world”? Second of all, I am not your “baby”. You need to earn that. BLOCK.

Here is an example of one that passed the witty humor filter:

He wrote —

“Bad News.

I noticed in your profile that you are 11’4”.  I am only 5’9”. I may be too short to look into your eyes. That’s bad news for me.

The good news is that I don’t discriminate on height.”

When I saw that message, I immediately realized that I may have flipped my vital statistic in my online profile. He made me stop and think. Then he made me curious because he showed some wit.

Notice how he slyly added a hint of romance by saying that he couldn’t look into my eyes because of the height differential. When a guy tells me that he wants to look into my eyes, I sense that he is a romantic guy. I love that. Girls love that.

Next he ends the message with a positive note. He said that he is an open guy and is willing to accept me as I am. This is an important point:  Most girls are insecure. We want our prince charming to accept us as we are. We always feel that we are lacking in some way. It is just the way it is with us. Even the most beautiful woman in the world feels insecure at times. When a guy shows that he accepts her as-is, he gets a check in the plus column.

From this short message, this guy has successfully peeled one layer of skin from this onion.

Do This Over and Over Again

I just explained to how to use humor, wit, charm, and a genuine sense of wanting to know more about her as the smart way to have her become more intimate with you. It works. You should do it. I know because I am seduced by it when the right guy does it on me.

Keep in mind, though, that seduction is a dance. You have to learn the steps, then you have to practice, then you have to dance the whole dance. You need to keep her engaged with your charm, and words, and wit over and over again. Eventually you will get to know her better. She will know you better. She will begin to mimic your dance steps. Soon both of you will be in step with the way you communicate.

If you are humorous and like to tell certain types of funny stories, she will do the same when she communicates with you. Both of you will have fun. You will look forward to chatting with each other everyday.

Over time, as the layers of her onion peels off, you will be able to add more color to your humor and chat. You can begin to say things that won’t offend.

For example, if she compliments you on your good looks, you can say, “I think you have a sweet tongue.. But I’m not sure so can I taste it?”

She will likely reply in one of two ways to this innuendo:

  1. If you haven’t adequately worked your way up to this level of innuendo yet or if she is extra conservative, she may reply, “Hmmm. I’m not sure how to respond to that.”
  2. She will reply in lock step with you, “Haha. You can try if you get over here.”

Either way, you would have made progress with her. Do this enough and over time she will begin to really care about you. If you are lucky, she will even fall for you. And when she does fall for you… You will no longer need to ask. You will get that picture.

Good luck with your chatter of love guys. For more detailed tips on how to seduce your Filipina and make her have a “wordgasm”, sign up for my newsletter. I promise you that there is much more to share from this Real Pinay.

Communicating in the Chat App

You have made contact with the girl that you fancy. She opens your emails. You’ve messaged back and forth a few times. The two of you have managed to keep a discussion going through several emails. Congratulations. You have a small bond. Now it is time to move to a more convenient messaging platform.

Filipinas mainly use the following 3 messaging apps. They are Skype, WhatsApp and Viber. Each messaging app works on a smartphone that runs on Android or iOS.  They are useful because they are made for chat. They may also be necessary because the Filipina will likely only have a phone and not a laptop. It may be difficult for her to compose messages inside the cumbersome dating site.

If you have a smartphone, it is easy to download these chat apps. Go to the Google Play Store or Apple App Store and search for those apps by name. For example, type “WhatsApp” and you will see the app show up as a selection for installation. These apps are free to install. I have included a screenshot of WhatsApp as it appears in the Google Play Store.

WhatsApp will require your mobile phone number. The app is tied to that number.

Next up is Viber. You can see the screenshot of the Viber app as it appears in the Google Play Store. Viber is also tied to a phone number.

Finally, there is the original messaging app called Skype. You can download Skype for free just like the other apps. Skype works on a username. When you ask her for her Skype, she will give you her username. You will need to search for it in your Skype account under the add contact.

Who Adds Whom?

Since you are the guy, the Filipina will ask you to find and add her. It is rare that she will ask for your info. So the best thing to do is to ask her what app she uses. It can be as simple as this:

“Do you have Skype or Viber or WhatsApp?”

If she likes you, she will give you her info and ask you to add her.

Here is how to add her on WhatsApp:

Hee is how to add her on Viber:

Here is how to add her on Skype:

Communicating in the Chat App

After you begin chatting in the messaging app, you will discover that the communication will go alot faster. You have the added ability to share graphics and pictures. This is where you can begin to exchange more pictures. You can even make a voice call or a video call with her within the app for free.

Now that you’ve made it past the first couple of email interactions, don’t think you are home free with her yet.  You see, women have this natural classification process in our minds regarding guys that we meet. They are either boyfriend material or they are simply a guy friend. If you fall into the guy friend, you have entered the friend zone. Usually there is no escaping from there.

It is not logical. We are not making this classification on the conscious level. We just do it. So if you want to increase your chance of falling into the boyfriend category, pay attention to these tips.

Friend Zone Avoidance Tip 1:

Project Yourself as a Confident Man.  Remember that you are supposed to be the stronger sex. You are supposed to lead when we dance. You are supposed to be the first to ask us on a date.  You are supposed to have the better job and the bigger paycheck so always pick up the tab. Don’t be wishy-washy. Act like you can sweep us up from our feet at any time. And yes, I do mean that literally.

Friend Zone Avoidance Tip 2:

Show That You Want Her.  This one is tougher than it seems because you need to balance two things. You want to show her that you want her but you cannot come across as a creep or too desperate. First of all, you will have to show her that you are interested in her as a woman. You are interested in her smile, in her lips, in her curves, in her breasts, in her smell.  If you don’t show her or let her know, then you will be just a guy who only sees her as a buddy or worst yet, his sister. Us girls need to know.  How you show us is another matter. You need to time it so that all your manly desires don’t come out all at once. Women need to be charmed into it.

Friend Zone Avoidance Tip 3:

Have Some Sex Appeal.  Look, this might come as a surprise to you guys, but girls like eye candy too. Before you get the wrong idea, I am not talking about penis pictures. Those are gross if you just put it out there. Imagine walking into the middle of the street and unzipping your fly to let it all hang out. Who does that, right? Moving on… What I mean by eye candy is a guy who projects masculinity. If you have the body of the guys in the movie 300, yeah, that would be a bonus. But even if you don’t, you can act like a man. Real men are responsible. They hold a steady job. They show up on time. They keep their promises. They don’t gossip. They are respectful but they are not shy. They know what they want, when they what it, and they go after it. They have interests and hobbies. They work out. This last part is important. Even if you are chubby, start working out regularly. Show respect to your body. Be disciplined in what you eat. By doing that you definitely increase your sex appeal.

Friend Zone Avoidance Tip 4:

Don’t Let Her Talk About Other Guys.  As soon as she shares any info with you about another guy, you are on the edge of the friend zone. You see, we girls talk to our friends about our relationships all the time.  With our BFF, we share every intimate detail. Our friends and sisters are our support network. They help us cope and deal with all the winding roads and pathways of a relationship. If we start to share this stuff with another guy, then we consider that guy as our guy friend. This would be bad for you if you wanted to be our boyfriend.  The best thing to do is to follow Tip 2 and let your desires be known.

These 4 Friend Zone Avoidance tips should keep you on the narrow path towards becoming her boyfriend and lover rather than her BFF. Now what happens if you did fall into the friend zone? Is there a way out?

Honestly, once I consider you as a friend, it will be very difficult for me to unfriend you so to speak. At that point, I see you more as my gay friend or worst yet, my brother. No one wants to have sex with their gay friend or their brother. There is simply no sex appeal. Remember Tip 3.

The best thing to do at that point is to simply move on. Some guys have tried to hang on and move from the friend zone to the boyfriend, but by that point, I have moved on as well to a manly man.

Now you may ask how can you tell if a girl has placed you in the friend zone. One sign to look for is that when you chat, she replies with emojis. Check out the example text below.

Hope this helps guys. For more real life tips from a Real Pinay on how to secure the Filipina girl of your dreams, sign up to my email list.  There I will share other signs that you have entered the friend zone and how to avoid that pitfall if you want to be her boyfriend.

About Maria

Maria Peña is people connector. She created Real Pinay to connect foreigners with authentic Filipinas for friendship, romance, and perhaps even marriage.





© 2018 Real Pinay.