Let’s go for a run/workout/gym? Nah! The idea of working out was alien to me two years ago. I must admit that I was never sporty. In fact, I always had low confidence when it came to sports or running.
Ironically, I grew up in a pretty fitness-oriented family – my dad was a P.E. teacher and my sister used to be on the track and field team. I was the odd one out who showed no interest in physical activities! Back in school, I hated sports so much that I always wished I skip all the P.E. classes. I used to think that I would never learn how to cycle, swim etc. as I wasn’t born athletic.
I was a chubby kid, to the extent that my relatives and family friends often asked my mum if I was being fed any special formula to be so rotund. When I entered high school, I tried to control my diet so that I could weigh below 45kg. I was embarrassed with my fat thighs and not having a thigh gap. I also rarely wore skirts (other than the school uniform) and sleeveless tops as I wanted to hide my flabby arms and thunder thighs.
Then, I got so engrossed with work when I first graduated from university. I invested all my days and nights at work, doing overtime almost every day and neglecting my health. One day I realised I couldn’t climb a flight of stairs without panting and I felt like I was going to die.
That year, I attempted Mount Rinjani with my university mates and I wanted to turn back after the first 30 minutes of walking. It remains a joke among our friends till today and I will blush recalling that unfit me. However, I am glad that I never gave up, even after the horrible hiking experience at Mount Rinjani without physical preparation.
It was also the same period when almost every friend I met started commenting about my weight gain. It left me unhappy about my life and my work, and I left my job eventually. During the job transition, I felt lost. SO LOST!
I was not sure what I wanted in life so out of the blue I decided to put on my 10-year-old Reebok shoes and go out for a run. #Random. That was how I started my running journey. I remember that very day, I tried to run but barely made the first 250m. I was out of breath, my heart was hammering, my legs were trembling… But as days went by, I steadily increased my run to 5km, 8km then 10km. Initially, I was super uncomfortable when other people saw me running. Then I got over it and running became a weekly routine, before I started taking part in races.
LOVE YOURSELF – You will never be able to please others
I was controlling my diet at the same time when I started running, counting calories and restricting my daily calories within 1,000-1,200kcal. I was obsessed with the calorie-counting that I got very moody on days when I couldn’t stay within the daily goal. I was exercising daily and my weight fluctuated drastically. I was on the brink of being underweight. Again, friends and family started to comment… this time about how I looked way too skinny.
YOU LOOK LIKE A STICK.
YOU ARE TOO SKINNY.
YOU EXERCISE TOO MUCH.
YOU MAKE ME FEEL GUILTY.
It was at that point of time that I realised I will never be able to please anyone. No matter how skinny or how fat you are, you will never be able to satisfy others. There will still be comments about your physique and appearance. It is difficult to ignore people’s judgement, BUT it is the most important thing to do – love and believe in yourself.
I was running alone for a while until I found Rock The Naked Truth one day. I had been wanting to learn weightlifting and I saw the ROCKlift event so I was really delighted and signed up. Cheryl then invited me to join the weekly ROCKrunners (RR) group and ever since, I rarely miss the regular Saturday RR sessions – it’s my weekly dose of happiness!
While I very much enjoy solitude and running alone, getting to know RR has changed my perception of group running. I have always thought running in groups can be quite intimidating. But in RR, I met the most encouraging and awesome people in my life. I am never a fast runner, but the #ROCKfam will make sure they wait for me at the finish line no matter how fast or how slow I am.
I developed more confidence in running ever since I met this lovely #ROCKfam and I completed my longest race – 15km at the Shape Run 2016, on top of other 10km races last year.
I was planning to attempt my first Half Marathon at the end of last year, then I unfortunately broke my left ankle in September. I had to stop running altogether, thus thwarting my HM training plans, and I had to undergo surgery with metal inserts to stabilise the broken bone.
That put me on crutches for 2.5 months and I couldn’t exercise for a total of four months. My dear friends from RR were the first who rushed down to visit me upon knowing my condition. Not only that, they supplied me with overwhelming love, encouragement and help. I am sincerely grateful for their constant encouragement which had saved me from falling into despair.
While I was put in the cast, it was extremely painful mentally rather than physically. I had to rely on my family so much, as I was constrained to limited activities. I couldn’t do my own groceries or buy my own food. A big, big thank you to my family and friends who gave me all their support to make sure I recovered properly.
And then my incision couldn’t close properly, so I was required to go through another surgery to de-bride the wound. I had to wait a while more, but the moment the doctor gave me the green light to resume light exercise, I started swimming, aqua biking and aqua running for rehab. I was rather diligent with the rehab programme that my physiotherapist prescribed because I was eager to get back to running.
Four months post-operation, I did my first slow run with RR and with their support, I completed 7km upon my first return run. In March this year, I completed my first race post-op at the Sundown 10km run. By end April, I finally attempted my first half marathon at the NTUC Eco Run with my fellow RR people.
I was super nervous and stressed out before the race as the pre-race training had not gone according to my expectations. Surprisingly, taking one kilometre at a time, I slowly paced myself and I was amazed that I could keep going after 15km, 16km… When I was at the 20km mark, I told myself that I have come too far to give up. The last 100m was a real struggle as my legs were burning and I felt like I had no more energy to continue! I met Debbie at the last leg of the race and with her support we crossed the finish line together under 2h 45min. Most importantly, thank you RR who waited patiently at the finish line!
My love for mountains
So after the epic failure Mount Rinjani attempt a few years ago, I developed an immense phobia towards hiking and trekking. A year later with sufficient preparation, I attempted a multiple-day hike in Ladakh, India and my love for mountains grew from there.
Right before my ankle injury, some of the RR peeps planned a trip to scale Mount Kinabalu in March 2017. I was so keen to be part of it, however I felt I probably had to drop out of the trip due to the slow recovery progress. But right before the trip, both my surgeon and physio gave me clearance to hike Mount Kinabalu!
This trip was extremely meaningful to me, being my first hike six months after I broke my ankle. The day when I made it to the summit, it was exactly the 180th day post-op. I was greeted with the crack of dawn on the tallest mountain in my home country. It was probably the best gift I have ever received in my life. Standing on top of the mountain, I fell in love with the world beneath my feet. We conquered the mountain together and overcame our fear, while enduring the pain along the way.
It was the ROCKfam spirit that was a constant reminder to me not to give up! I am very grateful for the beautiful weather and the kind souls that made this trip come true.
Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try
I am never a fast learner when it comes to exercise, but I realised that although it might take me longer to pick up any new sport – and I may not be good at it – I’ve grow to be more open when it comes to trying something new.
Upon returning to running, I come to realise that I have to vary my workouts. I started incorporating strength conditioning, weightlifting and calisthenics into my running routine. I love weight training as it helps to strengthen my muscles. With the correct mindset, I believe that strong is the new beauty and girls should not fear lifting weights. You’ll never know if you never try. Never stop trying something new, never be afraid to attempt something outside of your comfort zone.
Moving away from the pale and ‘stick-look’ that people used to say about me, I’m happily gaining weight and feeling healthier and stronger these days. In fact, looking back my broken ankle was a blessing in disguise, as it forced me to explore and attempt things outside of my comfort zone.
Last but not least, I would like to say a BIG THANK YOU to Cheryl, Connie, Philly, Sam, Debbie, Joshua, Hui Shan and my #ROCKfam. Thank you for keeping me going!
ROCKstar of the Month is a monthly award given to an inspiring individual who advocates a positive mindset and living an active lifestyle (see requirements below).
Requirements to be a ROCKstar of the Month awardee: