Health

Published: Sunday March 10, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Friday May 24, 2013 MYT 4:06:48 PM

Celebrating Jane

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Fit4life takes a peek into the lives of the every-day Jane, as they bustle about their varied and unending roles.

THROUGHOUT the ages, women have been touted as the weaker sex because they could not compete with the physical strength of their masculine counterparts. It is no secret that men typically outperform women when it comes to physical challenges.

Yet despite this, women have been relied upon as the backbone of the family and society ever since the first dawn of humankind.

This reputation continues to flourish in modern-day scenarios, regardless of a woman’s class, creed or professional achievements.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, which took place last Friday, Fit4life takes a peek into the lives of the every-day woman who is a daughter, sister, wife and mother, and the various health concerns they face in handling their varied and unending roles.

Eunise Ling Yen, 18, student

If you could, what would you change about your body, and why?

Nothing because each part of my body is specially created by God and I am truly thankful for it.

Any current health concerns? (Illnesses, medical history)

None.

Who takes charge of the health of the family? How?

My mum! She would cut a huge plate of fruits after every dinner without fail and she also keeps asking us to take vitamin C, to drink more water, and to always apply lotion because we’re ladies.

What aspects of your health you think can be improved?

Nothing much. I am perfectly happy with the way I am right now.

What are some of the things that you are doing to maintain good health?

I exercise for half an hour every alternate day of the week. Like a short workout indoors and jogging during the weekends. Besides that, I eat fruits every day and drink at least 10 glasses of water a day.

Any health concerns in the family that could be hereditary?

None.

What are your hopes for the health of your family?

For everyone to follow the steps to a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise, and to have a healthy body.

Alisha Shaharuddin, 28, copywriter

If you could, what would you change about your body, and why?

I would like to get leaner and stronger. Losing weight is not my primary aim, but if I lose weight from getting stronger and fitter, then that’s great.

Any current health concerns?

So far, none. My only concern would be injuring myself during my CrossFit (a strength and conditioning exercise programme) training.

Who takes charge of the health of the family? How?

My dad has always been very athletic. He played football and rugby in school up until his early 30’s. He also plays tennis, squash and golf recreationally.

He has always insisted that we take up sports in school and was very supportive of our athletic choices. As a result, I played football throughout my middle school and high school years while my three younger brothers took up football, judo, swimming, badminton, skiing and snowboarding.

What aspects of your health you think can be improved?

I want to be faster, stronger and more disciplined in my training, and “clean” eating (less processed foods and eating to fuel my body instead of eating just because I’m craving for something). I don’t believe in dieting – it’s all about balance, but it is harder when you’re living alone.

What are some of the things you are doing (or things that can be done) to improve these aspects?

After being in and out of globo gyms for four years, as well as undergoing disastrous and expensive personal training, along with a poor diet and making up excuses not to exercise, I decided to take on something new to shock myself.

I joined a bootcamp and went three times a week, at 5:45am, for seven months. This helped improve my endurance level and I started running 10km races and I finished my first half marathon within the three-hour cut-off time.

After that, a friend convinced me to try out CrossFit and I’ve been hooked ever since! I love the short, high intensity workouts and Olympic weightlifting we do in CrossFit.

Before last year, I couldn’t even imagine running a half marathon or lifting weights that were more than 30kg. Doing something outside of the cliche globo gym has really changed my life for the better, and I haven’t looked back since.

Now, I’ve disciplined myself by scheduling my training and rest days. I go to the gym four to five times a week.

Any health concerns in the family that could be hereditary? If so, what are they and what are you (or your family) doing to address that?

My father had a bypass surgery last year, despite being very healthy and active in sports. This traumatic period prompted me to become more health conscious and get back into shape.

My mother has been very careful with keeping track on what he can or can’t eat. We have always had a very balanced diet over the years, but now it’s stricter, with more emphasis on grilled fish, chicken, steamed vegetables and cutting down on rice and heavy gravy-based dishes.

My parents go for walks and runs together every weekend, and when we are all in the same country (as my family currently lives in Tokyo, Japan), we will do it as a family activity.

What are your hopes for the health of the family?

For now, I hope for our healthy diet and active lifestyle to continue throughout the years to come.

Berenice Then, 32, public relations manager

If you could, what would you change about your body and why?

I wish I had the metabolism of a manic chipmunk so I can eat like a draft horse and not worry about calorie intake. That’s not to say that I hate my body now; far from it, I’m pretty content with what I’ve got.

Any current health concerns?

Sinusitis plagues me now and then, and when this gets serious enough, it normally develops into the occasional flu. I also get migraines, but this is thankfully a rare occurrence.

Who takes charge of the health of the family? How?

Personally, I take charge of my own health and I have the inquisitive nature of wanting to learn more about any ailments I have. Within my family, we are all encouraged to be aware of our own health and to make wise decisions towards maintaining it.

What aspects of your health you think can be improved?

I hate exercising. I have a weird aversion towards sweat, which does not really help given that I’m living near the equator! I tried gym membership and outdoor workouts, attempts which fizzled to a quick death.

Added to that, I suppose I can improve on my eating habits too; while I don’t pig out, I do succumb to cravings for cake and pizza too often.

What are some of the things you are doing (or things that can be done) to improve these aspects?

I make it a point to have a solid breakfast to start the day, followed by a good lunch. I find that this eating habit works well in keeping me energised throughout the day. Dinner is kept light, and it mostly comprises salad or fruits.

One other thing that works for me is to keep moving to burn calories. I power-walk when I commute to work (I don’t own a car, so I am dependent on public transport), and I try to engage in physical hobbies such as hiking and scuba diving.

Even when I go on a holiday, I enjoy outdoor activities such as horse riding.

Any health concerns in the family that could be hereditary? If so, what are they and what are you (or your family) doing to address that?

Unfortunately, my extended family has a long history of heart disease and diabetes. I figured it may just be a matter of time before I get them.

While I’ve been mindful about my diet and physical activities, I’m not obsessed to the point of counting calories, etc. My family and I take things in our stride; we are disciplined when we can but we like to enjoy life too.

What are your hopes for the health of the family?

Naturally, I hope for the best health for my family. That’s going to require us to be well-learned about health issues and cultivate good habits. We’re up for the challenge!

Boey Kim Mei, (just turned) 40, fitness coach

If you could, what would you change about your body, and why?

My breasts. After having two kids and breastfeeding, my breasts have never been the same. They just sag, are smaller, droopier, and they don’t look anything like they used to. That’s how you know you’re a mother. There’s nothing you can do except to stick silicone in it.

Any current health concerns?

No, I’m in pretty good health. But I had appendicitis recently, and I did not expect that. I had my appendix removed about two weeks ago, and after you go through anything like surgery, you have to lay off exercise. Everything that used to be hard becomes soft after a while.

Aside from that, I am in pretty good health. But having just turned 40, and having spoken to those who have also recently turned 40, I realise there’s a lot of health issues that can affect any one of us after a certain age. Exercise can help us stave off some of the risks.

Who takes charge of the health of the family? How?

Me. I take care of my two sons (aged one and three years). My husband, who runs a fitness facility himself, is pretty health conscious as he has to be fit. That said, he hardly has time for the kids as he is often too busy. So I try my best to incorporate physical activities into my children’s daily lives.

I’m a mother of two, so I don’t really have time for the gym. But every day, I try to do some form of exercise by taking my kids out to the park, and join them for runs or play with them at the monkey bar.

Both my boys are very active, which is good, because I want to incorporate elements of exercise in their daily habits from young.

What aspects of your health you think can be improved?

My diet. It is one of my long-term goals to learn how to cook, so I can have a healthier diet. Eating outside food can be unhealthy.

Right now, my mum cooks, and it’s mostly traditional Chinese cooking with rice and dishes. It’s not completely unhealthy, but it could be improved.

What are some of the things you are doing (or things that can be done) to improve these aspects?

Right now, I am picking up tips on how to whip up healthy, less-oily, non-fried and organic dishes. However, I’m still trying to establish a proper routine to try to fit in cooking into my current schedule.

Any health concerns in the family that could be hereditary?

Not that I know of. No cancer. No heart diseases. So far, we are good. Both my parents are pretty healthy and they look young.

What are your hopes for the health of the family?

To continue exercising regularly, stay active, and eat more healthily. What you put in your mouth and what you do every day is going to make a difference in the long run. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, I also want to learn to cook better and cultivate healthy living habits in my children.

Paulina Primrose Nathan, 53, former English teacher

If you could, what would you change about your body, and why?

My belly, definitely. I would want a flat belly. I am happy with everything else, including my short hair, everything but my belly! I’ve been skinny my whole life. I never had a belly, even after I got married and had kids. I couldn’t even wear a size S then because I was so thin and I took it all for granted.

Then I hit my 50s, and suddenly, I have a belly and it’s so difficult to get rid of.

Any current health concerns?

I wish my asthma would go away. It keeps getting worse as I grow older. Last year, it got so bad that I spent Christmas eve in the hospital. I had asthma as a child, but then it went away. It came back as adult-onset asthma and got even worse. I can easily get knocked out if I were to walk into a smoky area.

Now, I spend up to hundreds of ringgit on medication every month. It’s a bad cycle.

Who takes charge of the health of the family? How?

I cook, but my two children decides what’s on the menu. Both my children are very health conscious and are very into fitness, so white rice and white bread is completely out. We go for brown bread or multi-grain alternatives instead.

My children are constantly updating themselves with new information online, while mum is still of the pencil-and-paper age.Both my children are also encouraging me to exercise, and I think it is excellent for everyone. My daughter, for example, used to have very bad menstrual cramps. It got a lot better after she started exercising.

What aspects of your health you think can be improved?

I would like to get fitter. I have a gym available at my condo, but I am fairly lacking in willpower and motivation. It’s not just a matter of looking good. Being fit and healthy helps to ward off unnecessary diseases that could cause us to be dependant on others.

What are some of the things you are doing (or things that can be done) to improve these aspects?

I have been doing bits of exercises here and there. My asthma prevents me from doing strenuous exercises like running, but my son gets me to do simple movements like squats and planks.

For about four to five times a week, I would engage in small bursts of activity throughout the day. It could be just 10 squats or a 30-second plank.

My son also taught me how to perform the kettlebell swing, and this one time, I did up to 100 repetitions (with a 4kg kettlebell) in a day!

Any health concerns in the family that could be hereditary?

We don’t have heart diseases or anything like that. But my son got asthma when he was a child. But he doesn’t have it anymore. Maintaining a regular exercise regime has helped to strengthen his lungs.

What are your hopes for the health of the family?

I certainly hope I will be exercising more, instead of just talking about it. I think it really helps improve one’s quality of life. It’s not just how long you live, it’s about the quality of your life as well. It’s about being able to go out on your own and enjoying life without being sick.

I am lucky both my kids are helping me towards getting fitter. They must have inherited it from their late father, who was also very much into fitness.

Tags / Keywords: Health, Lifestyle, Women s Day, Health, Fitness

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