Strong is the new sexy and fitness is the new party. With society leaning towards health and fitness, Yahoo's #Fitspo of the Week series is dedicated to all inspirational women in Singapore leading active lifestyles. Know of any who deserve to be featured? Hit me up on CherylTay.sg and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (cheryltaysg).
Name: See Toh Jia Xin (Instagram: @jiaxinseetoh)
Occupation: Strength/Fitness coach at UFIT Singapore
Diet: Eats a diet consisting of 50% protein, 30% carbs, 20% fat when dieting for competition; otherwise eats six times a day including three snacks and one meal an hour before sleeping; has a refeed day once a week with desserts
Training: Five days a week of at least two hours a session (Mon: shoulders+abs, Tues: legs+HIIT, Wed: chest, Fri: abs+HIIT, Sat: Back) and six days of 30-45min cardio sessions
You spend a lot of time in the gym now. Have you always been sporty?
When I was younger, I played badminton, sprinting, swimming and marathons. As I got older (19 years old onwards), I also did wakeboarding and sea sports. Then I got into competitive Muay Thai and starting lifting weights at my nearby local club fit gym at Yio Chu Kang. That was how I started my relationship with the gym.
What do you train for?
Everyone wants to look good and be healthy. I prefer to be above average - be strong, look good and be healthy (plus injury free). This has been more of a priority after my back surgery four years ago and I’ve not been in pain since!
What is it about lifting weights that you enjoy?
I love seeing results, be it physical changes or lifting 5kg more than the last session. They say do what makes you happy and this is what my partner and I enjoy doing most. We spend a lot of our time at the gym together and it is our way of having a date night at the 'bar'.
When did you take part in your first physique competition? Why did you decide to do it?
I took part in MuscleMania Asia 2014 that was held in Singapore last year. I decided to do it because my partner was also joining a bodybuilding competition a week after my show. It was much more enjoyable and less stressful to do it with someone and it has helped us to grow in many ways as a couple. I also like to explore different aspects of fitness, such as strongman, powerlifting, physique and who knows, crossfit some day! Like they say, try everything and find out what you enjoy doing most.
How many have you taken part in?
Three physique competitions so far. I placed third MuscleMania Asia, second for WBPF Nationals 2015 and I won Men of Steel in Kuala Lumpur. I have also taken part in several competitions involving lifting weights such as the ON Squat challenge 2014 and the Rep-off Challenge 2014, both of which I had a podium finish.
Did you ever struggle with your body?
I was a fat kid with a 32-inch waist when I was in primary and secondary school! TAF club was something I hated to attend. Then I suffered eating disorders and ended up looking really skinny during my polytechnic days. I was depressed even though I reached my desired weight of a miserable 50kg (then). It impacted my relationship with my family as I didn't talk much but soon got over it when I started working and realised that there is much more to life than just some dumb weight issues.
How confident are you about your body now?
I am happy with what I have now. After my back surgery, I appreciate my body a lot more. I am thankful that I am able to wake up, look good, feel strong and lift twice my body weight for squats and deadlifts. I look like how I want to look like and not what the society wants me to look like.
What misconceptions about fitness does society have these days?
1) Lifting weights makes a girl look manly.
2) Lifting heavy causes injuries.
3) Eating 1,000kcals to lose weight (it should be fat they are losing not the digits on the scale!).
4) Running with a little bit of light weight training is all you need to do to look like a fitness model
Why should people make an effort to keep fit?
With more and more processed foods around, together with stress from work and school, people often succumb to health issues such as obesity and other internal organ issues. It isn't just about looking good but for an individual to live healthily till they grow old. Keeping fit has many psychological benefits and it is good for the heart, muscle and joints. It is also a good way to bond with your family.
What do you think of the fitness scene now and how do you hope it can be improved?
I wish people on social media could be more realistic. Not every photo is real and this could potentially affect many people with body image issues. Everyone wants to look good and sometimes seeing photos of fitness models can be daunting and cause people to have unrealistic goals that come with drastic measures to reach that ideal body.
I also wish people could educate themselves with the importance of nutrition and that losing weight is not the same as losing fat. Slimming centres are a waste of money and slimming pills aren't magic pills. Weight training for females (not only for males) can produce some awesome physical changes.
There is no such thing as 'tone up'. You either gain muscle or lose fat. And to see some sort of 'definition', you would first need to gain some muscle by eating and training right. Being on a diet forever can cause serious metabolic issues that can be difficult to reverse.