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Life goes beyond the digits on the scale and your body is capable of so much more! Yahoo’s #Fitspo of the Week series is dedicated to inspirational men and women in Singapore leading healthy and active lifestyles. Have someone to recommend? Hit Cheryl up on Instagram or Facebook!
Name: Amanda Ng (@amanda.nglk)
Occupation: National windsurfer/Senior associate at Deloitte Singapore
Food: I don’t follow any strict diet as I am a huge foodie. If I am eating at home, I try to prepare meals with natural (unprocessed) foods and use less oil and salt. Otherwise, I am always looking for food recommendations and love trying new foods and different cuisines.
Exercise: When I was a full-time athlete training for the Olympic Games, my training programme consisted of two hours of cardio four times a week, strength training in the gym four times a week, and water training (windsurfing out at sea) four times a week.
Now that the Olympics are over and I am back at work, I am letting my body rest and my injuries fully recover, so my training volume has decreased significantly. I still do my rehab exercises, go for yoga once or twice a week and go for easy jogs on alternate days. I also enjoy going for longer cycles over the weekends.
Q: Were you already active in sports from a young age?
A: I was always active in sports from a young age. My father enrolled me in a basic sailing course when I was about 7. Growing up with two boys (my brother and cousin) meant that I was introduced to many other sports. I attended soccer lessons, played badminton and went mountain biking with them. My dad also introduced me to open water diving and I got my scuba diving certification when I was in primary school. I also did ballet seriously from the age of 4 till 15.
How did you start getting into sailing?
As mentioned, I was exposed to many sports when I was young but I only did sailing and ballet seriously. I eventually had to choose to focus on one as both activities took up a lot of my time and it was getting difficult to manage. I chose to focus on sailing because the 2010 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) was coming up and I wanted to give it my all and have a shot at representing Singapore.
When did you progress to windsurfing?
I was getting too old for the Optimist class (which is a junior class) and was introduced to windsurfing because it was one of the events for the 2010 YOG. I made the switch then as I was told that my height and build was ideal for the windsurfing class. I also enjoyed the speed and thrill of windsurfing in stronger winds.
Having been to the Olympic Games twice, how does it feel to have reached that level?
It still feels surreal sometimes, as I never imagined that one day I would be able to achieve the pinnacle of sporting success, considering I used to cry and refuse to go sailing as I was afraid of the winds and the sea. This journey has taught me the importance of hard work and allowed me to hone valuable skills such as resilience, discipline, adaptability and good time management, which I believe has also put me in good stead for whatever comes next.
What are some of the challenges you face as a competitive athlete?
The lack of support and funding – sailing is quite an expensive sport, so having to self-fund really drains your resources faster than you would imagine and also limits the quality of training that you get (as most of the top coaches and windsurfers are from Europe), which ultimately compromises the results that you can achieve.
Having to juggle school or work with trainings and competitions – this meant having little or no time for a social life and constantly missing out family and important occasions.
Injuries – throughout my sailing and windsurfing career, I have had my fair share of injuries (slipped disc, popped shoulder, torn MCL.. just to name a few!) Injuries are a huge hindrance to athletes considering how much we rely on our bodies and it can really disrupt our training programmes.
Did you ever struggle with your body at any point in your life?
I was always underweight growing up and my nickname was actually Popeye’s girlfriend… Because of how much of a stick I was. I really struggled when I first made the switch to windsurfing. Windsurfing is very physical and requires strength and weight to throw the sail around and hold it down in stronger winds.
I found it very challenging as I neither had the muscle bulk nor weight to be good at it. I also found it extremely difficult to build muscle and gain weight even though I was attending gym trainings consistently and making sure I ate more than enough. I remember being very discouraged when I competed in my first Windsurfing World Championships and saw just how muscular and solid other girls my age were, and how well they could control the board and sail, and just feeling very embarrassed about myself.
When do you feel the least confident about yourself?
To be honest, I always struggle after a Games campaign when I return to school or work, as I really dislike the feeling of not being active and training 10-12 times a week. This is especially so when I start to see changes in how toned or how lean my body is, just because of the sheer difference in level of training that I am doing. However, I am learning to accept the different seasons of life that I am going through, and appreciate how my body is adapting. I’ve also learnt to prioritise taking good care of my body for health reasons rather than how I look!
Are you satisfied with your body now?
In general, I am content with my body as it has gone through so much and helped me achieve so much. I am constantly in awe of what the human body is capable of, especially after tearing my MCL just two days before my Olympic qualifiers and seeing how my body was able to adapt with the other parts of my body compensating for my injured leg. However, we all have bad days and I do have some days where I tend to feel ugh (usually when I am sat in front of my laptop for the entire day) and wished I had the time to be more active.
Have you ever received any comments about your body?
This one is funny… When I am back in Singapore, I hear comments like I am “getting too muscular” or have become “big”. When I am training and competing overseas being amongst the global windsurfing and sailing community, I am told that I am too small and need to build more bulk! That’s why I kinda love being based overseas haha! But on a serious note, it is very interesting to see the difference between the Asian and Western perceptions on what is considered “attractive”.
If you could change anything about yourself, would you?
Nope! It is easy to be caught up in the modern culture of social media comparisons, but I have come to accept myself for who I am, knowing that I was created by God and loved just as I am.