Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Dana Safia

·7-min read
Dana Safia is a recruiter specialist and founder of Autentik Palate.
Dana Safia is a recruiter specialist and founder of Autentik Palate. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

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: Dana Safia (@danasafiaofficial)

Age: 35

Height: 1.59m

Weight: 50kg

Occupation: Recruiter Specialist and Founder of Autentik Palate

Status: Single

Food: When it comes to food, it depends. My diet routine is based on my training. I eat what I need to sustain and basically eat what I want in moderation. I used to follow a deficit diet when I was trying to lose weight, but now, I am more on a sustainable diet. Food is life!

Exercise: I follow a programme that is specifically catered to me (based on my body goals) by my coach Sara May. She has helped me shape my body to what it is today.

Currently, my training programme consists of strength and cardio, with lots of heavy lifting to get those peaches up – toughest area of my body to shape, that I can tell you for sure.

I train five to six days a week. I give myself no excuse for not training, no matter how busy I am, I make training as a priority. It has somewhat become my life now.

Dana trains five to six times a week, doing mainly strength and cardio work.
Dana trains five to six times a week, doing mainly strength and cardio work. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Q: Did you explore sports when you were younger?

A: When I was in school, I was pretty active. I was a long distance runner and I played netball. Unfortunately, I stopped sports when I started flying as cabin crew. It was a missed opportunity for me.

You used to lead an unhealthy lifestyle.

I started flying at the age of 18 and it was simply a lack of motivation that led me to stop working out. I started gaining weight when I was in my early 20s because I foolishly thought “I have great metabolism” that I can lose it the next day. This was the period when I was living in Dubai.

I ate super unhealthy fast food almost on a daily basis, drank way too much alcohol and smoked three packs of Marlboro reds. Lifestyle wasn’t great as a cabin crew as I slept odd hours and worked at strange timings most days. This previous lifestyle with its unhealthy habits isn’t something I am proud of and it led me to gain 20kg.

When did the turning point come?

The turning point came when I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror, somewhere at the age of 25. I suffered from a lack of confidence and self-esteem and I hated taking full body pictures (apart from selfies). Then I couldn’t even fit in a size-10 jeans. That was the worst for me and thus that was when I decided I wanted to lose the weight and wear clothes with confidence.

How did you kickstart your fitness regime?

When I moved back to Singapore from Dubai, I was at the heaviest of 70kg. If I recall back correctly, I looked in the mirror, felt depressed and sorry for myself and the following week, I started going for long jogs, two to three times a week and slowly and gradually I increased to four to five days a week.

Dana Safia shed her unhealthy lifestyle and slimmed down from her heaviest weight of 70kg.
Dana Safia shed her unhealthy lifestyle and slimmed down from her heaviest weight of 70kg. (PHOTO: Courtesy of Dana Safia)

I lost 10kg after almost a year of (on and off) long jogs. But even after I lost the weight, I was still unhappy with my body. There’s just something internal that’s causing me to find fault with my external appearance.

The change didn’t come drastically. I fluctuated back and forth between 55kg to 60kg. Even at 55kg, I wasn’t quite happy with the way my body was built. I wanted to transform my body.

It wasn’t until five years ago when I started going to the gym more frequently.

I started slowly, hitting the gym and doing lots of cardio and light weights. It took me some time to find the motivation to do it on a regular basis. Then at the age of 31, then I built the discipline, motivation and habits. I began to be more active, training five to six days a week. It is never too late to start at any age!

You’ve been training with your personal trainer, Sara May, for a couple of years now.

While I was losing the weight, I knew I needed more guidance and I was searching for the right trainer who can coach me to keep me in shape.

My goal was (and still is) to maintain a bikini bod. Before I met Sara May, I had done lots of cardio, HIITs (high-intensity interval trainings) and some weight lifting here and there to keep it balance but it didn’t give me the results I wanted.

I started training with Sara three years ago. At first, it was a face-to-face session before I decided to go online during the pandemic. I met Sara May while on a sponsored trip to Pangkil Island. Coincidentally, she was my roommate. As I got to know her further, I knew she was the trainer for me.

Sara May is high in demand and I waited for over a year before she had a slot for me and then the work started. She is tough, but without the toughest, I wouldn’t be how I am today. She listened to my goals and wants. She also cares for my progression and progressively programmed my training based on my fitness level and body goals. I had tried different trainers before her, but they weren’t what I was looking for. My body transformed thanks to her.

Dana credits her personal trainer Sara May for guiding her in her slimming journey.
Dana credits her personal trainer Sara May for guiding her in her slimming journey. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

When did fitness become a priority?

When I began to see changes in my confidence, mood and life somewhere in my 30s. It took me some time to build the momentum. This is not something that happens overnight or a year later, it takes YEARS.

Fitness isn’t just about keeping fit externally. My mental health improves, I am able to focus more on work and the disciplined regime I have instilled in myself allows me to pursue my entrepreneurship journey.

You wake up at 4am every day.

I start early because I have a full-time job and am also running a fully operational business with a team. I have to keep to my schedule in order for me to complete all of my tasks.

Waking up at 4am allows me to focus on my business before I start training between 6am to 7am in the morning. After completing my training, I will get ready to focus on my full-time job until around 5pm.

Then I will go back to work on my business till 8pm. The satisfaction of being able to successfully execute both roles is what keeps me going. I can hit my KPIs at work and still run a profitable business.

When you were younger, did you experience any incidents that made you feel insecure about yourself?

What people don’t know is that, I heard things like “You’ll never be good enough”, “You’re not smart, you’re stupid”, “You’re just a dreamer, you will never get anywhere in life”.

The truth is: It did affect me when I was younger and still does now. I just don’t show it! My personality is something I appreciate, because it got me to where I am today. I have a resilient mind filled with determination to prove others wrong.

Experiencing some ‘bad luck’ also brought me to where I am today; you learn and you grow. No point thinking back, “Oh, I should have done this or that.” You move on and just keep going. You fall, get up, dust off and walk away…

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Dana Safia.
Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Dana Safia. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
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