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: Geraldine Wu (@geraldinexo)
Occupation: actress, voiceover artist, (sometimes) yoga instructor.
Diet: I eat intuitively and typically don’t watch what I eat, but I do have the tendency to lose control, especially where dark chocolate or potato chips is concerned (I’m looking at you, Lays). In those cases, I’d watch my caloric intake and make sure I’m not exceeding my caloric output for that day, or not doing so for too many days.
Fitness Regime: Lifting at the gym three times a week and IDEALLY do cardio one to two times a week, with yoga here and there at every session.
Q: When you were younger, did you experience any incidents that made you feel insecure about yourself?
A: Generally I was rather lucky in that I sailed through most of my younger years alright. But I do remember being teased a lot pre-braces, because I had an overbite and that got to me sometimes for sure. Other than that, nothing outside of the usual insecurities that came with the awkward puberty years (I’m cringing at the memories).
You were in cheerleading for a good number of years. What got you into cheerleading?
I was a dancer as a teen, so when it came time to pick a co-curricular activity, I naturally picked dance. One semester in, one of my friends brought to my attention this new team they were assembling for a competitive cheerleading squad and they were looking for people with dance backgrounds.
At the time, all I knew about cheer was sideline and I’d never seen it performed at the competitive level. I remember going on YouTube and watching some routines before agreeing to attend a training session. After the first day, I was hooked. I ended up cheering for about six years.
What did you like and NOT like about cheerleading?
I really enjoyed the team aspect of the sport and how freeing it felt whenever we would be up in the air - it’s something you can’t experience practising the other sports they offered in school. It felt larger than life, superhuman almost. When we would run routines and hit every stunt, especially the pyramids, that feeling was pretty magnificent.
At the same time, there was a lot more politics, favouritism and sabotaging than I expected then. I found it ironic for a sport that requires trust and teamwork, but in hindsight, it’s not that surprising and I realised it happens with everything. I take it as a trial run of adulthood because it definitely fortified me – I’m fazed by a lot less now!
You mentioned you were in a pretty toxic environment during your cheerleading days.
There were many aspects of the sport that stood out to me as “toxic” but if I were to come up with a blanket statement for it, it would be the amount of emphasis placed on the female form and the value placed on weighing as little as possible.
Although it’s completely understandable where the idea stemmed from - with the nature of the sport being to throw literal human bodies (usually females) in the air. However, I guess how the people in positions of power executed that idea was the problem - by placing value on undereating, over-exercising and being skinny, a lot of my female teammates developed extremely unhealthy relationships with food and their perfectly normal bodies.
At one point one of the (uncertified) male team members started assigning “Sandwich Diets” to several female teammates that were considered “overweight” (in an attempt to avoid triggering anyone, I won’t disclose the number but I’d just say it is an extremely acceptable weight). The diet was extremely unhealthy, yet because of the impressionable ages of those assigned the diet, it was adhered to for a while.
At that age, I had a pretty small stature, so I was never placed under that microscope. Yet it didn’t stop me from being called the "F" word on several occasions.
Did these incidents affect you as a person?
Of course. When the majority of people believe in something, it becomes the “norm”. Being surrounded by this same group of people and ideas three to four times a week, every single week, for years, created an environment where the outliers suffered ostracism and consequently, self-doubt. It’s almost like the groupthink mentality.
This definitely affected my self-confidence, influenced the way I reacted in certain social situations and messed with my perception of a lot of things for many years.
When did you decide you were done with cheerleading?
There were many accumulative moments over the years that led to my eventual decision to leave the sport. But it was ultimately realising that there was a lot more that my body can do outside the bounds of the sport. I guess, in a way, I recognised my own plateau.
And also, to be honest, my joints were starting to hate me hahaha. To have the walls knocked down and to see new challenges and new goals, and to find new ways to challenge myself again was very refreshing. I’ve also learnt that being bad at something is not a bad thing at all, it’s a feeling to be enjoyed because it means there’s so much more to learn and experience and that’s the attitude I bring to the gym these days.
What became your fitness regime after retiring from competitive cheerleading?
My weekly fitness regime has changed drastically over the past couple of years. Since I’m no longer a competitive athlete, I now go to the gym to work on my lifts three times a week, and ideally do cardio one to two times a week, and I’d throw in yoga here and there during every session to keep things exciting.
I’m really happy with my current routine because it fits into my everyday schedule. Of course, some weeks can be hectic, especially with the nature of my work, sometimes shooting overnight, I wrap and all I wanna do is be a potato for the next day or the rest of the day. But I’m at a place where I feel comfortable missing gym days some weeks and not feel like I’ve committed a crime, so that’s P-R-O-G-R-E-S-S I guess?
Do you face any pressure being in the entertainment industry? Or made to feel inadequate about yourself?
My height? Hahaha, kidding! I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel pressure. Fitness or not, with social media acting like everybody’s scrapbook of wins, and it being so accessible to all, it’s easy to fall into a pit of self-loathing on bad days.
Being in the entertainment industry, with work centering around how I look and being in front of lights and cameras most of the time, there are certainly days I look at the final product and go: “Why is it that other people cry pretty but my double chin is so prominent when I cry?” I’d pick out bad angles, or doubt my own abilities when I’ve missed opportunities. It happens.
When I catch myself spiralling, I usually step away and do something comforting for myself. Whether it’s to go for a run, read a book, cuddle with my dog, knit myself a top, or see and be with people I love, I find that I come back feeling more accepting of my own flaws because let’s face it, it’s a perfectly normal human thing to be more perceptive of our own flaws than those of others, and everyone does it.
When did you feel the least confident about yourself?
My confidence comes and goes for sure, even now. But I’m aware that the baseline of my confidence has definitely become more stable as compared to say, five years ago. It’s easy to find yourself in a place where you feel misplaced, like you don’t possess the right credentials for whatever it is you might be pursuing.
Imposter syndrome is a sneaky little thing that kind of catches you without you realising and eats at your confidence, and even the best of us crumble. I guess zooming out and seeing that it happens to most people helps with navigating yourself out of a situation where you might otherwise feel less assured.
Are you satisfied with your body now?
I view my body as a machine, and every day that it allows me the ability to push myself further and to achieve more with life or with fitness is something to be content with. Of course, it will always be an on-going process (fitness-wise) but I am grateful for the health and vitality every day.
Have you ever received any comments about your body?
Being in the entertainment industry, it’s difficult not to receive comments about my body. It only becomes a problem when it’s delivered with the intention to provoke a response. I don’t think I have been subjected to that so far and I’ve only ever gotten comments about my body when it comes to work, and/or (appropriately) at the gym.
Whenever I would get inappropriate comments over social media, I’d ignore them - every body is different, and everyone’s preferences and goals with regards to fitness or aesthetics is also different, so we can’t please everyone.
If you could change anything about yourself, would you?
I’m pretty content with the way that I am. Yes, I am a ball of chaos, I'm kinda awkward, and my sense of humor is all over the place but I like that about myself.