Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Michelle Goh

Michelle Goh is a digital marketer and property agent.
Michelle Goh is a digital marketer and property agent. (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: Michelle Goh Jing Yi (@michgohhh)

Age: 27

Height: 1.57m

Weight: 47.5kg

Occupation: Digital Marketer & Property Agent

Status: Married

Food: I try to stick to two meals a day, with juice as my third meal - could be lunch or dinner depending on the day. I also limit my carb intake such as rice, bread, etc.

Exercise: I exercise four to five times a week - either a run or swim or HIIT (high-intensity interval training).

Q: Swimming was a big part of your life when you were younger.

A: Since young, my parents exposed me to all sorts of sports which I really enjoyed such as ballet, gymnastics, wushu, sailing, tennis, roller blading and swimming. But the one sport that became a huge part of my life was synchronised swimming. I was also a part of the national team, training eight times a week (eg. 5pm to 9pm from Monday to Thursday, 7pm to 12pm and 2pm to 5pm on weekends).

Michelle used to represent Singapore in synchronised swimming.
Michelle used to represent Singapore in synchronised swimming. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

What did you get into as you got older?

Training seven to eight times a week when I was younger made me feel like my social life was stripped away from me. When I went into poly, I kind of "revenge rested" and refused to do sports for the next three years. But eventually when I went into university, I missed doing sports as a team and realised that what I needed was more of a balanced lifestyle so I eventually joined my university's swim team and picked up lifesaving as well.

Being on two ends of the spectrum (from exercising seven to eight times a week to not exercising at all) made me realise that exercising really does release happy hormones and it relieves stress and makes you mentally healthier and happier.

How do you ensure a work life balance between your work and workouts?

I either wake up early to go for a run, or squeeze in a workout after work. I also set aside specific days to go swim with my friend so that takes priority above other appointments.

Of course, there are days where I would feel lazy to run, or unmotivated but that's fine. I'll just do a reeeeeallllyyy short workout (because hey, less workout is better than no workout) or I'll just take it as a rest day as long as I don't do it consecutively for a few days and end up losing the momentum to exercise.

What are your fitness goals now?

My fitness goal is really simple, I just want to be able to work out four times a week so that I can eat more. I really love food so my motivation to exercise is to eat haha! Fitness to me (apart from allowing me to eat more), is an outlet to destress, get my mind off things and just concentrate on the workout that I'm doing.

I know sometimes the process might be painful and not the most enjoyable but trust me, it gets easier and you will feel a huge sense of achievement when you can FEEL that it's easier.

Michelle's current fitness goal is to work out enough to eat more.
Michelle's current fitness goal is to work out enough to eat more. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

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

I don't think there was any particular incident but I think my mum (or so I heard from my friends) that Asian mums have a tendency to tell their daughters that they are fat even if they're not. Coupled with being in a sport like synchronised swimming, I don't think I can say 100 per cent for sure that I was confident and secure about my body. Which is quite ironic because when you see us competing, it is all about exuding that confidence.

But as cliche as it sounds, I think going through all that has taught me that behind all that "glam" that you see onstage, are a bunch of young girls who were constantly compared and had to live up to ridiculous beauty standards, and they may be "skinny" or "fit" but each of us has had our own struggles.

That has taught me to love myself more, treat myself better, and be more empathetic and understanding towards people who struggle with their body because we don't know what they might have been through.

When did you feel the least confident about yourself?

I felt the least confident about myself when I came back from a month of summer school in Korea. I barely exercised and I ate and drank so much that I came back with quite a significant weight gain. Going back into training after, in a swimsuit, made me extremely conscious of the weight gain and especially in a swimsuit where your curves are further accentuated due to the tight cut.

So I took action on my insecurities and actually went on a diet and exercise plan for two weeks to cut my weight. I stayed away from alcohol, sugary drinks and had salad for dinner before 6.30pm on top of exercising three to four times a week. The fact that my boyfriend was overseas during those two weeks also helped tremendously because there was nobody to tempt me with good food on a date night so I could stay disciplined throughout and see it through to the end.

Michelle felt pressured to maintain her weight while doing synchronised swimming.
Michelle felt pressured to maintain her weight while doing synchronised swimming. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Did you ever struggle with your body?

Yes, as I mentioned earlier, being in an artistic sport like synchronised swimming, the coaches are very demanding on how our bodies look. It felt like we had to be a size 2, with 24-inch waists and stick-thin legs. In their eyes, underweight was "acceptable" and acceptable was "overweight". They would monitor our weight every day before and after training.

I still remember they had this formula to determine if you were of acceptable weight - eg; your height (in centimetres) minus 13 (57-13 = 44), so anything above 44kg meant being overweight and you'd have to do extra training to make up for it. Being in that environment has made me feel like any weight above that makes me fat and insecure and that I had to be of a certain body type, and that mentality lived with me till I was in university.

It didn't matter that I was in an acceptable BMI, but I constantly felt like I was fat. Looking back at my younger self, I was skinnier than ever and I wished I could've told myself that I looked fine and to just be confident.

Are you satisfied with your body now?

Yes or at least I try to be. I think I'm content with my body when I clock in a certain amount of exercise a week. As long as I exercise, I'm happy with my body because I've put in enough effort to keep fit. I've come to realise that everyone has different body types and all I can do is make an effort to own my body.

Have you ever received any comments about your body?

I have definitely received comments about my body. My mom says it all the time and my coaches who haven't seen me in a while would tell me I look fatter, that I've gained weight, and I should do more squats to make my legs skinnier etc.

Being 1.57m, I think every kilogram gained is much more obvious on the body. If I could change anything about myself, I'd love to be taller, and I'd be lying if I said that I'm not conscious of my thighs at all but hey, acceptance is a process and I’m working on it :)

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Michelle Goh.
Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Michelle Goh. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)