Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Owen and Hayley Reid

·22-min read
Owen (right) and Hayley Reid are avid triathletes.
Owen (right) and Hayley Reid are avid triathletes. (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: Owen & Hayley Reid (@hayloreid)

Age: 35/33

Height: 1.78m/1.64m

Weight: 78kg/60kg

Occupation: International Baseball Consultant & Mobile Baseball Coach at Reid Baseball (@thereidbaseball)/Senior Manager, Hotel Openings, Hilton Asia & Australasia

Status: Happily married to each other

Food - Owen: I love food, but I am very specific about what I eat. I always start my day with exercise, so after a swim, bike or run, I get into breakfast number one, which is a smoothie (frozen bananas, ice, water, kale or spinach, protein powder, almonds). I dive into breakfast No.2 40 to 60 minutes later, which consists of white rice, steamed broccoli and a source of protein (two eggs three times per week; meat four times per week). 

Lunch is a kale-based salad with roasted pumpkin, avocado, grated carrot, capsicum and a source of protein (chicken, beef or salmon). Afternoon snacks vary from almonds, cashews, macadamias, kiwi, pear or a protein shake. Dinner is always a feast, and I am grateful for my wonderful wife’s skills and passion in the kitchen. 

Dinner consists of steamed or roasted vegetables, and the staples are broccoli, carrots, sweet potato, asparagus and brussel sprouts. Veggies are always accompanied by a source of protein, which is usually salmon, chicken, beef or lamb. On the rare occasion that I have dessert, it is a gluten- and dairy-free dark chocolate.

Hayley – We don’t follow a diet as such, but we do have food preferences based on what makes us feel good. We are gluten-free and dairy-free. While we eat a high protein diet, we still consume carbohydrates by way of baked goods or rice. 

We both have a portion size problem! I would say our portion sizes are two to three times greater than other people. Thankfully we eat pretty well and our training is such that we can get away with overeating (at basically every meal). We are also are creatures of habit with food so we don’t deviate too much with our meals.

The other thing on the "diet" front… I only drink black coffee, water and electrolytes. Owen is even more boring as he doesn’t drink coffee. We’d rather take our calories in food than in juices or soft drink.

Exercise - Owen: My weekly training routine usually depends on whether or not I am training for an event. With limited opportunities for events to take place over the last 18 months, my training has been more focused on maintaining a healthy routine and good daily lifestyle choices. For the last couple of months, I do two track sessions, three swim sessions, one bike session and a long run in a week.

Hayley – For the past eight years, I have been very event-focused. Meaning I would choose a mass participation sporting event and train up for the race. This typically dictates the types of training I would do.

In training for triathlon events, I would do 10-15 hours per week for an Ironman 70.3 and 15-20 hours per week for an Ironman. Generally speaking, this is four rides, four runs, three swims and two strength sessions.

Most recently, I trained for a 20km marathon swim in Western Australia – the Rottnest Channel Swim. For this, I did 5 swims a week with the shortest set at 3km and longest at 15km. I’d also keep a ride and run in the mix, along with three dry-land band trainings.

Currently, I am just transitioning from a “I must train for an event” mindset and to a “I am exercising for general health”. This was a difficult transition and continues to be, but mostly from a mental perspective given I’ve maintained a competitive mindset day-in, day-out for so long.

Owen grew up in a baseball family.
Owen grew up in a baseball family, and also played basketball and soccer during his younger days. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
Hayley also grew up in a sporting family, and took part in various sports such as athletes, swimming and netball.
Hayley also grew up in a sporting family, and took part in various sports such as athletics, swimming and netball. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Q: When you were younger, were you active in sports?

A - Owen: I grew up in a sporting family (baseball), so I was active from a very young age. I played baseball, basketball and soccer through high school and always did strength and conditioning training away from the field or court. Developing my strength and speed to help me across the sports I played was a critical part of my development as a person and as an athlete. In the past, I trained to be fit for performance, specifically baseball. My training was baseball-specific, so I did a lot of resistance training (heavy lifting), speed work (short bursts), etc.

Once I transitioned into coaching and away from playing, I trained to ‘look good’ and to maintain the physical appearance and image I thought I should uphold. In the last few years, especially the last 20 months, I train to be healthy, so I feel good and so my body is taken care of and is the best it can be mentally and physically. Training is now a way of life.

Hayley: I grew up in a sporty, competitive family. Dad played Australian football, basketball, cricket and anything else he could. Mum played hockey, netball, badminton, cricket and anything else she could. So, I too was also highly competitive. As a real youngster in small-town Western Australia, I competed in BMX. I played all sorts of other sports throughout school, with athletics, swimming and beach carnivals being part of our physical education curriculum. Outside of school, I mostly played netball.

At around age 14, I lost my way. I cared more about friends and partying than I did about school or sports. These years were the hardest of my life, and I didn’t know it at the time, but I had major depression. With a family history of mental illness and continually spiralling to a dark place, I was officially diagnosed at age 16.

My breakthrough moment happened around the same time as the diagnosis. “If you hate yourself so much, why don’t you do something about it?” A very logical thought in an irrational mind. In that moment, I decided to brush off the chip on my shoulder and make different choices moving forward. This aligned with the diagnosing doctor’s recommendation of managing my depression through lifestyle.

After this, I got addicted to the gym and group fitness classes. I went from the lowest fitness to athlete-level fitness in three months.

How did you get into baseball?

Owen: I grew up in a baseball family. My grandfather, father and uncle all played at a competitive level, so I was raised around the game and fell in love with it from an early age. I played competitive baseball from the age of eight and as each season went by, more unique baseball opportunities and experiences were available. From age 14 to 18, I travelled three hours one way for weekly training sessions, and spent my summers on the road playing in tournaments throughout the Midwest United States. I was fortunate to continue my baseball journey at the university level, where I played NCAA Division-I (highest level of collegiate athletics in the U.S.A.) baseball for four years.

After graduating from university I still had the desire to play. I also wanted to travel the world, so I combined my two passions and went to Europe to play baseball! What I thought would be one summer of baseball in Austria has turned into a new life living overseas. As a player and a coach, baseball has taken me to more than 50 countries on five continents. One of those countries (Australia) is where I met my wife Hayley.

Owning my own business (Reid Baseball) is extremely rewarding, as I am able to travel around the world sharing my baseball passion and experience with young, aspiring ballplayers as well as those who are looking to take the next step in their journey. Although I did not achieve my lifelong goal of playing Major League Baseball (MLB), I am very proud of the journey I am on thanks to the great game of baseball.

What sports did you get involved in as you got older?

Hayley: My fitness journey continued along the "gym" and "group fitness" path for years. I was so obsessed I even became a personal trainer (albeit a shortly lived profession). In my late-teens, early-20s, I worked at a recreation facility. I filled in for netball teams who didn’t have enough players, which often meant 1-3 games in a sitting. I later played wheelchair basketball. Our facility was the home of wheelchair sports in Western Australia, and wheelchair basketball was one of the sports where able-bodied people could join in the competition. I played for several years and was even MVP one season, albeit in the B division! I loved the inclusion of wheelchair basketball—it didn’t matter if you were always in a chair, or just in the chair for the game. I found it a real leveller.

I grew up in an Australian coastal town, which meant I was always at the beach. I was very comfortable in the water. However, I couldn’t properly swim. I could swim for survival but there was no way I could swim up and down the pool. I could make it 25m, but if I pushed to 50m, I would be gassed for the rest of the day. I loved the idea of it – I tried several times, thinking maybe that time it would be different.

In 2013, I got a job as the event manager for the Rottnest Channel Swim – the world’s largest open-water swim event. One day I was having a coffee with my boss and I told him how I felt like an imposter being a non-swimmer. He told me two things: 1) Just because I don’t swim, it doesn’t mean I can’t be a great event manager; 2) If I wanted to swim, I could learn. He then explained to me that he didn’t learn to swim until he was 50 years old! And prior to this, he couldn’t even swim for survival. He went on to do two duo open water swim events (10km) and several OWS team events (5km). In that moment, I decided that if he could do it, I could do it.

I had a friend do one-on-one coaching with me for several months, then I joined a beginner’s swim squad, and after a year, I joined a proper adult swim squad. I was slow and inefficient for a long time, but the competitiveness I inherited from my parents paid off. I persevered for years until I actually became quite good. This year I did the Rottnest Channel Swim—the event that originally got me into swimming—as a solo (20km) in open water.

Hayley had encouraged Owen to get into triathlon while they were dating.
Hayley had encouraged Owen to get into triathlon while they were dating. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

How did you get into the sport of triathlon?

Owen: It was certainly not my choice! Hayley and I were dating at the time, and she was interested in getting into swimming so she could compete in an open water swim event in Perth, Australia. I had absolutely no interest in getting in the pool to learn how to properly swim. My idea of "swimming" was just hanging out in the pool; definitely not moving through the water efficiently.

After being encouraged in a gentle, supportive way, I decided I would give it a shot. Early on, there were plenty of times that I wish I hadn’t. I was absolutely awful. Not only was I not able to swim 25 metres without it feeling like the hardest thing I had ever done, but I was ashamed at how I must have looked trying to do it. Through support and encouragement from Hayley and a few of our close friends however, I stuck with it and eventually got to the point where I could swim 25 metres, and then 50, and then 100.

From there, the gains continued and once I felt comfortable and confident enough to swim 1km without stopping, I was convinced (again by Hayley), that I should sign up for a triathlon. Hayley’s persuasion worked, and my first triathlon was an Olympic distance triathlon in Perth. Four months later I completed my first Ironman 70.3. Now with 12 Ironman 70.3s and one full Ironman under my belt, I am a completely different person and an altogether new athlete.

Hayley: For many years, I had always believed you were either a land-lover or a water-lover, and there were very few people who could do both. Those crazies were triathletes! On reflection, learning to swim was a pivotal moment in changing from a "fixed mindset" to a "growth mindset".

The notion of swimming, then cycling, then running—all in one go—was virtually impossible to me. After all, I was a land-lover. When I learned to swim, I realised this meant I could do a triathlon. I signed up for an ‘Enticer’ event, which was 250m swim, 11km bike, and 2km run. I felt so freaking accomplished crossing that finish line. I was also so spent that I slept for the rest of the day. After that, I continued to challenge myself with greater distance and harder goals.

What are some of the highlights of your tri journey so far?

Owen: Being able to train and race with my wife Hayley. We may not have swam, cycled or run alongside one another, but we were on the same training schedule for several years. This meant we were able to understand what the other person was going through and could have conversations about the training session, how we were feeling, etc. It was a special way to train and prepare for an event and made it even sweeter completing it since the journey was one we shared.

I have vivid memories from each of the triathlons we’ve done, but one that I am most proud of would be Ironman Austria in 2019. The discipline and dedication required to prepare for such an event was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The most rewarding part was being able to enjoy the event because we had trained really well and were prepared. Seeing Hayley out on the course throughout the day was extra special and the icing on the cake was being able to greet her at the finish line with her finisher’s medal as she was cheered across by hundreds of spectators.

Hayley: My No.1 triathlon achievement is completing Ironman Austria. A 3.8km non-wetsuit lake swim, 180km hilly and stormy bike, and a 42.2km run after the other two legs. I still pinch myself! The harder the preparation and challenge, the greater the feeling of accomplishment.

I was also very proud to qualify and compete at the Ironman 70.3 World Champs in South Africa and France.

Owen and Hayley enjoy training for triathlon together.
Owen and Hayley enjoy training for triathlon together. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Conversely, what are some of the downsides of the tri journey so far?

Owen: Triathlon, especially middle-distance or long-distance, awards those who put in the time. Early in my triathlon journey, I did not fully respect this and did not train with the purpose and specificity as I do now. Had I been more open-minded and educated early in my journey, I would have likely enjoyed the events much more, as they would not have been as physically, mentally and/or emotionally challenging.

Additionally, my social life slowed down significantly when I was training for an event. Bedtime and wake-up times were both much earlier, which was a huge adjustment for someone who was previously a ‘night owl’.

I have been fortunate to stay relatively healthy throughout my triathlon journey, but when you put your body through intense training over a prolonged period of time, you are bound to experience discomfort, niggles, setbacks or even injuries. More than anything, I’ve learned to do a better job of listening to my body. If it needs rest, sometimes that is better than pushing through a session when I am mentally and physically fatigued.

Hayley: For many years, triathlon consumed my life. I didn’t mind though because Owen and I always did it together and it’s where we have met most of our Singapore-based friends. However, going out in the evenings are hard because you are usually in bed by 9pm and having lunch with colleagues was often a no-go because I was in the gym. The biggest downside is probably the cost. You need equipment for three sports, entry and travel costs are not cheap, and the food bill is astronomical.

What are the advantages/disadvantages being in the same sport as a couple?

Owen: Advantages would be… We always know what the other person is doing! We can talk about a training session, good or bad, and share experiences from our individual perspectives.

We can train together! Even if we aren’t swimming in the same lane or running alongside one another, just knowing that Hayley was out there doing the same thing I was doing was comforting. It also meant our schedules were a lot more aligned and that we could plan our day or week based on our training schedule.

Competition! We can push, challenge and motivate each other in our training and on event day. In an individual sport, it is really nice to feel like you have someone there with you; someone who ‘gets’ it and understands what you are feeling, both physically and mentally.

The food bill! When we train for an event, our appetites go through the roof. The good part about training as a couple is that, generally, we were both always hungry. This meant mealtime was pretty much anytime.

A disadvantage would be sharing training space. When we lived in a smaller apartment, finding the space to do an indoor bike ride or strength workout was tricky at times. It also meant that we had to take turns, so one of us had to wait. This went for the (small) condo pool as well.

Hayley: I love being able to train and race with Owen. He’s much faster than me, so we don’t physically train together but we always had the same schedule so we could debrief, recover and pig out together. The same thing after a race – being aligned with training and racing helps us be aligned in other aspects of our lives.

I’m a worry wart, so the only disadvantage is worrying about Owen out on the course. A lot can go wrong in the swim and on the bike, so I was always a bit panicky until I saw him on the run.

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

Owen: I cannot point to specific incidents that made me feel insecure. Generally though, I was always sensitive to what other people thought of me. As I reflect, I was worried about being liked by everyone, rather than just being me and accepting that everyone may not like me. I took myself way too seriously. I wasn’t able to poke fun at myself or laugh at something I said or did that was silly. I never liked showing or feeling I was vulnerable or admitting I was wrong.

Hayley: Absolutely. With mental illness being a big part of my childhood, life was always unpredictable. With a parent who often experienced psychotic episodes, I didn’t always know reality from fiction and was always ready for fight or flight. As a result, I developed resilience, maturity, and independence. All qualities I am proud to have.

Both Owen and Hayley are happy with their own physiques.
Both Owen and Hayley are happy with their own physiques. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

When did you feel the least confident about yourself?

Owen: I am human, so there have always been moments when I doubted myself or didn’t like the way I looked, but fortunately these were always short-lived. In these moments, especially in recent years, I have done my best to take a step back, pause and take a deep breath to help put things in perspective. Asking myself questions like, “Am I overreacting to this? Or is what I am concerned about really that important?” In most situations, the first answer is "yes" and the second answer is "no". This self-assessment and reflection exercise usually helps to re-align and centre me so I can focus on what I feel is important.

Generally, when I accepted that there are many aspects of life that I cannot control - such as others’ opinions of me, how my body responds to exercise, sleep or certain foods - I started to be more comfortable in my own skin, more confident with who I am and to prioritise what matters most to me. Similarly, knowing that there is a lot in life that I can control, or at least manage, gives me confidence to create my own path, make my own journey while living a healthy, happy and fulfilling life, one day at a time.

Hayley: My least confident years were the 14- to 17-year age range. Body image is front and centre when you are a teenager, and it doesn’t help when bullies like to point out your flaws. I was also generally quite lost. I didn’t know who or what to be confident in. This is also the time I struggled most with my body image. I didn’t like anything about myself.

While I made the decision to do something about the self-loathing, it took years for me to feel good and be comfortable in my own skin. There was a point when I was so fixated on body image that I was looking at plastic surgery, liposuction, etc.

Again, I had to pull myself out of the image-obsessiveness and focus on ‘productive’ changes – those being exercise and healthy eating and pursuing professional and academic ambition.

Over time, my hard work started to pay off. I was performing well at university and getting promoted at work. I also noticed one day that I didn’t look too bad either. When I wasn’t fixated on it and just tried to be healthy, my body changed into one I was proud of.

Triathlon was a weird transition from being body/health conscious. I used to exercise to maintain a healthy body weight. Next minute, I was looking at food for fuel. Trying to source the highest carbohydrate gels and real foods that I could eat on the bike, and generally making sure I was getting enough sustenance. Triathlon made me forget about my previous body image woes.

Are you satisfied with your body now?

Owen: I am very content with my body right now. Each day I become more self- and body-aware, which allows me to be in tune with what I know I need to do, but also what I don’t need to do, in order to feel mentally and physically healthy.

As a teenager, there was a body-type image I felt like I needed to live up to: six-pack abs, big biceps, defined shoulders and legs. As I have matured, become more educated and more self-aware, I now prioritise feel and functionality. Meaning, if I feel good and my body is performing at the capacity I need it to for daily life or for training purposes, I am happy.

If I make good daily choices and create a consistent, healthy lifestyle, those habits will be reflected in how I feel and the performance of my mind and body. The ‘image’ is now an afterthought and is a product of the many years worth of positive, healthy choices and consistent habits.

Hayley: Yes! I couldn’t care less if I have bigger shoulders than my guy friends or cycling thighs that don’t fit in jeans! My strong and healthy body is the result of good choices and my athletic pursuits.

Have you ever received any comments about your body?

Owen: Yes! Fortunately, most of the comments have been positive. It is nice for others to outwardly acknowledge the visible, tangible result of many years of positive, healthy choices, but my hope is that others realise that having the physical body they desire is in their control and that how they feel and how their body functions for them is most important.

Hayley: Absolutely. In my most vulnerable years (high school), I was called Hayley-Whaley, Thunder Thighs and Sharkey (I had a pointy front tooth). My three-year old nephew used to grab my stomach fat and say “Chubba-Chub"!

Most recently, some of my guy friends make jokes about being muscular. One of my mates calls me “Deltoid Goodrem”. I think it’s hilarious though and feel very complimented by it.

If you could change anything about yourself, would you?

Owen: Growing up I always wanted to be taller and wanted to have blonde hair. Those desires have definitely disappeared, as I am proud to be in the body I am in, and to be who I am.

Hayley: I am always working on being a better version of myself. Not in a physical context, but rather in continuing to learn and grow every day. Because of this, I am 100-per-cent confident in who I am.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Owen & Hayley Reid.
Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Owen & Hayley Reid. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
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