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: Rosalind Choo (@ladyseals80)
Occupation: Insurance advisor/president of Sports Car Club (Singapore)
Diet: A normal diet, except that the only proteins I take are fish, chicken and eggs. I still take my rice, vegetables and fruits, but I cut away sugary drinks, salty soups, sauces and dairy.
Training: Three to five times a week in the gym.
Q: What kind of sports did you do growing up?
A: I played badminton, netball, swimming, rock climbing, bowling, road cycling and golf.
You only started going to the gym at the age of 30.
Yes, my friend was a member at Fitness First and he was a former bodybuilder. This was back in 2010 and I was slim, so I asked if I can join him in the gym so he can guide me on how to use the equipment in the gym. I knew nothing about working out in the gym and I felt intimidated, so I joined him on his weights days four times a week. The other days of the week I will go for the group classes, like BodyStep, BodyCombat, BodyAttack and RPM, at the gym by myself.
You went through a series of accidents that halted your fitness progress.
First, I suffered a slipped disc in July 2012 and was forced to rest and not exercise for six months. Then I picked up cycling again but met with an accident (this was in March 2013) when a car turned left abruptly into my path and I could not brake in time, so I crashed into the car and that put me out for a while.
In February 2014, I fractured my left ankle while carrying things from the car and later that year in September I had an appendicitis operation. Then in August 2015 my dad had a mild heart attack and had to undergo a heart bypass. After that he also had to go through dialysis for kidney failure. This was a tough period because I had to spend more time taking care of him and my family while working.
Through this series of events, I gave up exercising and eventually cancelled my gym membership in December 2015 and sought comfort through eating.
During this tough period, and especially with frequent painkillers to ease the pains and aches, I often got hungry. Probably it came from the stress as well as gastric issues, which I had since I was 20. I usually have to eat food with painkillers because they are too strong for the stomach. If I miss my meals and take the painkillers, I will develop gastric pain (I was someone who never had regular meals). So to prevent this from happening, I told myself to eat so I will not get gastric issues when I took painkillers.
Over a span of three years, you gained 16kg. When did you decide that was enough?
One day, I realised that I could not fit into most of my clothes anymore and photos of me taken by my friends turned out more and more horrible (showing flab and double chins). Then I weighed myself and I saw the figure 66 and I told myself I don't want to see the number 7, so I decided it is time I needed to take care of myself.
Since I had cancelled my gym membership, I started jogging first to kickstart my momentum, and I also asked a few friends to start playing badminton. But due to time constraints and personal commitments, my friends stopped playing badminton and the momentum slowed. When we did play, they would eat after that and we ended up eating a lot more than we exercised.
During this time, my weight came down slightly but it also went back up quickly. I didn’t know how to change my diet because I was afraid I would get gastric issues if I skip my meals. My friends were not able to help as well, because they love food and also have their own sets of health issues, like high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Then you decided to do something with your car club Sports Car Club Singapore.
In my club, I have seen my own members discuss in groups chats about their unfavourable body check-ups and how they have to go through heart bypass or balloon surgeries (and they are only in their early 40s). It made me realise that all these members face the same issues as I did with their unhealthy lifestyles and diet, and that it was a challenge to incorporate workouts because they are so busy with work.
I thought to myself: since I needed a change, why don't we do it together as a club and motivate one another? So in September 2018, we started a weekly one-hour group training with (fitness trainer) Gladys Leong at Hercules Fitness.
How did you eventually lose 16kg?
This group class was only once a week and I was still doing my own cardio exercises twice a week. I lost a bit of weight but was stuck at 63kg. Gladys then told me to cut out dairy – no ice cream, bubble tea, tea with milk, yoghurts, cakes, breads – and also to take only chicken thigh as my protein.
I also started preparing my own food. Instead of using soy sauce to marinate, I only used sea salt and herbs. Typically, I had two eggs for breakfast, chicken and rice for lunch, chicken and vegetables for dinner. After trying out this diet for one week, my weight dropped by another 5kg. In addition, I was working out five to six times a week, a mix of weights training at Hercules Fitness and cardio on my own.
When did you feel the least confident about yourself?
I am usually a confident person but I realised that when people want to take photos with me, I either walked away or not want to look at any photos if I know I am in them. I just didn’t want to see any bad photos of myself and I also deleted a lot of my photos because I didn’t think they look nice.
In October 2017, my club organised a go-kart challenge and I had to present the prizes to the winners. I saw the photos and I felt I looked horrible in every single one of them. That’s about the same time when I realised it’s time I have to do something as I cannot keep deleting photos.
Ever since I embarked on my fitness journey with Hercules Fitness and starting losing weight, I look better in photos and I don't shun cameras anymore.
Are you satisfied with your body now?
I believe I have reached my desired weight but I still have many areas to improve. I wish to build more muscle and strength, especially in my back. My back has always been the weakest part. Though I have gotten more core strength to support my back, I hope my back can improve better.
After going through this change, what are some of the comments you have received?
Many were quite shocked to see the change. Some believe I look better now, some think I am too thin and asked me to stop trimming down.
What have you learnt through this transformation of yours?
Everything is all in the mind. I thought I could not go through the dieting process, but I managed to succeed. I thought I would not be able to handle weight training with my back issues but I survived. It’s a test of willpower – if there is a will, there is always a way. I even took part in a bikini competition and received a gold medal in the bikini classic category.