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: Vanessa Caitlin (@vanessa.caitlin)
Weight: Fluctuates between 52kg and 56kg
Occupation: Head of digital and creative production at Vogue Singapore
Food: I try to eat clean on the days that I can, but don’t really restrict myself when I’m at dinners, celebrations or events.
Exercise: Strength training two times a week and formal cardio sessions in the form of ERG fitness three times a week.
Q: You were pretty active as a child, then you totally stopped exercising as an adult.
A: Yeah, as a child, I did everything from swimming, ice skating, fencing to aikido and more. But once I was done with school, I just didn’t exercise anymore. I’m a major foodie — I love eating and drinking. It also did not help being in the media industry. We are constantly blessed with good food, events and parties to attend. Exercise was the furthest thing on my mind.
When did you start going to the gym?
I joined this gym called The Row Space in November 2019 with no expectations. A friend of mine moved back to Singapore and embarked on a fitness journey of her own. She asked me to try going for a row class at “this gym she just joined”, so I did... and the rest as they say, was history.
What kept you going back?
The community was a key factor. Everyone was so friendly and encouraging. It felt like you were just working out with a bunch of friends and I started feeling more energised from working out. I started out going once a week, then gradually increased the frequency over the next few months.
I was working out between three to five times a week right before COVID-19 hit Singapore and Circuit Breaker stopped gyms. I knew that I wanted to continue on with ERG fitness as it was a great way to do cardio with zero impact to my knees and joints in general (I was too heavy to run then).
You went through a massive transformation, losing 34kg over 2.5 years.
When I was larger, the thought of wanting to lose weight definitely crossed my mind, on multiple occasions. But I never really took it seriously – I would attempt to diet every now and then, or try to jog, but nothing ever stuck and it was all sporadic one-off efforts.
I didn’t have any fitness goals to start with, but after working out for a bit, I thought it would be nice to be strong and more fit in general so I could get about my daily life (like walking up a flight of stairs) without feeling awful, so I kept at it. The weight loss was really just a big bonus.
It took me 2.5 years to lose 34kg—it was all exercise at first, I didn’t make any changes to my diet. But as I started to see my body change, I tried to take better care of it as well, such as increasing my protein intake and trying my best not to consume too much fried foods or sugar.
My transformation only came about now because it was a complete and consistent lifestyle change. The journey has been great because I had no expectations from the start. With consistency, it’s always on the up and up.
When you were younger, did you experience any incidents that made you feel insecure about yourself?
Like almost every other Asian family, how much one weighs is definitely a topic they somehow feel okay to blatantly share their opinions about. Family members have definitely told me that I’m too fat or I need to lose weight.
Separately, there have been a few occasions where people tried to give me their seat on the bus/metro because they thought I was pregnant. I don’t think it affected me (not consciously at least) because it was true that I was obese!
In terms of how I felt, with regards to my family, I just found it annoying, but didn’t think too much of it after the conversation ended. As for the commuters, I could understand where they were coming from actually! Also, they had good intentions haha.
When did you feel the least confident about yourself?
In the changing room! It doesn’t help that I already have a bit of an odd body shape, that, on top of the fact that I was obese was not a winning combination.
It results in clothes not fitting me well, most of the time, so I never liked the experience of going to the changing room to try on clothes. Singapore has a severe gap in the market for stylish plus-sized clothing.
Are you satisfied with your body now?
For the most part, yes. I am stronger than ever and I have the best cardiovascular endurance I’ve ever had in my life.
However, I’d be lying if I said I’m 100 per cent satisfied. The hunger to want to improve or just maintain (which is a battle of its own) my physique is still present. The festive season also does not help with overeating, drinking and bloating!
Have people passed any comments about your transformation?
I’ve received many compliments about my transformation. Thankfully, everyone has been so supportive and encouraging, both online and offline.
When I was larger, some would outright say to me, “You would look so beautiful if you were slimmer” or “if you lost weight you’d be so pretty”, but I never personally felt that way or thought about myself like that.
If you could change anything about yourself, would you?
I love how strong I’ve become, physically and mentally. That said, the one thing I’m working on right now is portion control. My brain has not caught up to my body, and probably thinks I’m still what I used to be. I’m constantly over ordering, thinking that I can finish the food and stuffing myself silly so as to not waste the food that I’ve already ordered.
It will take some time, and discipline, but I know that with consistency, I’ll get there.