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: Wendy Riddell (@wendyriddell)
Occupation: Community and events manager, director of boot camps, nutritionist at UFIT
Status: Married with 4 kids
Diet: My diet is pretty clean, I like raw and whole foods. You can say I’m a “flexetarian” (more plant then animal but a bit of animal) but I believe in having a bit of what you want in moderation too.
Training: I train every day – three to four CrossFit sessions, three strength sessions in the gym that includes cardio intervals, and one day a week I try focus on active recovery like swimming or walking.
Q: Were you sporty as a kid?
As a kid, I was always very active out on my bike from dusk till dawn. However I didn’t play any organised sports as I was in a pipe band (yes I used to play the bagpipes), so there wasn’t time for both.
How did that change as you got older?
I decided to study nutrition when I was 17 and that’s when I started to be more active. I think I’ve tried most things – I’ve participated in netball, volleyball, judo, long distance running, cycling and every group class fad that has come out since the early 1990s.
What made you decide to study nutrition?
I have a BSc in Nutrition from Robert Gordons University. I noticed at a very early age that a lot of people around me, including my family, were gaining weight, being unhappy with themselves, getting sick a lot and generally not loving life so much.
I could also see they were eating a lot of processed foods, drinking soda, not working out and for me it was very clear the two were related. Medicine wasn’t the first step in feeling better – changing lifestyle should be.
In the early 1990s when I went to university, the value in nutritional education wasn’t seen as strongly as it is today and I became very passionate about preventive medicine, i.e. changing our lifestyle.
How did you start your career in fitness?
I started teaching group classes when I was at university. A friend and I rented a hall and did good old-fashioned aerobics classes. I loved it! I moved to Canada for a while and did my first personal training (PT) certification there, and started taking PT clients and giving nutritional advice.
My next step was doing a post-graduate degree in sports science in London. The rest is history as they say I’ve worked in health ever since. I’ve been with UFIT since 2014, with a chance meeting at my kindergarten drop-off where I got talking to another mum about fitness. Next thing I was having an interview with (UFIT chief executive officer) James Forrester and haven’t looked back since.
How do you manage four kids (the oldest being only 10), a full-time career and your fitness regime? Oh, and personal time and life.
It’s not easy, I won’t lie – but like a good diet, it’s all in the planning. I’m very lucky to have two excellent helpers, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do it all. Also UFIT is an excellent employer – they are task-oriented, which gives me great flexibility for drop-offs and pick-ups of my kids.
We are also a family company, and if I have events to attend on weekends, more often than not I take the kids with me. Their favourite thing to do is come to Mummy’s work. Some things do slide and I could be better on my personal life, but I feel our kids are only small for so long and you don’t want to miss out on that.
What are your fitness goals now?
I’m always trying to set myself new goals, otherwise you start to lose drive. I’ve done lots of half-marathons, I did my first (likely my last too) CrossFit competition last year and loved it.
I was injured for a while this year so I felt like I was coasting along. I’m on the mend now so looking at doing the Spartan Beast next year, as I feel it’s a good combo of running, strength and skill.
When did you feel the least confident about yourself?
Ironically enough my first year at university, I totally put on the fresher 15. I was so out of my own comfort zone with a new city, new friends, none of my clothes fitting and no money to buy new ones. There were tears and lots of them.
I came home for the summer that year and a dear friend gave me a good talking to and I knew she was right. I picked myself up and made about getting strong again. After having kids also, I loved having babies but I didn’t feel totally like me for a while.
How did you overcome all of that?
Speaking to people around me that have known me forever, getting a better routine and taking control of the things I could control such as what I was eating, how I was moving my body. Getting a good sleeping routine also helps with mental mindset and it all has a knock-on effect.
Also, remember not everyone is at the top of their game all the time, we all have down times and it doesn’t make us weak to admit it.
Are you satisfied with your body now?
Yes, it’s far from perfect by magazine or social media standards, but stuff those standards! I am strong, my body has got me through some tough physical and mental situations. I’ve made four amazing kids who are all healthy and happy and my body made them.
I’ve travelled the world with babies strapped to me dragging bags and toddlers through airports. My body can and I don’t care if I have cellulite or loose skin.
Do you get any comments about your body?
I’m more immune to social pressure. That said, I’m human and I wouldn’t mind smaller thighs, but I’m not losing any sleep over that any time soon.