Dr Fong Lian Im, Medical Doctor, Avid Ultra-Marathon Athlete & Mother

I was extremely lucky to catch Dr Fong for a short chat.  She is an avid long-distance runner and competitor, medical doctor and mother. She recently completed the 50km Ultra-Trail Australia in May. This year alone, she has completed three races, Lantau 25km trail race, TPW Garmin Singapore 5k and Ultra-Trail Australia.

She spoke to us about her medical practice, helping her patients pursue a healthier lifestyle, and finding time to train for long-distance running.

 The prevailing trend of chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure affects Singaporeans as well as the rest of the world. The sedentary lifestyle, excess refined carbohydrates in most convenience foods, eating out, lack of exercise and stress are affecting the younger people, as young as teenagers.

There are preventions and steps we can take to minimise the risk of these diseases:

  • Exercise – start small. It can be walking, aqua aerobics etc.
  • Prepare your meals at home and no eating at food courts. Cooking at home for your own meals means you get to control what goes into your food. Bring your meals to work. If you must, make food court delicacies a treat and not the norm.
  • Diets – don’t get hung up on specific diets. The best diet is what you can maintain for the rest of your life.

For those who might say that it costs more to be healthy. Look at the option between being on medication the rest of your life or taking an active role in keeping you and your family healthy. Some tips to keep within budget, buy in bulk, buy frozen, buy during the discount periods.

Training for long distance races

  • Workout everyday for at least an hour.
  • Mix up your workouts between cardio, stretching (pilates, yoga) and strength such as weights.

Races

The races are usually overseas, and the topography is different from Singapore. Have a strategy. Plan the training around it. Train yourself to eat real food while exercising so that during the race your body adapts to it. She eats real food continuously from 5km mark onwards.

Dr Fong Lian Im: “Find a little bit of time and do the best you can. We tend to put ourselves last. You have to fit in the time for exercise and to look after yourself first to look after others. You don’t need to have a podium finish, it’s meant to be fun. If it’s not fun, you don’t need to do the race.”

Enjoy!

Find Dr Fong Lian Im here https://www.healgroup.sg/

Faith (Ayaka) Suzuki, Competitive Triathlete while Working Full-Time

 

Faith (Ayaka) Suzuki started her journey as a competitive triathlete when a guy ghosted her in 2015. Little did she know that the first run she took for emotional destressing would take her on a journey of fitness and competitions. It wasn’t until 2017 when she took to triathlon on a more serious note. Despite the late start in this path, she is mostly a podium finisher.

She is a humble athlete who would downplay her achievements. Having tried triathlon sprints which are a fraction of what she does on a regular basis, I know mere mortals like myself,  can’t easily achieve what she has done. She races almost every couple of weeks and they are not short distances.

Faith definitely qualifies as the Everyday Warrior who’s striving to be better and live the life she’s passionate about.

Click Faith’s Race Resume

She works full time with a sports company which gives her the flexibility to train 1.5 to 2 hours a day. Prior to this, she made arrangements with workplaces that allow her to train during lunch hours or leave at a decent hour after work for training. She’s working with coaches at TriEdge Team who sends her weekly templates for training. The training templates would vary depending on her goals and work. There are times when she’s unable to complete the training schedule as planned.

Faith’s Strategies for her races:

  • Plan a big race which she calls A Race. Once she has that in mind, she would plan smaller races which she calls B or C Races before the A Race. This is to get herself mentally and physically prepared for the bigger race.
  • The season in Japan for Triathlons is between April to September. Outside those months, she would sign up for running or biking races just to keep mentally and physically sharp i.e. half marathons, bike, swims.
  • Try as much as possible to stick to training schedule. Have support group ie coaches or athletic community around.
  • Having enough sleep. Faith calls herself the nap champion. Having a good night’s sleep and catching a nap as and when she can helps with post training recovery.
  • A week prior to the race, she stops drinking (yes, don’t hate her), and dials down her training load.

During the race:

  • Set goals prior to the race in regards to studying the path, which part to go for it and which to stay at pace.
  • When things get tough, set smaller goals i.e. get to that building and keep moving that smaller goal until finished.
  • Quitting is not an option. Just knowing that you will complete it regardless of how much pain you are in means you can’t call it quits during the race.
  • Food during the race is still something she’s experimenting with. There were disasters, like beef jerky (do not try), and better things like peanut butter sandwiches. Happy to hear any inputs on this!

Nutrition:

She claims there isn’t much to talk about as she eats everything. However, it should be noted that Faith doesn’t eat junk food and eating everything is pretty much eating whole foods such as grains, pasta, fish, meats and vegetables.

It took me a long time to work out the podcast interview with Faith as she’s based in Tokyo. Apologies as this podcast would not have great sound quality on my side. However, Faith will be loud and clear, that’s more important!

Enjoy:

Cassandra Lau, Crossfitter, Co-owner Actualize Crossfit, and Church Mentor for Teenagers

I started this podcast as a way of creating a platform to document amazing people and share their life tips with others. How much luckier can I get when one of my friends would say yes to me? Especially after I made the rookie mistake of not formatting the SD card in the previous interview.

Cass is one of these amazing individuals who’s not just constantly “taking action”, she has the mindset of committing to whatever she’s doing long term without ever thinking of quitting. At 25 years of age, she’s the youngest Crossfit box owner, kickass Crossfitter: within 2 years of doing CrossFit she’s won the scaled women’s division in Battle of Royale Asia in 2017 and her team was ranked No. 1 in Singapore for the mixed pairs division of the CrossFit team series.  She coaches early mornings and late evenings while maintaining a day job as an analyst in a bank.  On her days off, which many of us would wonder when that is…she mentors a group of teenagers at Church. While Crossfit and fitness is a big part of her life. She has many more facets to her.

Pursuing Success

Cass has often said that “nobody would listen to those who are unsuccessful”.  In the interview, she explains success not as monetary gains but by inspiring others and getting a sense of satisfaction from doing the best that she can.

Cass said: “It’s not about gaining perfection. When I pursue success, I want someone to say, hey, I can take something from that or achieve that.”

Time Management

Time management is one of the most important thing to master while juggling so many aspects of life. Cass looks at it from the perspective of what she can control and can’t. Knowing that working in a corporate environment could mean leaving work at uncertain hours, she starts her day off with exercise before work takes over, any other time after that means she could fit in other passions.

During her commute, she takes time to reflect on her projects and areas of improvement as well as consciously scheduling in time during the day for quiet reflection.

Crossfit

Owning a box and coaching means Cass gets to meet with people from all walks of life. When someone walks into the box, regardless of what they do and where they are from, they are treated the same as everyone else. Grinding out the workout, team and community spirit is the common ground and creates bonding.

Cass’ mum was reluctant to go to the box, to get around that, she scheduled one-on-one session before the box opening hours. Her mother saw the difference it made in her health which translated to her dad and sister joining as well. Taking the time to create comfortable environment for her mother resulted in getting her entirely family fit.

Trying Fitness for First-Timers

For those looking to start fitness and might not have the support group. These are baby steps to get started:

  • Take up the National Steps Challenge (in Singapore)
  • Get out of the house, walk around the mall, garden etc
  • Schedule one-on-one sessions with a trainer

Leadership

  • Commit to a cause long term without ever thinking about “quitting”.
  • Having passion for the cause.
  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • Be a good listener.
  • Be empathetic.

Owning a Business

  • Finding a good partner with the same values.
  • Be open minded to each other’s ideas.
  • Communication-if you are unhappy with something, voice it out. In the Asian context and being female, we tend to skirt the issue or hint. It needs to be said directly cause guys just don’t get it. But say it with a positive intention.

Nutrition

I couldn’t leave the interview without touching on nutrition. Cass has experimented with various nutritional types and she’s a living testament to how food affects performance. Prior to her competition at the Battle of Royale Asia, she was paleo based with strict macros. She trained daily and did not feel the after effects of heavy training. Right after the competition, she treated herself to fried chicken and she ached from her training. However, staying on anything strict is difficult and now she’s evolved to a flexible dieting with macros counting. To keep on the course and also keeping it varied, she started meal prep swaps in the box with other members.

Enjoy!!