The media has molded us into a society who is obsessed with achieving the "perfect" body. This can lead us to form impractical perceptions about our bodies and even leads us to form a negative image about ourselves - and sometimes even others around us. These perceptions we form most times aren't true. Freda Liu guides us in dispelling these negative body image myths and to not let the sh*t we say hinder us from achieving a healthy lifestyle.
You might be familiar with Freda’s voice on national radio, or seen her moderate or emcee an event near you. We speak to her to get her take on what living a fit & healthy lifestyle means, and her passionate message on healthy living
How did you get started on your fitness journey?
It took a heartache to get me started. I remembered it clearly. It was October 2009 when I had a major personal challenge. I allowed myself three months to get depressed and sought relief firstly with God. I vowed to be better from the experience, not bitter. And then in January 2010, I signed up for Bootcamp to make new friends and really, we can either go drinking to drown our sorrows OR exercise to release some endorphins. I am glad I chose the latter!
I still go to bootcamp on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I go to the gym. On Saturdays, I like to go to hiking in Gasing Hill and on Sundays, I go for a short run. Nothing takes more than an hour. Sometimes, I go swimming on Saturday or Sunday afternoons. I can’t believe I would actually say I enjoy exercise. This was not the case in 2009.
What are the most important things you want to get out of being fit?
Having the energy. I am a lot more productive and alert in the morning. It gives me clarity in doing my work. It makes me happy and puts a spring in my step.
What are the biggest lessons fitness has taught you?
I have learned a lot more about my body type (Endomorph, Ectomorph or Mesomorph). I have learned to look beyond weight and that our BMI is not the only indication. If for example, you are very muscular, you could be above the BMI because muscles are three times heavier than fat. I look at my skeletal mass vs body fat percentages. Actually, the first thing you should look at is visceral fat. That’s the dangerous fat clogging your organs which is actually not visible externally. What gets measured can be improved. So, know your body composition and body type. We all don’t come from the same mould
ADOPT A POSITIVE BODY IMAGE. I once heard someone who was physically underweight, say this around their teenage kids AND I was mortified. Young girls and even boys have severe body image issues and insecurities, and they take their cue from those they look up to.The world is challenging enough with social media portraying these images which have been photoshopped. if you have daughters, what message are you giving them on weight and size. If you have sons, how do you think they will view women? Your words have the power to kill or encourage.
DON'T BELIEVE THE WEIGHING SCALE. Your ultimate goal of exercising should be to be healthier and fitter you. Not a smaller, skinnier version. Weight is a good motivator but sometimes not the right metric to track your progress. Bear in mind that as you exercise more and build up more muscle, your weight might increase. Muscle is heavier than fat. Just recently, my weight went up a little but I was also really pleased that my muscle has gone up and subcutaneous fat has reduced. If i had only looked at weight, I would be depressed and very misinformed.
A LITTLE MUSCLE NEVER HURT NOBODY.There is nothing wrong with putting on some extra muscle. Do you know you will need muscles the older you get? Muscle ageing may start at a relatively young age. By the time you’re in your 30s, age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia) may already have begun if you’ve neglected to take proactive steps to prevent it. Your muscles help keep your metabolic system intact, and maintaining muscles mass helps protect you against metabolic and hormonal decline, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. With appropriate diet and exercise, especially strength training, you can avoid and even reverse age-related muscle loss. Otherwise you can lose up to 3kgs of muscle per decade. (click for source article). It is important to first understand your body type. Besides, most women don't “bulk up” as easily as we men.
SKINNY DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN HEALTHY. Genes do play a small role in disposition to get certain diseases e.g. obesity, diabetes, heart disease. There is also a lot to do with how much fat you put on in your formative years as your body gets ‘used to’ a certain amount of fat reserves and cells required. (click for source article). You are also undermining the effort other people put into maintaining a healthy diet and their exercise regime. Again, what is our view of beauty? Skinny does not necessarily mean healthy. Some of us are not meant to have that thigh gap but it doesn't matter, because health should be the goal!
IT'S NOT JUST EXERCISE, A GOOD DIET IS KEY AS WELL.Give me a breakdown of everything you eat for 30 days and I’ll be able to tell you why. If your goal is to lose weight, at least 50% of your effort should be put into changing the way you eat, and your relationship with food. I had a massive challenge with this and this is quite a challenge in Malaysia but yes, it can be done. One friend of mine decided to eat 40% of what he used to eat so he didn’t really change the type of food. It had to take a heart attack to pay close attention to what he was eating. When I eat slowly, I realized i get fuller faster. And if I had a heavy lunch, I would eat less during dinner. Check and balance, yes?
ash be nimble is an online journal that focuses on sharing real and relatable fitness stories of everyday Malaysians! We are your one stop guide to everything sports, fitness & health. If you have an inspiring story to share? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org