HEALTHY AND HAPPY

Three in­spir­ing mums share their se­crets to stay­ing fit both dur­ing preg­nancy and af­ter hav­ing kids.

Shape (Singapore) - - Contents -

As a for­mer school gym­nast for 11 years, 38-yearold Yvonne Chee has been ac­tive her whole life. She has al­ways en­joyed sport­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and switched to leisure run­ning when she was older. Yvonne com­pleted her first marathon in 2007 and in 2013, she crossed the fin­ish line of the Antarc­tic Ice Marathon and be­came part of the 7 Con­ti­nents Marathon Club – an elite group of run­ners who’ve ran a marathon on all seven con­ti­nents. Glob­ally, there are only slightly over 200 mem­bers who qual­ify. Her next goal? Con­quer­ing the North Pole Marathon.

Since she’s such an avid run­ner, it seems un­sur­pris­ing that Yvonne has al­ready com­pleted 17 marathons to date. Her last marathon in March 2017 saw her rep­re­sent­ing Sin­ga­pore at the New Taipei City Wan Jin Shi Marathon where she fin­ished with a per­sonal best tim­ing of 3hr 23min. What she didn’t ex­pect though, was that she was al­ready six weeks preg­nant with her sec­ond child at the time. “Had I known, I def­i­nitely wouldn’t have done a full marathon when I was still in my first trimester,” says Yvonne. Thank­fully, her preg­nancy went by smoothly and her sec­ond daugh­ter Eva was born in Novem­ber 2017.

Preg­nancy tends to be a time when many women scale back their work­outs, pre­fer­ring to err on the side of cau­tion and take things easy. But stay­ing ac­tive also has its ben­e­fits. Through­out her sec­ond preg­nancy last year, Yvonne kept fit by ex­er­cis­ing daily. She took part in eight races – of up to 10km each – while she was ex­pect­ing, and even fin­ished in first place dur­ing a 10km race she did when she was 20 weeks preg­nant. “I ran un­til I was in my sev­enth month of preg­nancy. In the last two months of my preg­nancy, I switched to work­ing out on stair climbers and el­lip­ti­cal ma­chines at the ad­vice of my gy­nae­col­o­gist as it be­came in­creas­ingly un­com­fort­able to run when my baby got heav­ier,” says Yvonne.

To keep up with her fitness regime, Yvonne also had to ad­just to car­ry­ing more weight around while run­ning, and to learn to over­come the fa­tigue she faced dur­ing her first and third trimesters. “In order to cope, I adapted a flex­i­ble ap­proach for my train­ing. I didn’t have a tar­get pace or heart rate to hit and I con­tin­ued run­ning at a com­fort­able pace.” Af­ter all, a healthy mama means a healthy baby, and work­ing out dur­ing her preg­nancy was a way for Yvonne to feel good about her­self in spite of the phys­i­cal changes her body was go­ing through.

“Ul­ti­mately, it’s im­por­tant to lis­ten to both your doc­tor and your body. If you’re go­ing through a nor­mal preg­nancy with no com­pli­ca­tions, I’d ad­vise ex­pect­ing mums to keep do­ing what they’ve been do­ing be­fore they got preg­nant – be it yoga, pi­lates, spin­ning or run­ning – but to tweak the in­ten­sity and du­ra­tion of the work­outs ac­cord­ingly,” she says.

Th­ese days, as a mum to two young daugh­ters, Yvonne only av­er­ages about five hours of in­ter­rupted sleep each night be­fore she gets up at around 5am to run. Ev­ery work­out is time away from her kids so she tries to sneak in her runs be­fore they wake up. Though only four months post-par­tum at the time of the shoot, she runs daily for at least 50 min­utes each time as she’s train­ing for the Lon­don Marathon in April.

But don’t be fooled into think­ing it’s easy. When asked if there are days she wakes up and doesn’t feel like run­ning, Yvonne will tell you point blank: “Ev­ery day! But I push my­self to do it know­ing I’ll feel bet­ter af­ter a run. Work­ing out is as im­por­tant as eat­ing and sleep­ing so if you make ex­er­cis­ing a pri­or­ity, it will hap­pen.”

I work out be­cause… I want to stay healthy and be­cause I en­joy the post-work­out en­dor­phin rush.

To me, be­ing a good mum means… lov­ing my chil­dren for who they are and pro­vid­ing them with a safe and nur­tur­ing en­vi­ron­ment to grow up in.

The thing I love most about be­ing a mum is… wak­ing up to my girls, watch­ing them smile and grow up and finally un­der­stand­ing what true and un­con­di­tional love is.

My chil­dren make me… a happy and con­tented per­son.

My big­gest time-sav­ing tip is… to ex­er­cise dur­ing lunchtime at work.

If I only have five min­utes to work out, I will… pick up a skip­ping rope and skip.

When other mums tell me they don’t have time to work out, I say… it’s about pri­ori­tis­ing.

My motto as a mum is… to try my best. I won’t know ev­ery­thing and may fail at times but at least I’ve tried and will learn from my mis­takes.

She fin­ished a marathon with a per­sonal best tim­ing de­spite be­ing six weeks preg­nant

It’s hard to imag­ine life with­out ex­er­cise when you are Dawn Sim. The 39-year-old yoga and pi­lates in­struc­tor, and founder of Trium Fitness, has been ac­tive ev­ery day for as long as she can re­mem­ber.

From the ten­der age of six, she took part in swim­ming com­pe­ti­tions, com­peted in track and field, and went on to race in triathlons and marathons. As such, her weekly fitness rou­tine com­prised run­ning, swim­ming, yoga, pi­lates and re­sis­tance train­ing at the gym. “I don’t take days off where I do noth­ing. I’m an ad­vo­cate for daily ex­er­cise. Move­ment is ther­apy,” she says.

Even when kids came – four, to be ex­act, Dawn kept work­ing out by mak­ing smart mod­i­fi­ca­tions. “Dur­ing my preg­nan­cies, I did power walk­ing in­stead of run­ning, and swam two or three times a week to main­tain my stamina. I con­tin­ued to prac­tise yoga and pi­lates daily as that helped with nausea and im­proved my mood and en­ergy lev­els. I also did re­sis­tance train­ing dur­ing my sec­ond, third and fourth preg­nan­cies.”

Ac­cord­ing to Dawn, ex­er­cis­ing helped her avoid back pain, pelvic floor weak­en­ing and uri­nary in­con­ti­nence, which are com­mon com­plaints among new mums. Work­ing out dur­ing preg­nancy also let her main­tain the strength she needed to manage her kids and house­hold chores with­out help.

Of course, she has had a fair share of ob­sta­cles.

Dur­ing her third preg­nancy, Dawn had am­ni­otic fluid leak­age, which meant that her baby was at risk of a pre­ma­ture birth. And in her fourth preg­nancy, she suf­fered from ex­cru­ci­at­ing pelvic pain that made it dif­fi­cult to get in and out of bed. “Through­out th­ese chal­lenges, I scaled down or mod­i­fied my move­ments so I could still get some ex­er­cise in. The key thing is to know how to safely mod­ify the moves to avoid putting my­self and baby at risk,” says Dawn, who got cer­ti­fied in pre- and post-na­tal yoga train­ing as well as ac­tive birthing af­ter hav­ing her sec­ond child.

As if work­ing out dur­ing preg­nancy wasn’t chal­leng­ing enough, main­tain­ing a fitness rou­tine af­ter hav­ing kids proved to be trick­ier.

In her first few years of moth­er­hood, she lived in France and the US, as her hus­band, a Lieu­tenant-Colonel with the Repub­lic of Sin­ga­pore Air Force, was posted to those coun­tries for work. “I didn’t have any­one to help me watch my kids, so I had to be creative in order to fit in my post­na­tal work­outs, house­work, send­ing my older kids to school and back, and teach­ing yoga to the com­mu­nity where we lived,” Dawn re­calls.

That meant hav­ing to in­volve her then­ba­bies in her work­outs, ei­ther hav­ing them on the mat or car­ry­ing them in the car­rier. Dawn would also sneak in quick train­ing ses­sions when they napped. When­ever she ran, cy­cled or hit the gym, she would take her kids along.

Now that Dawn is back in Sin­ga­pore for good, the par­ent­ing load is shared with her helper and re­tired par­ents.

As you can imag­ine, Dawn’s sporty lifestyle has rubbed off on her daugh­ters, aged 12, 10, six and two. The girls are of­ten fea­tured in her In­sta­gram (@that­mo­mof­four) posts, im­i­tat­ing her move­ments or strik­ing sim­i­lar yoga poses.

Though the fam­ily reg­u­larly does a host of ac­tiv­i­ties to­gether – such as yoga, ae­rial yoga, swim­ming, skat­ing and hik­ing – Dawn has no ex­pec­ta­tions for her chil­dren to em­u­late her. She says: “I only want for them to be healthy and happy in­di­vid­u­als who en­joy be­ing ac­tive. See­ing how they re­spect and care for one an­other and oth­ers is what brings me the great­est joy. If they de­cide to pur­sue sports that they’re pas­sion­ate about, I’m fully sup­port­ive.”

Cur­rently, her old­est girl Nyx, 12, bowls com­pet­i­tively, while sec­ond child Nya, 10, does gym­nas­tics in school.

I work out be­cause… it im­proves the qual­ity of my life and sets a great ex­am­ple for my chil­dren and those around me.

To me, be­ing a good mum means… be­ing able to carry out my du­ties and prom­ises to my chil­dren, and in­spir­ing them to be amaz­ing in­di­vid­u­als. The im­pact is not there when you’re telling them to ex­er­cise and eat well, and you’re do­ing oth­er­wise.

The thing I love most about be­ing a mum is… know­ing that no one can ever take my place in my chil­dren’s hearts, and hear­ing them tell me “I love you mummy”.

My chil­dren make me… al­ways want to be the best that I can be.

My big­gest time-sav­ing tip is… online gro­cery shop­ping! I dread wait­ing in line for any­thing.

If I only have five min­utes to work out, I will… do sun sa­lu­ta­tions!

When other mums tell me they don’t have time to work out, I say… make time.

To me, work­ing out is as im­por­tant as... brush­ing your teeth.

My motto as a mum is… There is no way to be a per­fect mother, but a mil­lion ways to be a good one.

When Natalie Dau turned 46 years old ear­lier this year, she kicked off her birth­day cel­e­bra­tions by com­pet­ing in a friendly burpee chal­lenge with her hus­band and their nine-year-old daugh­ter, Lil­ianna. It’s clear that Natalie doesn’t run a typ­i­cal house­hold – and she isn’t your typ­i­cal mum ei­ther. She is also an ath­lete, per­sonal trainer, and en­trepreneur – she runs her own fitness web­site called The Daily Es­cape.

Yes, she lit­er­ally lives and breathes all things fitness, but this hasn’t al­ways been so. Natalie was pre­vi­ously work­ing in the cor­po­rate world where fre­quent busi­ness trips and late-night con­fer­ence calls were the norm. She made a ca­reer change in 2013 as she was look­ing for a new chal­lenge, and the rest, as they say, is his­tory.

Most no­tably, she’s be­come a for­mi­da­ble com­peti­tor in ob­sta­cle course races. In 2015, she was talked into try­ing out the first Sin­ga­pore Spar­tan Race by the CEO of Spar­tan Race Aus­tralia. “I had no idea what I was in for,” she says.

Af­ter the first race, she was hooked and has since gone on to com­pete in th­ese events on a global level. Her big­gest fitness achieve­ment to date is fin­ish­ing first from Asia in the men’s and women’s cat­e­gory of the Spar­tan World Cham­pi­onships in the USA last year.

To­day, Natalie is also an am­bas­sador for gyms like Tripl­e­fit and brands like Ree­bok. She works out for at least 45 min­utes ev­ery day, do­ing Cross­fit, road run­ning, track and/or gym ses­sions.

You may think that jug­gling all th­ese com­mit­ments will leave her no time to be a mother, but she has al­ways made it a point to be present for Lil­ianna. In fact, Natalie has played a key role in de­vel­op­ing her daugh­ter’s ac­tive lifest­lye.

“As part of my time man­age­ment, I try and get a lot of my ex­er­cise in when she is at school or be­fore she wakes up, and then I am free to watch her par­tic­i­pate in her own sports,” says Natalie.

As such, Lil­ianna started swim­ming since she was six months old and was do­ing mini tennis and dance by the time she was two.

Now, Lil­ianna does Brazil­ian jiu-jitsu, basketball, swim­ming and athletics. It has al­ways been Natalie’s in­ten­tion to ex­pose Lil­ianna to var­i­ous ba­sic sports – the ones that will lay the foun­da­tion for her to do any­thing, she says.

Sounds over­whelm­ing? Not for Lil­ianna. Even on Mon­days, her only free day of the week, she chooses to do some phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties.

“On Mon­days, I re­lax, watch TV and some­times go for a swim or down­stairs to skate­board,” says Lil­ianna. “I want to be like mummy.”

Grow­ing up in a house­hold where fitness runs in the blood, and see­ing her mother head out to run or hit the gym is noth­ing un­usual to Lil­ianna. That’s why eat­ing healthy and ex­er­cis­ing has be­come part of her lifestyle, says Natalie.

Un­der Natalie’s guid­ance, Lil­ianna has learned to make healthy food and lifestyle chioices on her own. She has only ever eaten at McDon­ald’s once in her life and she ab­so­lutely doesn’t mind that. In­stead, she starts ev­ery morn­ing with a smoothie and reg­u­larly packs sal­ads to school.

And when it comes to spend­ing qual­ity time as a fam­ily, work­ing out to­gether trumps other ac­tiv­i­ties. They go for runs and Natalie brings Lil­ianna along for her athletics train­ing twice a week and boot­camp work­out once a week.

I work out be­cause... it makes me a nicer per­son.

To me, be­ing a good mum means... lead­ing by ex­am­ple, em­pow­er­ing my daugh­ter to be strong, and in­spir­ing her to be the best that she can be.

My daugh­ter in­spires me to... try new things and be a bet­ter hu­man.

My big­gest time-sav­ing tip is... al­ways be pre­pared for the next day. I go to bed with my clothes planned ready, food or­gan­ised and bag packed so I can hit the ground run­ning. Lit­er­ally! The in­vest­ment in tak­ing those 10 min­utes at night to do so pays div­i­dends the next morn­ing.

If I only have five min­utes to work out, I will... do push-ups, air squats, situps, dips and burpees for 50 sec­onds each, tak­ing 10 sec­onds of rest af­ter each ex­er­cise.

When other mums tell me they don’t have time to work out, I say... you need to make time as no one else is go­ing to do it for you.

To me, work­ing out is as im­por­tant as... eat­ing.

My motto as a mum is... don’t sweat the small stuff as no one is per­fect. We are all do­ing the best we can.

ON YVONNE Jacket, $49, shorts, $39, and run­ning shoes, $199, from New Bal­ance. Cot­ton top, $29, from H&M. ON LEA Top, $24.99, and skirt, $29.90, from Cot­ton On Kids. San­dals, $24.95, from H&M. ON EVA Top, $16.99, from Cot­ton On Kids. Dress, $39.95, from Seed Her­itage.

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