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: Marie Flores (@yo_gimarie)
Occupation: Web designer/marketing
Diet: This September my husband and I are turning one year of being 90-95 per cent vegetarian, not because we wanted to lose weight, but because of the Amazon fire last year. I read about it and a lot of environmentalists were saying that reducing your consumption of meat (especially red meat) would reduce carbon emissions made by the production of meat itself.
I gave it a thought since we did it before for a short period of time way back and decided to just make it a lifestyle. It’s not a huge step, but we started on it by making small changes to help the environment.
Overall, my diet isn’t very strict. I indulge here and there but I try my best to eat moderately, being mindful on what I eat, and eat home-cooked meals.
Training: Before the Circuit Breaker (CB), my typical week would consist of four sessions of yoga, three to four times of swim sessions (each session at that time was about 3-5 kilometres as I was preparing for a race that obviously was cancelled), and two to three times of strength training. I usually work out twice a day. Rest days usually consist of one session of yoga, and sometimes lying down in bed is a good form of rest.
During the CB, however, I had to re-adjust my weekly routine. I’m that person who doesn’t practise yoga or even exercise at home because I need someone or a group of people to motivate me. That being said, I also had to re-adjust my mindset and now loving home workouts.
My weekly routine now consists three to four times of yoga sessions, two to three sessions of handstand training, and I mix at least two sessions of high-intensive interval trainings (HIIT) with or without weights.
Q: Was coming to Singapore what ignited your fitness regime?
A: Yes, Singapore has given me an opportunity to be that “fitness/sports” loving person that I am now. I started with yoga because for my height and age, I was overweight. I hated the way I looked and a friend invited me to try a yoga class, got hooked and then I combined it with gym sessions.
I also started doing dragonboating for a year. I combined it with rock climbing for a good three years. (That’s where I met my husband, by the way.) I transitioned to running, then triathlon. Can you believe I never learnt to cycle and swim properly till I was 26 years old? It’s never too late to learn a skill. I slowly had to let go of cycling because I started to skip my yoga classes due to body soreness all the time.
Since 2018, I focused solely on swimming and tried my luck in open water swimming last year. Loved it! I loved the training and the community is very chill. In every sport I do, I must always combine it with yoga. I believe the mindfulness and breathing I learnt from yoga helps a lot with my long-distance open water swims and long hours in the pool. Yoga for me is not just a fitness routine, it’s a lifestyle.
When and how did you start practising yoga?
I started around 2013, just for the sake of losing weight. I got hooked and got very serious around 2014. I was so passionate in it, I wanted to be a yoga teacher. So, in 2016 I got my certification at The Yoga Mandala and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever done. Yoga taught me to be the best version of myself, having confidence and just embracing who I am and what my body can do.
What made you decide to start teaching yoga?
I overheard this one guy that said it’s just stretching and yoga is for gay guys. I was so furious! I’m so passionate to educate people that yoga is more than just stretching and it has more benefits than any other workouts.
Open water swimming can be dangerous and scary! What do you like about it?
To be honest, I’m still afraid of the open sea. I wanted to challenge that fear thus I compete in it. Haha! In my experience, the first 500 metres are usually the hardest. All your fears, anxiety, and anything you think that can go wrong will mess up your head.
When that happens, I go back to my breathing, feeling the water in my face and my body and just keep on swimming. It’s a test of mental strength which I do think I need to train more of. That’s why I keep on doing it. Once you make it to the finish line, it’s an out-of-body experience.
What are some of the memorable open water swimming experiences you have had?
It would be during the time when I was swimming 8km with a very bad tummy ache, yet I still managed to come in second place in my age group category. It literally was mind over matter.
What are your fitness goals now?
A clean, 10-second handstand. It’s hands-down (oh pun!) the hardest skill to learn. It’s a long journey, unique to every individual and another test of mental strength. I’m loving the strength I gained because of it. On top of that, if everything goes well next year, I hope to swim 12 to 16km in the open sea.
When did you feel the least confident about yourself?
I feel the least confident when I start to compare myself with others. But I have to snap out of it immediately and accept that there will be someone who is stronger, leaner, who can swim longer and faster than you. But guess what? They’re not you. It usually brings me back to the confidence I have today.
Are you content with your body now and why?
We all have our days and struggle with body image sometimes. I do think it’s normal but we don’t have to soak ourselves in that kind of bad energy. Every day, I try to aspire to be the best and the happiest version of myself and be contented with it.
Have you ever received any comments about your body?
A lot! I can make a book on that. I was very overweight since I was a kid and you know how kids are in grade school and high school right? Some were really mean and were bullies.
Probably the most memorable comment was when I started doing yoga. Someone said, “Really? It doesn’t look like it.” People who don’t do yoga have this visual image of how yoga bodies should look like. I hate to burst your bubble but there’s no ideal yoga body.
What advice do you have for people who are struggling to love their bodies?
I always hear people around me complaining about their bodies, wishing they have a body like Person A, Celebrity B, etc. and it’s not going to be mentally healthy in the long run if you keep comparing yourself to others.
You will be surprised with your body when you start believing in it. Just do what your body and mind allows to make you happy. If you are too stressed at work, maybe do an after-work activity like yoga or go for a walk. I believe any kind of movement is better than none at all. Lastly, stop thinking of what others think of you and just do “you”.