Singapore #Fitspo of the Week Vanessa Oh: 'I was sick and tired of living an unsustainable lifestyle and job'

Be inspired by the success stories of fitness influencers, celebrities, models, trainers and everyday movers in Singapore

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week Vanessa Oh is the founder of Charge SG fitness company.
Singapore #Fitspo of the Week Vanessa Oh is the founder of Charge SG fitness company. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

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: Vanessa Oh (@ruininggv)

Age: 30

Height: 1.70m

Weight: 58kg

Occupation: Founder of Charge SG, personal trainer and sports nutritionist

Status: Single and a happy mother of one.

Food: I maintain a high protein, moderate fat, low carb diet, with 90 per cent whole foods. The remaining 10 per cent of the diet goes to the occasional binge with my family and friends. I’m also known as a “no fried stuff, zero sugar, less salt” person.

I intermittent fast every day between 13 to 18 hours, depending on the day and situation. It helps me reduce inflammation in my body, and I also feel less bloated and have improved alertness and cognitive function. I only eat at least 45 minutes after waking and my caffeine intake is slightly delayed in the morning. I also stop eating at least three hours before bed.

Exercise: I try to do something every day as much as I can, even if it means working out at 5.30am in the morning before a full day of work or mummy duties. I set my goal and my mindset the night before bed and it’s good for me. When the alarm goes off, it’s “1, 2, 3, jump outta bed” and “Just keep it going, I’ve got this”. Discipline is one thing, but only when you dare to go out of your comfort zone, only then you will get to know yourself a little better and improve. Be responsible for your own body and mind.

My fitness schedule in week involves six days of exercise with EMS training, cardio, resistance and strength training, and bodybuilding.

Vanessa was active in sports like track and field, volleyball and windsurfing in her younger days.
Vanessa was active in sports like track and field, volleyball and windsurfing in her younger days. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Q: Were you active in sports when you were younger?

A: My first ever CCA (co-curricular activity) was track and field in primary school. Lucky me, I often placed first or second in school events and competitions. I carried the sport through till I was in secondary school. I even did my first duathlon and placed fifth in Singapore for my age group that time. I was also in the school volleyball team.

I also got into windsurfing for a couple of years, and even tried out for the national youth team, but as I grew into a lady, I became focused on… well, other stuff like looking good and partying. Thus, I decided to drop the sport because I was getting so tanned. I bet if there was a picture right now, I wouldn’t be able to recognise myself.

What was your life like before you started Charge?

Sometimes life doesn’t always turn out to be how you want it to be. But I would definitely say for sure, I led a very interesting and exciting life till my late 20s. Regrets? No. It’s not about how old you are that makes you mature or wiser, it’s about what you’ve been through and your experiences in life.

I’m not saying that everyone should go through rough times or do stupid things just to get to the other side. I just strongly believe that things always happen for a reason.

What led you to take fitness seriously and start Charge?

Charge means a lot to me. Apart from helping others, I now have the privilege to lead an active lifestyle and set a good example to my daughter who is my world. From being in the night industry for many years to now leading a lifestyle of health and fitness, no one believed me – that I would be able to take this step out and stay committed. Not even my family.

In fact, I didn’t have any support at all since I was young. I didn’t get to live with my parents at all since I was a baby. Through my experiences, I learnt how to get myself out of bad situations and instead, proved to myself that I can make it by myself.

Vanessa Oh founded Charge to move away from an unsustainable lifestyle and job.
Vanessa Oh founded Charge to move away from an unsustainable lifestyle and job. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Why I decided to make this change – I was sick and tired of living an unsustainable lifestyle and job. Though it was fun and it paid a lot more, I knew I had to turn things around. I knew that I was set for something bigger and if I worked hard and smart, I don’t think that I’ll disappoint.

I guess my overconfidence also helped me to gain courage to take that brave step out, to quit the night industry. The toughest part was the transition, where I had to work double jobs (one in the day in an art gallery and another at night) and study at the same time while being a mum. It was almost like I had split personalities at that time.

After I got my certifications, I continued to work as a part-time personal trainer to gain experience – which made it three jobs in total! Well, I did it for myself and my daughter, and I survived. Anyone determined can do it.

You became a single mum at the age of 22.

Being a single mum or not, I think it’s really almost the same. I don’t think women should be underestimated, especially with finances and creating a safe, healthy environment to call home. I had a really bad, abusive marriage that lasted for a couple of years. These incidents hurt me but didn’t stop me. I had to be strong. Trust me, you will find courage in whatever you do, especially when you’re in situations where it’s life or death and where loved ones are concerned. You just have to keep pushing on. Never give up.

To me, it’s all in the past now. I’ve moved on and I’m glad that I also have a close-knit family, which helps a lot. My daughter and I are both very open about things in our family and I’m glad she understands. I’m glad she found a sport, gymnastics, that she likes too.

Out of all of my life experiences, I’ve gained a lot of takeaways that made me a stronger person. I was able to apply this into life, motherhood and into my personal sporting pursuits too. For example, I took part in the half-marathon distance at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2022. It was a chance to train and prove to myself that if I was consistent and committed, and I worked hard and smart, I would definitely make the goal time that I had set for myself for the race.

I wouldn’t have dared to open Charge if I didn’t make time. It was almost like I needed validation from myself, so that I was sure that I could do this. My goal time was 2 hours 25 minutes for the half-marathon and I eventually finished it in 2 hours 7 minutes. Happy that I did it! Like I always say, you’ll never know what you can achieve until you step out of your comfort zone.

Vanessa took part in the half-marathon at the StanChart Singapore Marathon in 2022.
Vanessa took part in the half-marathon at the StanChart Singapore Marathon in 2022. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

When you were younger, did you experience any incidents that made you feel insecure about yourself?

When I was younger, I always felt insecure about how I looked to others. Was I slim enough? Did I fit into society? I often cared about what others thought of me. I had people telling me in my face that I was too fat, that if I lost some weight in my thighs I would look better. They asked if I got Botox or face lifts (this I did, no denying there).

I strongly feel that somehow or rather, as humans we sub-consciously compare ourselves to others and that’s not a good thing. Because what I’ve learnt now is that I gotta be happy with who I am, how I look and how my body feels. Of course when you lead a responsibly healthy lifestyle and be good to yourself, everything else falls into place naturally.

When did you feel the least confident about yourself?

It was after I quit windsurfing that I gained a lot of weight. I stopped exercising completely. I was drinking a lot and staying up late all week and had huge suppers almost daily. It was a complete disaster to my health. I then struggled to keep the weight off till I decided to take on exercising again. This was the only time other than my pregnancy that I gained a lot of weight.

Speaking of that, I gained 24kg during my pregnancy. And I can tell you, for sure I understand how hard it is to take the first step out and make things right for yourself and your family. Nothing is impossible. I suffered from body dysmorphia and eating disorders, I often had anxieties when I was losing weight the wrong way. I was exercising at one point, doing some bodybuilding and running most of the time, but the more people told me I wasn’t perfect and the more I looked in the mirror, the more I hated myself.

I tried kinds of diets and weight loss pills, went running at midnight after drinking. It got to a point where I was even afraid to even eat a banana. I eventually got to a body type where everyone would praise me, but deep inside I know that it was a problem and was unsustainable.

Today, I’m thankful that the knowledge, experience and angels in my life allowed me to become who I am today. My team and I strive to help and inspire others to be greater than who they are today. Healthy living is a privilege. If you have a choice, you should know what to do.

Are you satisfied with your body now?

I have a healthy body! But of course to me, there’s always room for improvement. I’ve learnt to accept that I cannot always be perfect in all situations and all phases in my life. It is about improving the quality of life and enjoying life. Be consistent in achieving those goals. Be responsible for your own body.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week Vanessa Oh.
Singapore #Fitspo of the Week Vanessa Oh. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)