As any mum will tell you, juggling a career and motherhood is no easy task, and it often means personal health gets sacrificed in favour of the family. Mother of two and Founder of the Social Impact agency Catalysta Joleen Soo, realised that she’d been letting her own wellness slide, and set out to tone up with the help of Flex Studios FLEXtreme Fitness Director Andrea Ramirez. One year on, Andrea quizzes Joleen on her wellness journey so far, and how she stays motivated.
Andrea: You’ve been working with me for over a year and I’m very moved and inspired by your consistency and determination. You rarely miss a session and its obvious working out is a priority. What motivated you to find a personal trainer?
Joleen: Thank you, dearest Andrea! The only way I find it possible to stay on track with exercise is to really, really make it the priority. I have a block of time every day that I rarely allow anything else to encroach. I also do something different every day so I don’t get bored. I love to mix up Flex Power classes with yoga, Xtend Barre and boxing.
Andrea: What inspires you to make the effort to come to my session every week?
Joleen: What really inspired me to start working on my physical fitness was looking in the mirror after two kids. I wasn’t necessarily fat or even carrying a lot of baby weight, but I was so soft. I didn’t have much muscle tone and I constantly had body aches. As I approached my forties, I knew it was time to make strength a lifelong habit.
Andrea: What were your fitness goals when we started? Have you achieved them, and how have your goals changed?
Joleen: I was quite an active person, to begin with, and I’ve always walked if I could, taken the stairs etc. I knew I needed to start moving with exertion. My initial goal was to get into the mindset of dedicated exercise, at least one to two times a week. I did a year of postnatal fitness and when I was confident enough I started trying new classes. That’s when it got really fun. Now, I try my best to do something for my body every day, whether it’s stretching or sweating off all that Mama juice (wine!).
Andrea: You are a busy woman and a mom of two. I’m always blown away by busy moms and busy clients who could have all the reasons and excuses to simply miss a workout. Can you share how you do it to make a workout your priority and how you juggle to make time for yourself on top of everything you do in a day?
Joleen: I put aside a two-hour block for myself every day before lunch. Non-negotiable. I’m also fortunate to work part-time on my own business which of course makes this easier. The rest of the day is for work and family.
Andrea: What’s your favourite part of working out together for the past year and what have you learned about yourself and your body?
Joleen: I love working out with Andrea because it’s never ever the same, and she has a joyful attitude that is so infectious. She makes me happy and those endorphins give me energy. I’ve learnt… you can do it! If you need to, rest for a few seconds then get back u and move. It’s really a case of mind over matter, and your trainer really is not trying to kill you.
Andrea: I’m always curious about this…What do you carry in your workout bag? And do you have any secrets tips for skin care during and after training?
Joleen: I always have a refillable water bottle with me. I’m really glad Flex has a water filter rather than a distilled water dispenser. I never wear any makeup to the gym. I rock the post-workout glow (ie. very red face) and when I’m feeling extra fancy, a T-shirt to change into.
Andrea: What does your nutrition look like? Do you follow any specific diets? What have you found that works for you to stay on track with your fitness goals?
Joleen: I cannot cut carbs, at all. I get lightheaded and dizzy. In fact, before a workout, I eat a very carby breakfast which gives me a satisfying stream of energy. Feeling sluggish and tired before a workout is just discouraging. The rest of the day is when I cut back a bit. Overall I eat a very balanced diet and allow myself all kinds of unprocessed food. I think traditional Chinese home cooking really lends to that. For dinner, we have a small bowl of rice, a big plate of green veg, soup and usually a steamed fish. Very clean eating!
Andrea: What has been the biggest challenge to stay on track and how did you break through that?
Joleen: Every time I go on holiday I slip backwards! Getting back into a routine after R&R is so challenging for me. I’m also quite a greedy girl and love love love good food. I have almost no balance at all when I travel.
Andrea: How do you teach your kids how to be healthy?
Joleen: My husband and I always praise our children when they do something good for their body. It’s important to us that they start feeling joy in taking care of themselves. We explain why certain foods are discouraged and instead suggest a delicious and healthier alternative. Healthy eating is not about deprivation but making sure what you eat serves a good purpose.
Andrea: Do you have any tips for busy moms looking to make time for fitness?
Joleen: I think one of the best ways to kickstart your fitness journey is to join a small group class. It’s so much more fun and group synergy can make all the difference. Also, if you can rope in a buddy to make this journey with you- even better!
Andrea: As a founder of your own business and being an entrepreneur, a big part of your business is attending and participating in events (often with food and wine). How do you find a balance to have everything and not lose track of your workouts and healthy eating?
Joleen: It’s best to say no to as many events as you can. Only attend those where you have a passion for the cause or product, and where your exposure will help you learn something. I also rarely eat at events, canapés are killer!
Andrea: What has been your favourite exercise or moves that we’ve done together that you’ll recommend to anyone?
Joleen: I love the TRX. Specifically chest press cause it works your core, arms and back: all the things that go out of whack lugging kids around. I also love side lunges on the TRX cause we need to work the booty!
Andrea: What would be your biggest tip for someone wanting to start their own fitness transformation?
Joleen: Start slow! Think about what you like and find exercise in that form. Love to dance? Zumba! Hate to jump around? Yoga! Love to grunt? Weight training! Do your research cause there are so many fun options now.
Thanks to Andrea and Joleen for facilitating this interview. For a personal training consultation, contact Andrea at www.flexhk.com, and follow Joleen’s wellness journey on Instagram at @joleenwhodreams.