Roslyn: What put you on this path to fitness and powerlifting?
Fyona: I first stepped into the gym in early 2013 with the sole intention of getting toned. At that time, I did not know much about fitness. Every workout was a slow cardio session on the treadmill and I tried to imitate others by using light dumbbells hoping I would achieve the ‘ideal’ body. Unsurprisingly, the lack of knowledge and direction got me nowhere, which pushed me to read up about these online.
I began challenging myself with heavier weights as I copied the training programs of professional athletes. Gradually, I came to realize that heavy lifting does not make women bulky. In fact, it sculpts one’s body to make it shapely. Apart from pursuing strength gains, I would set fitness goals such as ‘holding a handstand’, ‘doing a side split’ and ‘planking for more than 90 seconds’. These made working out more fun and motivated me to keep going. I still recall the day I finally managed to complete a pull up. It felt like a major milestone!
I was introduced to powerlifting when I met Zul, the vice president of Powerlifting Singapore. He offered me constant guidance and even urged me to compete when I expressed interest in the sport. Taking part in a powerlifting meet is never about winning, rather it is a competition against yourself. It is immensely satisfying to gain strength from week to week, knowing that it is a direct result of one’s hard work. Powerlifting challenges, empowers and humbles me. Powerlifting is more than just a sport -- it has given my life a whole new purpose.
Who is your greatest inspiration? What kept you motivated?
F: My greatest fitspiration is Lenna Carr, a natural pro figure athlete and powerlifter. It is uncommon for an athlete to excel in both sports since it requires a balance between strength and aesthetics training. She shares workout advice and fitness tips through Instagram and I appreciate her constructive posts. She also reveals her struggles about feeling confident during her off-season physique, which is an issue I can relate to.
I also draw inspiration from the people around me, especially my boyfriend who has always supported me, cheered me up and encouraged me throughout my fitness journey. He has influenced me to adopt a balanced approach towards fitness.
What are some challenges you face in your personal life, and how do you overcome them?
F: Since I peaked for a physique competition (Nutrigirl 2015), I struggled with accepting my off-season physique. I had the tendency to compare myself with the way I looked during the prep. There were days when I woke up feeling ‘fat’ and miserable because I missed my leanness and abs definition. Thankfully, through the loving support of those around me, I have been able to get over this obsessive dieting behavior and feel comfortable in my own skin. I constantly remind myself of the sacrifices needed to attain a competition-ready body. Whenever I wonder if it is worth it, I realised that I would rather loosen my belt a little to enjoy delicious meals with my friends and family. Happiness is not just about living for yourself, but also for those who matter to you.
What would you say is your attitude towards food?
F: I track my macros and follow a strict diet plan whenever I prepare for a powerlifting meet or show. During off-season, I eat intuitively without counting my macros strictly. Still, this requires making wise food choices, selecting healthy snacks and junking moderately.
Although I am generally flexible with fats and carbs intake, I do make a conscious effort to eat sufficient protein everyday (at least 120g) to prevent the loss of muscles and strength gains.
Lastly, it is perfectly fine to indulge in sugary food but instead of consuming huge quantities in one sitting, try to spread the calorie load throughout the day. I find more joy and less guilt whenever I share desserts and snacks with my friends.
What advice would you give to girls today who look up to you as their inspiration?
F: There are infinite ways to keep fit. Powerlifting was just one out of the many sports I chose. The type of activity or exercise you choose to pursue does not matter as long as you enjoy the process. Similarly, there are multiple ways to diet. There is no one best approach - you need to find one that fits your body type and lifestyle.
Blindly chasing fitness goals might compromise your health and well-being. Sometimes, you need to take a step back and take it easy.
When life gets tough, remember that there will always be someone else who is going through a tougher time, so be grateful.
Lastly, never forget that the best fitness routine may not be one that yields the most results in the shortest time, but is one that is sustainable. #sustainablefitness