“My ‘thick’ thighs can do squats, marathons and are a comfortable seat for my baby; I’m grateful’

Magan Ho is a senior dietician. (PHOTOS: Cheryl Tay)

Life goes beyond the numbers on the scale and your body is capable of so much more! Yahoo’s #Fitspo of the Week series is dedicated to inspired Singaporean men and women who lead active, healthy lifestyles. Do you have someone to recommend? Hit Cheryl on Instagram OR Facebook!

First name: Magan Ho (@saturdaybaby)

Age: 35

Height: 1.52m

Weight: 49kg

Occupation: Senior dietitian

State: Married

Food: Anything (except innards), although I try to get as much fiber as possible. I’m trying to minimize my alcohol consumption now because it really does nothing for you. They are a great snack though; I can munch nonstop after dinner until bedtime, so I try to reach for low-calorie foods like popcorn, spicy seaweed, and frozen fruit like blueberries. I started this frozen fruit habit a few years ago when I started running long distances, mostly to help with recovery, but I’ve continued to eat them even when I’m not preparing for any races because it has a sherbet-like texture, which is so nice and refreshing in this weather.

Exercise: I used to do one HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout and one rock climb and two runs in a week, or take up to eight yoga classes, but after having a kid, I’ve reduced myself to being a weekend warrior, so now it’s mostly one middle-distance run on Saturday and two back-to-back yoga classes on Sunday. When I’m preparing for a running event, my focus shifts to running a bit more, so that would be long-distance running and yoga on the weekends, and might include a short run on weekdays after work.

Magan did netball, sailing and dragon boating in his school days.

Magan did netball, sailing and dragon boating in his school days. (PHOTOS: Cheryl Tay)

Q: When you were younger, did you play sports?

A: I started out with netball in high school, sailing in college, then dragonboating when I was at the National University of Singapore. I also dabbled in climbing for a year or two before leaving to do my Masters in Melbourne. Since I was a broke student, my boyfriend at the time (now husband) very generously sponsored my gym membership, so I started into strength training, which evolved into powerlifting when I returned to Singapore after completing my studies.

We both engaged for a while and even competed in a few fights. I’m especially proud of a random online competition where I did 21 pull-ups to win a box of protein powder, haha! I also took an aerial silk class to support a friend who has set up a studio. It was really fun for me because I had the strength to go in and out of the poses.

What did you get into when you grew up?

Nowadays, I’m prioritizing the longevity of the sport, with minimal injury as a goal here, so now I’m mostly doing running and yoga. I started by doing half marathons, then full marathons. I just completed my 7th full marathon in May of this year and am looking to get more under my belt. My personal best (PB) is 4 hours 33 minutes, but that was done overseas in cooler conditions, so I’m still trying to see if I can replicate those results here locally. My PB isn’t anything great (in fact, I once watched qualifying times for the Boston Marathon for fun and only made a very narrow cut for the 75-year-old female category) but I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself or it will take away all the fun.

How did you settle into this yoga and running routine?

Cornered, actually. The weekday evenings are pretty much gone because I’m usually the one doing the whole pick up and night time routine with our two year old so I only have the weekends left. I wish I was disciplined enough to be the kind of guy who goes out for a run at 10pm after putting the kid to bed, cooking dinner, and doing the dishes, but hey, proper rest and recovery is an integral part of any decent workout plan, right?

Magan exercises to keep herself strong and fit to raise her son.

Magan exercises to keep herself strong and fit to raise her son. (PHOTOS: Cheryl Tay)

How has motherhood changed you?

More toned arms, for sure. Seriously, I used to do a lot of abs exercises because I wanted to see long, skinny lines on my tummy. Now I know it doesn’t work like that. Now when I exercise, I do it with the goal of getting stronger in mind, so I can carry my son when he doesn’t want to walk, and so that back pains at bay for as long as possible. Now I do it for a (hopefully) lower mortality, so I can see my child grow up and still have a good quality of life after retirement.

Also, in my line of work, we see many elderly patients presenting with sarcopenia, frailty, malnutrition, often all three together. At the other end of the spectrum, you see young adults in their 30s experiencing myocardial infarctions and strokes. I’m terrified of being in their shoes, so I try my best to stay out of it.

How do you find the time to maintain an active lifestyle and balance work and parenting?

I see exercise as self-care and it’s a priority for me because I know that if I don’t take care of myself, then who will? You can’t pay someone to exercise for you. It helps me to have a supportive husband, who, more often than not, doesn’t complain about my going on long runs. We will try to arrange our schedules to make our separate fitness regimes work.

For example, I’d go for a 7am run with a friend and finish at 9am, at which time he’d bring the guy to meet me at my finish point. So we’d usually take the kid to a local water playground, have brunch together before he left for his gym class, and I’d take the kid home to have some more mother-son time before putting him down for his nap. I’m quite proud of the way we run our schedules because it allows us both to have pockets of me time and yet be able to spend quality time together as a family.

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

Oh sure. I’ve had relatives compare me to my sister (who looks drastically different from me, she’s slimmer and blonder) and ask me if I’ve gained weight when we meet on Chinese New Year, that sort of thing. Now that I’m older, those kinds of comments would just be water from a duck, but back then it definitely made me more aware of my looks.

Magan hated the way her legs looked, but has since learned to accept who they are.

Magan hated the way her legs looked, but has since learned to accept who they are. (PHOTOS: Cheryl Tay)

When have you felt least sure of yourself?

Probably during secondary school and junior college. I was carrying more weight then and didn’t really understand the role nutrition and exercise played in weight management, and I had no idea of ​​the different types of workouts you could do. During college, I went for a three month stint to work and travel to the United States and gained 3 lbs.

When I got back, a close friend suggested I join Dragon Boat and I did, and was introduced to a whole new world of pain. That’s when I started taking my training more seriously. We had weekday MacRitchie canoe sessions at 7am before class, weekend water training, and even training you did in your own time. But it all paid off in the end and we won the PM inter-varsity cup that year!

Have you ever struggled with your body?

Decidedly. I hated the look of my legs as they are short and thicker than the average Singaporean girl. I was selling hand painted shoes for a short time and posted a picture of myself wearing them. In the photo, the main focal point was the shoes and the photo was cropped slightly above the ankles but a friend had commented that my legs were chunky. I remember thinking, “How do you say that?”

I felt so exposed. It was just a passing comment, but it made its mark. My weight has also fluctuated quite a bit over the last couple of decades. I went from being a plump teenager to an even plumper college student, then lost weight and maintained it through my post-grad days, then gained it back after I started working, so yeah, I’ve definitely struggled to manage my weight over the years.

Thankfully, I now have a much better understanding of food, nutrition and exercise. Healthy eating isn’t complicated or difficult. You can still have your croissants and cakes, it’s really all about portion and frequency.

Are you satisfied with your body now?

I learned to accept my body and work with it. These thick thighs can do barbell squats and marathons, they get me where I want to go, plus they’re a comfortable seat for my baby, and for that I’m grateful to have a full, healthy body.

Have you ever received comments about your body? If you could change anything about yourself, would you?

Most of the comments I get now are generally positive. I wished I was taller with longer legs, but being short has its perks too. As with deadlifts, the distance I have to pull the weight is shorter than someone taller, and I’m able to touch my toes easily without warming up. Having longer legs will probably make running long distances a little easier, but I wouldn’t be able to shop in the kids section, so even if I keep going back and forth, no I wouldn’t change a thing.

Singapore #Fitspo of the week: Magan Ho.

Singapore #Fitspo of the week: Magan Ho. (PHOTOS: Cheryl Tay)

#thick #thighs #squats #marathons #comfortable #seat #baby #grateful
Image Source : sg.news.yahoo.com

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