Gaining Body Confidence Through Dragon Boating

Meet Lim Xiaowei, a Relationship Manager for the SME Banking in DBS, and she loves outdoor activities. The 30-year-old started dragon boating back in her polytechnic days where her friend pulled her in to join, starting her journey with dragon boat racing and she is now the coach of DBS Asia Dragons ladies team as well as a national team paddler. As a self-described “loud person”, her friends and teammates have given her the nickname “loud hailer” and she has also said that she is someone who can’t sit still or not do anything. She started chubby and had to train harder to get the body weight and strength that she wants. Moreover, she suffered a back injury once, where she felt like giving up but with pure discipline and determination, she came out stronger than before. We speak to her to find out more about her love for the sport as well as her journey from being chubby to the confident woman that she is today.


Q: You mentioned that you were once chubby. Did you face any remarks about this and if so, how did it affect the way you saw yourself?

As of what I can remember, I didn’t really face any remarks about me being chubby. Maybe because I was still active in sports or doing outdoor activities and my friends are nice. They wouldn’t want to hurt my feelings even if I were to ask them to let me know if I am overly chubby. In fact, they accept me for who I am, which I am thankful for.

However, on a personal note, it did make me wonder why I didn’t look as fit as my friends who played the same sports, and that made me feel inferior about my bodyweight. Especially when I joined the dragon boat team back when I was in polytechnic, when we needed to do pull-ups as part of our training and my teammates needed to support my weight to push me up. That made me feel very embarrassed, upset and demoralised because I needed at least 3 of them to help me. Thankfully, none of them complained and instead, they encouraged me and always reminded me that it was ok as we were a team – we train together and we improve together.

Q: Why do you say that it’s more difficult for you to attain toned and defined arms, legs and body compared to your teammates?

I guess, partly would be my body type, which requires more work than others to obtain that definition. However, diet plays a part as well. I wouldn’t say that I eat very clean nor am I a very unhealthy person. It is just that my body needs a longer time to achieve that tone and definition.

Q: Besides working and training harder, are there any tips (diet/exercise) for others who face similar issues?

You can start with your diet – try to consume less processed food, less oily or deep fried food; preferably try to prep your own meals with the right portion of carbs, vegetables and proteins. Do some weight training to help tone the body parts and not to forget cardio exercises that will also help achieve it.


Q: What is it about dragon boating that you enjoy?

The process of going through the tough training with my teammates and the adrenaline rush when I get to compete alongside strong competitors. The happiness of crossing the finishing line, knowing that we have given our best and creating history – something that we never knew that we could, and looking at my teammates smiling to each other, knowing that we did it together.

Q: What sort of exercises do you do for training?

A mix of endurance, strength, cardio, bodyweight workouts which consist of weights training such as planking, bench press/pull, shoulder press, deadlift, squats, bicep curls, etc. I also swim, run and cycle.


Q: Any other sports that you enjoy?

I enjoy playing netball, basketball, swimming and kayaking. As long as it’s outdoor and interesting, I would love to try!

Q: How did you overcome your back injury to be able to continue with your sport?

I took a pause when it came to training and ensured that I had sufficient rest. I did the rehab exercises given by my physiotherapist, be patient during the recovery journey and have a positive mindset. Most importantly, I had the support, encouragement and help from my teammates who really helped accelerate the recovery process.

Q: How has dragon boating helped you with your body image?

It has helped me build muscles, burn excess fats, combined with watching my diet, which led to weight loss.

Q: Any advice for those who are facing similar issues about fitness and body image that you used to have?

Don’t be disheartened and don’t hate your own body. Take one step at a time and set yourself a goal that you wish to achieve and work towards it. However, do remember that chubby does not equal to the end of the world and this doesn’t give you the right to label yourself as “ugly” or “unfit”. You are just more blessed than others to look more adorable! 🙂

Learn to accept yourself, love yourself and embrace how your body looks like because there is no right or wrong on how you should look and never let someone tell you that you are not good enough as noone knows what definition of “good enough” is for anyone.

Q: What does body positivity mean to you?

Learning to accept the type of body I have and embrace it. Naturally, we should be able to work towards a better looking me in time to come.


We thank Xiaowei and all the best for the upcoming DBS Marina Regatta, happening on 31 May to 2 June at The Promontory @ Marina Bay where dragon boat teams from eight countries across Asia Pacific and North America will be competing for a combined prize of S$115,000. This is the largest prize for a dragon boating competition in Asia and this is also the first time that teams from Canada will be participating, alongside teams from Australia, Philippines, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, Brunei and Singapore. Please refer to the Singapore Dragon Boat Association for race details.

The DBS Marina Regatta 2019 is back for its eighth edition and will feature a 23,000 sq gt maze constructed out of 95% recycled material, mainly compressed straw of leftover stems of agricultural crops. Adrenaline junkies and weekend warriors will have 12 minutes to climb, crawl, jump and swing their way through physical obstacles around the maze to test their speed and knowledge of critical issues facing the environment.

Besides the Dragon Boat race and the maze, members of the public can also enjoy a gastronomical treat as dished out by second-generation hawkers while listening to 20 young buskers sing their heart out around the bay. Entry to the event is free. For the full line up, do visit

Photos: DBS Marina Regatta and Lim Xiaowei.



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