As a proud partner for the inaugural Sugar & Spice Festival that’s happening this 1-15 August 2020, we are bringing you this series of interviews with presenters so that you get to know them better and their workshops.
Today, we speak to our very own Melissa, who will be presenting a workshop on 4 August entitled “Reframing Our Body Image”. We get to know more about her and the workshop. Please enjoy and do sign up for the festival!
Q: Intuitively we know we should be confident of and love our own body. Yet why do we struggle with this?
Not everyone is blessed with self-confidence in every aspect of their lives and insecurities regarding one’s body is exacerbated by the media, social media as well as what people around us say. There is also an ongoing societal trend for certain body types, so each generation will struggle to be confident of their body type and love it wholly.
Q: Are there gender differences in viewing one’s body image? Or do you find more similarities than differences?
Having interviewed straight people, gay men and someone who identifies as gender-fluid for my book Building Body Confidence, I do find that everyone struggles with their body image. So, the struggles are very similar but the difference is how that manifests itself. Just like gender, the way people deal with body image is also on a spectrum. They either are super confident, struggle with it from time to time, or go to the deep end where they get severe depression and have eating disorders. In that sense, it really depends on the individual.
Q: You used to work in the finance industry then switched to starting The Wellness Insider. What caused the switch?
I’ve tried almost all types of diet fads but after being diagnosed with endometriosis, I was finding healthy ways to keep my sudden weight increase down or to lower it – as per doctor’s orders. I also wanted to know more about eating better for my condition. During this period, my friend was also getting into yoga and she became my yoga buddy. As such, the sheer amount of research plus my experience made me want to create a platform that separates the wheat from the chaff as well as address wellness trends to readers so that they can make informed choices.
Q: What do you personally do for your own physical and mental wellness? Any tips for readers?
I try to exercise at least 4 times a week and I do a variation of both cardio and strength training. I have a personal trainer whom I meet once a week for an hour where he really pushes me to my limit. So I do check in with him from time to time about the home exercises that I do so that I don’t slack off too much but if you’re a woman, don’t worry if you feel particularly ‘weak’ or ‘tired’ the week before your period because our hormones simply do that to us. As such, I tell myself that it’ll be my cheat week where I do exercises that would normally be easy – for example, doing a 5 min abdominal workout instead of a 30 min kickboxing session.
In terms of mental wellness, my best advice is not to have knee-jerk reactions to a situation or something that someone said or did. I do like to reflect and examine the why behind my feelings or the behaviour of others that may have irked me. I also try to think from the other person’s point of view as I may have misunderstood or misinterpreted them. I know this because I realised that I’ve been misunderstood several times: I may have said something that, to me, is just stating a fact but others saw it as being overly blunt and rude. As a result, I’ve learnt to reflect and grow in empathy.
It helps that I’ve got a group of trustworthy friends that I can talk to and further gain comfort or validation. But I do know that I shouldn’t give in to confirmation bias either, so I do give people the benefit of the doubt. However, I do like to say that the universe will keep teaching you the same lessons until you learn from them. Thus, if similar incidents or behaviours keep occurring to me, I will meditate and pray on them in order to improve myself.
Both physical and mental wellness have to be exercised frequently for optimal health. That said, don’t be overly hard on yourself when you do slip. We’re all humans!
Q: You have interviewed many interesting people in your work. What lessons have inspired you in becoming who you are?
I’ve been inspired by so many people, including characters from books and dramas or movies, that have inspired me. I can’t really recall any specific life lesson but what a senior in University once said to me still sticks with me till today. I remember having a conversation with him and he said that one difference he saw in me and the group that we were in was our “never give up” attitude. That is an important attitude to have regarding everything that we do in life. However, one must not mistake pure stubbornness with “never giving up” because while you should not give up doing something important to you, you need to be flexible to know when to pivot or change strategies in order to achieve your goals.
Images: Melissa Fann