Irene is a fitness trainer and the founder of Roar Fitness. She recently embarked on this career path after actively pursuing (and dominating) careers in the corporate world, followed by the fashion industry. Her own evolution and realization of dysmorphia are the basis for her training. Hearing her story gives us so much faith in truly trusting the process and embracing life's twists and turns.
Hi Irene, I am so thrilled to have you be our Muse this month. Could you please tell our community about yourself?
I am a mother, a wife, a fashion and fitness enthusiast.
I feel like there's more to this story. Have you always been a fitness trainer? How did this journey begin?
I was 48kg and unhealthy and was trying to be the skinniest version that I could be before I got pregnant. At that time, I lacked knowledge and information and definitely contributed to my binge eating disorder. During my pregnancy, I gained 30kg during my pregnancy and it was an eye opener to losing control of my life. Little that I know, this is indeed was a blessing in disguise embarking on my fitness journey.
After pregnancy, I knew I needed to change my lifestyle, I didn’t want to go back to being unhealthy and I want to do it the right way. I needed to keep up with my kid. That was really my starting point.
Coming from the fashion industry to the fitness industry, has your approach and relationship to food and nutrition and body image shifted in any way?
When I was in fashion, the majority of the fashion circle accepted and glorified the skinniest version of themselves. This is not on purpose but really lacking knowledge and awareness. Moving to my first few years of my fitness journey, I tried so many different types of exercises, diets and mental health to achieve my goals at that time. But I just can’t fully understand the ever changing fitness trends. So I decided to get myself certified for a Personal Trainer and Performance Nutrition course. Understanding the scientific part of nutrition and performance human anatomy really helped me to understand myself better physically and mentally.
From wanting to become the unsustainable leanest version of myself I am now focusing on pushing my limit to be the strongest version of myself. As for nutrition, from eating the lowest cal to eating at sustainable highest calories at the leanest version I can sustain.
Going through this process is liberating and I know I am not the only one who is going through this. Oh and I can help! So I created Roar Fit Program, a 10 weeks customized nutrition and progressive weight training program to create individualized sustainable fitness journey.
That sounds great. Our intention this month is happiness. How do you define happiness for yourself? Has that definition changed over time? Is that something you preach to your clients?
I used to think being very successful in my career and goal oriented made me happy. I still do enjoy the adrenaline rush from my career but I prioritize my balanced mental state now. Being mentally at peace and balance makes me a happier mother, wife and entrepreneur . I favour sustainability over short term lifestyle. When I created the Roar Fit Program, I always highlighted creating ‘their’ own sustainable fit journey not for others. What works for others does not mean it works for us.
I think it’s amazing how many different career paths and life events you’ve navigated over the years, could you tell us about them?
From a corporate junkie to fashion and now fitness, each stage also represents different stages of my life mentally, physically and health wise.
When I was in the corporate world, I had that “all in’’ mindset. I was aggressive and driven and I was also neglecting my mental and physical. Moving to fashion, I am working a few jobs to keep my fashion business sustainable. I had poor sleep, nutrition and mental state.
I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the age of 30. This was the reality check for me. Going through 3 years of treatment and I proudly say I am a cancer survivor.
I started slowing down right after this. Right after I got married, pregnant and of course feeling really sluggish and low energy all the time. This is where I took my first step into fitness.
This Mary Young community is all about celebrating bodies of different shapes and sizes, I notice you’re all about that with your training and meals as well. Can you tell us a bit more about the balance between feeling strong and healthy and weight loss?
Everybody has a body goal they want to achieve by calories surplus or deficit. During the 10 week program, I usually prioritized and focused on getting to know their own body by finding what food works for their body and nourishing our body with nutrients and multivitamins. During the 10 weeks, we also will be focusing on posture and techniques for weight training which give you a basic foundation of progressively building muscles hence you feel more empowered and strong.
In your personal life what do you do for fun? What is your ideal weekend?
I actually enjoy working outdoors with my people. I definitely like to start my morning being active and outdoors and catch up for lunch with family or friends and slowly ease and end my night with a movie with family. This year I want to be in touch with nature as much as I can.
You mentioned that your husband is also a very busy entrepreneur, how do you ensure that you both have enough family time and prioritize your personal relationship with two booming careers?
Ben is a very involved father and husband. I am so thankful we are able to work it through our busy schedules and yet committed to spending time together as a couple and parents. Most importantly we are able to grow together as a couple and involve each other in every milestone. Communication is so key.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting over or switching careers at a non-typical stage of life?
It is quite nerve breaking to switch career at an older age. But it is more mental than physical. The mindset I had is usually not about competing with the younger generation but more towards creating a market that I could compliment or contribute to the whole industry. I think this actually changed my perspectives about starting a new career at an older age.