Undergraduate Georgina Poh says girls should not shy away from weightlifting. By Joan Chew
Ms Georgina Poh loves the rush of endorphins after a workout, and enjoys pushing herself to lift heavier weights. Photo: Kevin Lim / The Straits Times
About Georgina Poh
Ms Georgina Poh has some strategies to ensure exercise is never boring for her. She works out in the mornings to be energised for the day ahead, varies her exercise routine to keep things fresh, and enlists her boyfriend or her brother’s help to push her in the gym.
She is studying for a sports science degree at private university Edith Cowan. Ms Poh has more than 124,000 followers on her Instagram account (@sugarrandspice). They watch videos of her doing workouts with moves such as mountain climbers and modified burpees with squats. She has also collaborated with kiwifruit marketer Zespri in a marketing campaign.
Ms Poh is a certified personal trainer, Nike NTC trainer as well as a certified ashtanga/hatha yoga teacher.
Q: How did you pick up weightlifting?
A: I started weightlifting about three years ago, which is also when I began to be more focused on keeping fit. I wanted to be stronger and do things that girls are not known to do, such as pull-ups and lifting barbells. People have asked me if I was worried about becoming too muscular. But this never bothered me because men and women are genetically built differently, so I know I will not be as muscular as a man.
As it turns out, I love the rush of endorphins after a workout, and enjoy pushing myself to lift heavier weights. About a year ago, my personal best was 115kg for a deadlift, 100kg for squats and 65kg for a benchpress.
Q: Why have you stopped lifting heavy weights for now?
A: I was diagnosed with hypermobility syndrome – where joints can stretch farther than normal. The condition has been causing me a lot of pain in my joints, so I am focusing more on functional and polymeric training at the moment.
Q: How has the focus of your exercise changed over the years?
A: I used to concentrate on working my tummy and thighs as these are the areas where I seem to gain fat easily. I then realised that we need to treat our body as a whole instead of focusing on spot-reduction, which is a myth. It is impossible to lose weight in specific areas.
Q: How do you react if you miss an exercise session?
A: I tend to feel restless and grumpy. It will somehow affect my mood for the rest of the day, like waking up on the wrong side of the bed.
Q: Has there ever been a time when you were not fit and fab?
A: When I was in secondary school, I used to eat fast food and cup noodles almost daily. I also snacked on potato chips all day long. Fortunately, I was an active kid – I was a netball player and joined the dance club – and that helped to keep my weight in check. I do not think I was healthy even though I was slim.
Q: What do you think helped you to stop craving fast food?
A: Fast food is loaded with sodium, which is why we crave more of it. I realised that if you stop eating it for a while, you will notice you do not want it as much as you used to.
Q: What is your diet like?
A: I do not follow any diet plan but I try to eat most of my carbohydrates in the daytime. I avoid soft drinks as they are empty calories – calories which I would much rather save for food. I also make sure to share dessert with others. Reducing our calorie intake equals double the happiness.
I have a habit of snacking on fruit, nuts and yogurt throughout the day, mostly every half an hour. I have a very sweet tooth, so it’s great that many fruits are sweet. My go-to fruits are kiwis and apples. I also add these to my oats or muesli for an added energy boost.
Q: What are your indulgences?
A: I love durian, cake, ice cream, waffle and, well, basically all sinful desserts. But I try to limit myself to eating these no more than thrice a week.
Q: How do you achieve work-life balance?
A: I can be quite the couch potato so whenever I’m free, I like to watch random YouTube videos with a cup of hot Milo on the side. I also love reading novels and I’d go the library to borrow them. I think it is important to keep one’s life organised to maintain a good balance. I make it a point to plan my week ahead and to stick to the schedule.
Q: What are the three most important things in your life?
A: The most important thing in my life is, of course, my loved ones. The other two are happiness and food!
Q: Do you think you’re sexy?
A: No, I don’t. But I have definitely become more confident since I started weightlifting.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2015, with the headline ‘Adding heft to her life’.