Hermione Choong was resigned to being unfit until nearly a decade ago when she took to running.
Ms Hermione Choong was put in the Trim And Fit club for overweight pupils in primary school, and struggled with her weight even in secondary school. But after completing a 6km race nearly 10 years ago when challenged by a friend, the tax manager became hooked on running and signed up for longer-distance races. She has since completed 13 marathons. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
ABOUT HERMIONE CHOONG
She started exercising regularly in 2008, doing weights with a personal trainer and running almost every other day.
Since then, the tax manager has gone on to complete 13 marathons, including overseas races such as the Paris Marathon.
Keen to motivate others to run, she volunteered as a pacer to help runners complete the 10km event at the Great Eastern Women’s Run on Nov 12.
Ms Choong is engaged to Sky Lim, 36, a process technician. Her parents are retirees and she has an elder brother.
Q WHAT IS YOUR SECRET TO LOOKING FABULOUS?
A Maintain a positive outlook, stay happy!
Q HAS THERE EVER BEEN A TIME WHEN YOU WERE NOT FIT AND FAB?
A Yes, all the while until about a decade ago.
I was a pudgy kid. It must be the fast food I had been eating since I was a toddler. In primary school, I was in the Trim And Fit club, which was for overweight pupils.
I guess the stigma of being singled out for extra physical training did not work for me. In secondary school, I once weighed close to 65kg.
When I started working, I started going to the gym but it was more like a good excuse to indulge in more eating.
Q SO, WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO GET FIT?
A Things changed only in 2008, after my friend challenged his wife and me to complete a 6km fun run at the Safra Singapore Bay Run. I started training for it and completed the race.
That boosted my confidence. I had managed to achieve something that was beyond my imagination.
That was the start of my running journey. I went for my first half-marathon in 2009 and my first full marathon a year later.
I must have completed at least 13 full marathons to date. My personal best time of 4 hours 40 minutes was clocked at the Melbourne Marathon in 2015.
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Q WHAT IS YOUR DIET LIKE?
A Whole grains if possible, vegetables, fruit and fish. A typical breakfast would be a few slices of wholemeal bread with peanut butter or jam, or oats and coffee.
For lunch, I go for the healthier food choices at the food courts such as yong tau foo or fish soup bee hoon, or the occasional salad!
My dinner is quite similar to my lunch choices and, if I have to work overtime, it can be a sandwich or a soup.
Q WHAT ARE YOUR INDULGENCES?
A Desserts! I will try to make them as I can control what goes into that slice of cake that I am eating.
Q HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
A I will try to sneak in a run if I need to unwind after work. It helps that my gym is a stone’s throw from my office and that my favourite running route is not too far from it as well (the Marina Barrage-Esplanade area). The endorphins from the run will soothe the work tensions and clear the mind.
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Q WHAT ARE THE THREE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN YOUR LIFE?
A God, family, health.
Q WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE AND LEAST FAVOURITE PART OF YOUR BODY?
A My calves! The least favourite part is my upper arms.
Q WHAT ARE YOUR MUST-DOS BEFORE AND AFTER A WORKOUT?
A Warm up adequately before a workout. And I am trying to remind myself to do the necessary stretches after the workout!
Q HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO KEEP UP WITH YOUR FITNESS ROUTINE?
A It is important to try to keep to the fitness routine that was set out but in the event that I am unable to fulfil what I set out to do, I will try to swop the rest day with a workout day if possible.
(Also read: 7 Amazing Things That Happen When You Work Out Regularly)
Q HOW HAS YOUR ACTIVE LIFESTYLE INFLUENCED YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS?
A Some of my friends have started running after witnessing the effects of being active.
Q HOW EXTENSIVE IS YOUR COLLECTION OF SPORTS-RELATED PARAPHERNALIA?
A Well, I have sufficient running tees, shorts and compression tights to last me for quite a while. I guess women love to look good in the photos taken on race day.
Q WOULD YOU GO FOR PLASTIC SURGERY?
A Nope, at least not for cosmetic reasons.
Q DO YOU THINK YOU’RE SEXY?
A I would like to think so!
I know guys really admire my toned calves because that was a compliment I got from a male runner while I was running at the park one morning.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2017, with the headline ‘Junking fast food for the fast track’.
(Also read: Friends Said She’d Never Lose Weight, But Lim Swee Ling Lost 10kg Through Lifestyle Change)