OASIA x SHENTONISTA: Journey Well — Equilibrium

Sofie, Entrepreneur.
Shirt from Urban Outfitters, Pants from Soeursco, Watch from Tag Heuer.

While Sofie’s spent over a decade as the consumer marketing and PR director of Zouk Singapore, these days she’s less about the nightlife, and more about the right life—that is, one that is balanced between work and play, and being well both physically and mentally. The co-founder of content creation agency Studio 155 also has her hands full as the captain of the Singapore Adidas Runners, and at the same time, runs for The High Panters, a group centred on community building and raising funds and awareness for different organisations and causes. Despite all the busyness—or perhaps, because of it—Sofie makes a conscious effort to refresh, refuel, and recharge in whatever ways she can, be it in an indulgent post-workout meal, or finding the time and space to run even when she travels. We caught up with Sofie at Oasia Hotel Novena to discover what really keeps her going.

How do you manage to do all the things you do at once?
I think that if you don’t spend every moment doing something, especially when you’re healthy and young, then time and your life goes away too quickly. Even though I’m doing many things at once, if I’ve decided to spend my time doing something, be it muay thai training or going for a run, once I’m there I commit 100% and am present in the moment.

Tell us a bit more about The High Panters. How and why did you get started?
The High Panters was founded in 2010 by Eugene (my boyfriend) and two other friends, all of whom used to play rugby in school. One day after training they were joking around, pulled their shorts up high above their waists, and started doing the Haka. The name The High Panters is a reference to that, and is also actually a play on the name of the Highlanders (a New Zealand Rugby Union side). When they first started, they raised funds for the World Toilet Organisation because on one of their travels they visited somewhere that was lacking in sanitation, and were inspired to support the cause. Later, when Eugene and I started going out, we started to grow The High Panters’ community. It’s an inclusive group that runs by timing and not by distance, which means that regardless of pace, everyone runs until we reach the halfway mark and turns back. There’s less pressure that way because whether you’re a fast or slow runner, everyone begins and ends the run together. We’re not a competitive group, and we run for good causes, so every year we choose a charity to support. Last year we chose the Alzheimer’s Disease Association. We always try to choose charities that are less supported and less known, not only to raise funds for them but also to create awareness of their cause. This year we’re supporting HCSA Community Services, which help ex-convicts to reintegrate into society.

What inspires you to do what you do?
The group has helped us to make many friends, all of whom are from different walks of life. We have people as young as 21, all the way up to 40, and it’s nice to see everyone coming together and friendships being forged. It’s especially nice when those of our members who have children also bring them along for runs. For me, it’s also a matter of discipline and commitment, knowing that Sundays are dedicated to them, and, of course, it’s a way of keeping fit.

An unexpected lesson or moment during your journey:
Running The High Panters is not something we do full-time, so we’ve had to deal with people who join and then can’t commit. We’ve had to go through the process of removing people as a result, which is not something we want to do because it’s not meant to be that serious, but ultimately in any kind of group or organisation you need to have some discipline and order, and so that experience has been unexpected for us. Choosing which charity to support was also quite stressful, because everyone has a cause that they support. In the end we identified a committee of core members which makes that decision. So that’s been a learning experience for us too, but it’s all part and parcel of being in an organisation.

What’s a cause that you personally feel strongly for?
I generally love old people, and I always want to help old folks. It’s very sad that in our society children often abandon and neglect their aged parents, be it due to illness or other reasons, so if I could I’d love to do something for senior citizens.

What’s the toughest challenge you’ve ever faced and how did you overcome it?
My first run. I started running five years ago, and in the beginning I was only able to run for about 10 minutes. I had a lot of problems with breathing and pacing, and having to overcome that fear and eventually complete a 10km run was a big achievement. Eugene trained with me, and eventually I did the 10km at the Standard Chartered marathon.

How do you ‘journey well’ through life?
Because I run my own company, one thing that’s important is that we try not to stay late in the office. We don’t advocate a culture where staying late means you’re working harder, so it’s about being mindful of my team’s time and the fact that everyone has families. For me, personally, I try to practice balance. I love eating and I love good food, and some days I make the decision to go for muay thai training instead of having a big meal, for instance. As you get older, you have to make a conscious decision to make healthy choices. So ‘journeying well’ to me is very much about balance.

One thing you’ve learnt from your years at work:
Integrity is very important. That’s something that has carried me through my work life and into starting my own company, and it’s something that I value very much and try to instil in my team.

What is wellness to you?
I think of wellness as something that’s both internal and external. It’s to do with all the aspects of a person—your mind, spirit, and body. For example, your mind has to be sound and have positive thoughts, and your body should be well-rested and living a balanced lifestyle. I try to practice wellness; ever since I left the nightlife industry I try to be more conscious about healthy living. Even when I’ve had a late night, I try to wake up early, and I’ll keep to a commitment I’ve made to exercise.

Your favourite thing to do to refresh yourself:
I love fresh coconut water. After a run or high-intensity workout, that always helps to refresh me. Spraying mist on my face is also something that I find works for me. In terms of refreshing the mind, being able to do things you like, like taking some time in the middle of the work day to take a break or going out on the weekends also helps your well-being.

Ways that you recharge through exercise:
I try to run at least two to three times a week, but I definitely run at least once a week with The High Panters, the charity group I’m part of. That happens every Sunday, and during the rest of the week I attend muay thai training, because I generally like high-intensity exercise for the adrenaline rush. I’m quite bad at coordination, so muay thai helps me to understand my body and movement better.

In what ways do you take care of your health?
My diet is very important; it’s something I’m very conscious about. I try to watch my sugar intake, I don’t have any sugar in my coffee or tea, and I don’t take sweet drinks. I love desserts, so if I’m eating cake I’ll have less carbs in my main meal. I also snack a lot, so that’s something I try to cut down on. When I travel it’s a different story, because you want to eat a lot of things and have different experiences, so I’ll give myself some leeway, but it’s really all about balance.

A fitness/wellness tip you’d share with everyone:
It’s always about mindset. I believe that if you really want to try something, and you put your mind to it, you can. A lot of times, the feeling is that you don’t want to do something, so building up that discipline to exercise when you’d rather watch TV is important.

They say that food is fuel. What’s your go-to meal to eat when you need some comfort, or your favourite post-workout meal to refuel?
I love to eat açaí bowls, but they’re high in sugar so I try not to have them often. It depends, but after working out I sometimes have cravings for nasi lemak or fries.

When it comes to travelling, how do you journey well?
When Eugene and I started travelling together, one good habit I picked up from him is packing my exercise clothes for the trip, so I can exercise when I’m overseas, whether it’s running or going for a hike. That’s actually changed my travel habits too, because now when I go to places like Hong Kong I’ll plan a hike or a trail, or I’ll run with the local Adidas Runners.

What’s a must-have in your hotel/resort room when you travel?
Water. Not all hotels give you enough water; most just provide you with one or two bottles in the room. In terms of amenities, having charging points next to the bed and having a good hair dryer is also important; I bring my own hair dryer when I travel because sometimes the ones in hotel rooms don’t work well. If I’m staying in a hotel, I try to make sure there’s a gym, and when Eugene and I travelled to London recently he looked up running routes near the hotel.

How do you stay fit even when you’re on the go?
We try to run. We’re part of the global community of Adidas Runners, and when we travel we always check to see if there are runs happening in the cities we’ll be in, and we try to join in.

Are you a believer in sticking to your diet/fitness regime when you travel? What are some tips you can share?
I’m actually more lax, because I believe that when you travel, you want to experience new things, and a big part of that is eating. Life is short, and there’s no need to be so strict with yourself. That said, I think sharing food is a good practice to have. If you want to have two kinds of desserts, you can always share them with a partner, that’s a good way to try more things while limiting your food intake.

How has someone cared for you recently? Or something that someone has done for you that you remember till this day?
In the office, when my team comes in in the morning, they always ask if anyone wants any coffee or tea, and that’s just a very small way of taking care of your coworkers. That’s the culture, but a form of care as well.

If you could have any superpower in the world, what superpower would it be and how would you use it to help others?
Being able to read someone’s mind, because then you’d understand their needs, fears, and doubts. With that perspective and knowledge, you’d be able to comfort them, or give advice.

What, do you think, is the best way we can celebrate someone?
Often, we’re so busy with our lives that we forget to tell the people around us how important they are, be it a friend, a spouse, or a family member. I think we can all make an effort to tell them the things that we appreciate and love about them, when we see them in the morning or when we meet them at work or outside.

What’s the one thing you think you should be doing more of, or that you wish you had more time to be doing?
Sleeping. I actually don’t catch up on sleep when I’m travelling, because I want to do more with my time and experience as much as I can.

What’s something people don’t really know about you?
I actually collect all things Hello Kitty, and I’ve been doing so for about 35 years! I have about 33 boxes full of collectibles. When I was young, my mum bought me a Hello Kitty lunchbox and that’s when it all started.

If you could trade lives with anyone in the world for just a day, who would it be and why?
Nobody. I want to live my own life, so I wouldn’t choose anyone else.

Sofie was previously seen here.

This is a Shentonista project for Oasia Hotel Novena, in celebration of its 7th birthday.

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