Linora Low, a familiar voice on the radio waves, is on a mission: to inspire women around her to be authentic and empower them. And as Under Armour’s Brand Ambassador, she is certainly fit for the job. With fiery red hair to match her spunky personality, Linora is the best friend you wish you had! We speak to her about her journey and why ‘fit’ is the new ‘skinny’.

 

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Can you tell us about the catalyst as to why you began your journey into fitness? Was there an aim for a specific body shape back then?

My fitness journey has been a gradual process. As I got more into it, I learnt things about myself which really ignited my ‘quest’ for self improvement. Initially it was all about fun, being healthy and doing the workouts that I liked (some of which I learnt later weren’t the best possible workouts for me). It’s only in the past two years that I had a renewing of my fitness journey – when I decided to take part in a bikini fitness bodybuilding competition. Something I never thought I’d be able to do because I’ve always been the ‘bigger’ girl, and I’ve always battled with my weight. I never thought I was physically built to have the ‘body’ that I needed for a competition like this. I’ve certainly surprised myself over and over in pursuing this goal, in just two years I’ve learnt more about myself, health and nutrition than I have in all my years being alive. Changing my mindset to achieve this new goal has changed my life completely.

 

There are judgmental comments online (from men, obviously) about how you’ve “gone overboard” with working out. This shows that our society is largely not ready for women who aren’t “slim and slender”. What’s your message to men who expect women to look a certain way?

On the contrary I think society is slowly changing. Perhaps 10 years ago there was still a connotation that girls need to be slim and slender but now, there is more acceptance that girls can also have an athletic physique. Body image issue it’s something both genders will face. It’s the same kind of expectation that men should be tall and muscular. Continue what you’re doing if it works for you and let your results speak for itself. Most importantly, you are healthy and happy.

 

“Losing weight” is one of the more common reasons as to why women want to work out, and there’s a “fear” of gaining too much muscle. What would be your message to these women, in terms of body shapes?

Finding the right workout will help you reach your goals. There’s a common misconception that women get bulky when they exercise, I dedicated an entire VLOG on that. Ladies, you will not be able to become muscular or get too much muscle because it is impossible to attain that without additional hormone testosterone in our bodies. Finding the right workout will help you reach your goals. The body that I have now was not built on starving or doing too much cardio. It was built from a proper weight training program given by my coach from Australian strength performance.

 

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What was the kind of support that you gained throughout your fitness journey?

I had support from my family, my mum would help me prep some of my food when I had long days at work, my coach provided me with support allowing me to understand the various stages I would go through and the kinds of results I should be expecting, I also had my Under Armour family who would continue to encourage me every step of the way, while providing great tips.

 

Has being physically fit helped build up your mental strength?

Yes it has immensely. Taking on this bodybuilding competition trained my mind to stay focused, it help me build a routine and good habits which is so important in helping me stay motivated. I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) a couple years ago and this hormonal imbalance was a roadblock to my progress. Maintaining a regular exercise regime and understanding my body allowed me to overcome this hurdle without having to take any prescribed medication. With proper diet and knowledge, plus not having my coach in KL meant that I had to be more focused and committed to my goals, this was all mental strength.

 

What would you like to say to those who want to work out, but (1) can’t sacrifice their love of food, and (2) can’t seem to make the time for exercise?

You need to have a goal in mind, whether it is a number, a size or a date. Then remind yourself why you started, and stick to it. I know it may seem hard and difficult but it’s really about how badly you want to attain your goals. Needless to say, working out is not a one time affair, it’s about going really regularly and continually pushing yourself. I honestly thought doing this competition and transforming myself would’ve been impossible. As a person with a full time job, where I work 6 days a week sometimes 7 days…I managed to train 2 to 3 times a day, still plan my meals and have a bit of a social life. It takes some determination, but don’t underestimate yourself – YOU can do it too! Considering the health benefits of eating well and the endorphins you get from exercise, it will always be worth it.

 

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What has been the biggest reward you’ve gotten since embarking on your fitness journey?

Other than having a better understanding of my own body, the biggest reward I have gotten is the people who have been motivated by my journey to create their own fitness goals, and watching their improvement. I know this first hand, as my sister has pledged to make a change for herself, and she’s learning more about food nutrition. She’s on a much healthier diet now, and I was almost in tears when she said she wanted to workout! My brother is also motivated to hit the gym now too (he’s totally and secretly proud of his sister!). So, through this competition I have truly found the calling to be a fitness motivator because I believe fitness is for everyone and can be accessible regardless of what shape and state you are in.

 

In an ideal future, what do you hope for women from a health and fitness point of view?

My hope for all women is for them to have a better understanding of their bodies, to love what they already have, treat it with respect and may they have the desire to make themselves stronger. I personally believe think that for every female who shows strength and truly makes positive changes in their lives, inspires 1,000 more to do the same.

 

All photos courtesy of Suppagood/Linora Low.

 

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Read also: Battling with Anorexia: The Art of Letting Go

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Li Ying opens up to Tongue in Chic about her struggle with anorexia and how she’s healing from it every day. Read her story here.