28 November 2014, by Tan Li Lin

The Best Gift You Can Give Your Family

It’s almost Christmas – can you feel it in the air? The time of gifting and spending time with loved ones.

For some, unfortunately, it would be their first Christmas without a loved one. A shocking Monday morning text left me reflecting on my (our) priorities. My client’s husband passed away suddenly on Sunday, while she was away from him in KL over the weekend. Because they are muslim, the burial happened the very next day.

His sudden passing was a result of a heart attack. He leaves behind a wife and a child.

I can’t imagine having my husband beside me one day, and gone the next. No time to say goodbye, or thank you, or I Love Yous, or we’ll meet again.

I guess it was quite a shock because I saw her just earlier this month. I put myself in her shoes and found myself asking – How would she cope with this sudden loss with her business just coming out of the red? How would her son feel? Would she have to struggle now as the sole bread winner? Did she know that he was not well? Did he take care of his health? Were there signs he ignored that resulted in this?

I couldn’t sleep that night until 6am. Likely the effect of staying in her shoes too long. I can’t help her much, but what does this mean for me?

That afternoon, I nudged Ronald to go fix that health check-up he’s procrastinated since July, and he finally did it in 5 minutes.

This isn’t the only start to our healthy lifestyle.

December 2012, coming into my 30s, I made a commitment to lose 10kg in 100 days. I used to be pretty active in my teens, but spent my last 10 years damaging my body with packed days, late nights, drive-ins and heavy suppers to make up for a full day of running on empty. But I was young and felt invincible and was at total disregard for my physical integrity – only to face the truth, 10 years later, that I was putting up with my anger, shame and helplessness that surfaced every time I looked at myself in the mirror. Friends would share, “I’ve to put in twice the effort I used to, in the gym, but the results are slow – you can really feel your metabolism slow down by 35.”

That frightened the living daylights out of me.

I was already fat and unhappy; if I didn’t start doing something about it now, it’ll just get more difficult by the time I’m 35, with kids and a post-baby belly. But if I can do it now, I’d know that at 35 with kids and a post-baby belly, I can still do it. Plus, I didn’t want to look like an old, fat hag next to a husband 4 years younger. Argh!! (Okay maybe that was the real motivation…)


Since then, I exercise regularly, minimally once a week. I am more mindful of what I eat, and have cut out sugar in my diet by 70%. I drink soft drinks once in several months, stopped eating sweets, cut down on crap like donuts and most food that isn’t fresh, nutritious or REAL. I’ve switched to organic hair and body soap, and use only coconut oil for my skincare. I’m excited to try juice detox next, and foresee 2015 advancing my transition into a healthier, cleaner lifestyle.

I figured that I must first take care of myself before I can take care of my family. More importantly, taking care of myself is being a responsible wife, child and future mother. Things change when you’re married –  you assume the responsibility now as someone’s lifelong partner. You also assume the responsibility to take care of them (which includes kicking his un-toned ass). It took Ronald more than a year to groove along with a healthier lifestyle – I tried everything from nagging, to threats, to ignoring, to proving what good the change brings. Giving up was not an option because I know we both need to be in the pink of health when we start trying for children. It is only fair to them… plus I’d want to give them all the advantage they can get (proud to be a true blue Kiasu Singaporean Parent-to-be).

Of course, excuses and justifications were aplenty. But, true to our nature, if it’s important enough, we can and we will make it happen. I was super inspired by these 2 fit (hot) parents who brought their young one to the gym with them, before they all hit the pool. Family is a motivation to get fit, not an excuse.

Your family deserves your energy, vitality and more than anything, your PRESENCE. That can’t be replaced by all the toys, holidays, clothes and cars in the world.

Lin Tan is an Entrepreneur and an Executive Coach who dedicates more time to making society a better place over making babies (for now). Follow her blog on ilovechildren.sg/blog and journey with her as she embarks on all things ‘life after 30′.

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