Inside Her Regimen With Po On Yeung
"I grew up with the attitude of looking at the bright side and while I’ve certainly had my share of struggles, especially as an entrepreneur I’d learned to hone that mindset of “what is the lesson here” “What is the opportunity to grow?” "
Po On is an Innovation and Partnerships Professional, Health and Wellness advocate and loves to write about Personal Growth and Development. She moved to San Francisco from Canada in late 2018, where she previously worked at the University of British Columbia launching the University’s 1st Innovation Hub in Downtown, Vancouver to help bring diverse communities together. She was also passionate about volunteering as Vice-Chair with the largest Young Professionals Business Organization and Women in Tech groups.
Having held various Business Development roles in Government, Non-for-Profit and Academia following her Biochemistry degree - a key lesson she learned to achieving business goals, was the value of strategic partnerships to drive positive change. At the Life Sciences Industry Association, she was working with Big Pharma and Government agencies to support a range of companies and initiatives to ultimately produce better patient outcomes. Armed with this experience and insight, including her own entrepreneurial pursuits in social impact, she is excited to support FemTech initiatives. She is thriving in San Francisco’s technology and innovation ecosystem, and always out at events to learn about the latest technologies and to build community! Read below for the in-depth and thoughtful interview with Po On.
(Taken from SiyaFlow Health and Wellness Interview 2018)
How does your day get started? My years of bodybuilding training with a coach has conditioned me to start most days with some cardio and movement, and this can range from intense HIIT training when I have a competition, to simply going for a walk or bike-ride before I start work. But actually, if I were to break it down to an even simpler step, my very first thing I do is I drink a LARGE glass of water! This is because I’m usually quite thirsty when I wake up, and also, drinking water helps me ease into waking up and ready for activity. What does wellness mean to you? Wellness to me is a holistic view of health. It’s more than just being physically healthy and fit, it’s also have healthy relationships with yourself (physically, mentally, spiritually) and nurturing healthy relationships with friends and family. As a competitive athlete, physical health is an obvious priority but I’ve recognized the importance of having meaningful relationships and support systems, in addition to finding creative outlets so that I feel stimulated and recharged.
Can you share with us a bit about how your wellness journey started? I studied Biochemistry and Kinesiology in University, so that’s where I think it really accelerated! I loved the lab component of my Science classes where I would learn theories underlying human health, but then also apply my lessons in a real-world setting. A funny class I took was called “exercise physiology” where we would study the benefits of exercise and learn what changes were taking place at the microscopic level. This was then complemented with actually “running” labs where we would go run outside and physically FEEL the positive changes that take place physically and mentally when we get moving and stimulated. When did you know you had a message to share? I’ve always been extroverted and loved challenging myself to learn and explore new activities. Combining these 2 innate personality traits, I realized that I derive the most joy from bringing others along with me and learning together. When I wanted to learn ultimate frisbee, I knew that rather than wait for a team to invite me, I should just create my own and invite all my friends! I even would go to the community gym and recruit strangers! When I had my first “adult” job working in Government for an Innovation organization, I thought, wouldn’t it be fun if we all did the Sun Run (North America’s largest 10 k timed race) together? So I wrote to the CEO that I wanted to start a team and he was in full support of covering the cost! I started a bucket-list style blog so that I could continually challenge myself mentally and physically while encouraging others to join me and learn together in the journey (eg. rock climbing and hang-gliding). The most rewarding part of all of this is knowing others where inspired and encouraged to step out of their comfort zone and find new ways to thrive. Before I moved from Vancouver in 2018, thanks to the support of my community, I stepped out of my comfort zone in a big way by launching my own Personal Development Event Series. These were intimate events (30-60 ppl) create to facilitate connection amongst young professionals while also sharing healthy habits. People asked me then what I meant by “healthy” and i covered everything from physical health, to spiritual and brought on speakers ranging from a Professional NHL player, Soul Cycle instructor, to a Cancer thriver” I’m in San Francisco now, and I loving building community down here and have found that by encouraging others to try new fitness activities, and come with me to workshops I have quickly begin to form connections. How do you take time for balance and self-care? I’ve learned from experience that physical health is very important to me. When I’m taking care of my body (ie. how I nourish it with food and challenge it through exercise) I feel my best and I can bring my best self into social situations and professional environments. So I always prioritize making time to get moving, beit in the gym (usually the gym!) and also outdoors for walks or hikes. It sounds kind of geeky, but I keep spreadsheets! I have a spreadsheet of my business meetings and personal meetings. I also have a list where I write that ONE thing I have to get done each day. (I endeavor to do this daily, but it’s not always the case admittedly!) It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the things we have to do, and if we can aim to think of the single most important thing and get that done, we can feel accomplished and also build momentum off that. What do you do to manage stress? Here’s another confession - I used to be a stress eater. When I was studying for exams, that’s actually when I would eat the worst! I’ve learned though, that wasn’t a healthy cycle for me, as I would end up feeling bad once I got my sugar crash! I’ve nurtured a fantastic support community I turn to instead. For example, some of my bodybuilding friends and I would lament on how we were craving sweets, but we all acknowledge its normal, and it’s tough, but it’s not going to make us feel better! So why don’t we instead have some nice tea, or take a bath with essential oils. Knowing I have a community to turn to, helps me calm down and de-stress. They also have really great advice and give me new ideas! What’s your go to snack? I love dark chocolate! Not only is it delicious and typically low sugar, it also has tons of antioxidants (more so than blueberries!). Fat is also very satiating so you don’t need a lot to feel satisfied. How do you keep track of your wellness progress? I track a lot of different aspects of wellness - for competitive fitness goals - I do track health and fitness parameters like body composition, and weights. I mentioned spreadsheets before for staying on task with my entrepreneurial passion projects. How do you and your inner network support each other in living your best life? Communication and forming meaningful relationships is key! My sister is the entrepreneur of the family with several successful startups and regularly contributes to the Forbes Young Entrepreneurship Council and I often turn to her for advice and support. We message each other and our family members every single day! I also am very grateful to have a supportive husband and close friends that I communicate with regularly to share in our goals and also, struggles. I really believe that there is always a lesson and opportunity - so we can learn from one another by sharing both the ups and the downs. It was very important to me when I moved to San Francisco to take active steps in building and nurturing a new community so that I could keep learning, and also, to give back. I volunteer with several organizations in San Francisco and we meet regularly to stay focused on shared mission and vision. This includes:
Canadian Entrepreneurs in Life Sciences (CELS)
Canadian Women’s Network
Fashion Community Week
Of the following 7 pillars, which are highest priority for you? (nutrition, sleep, cognition, mood, cycle, fitness and beauty) and why? Fitness. I love the rush of endorphins i get after fitting in fitness! And it influences other aspects of those pillars too - when I work out, I make healthier nutrition choices, I feel more mentally alert, my mood is better and I also feel more beautiful! Despite being dripping in sweat haha! For me it’s the driver that helps me build momentum for other aspects of holistic wellness.
What’s your favourite wellness trend? Overall I love the attitude of acceptance and breaking down negative stereotypes associated with certain activities. For instance, in bodybuilding, after training to build muscle and see what you’re body is capable of, you compete in stage to display your muscles….half-naked in a bikini. I was embarrassed to share this sport with colleagues when I first competed in 2016 because of that aspect. However, I learned that it is all a matter of how you present things. I am very proud of my discipline and dedication that went into honing my diet, spending countless hours in the gym, and sticking to a program no matter how tired I was! So that is what I focused on - not “how I looked”. It truly was this achievement in mastering discipline and routine that gave me the confidence to pursue my own entrepreneurial endeavors in subsequent years (My personal development events and social impact fashion startup, LookLab). I recently saw an article about Pole Dancing as “a sport … not seduction”. It was printed in the Voice and has the subtitle “Pole fitness sheds stigma and promotes body positivity”. I love the way they put that! That acceptance and shedding of negative stigma is my favourite wellness trend. Do you have any advice for our audience? My top pillar I mentioned above was fitness, and I know fitness can be intimidating. My advice would be to take things one step at a time. If you try to do too much at one time, you can get overwhelmed and turned off. Also, finding a supportive community that you can share our journey with! I loved meeting so many other bodybuilders where we could share our highs and lows together and support each other! What’s your big vision? I am very passionate about building community and facilitating meaningful connections. I’ve always been attracted to roles where I can bring together diverse communities and learn from different backgrounds. I loved my role in Innovation at the University of British Columbia because I worked with both internal and external partners to build partnerships and promote the narrative that innovation is more than just a tech app and also that anyone can have an entrepreneurial mindset - you don’t have to be an entrepreneur! My big vision is to encourage others that they can do anything they set their mind to by sharing my journey. I love fitness because when you see what your body is capable of, you realize your mind and other variables in your life are within your control and reach as well. People who follow me on instagram will see I have diverse interests - from Bodybuilding, to Sustainable Fashion, to FemTech! They seem like different interests at first, but it all comes down to bringing diverse perspectives together and promoting life-long discovery and learning. At the end of your day, how do you complete your regimen? I have an alarm at 8:30 pm tells me to get ready for bed! I like to take my time winding down so that I can fit in some fun videos or read before I go to bed. I’m also really into skincare and different serums haha, so that’s been part of my ritual to take care of myself and helps with relaxing. How do you stay optimistic? I’m an eternal optimist and I sometimes wonder how much is nature vs nurture! Growing up I was known as a very happy smiley child so that probably helped reinforce my optimism! I grew up with the attitude of looking at the bright side and while I’ve certainly had my share of struggles, especially as an entrepreneur I’d learned to hone that mindset of “what is the lesson here” “What is the opportunity to grow?”
Huge thank you to Po On for being so thoughtful and sharing her story! You can find out more about her:
Femtech Collective: https://femtechcollective.com/about-us
Lifestyle Blog; Personal Development, Health and Wellness: http://poymeetsworld.com