This Wellness Month, Hive Life speaks with women’s health and fitness coach at Limitless, Rachel Francia, on her fitness journey, personal motivations, and her essential tips for women getting started on their own fitness and wellness journey!
Hong Kong-based health enthusiast Rachel Francia turned her personal experiences with wellness into her full-time occupation, and is now working as a women’s wellbeing and fitness coach at Limitless. From being a mother, a health specialist, certified coach, wife, friend, and personal wellness companion, Rachel has put on many hats over the past years, and takes great pride in fulfilling each and every role in her life with great compassion and composure.
In this health and fitness guide, Rachel shares some personal anecdotes of when she first got into wellness, how these experiences have moulded her into a resilient fitness coach, and valuable advice for women to kickstart your wellness journey.
But Rachel’s journey has not been all smooth sailing. When she became a mother at the age of 20, Rachel suffered from postpartum depression for the next 4 years of her life. Working in the cutthroat Food and Beverages industry only made things harder for the young mother. Juggling motherhood and work, Rachel was left with little to no time for her physical and mental self.
Rachel recalled, “After you get pregnant things start to change, my energy levels were not the same. I was working at an F&B group at the time, and you have to mentally always be on the go. About three days after giving birth, I got fired. I was freshly married at the time, and once the baby arrived, we had to raise a child, and were juggling life with lots of bills to pay – I had to work. At the same time, I did not have time to figure out who I am and what I want, and so everything during the period was an adjustment for me.”
Living with postpartum depression, Rachel struggled to stay afloat, her declining mental health started to have physical effects on her wellbeing. Feeling constantly drained after the long working hours in F&B, she was unable to be an active part of her child’s infanthood. Facing a sense of melancholy on missing out on her daughter’s very first milestones, Rachel realised it was time to put an end to the vicious cycle. She made the decision to leave F&B for good.
Rachel met a life-altering opportunity as she ventured into the health and fitness industry, starting out as a receptionist at Maximus Studio. With better working hours, and a great fitness space, the position allowed her to reshift her priorities and focus on her wellbeing.
“It is where my fitness journey started, by getting stronger and healthier both mentally and physically. That is the point in which my life changed.”
Seeing all the bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts kept her inspired and looking for more. Rachel enjoyed training, the concept behind it, and being able to help others through fitness became a new field for her to explore. While she did manage to attain her desired fitness goals, being a full-time mother made it difficult to keep up with a bodybuilder’s lifestyle. Looking back, Rachel felt there was something wrong and realised training her physical self only was not sustainable.
Rachel was then introduced to a holistic approach to wellness through her acquaintance with Tricia Yap, the founder of holistic wellness gym, Limitless. Rachel then took up a certification as a personal trainer, and later started her journey as a health and wellness coach with Tricia.
While it is important to be physically well and active, “one needs to be at peace with themselves” as well. Through her role as a wellness coach, Rachel aspires to bring change for those enduring similar experiences, and is committed to being the “role model” for others that she never had, her biggest inspiration and motivational force being her daughter.
What is the Role of a Health Coach?
Rachel shared more her individual role as a health coach, describing herself as a friend and cheerleader for her clients. “As a woman’s health coach, most of my clients are [predominantly] working women, mums, but I also train men these days. We customise our wellness programs, such as workout plans, to support the specific needs of our clients, especially the moms. Some would come and tell me they barely got enough sleep and just want some time away, and don’t have much energy in them, [I would then start] with some light stretches, and we will talk. [Others come in wanting to] train hard and just smash bash. Everyday is different but my initial goal for them is to make sure they leave the door happy, and feeling satisfied with themselves.”
One thing that Rachel and the coaches at Limitless do differently is that they take a sustainable approach to fitness. Rather than pushing clients to their breaking point, they understand their status and mould programmes to better meet their needs, while still towards their personal pre-set goals. More than just a physical trainer, Rachel empowers women through actively educating and equipping them with holistic wellbeing.
Tips For Attaining Your Wellbeing Goals
1. Always Fill your Cup
One cannot expect to keep giving their 100% when they are left with little for themselves. In our busy lifestyles, most people may not realise when to take a step back and refocus on their wellbeing, oftentimes we offer too much in the moment, be it our work, personal lives, or even our communities, eventually leaving us feeling drained and unmotivated. To fill one’s cup, is to understand that while others may require your assistance, prioritise your wellness, and replenish your energy levels above all.
“You cannot keep pouring and pouring- make sure you still have some left for yourself because once that cup is empty, you have nothing else to give,” Rachel added.
2. Listen to Your Body
Our body and inner selves hold great power, and have their way of communicating with us. When in sickness, the pain we endure is not just any arbitrary sensation, much rather a sensory response to alert us of our growing discomfort, and that we may need to visit a doctor. To be mindfully aware of our physical and mental self, and in-tune with our senses, requires us to slow down and understand what is being experienced.
Rachel shared an example, “During training, if you wish to add a bit more weight and however do not feel comfortable with that, or are too tired, listen to your body in order to stay safe and avoid injuries.”
3. Don’t Restrict Yourself
While our cravings may sometimes get the best of us, it is essential to build a healthy and unrestrictive relationship with food. when we crave and desire something more when we feel more controlled or imposed, this could lead to unhealthy patterns. One should be able to enjoy the comfort of food without feeling stressed about gaining that extra bit of weight.
“When it comes to eating your dessert, something you have been craving for, I would ask my clients: instead of restricting yourselves, since that can build a bad habit, just eat the cake. You do not have to eat the whole thing, but have a slice, and you will feel so much better.” Rachel said.
4. Don’t Go on a Diet!
A common misconception is that diets are healthy and great for weight loss. While partly accurate, diets do not initially help you sustain your weight-loss in the long-run. Many often overlook the effects brought by dieting to their everyday lives, from our mental to our physical well being. For instance, consuming a calorie deficit meal leaves you with low levels of energy and tiredness throughout the day.
“Carbohydrates are not your enemy. Getting carbs is essential for our energy levels to be complete,” says Rachel. Dieting is also linked to slowing our metabolism rate over time, and is essentially an unsustainable approach to our mental wellbeing, as it builds an unhealthy relationship with food.
5. Sleep, Sleep, Sleep
Rachel described her positive relationship with her snooze time and highlighted its major benefits for our health: “Sleep over anything! Once you have at least seven hours of sleep daily, your period health, energy levels, and your cognitive thinking will improve significantly.”
Sleep brings in many benefits for both our physical and mental being. It allows us to reset our body and mind, which explains why we perform better cognitively after a good night’s sleep. A healthy sleep schedule restores our energy levels and equips us more positively to go about our days, promoting our emotional wellness.
6. Bonus Tip – Set More Specific Goals
Above her other tips, Rachel shared the importance of setting more specific and realistic goals, in order for her to help her clients better attain their personal objectives in a self-sustaining and feasible manner.
“Take it one step at a time and set realistic goals for yourself, if you want to sleep earlier, break that down into micro-steps for yourself to take those smaller steps.”
Being a health and fitness coach is more than just offering your two piece on one’s wellbeing, it is understanding and working towards those shared goals, in both good and difficult times.
Rachel emphasises remaining patient during your wellness journey: “While it is a very slow process, know you will get there – and patience is a virtue.”