"Move often, eat in moderation, breathe deeply and do your pelvic floor exercises"
Our February Wellness Expert is our Joo Chiat neighbour and physiotherapist specialising in Women's Health Preet Singh. We visited Preet at her very own practice, Embrace Physiotherapy, located on Joo Chiat, where she talked us through her journey to becoming a womens’ health physio, her food philosophy, and the support system that helped her get to where she is now.
Impassioned by her own experiences during pregnancy and childbirth, and inspired by the physiotherapist who helped her, Preet opened her practice two years ago and began helping women suffering from a wide range of ailments. From issues arisen post-partum, to pelvic pain, intercourse pains, incontinence; and many others, Preet has been on a mission to make sure women know that help is available – and that they should be doing their pelvic floor exercises DAILY.
Hi Preet, thank you so much for having us. Can you start by telling us how you started your morning?
The truth of the matter is… I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON. I woke up to the cuddles of my almost 8 year old son at 6:45am – I still can’t believe that I am a mother to an almost 8 year old! That moment was short lived as we had to get on with the day with school starting at 7:30am and breakfast being a daily struggle in our busy household of 3 children and 3 adults. That being said, I am very proud to announce that we are trialling a new approach to breakfast, with a breakfast menu. And it’s working! It is a child informed menu whereby through a democratic process, they eat according to the menu – no negotiations whatsoever. Today was pancakes and that went down like a treat. Once the 8 year old is packed off to school, the younger two get our attention. I must admit it gets a little challenging to spend time one on one, but two to one works and it means I get to brush my daughter’s hair to help her channel her fav Disney princess and play Beyblades with the youngest before they head off. When I am not starting work at 8am, I usually walk them to school. I really value these school walks, the conversations and the insights into how their tiny minds work and how they perceive the environment around them. It’s so pure and matter of fact.
Can you give our audience a little bit of an introduction as to what you do and how you got into doing what you're doing?
Gosh where do I start! I am a Physiotherapist by training and started my career working in a hospital setting as a Cardiorespiratory Physiotherapist in Australia and Singapore. I fell pregnant with our first and decided I wanted to embrace motherhood and did not return. I loved it so much that we went on to have another two – sounded like a good idea at the time?!
Following the birth of our children, I really struggled with my pelvic floor recovery. I felt like a lot of time was spent on educating me about how to better care for my baby – the different cues for crying and what that means – but, so little time and attention is actually paid towards educating mums on their own health and wellbeing, how their body may change as a result of pregnancy and childbirth and beyond. I was so grateful for the work and efforts of my physio that I thought to myself, this is where I want to be, not incontinent, embracing life and helping other women achieve the same too.
Did you know that a third of women will suffer from urinary incontinence, a quarter of women will experience symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse, a fifth will suffer from persistent pelvic or sexual pain and a ninth of women will suffer faecal incontinence throughout their lifespan? It is so prevalent, yet it is not spoken about often enough or worst still we are told that it is normal, when in fact , while it may be common, HELP IS AVAILABLE.
I think back to when I would bring up my concerns with my obstetrician or gynae often it was like, “Yeah, you're pregnant, what else do you expect?”.
So, knowing what I knew and based on my personal experience, I felt compelled to change that and subsequently worked towards specialising in Women’s Health Physiotherapy. I finished the last subject of my post-graduate certificate through Curtin University, Australia in the thick of Circuit Breaker. And for good measure, I decided that in order to make a difference, I needed to create a safe space for women to address these often very personal struggles and Embrace Physiotherapy came to fruition.
How has COVID affected you?
To be honest COVID-19 has been more kind than mean towards my family and myself. It has given me an opportunity to spend time with my husband and children, re-address my priorities and identify what is important in life. Sometimes as humans we get so lost in the day to day, that we lose sight of the bigger picture and I feel COVID has allowed me to sit back and appreciate the bigger picture.
Professionally, it has allowed me to further my knowledge and skill sets through online continuing education (rather than me travelling back to Australia to do so). With no travel, it has helped mummies stay on track and keep up with their rehab to achieve their goals.
From your experience, what do you think are some of the biggest health challenges people are facing at the moment?
Err doing their pelvic floor exercises daily! I would also add managing priorities, stress management and being consistent. It takes a minimum of 18 days for a habit and another 90 days to consolidate it. So, ladies be kind to your sleep deprived, busy selves. Now may not be the right time, but it will eventually happen. A patient once told me, list 3 priorities for the day or week and stick to it. It’s a work in progress for me, but it’s working!
How do you manage to find a work / life balance? It must be quite hard to draw a line sometimes.
I would argue that I'm doing a good job at it. It's about identifying priorities and I wouldn't be here without my husband's support. He's actually been the enabler to allow this to occur, he’s really believed in me. Without that support and encouragement, all of this definitely wouldn't be happening.
Back to the point about priorities, I do think certain priorities have perhaps fallen back in order for me to spend more time on developing a business and growing it. And I think there's different times for different priorities. I love the term “work/life balance” because it's never exactly 50/50, it’s not just family vs work for example, it always ebbs and flows.
Looks like Joo Chiat is the place to be with your studio and our new café!
Yes. Such a thriving community and we are quite supportive of each other and I think that helps.
Tell me what wellness means to you?
I think for me, it's actually a way of thinking. Adopting a more glass half full approach. And that's pretty personal to me because I believe I'm a bit of a glass half empty type, I tend to see the negative before I see the positive. And then my husband comes home and gives me that zoomed out perspective, look at what you've been able to achieve and now make a list of what you haven't been able to do. You'll quickly realize you are your own worst critic. So I think wellness is a state of mind where we focus on the positives and you'll notice that even the positivity breeds out that negativity. And I think we need to just appreciate what we do have and recognize what we can work towards in due course.
And, do you have any rituals or habits or anything that you do regularly?
Great question. It's something I've started doing more recently. As I started the business, I quickly realized that I'm less of a business person and more of a physio, so I have a business mentor who helps me with business decisions. Some of the topics we discuss are about weekly planning, and my new sort of habit is to start with how I’d like the week to look and then fill in the gaps around it. Start with what makes you happy or “makes your heart sing”, add in the family stuff and what’s important to you, and then add your work in around all of that. Those are the things that are important to me in terms of my priorities.
We’re going to talk about one of our favourite priorities now, food. So how would you describe your food philosophy?
I think the biggest one is everything in moderation. It's quite easy to get carried away with things that you really like. And, I think moving forward, it's all about creating a balance in not only your food choices but in your daily life choices as well, what you choose to do, how much time you spend or choose to spend doing something in particular.
I suffered with debilitating IBS during my pregnancies that I needed to follow the FODMAPs diet. I must admit that as an individual that never needed to think twice about food choices in life, it-was-hard. It was an enlightening yet humbling process as I navigated this concept of sugars upsetting the gastrointestinal balance. Ultimately, I managed to work out the culprits, and fortunately enough, I did not need to omit these sugars but rather eating in moderation helped to avoid flare-ups.
This is something I’m trying to teach our children as well, I like the expression “eat the rainbow” as it perfectly describes our colourful approach to fruits and veggies.
What does gluten free mean to you?
Growing up in an Indian household, literally every meal was accompanied with gluten. I only appreciated the gluten free concept when I was diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity (finally, being bloated all the time made sense) as an adult. This is one of the reasons for my eat in moderation food philosophy.
What would be your top 3 tips for healthy living?
Move often, eat in moderation, breathe deeply and do your pelvic floor exercises – sorry that’s 4!
Do you have any life affirmations, quotes or mantras that you find help you?
Breathe in the positivity and breath out the negativity.
Be where you are. I use this a lot when around my family as being a solo business owner, my mind wanders a lot unfortunately, be it to my to do list, to how I could have done better…
And I love to channel my inner wonder woman and perform power posing as recommended by social psychologist Amy Cuddy. Basically put, our body language dictates how we perceive ourselves. How we hold ourselves can impact our mind. I try and get my mummies to do this too, especially if they’ve spent a fair bit of time sitting hunched over a newborn or over a desk.
Where can our readers connect with you?
We are picking up our social media and online game this year (fingers crossed), so follow us at @embrace.physiotherapy.sg to learn more about women’s health and pelvic floor topics AND visit our website to read our blogs on topics we commonly get asked about www.embracephysio.sg.
You can always drop us an email or book an appointment for more specific concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are in the area, do not be shy to pop in and say hi! We are located at 410 Joo Chiat Rd, 427636. We also have some great neighbours nearby for your fashion, homewares or coffee fix.
And finally, some sentence starters, just say the first thing that pops into your head!
Three things I always have stocked in my fridge are… cheese, eggs, avocado!
To relax I… move away from my phone or organise a family activity.
I'm most grateful for… health, family and happiness.
If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life it would be… buckwheat crackers, peanut butter and cheese!
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