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  • #WonderWoman - Terrena

    0 comments / Posted by Vivien Chong


    In conjunction with November being ‘Depression Awareness Month’ here at Twenty3, we had the opportunity to sit down and chat with the lovely Terrena. Here she shares her moving story about gender identity, struggling with depression, and learning to love herself.

     

    “The name my parents gave me was Terrence. For as long as I could remember, I always felt like I was a little girl trapped inside a boy’s body. I loved playing with dolls and always wanted to dress myself up in beautiful dresses instead of wearing t-shirts and pants like boys do. When I turned 5 years old, my family began thinking that it was strange I was still playing with dolls instead of toy cars. This led to some of my relatives accusing my sisters of influencing me to be a girl, instead of a normal boy.

     

    Terrena wearing the Nikova Romper from Sher by Twenty3

    Gender identity is a funny thing; you think you know who you are, but everyone else tells you you’re supposed to be someone else. Primary school was a very difficult time for me, because kids can be so cruel to anyone they see as “different”. I was the subject of constant verbal and physical bullying. Not only was I certainly attracted to boys, but my body language and the way I spoke had femininity written all over it. Boys would purposely walk past me and hit me in the chest. Even at that age, I felt sexually harassed, but because I was a “boy”, no one cared. Once, a girl told me that she wished I would stop behaving like a girl and act more like a boy. It hurt me, and confused me even further.

    Home wasn’t a place where I could seek refuge. My mother’s friends would comment openly with disdain that I was turning into a girl. I knew that this bothered my mother, but she would just laugh with them and shrug it off. But I knew it was eating her up inside.

    I vividly remember the first time my family turned their backs on me. When I was 8 or 9 years old, I innocently asked to play with Barbie Dolls and discovered the dolls went missing the next day. They threw them all away and refused to speak a word to me. It scared me – I loved my family, and I was terrified of being alone. Everyone hated me in school, I couldn’t bear to lose my family too. From then on, I tried my best to be a normal male, even though it was far from who I was.

     

    Terrena wearing the Cezlio Romper from Sher by Twenty3

    I’d told lies before, but to actually live a lie made me question my own identity. Who am I? What defines me? Do I exist if nobody will recognize the real me? Do I exist if I don’t even have any sense of my self? It’s a heavy burden for anyone to bear; for a child, it was crushing.

    Growing up, my mind was constantly filled with suicidal thoughts. It started when I was in Primary 6. I would constantly ponder on the quickest, most painless way to die. I began harming myself by hitting my head against the wall, but never cut myself because I was afraid of blood. Several times I tied a rope to the windowpane, but never mustered enough courage to put it around my neck.

    College came and went and yet, I did not find the courage to embrace my feminine side. I wasn’t ready both financially and emotionally to face the consequences of coming out to my family. You only have one family.

    After graduating, I found a job and moved to the city. Away from the environment in which I grew up, I finally began to open up – KL is a much freer and much bigger place where I could grow and learn to rediscover my own self and self-worth. Back in my hometown, I was the weird child under scrutiny from friends and neighbours, but here, I was free to start over. Most importantly, I found a group of friends who have never judged me, and who have been incredibly supportive of my rediscovered gender identity.

     

    Fion wearing the Fronna Culottes, Terrena wearing the Fronna Dress

    Two weeks ago, with their constant encouragement, I stepped out in public in a dress for the first time. It was terrifying at first, but I had their unwavering support. They weren't embarrassed to be seen around me – in fact, they were thrilled for me!

    As for my family, I eventually came out to my eldest sister about who I truly am. Her first reaction was shock but she quickly learned to accept it. She even offered to research for the right doctors for me to consult in order for me to receive the right treatments!

    I now own several dresses of my own, but I still have a soft spot for that first dress – it was a Shanon Dress from Twenty3. They contacted me, and convinced me to share my story with the world.

    For anyone reading this who’s going through the same situation as I did, please know that you are not alone. I promise it gets better.

    This is me, coming out of my closet. Having lived a lie for so many years, it feels absolutely wonderful to finally accept myself for who I am.

    And who am I? I am Terrena.”

     

    Terrena wearing the Hagne Skirt and the Diarone Top

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  • #WonderWomanWednesday - Kayla Itsines

    1 comment / Posted by Vivien Chong


    “There is no competition here, there are no winners or losers” – Kayla Itsines

     

     

    Kayla Itsines, an international fitness Instagram sensation with 3.5 million followers and counting, is a must-follow for any Fitstagrammer. She shares progress shots of women who follow her ‘Bikini Body Guide’ (BBG) alongside workout tips and motivation in the form of photos of her own enviable abs. Her most impressive feat, however, isn’t the thousands of burpees she can crunch out, but the online community that she has cultivated of women looking to get stronger and healthier as well as supporting and commenting on each other’s workout progress through the hashtags #thekaylamovement, #bbggirls, #sweatwithkayla, and #bbgcommunity.

     

    We emailed her recently, and she replied sharing a little bit about herself and her famed Bikini Body Guide, as well as tips and words of encouragement.

     

     

    So who is Kayla Itsines and what has she been up to?

    I’m a 24 year-old personal trainer from Adelaide, Australia and I’ve just completed my first ever World Bootcamp Tour where I was privileged enough to meet and train with nearly 10,000 girls in the UK, USA and Europe. I absolutely love that I can train, educate and give healthy lifestyle advice to girls all around the world through my Bikini Body Training Guide, Healthy Eating Lifestyle Plan, social media accounts and my website, kaylaitsines.com.

     

    Do you remember how it all started? What inspired you to pursue a career in fitness?

    During school, I always had a passion for playing sports and helping people that led me to study Personal Training at the Australian Institute of Fitness. It all started when I began to upload the amazing transformation pictures of the clients I was training at the Personal Training studio to my Instagram page. Their motivating and relatable transformations drew the attention from girls all around the world who were curious as to how my clients and I were training and achieving these results. It was my clients who inspired me to continue to grow and learn as they were finally feeling the confidence they deserved, and nothing made me happier than seeing them being able to work towards and achieve their health and fitness goals.

     

     

    Why do you think your BBG exploded? How is your BBG different compared to other exercise regimes and fitness guides?

    I think my program has received so much positive feedback because the results are from real women who have all achieved REAL results. It’s not about a quick fix, it’s not a fad, and it’s a healthy, maintainable lifestyle change that is adaptable and REALISTIC for women of all ages, body shapes and fitness levels. My 28-minute high intensity, plyometric, resistance training sessions are designed to help girls achieve the results they have been seeking for so long – toned thighs, flatter stomachs and strong, slim arms, without having to spend hours a day in the gym. The biggest difference of my guides is the end goal that women worldwide are achieving; rather than being a weight-loss or a muscle-gaining program, it is simply a plan for women to develop a routine and discipline themselves to keep active and healthy in order to feel the confidence they deserve.

     

    What do you think are the most common mistakes girls make when it comes to fitness and diet?

    Girls often have the all or nothing attitude, where they fluctuate between taking their health seriously by eating extremely healthily and exercising every day, to doing absolutely nothing at all. Going through these constant changes is only going to have a negative effect on your body. This yo-yo type of attitude is frequently the main cause for rapid weight gain or weight loss, bloating, disappointment and emotional eating. My tip is to not overdo it, take things slow and make small, realistic changes; soon your body will develop a habit it can maintain long-term!

     

     

     

    What motivates you?

    My amazing BBG Girls are my motivation. Their inspirational, amazing, transformations as well as uplifting and encouraging energy keep me motivated to continue to provide health and fitness education, advice and support to women all across the world daily. These incredible women are SO dedicated and have put in so much hard work to feel fit, strong and confident and that gives me motivation to keep striving to be the best version of myself every single day. I feel blessed to be a part of such a positive community of women.

     

    Did you ever think you would come this far? What do you think is the key to your success?

    I had no idea that I would be in the position that I am in today and I feel honored and blessed that I have been given the opportunity to educate and help women from all over the world on their healthy lifestyle journey. I believe that it’s not my success that is being celebrated through my Instagram but the inspirational success of the amazing BBG girls. These girls have worked so hard and dedicated themselves to get the results they desired.

     

    What is the most exciting thing that has happened to you since you become a worldwide fitness icon?

    The last 12 months have included so many exciting moments; on both my Australian Tour and World Tour, but I’ll never forget walking on stage at Basketball City in New York City in front of 4,000 girls. I was taken aback that so many girls had travelled from all over New York and the USA to come and train with me and start their weekend actively! It was a very overwhelming experience and I count myself extremely lucky to be fortunate enough to be able to not only train, but also meet all these beautiful girls in person.

     

     

    Falling down is a part of life. Getting back up is living” – Kayla Itsines

     

     

    Closer to home, our founder, Sherlyn Tan, also found inspiration and motivation through Kayla and her Bikini Body Guide. What started as a means to overcome her battle with depression has turned into a veritable change in lifestyle, driving her to pursue bigger dreams. Read all about it next week!

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  • #Pink October: WonderWomanWednesday – Moei Ho

    0 comments / Posted by Vivien Chong


     Moei Ho, a breast cancer survivor wearing the Laverne Dress.

     

    “I first noticed the lumps on my breasts in mid 2008 but refused the use of any western medicine. Instead, I opted for traditional Chinese medicine to try to cure it. But with no progress, I realized it couldn’t be delayed any longer and went for an operation in November 2008. My breast cancer was at stage 3.

    I remembered asking God, “Why does it have to be me? What have I done in the past to deserve this cancer? Was I a terrible person?"

    The chemotherapy sessions took the most out of me. I was in terrible shape, physically, mentally and emotionally. It made my body very weak and I lost most of my appetite. This was amplified by the ulcers that had formed in my mouth due to the treatment as well as lack of sleep.

    What helped me the most with overcoming this bleak period of my life was the encouragement from my friends and family. They constantly told me that I have to face this instead of giving up and that I have to stay strong. There were still many more things I wanted to do with my life and I couldn’t die just yet!

    Every morning during my cancer period (and even now), I would wake up early to exercise at the nearby park, whether it’s doing chi gong or to climb the hill. I love the feeling of the morning sun when it hits my skin; it instantly lifts my mood even during bad days. I do take an enjoyment from climbing hills despite the path being difficult at times. For instance, it could be too steep but I see it as a reflection on life. If the road gets tough, you shouldn’t give up, you should persevere and try to overcome the obstacle presented in front of you.

    I was originally a tailor who sewed uniforms. But because of this cancer, I had to eat mostly organic food, which led me to the decision of opening my own organic food store! Because of this, I could also help people facing similar problems by becoming their one-stop shop and source for healthy food! 6 years have gone by since I’ve beaten breast cancer and I’m glad I survived It.” – Moei Ho

     

    Visit Moei Ho’s organic food store:

    Billion Organic Home, 42G Lorong Haruan 5/2, Oakland Commerce Square, 70200 Seremban, Negeri Sembilan.

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  • Pink October: #WonderWomanWednesday – Casey Chu

    1 comment / Posted by Vivien Chong


    Casey, a breast cancer survivor, wearing the Andie Dress. 

     

    "My name is Casey Chu, and I am 27 years old. I discovered a lump on my right breast in April of last year. Cancer was the last thing on my mind. I was young, and supposed to be at the peak of my life. In fact, I consulted three different doctors and all three of them told me that the chance of getting breast cancer at my age is very low, and it was probably just swelling. 

    I took a scan because my family has a history of breast cancer, and the tests confirmed it. Cancer, at 26.

    Upon receiving the news, my mum broke down crying, and my brother tried to console me by urging me to bawl and let it all out. I remembered asking myself, what's the point of crying? My cancer would still be there even if I did.

    Chemotherapy was difficult. I would just vomit uncontrollably for the next three days after each session. The physical pain was incredible, and I don't wish that upon anyone.

    Emotionally, it was no walk in the park either. Twice, I broke down crying. The first time was when my mum wept because she couldn't accept the fact that her child had cancer. She prayed and begged God to take her instead of me, and my heart just broke. I understood her anguish, though. I can't imagine seeing her suffer from cancer, too.

    The second time I broke down was when my doctor advised me to take half a year off from work to rest. Something as innocuous as that, and yet I wept! I suppose it was the apparent finality of it - like this is it, i'm not even useful to society anymore. I simply couldn't accept the fact that I could not go to work!

    It's been a few months since I officially beat cancer. However, even though it's in remission, I know that there's a possibility that it could come back to bite me again. So I've vowed to enjoy my life each and every single day - there's no bigger incentive to do so than having stared cancer down. First step: I've already made travel plans for next year!" - Casey

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  • Pink October: #WonderWomanWednesday - Jenny

    0 comments / Posted by Vivien Chong


    Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in women. It is caused by a genetic abnormality of uncontrolled growth of breast cells. In conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, throughout the whole of October we will be interviewing breast cancer patients and survivors to share their inspiring stories of strength.

     

    Jenny wearing the Fournier Top, a breast cancer survivor and her daughter, Maggie wearing the Andie Dress.

     

    “I was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer at 38 years old after discovering a lump on my breast. At the time, there was only one type of treatment available, which was Radiotherapy. I had to undergo 12 sessions of radiotherapy, with each session taking place every few days. Many people who discover they have cancer immediately dive into negative thoughts of dying, or how many months they have to live. I on the other hand decided to stay positive because all I wanted to do was beat cancer as I had a family to take care of. I never told them then, as I didn’t want them to worry about me – this will be the first time most of them will have heard of this! I've only told my mother-in-law because she was diagnosed with breast cancer too. I did my best to help her with household chores like cooking, and to support her in times of need even though I was suffering from cancer myself. After completing the initial treatments, I underwent regular check-ups in my first year followed by a check-up in my 5thyear, 10th year etc. I have since beaten breast cancer.” – Jenny

     

    Sherlyn with Jenny and Maggie. 

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