Interview with Jo-Ann Hem Lee Interview with Jo-Ann Hem Lee |

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Interview with Jo-Ann Hem Lee

by carifinman · 0 comments

‘good for others and you can do good for yourself’

Jo-Ann Hem Lee

CARIFIN Media Interview with JO-ANN HEM LEE

CARIFIN MEDIA (CM): You are an avid runner now as you are in your 50’s; when you were younger…did you participate in sports/athletics?


Jo Ann Hem Lee

JO-ANNE HEM LEE (JHL): Yes, it all started while I was at secondary school, St Joseph Convent, POS, some friends and I would reach to school early and make at least 2 laps around the QP savannah before class. It used to be lots of fun.

CM: Thinking back, do you think your running in secondary school impacted on your life presently with regards to running 5K’s?

JHL: Not really. I enjoy the outdoor but I never really participated much in sporting activities. Participating in marathons now is only started because of a change in my lifestyle due to health issues. I wanted to take better care of myself, so at age 46, I started walking and that lead to running and eventually doing 5k’s.

CM: Do you think you would have benefited from being athletic and why?

JHL: Yes, definitely. Besides the weight loss, it expands the way you live. Once I started running, I began to take better care of myself and as such, I naturally changed my eating habits. It also helps me mentally and I am able to handle stressfully situations better – at work or a home.

CM: How has your family been able to join you on your journey towards this healthy lifestyle?

JHL: Actually I think they have become more inspired, because they are seeing me and my progress. I went two (2) sizes down from a size 14. Some family member didn’t recognise me and they told me, they are now seeing the old Jo-Ann from the 80’s.

CM: When you started on this road to a healthier lifestyle (eating habits & routines), what was their take on the changes?

JHL: My son also joins me with what I am eating – salads and more greens and he has enjoying it. It’s a habitual change for the better for my household – we don’t drink juice in my house, we have lots of water. Try to eat natural foods and have a balance diet and exercise.

CM: How do you motivate your co-workers to see the benefits of healthy eating & exercise?

JHL: The best way is to lead by example, since they shape I am in and they know that I am not exactly very young. They are also interested in what I am eating, so much that I remember at one Branch, everybody started to eat oats for breakfast. It also had one girl, that started running 5K’s and her dad also started running as well.

CM: Do you share recipes and tips with your co-workers?

JHL: Yes, if they are interested. When they ask me what I am eating and it sounds unappealing, I actually offer them some to taste and they are like it. I grow some of my own herbs like rosemary and basil in my garden so it’s all natural.

CM: What has been the hardest aspect of your lifestyle change to get the new Jo-Anne Hem Lee?

JHL: If I had any hurdles at all, it would be being disciplined with my diet and finJoanne Hem Lee - medalsding time to exercise as needed. I still get a little distracted with my diet as I am not 100% disciplined and I still treat myself every now and then. I heard a presentation once, about putting things in place to ensure difficult tasks are done. If you are prepared and put things in place, there would be no excuse to not get that task done. Since then, in a corner of my room, I always have my exercise equipment laid out; so on most evenings I do a 15 – 45 minute session.

CM: Since you have been successfully participating in Carifin for the past 3 years, what would you tell your former self over 5 years ago about Carifin?

JHL: I would say ‘I am so sorry…I didn’t know about it before’. I heard about it previously, but I just thought it was an elite group of people competing, like hard core training, and that I could not do it. I also did not know Carifin was so inclusive. When I did it the first time, I was already doing the 5K’s and we had a little group in the office and I suggested that we try the Carifin. I am sorry I wasn’t doing it before… because I would have had more trophies.

CM: Of all the CARIFIN events you have participated in over the years, which event/year has been the most memorable & why?

JHL: Last year, 2015, was really good because we (RBL) would have a Queen (during the Family Day) from the High Street branch (San Fernando). When I got there, I assisted on getting everybody involved – RBL employees and their family and friend. I kept nudging them to compete and eventually they had so much fun. I found the entire family day was very entertaining and totally interesting. I wasn’t bored at all and I was there from 10am. Whatever structure they used last year, it really worked.

CM: We are all human and as such, we will have moments of weakness. What is your regime or what do you do to keep yourself motivated?

JHL: For me, it’s all about liking and loving myself more. That’s all. It’s just one body and one life we have and I think we should do the best we could to make the most of it. You have to want to do it and I kept telling myself it is not about going on a diet, you would be changing your lifestyle. You are going to be doing this from now on and these are the choices I am going to make.

CM: If you are to sum up your CARIFIN experiences in a few words…what would you say to:

  1. A new participant:

Joanne Hem Lee - trophiesJHL: There is something for everyone, no matter what or where you are at physically right now; there is something you can do. That’s what I like about Carifin, the entire event is so open, it is not only for the top three (3) winners to receive a prize, up until the 10th position you could be rewarded and that is such a good motivator.

  1. To a former participant who has stopped competing:

JHL: I would remind them of the benefits as it gives them something to work towards, even if you stopped exercising. As I said you don’t have to be on top of your game, so there is no way you can lose anything, it’s only a gain. It’s a push start for you to work towards your overall health goals, they would have to train and get properly prepared for the next Carifin event.

CM: How did you feel winning the title of 2015 Spirit of the Games?

JHL: I was so excited and I almost didn’t want to share it because I didn’t think it was true. I was really beyond excited and I was so thrilled because it really meant a lot to me because I like to see people getting involved so it meant a lot. I didn’t really think about it as it wasn’t something I really worked towards, it just happened.

CM: If you could sum up your overall 2015 CARFIN experience in a few words, how would you describe it?

JHL: It was an opportunity to meet and get people on board to become involved in some kind of physical activity. It was also a personal opportunity to win something, because it is difficult for me in my age group to actually get to that point of winning something. This is for people who just like it and can still have an opportunity to be 1st or 2nd. I’m sorry, but I like trophies. I have over 100 medals or more.

CM: Any final words or advice for life and Carifin?

JHL: IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO START!! Participating in Carifin does take some effort, but what is anything without any effort. You personally have to make an attempt as the opportunity is right there waiting for you. To succeed, you need to keep training and to keep your fitness levels up. All the events I have entered were all mostly for charity or to raise awareness. As I say, ‘do good for others and you can only do good for yourself’.

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