Fit And Fab

Limber up, enjoy the exercise

Ms Jeanette Ann Clarke says that, at her age, she is more concerned about fitness than which of her body parts she likes or dislikes.[…]
Ms Jeanette Ann Clarke says that, at her age, she is more concerned about fitness than which of her body parts she likes or dislikes.[…]ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

Brisk-walking septuagenarian, a cancer survivor, says exercise needs to be enjoyed

Q What is your secret to looking fabulous?

A Exercise and a healthy diet. I used to run but now, I do brisk-walking instead as it is easier on my old legs.

Q Has there ever been a time when you were not fit and fab?

A Yes, that was before I started exercising regularly in 1977 and I have managed to keep up with my routine. However, exercise was a challenge when I was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer, mantle cell lymphoma, in 2012 and had to undergo chemotherapy.

Q What is your diet like?

A My diet is mainly Western - muesli for breakfast; salad or sandwich with fruit and orange juice for lunch; and for dinner, a meat and vegetable main course plus fruit.

Q What are your indulgences?

A Chocolate and ice-blended coffee drinks. I also like a glass of red wine with dinner.

Q What do you do to relax?

A I enjoy reading, photography and travelling. I am a retired preschool teacher so I don't have to worry about work-life balance.

Q What are the three most important things in your life?

A Family, friends and finding the best in people.

Q What's your favourite and least favourite part of your body?

A I'm a "what you see is what you get" person. At my age, body parts don't worry me too much. Keeping healthy and fit is more important.

Q What are your must-dos before and after a race or training session?

A I try to eat before I exercise, especially if I'm brisk-walking a distance of 10km or longer. I do stretches after exercise.

  • Bio Box


    Age: 74

    Weight: 60 kg

    Height: 1.69m

    Ms Clarke, a retired preschool teacher, continued doing her regular exercises even after she was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma in 2012.

    "I did not exercise the first week after treatment as I was unwell and needed to rest," said Ms Clarke, an Australian who lives here. "After that, I would try to do some exercise on most days."

    That helped her stay positive during the chemotherapy treatments, she said.

    She will take part in the Singapore Cancer Society's Race Against Cancer on July 30.

    Ms Clarke and her husband Hugh Moncrieff Clarke, 62, an Australian pilot, moved here in 1990. They have two grown-up daughters.

Q How important is it for you to keep up with your fitness routine?

A Extremely important. It is hard to wake up and exercise if I haven't had a good night's sleep.

Q What is the most extreme thing you have done in the name of fitness or diet?

A Many years ago, I went on the Pritikin diet (which advocates eating low-fat, high-fibre food and doing regular exercise) for six months. I did it to improve my health and not to lose weight as I was already thin.

When I stopped the diet, I found that I really missed eating sugar, so I ate a bun every morning for three months. Now, I rarely eat buns.

Q How has your active lifestyle influenced your family and friends?

A My husband has always exercised with me. Our daughters have only just begun to exercise - they always thought I was a bit loopy. Over the years, many of my friends have joined me in exercise sessions.

Q What advice do you have for cancer patients?

A No matter how painful it is, you need to be positive. Exercise needs to be enjoyed and if it hurts, you should stop exercising.

Q How extensive is your collection of sports-related paraphernalia?

A I still have the running shoes I wore for my first 10 marathons. I've also kept some running tops.

My trophies and medals are too numerous to count. When I first started taking part in "fun runs" in the late 1970s, there were only a few female runners, so it wasn't hard to win a trophy.

Q Would you go for plastic surgery?

A No, we are given a body, which should always look good if we treat it properly.

Q Do you think you're sexy?

A Not at my age.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2017, with the headline 'Limber up, enjoy the exercise'. Print Edition | Subscribe