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Expatriate Network: Liam Harkness

The director of wellness at BE Urban Wellness talks about finding a passion for work, what it takes to lead a healthy lifestyle and his perspective on staying motivated for fitness goals.

by / Published: 4 Mar 2014

Expatriate Network: Liam Harkness
Interview by Anis Taufik | Photo by Amir Rashid
 
The director of wellness at BE Urban Wellness talks about finding a passion for work, what it takes to lead a healthy lifestyle and his perspective on staying motivated for fitness goals.
 
WHO ARE YOU?
 
Name: Liam Harkness
Nationality: British
Occupation: Director of Wellness, BE Urban Wellness
Time in Malaysia: One year
 
 
LIAM ON…
 
LOVING YOUR JOB
I played national level sports in the UK and did a Sports Therapist degree. I then moved to Hong Kong where I worked with many key business people and celebrities. To further help my clients reach their goals when they were not with me, I completed Holistic Lifestyle Coaching in the US.
 
I love being able to make a difference in people’s lives. My job allows me to work with people who are actively striving to improve themselves and make progress to their minds and bodies.
 
When you enjoy your job, it really doesn’t feel like work. It sounds cheesy, but my job is healing people and what I do can be energetically rewarding. It’s not like I go home at the end of the day and think, “Oh man, what an awful day.” It’s always rewarding to be able to help people.
 
 
HELPING CLIENTS FIND A BALANCE 
Although clients feel like a million dollars when they leave me, it’s not easy to keep this momentum going at home.
 
The biggest challenge is to get them to do their follow-up work. It’s really tough to get people to eat well and follow the exercises we’ve recommended as therapists when their friends eat rich food and follow poor lifestyle choices. Imagine giving up alcohol when all your friends are still drinking!
 
The bottom line is, the happier you are, the healthier you are. You cannot be healthy and miserable. The body always follows the mind. At BE Urban Wellness, we use positive catchphrases like “Be happy, be healthy.”
 
 
MAKING REALISTIC FITNESS GOALS
Sometimes, people make unrealistic fitness goals when they set huge, unmanageable targets and don’t spend enough time mentally preparing for the tough road ahead. Cleansing the body of addictive foods and increasing your vitality with hard work is tough.
 
A good trainer must counsel their clients and be there for them way beyond the workout session. Fat cells particularly hate being starved out; sugar and other stimulants that are foreign to the body put up a huge fight in withdrawal symptoms. Typically, clients become disillusioned by the mental battle with these struggles. 
 
Take for example a client who starts a weight loss programme with diet and exercise: after two weeks, they may have intestinal bloating and water retention as the body flushes out toxins that have been stored in fat cells.
 
The body responds to exercise by building more tightly packed muscle; suddenly, the client gains 3lbs, feels like crap, has aching muscles and is getting headaches from coffee and sugar withdrawal. Imagine going through this process alone, with no one informing you of the likely side effects that come from a drastic change in lifestyle.
 
 
STAYING MOTIVATED FOR HEALTH
Health and fitness go hand in hand—movement is not an option. We must teach accountability regarding long term optimum health, and not so much the intermittent diet and binge programmes that are so popular in the market.
 
Losing weight so that you can hit a goal and then return to your passive lifestyle habits creates long term hormonal imbalances, interferes with metabolism and is dangerous to your health. 
 
You must embrace the idea that good health is a life sentence—that’s why our programmes must be sustainable long term. Knowledge—from a trained source—is the key to successfully achieving all your health goals. Discipline, however, must come from the individual.
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