Former theatre actress Davina Goh has worn a lot of hats since she was last seen on stage in 2013 — modelling, hosting, acting on television, and even playing your favourite hits as a radio announcer. She even trained with 32nd-generation warrior monks in Jiangsu Province, China for eight months just because she can.
The versatile celebrity has also earned newfound popularity as an athlete. Just last year, she swam and kayaked 18 kilometres in open water as part of the Raleigh Round Island Challenge at Perhentian Island. She also documented her training as part of her participation in AIA Vitality 2017’s Night Run, a half-marathon held on 22 July.
To supply her body with sufficient energy, she sticks to a plant-based, vegan diet. In between producing cooking videos on her youtube channel Davina Da Vegan and her strict fitness routine, we caught up with Goh to talk about how she’s able to maintain her incredible level of energy to see her through all her fitness pursuits.
Lifestyle Asia (LSA) What’s the most physically strenuous activity you have ever done?
Davina Goh (DG): I took part in the Raleigh Round Island Challenge in May last year, where I swam and kayaked 18 kilometres around Perhentian Island. I trained for nine months in endurance swimming. The long, repetitive training led to a few injuries, and I strained my lower back a week before the big day. I was very nervous that I wasn’t going to complete the challenge, but I survived. My teammates and I were in the water for 12 hours and raised over RM 23,000 for two marine NGOs: Reef Check Malaysia, and MareCet.
Before that, I also trained for eight months [to learn kung-fu] with 32nd generation Shaolin warrior monks in China. That was also a life-changing experience requiring strong mental fortitude.
LSA: Have you always been this active?
DG: I’ve never stopped moving. I was raised in Australia, where you get thrown into a pool as soon as you can walk! I was an active sportswoman in school and won a couple of sports medals in college. But being in Shaolin school was what motivated me to take my fitness to new levels, and try and achieve new goals.
LSA: What pushed you to try a half-marathon?
DG: It had always been on the bucket list but I had been procrastinating. When I was approached to do [the AIA Vitality] Night Run 2017, it was only then that I realised that I’m in my mid-thirties. The longer I waited, the harder of an achievement it was going to be.
LSA: How do you usually prepare for sports events such as half-marathons?
DG: I eat as well as possible, ensuring I have all the right nutrients to keep a balanced diet. I don’t skip breakfast and cook my own meals whenever I can. I make sure I get at least seven hours of sleep each night. I complement my personal training sessions at Fitness First with yoga — to stretch out the muscles and maintain mobility — and meditation, to keep my mind calm and be at peace with myself.
LSA: What food do you typically eat to give you energy before a marathon?
DG: I’m very glad you asked about ‘energy’ and not ‘protein’! Being a plant-based lifestyle advocate, I frequently address the fact that protein is not the be-all and end-all of a healthy diet. It is more about the sum of what you eat. For energy, I eat a whole lot of oats. It’s my breakfast staple. I eat a lot of complex carbs like brown and red rice, sweet potatoes, and legumes. I snack on nuts, make my own cold-pressed juices and supplement my diet with maca and spirulina for an extra boost in energy. In my final week of training, I can foresee a lot of pasta and potatoes.
LSA: What’s the biggest challenge that you’ve encountered in your training thus far?
DG: My biggest challenge is keeping up the discipline. Running long distance needs time and consistency, and it hasn’t been easy, juggling it with work and family commitments. But even if it means only being able to fit in 20 push-ups before bedtime on some days, then I’d still do it.
LSA: We heard you hurt your knees during your eight-month training in China. How’s your injury now?
DG: My knees are definitely doing much better than when I first came home from kungfu school. I developed patello-femoral joint syndrome there, as a result of the rigorous lower body training. I couldn’t even get into a half squat, without being in excruciating pain. It has taken a lot of intensive physiotherapy to strengthen my legs to support my knees. The syndrome is well-managed now, but I still need to be extra mindful of my stride and posture.
LSA: What do you like most about running?
DG: I like its versatility. It can be done in a group as a fun activity, and it can be done solo for a more introspective experience. It doesn’t need equipment, just a good pair of shoes and a can-do attitude.
LSA: What fitness challenge would you like to participate in next?
DG: I choose to live in the moment as much as I can. All the fitness goals I’ve achieved were born from a random thought, or from a situation that fell into my lap. I’m not sure where my fitness journey will take me next. But I do enjoy the art and technicality of martial arts, so that would probably be something I’ll be gravitating towards again.
LSA: What’s your favourite post-workout snack?
DG: Peanut butter on a banana, or Vegemite and crackers. You can check out more of my healthy snacks and recipes on my Instagram account. There are so many creative and tasty ways to enjoy the amazing benefits of plants.