inspiring women series // 3
Hailing all the way from Ireland is Liza Rowan, CEO and Founder of Health & Vitality. Through this non-profit business, she educates and motivates people to take control of our own nutrition and wellbeing. She was interviewed on BBC World News to offer her expert opinion on nutrition.
Liza is no stranger to Australia, Scotland, Austria, Canada and Hong Kong, as she followed her husband each time he relocated for work. Now residing in Singapore, the mother of two teenage boys volunteers her time with local women’s right group, AWARE, in their Helpline and Legal teams.
It seems like there is nothing she has not done – let’s understand more about how Liza approaches life, through our Q&A:
honest & gentle: What are your views on parenting?
Liza: It’s the best and most important job on the planet. Unfortunately, there is no ideal style, so we have to find our own way that we believe is best. Giving our kids opportunities to try different sports and activities is important, while giving them space to learn from their own mistakes.
I try to balance between never fussing over them to always being there if and when they need me. The role evolves as they get older but they always need you to be there. I believe that all time and energy invested in them (without every smothering) pays back in spades when they leave home to build their own independent lives.
honest & gentle: How do you juggle work and motherhood?
Liza: I didn’t have my kids until my late 30s, so I was able to focus on working hard, playing hard (haha) for a long time. I was fortunate to be able to change career when my kids were young. I followed my passion and retrained to be a holistic nutritionist in Canada by studying part-time. This was perfect when the kids were young and only going to school in the mornings.
As a nutritionist, I work for myself, so I am generally able to dictate my hours. My kids are of course my priority, but as they got older and were at school full-time, this enabled me to juggle more between the two.
honest & gentle: You’ve had to relocate to different countries due to your husband’s work - how did you adapt each time?
Liza: Honestly, I embraced each move as a challenge and saw each as an opportunity to enjoy a different culture, a new continent and make new friends. We moved from the UK to Austria (where the kids were born) to Toronto, Hong Kong, back to Toronto and finally Singapore.
It always helps to do some investigative work and join groups before you relocate. People are always willing to help, and I was lucky to make new friends (often parents of kids’ school friends) when I landed somewhere new. From there, it’s a case of making an effort to be social, to keep positive and throw yourself (and the kids) into new activities. Singapore was particularly easy as it’s a safe and sunny place, people are very welcoming and friendly, and it’s easy to get around.
honest & gentle: Where do you volunteer at? What inspired you to serve them?
Liza: Currently I’m on the board of an education and community-based NGO in Cambodia, called Green Umbrella. Since living in Singapore, I’ve travelled frequently to Phnom Penh to get the whole family involved with communities there. I also arrange fundraising events here in Singapore as people generally want to help other causes.
I also volunteer with AWARE on their Helpline and on their Legal Clinic. After a 10-week training course with them, I pursued a certificate in counselling, which helps tremendously with the role and is also useful to have when dealing with people from many walks of life and in many situations.
honest & gentle: Where do you draw strength from?
Liza: I think I’m naturally independent and optimistic, and appreciate the great life I continue to lead. My husband and kids are of course my biggest strength, but also being able to assist those less fortunate - be that helping clients at AWARE or bringing attention to people in need in Cambodia.
honest & gentle: Any nutritional or wellness tips to achieve that youthful glow?
Liza: I’ve always said beauty comes from within, so I’ve always focused on a healthy, clean diet - lots of water and fresh varied foods. I’m a bit of a chemophobic, so I have always used only natural or organic items on my skin. This is much easier now with the wide variety of brands available and people being much more conscientious about pure and sustainable beauty.
honest & gentle: What’s your skincare regime like? Any skincare tips?
Liza: As with most things, I keep things simple - cleanse & moisturise every morning and evening, and that’s pretty much it! I spend quite a bit of time in the sun playing tennis, so I’ll use a natural SPF 30+ cream. Many sunscreens contain many chemicals, so I try to choose wisely.
The humidity here in Singapore prevents skin from drying out, so it’s a great climate to help keep skin subtle and hydrated.
. . . . .
Thank you, Liza, for making such a difference to many lives, be it in Singapore or Cambodia. We are inspired to learn from you, seeing how we can still create a positive impact wherever we go, by just choosing to get out of our comfort zones and doing what’s right.
Wishing you the very best in your community endeavours and your advocacy for holistic nutrition and wellbeing! Your spontaneity, proactivity and optimism have certainly influenced us - may you always keep them.
(all images by Liza Rowan)