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by Jia Ying Chia  |
Habits make or break you; San Yeo’s pivotal change to a healthier, happier version of herself came when she had her ‘A-Ha!’ moment a few years ago during a significant life change, and she began her pivotal journey down the wellness and health rabbit hole. The former multimedia specialist turned holistic wellness coach and Biohacker (known as The NicheNerd), has made it her purpose in life to share her knowledge and strategies for improving everything. And who can say no to better sleep quality, better fitness levels or a resurrected lust for living your life to its full potential?  


There’s a huge amount of information on health available on the internet today — how do you figure out what’s the good stuff and the not-so-good stuff?

SAN YEO: I think it’s all about listening to your body, because for me, I can go really strict if I really wanna achieve something, you know? When you’re on a strict lifestyle for a period of time, your body gets really clean and it doesn’t function like before so when you eat certain ingredients that are not good for you, you can feel it ( or you’ll) get certain symptoms. Some people get diarrhoea, some people will vomit it out and things like that. 

And dig into the research. I also read a lot of medical journals, to make sure that the ingredients (I consume) are okay. Who you go to for your resources is also very important. Everyone is writing the same thing, and immediately if someone has a certain symptom, they’ll be on Google thinking like, “Oh no! I have cardiovascular disease!” But no, symptoms are the same and these sites are very general, it doesn’t apply to everyone whose biological make up is a little bit different. You gotta really find the right guys who are willing to help others, and not worry about the profit.


What was that journey across different industries and lifestyles like, actually pushing yourself to make a change and go through it with the discipline you build to keep getting on?

SAN YEO: Oh, it’s a really difficult journey, haha! I will say it’s trying times for me, but I’m a very determined person and I trust in the process, so I knew it was gonna be hard venturing into an industry that I really had no idea about but over time with all the studies online and the people I tend to – both free and also paid clients – the results kind of show that it’s worth it. Even from design to pitching, to consultancies, it was all very new to me at some point. But yeah, it takes time to adapt.


Alright, how, speaking of trusting the process, how… do you do that?

SAN YEO: I just rock up every day and, you know? I plan, structure, get the work done. Don’t get lazy. Don’t fall back to the old habits…yeah. Because what I notice is that in the past, the only thing that sets me apart from everyone in my field I think is my attention span, haha! While i’m very creative and wanna do a lot of things, you know, it’s all creative, we, we hold the proud badge of (sleep deficit) you know?  I grew to realise that is not okay. Because for creativity, productivity, thinking skills and being there for others, you need focus and attention span. We need to be able to retain the information at the end of the day.

My problem back then was attention span because I lacked sleep. I was an insomniac; I worked until four a.m., wake up at seven. It starts catching up to your health and then manifests into something else. Once you change all that, your brain starts to work again. I was actually kinda shocked that I can go back to studying now. I was never an academically-inclined person. I was more creative, better in the practical, but things start to change now. Even though it’s still very difficult for me to study like a PhD student, but I’m getting there. I’ve completed quite a lot of certifications just to be competent to help others.


You said stress has a physical effect and I think sometimes people don’t always make the link between their physical and emotional state of health. What was that journey like for you, trying to maybe balance the two, or maybe find more of a connection.

SAN YEO: It’s all about tracing back to the root cause and understanding your routine. Because you’re with yourself 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, you are the one who knows your routine and what you’re doing throughout the hours. For me, I noticed how I spend my time throughout the day. It was always like binge watching, videos to study more, and lack of movement, so of course I’m gonna get sick. If you spend too much time watching the screen and too little contact with Mother Nature, the stress piles up and over time it manifests into something else like skin rashes or hives and breakouts and hormonal issues. So yeah, so when I slowly went back to change all of that, those issues start to melt away and disappear. I no longer get migraines, I no longer get period pain, I (used to get) a lot of back symptoms, sometimes to the point that I have to be bedridden, you know. It was really brutal. I had a lot of cysts in my body removed and for four years now I’ve been surgery-free.

I no longer get a lot of symptoms or think negatively, and I manage my emotions better after a breakup haha! Everything that you usually find challenging gets much easier because of the things happening in your body; you’re feeding it well, you’re not allowing detrimental habits or toxic thinking. Yeah, I came to realise, ‘Oh, I do not have a mental illness’. It was just chronic sleep debt and a lack of nutrition. Because nobody wants to give up their addiction, even if it makes them sick. So when you pay attention to how you spend your routine, it’s very easy to nail down the detrimental habits that you need to get rid of. And habits are not something easy to leave.


Yeah. Maybe let’s explore the idea of bad habits and addictions. Are all addictions bad habits, or are all bad habits addictions?

SAN YEO: Well, what do you think? Haha. This is a very interesting question because I practised this with one of the doctors when I went to do bloodwork. I hadn’t done any tests for 11 years and went to do it fairly recently. We were talking about the topic of introverts and ambiverts and, it’s like, character traits cannot be changed and if someone is the way they are, they will not change. That is not true. Because I have changed over the course of time, and I can get rid of a bad habit but it takes time. It depends on that person and if they’re from a fixed mindset or adaptable to change. If they can take people’s opinions and make an effort to change themselves. Cause when you think about it, all habits are actually learned over the years. If you do something excessively, it becomes an addiction, right?


Yeah. I find this interesting as I feel like a lot of people are actually addicted to phones or screen time? And they’re not able to admit that it is an addiction. Hypothetically, it’s become acceptable for the addiction to be present in its form.

SAN YEO: Yeah, they got used to it so they think that it’s a normal thing. They think just like the older generations – “It’s normal to get sick, it’s normal to get symptoms when you have period.” No, it’s not normal at all. It’s not normal to get cysts all over your body. It’s something that can be reversed at an early age. I used to get that a lot when I was overly excessive with my refined carbs intake and I did not offset it with healthy lifestyle habits like exercise, sunlight and stuff like that.


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