Co-founders overcame health problems
Web portal aims to help users pursue better nutrition, fitness and mental wellness
Ms Holleigh Mason, co-founder of wellness web portal Urban Remedy Asia, started treating her body well only a few years ago.
A housewife back then, she used to weigh 128kg, was able to wolf down three plates of char kway teow in one sitting and treated the food court at ION Orchard as her "gym" because she lived in the condominium above the mall.
Her definition of "gym" has changed since, but not her friendship with fellow Australian and Urban Remedy Asia co-founder Natalie Dau.
Ms Mason, 46, said meeting Ms Dau, then a marketing director, five years ago at the playground frequented by their children changed her life.
Ms Mason, who has a 25-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter, told The New Paper: "We did not speak until she approached me.
"I did not hate her, but I just could not look at her. She was so successful and had a great body. That was when I started thinking, 'What happened to my life?'"
After the death of her father the year before, the former gymnast, netball and tennis player suffered from deep vein thrombosis (DVT) - a blood clot that develops within a deep vein in the body, usually in the leg - and a heart attack.
Ms Mason said: "One would think that after two life-threatening conditions that landed me in the Intensive Care Unit for a month, I would make some changes to my lifestyle. But I did not and continued to indulge myself with food after (moving) to Singapore (from Australia in 2012)."
The tipping point came when Ms Dau, who knew about Ms Mason's health problems, went up to her and said she needed to lose weight.
Ms Mason said: "Nat was very upfront and honest about it. She said there should not be any excuses because we have only one life to live."
Under Ms Dau's encouragement, she eventually rid herself of her disastrous eating habits, picked up Zumba and became a licenced Zumba instructor.
Now weighing 69kg at 1.65m tall, Ms Mason is grateful to Ms Dau, who not only saved her but also her family by getting them to follow a healthy lifestyle.
The women launched Urban Remedy Asia as a Facebook page two years ago and have since turned it into a dedicated web platform that offers curated resources for those who want to pursue better nutrition, fitness and mental wellness.
Ms Dau said: "We wanted to reach out to more people and provide an informed opinion... We list free activities as well as healthy food places (in) the suburbs."
From just two staff members, they have grown into a team of six.
Ms Dau herself overcame personal adversity, after she was diagnosed with DVT and rheumatoid arthritis in 2008. The 45-year-old said that from an exercise point of view, that was the lowest point of her life.
She was hospitalised for a week, and had to wear medical compression stockings and inject blood thinners for two years when she had DVT. Her arthritis continues to cause her pain every day.
An active person by nature, her self-confidence dipped when she was not able to continue her sporty lifestyle then.
Said the mother of an eight-year-old girl: "It got me really frustrated as I consider exercising and sweating it out as a form of release."
The duo are also enthusiasts of Spartan races, a popular series of obstacle races of varying distance and difficulty.
Ms Mason just completed the Spartan Race Super, a 12.8km course with 25 obstacles, while Ms Dau, an eight-time Spartan racer, continues training for Spartan Elite races, like an upcoming World Championship in Lake Tahoe, California.
Ms Dau said: "Even though Holleigh always says that I was the one who saved her, she's the one who pushes me out of my comfort zone and is my biggest cheerleader."