Health and Wellness, and a Little Extra with Jeanette Eng
Jasbina Ahluwalia interviews Jeanette Eng
A few of the topics Jeanette Eng addresses in this interview are:
- (01:55) Top Tips for Staying Fit When Gyms are Not an Option
- (05:06) Tips to Help Singles Start Dating – From Cues to Approach
- (07:50) How to Fuel Your Body to Optimize Your Performance
- (10:34) Health and Wellness Secrets to Optimize Your Body and Performance
- (12:95) Launching a Virtual Health and Wellness Business During COVID
- (15:15) Tips for Asian Americans Interested in a Non-Traditional Career Path
- (18:18) The Challenges Single Women Seeking a Partner in New York City
- (21:56) Let’s Talk about Freezing Your Eggs
- (25:27) How Egg Freezing Works
- (29:07) The Cost of Egg Freezing
- (36:57) Advice for Single Women Considering Egg Freezing
- (39:44) How Perspective Future Partner Could React to Egg Freezing
(00:37) I’m very excited to welcome to today’s show Jeanette Eng. Jeanette is a New York City based certified personal trainer, triathlon coach and precision nutrition coach, who earned her Ironman finish after transitioning from reporting. From town hall meetings, the streets of New York City and red carpets, as well as acted including an appearance on Law and Order and FBI.
Modeled in a host of national ad and commercial campaigns, performed stand up and authored a book for actors. Jeanette is now gearing up to launch a virtual health and wellness business from the ashes of COVID. And she aspires to help real, local and global community achieve deep health. Welcome, Jeannette.
Top Tips for Staying Fit When Gyms are Not an Option
(01:55) Prioritizing health and fitness is one of the most common values our clients seek in a partner. As a personal trainer, what top tips can you share with our listeners regarding staying fit when in many areas of the country in the US, gyms are not an option at the moment?
(02:15) Well, I think that one of the most important things is to stay fit in terms of your nutrition and your movements, no matter what the circumstances are.
So, if it’s something that is your lifestyle, then you will be doing it whether you are in your regular weekly schedule, on vacation or during a pandemic. And I think the most important thing is to habitualize health and wellness so that it’s incorporated into your life. To eat well, sleep well, move well and no matter what your circumstances are, you will find a way to do that.
(02:59) I love that, habitualize health and wellness. Now, here’s the thing now I find that sincere relationship-oriented men, they often like to stay away from appearing creepy when they approach women, right? They don’t want to be that guy. So as a personal trainer, what would you think of guys approaching women at a gym, any guidance you can give them?
(03:28) I don’t think that just because you’re approaching a woman in a gym that is creepy or inappropriate. I think it’s more about the approach and your intentions than where you do it.
And if you are genuinely interested in a woman and find her attractive, and want to get to know her better, then you begin with a line and if you’re in a gym then… I’ve been approached in the gym and had someone complimenting me on my form during my Turkish Get-Up because he noticed that I was doing them on my own, and that made sense, and we ended up going on a date two weeks later. So it can absolutely work.
But I’ve also been approached in more, quote unquote, appropriate settings, like bars or restaurants or something like that. And the approach wasn’t genuine, or socially, what’s the word… aware of my cues. So, I think the most important thing is to just be aware of a woman’s cues and if you’re sensing reciprocity, then go ahead and approach her, and pursue her number and a date because we want to be approached at the end of the day. I certainly would like to be approached more.
So, I think I encourage men to do so in a sincere way and just be very aware of the cues that you’re receiving in response, wherever you are.
Tips to Help Singles Start Dating – From Cues to Approach
(05:06) Wonderful. It is about approach, again, it is not about the setting. It is about the intention and the approach. You want to dive deeper into that given like you said, in terms of the signals, because I know that men are not always as attuned to body language cues and some of those non-verbals.
Any hints you can give with respect to it? I know you mentioned reciprocity. Any other hints you can give from just your personal experience as to maybe what didn’t work? When it was just like you said, a lack of awareness of those cues, or even when you really appreciated someone responding to the cues you were giving out. I put you on the spot a little bit here.
(05:58) Yeah, it’s okay. I try to, as a woman, just be receptive to men. And I think that as a single woman, that’s one of the best things you can do, because a man doesn’t require much. So just being open, being happy, smiling, making eye contact is enough. I hope so. That is my hope, that we don’t have to go and ask a man for his number or ask him out.
So, if a woman is doing those things, and seeming to be open, then that is fertile soil I would say for you to go ahead and dip a toe in the water, make that initial like testing the water’s conversation starter.
And I think after that, it’s just like any other situation, if you feel like someone wants to keep talking to you, then you can keep talking. If it’s just a matter of them being in a rush or having something else going on, then maybe it’s asking to continue the conversation later. It’s not necessarily a rejection, because you don’t know where you’re encountering.
I would say just be hopeful and think of the best-case scenario. But also, if someone says, “No, I’m not available. And no, I’m not interested.” Then it is what it is.
(07:37) Sure. Absolutely. And that was really helpful. You said, women like to be approached so absolutely.
How to Fuel Your Body to Optimize Your Performance
(07:50) Also, your health and fitness as a nutrition coach… what tips can you share with our listeners regarding fueling their bodies for high performance even in their day to day lives. You did an Ironman, we’re even talking about high performing people, in their day to day lives and how can they optimize their nutrition to really have that energy to make their day, in that sense?
(08:17) Well, the main points that I want to make are to be diet agnostic. That’s what I am. Meaning as a coach, I am not pushing a certain diet.
So you’re not going to hear fad diets come out of my mouth because the best diet is the diet that works best for your body. And that is sustainable with your lifestyle, that is the best diet for you. And that answer is going to be different for everybody.
So when I work with clients and even with myself, it’s really not about following a diet protocol but about figuring out your own body’s owner’s manual. And you do that by taking stock of how different foods affect your body, and how realistic it is to do that on a regular basis, consistently in your lifestyle. And the diet that makes your body feel good and helps support your goals and is sustainable with your lifestyle that you can do consistently is the best diet for you.
So, the best advice that I would have for people, is to just free themselves of chasing after fad diets, or diet protocols and rules of any sort really. And just think about your body as a unique system that you want to learn more about by taking stock of how different foods affect your body. And different ways of eating affects your body, and then just build from there.
Also, whole foods are probably the number one best thing to do as much of as you can, because nature just created whole foods in the best delivery system. They’re packaged perfectly with the right balance of nutrients and hormones.
So the more you can do that, the better and then use processed foods and supplements, even protein powders and protein bars, as a supplement to the whole foods that you’re eating as the main portion of your diet.
Health and Wellness Secrets to Optimize Your Body and Performance
(10:34) Wonderful, thank you for those really valuable tips. Now, wondering what might be one of the least well-known health and wellness… maybe you can call it somewhat of a secret even, something that is not quite ubiquitous out there, that you can share with our listeners, kind of an insider secret tip. Anything comes to mind in that regard?
(11:00) Something that isn’t very well known. I think that what I just mentioned, even though it’s redundant. Just to say it in another way, the number one thing that I get is people asking questions about, “What is the secret?” And I think the secret is that there isn’t a secret. They are like, “Yes.”
Just yesterday, I’m chatting with someone on FaceTime that I connected with on a dating app. And once we started talking about health and fitness, the questions started coming. What do you think about eating late at night? Are you talking about the Keto Diet? And I didn’t even mention the Keto Diet, but people are very quick to want to know what the magic rule is and what the secret is.
And I think honestly, the people that are in it for a long time whether as practitioners or coaches will just let you know that the secret is just good old fashioned, good eating and good movement and doing it in a way that it’s a habit and a lifestyle for you. This way you’re not deterred from it and you’re doing it consistently and that’s it and it’s a boring answer. But the fact that there is no secret keeps you from chasing after something that doesn’t exist.
(12:28) Absolutely, and in essence I think really what I meant by that was least well known. And I think that what you just said, in terms of really what is the best for you? Is really what you honed in on and that’s really important. Everyone’s lifestyles are different and so really honing in on what’s best for the individual from that perspective, as opposed to Keto is good for everyone or A, B, and C is good for everyone. That’s very, very valuable.
Launching a Virtual Health and Wellness Business During COVID
(12:95) I understand you’ll be launching a virtual health and wellness business really from the ashes of COVID. What can you tell us about that?
(13:09) What I’ve learned from quarantine and COVID, is that we really want, as a population, to be able to be self sufficient and that includes health and wellness. And how can we do that without restaurants, without gym?
The best thing to be able to do is to strip that down and be able to know how to eat well and move well by yourself. So, I’ve always wanted to be able to help more people and to be able to work independent of a set schedule and a set geography. So virtual coaching always was a goal of mine, because then you’re not held to appointments where you train people in person. So this whole time has been an impetus for me to really get that started now.
And I’m just working with a few experimental clients, and then I’m going to officially bring on paying clients in about a month. So, the idea is to be able to be a guide and an accountability coach, for people to build their blueprint for eating and moving well that they can do consistently. Whether that means with a gym, or with meal delivery systems, with as little or as much help as they want to be able to create a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.
(15:04) Wonderful. Congratulations by the way for that and the theme again blueprints, something customized. That really resonates.
Tips for Asian Americans Interested in a Non-Traditional Career Path
(15:15) Now, this is interesting many Asian Americans, they experience external pressures to choose a traditional career. I’m curious, as an Asian American, any guidance for other Asian Americans also interested in pursuing non-traditional career paths?
(15:37) Absolutely. What I learned, interestingly, is that my experience of having parents that wanted me to only choose being either a doctor or a lawyer, is not unique to being Chinese or Asian, but it’s more of the immigrant parent experience. And I found that different friends of mine or people that I spoke to that had immigrant parents, whether they were from Jamaica, or an Asian country or what have you, they experienced that same pressure.
So, I think that at the end of the day, just to see it as a suggestion. They’re not the know all and be all because they are coming from their own world, and their own culture and their generation, which is that this is the way to be successful and secure.
So, you take it as a strong suggestion from parents that mean well and are delivering the best advice they know within their knowledge and their world. But at the same time, you’re in a different world. And there are in your world many other ways to be successful and secure and also it’s different definitions of being successful and secure.
When you have that you want to make your own decision because at the end of the day, you want yourself to feel successful and secure. You don’t want your parents to feel successful and secure. That’s a bonus, if they look at you and feel successful and secure, but if they don’t and you do, then you’re still winning. And if they do and you don’t, then you’re losing.
So, if you become a doctor because they want you to become a doctor, and they’re so proud of you and they feel so secure about you, but you’re miserable because you didn’t actually want that and you’re spending your time dreaming about something else, then you’re not winning.
And if you are an artist or a fitness professional, and they don’t even understand what that means and they can’t talk with their friends about it because they’re not proud about it, but you are doing well in your industry and you are taking care of yourself, then you’re winning because you’re going to have to live with yourself for longer than you’re going to live with them.
(18:10) So it is about you creating your definition for success and that’s wonderful. Very, very helpful.
The Challenges Single Women Seeking a Partner in New York City
(18:18) Now we’re switching gears again, you have such a wealth of experiences. So, harking to your days of reporting and given both your professional reporting from the streets in New York City and any personal experiences.
Today you’ve mentioned being single, dating as a New Yorker. COVID aside, what do you think are the top challenges for single women in New York City? I know New York City can be a different place. We work with people all throughout the country. And I know there are many challenges a lot of people feel with that, island of Manhattan and the whole New York City dating scene. What do you think are some of the challenges to single women in New York City seeking a partner?
(19:07) So, what I think that single women struggle with in New York City is that we are in a… there’s a few things. In no particular order,
- we are in a city full of beautiful women that are successful and are very desirable in their own way. And so, there’s a lot of competition to put it succinctly.
- Another struggle is that we’re in a city full of men who are not necessarily looking to settle down anytime soon. So there is no timeframe or age where men are necessarily looking to settle down in New York City, because it is completely acceptable to be partying at any age. And so that is a challenge.
- Also, I think that we’re in such a progressive city that we struggle with knowing the balance of gender roles. And whether the traditional gender role of the man being the pursuer still applies, or if we’re in a new age where women are expected to be the pursuer or pursue a 50% or something like that.
- Then also things like the, Me Too movement, add another layer of complication where you wonder if that plays into men being less aggressive or assertive. So, I think those are just some of the things that are top of mind.
Being in a city full of competition, also the candidates are not necessarily all great candidates, because they might be not looking to settle down anytime soon. And a blend of gender roles or a space where gender roles is a little confusing.
(21:17) Yeah, and it doesn’t help that the women are outnumbering the men. That doesn’t help on top of the challenges you mentioned and hearing that. There’s quite a disparity. It’s actually throughout the whole East Coast, all the way down to Florida. So, when you say competition, there are absolute facts, just numbers behind that.
Let’s Talk about Freezing Your Eggs
(21:56) Let’s talk about something else real and we really appreciate your willingness to share with our listeners. I know that there can be lots of questions for a lot of people, a lot of mystery around the process of egg freezing actually. And I know that you are in the process of doing it and you have so kindly wanted to share with our listeners from an empowered point of view. So let me ask you first, why did you decide to freeze your eggs?
(22:36) Well, this is very timely, you’re catching me on day seven of my egg freezing cycle. And I’m pretty much at the halfway point, maybe a little bit more than halfway. And I started to think about it last year and then I decided to do it just about three months ago, because I know for sure that I want to preserve the possibility of motherhood. And I’m still single, so the smartest thing I can do is to freeze my eggs this way while I’m waiting for a partner, my eggs will wait with me.
(23:16) And that’s probably one of the most common reasons, preserving that. What are the factors? So, someone who really resonates with that and they’re like, “Absolutely, that is being really proactive and empowered and that is what I want to do.”
But they have so many questions and so what were the factors that you considered in deciding where to freeze eggs in New York City. You just spoke of the challenges for single women in New York City. What are the factors you considered there?
(24:00) Well, I think New York City is actually a great place to be for egg freezing, maybe not so much dating. That remains to be seen. But despite it being good or bad for other things, for egg freezing a lot of people do come to New York City from far away. So there are plenty of places and it was for me a matter of choosing the right one.
- And so, the factors that’s played in for me were, where are people that I know going? And where have people that I know gone and been successful, and had a good experience? So that for me was the main factor. I just wanted to go somewhere that I trusted.
- Then based on those recommendations I further… because everyone’s experiences are different, so I wanted to vet them for myself. So, I vetted each one based on the experience that I had in consulting with them. How I felt their process was organized and their bedside manner, so to say, the way they treated me. Those fell as the second most important factor.
- And then thirdly, I think the cost and the ability to maybe save money with a certain clinic over another was important as well.
How Egg Freezing Works
(25:27) Okay. It’s very helpful. Tell me, I know you mentioned you’re in day seven, but midway through. Will you tell us about the whole process for someone saying, “Okay, all right. We’re warming up, so excited.” What about the process? Can you tell us about that?
(25:54) Just a little bit of background because this was great for me to learn, and I learned so much about the female body during this process and I still have so much more than I can learn.
But every month, our bodies choose an egg out of 1000, I think with each monthly cycle there’s 1000 eggs that possibly can be matured. And your body just chooses one to mature and that passes out during your menstrual cycle if it’s not fertilized. And if you’re not pregnant.
Now, egg freezing, it hacks that process a little bit. It hacks that natural process of your body of choosing one egg. And by using hormones, you choose all the eggs that are possible during a monthly cycle and mature all the eggs instead of just one egg.
Then you are being monitored every other day or even more often based on what the clinic determines. And by monitoring you so closely, they determine when those eggs are at the prime maturation. And then they retrieve as many eggs as they can, and then they freeze as many eggs as they can.
So it begins by reporting to the clinic when you get your period because immediately afterwards, you’re at the perfect stage for beginning hormone injections. Then you give yourself injections every single day and go to the clinic every other day or more, for about eight to 12 days. And they’re monitoring you, you’re giving yourself injections, all that is happening for eight to 12 days.
Whenever they feel, between days eight and 12, that your eggs are at the prime state for retrieval, they will say, “Okay, we’re done. Give yourself one more injection, and then we’re going to retrieve your eggs.”
Then you go in, and in a quick 15 minute, very non-invasive I think trans vaginal process, they retrieve the eggs and then they freeze them. I think it’s vitro fertilization, or something like that. That’s very successful, meaning 90% of them usually store successfully. So in a nutshell, that’s it. That’s how it goes.
(28:44) Thank you. What we most appreciate, it’s really the patient perspective. In terms of that, we can all get the specialist perspective. So, what is so valuable about what you’re sharing, it’s that perspective of someone actually experiencing it. It’s so valuable and wonderful.
The Cost of Egg Freezing
(29:07) And you had mentioned the cost of freezing eggs being a factor which I imagine for everyone, it’s something to consider. What have you found as you shopped around in New York City, any range? Or what did you find there?
(29:29) Generally the sticker price is usually 12 to $15,000. And then if you qualify for financial aid programs, if you are able to receive medications donated to you, if you take advantage of other special promotions, it can go down to about 8,000. So, you are looking at about 12 to 15 retail and if you do the hard work of saving money, it can be as low as 8,000 I found.
(30:19) This is interesting, one you had mentioned financial aid programs, you mentioned medicines donated. Tell us about that I’m sure a lot of listeners are like, “How does that go?” Anything you can share about that?
This is the insider stuff. This is what I’m telling you about, you can go look up a sticker price, this is not difficult, but what you’re sharing is so valuable. So, it’s like okay, and then you can do this and this. Anything you can share. We are so appreciative of all this insider information, anything in terms of how one brings this down?
(31:08) Absolutely. Now I will make a disclaimer that it’s not technically, formally, officially, legal. So, I want people to just be careful. The egg freezing, the fertility community is so open and generous that you can find donated medications. I think it’s just a matter of being aware of what you’re doing. And also being careful because it is medicine that you are putting in your body. So with that being said, I made my disclaimer. Be smart about it and know that it’s sort of under the radar community.
With that being said, it can be an incredible savings and a gift, because when it comes to egg freezing, those sticker costs, the retail cost, which I mentioned was about 12 to 15,000. That is 50/50 procedure and medicine. So, if it’s costing you $15,000, well, let’s just say 12,000 on the lower end. If it’s costing you $12,000, it’s $6,000 for the procedure, and $6,000 for the medication.
So you can’t help how much the procedure costs unless, I don’t know your dad’s the doctor or something like that. The labor is the labor, you’re always going to pay for the labor for anything and that includes all of the visits and the actual freezing of the eggs and the storage of the eggs. So, that is a lot that’s included and that’s not something that can be changed.
However, the other side, the other half of the equation of that $6,000, that can be affected. That’s where you can play and that’s where for someone who is truly in financial straits, there are programs to help with that. I would explore insurance because insurances are beginning to work with people on the medication side.
There are ways to… I wouldn’t balk at the sticker price right off the bat. That’s what I did at first, until my friend encouraged me by opening up these possibilities for me. And I began to explore and started to see that these are actually very viable possibilities.
So I would explore your insurance, I would explore financial aid programs. Then as well, not necessarily in that order or all at the same time, I would also explore the egg freezing, the fertility community. Because whether women are doing IVF, or egg freezing, or any of these procedures, they use similar hormones. And if you know your hormone protocol, and you post or request about wanting certain medications, like I described before, anytime between eight and 12, my doctor will tell me we’re done. And it doesn’t matter if I have leftover medication, I’m just done.
So, most women end up with surplus, because you would rather have surplus than be short. So, most women are going to end up with surplus and if they can give it to another woman, there you have another few hundred dollars that you’ve saved or thousand dollars that you saved because, somebody didn’t use the last three days of their medicine. That’s how this donated medications work and sometimes, people sell them as well and you can purchase them for maybe half of what you would have purchased them for at the pharmacy. Even at a discounted rate with an aid program. So you can cut down these costs over and over again, exponentially.
And I would say just be very careful about, vetting the people that you’re receiving them from making sure that the expiration dates are far out. And that your medications have been stored properly from the person that you’re receiving them from, and you’re pretty good to go.
(36:06) Just as we were starting, you mentioned insurance… everyone will need to check their policy, but sometimes covering more so the medication you’ve seen, than the process. And everyone’s different, so who knows. But have you seen that as a pattern, or would that be overreaching to say that?
(36:30) No, I think that’s safe to say, but there are friends that I’ve heard of who have received coverage on the procedure as well. So, I would say it’s worth exploring all of it because you could get the procedure and the medication covered, you could get just the medication covered. Either way it’s a lot less money that way.
Advice for Single Women Considering Egg Freezing
(36:57) Any guidance based on your first-hand experience, which is so valuable? Any other guidance in terms of for single women who are like, “Okay.” They’re nodding, they are listening and they’re, “Okay.” Any other guidance for them, who are actually considering, just as you did but not quite where you are, of doing it at the moment.
(37:41) I will say just really, strongly consider it and at the very least go for a consultation because most consultations are free of charge. Or that you can find a clinic that will offer you a free consultation and just learn more about it because it is your life and your future and your dream of motherhood and family. And that is worth the investment and worth the time and worth the education if nothing else.
So if you’re in your late 20s or early 30s, that’s actually a really easy and healthy time to freeze your eggs. It’ll yield a really great result and it’ll be much less… usually one cycle will yield all the results you’ll need. And you’ll have a lot of healthy eggs that are in a freezer, and you have literally frozen that possibility in time for yourself.
So as women get older, we begin to get anxious. Every year feels like another year that we should have gotten married by and should be starting a family by. And to not have that low-grade stress with each passing year is a gift to yourself and to your future partner. So you can just doggedly pursue all the other things you’re pursuing, knowing that you’ve done what it takes to preserve your dream of motherhood and family.
My biggest encouragement is that egg freezing is badass, it’s something that you’re doing to invest in yourself and to preserve a dream for yourself. And I would say go ahead and learn about it and do it.
How Perspective Future Partner Could React to Egg Freezing
(39:44) Well, now speaking of perspective partner, which you brought up, I’m curious here. Have you experienced bringing this up with any prospective romantic partners, any guys and curious about this, any reaction that surprised you? Or any reaction at all. Some women might be thinking that.
(40:14) Yeah, I actually am so open. It’s not like I’m oversharing and introducing myself in saying that I’m doing this, but in chatting and spending time with people it comes up. So whenever it’s been natural to mention that I’m doing it or walking to the clinic or something like that, I’ve done it and it’s been fine.
I even had a first date with someone from Match and he wanted to drive out of the city and just hang out, for a few hours outside of the city and enjoy the day. And I wanted to pick up medication from Queens and so we did that together and then we went on a picnic in a park.
So I’ve definitely mingled the two worlds, my egg freezing and my dating. And it’s been perfectly fine. It’s allowed me to just be honest, and it hasn’t yielded any bad results. I haven’t lost anyone as a result and it lets me know, I think really like, the character of a man because that doesn’t scare him or turn him off.
And I’ve received even stories back from them, going through that or knowing someone who went through it. Or knowing someone who had a child later in life and so it’s been a great conversation piece.
(42:03) Very interesting. All right. Really appreciate your sharing your valuable insights with us. Now, well tell us then how can our listeners find you if they’d like to learn more, especially about the virtual health and wellness business that you are launching. Show us how they can learn more.
(42:29) My website is my name jeannetteeng.com. And the fitness and the acting things are on there and all about me. Then to keep up on a regular basis on Instagram I’m “Sweat with Jeanette”. And that’s where I’ll announce when I launch and looking for my first clients. So, if you want to receive the post about that, that’s the best way to know that and that’s pretty much it. Those two places is where you can find me.