How one Hong Kong finance professional gave up the grind and took back her life

Rowena Hunt was at the pinnacle of her finance career when she decided to pull the plug

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 June, 2015, 6:33am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 July, 2015, 12:26pm

Ever dreamed of throwing in the towel on your corporate career? This month we meet three Hongkongers who've done just that, opting instead for a healthier career and life

Rowena Hunt was at the pinnacle of her finance career when she decided to pull the plug. "I loved it, but it nearly finished me off. When I do something, it becomes my entire world."

Her rapid ascend of the corporate ladder left the line between her work and life blurred beyond distinction. Her husband, Ross, worked in South Korea, so Hunt worked long hours in a high stress environment while filling her social hours networking with clients.

"I had stress from every possible angle of my life, and it took its toll. I thought I was handling it, but physically, my energy levels were on the floor, my skin was atrocious - inflamed and I had deep acne - and terrible digestion," she says.

"I was carrying loose fat around my midsection and was constantly sick."

Hunt barely recognises that old self today. After retraining, she is now a health and wellness coach teaching others how to eat for vitality and change their lives. "I actually feel younger now than I did 10 years ago," says Hunt, 36, who hails from Britain.

She credits a simple one-hour yoga class a week for initially sparking the change. "What I got in that hour was so important and enough to shine a light. Even though it was 'surface yoga' it still had such an impact."

For the past six years she's been practising ashtanga yoga and is completing her teaching training while managing a full schedule of clients.

Ashtanga yoga is a trusted healing system

It follows a structured sequence of yoga poses with intense focus and breath. Every day, you do the same poses in the same sequence. It may sound boring, but it means you have to face yourself every single day. It's like practising in a mirror. It's very, very powerful.

Yoga and eating well go hand in hand

When you overeat, or eat foods that don't agree with your system, you feel it in every pose. And after going through a pregnancy and becoming a mother, increasingly I found myself focusing on a nutritious, supportive diet.

I didn't quite know how I was going to make it work as a health coach

But soon as I started studying I found people approached me. My new career in many ways simply "occurred" rather than me having to chase after it. After fighting so hard for my finance career I found the process interesting; it was like the universe was just bringing it to me, which sounds so corny, but it's exactly how it worked out. And it grew from there.

I never give my clients a "diet"

They all want the band-aid approach, but I never give it. I help people read their bodies. I believe we're born knowing what our body innately needs, but our life experience and marketing changes the messages.

There's a huge connection between our brains and our stomachs

You cannot just focus on what you eat and expect to change; you need to go deeper. Of course, regular exercise and eating the right foods is the first step, but if you're spiritually unfulfilled or massively unhappy in your job, not sleeping, suffering pain, or maybe you're just a creative person with no creative outlet - whatever the stress is, I believe it manifests in the body.

I believe people innately have the ability to heal themselves

I don't mean to the exclusion of doctors - of course, they have their place - but I do feel that we ourselves create a great deal of the imbalance we experience in our lives.

If I looked in my kitchen cupboard now six years ago

I would not have known what to do or how to cook the foods I have. I believe in taking baby steps. Introduce something new into your life every month rather that in one week. I'm a real advocate of doing things slowly and not trying to radically change your life overnight.

If I don't practise yoga

I'm not a balanced wife, mother or person. I would feel more stress in situations where I ordinarily wouldn't. It doesn't have to be yoga, but I find a simple, daily ritual has had such a profound impact: creating change and laying down the blueprint for a healthy life.