Managing director on how yoga brought balance back into his life

PHOTO: Managing director on how yoga brought balance back into his life

SINGAPORE - Mr Scott Burnett, human resource consultancy Towers Watson's managing director for South-east Asia, took his first yoga class in September 2008 when he was living in the United States.

"After that, I was hooked and within six months, I could not function without it."

The US citizen, who has been based in Singapore since 2012, started to do yoga every day and to eat more healthily. Gradually, he lost weight.

The 43-year-old has his homemaker wife to thank, as she was the one who, after reading about the benefits of the ancient practice, suggested that he gave yoga a try.

"At that time, I was experiencing back pain, stress, working long hours and had lost the 'balance' in my life," said Mr Burnett, who was then the managing director of Towers Watson Dallas.

"Initially, I did yoga to soothe the back pain but it cultivated a balanced mindset that assisted in all facets of my life - both at work and at home, in interpersonal relationships and, most importantly, self-perception."

What he likes most about yoga is that it is a time for reflection and rejuvenation. "It is an outlet that helps me to remain focused on all the different and important parts of my life," he said.

"Overall, it contributes to a healthier life and also increases my effectiveness as a business leader."

Mr Burnett and his wife have two children - Isla, 12, and Marcus, 10. He stands 1.88m tall and weighs 83.9kg.

What do you do to keep fit?

I do yoga every day without fail. If I am not travelling, I will always attend at least one scheduled class here a day. It's an hour-long session, though recently, I have also attended some 90-minute hot yoga classes, which I enjoyed.

I prefer going to a class than to do yoga on my own. The energy in the classroom is palpable; sometimes, you need this energy to give impetus to your yoga movements.

In addition, I meditate, watch what I eat and I try to walk and take the stairs whenever I can.

What happens when you travel?

I travel most weeks but I do yoga every day, whether I am in a hotel or at home.

I schedule yoga like I schedule meetings. In a 16-hour day, about 90 minutes will be set aside for yoga and meditation.

What is your secret to looking so fabulous?

I am an imperfect vegetarian (I eat fish and dairy products) but I am very disciplined in everything I do.

Has there ever been a time when you were not fit and fab?

Prior to yoga and cleaning up my diet, I was about 16kg heavier.

Even though I was always active - doing cross-training, weight training and so on - I never felt great. My sleep was disturbed and I wasn't motivated to exercise.

What was your diet like in the past?

I entertained a lot so I felt like I did not control my diet. I used to eat what my clients ate to make them feel comfortable. There were a lot of late nights and large food portions.

I started to change my diet about five years ago. The first step was to reduce my consumption of red meat, before I moved on to cutting all meat out of my diet.

Now I eat what my body needs and what I know will complement my body and lifestyle.

What is your diet like now?

I start the day with a vegan protein shake. I love Indian vegetarian food and would usually have a dosai for lunch. Dinner is always the least planned meal. Once or twice a week, I may have some fish.

What are your indulgences?

I love teh tarik and masala tea. On top of that, on weekends, I would usually treat myself to a piece of cake or two. It's my biggest weakness.

I allow myself to give in to temptation, but I tell myself that it is a "reward" so that the temptation doesn't control me.

How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

I prefer the phrase "work-life integration".

Although work is very important to me, so are my family and my health. I attach the same importance to each in the way I structure my time and coordinate my calendar.

As I travel a lot, I have less family time, but I make up for that when I am home.

At work, Towers Watson promotes healthy living for all employees.

Its various health and well-being activities, such as health screening, corporate run challenge and health courses make it easier for me to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Over time, I believe this balance can be achieved but it will take time and effort to ensure work-life integration is done successfully.

What are the three most important things in your life?

My wife, Rachel, and my children, Isla and Marcus; our health and our happiness.

Would you go for plastic surgery?

Apart from when it might be a medical necessity, no.

Do you think you're sexy?

My wife thinks so, so that works for me.

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