Rissa Julene Go: If the Opportunity Fits

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It was only 8:30 in the morning, but Rissa was already going about her day.

As the Chief Finance Office of the Prince Retail Group of Companies, the fast-paced nature of the business keeps her on a busy schedule, such that she could only make time for our Zoom photoshoot right before starting work. Even then, she looked lively and energetic through our screens.

But although she candidly admitted 80% of her time is typically spent working, the pandemic made her embrace lifestyle changes that she has since incorporated into her daily routine. “I try to squeeze in a workout at least thrice a week, even if it’s a busy week. If there are no early morning meetings, a sweat session in the morning always feels so rejuvenating,” she shared. “But if the day is pretty full, I try to get my butt out of the office in time for a spin session right before dinner.”

Being a fitness enthusiast is something that came as a surprise to many of her friends who have known her for a while, but most of all to Rissa herself. “I think I belong to the majority of the population who find it soooo hard to get consistent and focused in the health and fitness lifestyle, when the options of the opposite are much easier, more so with technology,” she explained. “Imagine, all these delivery apps sprouting everywhere, Instagram pa! And Facebook Marketplace makes all your cravings appear at your doorstep in a matter of minutes! Samut pa sa lockdown, you’re at home where the refrigerator is just a few steps away from your working table…”

It was Rissa’s siblings who ended up inspiring her to get going, especially when she saw their results. “My brother lost 13 kilos after being obese for the most part of his adult life! Here I am with all the opportunities to do it, why not?”

Being at home gave her the extra reason to be even more productive. It started out with running, despite hating it for the longest time, because it was the only thing she could do within her village. She went on with other sports or exercises to break out into a sweat, including spinning, yoga, badminton, biking, and lifting weights.

“At the end of the day, despite how many attempts you try to get yourself into that lifestyle, YOU have to be the one to choose it for yourself. Not for other people, but yourself. Sounds cliche but it’s the truth. Consistency is key and you just have to get into that rhythm that suits you well, until it becomes something you look forward to. It’s okay to slide back a bit, but always have a self-check to get back on track again.”

Rissa has also taken her go-getter attitude and applied it to the family business over the pandemic. “Every crisis opens up an opportunity, and this pandemic, although it was catastrophic to many, I found light,” she reflected. “Coming from the retail (supermarket) industry, many people thought that business would be booming since everyone was buying groceries anyway. But the picture was very different for the poorer Filipinos who were furloughed, or permanently let go, or families that depended on OFW remittance but had to return home.”

“My family business has been a huge aspect of my life and where my passion lies. Our mission has always been ‘to serve the underserved’, and seeing all these unfold, really made me worry and anxious how our country would look like after the distraught the pandemic would bring,” she continued. “Together with my siblings, we were able to expand to many other sales channels, even going online, and did a lot of digital transformation within the company that was fast-tracked with the situation. Despite being challenged with limited mobility, we were able to make it all happen, and obstacles only made us even more creative with the situation.”

Making opportunities happen is a choice to make every single day. “I cannot stress this enough but year on year, God really showed me through all the ‘life crisis’ I go to, that He always seems to show an opportunity waiting for me to grab,” she said. “I just believe that your 20’s and 30’s are the best time to experience the most out of what life presents you with, and time is something we can never get back. So as much as I can, I try to make something productive with the 24 hours that I get in every day.”

Quarantrends I picked up: A lot! It started with finally finding time to cook dishes I wanted to try cooking. Then I went into running despite hating it for the longest time since it was the only ‘outdoor’ thing we could do within the village that didn’t require investments. Plants — my friends always used to make fun of me that I couldn’t take care of any living thing especially because I didn’t grow up with pets, but it’s different now! I even have a small veggie/herb garden. Just about any other sport/exercise that would make me sweat: Spinning, yoga, badminton, biking (learned this just recently after years also of telling myself I needed to learn this practical skill), weights. I also started a small business selling pesto.

Something that surprised me about myself: Slowing down was something I needed so badly but I never thought I needed. I’m the type of girl who always loved being out, extrovert na extrovert! I was dreading home quarantine for the first few months. I’ve never been in my house this much. But I actually loved it — I was able to do a lot of reflection, self-discovery, and self-healing with the downtime.

Something I’m looking forward to when it’s safer: Travel with friends, definitely. Even if it’s local, okay ra jud kaayo.  

Wise words for people who want to start their fitness journey: Know why you want to do it. What’s your objective? What specific change do you want for yourself? Then start small — meaning, don’t do it all at once then get tired. Remember, this is a marathon and not a sprint. Measure! Like, if you lack sleep, start putting targets and measure how long you were able to sustain your target. At least you know when you failed and when you succeeded. This really helps subconsciously. Be consistent in measuring. It doesn’t make a difference until you are consistent with something.  Lastly, whatever inspires you to continue, DO IT! If it’s taking selfies, do it. If it’s journaling, do it. If it’s posting stories, do it.  

Rissa Julene Go is the Chief Finance Officer of Prince Retail Group of Companies. Follow her on social media at @reeeessa.

Photography by Rae Cabradilla-Padin | @raecabradilla

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