Minutes into our interview, Datin Dr Serina Abdul Latif casually reveals that a day prior, she dropped off her car at the workshop.
She then jogged – 50 minutes! – home and took a shower before heading to work. “That was my workout for the day, as I didn’t have time to go to the gym.”
While some folks – this writer included – consider exercise a form of torture, Serina thrives on it. Besides her commitment to patients and family (she is a mother of two), Serina dedicates her time to extreme sports. She loves diving and bungee jumping, and one of the items on her bucket list is to compete in the physically-challenging Ironman Triathlon.
“In school, I was a nerd,” recalls Serina, 38. “I studied hard and was top of my class. The only thing I took up then was tennis.
“It was much later in life that I got into fitness. I started going to the gym regularly to lose post-pregnancy weight, and grew to love the adrenalin rush.”
Today, Serina – who goes to the gym five times a week – is a glowing testament of health.
“I believe in taking care of myself. A balanced diet combined with rigorous exercise are compulsory,” says Serina, who wears a Garmin sports watch which keeps track of the user’s number of steps.
In March, Serina participated in a Spartan race (obstacle-filled competition) in KL, coming in fourth in her age group.
“The fact that I managed to complete the race gave me great satisfaction,” enthuses Serina.
The Brunei-originated Serina graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degree from St Georges Medical School, University Of London and began her medical career in Britain.
Having spent six years abroad, Serina – who is married to Datuk Megat Iskandar Shah Mohd Nor – returned to Malaysia after having her first child.
“I wanted my kids to be brought up as Malaysians,” muses Serina, whose daughter is 11 and son is seven. “London is a big city, and one can feel isolated when they don’t have immediate family members.”
“The best part of living in KL is being near family members. For instance, I can just give my mum-in-law a call if I need help with baby-sitting.
“And I get to have a career which allows me the flexibility to balance between my professional and personal life,” says Serina, who runs The Life Clinic in Damansara Heights.
According to Serina, it was her father who suggested she consider aesthetic medicine as a career path.
“I initially trained to be a surgeon and the hours were very long. My dad suggested aesthetics and upon further research, I got interested,” explains Serina, who obtained her diploma in aesthetic medicine from the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine.
“The greatest satisfaction I derive from my job is when a patient is happy with the results. It boosts their self esteem, and they feel good inside out.”
Asked for her beauty advice, Serina replies: “In general, I don’t wear a lot of makeup and I advise my patients to do the same. My number one tip is to always wear sunblock. That’s the cheapest anti-ageing cream you’ll ever need.”
Serina’s father is Brunei-born, while her mother is a Malaysian Chinese from Taiping. She is the eldest of three siblings; one sister is also in aesthetics, but based in Singapore, while another is a lawyer in Brunei.
Serina credits their success to their mother. “She was born in the Year of the Dragon, and is the typical Chinese mum who focused on academics.”
As a parent, Serina says she’s not as strict. “I don’t push my kids as much as my mum did. I make sure they do their homework, like any other parent, but I don’t expect them to score As in all their subjects.
“I want them to be happy in school and lead happy childhoods. And I’d like them to explore new things,” says Serina, whose daughter Elisa, joins her in her bungee jumping expeditions.
“Being my own boss, I make time to be with my kids. I will be there for them whenever they need me, whether it’s a concert or some school activity.
“I definitely believe in a healthy work-life balance,” adds Serina. “If you get too stressed, you age faster. Doing sports and spending time with my kids is a de-stresser for me.”
Not surprisingly, she considers her children her greatest achievement. “I live to make them happy. After all, kids are one’s legacy.”
Asked for her personal philosophy, Serina answers without hesitation: “You only have one life. Enjoy it!”