Losing weight secrets

Losing weight is an uphill battle for most, but with discipline, it’s a fight that can be won — the right way.

We’ve all heard it before, at chance meetings and especially family gatherings.

They ask: “How have you been? You look much ‘healthier’ now. I see you’ve put on a bit since I last saw you?”

Yeah, well the last time you saw me was years ago and my metabolic rate has since slowed down.

Losing weight is never easy, especially when you get older. Many people cheat with slimming centres, diet pills and plastic surgery but all these are short-term solutions and may cause side effects.

The safest and most effective way is still the no-nonsense, old-fashioned way: a disciplined exercise regime and watching consumption. Not only is it safer and long-term, but you’ll feel healthier and fitter too.

Success can be achieved, as these individuals prove:

Azim Alias, 29
Rasta TTDI chef

“I basically grew up fat. I didn’t want to go to kindergarten because kids used to tease me. I stayed at home instead and hung out with the maids. Although it was hard, I eventually learnt to ignore the teasing in primary school.

“I experienced pain in my knees and feet because they had to support my 180kg body. Cigarettes and a lack of exercise worsened my shortness of breath. I hated walking because I would sweat profusely, even over short distances. And stairs were my worst enemy.

“I knew the look people gave me because of my size and little kids would point at me. As a restaurateur, my being large was somewhat acceptable as it made customers think my food was really good. I did make resolutions but broke them at the sight of food. Dieting is not easy for a person who loves and deals with food every day!

“The turning point came two years ago when I could only fit into two pairs of trousers, and both were the ‘stretchie’ kind. I thought of buying bigger ones but then, what’s the point? I kept promising myself that I’d eat less tomorrow . . . always tomorrow! My problem was binging.

“I was lazy to exercise because I was so big. I needed to find a way to control my food intake but I knew diet plans were useless.

“My father showed me an article one day about ‘elective-surgeries’ designed for weight loss. I was immediately sceptical because the only surgery that came to mind was liposuction.

“After more research, I decided to go with Laparoscopic Gastric Banding, which was the least invasive as doctors wouldn’t have to cut my stomach open.

“The technique involves placing an inflatable band around the stomach, creating a smaller ‘pouch’ and narrowing the passage into the larger stomach. The pouch is supposed to make me feel full and limits the amount of food I can have.

“If I eat too fast, I feel as though I am choking, so this has made me eat slower. I was a little hungry all the time but discovered that if I disciplined myself not to eat whenever my stomach growled, the feeling would soon pass.

“It took me a month to adjust to my new eating habits. In two months, I lost 25kg because I couldn’t binge anymore.

“My weight stayed at 155kg in the next four months. A close friend who had just enrolled at a gym then asked me to join him. I was sceptical at first but signed up for three months because of his persistence.

“I gained a lot of knowledge from two free personal training (PT) sessions. At first I had to strengthen my core muscles to support my weight. It was a challenge but I pushed myself every day. I began to lose 5kg in the first month after doing cardio exercises and some light training on my own.

“I began to feel stronger and fitter. It was no longer hard to walk and I could even breathe better. When I felt that my core muscles were ready, I signed up for more PT sessions three months after joining the gym.

“After months of exercise under my trainer, my weight plateaued at 130kg. But you mustn’t be afraid if it does because it’s just your body stabilising. Changing your regime will help. I did different cardio exercises and used less weights with more repetition, as opposed to bulking up with heavier weights.

“Since I felt fitter, I began joining friends for outdoor hikes and walks. I discovered that my fitness level was at par or even better than them. Socialising outdoors was now as enjoyable as eating.

“I have been receiving tons of compliments. People notice me for the right reasons now, which has boosted my confidence.

“I weigh 120kg now, 60kg less than I was before. My target is 100kg, possibly 90kg. Food will always be a passion — so it’s not about denying myself sweets, chocolates and rich food — but I must have proper portions at regular intervals. It’s a question of balancing intake with exercise.

“You are the reflection of the effort that you put in.”

Rokiah Nordin, 54
Finance director

“I weighed 90kg, lacked stamina and was moody. My feet ached when I walked and I hated climbing stairs.

“I was very unhappy with my body and tried to hide it under big baju kurung and baggy shirts. I tried not to let jokes affect me, but unfortunately, it was quite impossible.

“To make matters worse, my stressful job caused me to find comfort in food. I never thought twice about devouring desserts and chocolates. Controlling food intake? Never heard of it. Four cups of coffee with milk each day was the norm.

“It was in the third quarter of 2005 when I had a medical test and failed. My doctor said I was an excellent candidate for diabetes, high blood pressure and other things. That was when I started to seriously think about losing weight.

“I spoke to friends about slimming programmes. After a few consultations at various slimming centres, I decided it wasn’t worth it because they were short-term solutions and costly too. I have friends who put the weight back on after treatment.

“There’s a gym in my office building and I thought, ‘Why not?’ It is convenient.

“In California Fitness I was introduced to personal trainer Steven Christopher Gomez. He painstakingly explained what I needed to do in order to achieve my target of 68kg. He told me it was not going to be easy while I acknowledged that there weren’t any short-cuts.

“It was very hard in the beginning. I signed up for three PT sessions a week and on other days, I did cardio training by myself. The sessions were gruelling and demanded a lot of hard work. What kept me going was the encouragement from my trainer, plus determination to succeed. I began to enjoy exercising as I felt good and slept much better.

“Besides the exercise programme, Steven advised me on food intake. I stopped taking coffee with milk and sugar, and reduced it to two cups a day. I significantly cut my carbohydrate intake as well. I also ate smaller portions on a regular basis to boost my metabolic rate.

“I discovered I really didn’t miss the food and saw results in six months. Gym members were congratulating me and colleagues and friends began to notice the change. I felt great!

“I still work out regularly with at least two PT sessions a week. My programme began in 2006, and I lost 22kg in a year. My lowest weight was 68kg. Physically, I am in better shape. My greatest achievement was getting ahead of younger participants and finishing the 10km Singapore Marathon in 2007.

“I am really proud of all I have achieved. I received praises from family, colleagues, friends and clients. Everyone said I looked better and younger!

“Exercise is part of my daily life now. My goal is not to be skinny, but healthy. I am now working to maintain a 70kg weight.”

Kenny Goh, 31
Group events manager

“I was a skinny boy in school and had quite a good physique during my university years, participating in sports and gym sessions. Then slowly I began piling on the kilos when I started working.

“It wasn’t that I craved food, but the frequent company lunches meant that we always ate fatty, sweet and oily food! Honestly, how big is the selection of healthy food in Malaysia if you don’t cook?

“It was August last year when it finally hit me. As I was downloading some photos from a night out, I gasped, ‘Oh my goodness! I look like that now?’ I spent a whole day thinking about what had happened.

“At that point, I realised enough was enough! I had spent too many years neglecting myself.

“My weight was affecting my health as well. My blood pressure and cholesterol level were up. I weighed 114kg.

“It struck an emotional chord in me as my family depended on me to stay fit and healthy. I realised that I wanted to live a long and rewarding life.

“I began recalling moments in my life that I wasn’t proud of: not being able to tuck in my shirt, my daughter reminding me about the roundness of my belly and not being able to wear the company T-shirt — even in the largest size! I began compiling all the negative comments I’d received and used them to fuel my mission.

“I visualised one of my acquaintances laughing at me whenever I felt like giving up.

“Though I had joined the gym a year earlier, I wasn’t using it effectively. Fortunately, one of my new colleagues was a fitness enthusiast so I turned to him for guidance.

“Starting out was extremely difficult. Everything seemed foreign! It was almost as if parts of my body were not mine because although I wanted to do it mentally, I was incapable of keeping up physically.

“The early gym sessions consisted of huffing, puffing, sitting down and dragging my feet to the drinking fountain.

“My food intake was another area I had to work on. I replaced my morning breakfast with a healthy chocolate-flavoured food replacement shake.

“Lunch became less of a social routine, but a well-monitored meal exercise. Sometimes, I’d replace lunch with the shake and snacked on prunes and low-calorie bars in between.

“One of the most important things that helped me through was drinking a lot of water!

“The effect was quite immediate. By staying disciplined I lost about one kilogramme every 10 days.

“The first few weeks may be challenging, but after that the momentum gets going. I began feeling more confident and slept better. After three months, I lost 9kg. It felt great!

“As I was clearing out my wardrobe one day, I came across some old clothes. I put it on and nearly burst into tears! I could not believe how much I weighed before. I started at 114kg and was now down to 105kg — in three months!

“I am still a little overweight, but I know change won’t happen overnight. I am aiming to get my weight down to 90kg by mid-year, and ultimately being between 80kg and 85kg.

“The taunts and snide remarks have since turned into more positive comments. But if I had my way, I’d asked my friends to continue with the taunts — as that would remind me to work towards a healthier, fitter, better-looking me!”

- THE STAR

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