Courtesy of Jason Strimpel
I have always been fit and knowledgeable about fitness, having been doing weight training on and off for nearly 20 years. I have run the range, taking lessons, working with instructors, and training myself along the way. Recently, I went to the gym and ate pretty good, but I’m also 40, so I was getting, well, “soft”. My metabolism has slowed down. The Covid blockade was really bad in Singapore and I got lazy. I ate what I wanted and didn’t sleep very well. (I have two children.)
I was skipping a lot of activities and generally felt low on energy and dissatisfied with where I was. I decided I really wanted to tweak my diet, take things to the next level and see if I could look like Brad Pitt in Fighting club. So I signed up Maximum performance Singapore gym.
So the first thing we did was crack down on my diet. I became very strict about what I ate. I’ve always been tracking my food, but I’ve started eating far fewer calories and making sure my macronutrients are balanced. I wasn’t very disciplined before, ate a lot of starchy carbohydrates, peanut butter and candy, and didn’t get enough protein.
I got into a much better routine. For breakfast I ate 300 grams of Greek yogurt and a smoothie. Lunch consisted of 160 grams of chicken breast and two firm egg whites. For an afternoon snack I would have 500 grams of strawberries. Then for dinner I would eat 225 grams of white fish and 250 grams of roasted pumpkin. I did it every single day. Get used to chicken and pumpkin, I say!
I also drank 150 ounces of water a day and practically stopped drinking alcohol. People may really underestimate the effect of these two changes, but they make a big difference.
With all the gyms in Singapore closing intermittently due to Covid, I dropped my membership and started running 25-30km a week, but no weight training. During the transformation, I was doing weight training three days a week and walking 10,000 steps a day. Again, those little things like taking 10,000 steps a day can really have an effect.
I learned a quantity from my coach. The most important thing was the form: most of the movements I knew and had done before, but my form was wrong. He taught me to do the movements the right way. We also talked a lot about diet and how food choices affect performance and react in the body.
It took me a while to appreciate the leg exercises. Split squats are pretty miserable. Who am I kidding: All leg exercises are pretty miserable. I found these the most beneficial, though. The leg exercises made my heart rate increase and I burned a lot of calories. I also feel much stronger now.
Our goal was to rebuild the body, keeping me in a calorie deficit to destroy fat while building muscle. I lost around 5kg (11lbs) down to as low as 80.1kg (177lbs). My body fat percentage dropped from 50% to 9.5%. And I got a little stronger, adding 10kg (22lbs) to my chest press and nearly 50kg (110lbs) to my trap-bar routine. It was only in the period from November 2021 to mid-February 2022, with a two-week hiatus in between.
Of course I’m pretty happy with the results, but the process has also become something I enjoyed. Not only did I enjoy the workouts, but I also enjoyed the challenge of eating right every day. I built eating habits that I still follow today. My health markers were in good shape prior to transformation, so I don’t think they have changed much, but I feel much more confident that I know what to eat and have the willpower to make the right food choices. My big takeaway is that diet is really 80 percent of the game.
I also slept better, was in a better mood, and generally had more energy than before the transformation. I think drinking 150 ounces of water is a secret to feeling good that more people should know. I may repeat the program in the future, but for now it’s just about introducing myself every day: walking, exercising and observing my diet. Fitness is a lifelong journey.
To anyone thinking about how to start that journey on their own, I say: just start. It doesn’t matter if you have the right shoes, or know the moves, or if it’s Tuesday. Gyms can be intimidating, but in my experience no one judges anyone. Just introducing yourself is a great achievement. Plus, you can only read so much on the internet. Going through a program adds a level of responsibility that is important with difficult things. Having an expert guide can really help with your motivation. Also, know that travel isn’t easy, nor should it be.
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