Like the many who aspire to achieve ambitious goals, I was graded PES BP on enlistment. While the intensive Basic Military Training (BMT) on Tekong and the grind of Army life helped me to shed some weight and gain fitness, these gains vaporised after I passed my Operationally Ready Date (ORD).
Ten years of working adult life saw me going from my lean self to having a figure which might rival Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars. Not only was I pushing 38 on the BMI scale, I constantly felt weak, falling sick on many occasions, and struggled to focus at work.
However, I’ve managed to undo those 10 years of damage and emerged leaner and arguably fitter than I was during NS. Here, I’ve compiled eight most effective tips that made my fitness journey a fruitful one and I hope these can help you achieve your fitness goals!
Know Yourself And The Enemy
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles,” said Sun Tzu in The Art of War. Take time to make a full list of your habits and make decisive plans to overcome the undesirable ones. By doing so, you’ll identify where your bad habits are and how you can effectively solve the problems.
Constantly Calling Yourself Fat Won’t Work
You only call yourself fat once. Constantly reminding yourself that you’re fat will only lead to frustration, anger, or end up being miserable. Mental fitness is often a misunderstood adversary, and it is paramount that you need to have a clear mind in order to succeed. What made me feel more positive is calling myself “perpetually metamorphosing”.
It Takes Years
“Drop six sizes in no time!” “How to lose weight in 3 days!” While we are bombarded with such advertisements, accompanied by smiling success story models, there is absolutely no need to rush for fitness goals.
Remember that we live many different lifestyles, and each of them requires a different approach. While an ex-marathon champion might be able to pull off drastic weight loss in months, a person who has no active lifestyle prior to National Service will find that an impossible feat. It’s the journey to the goal that should be of importance.
Form Is Function
Stepping into a public gym for the first time is probably one of the major changes in life. Suddenly, you will find yourself surrounded by people who lift heavier, run longer and are more flexible than you are. Never make the mistake of over-exercising more than you should as it can lead to injury.
Focus on mastering the form of basic exercises, before thinking of advancing to heavier and more advanced moves. No one in the gym is judging you for lifting feather-weights (and you shouldn’t judge yourself either).
The Kitchen Matters
A popular saying that “abs are made in the kitchen” certainly holds true; you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. One should be wary of what one is consuming. While counting calories is an easy way to keep track of progress, you’ll eventually have to experiment with diet changes to find the diet which works best for you.
Try the many fad diets, but also be wary of sticking to one in the long term. A balanced and healthy diet works best as it ensures that one’s dietary needs are met in the long run.
Pick An Exercise You Enjoy
I’ve had my fair share of “Why do you cycle? Running is more effective.” It’s a routine which I enjoy and am comfortable with. I don’t mind riding a spin bike for an hour a day, even if running 2.4km under 12 minutes burns more calories.
Many people pick a workout that they don’t like, eventually resulting in a very short-lived fling, and causes their determination to wane. The key is to incorporate your favourite exercise into your daily routine, and you won’t feel as if you’re forcing yourself excessively.
Cardio And Strength
There is no “or”. A mistake I made in the early part of my transformation was to ignore weight lifting completely. One should do both to train strength as well as endurance for a body that continually burns fat.
A popular method of combining cardio and strength training is the “high-low method”, where high intensity activities are performed on the same day, followed by rest, or low intensity on the next. It’s a good excuse to be at the EnergyOne gym almost everyday.
The Goal Isn’t Perfection
Last but not least is: Not trying to achieve perfection. Eight-pack abs, single-digit body fat percentiles and a defined body build are dream goals, but not very feasible. Instead of sacrificing precious time with family and friends to chase impossible goals, I’ve learnt to chase greatness.
Greatness is about being better than you were yesterday. Failures and mistakes are lessons that you won’t repeat again. Chasing greatness also helps to create a balanced lifestyle which is both fun, and rewarding for you.