Jeff Tan, a 30-year-old trader from Singapore, shares with Men's Health how a busy lifestyle led to some bad diet and fitness habits—until he made the decision to transform his body, leading to a whole new outlook on life.
Fitness has been a big part of my life for the last 10 years. However, there was a period of time when I started getting busy in life and my priorities changed; I began to neglect my workouts, going from training 5 or 6 times a week to just once a week. And I was eating a lot. It started off with bad eating habits, like having lots of large portions of fried food and drinking bubble tea. My weight slowly crept up over a period of 2 years.
I had low self-esteem to begin with, and the weight gain only made me feel worse about myself. I felt unmotivated to work out and I had no fitness goals. I am very lucky to have some friends who worked out with me on the weekends when I had some spare time. If not, I might have given up fitness completely. I stopped weighing myself, but I believe that at my heaviest I was around 102 kgs (224 pounds).
Fitness has always been a core value of mine, and I always wanted to do something about my body. So when my work schedule become more stable and balanced, I decided to spice up my life and set myself a goal to achieve. The first thing I thought of was to do something about my fitness. And I wanted to do something different, so I chose to take on Ultimate Performance Singapore's transformation challenge.
I knew that the first thing I had to do was to get my mind ready for the transformation. I thought through the things I was going to have to give up, and I got myself mentally prepared for it. There were going to be sacrifices. A question I asked myself was: "Are you willing to pay the price?"
The program involved doing strength training 5 times a week. This consisted of 3 full body workouts, and 2 upper body and arm sessions, each lasting about an hour. I also did low intensity steady state (LISS) cardio every day. The thing that is so effective about the program is that its simple: all I had to do was be consistent, and put in the hard work and believe that it will give me the results.
I started prepping my own meals. 3 meals a day, with no snacks and no unhealthy fats sources—I got my fats from salmon and eggs. I started off low carb for 2 weeks, and slowly introduced more carbs as I got leaner. I kept my protein lean whenever I had more carbs.
I worked closely with Ryan, my trainer from Ultimate Performance, and we were immediately a great fit; he is down to earth and highly motivated. His style of training just makes sense to me, and I have no problem following his instructions. He taught me the importance of controlling my portions. And I learned to get my fats from things like salmon and beef – I eliminated peanut butter, avocado and nuts. By doing this, I built the habit of not snacking and I managed to keep my calories lower. The key is to be in a calorie deficit.
In terms of training, Ryan stressed the importance of training every part of the body, no cherry-picking exercises like what I did in the past. I liked to squat, and I hardly did bench and raises. Ryan made sure I worked every part of my body, so I have no imbalance issues. And by doing face pulls and lateral raises, I got ‘capped’ delts; I love raises and facepulls now.
My weight dropped to 72 kgs (158 pounds) in 18 weeks; a loss of about 30 kgs (66 pounds). My body fat went down o 7.9%, which is something I never imagined. I feel so proud of myself, and this is probably one of the greatest achievements in my life. I gained more confidence. And most importantly, I feel like I have transformed internally too. Going on this transformation added a lot of stress to my life, and it gave me so many obstacles that helped me grow. Now I am more vocal, more honest, and more willing to confront myself and face my problems in life.
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