November 23

How to become fit from fat


So you want to be fit, young Palawan.

Not so easy.

If you’ve seen your friends slowly grow sideways after army, or since university, you might not want to end up that way.

Or you might be gently patting your tummy as you face yourself in the mirror and wondering how you’re going to change this horrible state of things.

In October 2019, I was much the same. In the span of a month, I ballooned from 60 to 68kg, and didn’t know how to get back down.

Despite exercising everyday, my weight stayed stubbornly stuck.
Despite exercising everyday, my weight stayed stubbornly stuck.

I exercised everyday.

But still I saw that stomach sticking out stubbornly.

So I got a fitness trainer.

Know what you want

One of the first things that Nicholas asked me was,

What do you want? What are your goals?

Often there are 3 main goals.

  1. Look lean fit, or toned
  2. Get more muscular, but not too big
  3. Improve performance in sports or in life, improving one’s overall health and life
Which do you want?
Which do you want?

After you’re clear what you want, you then start a two-step process of

  1. Losing fat,
  2. Doing the training plan;

in this particular order.

It is that simple.

What makes it difficult is us.

Its not what you do, but what you don’t

If you look at the graph below, my weight started dropping the moment I stopped eating junk food.

In particular, three types of food helped.

  1. Bread – as it contains gluten which bloats you
  2. Milk – where the hormones cause inflammation within you
  3. Items containing soy lecithin

Stopping the eating of such food may not be easy, but here’s a simple way.

Keep a food diary

One of the easiest things to do is to keep a food diary.

One simple way is to go through your credit card statement and see what you’ve been spending on. Something like the Trust Bank’s Credit Card offers this.

You could even look at your DBS PayLah app to see what you’ve been paying through the UEN QR codes.

Take a picture of every thing you put inside your mouth for a week to get raw, granular data of what you’re actually eating. Slowly you would realise that you’re actually eating more than you think you do.

You can’t complain anymore that,

I’m eating so little but gaining so much weight!

So take time to do just that.

Stop buying such food

Nah, you don’t have to walk home instead of taking the bus or public transport, just to lose weight after eating these foods.

It is tempting to buy these food whenever you head to the supermarket.

It’s much much healthier to replace these foods with healthier alternatives such as fruits like apples, peaches, or grapes.

These natural sugars, rather than the ultra-processed additives that leave you unsatisfied, and wanting more, may help.

I’m not kidding. Whilst there’s no official study that’s done into the addictiveness of the additives that are put into the foods you eat, there is anecdotal evidence that it leaves you wanting more.

Can’t stop after eating just one chip? Or find yourself wanting yet another cereal bar after having one?

You might be observing the effects of UPF.

Eat less of that oily hawker food

Yes, yes, we love our char kway teow, steaming with the juicy cockles and the umami wetness of kway teow within.

And things like the $3 PayLah cashback can leave you thinking that you’re actually doing good when you eat such food.


Why not take some time to pop the roast chicken from Cold Storage into the microwave instead? It may work far better in giving you a protein boost.

Put on those shoes

But the other thing that stops us from getting fit is our tiredness. In particular, we often complain that we have no energy to exercise.


We can all exercise. It’s just whether we are used to. Not whether we want to.

But whether we are used to it.

As James Clear shares in his book “Atomic Habits”, we often think that motivation begins before the thing that we are procrastinating on. But motivation often begins after you start, rather than before.

Starting leads you to continue. Not waiting for the spark of inspiration.

One great habit to start is just to put on your shoes after putting down your stuff at home, so you don’t have to make a decision.

Essentially, decide less.

Just go ahead to walk out, and down for a quick workout.

The weights workouts do matter

As much as we feel that cardio loses us weight (because how can you not, if you’re sweating?!), it may not be as effective as the weights workout.

Weights help to increase your metabolism because there are more, stronger, muscles now that require more nutrients to feed.

This allows you to look fuller, leaner, and fitter.

Stop hanging out with fat people

As much as this sounds horrid, fat people do make you fatter.

And yes, maybe that date you’re texting in between – who’s not as fit as you, might be making you fatter too.

Christakis and Fowler reported that when two people are friends for a long while, if one of them becomes obese, the chances that the friend will do the same increased by 57 percent.


If your friends are more obese, chances are, you would tend to see them tending towards certain kinds of food when they go out to eat. You might follow them, and end up being fatter yourself.

You might get fatter when you hang out with obese people. (Picture credit: Robert Krulwich)
You might get fatter when you hang out with obese people. (Picture credit: Robert Krulwich)

As Jonah Lehrer reports,

obesity spreads from person to person, much like a contagious virus.

Believe me.

Moving from fit to fat starts from habits

What are your good habits? What about the bad ones?

If you notice yourself gaining weight, you’d probably know what’s causing you that. If you don’t, take time to observe the food you’re taking.

Kill the bad ones, keep the good ones.

You would find yourself moving from fat to fit.


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