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Name: Aaron Mossadeg (@acmossadeg)
Diet: it's about controlling the macro aspects. If I want to have something like say Hokkien Mee for lunch, or if I'm going to eating something carb-heavy before workout, then I'll aim for something with either half portion of carbs or no carbs at all for dinner. I also try to eat as much as possible in a moderately healthy way just to maintain my size because my metabolism rate is pretty high. Intermittent fasting also works for me, in terms of cutting down all the processed food, unnecessary carbs and sugar.
Training: Nowadays I'm focusing more on the strength training, because I'm trying to get smaller. So it's just a bench press, dead lifts and biceps on one day, then shoulder Press, squats and triceps on the second day, and then I play football over the weekend. That's about it.
Q: What kind of sports did you do when you were growing up?
A: It was football all the way. I played for my secondary school team, but then I kind of stopped during my polytechnic days. I also did skateboarding, and that helped me maintain a lean body. But I stopped that as well during poly days, and I saw the effect – I saw myself getting “skinny fat”. And that’s when I decided to hit the gym, around 2011.
It was my friends, they used to go about twice or thrice a week, and they were trying to convince me to go. I used to say that I have things to do, but that was just an excuse because I was spending my time playing World of Warcraft. Eventually my friends convinced me that I can still play the game and go to gym for two days a week.
So I said, okay, I’ll do a maximum of an hour-and-a-half workout, twice a week. And then I quickly saw progress, and then it just got addictive.
Did your acting roles require you to bulk up or lose weight? How did you cope with all the weight changes?
When I first started out acting, I was doing very basic gym stuff. I had an aim to have a body like a young Brad Pitt, but then I got bigger than that. Eventually I settled on having a body like Superman. During this period, I went to the gym three time a week to work on my physique.
Then when I found out that I needed to bulk up even more for my role in Faculty, I had to do the things that I hated to do, such as leg workouts, in order to push my body over the plateau of my normal weight. I also forced myself to eat more than I liked to. Thank goodness it was just for one role.
So how did you cut down on your weight after the role?
I focused on strength training – fewer repetitions but at heavier weights. So while others may do about three sets of eight to 12 reps, I’ll do five sets of five reps at heavier weights and with long rests in between. So I’m basically training my strength, but not bulking my size or improving my endurance.
Is that your current fitness goal?
Yes, basically to look leaner but still become stronger. I’m also considering going to a fight gym soon. but I do need to find the appropriate one and not get injured doing the sessions.
What does it take to maintain a body like yours?
It's very easy to get to a gym routine, and just lift for the sake of lifting and not focus on each repetition. But if you slow it down and really squeeze each bicep curl slowly, doing it in the right tempo, the difference is remarkable.
When you really get in tune with your body, you can feel it every single repetition working for you. And when you start feeling the pain, and you push past the pain, still maintaining the good form. That’s where the truth is. Having that kind of focus is really necessary.
Being in the media industry, is there any pressure to stay in shape? Have you faced any negativity about your body from this industry?
For the most part, it has worked out for me. Thankfully, I already had a good physique to begin with, so that was to my advantage for photo shoots or roles. And the whole bulking up for acting roles was kind of fun, because once you understand your body and what you can do to it, you can sort of play around with your body size and still be in control. So that was fun.
But after that period, it's a bit hard to disconnect from that fun, and to really get leaner. It can get a little tiring to have someone constantly telling me that, “You should lose weight.” What am I supposed to be, you know? So there's the confusion of changing my physique to fit into roles, but this comes with the territory. It took a while for me to figure out if I’m happy with this, but once I did, I applied myself to do what it took.
Was there ever a time you were not confident about yourself? How did you overcome that?
Fit guys are usually very insecure about their physiques, because they worked so hard for it. It’s the same for me, there’s always that pressure, that tendency to compare myself with others.
But then I eventually realised that, at the end of the day, I’m not a professional bodybuilder, and I’m not in Hollywood. It’s about understanding myself and my perception, whether I’m happy with the effort I’ve put in.
For me, I'm happy because I'm having a healthy lifestyle on my own terms. I eat and drink in moderation, I don't do a lot of cardio but am very strict with the training I do. It’s kind of balancing out pretty well, so I have to be happy. I know that, if I wanted a perfect body, it comes at a price and I'm not willing to pay that price. So I shouldn't feel sad.
Is there a misconception of fitness in today’s society that you feel needs to change?
I think people underestimate how important a diet is, and overestimate the importance of workouts. The unfortunate thing is, we have lots of cheap and delicious food in Singapore, but too much of those are just pure carbs. Unless you’re working out every day, you’re going to have a calorie surplus. That’s how you get progressively heavier.
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