Life goes beyond the digits on the scale and your body is capable of so much more. Yahoo’s #Fitspo of the Week series is dedicated to inspirational men and women in Singapore leading healthy and active lifestyles. Have someone to recommend? Hit Cheryl up on Instagram or Facebook.
Name: Rayson Yong Wei Xiang (@raysonyong)
Occupation: Customer service executive
Diet: I tend to include a lot of vegetables and fruits in my diet, avoid fried food and eat everything in moderation – the usual. I also stop eating after 8pm, as this helps me to not munch on excess calories (read: snacks) near bedtime.
Training: I am currently training five days a week. I will hit the gym either during lunch time or after work. I split my workouts into three categories – “Push”, “Pull” and “Leg” – and there will be a rest day in between for recovery. I usually spend about an hour at the gym, with a very short break in between sets to maximise efficiency.
Q: What kind of sports did you do in school?
A: I played badminton and volleyball during my secondary school days, and I represented my teams at inter-class competitions. I also played tennis leisurely for about a year in my final year in polytechnic.
Over the years, you started to gain weight and you let yourself go. How did that happen?
I did not play any sports nor join any fitness clubs after I left school. I started work shortly after completing my national service. Back then, I was not active and was eating irregularly due to work. During the weekends, I would just stay at home, play games and eat on my bed. This went on for 12 years.
When did you realise it was time to do something?
The awakening came when I was getting ready for my reservist back in late 2017 and I could no longer fit into my uniform. At that point, I weighed 91kg and had a BMI of 30.4, which was way beyond the healthy or ideal range. I was basically 25kg over my ideal weight.
To top it off, I was having issues with high blood pressure and lower back aches. I was also falling sick regularly and constantly feeling lethargic. It was then that I knew I had to do something about my excess weight to prevent it from damaging my health.
What kickstarted your fitness regime?
I tried losing weight by cutting out carbohydrates completely from my diet. I thought at the time that this was the easiest way to lose weight without having to spend too much time and energy exercising. However, I started having withdrawal syndromes and was feeling nauseated and light-headed, and I wasn’t enjoying my new diet as well. That was when I realised that it wasn’t sustainable.
My friend, Benny, who’s a member at Fitness First, encouraged me to start going to the gym for more effective results. He mentioned that the trainers could guide me through my nutrition and weight loss journey.
Initially, did you feel intimidated about going to the gym?
I signed up for a membership at Fitness First back in March 2018 due to the convenience of their locations around the island so that I could get a workout done wherever I am. I felt intimidated initially because it was my first time stepping into a gym. I was overweight, unfit, and had no experience with the equipment then, so I was quite worried about how I would perform and if my body could take on the intensity of the workouts.
How did you overcome the fear?
I had a personal trainer, Daniel Tan, who guided me through the gym equipment and routines, and showed me the correct form when exercising so I don’t get injured. In addition to personal training sessions, I started attending lunch classes with my gym buddies Benny and Michelle.
The first class I attended was RPM (indoor group cycling workout). For someone who was overweight and unfit back then, cycling still seemed easy and manageable – or so I thought. But I was wrong! Muscles which I never knew existed started to awaken from years of inactivity. While my body was sore and ached for the next few days, I never felt more alive and stronger.
I continued to push myself and tried out different group classes with Benny and Michelle. After three to four months of exercising I continued to try out different group classes available at Fitness First, such as RPM, Body Pump, Body Combat, Body Steps, Body Jam, Yoga, and Spartan Training.
When did you start seeing change in your body?
I saw progress as my weight fell from 91kg to 80kg – I took a whole 11kg off. I felt a strong sense of achievement and was motivated to set higher goals for myself to become stronger and leaner. With these goals in mind, I signed on for another 24 sessions of personal training with Daniel.
By September 2018, I weighed 72kg with a steady decrease in my fat percentage and by December 2018, I reached my goal of 67kg – I was at the leanest form ever in my entire life. My shirt size dropped from XL to S and my waist also shrank from 38 inches to 29 inches.
It's like a brand new you - how have people reacted and how do you feel about the new you?
Funny you say that. In the third quarter of 2019, Fitness First organised a motivational award ceremony called the New You Achievement Awards that recognises and celebrates the health and fitness achievements of members. With the successes I made and the lessons I learnt, I decided to take part in the awards because I hoped for my story to inspire others to not be afraid to take on the challenges in life.
To be honest, my fitness journey was not smooth-sailing. There was a lot of pain, frustration and self-doubt. But with the encouragement of my friends, family, fitness buddies and personal trainer – I persevered.
After I shed the pounds, I received many compliments from my family and friends on how well and lean I look. And there were of course some who could not recognise me at all. My health also improved tremendously.
What else have you been up to besides going to the gym?
I completed my first 10km and half-marathon in October 2018 and April 2019 respectively. I also completed the Spartan Sprint race last August. I am looking forward to challenge myself with a full marathon and a more challenging version of the Spartan race.
What are your fitness goals now?
My goal for 2020 is to continue to increase my muscle mass, make good food decisions, and live healthily.
When did you feel the least confident about yourself?
I did have doubts initially when my training did not seem to be effective after my first three months, as my muscle mass did not increase despite me diligently hitting the gym every day to attend classes and doing weights training.
Daniel then advised me to focus on weight training, and increase the intensity and weights over time. That was when I start to see progress and managed to lose body fat as well as increase my overall muscle mass.