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: Welson Sadikin (@alesamder)
Occupation: Banking Executive
Diet: I grew up a foodie because my mum is such a great cook, but as I got older, I eat more for nutrition because I believe "you are really what you eat". I feel responsible to eat right because I have seen how my choice of diet influences my loved ones around me to eat better.
For the past year, I had been taking more plant-based protein and it influenced my parents to cut down on their own intake of animal saturated fats. On normal days, my mornings start with stir-fried vegetables. My lunch and dinner follow the 1/4 carbs, 1/4 protein and 1/2 vegetable portioning recommended by Ministry of Health. I usually take vegan protein shake on days that I work out. When possible, I take lots tofu, tempeh (rich in vitamin B12 for herbivores) and vegetables.
Training: I see exercising much like coffee; it's part of my daily routine. For the past six months, I started HIIT (high-intensity interval training) sessions (45 minutes) five times a week, and beach volleyball or yoga on weekends. I do yoga to improve my flexibility to prevent injuries. This schedule fits perfectly with my work and social commitments.
Q: Any sports background growing up?
A: I was a happy obese kid because my mum and aunts were great cooks. They were responsible for helping me grow to be healthy and fat, which placed me in the TAF (Trim and Fit) Club in primary school, where I needed to reach school half an hour earlier to run rounds in the school hall. What seemed to be a punishment became the biggest blessing as it nurtured me to get used to exercising regularly.
After meddling with various sports (like swimming and shot put), I started court volleyball in junior college. The diverse experiences made me excel in the military physical assessments, therefore helped me to enter into supervisory appointments and taught me a whole lot about responsibility and people management.
How did you get into volleyball?
During junior college, like any hot-blooded 17-year-old kid, sports was an excellent excuse to fail your exams. When there was a new volleyball team set up in school, I joined and never looked back since. Only regret then was I could have managed sports and studies better in hindsight.
What is it about volleyball that you like so much?
Volleyball intrigues me because it is a challenging game dependent on mental composure, which directly influences your gameplay due to hand-eye coordination, reflexes and physical demands required to play this serious version of “keep the balloon off the floor”. Another challenging aspect is managing and complementing your teammates' mental composure which very much mirrors life in general.
When did you start playing beach volleyball?
I remember watching the classic Top Gun scene where Tom Cruise is topless and in his jeans playing beach volleyball with his mates against the red-orange hue of sunset. That inspired me to break the monotonous office work life routine and I decided to start playing beach volleyball three years ago. Beach volleyball is a great getaway from the usual concrete jungle, and few other sports mix the beach, music, drinking, vitamin D and spectacular sunsets all rolled into one.
I personally prefer the non-contact nature of beach volleyball, which means less injuries. The story behind this: I grew up a big Newcastle United fan since the 1996 “Entertainers” era and wanted to play soccer competitively. Unfortunately, I suffered from osgood schlatter disease (knee pain related to growth spurs during puberty) and it made me stop playing soccer in my youth. Therefore, my biggest fear has always been getting injured and I don’t see any problems playing beach volleyball till I’m 60.
You used to be part of an airline crew – how did you manage your fitness regime then?
There is a common misconception that being a cabin crew is an easy job. I beg to differ as the shift work and the adjustments to the various time zones placed a huge toll on the body. Insomnia and not sleeping for 24 hours were common during my flying days, therefore as crew we usually disciplined ourselves and head to the hotel gym for runs or resistance training whenever possible.
What are your fitness goals now?
In the short term, I'm experimenting reaching below 10 per cent body fat because I'm curious how my body will function then. Eventually, I hope that I will never lose interest in exercising and be the “World’s Fittest Grandpa” in the eyes of my future grandchildren, beating them in burpees. It will be great to inspire them and my loved ones that "life is short, it’s too precious not to be the best you can be".
When did you feel the least confident about yourself?
I have a bad habit of overthinking and being impatient, therefore I often fall into episodes of self-criticism which eventually makes me feel unmotivated. Similarly in volleyball, you doubt yourself after a bad play and you have to keep reminding yourself to recover your composure.
The common solution is positive self-validation or from external sources like your loved ones around you. Exercising releases mood boosting chemicals that helps me cope with stress at work and regain my motivation back too.
Are you satisfied with your body now?
I’m 100 per cent satisfied with my body because although it is still work in progress, I’m enjoying every bit of the journey towards my eventual goal. It’s heartening to know that the world’s best beauty treatment lies in every single one of us, (possibly better than "SKII”) – that is, to simply be active and exercise.
I have seen many age-defying role models who look and feel 20 years younger than their actual age, simply because they exercise every day. I'm blessed to be influenced by how my parents. Being the Generation X they are, they taught me the virtue of working hard day in and day out, and that you should receive the fruits of your labour eventually.
Have you ever received any comments about your body?
People usually don’t believe that I play beach volleyball weekly as I don’t have a tan. The fact is I’m rather careful with my skincare regime where I will protect myself with sunscreen everyday as advised by skin consultants from my flying days. I’m also always too skinny in the eyes of my relatives and their famous words to me are, “I will be handsome when I’m 5kg heavier."