Passionate about cars and motorsports, Cheryl Tay is a familiar face in prominent local, regional as well as international automotive titles. More of her at CherylTay.sg. and on Facebook, Twitter orInstagram (cheryltay11). She also happens to be a recent gym and fitness convert.
She may be a lean, mean fighting machine now, but once upon a time, Sherilyn Lim was that poor girl in class that everyone picked on.
“I was fat, rounder and chubbier during my secondary school and polytechnic days, weighing the heaviest at 67kg,” said the Singaporean pro-mixed martial artist (MMA) signed to One Fighting Championship (One FC).
“I got bullied… my secondary school classmates didn’t want to talk to me, often ostracising me. I was also always the last to be picked for group activities.”
The 23-year-old Fight G gym member cum employee was also given nicknames associated with being “fat” or “ugly”.
These ghosts of her past have yet to be completely exorcised, admitted Lim, who said she continues to have “an issue with body image” and still feels “a little intimidated” when she bumps into her ex-classmates now.
Her health also suffered when she graduated from polytechnic and worked at a cigar bar and later, in advertising – where long work hours, irregular meals and a lack of sleep all combined to ill-effect on her body.
‘Why no six-pack?’
But everything changed when she decided to return to combat sport (she was in the pioneer batch of Singapore Polytechnic’s Muay Thai team) on a full-time basis.
The present-day Lim fills out a compact 1.6m, 52kg frame – but is less bothered about how she looks, and most importantly, now recognises that fulfiling female visual stereotypes (slim or skinny for example) does not necessarily mean being healthy.
“The definitions of healthy and fit in today’s world are completely off… there shouldn’t even be any standard,” she said. “I can run, jump, climb stairs and execute what my training expects me to; I don’t have any conditions or diseases.”
After her victorious One FC debut against Malaysian Ann Osman last October, Lim said she received Facebook messages asking her “to get a six-pack because it’s sexier”.
She has only one response to these individuals: “Tell them to take their ignorance and shove it up where the sun doesn’t shine."
These days, too many girls put pressure on themselves to look a certain way, and according to Lim this can be good or bad.
Positive pressure, as defined by Lim, is when an overweight girl sees a fit and toned – but not stick-thin – female, and is inspired to learn and train in strength and conditioning.
Bad pressure, on the other hand, is subjecting oneself to “wrong” influences and imitating flawed habits like only eating salads, restricting calories or not eating after 5pm.
Lim currently takes advice on dieting and nutrition from coaches Ian Tan and Brad Robinson from local gym Ritual.
She cooks as many of her meals as she can, and a daily lineup typically comprises eggs for breakfast as well as protein, carbohydrates and lots of vegetables for lunch and dinner.
Currently in preparations for her One FC rematch with Osman in March, Lim trains three to four times a day with fruits and high-protein foods serving as her in-between fuel.
The fighting-fit lass reiterated that at the end of the day, she couldn't care less about having a six-pack or being skinny.
“The way people perceive you is subjective and you have no control over it," said Lim.
“Plus, what’s wrong with having a tummy? A tummy is just a tummy. What real life value does a six-pack have? Does it make me less of a person or any less intelligent if I have a tummy?” she argued.
“It’s just physical and if people want to judge you according to how you look, there’s no point keeping those as friends or even having any interaction with them.”