Never have I ever thought that I’d have these “before and after” photos – seriously, not in my wildest imagination.

Years ago, I surrendered to the fact that I was born, raised and will remain fat and unfit for the rest of my life.  Ten a couple of friends encouraged me to try this “lifestyle change” challenge with them.

After seeing immediate results, days of full commitment turned to weeks, then months and now counting 4 years.  I can proudly say that I’m a changed person – better, healthier, fitter, happier and 60 pounds lighter.

How did I do it?  The list below chronologically summarizes my journey – it’s not an easy road and entailed a great deal of discipline.  And while far from being an expert (not a fitness coach or a nutritionist here), I’d like to share my true story to inspire and get you started in your own fitness journey.

1.  Ate clean by doing the Paleo diet.  It’s a diet adapted from cavemen.  Simply put, eat only what cavemen were eating during those days – no packaged and manufactured food that you’d see in groceries and fast food.  I   focused on fresh veggies and fruits, cooked meat and fish without processed seasoning, completely gave up white rice (hardest for an Asian dude who can eat this 3x a day), sugar, alcohol and junk.  I didn’t starve myself though and still ate 5-6 times daily in reasonable portions.  A month after doing this non-stop without even exercising, I dropped 10 pounds (some good recipes here).

2.  Did the “Insanity” work out.  After seeing the encouraging weight loss in a month, I then did my exercise research and came across Shaun T’s  “Insanity” DVD workout.  After giving it a try, I’ve realized that it was really insane – insanely good!  For someone who never exercised, learning the basics of “max interval training” in your own living room than an intimidating gym helped.  My greatest enemy was myself though, sometimes felt like giving up but fortunately didn’t, no matter how hard the routine was.   2 months into the program (while keeping Paleo on), I’ve lost another 20 pounds.

3.  Joined a boot camp.  While I eventually developed the habit of exercising (at least an hour in the morning), I got bored with it.  Knowing the struggle, a friend then introduced me to boot camp and joined my first group exercise team through Pinnacle Performance.  Enjoyed the experience of performing hard core cardio (squats, lunges, mountain climbers, push ups, plank, star jumps, burpees, etc.) outdoors, by the beach or in the park with people who were experiencing the same journey.

4.  Got into boxing.  To add to the mix of exercise variation, I did the engaging “Box-Fit” program twice a week through Ignite Fitness.  It’s a good combination of learning the basics of boxing juxtaposed with an intense cardio workout.  Other than the full hour session being far from boring, it increased my stamina, endurance and helped strengthen my core.  With Paleo, boot camp and box-fit done religiously for a little more than a year, I said goodbye to the extra 60 pounds, changed my shirt size from XL to S and trousers from 38 to 30.

5.  Signed up for a gym membership.  With the amazing transformation, I told myself that there was no turning back and decided to level up my game.  Some people thought that I’ve over done it as I looked skinny and shapeless.  This triggered me to start a proper weight training and consumed more protein to gain muscle mass.  I also signed up at Gold’s Gym, hired a personal trainer for a month and attended all the group exercises by Les Mills (my personal favorites are Body Pump, Body Combat and Body Balance).

6.  Got into running.  With all the fitness programs that I’ve practiced, I gained so much confidence and included running a 10-kilometer race as part of my goals.  2 months before the annual DXB Nike Run, I decided to train using the Nike+ running app matched with a power music playlist.  After surviving my first 10K, I regularly participated in various running events.  The most memorable one was last year when I did 3 consecutive events not just for the sake of fitness but also for a worthy cause (watch my quick interview at Sport 360 from the link for my fund raising for homeless kids of war).

7.  Started calorie counting.  It’s 80% food, 20% exercise.  While I started eating normally again, I didn’t go back to the hard bad eating habits that I’ve managed to break.  To guide my daily food intake, I started calorie counting using “My Fitness Pal” app and ate balanced meals up to 1,700 calories daily.  To reward myself, I have “cheat days” where I indulge and eat what I want – and yes, I go crazy most of the time.  But then, I always remember that I need to bounce back and get back on track.  So far, it’s been working quite well.

8.  Tried and got addicted to CrossFit.  By far my favorite – work out varies daily, balanced cardio and weight training, develops strength, measurable progress, a community more than just a place to train, and a whole lot more.  It’s been more than a year now since I’ve joined CrossFit Sands and don’t see any reason to stop.  At first, I thought it was way too tough for a non-athlete like me, yet it’s practically for anyone who has the drive to be fitter.  From a weak newbie, I now love doing back squats, deadlifts, cleans, box jumps, kettle bell swings, wall balls and saw progress in my pull ups, toes to bar, thrusters and snatches.  Still have a lot to learn and fears to overcome, but now a proud and certified member of the global addictive fitness cult following that keeps me strong, healthy and driven.

9.  Quit smoking.  The million-dollar bonus – not directly linked to losing 60 pounds, but would have the most impact on my over-all health.  Started smoking regularly in 1997 and haven’t stopped in 18 years.  One random October night last year, I just decided to quit cold turkey and didn’t have a single puff since then.  Contrary to common belief, I didn’t experience any withdrawal – no anxiety, uncontrollable cravings, nightmares, depression, etc.  I believe all these are merely psychological and the process of quitting is a mental game.  If you want to, you simply will – no buts, no ifs, no excuses.  On my 10th month now and definitely no turning back.

10.  Subscribed to a meal plan.  The biggest challenge is maintenance.  Realizing that food is my weakness in the entire journey, I decided to subscribe to a meal plan through Kcal.  Having the right meals ready and delivered right at my doorstep 5 days a week is not only convenient, but also in support of my fitness objectives.  I’m on the stage now where I’m happy with my body weight, but would be happier if I can up my muscle mass and reduce my body fat.  I’ve been through the worst, so this shouldn’t be as hard (fingers-crossed).

Like everything else in life, being fit and healthy is a decision.  You can control the motivation and results since everything’s really up to you.  It’s a self-imposed commitment that requires focus, discipline and resilience.

That’s how I bid goodbye to my extra 60 pounds.  Ready to say goodbye to yours?  

Follow Me

Thoughts?  Leave a comment.


Love it?  Share it.

fly with joseph

Inspired Travel, Fitness, Career, Lifestyle