Terence Tan never really hit the gym much. Growing up on the “nerdy and geeky” side of things, he had virtually no experience with weight training prior to his weight-loss transformation.
Like many others who begin a similar journey, the 37-year-old Singapore man had spent most of his life overweight, and he had reached his breaking point.
“Physically, I was at the worst point in my life, having hit the heaviest weight that I had ever been,” he says. “Mentally, it wasn’t much better, due to previous attempts at weight loss having failed spectacularly.”
Before Tan found something that worked for him, he tried an all liquid, low caloric diet—as well as intermittent fasting. However, every time, he would only see minimal progress before things became too difficult and the weight would ultimately return.
As a result, he began to have very little confidence that something would be able to keep the weight off for good, and to make matters worse, he was also dealing with chronic health issues.
“In the year leading up to that point, I had already received various pieces of bad news regarding the state of my health in quick succession,” he says. “I found out that I had hyperlipidaemia, reached the weight where I was obese by BMI standards, and was also diagnosed with fatty liver disease.”
So, on his wife’s birthday in 2021, Tan decided to make a change for good, and sign up for a personal training program with UP Fitness. Despite his inexperience in the gym or with weight training in general, his personal trainer, Boon, helped him get going right away.
“At the beginning, I started with two sessions in the gym a week,” he says. “By the end of the 50 weeks, I had grown to enjoy weight training enough to the point that I was doing five full body sessions in the gym every week, along with one day set aside for cardio, where I would either attend a spin class or go for a 1500 meter swim.”
For people starting an intense new workout routine, it can’t be overstated how important it is to get your form down before injuries occur, so Tan heavily relied on his trainer, Boon, to keep him from on point.
“My trainer has been instrumental in making sure that every rep in the gym is executed perfectly, in good form, and keeping me injury free throughout this process,” he says. “With regards to training, he helped me learn the importance of quality over quantity and avoid ‘ego lifting’ as much as possible.”
Not only did this workout plan help Tan lose over 50 pounds of fat in under a year, but it also helped him gain over 5 pounds of muscle in return. As a result, he’s feeling better than ever—not just in the physical realm.
“It’s very cliché to say so, but getting fitter and leaner has helped tremendously with my energy levels,” he says. “I am much more active than I used to be and able to engage with my family and play with my 4-year old son. My confidence has of course improved massively, having finally attained a physique that I could only dream of in the past”
While his weight-loss transformation has been a continuous process, the reactions from his family have been resoundingly positive. Some of his close contacts have even said that he’s inspired them to take on their own weight loss journey—one friend even lost close to 30 pounds by following the gym and diet routines Tan learned at UP.
“Oftentimes the friends and patients that I see on a regular basis have difficulty recognizing me when we meet in person,” he says. “The funniest incident was when I was 10 minutes deep into a consult with a patient that I had known for years at that point, and she eventually asked where her regular doctor was and what happened to him that there was a new person taking over!”
He’s also seen massive improvements in his chronic health issues. For starters, his blood cholesterol levels have all improved significantly, and a repeat ultrasound of his liver showed a marked reduction in liver fat, as compared to previous scans.
“Most importantly though, this journey has shown that my body composition is something that is under my direct control,” he says. “I am no longer a passive passenger that’s just along for the ride, but the active driver and shaper of what I want to look and feel like. As someone who spent most of their life overweight, this has been the most significant paradigm shift.”
After having done fat loss for close to a year, Tan is now eating at maintenance calories and focusing on muscle building with his trainer. He’s also focused on getting more proficient in the more technically difficult lifts like the barbell back squat and conventional deadlift.
When asked about the number one piece of advice he has for people considering starting their own weight-loss journey, he says the following.
“The magic you are looking for is in the work that you are avoiding,” he says. “Focus on keeping things consistent and sustainable. Success in weight loss and in fitness comes from doing the same, simple things well, day after day, week after week and month after month. There is no magic diet, workout or pill that can do things for you without effort, but the results will come if you are consistent.”
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