Diet - Rebel Bootcamp

Don’t be in just a statistic!

Recent news reports have shown that Malaysians are among the heaviest in Asia! New findings from British medical journal, “The Lancet”, reveals that 49% of women and 44% of men in Malaysia are be obese.

Prime Minister’s science adviser, Zakri Abdul Hamid, was reported to have said, “This is a big problem because obesity can cause diabetes, heart problem and others and our Prime Minister has asked the global science and innovation advisory council to work on this.”

Well, it doesn’t have to a problem for you. Workouts at Rebel Boot Camp has shown to be an effective method of melting the fat away. James Lee, one of the founding Rebels at the Bandar Utama location, lost five kg in the first month alone. Along with the exercise, the coaches at Rebel will also help with some nutrition advice for fat loss.

In addition, James says, “I personnally feel that Rebel Bootcamp has helped to build me up not only in physically but mentally stronger… The hardest part was we have to continue doing it over and over again where all the relevant muscles and breath wanted to give up! … [but] our friendly trainers and participants are motivating each during the training and we really enjoy the process to getting ourselves fit.”

So don’t be among the 49% or 44%! Getting fitter and healthier is just a click away!

Watch for Rebel’s new morning sessions at Central Park, Bandar Utama (6.45 a.m. to 7.45 a.m.) and KLCC (6.30 a.m. to 7.30 a.m.), beginning August 2014.

Keeping fitness resolutions

Originally published in the Sun newspaper.

Happy New Year and Gong Xi Fa Cai! Now that we have almost lived through the first month of 2012, many of us may find ourselves struggling to keep up with our old familiar routine once again.

Coming back to work after the school holidays and the New Year celebrations, we are now again in the midst of another festive holiday and celebration.

Have you already begun fretting over resolutions to be fitter and healthier after all the feasting?

The questions is, how many of us have New Year resolutions which are health and fitness related? I would say, just about everyone.

Resolutions are merely wishes. Usually, how well you are at keeping health and fitness resolutions relates to how well you can maintain and make these into habits that stick.

It is said that it only takes a spark to get the fire going. In order to maintain and keep the fire consistently burning, a continuous effort is required.

Habits are hard to form and keep. We can list our New Year resolutions for fitness and exercise easily, but ensuring that they are kept requires action that are translated into a behavioural change.

In fitness theory, the initial stage of change starts when there is a contemplation stage. This is when physical activity and adoption of a healthy lifestyle is only a thought.

At this stage, thoughts speak louder than actions. We know all the positive benefits exercise can do for you and we know that it needs to be initiated. But at that contemplation stage, it’s all thought as written in the list of resolutions for the year.

At the preparation stage, a mental and physical preparation to adopt an activity programme, to be physically active, is put in place.

This is where the spark starts to fire a flame. Some form of activity will be activated at that point such as taking occasional trips to the gym, planned short walks.

An effort to make conscientious action for activity happens. Inconsistency towards activity is still present but nevertheless, there is an active readiness to adopt a habit.

It is only at the action stage where activity becomes more regular and consistent. Activity now becomes part of a lifestyle habit. It typically takes eight weeks to make a habit stick.

At this stage, action now is three months in duration at least. The daily walks or runs become more religious in habit. It is only then that some physical and positive results can be noted and felt.

The typical mistake people make on fitness resolutions is that they are too vague or too large: “I must lose 10kg this year … I want Angelina Jolie’s body … I want to look like any one of those guys in that 300movie.”

These are not resolutions. These are wishful thinkings. Instead, break down these dreams into measurable goals and tasks that work.

Workable resolutions are: “I will walk 20 minutes every day … Or I will join a gym … I will go to the gym every Tuesday and on the weekend … At 7am every morning, just after the alarm rings, I will do 20 push-ups.”

Big goals are fine, as long as you break them down. Saying you intend to complete a 42km marathon this year if you have never run more than 5km in your life will be your downfall.

You will start training and you will fail miserably. Rome was not built in a day. Perhaps you should target completing 10km first. Doesn’t that make more sense?

Slow and steady is the key winner in fitness. The 20min walk that you’ve set can change into 30 minutes in due time. The 30min walk can progress into a walk/run by which, in time, it will be a 30min run.

That 30min run will be more efficient, therefore, covering a bigger distance. Before you know it, you are able to run 5km in 30 minutes. That marathon goal may still seem daunting, but to aim for a 10km finish would seem more plausible.

By the time that 10km goal is achieved, you might just say to yourself: “My legs are now starting to look like Angelina Jolie’s!”

Fitness is a progression state of being. Goals will change over time. It’s human nature for humans to gravitate to things they are more efficient at. Crawl-stand-walk-run.

It is also human for us to better ourselves and progressively challenge our boundaries of what we can do. That trait in humans is what separates us from the monkeys.

By the way, Angelina Jolie stays tight and slim because Jennifer Anniston always looks good. What is your motivation?

Let’s be fit!

Jon leads the KL Sentral platoon.

Putting in the effort

Originally published in the Sun newspaper.

AS A professional personal trainer, I get asked this question very often: “How do I lose …”. I usually know where that question is leading to without hearing it in full as it always refers to body weight or getting rid of flab from a specific part of the body.

My answer? Eat less, exercise more. It seems an easy solution, but a mountain of a task to achieve. The mind is determined but the body is weak. We all want results, but rarely want to work for it.

Losing weight the right way is not rocket science. The secret is putting in the effort and adhering to an exercise regime.

Eating less does not mean going on a diet. Personal trainers refrain from using the word ‘diet’. Instead, they encourage a ‘proper eating plan’, which makes more sense.

Due to our sedentary lifestyles, people are actually eating too much. To put it simply, a reduction of 1kg of body fat requires a deficit of 7,700kcal. This means a person who wants to lose 1kg of body fat should “burn” 7,700kcals by reducing daily calorific intake and by exercising.

A proper eating plan need not be to the extreme of cutting out all of our favourite foods. Eating less simply means cutting down the amount of food or consuming food in smaller portions.

If you love chocolates and cakes, by all means don’t deprive yourself. Instead, have a smaller piece of chocolate or slice of cake. Or maybe, share the joy of eating by sharing the cake with others. The bigger the sacrifice, the bigger the gain, or in this context, the bigger the loss.

An easier strategy to adopt would be to make better eating choices by substituting ‘sinful’ food items for healthier options.

If you are a coffee lover, try coffee of the day instead of café latte. That’s a 100kcals saved from omitting milk. Sensible eating is all about slowly weaning ourselves off unhealthy eating habits.

The second solution to the weight loss equation is the harder of the two to accomplish. People usually find it easier to eat less or even to refrain from eating sinful food. But when it comes to exercising, failure sets in simpy because it is a harder task to perform and can be painful.

A 30-minute brisk walk may only result in an expenditure of 250kcals, which barely covers the total calories of a cup of coffee and a buttered kaya toast. And although walking daily seems easy, there are always excuses not to do it.

You have to be consistent. To ensure adherence, set a goal for yourself. Set targets with tangible results that can be attained. For example, a weight target goal or a waist measurement goal.

A method I use is aiming to fit into my favourite pair of pants. Periodically, I try it on and if it doesn’t fit me, I get down to business to make it fit.

The determination to achieve weight loss can only come about if you plan well. Management gurus say: “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.”

Willing it alone won’t work. Plan what to eat, where to eat, the times to eat, how to exercise, its duration and intensity and plan the days to exercise. That is a lot of planning, which is why efforts to shed weight almost always fail.

So, back to the question I get asked most. Professionally, it would involve an hour of consultation to answer it. This would cover a road map of goals and plans. With the plans in hand, I would then require a written and verbal commitment from that person. Only when one is committed can one be successful.

Talking is only 1% of the process. The journey to fitness begins with action. Know what you need to achieve, stick to the plan and make each calorie count.

Let’s be fit!

Jon Tan leads the KLS Platoon, Tuesday Thursday and Saturday mornings.

An insidious lifestyle disease

First published in the Sun newspaper.

While browsing my handy Evernote web-clipper, I came across an article I had forgotten about. The news report, published in November last year, stated the Health Ministry had found the average Malaysian consumes seven tablespoons of artificial sweetener, four tablespoons of sugar and three spoons of condensed milk in his/her drinks.

I must admit I was pretty shocked. I know we consume a lot of sugar, but not that much!

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Shirlin, who had revealed this in Parliament, added that we have about 3 million Malaysians living with diabetes as at November last year – double the number in 2006.

And of course, she also revealed that our nation holds the Malaysia Boleh award for being the most obese nation in the region.

From my viewpoint, Malaysians apparently do not perceive being overweight or obese as a problem. National Heart Institute chief dietician Mary Easaw-John commented in a recent news report: “Often when I talk to patients who are obese, they give me excuses like ‘my whole family is fat but nothing has happened to them’, or my friend who said that ‘if I lose too much of weight, I will not look nice’.”

Interestingly, Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing made the same sort of observation in another recent news report. He remarked: “I find it interesting that whenever people here see their friends slightly overweight, they tend to comment that he or she is looking ‘healthier’ to imply that they have put on weight … by doing so, they may not realise what you are trying to tell them.” Masing said obesity should not be seen as solely a medical problem, but also a social one.

The AIA Healthy Living Index Survey revealed the same. Conducted across 15 Asia Pacific markets to determine how the population of the region views health, it found that Malaysians didn’t think their weight was a concern, notwithstanding that they felt they were eating unhealthy food and not exercising enough.

This might explain why we have 3 million people living with diabetes. Just a bit about this ailment – there are three forms of diabetes, namely types 1 and 2, and gestational diabetes. Type 1 diabetes frequently occurs in children or young adults, although it can occur at any age. This condition sees the body’s immune system destroy pancreatic cells responsible for producing insulin, which the body uses to store energy from food (glucose).

Type 2 diabetes is when the body does not use insulin properly. As the demand for insulin increases, the pancreas gradually loses its ability to produce it, which means there will be loads of glucose floating around in the blood. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and is the most rare of the condition.

Usually, when one consumes too much sugar or simple carbohydrates, one develops type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90-95% of diagnosed cases in the West. This is why the condition is labelled a lifestyle disease – it occurs because of the lifestyle choices we make; in this case, the type of food we eat and the quantity in which we eat them – for example, seven tablespoons of artificial sweetener, four table spoons of sugar and three spoons of condensed milk in drinks on average.

It needs to be said that type 2 diabetes among children is on the rise. As with adults, the heavier a child is, the higher her risk of getting the disease. Personally, I think this is a greater threat to the nation than most of the supposed threats reported on the front pages of our local dailies in the last month.

Aside from medication, the “treatment” for diabetes is weight loss, nutrition modification and exercise. This reminds me of a viral online quote: “Would you prefer to exercise an hour a day or be dead 24 hours a day?”

Daniel is platoon leader for the Bandar Utama location.

No quick-fix way to fitness

Originally published in the Sun.

Food! The one thing Malaysians love. And in Malaysia, it comes in all varieties, quantities, and is available at almost every location, any time of the day. Moreover, food comes within all kinds of price ranges. The one thing that is relatively constant is that it has made our folk somewhat obese.

Some people, however, have come to realise that they need to lose weight. Usually, this comes about due to a health scare, and the first person to advise them at this time is their doctor. Here’s a little story.

One day, while doing reconnaissance for an off-site boot camp, a fellow instructor asked me if I had heard of a diet that allowed its adherents to eat only half of a thousand calories a day.

No!” I exclaimed. “Yes,” she responded, “One of my clients called me and told me she couldn’t train for 40 days because she had started this diet where you can only eat 500 calories a day! Her doctor advised her to go on it.”

Firstly, I’d like to make it clear that this is hearsay. Secondly, if it is true, shame on that doctor. On the basis that such a diet exists, the poor girl gets to eat 500 calories (five bananas, anyone?) a day, but also gets to enjoy injecting herself with human growth hormones. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this diet is for a teenage girl.

Let’s make it clear – healthy people eat! It’s just what you eat that counts. On the basis that it’s true, it is unbelievable that a growing girl is prescribed such a risky-sounding diet by a medical practitioner, and that a parent would allow her to go on it!

The Health Ministry, in its Healthy Eating The Key To Prosperity handbook, states that the recommmended caloric intake for sedentary adults is 2,000 calories (men) and 1,500 (women). Which growing school-going teenager can handle just 500 calories a day?

The problem with losing weight is that people want a quick-fix fast, which is why fad diets, “traditional remedies” and “slimming centres” can make big business. No one is willing to work hard to lose fat or get healthy. The funny thing is that if one does work hard at losing weight, it becomes a victory to be proud of.

At a recent National Sports Council course for Sports Science, Dr Anuar Suun told us of a 167kg boy who went to him to lose weight. In six months, we were told, the boy lost 35kg of fat. That is a sustainable loss and, I’m sure, a success the boy is proud of.

Many people claim they are not aware of good nutrition or the right food choices. Yet, at the aforesaid sports science course, when we discussed basic and sports nutrition, there were many exclamations of “Oh yes! Now I remember!” and “Oh ya ah! Learnt that in school!” Yes, we learnt the food pyramid in school. So we do know what’s good for us and what’s not, and in which quantities.

We also know that exercise is good for us. Stopping exercise because we’re eating less than the minimum of 1,200 healthy calories (suggested for an adult woman) is something we were never taught. So why do we do this?

If truly people believe they aren’t educated in nutrition, then surely the health and education ministries need to do something about it? Because obviously, memory retention of the food pyramid beyond school seems to be a problem.

Perhaps it is time Malaysian nutritionists, medical practitioners and health-related professionals started speaking up on detrimental fad diets and unhealthy nutrition practices. Most importantly – and there is no “perhaps” here – it is time for parents and teachers to lead by example.

After all, we have an obese and unknowledgeable population to deal with.

Daniel leads the Bandar Utama platoon, Tuesdays & Thursday 1830-1930.

When less is more

Originally published in the Sun newspaper, Daniel discussed about the use of protein among youth.

IN the hearts of some teenage boys lives a mountain of muscle. All right, I wanted to say “Arnie” but many youngsters sadly don’t know who “Arnie” is. Some of these boys are already hefty, some are a little thin, but in there, I suspect there is a spark of a Spartan warrior, just heaving to be unleashed upon the world.

It takes a lot of discipline and smart training to get a physique like Arnie or Wong Hong, and most teenagers don’t understand this. Most of them join a gym, “learn the basics” from friends, then start lifting weights.

They see some results initially; sometimes they see tremendous gains. They do the same old routine and find that the results slowly dwindle, then frustration sets in.

Once this happens, the following would be the conversation that ensues in the locker room:
Frustrated Teen: I am just not getting bigger any more! What to do?
Expert Teen: Are you taking enough protein?
FT: Yes, I eat my McDonalds Big Mac, KFC bucket of chicken and Burger Lab everyday.
ET: No, no, no! That is not enough! You know to take Super Growth Muscle Buster Whey Protein Powder before, after and during your workout!

Okay. I may have embellished a little, but that is the gist of it. The number of brands and types of protein powder in the market is mind-boggling. Some are for gains, some are for shredding, and then there are the various kinds of amino acids sitting on the shelves.

I must admit I have dabbled in trying out these protein powders, but I read and understand (to an extent) the food label. For example, under the “amount per serving” portion, if there is more carbohydrates than protein then the “protein powder” is actually a carbohydrate powder.

But how many people read food labels? Especially when it comes to things like this, we go on the strength of recommendations. We see a ripped muscular person and we find out what his workout is and what protein supplements he takes.

Protein is important as part of our daily dietary intake. According to, the dietary guidelines for the United States, about a quarter of our plate should be protein, or palm size (as opposed to hand size). This is sufficient to take us through until our next meal.

Taking protein to build muscle when one is in one’s youth is not necessary. First, this is the time when male teenagers are bursting with testosterone and growth hormone. Without these hormones, you could eat a herd of cows and nothing would happen. So having addition protein is unnecessary.

But even then, when training, all that is needed is about a half gram of protein per pound of body weight. So a 90kg male needs about 90gm of protein on a training day. That’s the amount of protein in a cup of milk or yoghurt.

Second, all the protein one needs is available in natural food. Some might be shocked to find out that all the protein one needs can be found in vegetables.

Taking too much protein has its downside. Sometimes, it causes constipation issues due to the lack of space for dietary fibres in one’s daily diet (unless, of course, the protein comes from vegetables).

Usually, one would see fat gains. Although it can help in lean muscle gains, eating protein in excess of our bodies’ needs will result in fat gain, according to the American Council on Exercise.

When we eat too much protein, our body breaks down the extra amino acids into ammonia and urea. Unfortunately, in a recent fitness and nutrition talk at a school, we found a boy who had uric acid in his bid to build more muscle. Another downside is possible disorders of the liver.

At the end of the day, one perhaps needs to know that the protein powder supplement industry is unregulated and does not have sufficient peer-reviewed scientific research to have the backing of many fitness organisations.

All the protein you need is available in natural food. Why take soya powder when there is the actual soya bean?

Daniel is the platoon leader for Rebel, Central Park, Bandar Utama.