New Year, New You: Fitness Tips For A Trim, Healthy Body
Had too many pineapple tarts during Chinese New Year? Virgin Active fitness professional Theng Tyng Goh has tips, workout regimes and overall health advice to help you get back in shape.
We sit down with Virgin Active fitness professional Goh Theng Tyng to learn how to shed pounds, stay healthy and take the first steps in a lifelong fitness journey.
While many of us tend to sign up for gym memberships with New Year’s aspirations in mind, it can be tough to keep the momentum going when the going gets tough at work.
Thankfully, Ms Goh Theng Tyng—fitness professional at Virgin Active—has all the right stuff to keep you motivated. Read on to get psyched about your personal fitness goals, as the irrepressible spark plug shares her inspiring life story, fitness tips and an easy-to implement workout regime!
Hi Tyng! Could you tell us about your background and how you began your fitness journey?
Absolutely! I was a chubby kid back in primary school due to overeating and lack of exercise. Whenever there was a sports event, I would always end up in last place.
It wasn’t until secondary school that I started becoming more active and controlling my food intake. Before I knew it, I was competing mainly in long distance running and brisk walking, representing my school, state, and country.
The crossroads of my life happened upon university graduation, where I had to choose between engineering and health. Long story short, that’s when I got certified as a personal trainer and began my career. In terms of specialisations, my fields are nutrition coaching, pilates reformer, and injury management.
How do you personally incorporate a healthy lifestyle?
I’ve personally benefited from regular exercise. In addition to playing various sports, I’ve practiced yoga for more than 10 years now. I have also adopted a sustainable vegetarian diet that has improved my health a great deal.
I’ve learned the importance of health the hard way. My father was diagnosed with cancer and passed away when I was 19. It was really painful to watch people around me suffer from health problems.
What motivated you to join Virgin Active?
Virgin Active was the official training partner of the sports institute where I obtained my Personal Trainer certification. I also attended their recruitment talk and was very impressed by their facilities and work culture.
I work with people who are genuine, fun, passionate about health and fitness, and constantly seek self-improvement. We come from diversified backgrounds, and equipped with unique strengths and experiences, but we share one common passion—we love watching people grow and become healthier, happier versions of themselves.
I feel like I can be myself here, and that’s my favourite part!
Could you tell us more about your philosophy towards fitness?
In the words of Margaret Thatcher, the first female Prime Minister of Britain: "Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become habits. Watch your habits for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny!”
Brain Food For First-Time Dieting
What’s the one biggest misconception laymen have about weight loss and cutting flab?
I can’t decide between:
a) doing excessive aerobic exercise (more commonly known as cardio) or
b) cutting carbs from diet
All factors considered, resistance exercises like weight/strength training are more effective in body re-composition than aerobic exercise.
Ultimately, eating in a calorie deficit will result in weight loss, and lowering overall body fat percentage will reduce flab on the body.
Diet is a complex issue, but in your estimation, what’s the one biggest cause of long-term weight gain in otherwise healthy individuals?
Weight gain is not necessarily a bad thing. If you are trying to build muscles, it’s totally normal to observe weight gain over time.
However, if you are gaining more fat than muscle over time, that probably means you are eating far more than you are required for optimal results, among other possible factors such as stress and sleep.
But I’m so lazy. Can I just diet without exercising?
There’s an interesting relationship between exercise, calorie control, and weight change.
There was an experiment conducted comparing 3 groups of overweight people, with one group exercising and restricting calories, one just exercising, and one just restricting calories.
The diet and exercise group lost the largest amount of fat, and gained a pound of muscle. The exercise-only group didn't lose as much scale weight, but they lost a fair bit of fat and added 2 pounds of muscle. The diet-only group lost scale weight, but not as much fat, and they were the only ones that lost muscle.
For readers with a sweet tooth, are there any healthy dessert alternatives that aren’t as sinful as conventional desserts?
I don't think there’s inherently sinful/bad/unhealthy food. There’s no need to feel guilty about enjoying a treat now and then, because you’re never more than one bite away from being right on track.
I personally enjoy traditional Chinese desserts like mung bean soup, red bean soup, and yam paste with pumpkin puree.
How do you feel about the ketogenic diet?
This is one of the most restrictive and limited diets of all. It is extremely low in carbohydrates (near 0 carbs), very high in fat (up to 90% of total daily energy intake), and includes less protein (usually 10-20% of total daily energy intake).
We can get the same effects as straight-up starvation—a state known as ketosis—by cutting off the body's carbohydrate (aka glucose) supply, but providing energy and nutrients in the form of fat and a little protein.
Research suggests that ketosis may be useful as a short-term treatment for metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation, or hypertension, and brain disorders and injuries such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
While ketosis doesn't seem to have any special advantage for losing body fat, you may find it easy to eat less when all you can eat is protein and fat. Food that’s high in protein and fat can also help make you feel sated faster, which may mean you’ll eat less.
For women in particular, lowering carbohydrate intake seems to have negative effects. It may cause them to go on high alert faster, affecting their menstrual cycle.
My verdict: Many people report fast weight loss on a Ketogenic or low-carb diet, but it comes right back once they start eating normally again. I don't recommend the Ketogenic diet for sustainable fat loss. I recommend seeing a fitness professional as everyone is different and a “one size fits all” mentality is limiting.
Darn, I was hoping for a magic bullet for my belly. Well, how about intermittent fasting?
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is the name some nutrition experts give to the practice of occasionally going for extended periods without eating. We all do some form of IF every single day, except we don't call it that… we call it sleeping.
There is no one definitive IF protocol. IF can be useful in 3 ways.
1) It is a great way to intentionally practice being hungry. The better you can manage hunger, the less likely you are to react compulsively to it. To get fit and stay fit, you need that skill.
2) It is a lesson in disguise for people who care about their health and fitness: relax. So, you missed a meal. Who cares? It might even be good for you.
3) It is great as an advanced strategy for extreme leanness. If you want that, and you are prepared, you may find this protocol easier to follow than typical bodybuilding-style diets.
My verdict: Ultimately, while fasting is a nice-to-have, it is unnecessary to get in shape, and alone it is insufficient. Ladies may face some complications on IF compared to guys and everyone is different… so discuss these options with a fitness professional!
That’s a real eye-opener. What would you personally recommend?
Eating good quality food in the right amounts at the right times, and learning to prepare healthy food in the first place. That’s enough for most people to get in the best shape of their lives!
A Workout Regime For Beginners
As Tyng has illustrated, a healthy lifestyle is about both your diet and your exercise regime.
If the latter still feels intimidating, fret not! Our indefatigable trainer is here to save
the day with an easy-to-implement workout routine for beginners.
3 sets of 10-12 reps each
Can be done in the form of a circuit
Keeping your back straight, push your hips back.
Grab the weight and push away from the floor when coming up.
Stand with the weight in between your feet.
Be mindful of your back while attempting this exercise. Form is more important than lifting weights that are too heavy for you!
Hold a high plank with hands firmly planted, slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
Keeping the form of a full body plank, lower chest to the ground.
Push away from the floor to come back up to a high plank.
Don’t let your elbows flare out. Engage your core to prevent your hips from sagging.
Begin exercise in an extended position.
Visualise your arms as hooks on the handle.
Drive elbows to the ground and close to torso while making sure to bring shoulders away from ears.
Don’t hold an excess of tension in your shoulders while exerting.
Looking for someone to motivate, guide and educate you during your own personal fitness journey? Sign up in March 2019 on a 12-month contract and get 4 weeks free!