He fought the flab through self-discipline

PHOTO: He fought the flab through self-discipline

Author Matthew Lou, who fought the flab through self-discipline, tells Joan Chew he wants to inspire others to do the same.

SINGAPORE - Mr Matthew Lou, 31, has come a long way from his growing up days when he disliked sports and feared physical education lessons.

Even as a young adult, it seemed he had no place for exercise in his life. His sights were set on doing well at the National University of Singapore Business School, where he majored in marketing and graduated with first class honours in 2007.

When he started working, his career replaced grades as his top priority. He exercised occasionally but did not pay attention to his diet.

Within two years, he had to trade his 30-inch pants for 34-inch replacements.

After a concerned aunt asked if there were health issues leading to his burgeoning weight, he resolved to turn his life around.

He said: "I decided this was not what I wanted to be and I would not allow myself to spiral downwards."

He started to watch his diet and exercise regularly, which paid off when, toned and buff, he won the Executive Look title in Manhunt Singapore 2010.

In 2012, he became a certified fitness trainer with the Federation of International Sports, Aerobics and Fitness, Singapore.

The transformation was completed last year when he left his consulting job with an airport investment company after five months to throw himself into fitness and writing.

Last November, he released a book, Transform: Empower Yourself To Fitness And Health, written with his university friend, Dr Frederick Ee.

Mr Lou said the book is their attempt at helping the masses achieve their weight-related goals and stem the rising tide of obesity.

If there is one thing he wants his readers to take away from the book, it would be that losing weight is not that difficult.

"Balanced nutrition and physical activity go hand in hand, building on each other," he said.

"As I become fitter, I find myself craving and enjoying healthier meals."

For more information on the book, go to www.transform.sg.

The bachelor is currently writing a novel. He lives with his parents and 23-year-old sister. He has an older sister, 32, who is married. He stands 1.82m tall and weighs 70kg.

How do you keep fit?

Exercise is often easier when one sticks to a routine and makes it a habit, so I exercise six days a week.

I usually do cardio exercises and strength training on separate days so I can give my all for each type of training.

I run 5km twice a week in a neighbourhood park. In the gym, I work on the treadmill, cross trainer, stair stepper and stationary bike.

I train with weights in a gym at least four times a week. For each session of 11/2 hours, I work two major muscle groups, doing six to eight different resistance exercises at moderate to high intensity.

To avoid overtraining, I allow my muscles at least two days to recover after each workout.

I usually exercise alone. I think of the gym as an acronym for grow your muscles.

How do you prime your body for exercise?

My pre-workout consists of dynamic stretching - repeated movement of muscles towards their maximum range of motion, usually in a similar way that they are going to move in an exercise - and includes walking lunges, kick back and high knee pull exercises.

This warm-up increases blood and oxygen flow to the muscles and prepares the body for exercise.

Between exercises and after a workout, I perform static stretching - gradual lengthening of a muscle to an elongated position and holding that position for at least 30 seconds while the body is at rest.

What is your secret to looking fabulous?

It is to be at ease with oneself.

This includes looking confident, letting a vibrant personality shine through, keeping fit, having a good sense of style and presenting oneself well. A physically attractive person in beautiful clothes will only look awkward if he is not at ease.

What is your diet like?

I adjust my diet according to my activity level for that day.

I usually eat three main meals, have two servings of fruit for my morning and afternoon tea break and drink plenty of mineral water throughout the day. I also consume one protein shake after every strength training workout.

My typical diet consists of porridge for breakfast, fish soup or sandwiches for lunch and grilled chicken breast with vegetables for dinner.

Do you count your calories?

I don't because the effects of food on our bodies are far more complex than their calories alone.

There are better ways to manage a diet, such as eating smaller portions, choosing food that requires more energy and time to digest, selecting nutrient-dense foods and drinking sufficient water.

I also improve my diet with simple changes such as through reduction (less sauce; smaller portion), modification (trim fat and skin off meat) and substitution (choose whole grain instead of refined grain).

I don't count my calories but I definitely make my calories count.

What are your indulgences?

I get excited by all kinds of all-you-can-eat buffets, especially those that have a good selection of seafood and desserts.

I usually eat at a buffet restaurant with my family or friends once a month. I manage my food intake at buffets by choosing quality over quantity.

How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

In addition to exercise, I enjoy reading and going on overseas holidays and staycations. I also keep a personal journal to pen down my experiences.

What are the three most important things in your life?

My faith, family and friends. I draw upon all three for inspiration and strength.

Would you go for plastic surgery?

I am not opposed to it. I may go for it; however, it has to be a need rather than a want.

Do you think you are sexy?

To me, being sexy is about having charisma, intelligence and physical attractiveness.

So yes, I think I am sexy.

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