How exercise allows me to eat without guilt: Singapore managing director

SINGAPORE - Mr Sidney Lim, 48, organised his first endurance race - the Charity Bike 'n' Blade in 2005 - by chance.

It began as a plan to gather a group of friends to cycle from Singapore to Kuantan, Malaysia.

A good friend who was a board member of St Andrew's Mission Hospital suggested that he take the opportunity to raise funds for its new building.

Mr Lim jumped at the idea, roped in like-minded friends and Charity Bike 'n' Blade was born.

Participants either cycle or in-line skate to raise funds for different causes each year. This long-distance event has attracted participants aged 11 to 65.

At the inaugural event, Mr Lim cycled 450km over three days, which he described as "pushing my limits for the sake of charity".

He helmed the event for the next three years.

The event, in seven years, raised more than $2 million for the less privileged, said Mr Lim, who is managing director of the South-east Asia team of Protiviti, a risk and business consulting and internal audit firm.

The current managing director of the South-east Asia team of Protoviti said: "It is a testimony of what a group of driven and dedicated cyclists and in-line skaters can do to combine sports with charity."

This year, he has taken part in the 10km Green Corridor Run, JP Morgan Corporate Run, MetaSprint Aquathlon, Duathlon and Triathlon series. He has two other races in August and September.

He is married to a 42-year-old housewife. They have two children, aged 17 and 14. He weighs 62kg and stands 1.65m tall.

What do you do to keep fit?

Once or twice a week, I run between 5km and 12km with my colleagues after work. I also try to squeeze in one or two late night swims of between 1km and 2km.

On Saturdays, I normally train with Team Laticrete, which comprises a bunch of middle-aged men in Lycra.

We do brick training, which means training in two disciplines in one session - either cycling and running or swimming and running. The distances we cover depend on upcoming races.

When it is off-season, we normally do a 40km ride, a 7 to 8km run and a 1km swim. At other times, it can increase to an 80 to 120km ride, a 10 to 15km run and a 1 to 2km swim.

On some Saturdays, when I am game for more pain, I join a cycling group for longer, faster and harder rides. On some weekends, my daughter in-line skates while I run. We have explored interesting routes together. Of course, a nice breakfast later is the motivating reward.

How has your exercise regimen changed over the years?

My exercise frequency has picked up over the years, mostly to counter the drop in my metabolism.

As a result, I can continue to enjoy my food and beer without a growing belly and too much guilt.

What is your secret to looking fabulous?

Being happy and contented has a big bearing on one's physical and emotional state. Regular exercise also helps my body produce endorphins, which make me happy.

Has there been a time when you were not fit and fabulous?

From the mid-1990s to 2001, I played golf once a week as a form of exercise. Then I realised that I was not actually burning many calories. I perspired a lot but it was just because of the weather. Now, I play golf with clients only if I have to.

I was probably at my heaviest then, at 67kg, with all the beer and fried chicken wings I was enjoying.

What is your diet like?

I usually have bread for breakfast and noodles or rice for lunch. For dinner, I have half a portion of rice or noodles, and more meat and vegetables.

My family loves fruit, so my wife keeps an ample supply of whatever fruit that is in season at home.

What is your favourite food?

I am blessed to be born into a Peranakan family. Peranakan cuisine is second to none, especially the home-cooked dishes.

My favourite dishes are babi pongteh (pork belly stewed in fermented bean paste), bakwan kepiting (soup with bamboo shoots and pork and crabmeat balls) and ngoh hiang (pork rolls wrapped in beancurd skin).

Kueh kosui (dark palm sugar topped with grated coconut), kueh salat (glutinous rice cake topped with pandan-flavoured coconut jam) and pulut urap (steamed glutinous rice mixed with grated coconut) are my all-time favourite desserts.

Many of the dishes are fried, oily and cooked with coconut milk.

I try to eat bigger breakfasts and smaller dinners. But if home-cooked Peranakan dinner is served, then it is no holds barred.

How has your diet changed?

Those who enjoy Peranakan food will understand it is impossible to eat less rice with such food, but I cut my carbohydrate intake during dinner and try not to eat after 8pm.

I used to brew my own beer. It gave me a great excuse to experiment with different brews and finish them while they were fresh. But that led me to pile on weight. I have hidden the brew kit so I have not been tempted for some time.

How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

Interacting with my wife and children can be most therapeutic. We try to have dinner together on week nights. If necessary, I will catch up on my work after dinner. We set a no-gadget policy during mealtimes so we can spend quality time together.

What are the three most important things in your life?

God, whom I rely on for guidance to walk the straight and narrow, my wife Cellena, who is my best friend and confidante, and my family and friends who help me appreciate life's blessings.

Would you go for plastic surgery?

Not unless it is to restore lost limbs.

Do you think you are sexy?

As long as my wife thinks I am, that is all that matters.

Get a copy of Mind Your Body, The Straits Times or go to for more stories.

Purchase this article for republication.