Photo: Dietitian Derrick Ong giving nutritional advice to Madam Shanthi Kannan and her husband, Mr Nedun Subrayalu.
SINGAPORE - For some, stress plays a big part when it comes to weight gain.
This was something Madam Shanthi Kannan, 44, learnt in 2010, when her younger son was about to sit his Primary School Leaving Examination.
At the time, Madam Shanthi, who works full-time as a secretary, felt the strain of juggling her job and household chores, along with helping her son, Navin, with his revision and homework.
"My focus was on my son and his studies. I was stressed, eating all sorts of food and I stopped finding time to exercise," she said. As a result, she piled on 8kg to weigh about 73kg. As she is 1.67m tall, this meant that she was overweight.
Looking back, Madam Shanthi realised that she was giving herself excuses for not exercising and eating sensibly. She stopped going for walks with her family at a nearby park, for instance.
This year, she has resolved to regain her ideal weight of 63kg.
Together with her husband, Mr Nedun Subrayalu, 44, a civil servant, she signed up for the Health Promotion Board's (HPB's) weight-management programme, Lose To Win. At the start of the programme, the 1.83m-tall Mr Nedun weighed 83kg and hoped to achieve his ideal weight of 77kg.
The two now attend group- fitness classes and dietary consultations. HPB has also introduced mental well-being workshops to the programme with the aim of helping participants understand and manage the emotional aspects of over-eating, obesity and weight loss.
Psychologists and mental- health professionals address everything from why it's sometimes hard to stick to weight- loss goals, to understanding how emotions can impact eating and physical activities.
For instance, someone under stress may turn to food for comfort, as Madam Shanthi did.
"I used to feel frustrated and I wanted to give up. It was an additional burden, having to spend time on exercise on top of my daily work and household chores," she said.
"Now, I realise that I have to spend some time on myself."
Meanwhile, busy professionals can take a leaf out of Mr Edmund Yu's book. The former 2010 Lose To Win participant has no problem finding small pockets of time for workouts.
For instance, he would squeeze in a few sit-ups and lunges during television commercial breaks.
The 47-year-old procurement manager, who works in the manufacturing sector, has, like Madam Shanthi, learnt that achieving weight-loss goals is all about having the right mindset.
"Once you have those goals in place, the rest will follow," he said. "You will be motivated to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly."
Mr Yu lost 17kg during his 12-week programme and has since maintained his weight at 75kg. At 1.71m, he still has some way to go before reaching his ideal weight of 67kg, but he is determined not to lose heart.
As for Madam Shanthi, her motivation comes from her children: Navin, now 13, and her elder son, Ashwiin, 19.
The dedicated mother said: "We want to be role models for our children, to show them that it's possible to lead a healthy lifestyle."
It helps that exercise is now a family affair for her. Her family now takes regular walks in the park near their Bishan home. She and Mr Nedun also enjoy grooving to music at Lose To Win dance sessions.
"Health is wealth," said Mr Nedun. "I tell my wife we need our health to travel together after we retire."
He added in jest: "If she's not healthy, I'll tell her to stay at home, while I travel around by myself."
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