Singapore undergraduate reveals how he went from chubby to fabulous

SINGAPORE - Mr Shawn Chng Kuan Hiong's national service training had a twist to it.

His 38-week Officer Cadet School (OCS) experience was captured in a six-episode documentary, Every Singaporean Son II: The Making Of An Officer. The last two episodes will be aired on the National Geographic Channel from 9pm next Tuesday.

The documentary offers a glimpse of the training that young soldiers here go through and the sacrifices that they and their families make.

Mr Chng, who was trained to be an armour officer, learnt to handle sophisticated equipment, including small arms, explosives and tanks.

The 24-year-old was nicknamed "War Machine", because like the Marvel Comics superhero, he was game for any hard work and did not tyre easily.

"When others got tired, I feIt energised. I did a lot of carrying of heavy stuff, such as the heaviest machine guns," he said.

After being commissioned as an officer in July last year, he was appointed an armour platoon commander and led a platoon of tanks.

The former ITE and polytechnic student finished his national service in June this year. He stands 1.73m tall and weighs 69kg.

The best part of his OCS training was bonding with his course mates, who started out as total strangers but have become his friends for life, he said.

His parents sell economical rice in a primary school canteen. One of his two elder brothers, Alex, 29, is in the car dealing business, while the other, Clive, 28, is a project manager.

Mr Chng is now on to his next adventure - a degree course in business management at the Singapore Institute of Management.

What do you do to keep fit?

I try my best to work out at the gym three or four times a week. Each session lasts two to three hours, depending on what equipment is available and the muscle groups that I wish to focus on for the day. If all else fails, a simple 30-minute run would do.

What is your secret to looking fabulous?

Having a balance in my everyday life. This means eating right, working and resting the right amount as well as exercising regularly in order to help maintain my physique.

It also helps to have some body and skincare products to keep me protected throughout my day.

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

During my secondary school years between 2002 and 2005, I was considered quite chubby then.

My height was 1.65m, while my weight was close to 65kg and my waist was 96cm. At that time, I did not care about my health much and ate anything I wanted and did not exercise at all.

This lasted until my last few months of secondary school when I started playing sports such as basketball, and lost 11kg in three weeks. It was, and still is, my biggest weight loss.

I have since taken a strong interest in sports and have also done dragon boating.

What is your diet like?

I have been trying out a new regimen for a couple of months now that has helped me to control my weight, which is really important to me. I do not have as much time now as I used to for working out, due to my studies.

The regimen is simply eating within a fixed period. This means I consume solid food only from 10am till 8pm.

If I get hungry before or after this period, I either drink water or a small glass of milk.

My body has adapted and I do not usually get hungry outside of this period now.

I eat in small portions and have four or five meals a day, including snacking on fruit.

For the first meal of the day, I enjoy eating cereal or oats with some milk and blueberries. I keep away from deep-fried food and fast food.

I also try to stay clear of high-carbohydrate meals, which is not easy as many local dishes are served with rice or noodles. I try to go for meals that consist of solely meat or vegetables. I also eat a lot of home-cooked food.

Increasing the intake of fruit helps me with my daily activities as it makes me feel more energetic.

What are your indulgences?

I love coffee and taking life slow and easy. I often spend a whole day at a cafe with a cup of hot latte, listening to music and people-watching.

This, to me, is one of the greatest luxuries as life here is hectic and people do not often get the time to relax and clear their minds.

What are the three most important things in your life?

My family, friends and money.

Without my family and friends, I would not be who I am today. My family has always supported me in all my decisions and helped me through the various phases of my life.

My friends have shaped me and my ideas and they always bring joy and entertainment into my life. Money is important too, because it would be difficult to enjoy and support myself and others, without a decent income.

Would you go for plastic surgery?

I have always thought that the result of undergoing plastic surgery is fake.

But then for some, cosmetic surgery is a necessity as they may have had accidents that require it.

I would not go for plastic surgery unless it was to remove the scars I get from playing sports.

Do you think you are sexy?

No. I do not think I give off any "sexy" impressions to anyone nor do I perceive myself as being sexy.

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