Spurred by break-up

PHOTO: Spurred by break-up


Who: Ling Lim, 27, architect

Instagram: lingandclean, #fitspo, #fitfluential, #bodybuilding, #fitchick, #girlswithmuscles

Followers: Instagram - 3,900

A break-up five years ago forced Ms Ling Lim to re-evaluate her life. Wanting to do something for herself, she decided to get fit. She read up on fitness and dieting, hit the gym and exercised up to five times a week. She also cut down on her consumption of processed food and had more home-cooked meals.

Within months, the 1.62m-tall woman, who used to weigh about 55kg, noticed that her clothes fitted better and her muscles were more toned. But she did not post photos of her progress until she started using Instagram last year. At first, she just wanted to share the pictures with a few friends.

Within six months, however, the number of her followers hit 1,000. She started to post more frequently - at least once a day instead of once every few days - as a way to motivate herself on her fitness journey.

These days, the singleton also enjoys sharing tips with other fitness enthusiasts. "We motivate one another," she says.

Some of her followers are from Australia, Britain, the United States and Europe. She also followed fitness models such as Jamie Eason and Natalia Melo from the US, and envied them for their flat abs.

In March, she was chosen to test drive a 12-week online programme by a fitness coach in the US and her training intensified.

She followed a strict diet with approved food lists, trained for about 11/2 hours five to six days a week and avoided social events because she did not want to be tempted by food.

She recalls: "I lost a significant amount of fat. I also gained more muscle and strength."

When she posted a photo of herself before and after the programme, her number of followers surged. She wanted to continue the regimen after the 12 weeks, but soon realised she could not sustain that lifestyle.

"I am not a fitness model. I have a life outside of the gym," she says. "I re-evaluated my goals and realised what was most important is a healthy relationship with food and the strength to love and respect my body."

She put up a series of posts on Instagram to let her followers know that she had decided to give up the strict regimen. About 20 people "unfollowed" her after that but she was undeterred.

Instead of totally avoiding food that is processed, she indulges in her favourite food such as pizza occasionally.

And instead of hitting the gym five to six times a week, she cut back to four or five times a week.

She does not know how heavy she is now but says she was about 48kg when she last weighed herself last year. She still posts photos of her meals and workouts on Instagram. But instead of adding comments such as "be relentless", as she used to do, her messages are now about finding the right balance.

"The messages are about gaining strength in the gym but they are also about respecting your body enough to take breaks and enjoy life," she says. "My thighs will always touch. So?"

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