Beyond Gold Coast 2017

I always dread of this moment to come.

The moment of not knowing where should I head off next.

How did I get here.

In 2015, I decided to make an attempt to compete in world class WBFF show.

The trick is that I must win the qualifying round of local show.

Knowing that my physique had improved a great deal from 2012 (the year of life after six packs) to 2015 (the year I got addicted to compete in physique show), I visualise that I will win the local competition in the coming years.

I must say that I am a dreamer so I dream big. Perhaps, it is too big sometimes that it takes more than I can give in an unrealistic timeframe.

Like the six figure income I hoped to achieve in the first 3 to 5 years of my fitness career. It never happens because things do not always happen linearly upward in Plan A. It took Plan Z to keep me from homelessness after many setbacks.

In the case of my competition, I placed 8th two times in a row before I dropped out of Top 10 third time around despite my improvement because line up in the competition gets much stronger each subsequent competition.

Not placing better in the competition is the moment that I dread of. The reality of not placing better but worse with more efforts and sacrifices that I put in to prepare for the competition hits me hard like a knock out punch in a UFC match. It is something that will cast doubt in my pursuit to compete in professional level of competition and it will take me a while to get over.

Should I keep going? I guess stopping will not do me any good in the long run. I love training with a set goal. However, I need to re-evaluate my goal because short cut is not what I will take to get to my goal even though I will do everything else to get there.

The question is “Is my goal realistic?”.

If not, what is my goal? Perhaps, I should just aim to put on as much size as possible in my weakest body parts (front delt, chest and quad) within a bigger timeframe. It might be a good idea to not compete in 2018 and see what I could bring to the game in 2019.

After all, I did bring my best physique to the show. My walk was in general better than the last 2 competitions. Competition just gotten a long stronger than I expected. Besides, I got some genuine kind words and compliments on my physique from people who seen me growing from competition to competition.

Two years break. What are the advantages of that? It is not just a bigger timeframe to be more realistic in putting on more mass but also gives me freedom to work on things like hand balancing, calisthenic skills, swimming skills and Olympic lifting skill to achieve my other goals – Crossfit Masters Games, Masters Powerlifting, Masters Olympic Lifting or even the Olympic in my 40s.

I am a dreamer and I dream big. Big dream takes patience.

Goodbye 2016

New year eve is often a time to look back to what had been done over the past year and a time to look ahead to what resolutions can be made for the year ahead. 2016 has been an interesting year with both memorable ups and downs. The ups are great times and moments that I will never forget while the downs are great lessons that I will not unlearn because they help me to become a better person. So what have I done in the past year?

One thing that I could never imagine myself doing was travel alone in a foreign country. Although it was more like a work trip, I did find time to step out my comfort zone to do some walkabout and explore local food despite the language barrier. I used to tell my friends that I will never travel alone. I think I’ve change my mind now even though I am seriously unsure when and where would be my next adventure.

In 2016, I competed 3 fitness models competitions. Each time more confident than the last and, of course, each one more enjoyable than the last. I must say it was the competition that take me out of my comfort zone to travel to South Korea. Beside, my physique is better every subsequent competition as well. I ticked my bucket list of achieving 5 percent or maybe less percentage of body fat in my last competition.

Because of the competition, I did my first professional photo shoot and the photos look amazing. I barely recognise myself even in the unfiltered / before touch up photos. Photo shoot means another bucket list ticked. It would be a crime not to do something to help me remember my best shape of my life. Photo shoot does the trick.

In preparation of competition, I pushed through what I thought it was my limitation. Alongside with strict diet, I did 18 training sessions a week, including both weight training and cardio, from 4 weeks out onwards. A total of 125 sessions from 8 weeks out. (Yes, I was counting so that I can brag about it.) Something that I never thought that I have to mental strength to go through. It was not fun but it was an experience to help me discover that I am stronger than I ever was, both physically and mentally. Being 36 and stronger than anytime in my lifetime is a gift that I am grateful for. 

As a crossfit fan, I always admire people who can do bar muscle up and handstand walk. This year I am one of them who can do bar muscle up without chicken wings and I can handstand baby walk. Even though I still have rooms for improvement, I can say that I ticked two goals off my list. I also Rx all Open workout for the first time.

2016 was the first year I ventured into fitness bootcamp business. Although it is still too early to call it successful, I am grateful that I am working with a group of good people who believe in me and give me the opportunity to take the lead. Before this, I doubted that I have the ability to take group fitness. Now, it is doubt no more. 

Towards the end of the year, I started to develop a project with my partner in crime, Faye, with some unexpected outcome. I managed to self teach myself to edit videos in my amateurs effort to make video for the project. Definitely something I would not expect to learn in the past year. Me and video editing were no where related in six degrees of separation before this project.

At work, clients seen great results. One client had his first taste to compete on stage, one client competed in his first long distance bike race, one client did russian squat dance without knee pain for the first time since last decade and others feel more confident with their bodies. Despite of their inspiring results, I am grateful that they are good people to work with.

Personally, I am also grateful that I was surrounded by good people who share my passions and interests throughout the year. We laughed, we fought for our passions, we shared doubts, we listened to each other when we encounter our downs. What can be better than that?

In less than 24 hours, the 37th New Year in my lifetime is to be celebrated all over the world. I must say that not many of them make feel like I do not want them to be over. 2016 is one of them. I could not ask for a better year but I must also say that I cannot wait to see what lies ahead for me in 2017 regardless if it is a better year or worse year. 

Like I always tell myself.

“When times are good, enjoy them. When times are bad, endure them. Life is short, nothing lasts.”

Alt+Ctrl+Del

It has been 4 weeks since I competed my last competition in Gold Coast. It was a great and humbling experience. I learned more about myself throughout the competition prep. I found that my 100% is pretty much 12000% of what I thought my 100% was and I am very good at making up personal motivational quotes to keep me on track (to the extent that I briefly thought I was Mark Twain reincarnation). I also found that doughnuts are my friends on comp day. I was truly in the best shape of my life, thanks to the 6 donuts that I devoured in the hour before stage time, of course, and my coaches as well.

Now that the competition is done and dusted, I am back to square one to prepare for my next competition. This time around, I will have more than 48 weeks to prepare. (at the time of writing this blog) Regardless of the physique outcome, I am more excited about the prospect of lifting heavy shits now that I am stronger than I ever was. (I can see some 3 digits somewhere) Hope my testosterone game is good enough to handle it.

First program for the next 12 months cycle is a Strength based program with clusters set. Each exercise comes with some specific instructions for execution, which makes things so much more interesting than the monotonous sound of just two words like Bench Press, Back Squat, Deadlift, Shoulder Press, Biceps Curl etcetera. Strength based program means heavy shits too, I love heavy shits. 

I did my first measurement for this 12 months cycle too. 78.5kg @ 13.6% body fat. It is a great start even though it is not optimal. Body fat had been lower at that body weight before. 12 months is a long time to build on it so I am optimistic that the number will be improved. Hopefully, stepping on stage at 78kg @ 5% body fat in Oct 2017 is not unrealistic for a natural like me. It would be a life goal.

So this past week is pretty much a Alt+Ctrl+Del week for me to put me back on stage with a better physique. And this will be a good platform to document my journey for a future reference. After all, this blog has gathered so much spider webs since I last updated it. I should never let it happen again, I hope.

How I lost 20kg in 10 months (IV)

Chapter 4: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull

Today is the Day 21 of my 22 Days of Push Ups to raise awareness for PTSD. 22 push ups is an easy task for me so I committed myself to do different types of push ups or something different from just 22 push ups everyday for the 22 days. Throughout the whole time, I kept thinking to myself that I must finish something that I started even if I am so tired from my gym routine to prep for my physique competition. Stopping at any given time was not an option. At the same time, in the back of my head, I do aware that I had started an article series called ‘How I lost 20kg in 10 months’. 

I know that I have been acting like G.R.R.Martin, keep pushing my deadline further back until all my readers, if I have any, are giving up on this blog to know what happen next in the series. I must admit that I don’t want this entry to become Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull in the Indiana Jones in the Indiana Jones series. (I know my blog is not something that can be compared to Indiana Jones) I want to have the perfect content for this entry but I started this blog to not be perfect in any way but to share my experience with my blog readers.

So here is the next part of my epic weight loss adventure.

Flashback to April 2013.

No more fruit juice, banana toast with melted cheese, canned soup with chunky meats, spam, soy milk and many other food that I ate for putting on size. Twice a week hour long cardio and three days a week body split training were my routine since I decided to lose weight. The scale did go south after months of effort. It went from low 90s to high 80s. However, I did not like what I see in the mirror. I lost size and I look nowhere near the images on the fitness magazines that I admire. I wondered if I can ever grace the stage with god-like physique. I was about to embark on my personal training career and I had of not being able to convince new clients to train with me because I don’t think I look the part.

Fortunately, fate had a mysterious way to lead to cross path with a positive influence in my life, coach FM. She helped me realize that becoming a good personal trainer is more than just look. A brain that craves for knowledge and a pair of keen eye for movement details are essential to help clients on their fitness journey safely. 

I also met one of my mentors, coach SL. Training with coach SL was one eye opening experience. From the experience, I came to understand that my own training has too much rest, too much focus on getting stronger with the main lift, exercises in each of my body split days were repeating the same pattern and training was not intense enough to make progression. Coach SL plays important role to help me to get better at my mental game down the track.Even to this day, I can hear his voice and his encouragement during my training with other coaches.

The training experience with coach SL also gave fitness a new meaning to me. I realized that I was strong but unfit. In order to know how fit feels and how my clients feel on the other side during their training, I gave everything I had to get through every single training session with coach SL. I must say that I got my first taste of Crossfit with Coach SL and I developed a love/hate relationship with it.

During the early months of my training with coach SL, everything that we do was hard and unpleasant. The mobility drills at the start of every session put me in a lot of pains. Most memorable of all mobility drills is shoulder passthrough. I could not do a single one without bending my elbows. I did my first Fran in 21 minutes. A shame to be compared to the average 6 minutes Fran time. I passed out after I finished my first Fight Gone Bad and it was a scaled version. I was in tears during my first chipper workout, a workout consists of one round of more than 3 different exercises in a row. I screamed my lung out during the second half of a 2km row and had other gym members looking at me like I’m a crazy person. Thoughts of giving up often popped in my head but I did not give in. The drive to earn my right to train my clients was strong. Slowly, I get better conditioned slowly to handle the training intensity threw at me from coach SL. I enjoyed the feeling of being able to handle training with volume.

Eventually, weights melted away bit by bit until the scale hits 82 – 83kg. At the same time, I gave up on hopes to compete in physique competition and turn my focus more on getting better at Crossfit to see how far I could go. Hence, the weight was no more a big concern.

One day, slightly more than a month before my 32nd Birthday, me and my buddy, coach FM, had a conversation about a trainer in my gym competing in a local fitness model competition. The term, BioSignature, came up in the conversation. Coach FM mentioned that it helps a lot of people  to achieve great shape. At that very moment, I knew what was my birthday gift to myself. Buy myself a hope to get that perfect body. Two blocks away from my gym, there was an experienced BioSignature coach, coach BS. I looked up his contact and made the phone call that gave me a new life. Life after six packs.

Farewell, sweetness


In less than 8 weeks, I will once again grace a stage alongside other men with spectacular physique to beheld by thousands of audiences. The cheers and the clapping from the audiences is an appreciation to all the hard works poured into the pursuit of a beautifully sculpted psychique. It tastes like success. A taste that cannot be compared to doughnuts, pizza, chocolate and the list goes on. It is different from other tastes and better than sweetest because it is a pinnacle of a journey in life  and a memory that will last.
However, other tastes like sweetest and umami from the food are not all evil with trident. Refeed aka cheat meal is necessary during off season. It gives me some ‘life’ back to live normally. It allows me to go back to the social life to mingle with friends. It stops me from turning into an antagonist in a psychological thriller. Most importantly, I need it to help me to grow before I go back to cutting mode or before I am at risk of losing my carb bitch status.

*Carb bitch = bitch who can eat lots of sugary junk food and not gaining significant amount of fat.

In the eyes of many, I am a cold hearted creep who does not touch anything else but meat, vegetables, grain, nuts, berries and supplements. Yes, I am quite disciplined in my day to day life in term of diet. In fact, I do look like a cold hearted creep when it comes to food. I call my cheat meal ‘obligatory food’ instead of my normal food. I have a feeling that it is because I am usually only allowed to have one cheat meal once a week. It is very out of my day to day routine. One cheat meal a week also means that I would have to choose my cheat meal wisely. Hence, the first world problem of struggling to decide cheat meal until every shop closed. I must say that I do actually enjoy my cheat food when I am having them. Clearly an evidence to prove that I am still a human with my humanity intact.

Anyway,the time has come to say ‘farewell sweetness’. I have bid my last farewell to my last refeed a few weeks ago. From that point onward, I can only think about what has been hiding underneath the layer of fat on my body after all the gruelling training that I had been put through by my coach. Training days filled with curses, self encouragement, coach loathing and visualisation of victory that can only be satisfied with the taste of success. Success is the moment on stage where thousands of people cheer me on regardless of the end result. Success would also be the improvement of my physique since my last competition. This is the taste that cannot be bought with monies but to be pursued with lots of passions and sacrifices.
‘Success tastes better than chocolate’ I tell myself constantly to keep me on track to chase my dream. I also tell myself that my reunion with sweetness will taste better than before once I taste success again. 

Your dream came true

It was early in the morning. I looked out from the window. I saw tree tops and the Sun was slowly rising up above them to push the darkness away to the other end of the world. A blanket of silence seems to wrap around me head to toe. I could not really comprehend what had happened. I could not imagine what the future would be without your love. The love that I had taken for granted for many years. The love that no one could offer like you did. I was very sad but I had no more tears for my sadness. I cried far too much before you bid your farewell silently. 

“Mum is gone!” I told my sister on the phone, just moments before. 

I watched your heartbeat slowing down to a pause with a screeching noise on the monitor. Before it came to a stop, I knew my false hope was not going to happen. I had been hoping that you would wake up to see all of us, me, my sisters and dad all around your bed cheering for you. But this early morning, I was standing by your bedside to watch your life fading away.  I remember that I planted a gentle kiss on your forehead and whispered “Go somewhere that we can find you”. It may sound silly but I still hope that one day I will see you again. A fool’s hope, maybe.

There are so many things that I want to do to make you feel proud of me. I wish you are here to see all my triumphs. I also wish I could say ‘I love you’ more. I mean to your face even though you may feel weird about it because children don’t say ‘I love you’ to their parents in our culture.

I had never thought about the possibility of you being in a ‘hit and run’ car accident. When I heard the news, I could not believe what I heard. I was so confused and unsure of what I should be doing. I can only recalled that we had a short phone conversation a few days ago. You were alive. You were talking. You sounded tired on the phone but you were talking like a normal person. I could never imagine that it was the last time I could hear your voice.

I flew back home the next day. I was in tears all day. My heart was broken. I kept praying for you to recover. Praying to see you awake from your coma once I got back home. That did not happen.

I cannot believe 10 years have passed. Even though you’re not here physically, I can still feel your presence in me. Sometimes you’re not here. Sometimes you come to me when I need you the most. I think I inherited your courage. The courage to give everything I have to make things happen. The courage to chase my dream and pursue my passion. Everytime I have a 12 hours or more work day, I think about you. You were working hard to make sure that me and sisters will live a good life. Our future was your dream. I hope that I could tell you that your dream had came true. We are all living good lives. It happens because of you.

I promise that I will not disappoint you. I will not destroy the dream that you built for us. I will make the best out of every situation. I will do everything I can to chase my dream and live a good life. I swear that I will be happy. I want to see you smile and tell me that you’re proud of me when I see you again. And I will say ‘I love you, mummy’.

How I lost 20 kg in 10 months (III)

Chapter 3: Beef from the Bull

Recently, I have been going to Dymocks bookshop to smell the books. The smell somehow has a relaxation effect on me like the effect of catnip to some of our feline friends. It feels good to be physically surrounded by books like I walk into a different kind of jungle and it feels like I am going to increase my geek level ten folds. Motivation, self improvement, health, sci fi, ‘Hot Dudes Reading’ are my favourite hangout section.

Probably it was because the word ‘beef’ caught my attention in the health section, I picked up a book called ‘Sorting the beef from the bull’ and had a look of its brief summary on the back of the book.

“Chicken eggs that haven’t come from chicken, melamine in infant’s milk in China, nut shells in spices – as our urban lifestyle takes us further and further away from our food sources…
Whether it’s a matter of making a good quality oil stretch a bit further by adding a little extra ‘something’, or labelling a food falsely to appeal to current consumer needs…

The price to consumers may be even higher, with some paying for these crimes with their health and, in some cases, their lives.”

As I read through these words, days of me making ‘healthy’ food choice based on packaging flashes before my eyes. I remember munching on fat free ‘healthy’ muffin for snack. All sorts of ‘healthy’ cereal like the one promises good energy level that I used to eat popping in my head like pop corns popping in the microwave. Low fat milk, fat free Soy and commercial fruit juice chain say hello in those flashes too.

Flashback to late November 2011.

I was at the peak of my weight. 94.8kg. I knew I had to do something about it. My first action was to stop drinking Protein shakes 3 times a day as a measure to cut calorie. Convincing myself to stop believe in those protein from the shake will help me to grow more muscles was hard as getting more muscular has always been a goal. “Protein builds muscle, right?” I asked myself. I would have to take a look at myself in the mirror to remind myself that “This is not how I want to look” to get me in the right mindset.

Second step. I turned to the mother of all cardio. Run. I made myself to run an hour at least twice a week. Friday night was one of time slot I dedicated to this routine because the gym was usually quieton friday evening. I struggled to run fast initially so I just keep my pace to 6 – 7km/hr. There was the time my tummy jiggles when I run. I hated that feeling. It was very uncomfortable and it made breathing harder like there is a blob in me stopping the air to go into my lung.

“Stop now. I know you don’t like to feel your tummy jiggles”

“Look! You only run 5 minutes. You are tired. You won’t make it an hour”

“They play a bad song. You will not get through this awful song on the treadmill”

The devil in me kept channelling these thought to stop me from keep going but I refused to  give in. I kept counting down the seconds, minute after minute, until I finished the Cardio session. Week after week of consistent effort, I slowly progressed from 6km/hr pace to 11km/hr pace. Then, signs of shin splint start to appear. I had shin splint years ago so I knew I had to stop running. As a result, I turned to the stepmothers of Cardio before I let the shin splint ruin my life again. Stationary bike, Stairmaster and Cross trainer were the other options of my Cardio routine apart from running. As I get better with these cardio machines, I became obsessed with hitting higher calorie number on the calorie counter of the machine in every subsequent Cardio session. This ever increasing number was the one of the first little victories I had in this weight loss journey. It was sweet like chocolate without the chocolate. A taste I cherish as a then chocoholic.

Changes did not stop there.

On one occasion, I came upon an article about high sugar content in fruit juice and the health risks associated with overconsumption of fruit juice. Hence, no more fruit juices. On another occasion,  I overheard a friend of mine talked about her not to eat anything artificial in her diet and reading food label is one of her habits to stop her from making bad food decision. Consequently, It led to obsessively looking at food label to check the ingredients. I would not buy the product if there is anything that I cannot spell or any ingredient labelled in numbers. In that way, I believed that I was eating as clean as possible within my control.

A week before New Year in 2012, I already had a new year resolution. It was “no burger, soft drink and potato chips for one year”. I remember that I had my last meal burger combo meal 4 days before the New Year. I was looking at the burger, a can of Pepsi Max and a large bag of potato chip.

“This is it” I thought to myself.

Then, I devoured the meal.

(To be continued)