Love me slender
Seven weeks ago, you'd probably have had to pay Chalothorn Vashirakovit a million bucks before he'd remove his shirt. When the 30-year-old first embarked on a bridal bootcamp to lose weight for his wedding last weekend, his belly was a blob of jiggly fat.
Now, with abs that look a million bucks, no coaxing is required. He gladly strips for the photoshoot, revealing a freshly carved six-pack that's the delight of his new wife, Melina Lee - and the envy of the wives of his pals.
'He's starting to look like he's 18 again,' says Lee, Chalothorn's high school classmate.
And he's probably feeling 18 again. Back then, he kayaked and dragon boated competitively, then took up cycling and did amateur races. But five years ago, with work and social life a priority, he turned completely sedentary and started piling on the pounds.
Despite an expanding waistline, shrinking wardrobe, and occasional breathlessness, he never felt motivated to start working out again - until the thought of looking bad in his wedding photos entered his mind. So Health Post sought the help of Pure Fitness to whip Chalothorn into shape. Personal trainer Matthew Ha worked with him three times a week, focusing on burning fat and building lean muscle through circuit training with functional fitness tools such as the TRX, Bulgarian bag, kettlebell and ViPR. Boxing coach Jimmy Leung met him once a week to build up his cardio, strength and agility.
At the first weigh in on January 27, he was 74.3kg, had 18.2 per cent body fat and a body mass index of 24.3 - overweight and in the 'moderate to high risk' category of an undesirable state of health by WHO standards.
At his final session last Tuesday, Chalothorn was down to 73.3kg and 15.7 per cent body fat. He's visibly significantly slimmer and more toned, and slips into old clothes again. Most importantly, he's fitter and healthier, and has rekindled his love for exercise.
'After the first few weeks, I realised that I was beginning to enjoy working out again,' says Chalothorn, an investment associate at a global investment firm. 'I like how energised and fresh I feel after working out. Going forward, this is going to be the key motivation for me to continue my workout regime.'
The highlight, says Chalothorn, has been the drastic change in his diet. Once a meat and coffee lover who skipped breakfast and shunned fruit and vegetables, he now starts every day with a good morning meal, has salad for lunch, fruit for tea, and a light, no-carb dinner. 'I've begun to enjoy the taste of eating salad and fruit, and the feeling I get after eating them - I still feel pretty 'light', but I'm actually full.'
Chalothorn recalls the first hour-long session with trainer Ha fondly: he was so exhausted he had to sit for 30 minutes in the gym's chill-out lounge to recuperate before being physically able to take a shower.
But that seems like a lifetime ago. Ha reels off a list of 'impressive improvements' that his client made, including the doubling of bench and leg press weights to 40kg and 82kg respectively. 'Recently, after training with me, he would do an additional 30 to 45 minutes of cardio on his own,' adds Ha. Chalothorn says the hardest part of the programme was the last two weeks, when he stepped up training to six days a week - twice on his own, including a two-hour spinning session on one of the days. Combined with a stricter diet, he admits he needed 'a fair bit of mental strength and discipline' to stick to the regime.
'But I knew that it was all good for me, so I didn't see it as torture, but more as an opportunity to push myself.'
Lee says she was surprised that her husband managed to build up muscle so fast. Undoubtedly, his tenacity and determination were key. 'He's super strong willed,' she says. 'On Saturday before the final photoshoot, he actually had salad for all three meals.'
Initially sceptical of the effectiveness of a personal trainer, Chalothorn believes Ha and Leung have been 'crucial' in pushing him to work on his weaknesses, monitoring his progress and adjusting the programme.
Ha advises Chalothorn to continue exercising two or three times a week and watch his diet. 'If he goes back to his old diet, he'll soon lose the muscle mass he's built,' says Ha.
Apart from a steak to reward his weeks of hard work, Chalothorn doesn't plan to return to his old ways. In fact, he hopes to start cycling and maybe even compete in some races again. 'Now that I'm much leaner and fitter, it'll be fun to hop on the bike again.
'This programme has provided a great kick start to change my lifestyle. I now have a workout schedule and routine, and know how much I can push my body to achieve results.'