Stories of Resilience

Stories of Resilience: Taking the first leap


I have always been and will continue to be someone that loves food, with a slightly disproportionate love for Chinese food. Growing up I was a ‘chubby’ kid, but that was never an issue at the time.

I played rugby when I was in school – and that meant aggressively training for eight months of the year. My fitness levels increased and it also proved to be a great way for me to control my weight. However my weight started taking a downward spiral in the decade after I left school.

During this period, I also experienced several health issues, primarily in the form of gastritis – which I was diagnosed with due to weight gain. I kept being periodically treated for it, went on temporary diets and I slipped back once again as my old habits took over when I started to recover. Nothing really seemed to phase me. Food was the one thing I looked forward to – and anything and everything I did revolved around it.

When I hit 30, I weighed 135kg and I was also diagnosed with high blood pressure. This was my point of realization. I couldn’t continue to live life like I did. Maybe it was fueled by the fact that I had crossed 30 and that my wife and I had been discussing having kids. But something clicked and I knew things had to change – especially if I wanted to live a full and wholesome life with my wife and kids. I knew I needed to be better and do better.

I started by consulting my cardiologist on how hard I could work out, since I had been diagnosed with high blood pressure. He informed me that I could work out but had to ensure my heart rate was below 160 bpm. With this information, I initially set small goals to get fitter – such as lose 5kg. I then started walking 3-4 days a week for about 15-20 minutes and took off all the simple carbs in my diet.

To my surprise, I attained my goal of losing 5kg in the first month. From this point onwards, I increased the frequency of my walks to 4-5 days a week, for 30-40 minutes. I gradually introduced some running, after it looked like I was fit enough to do so. The weight kept coming down faster and if my memory serves me right, I lost about 20kg in the first 4-5 months of starting this journey. After this stage, I could sense the weight loss slowing down. I was also learning how my own body responded to various food types and events, which is also an important step when you’re on your weight loss .

I had conducted a fair amount of research on weight loss methods, and all the research pointed to a common answer: Counting Calories. This meant I had to track my calories, so I downloaded an app and started logging in every meal. This helped me steadily lose weight and eliminate any volatility. Once I hit the 90kg mark, I made one more change. And that was to switch to intermittent fasting and begin weight training, so I could build muscle. The result was a loss of 60kg over a period of 3 years, and I have been maintaining that weight to date.

The most effective advice I can share with someone who wants to make this change is to count your calories and weigh yourself weekly whilst paying close attention to any changes in your readings. This is the only way you learn more about your own body. Working out 7 days a week, with zero control over food, will not allow for any loss.

As cliché as it sounds, always remember that “you cannot out-train a bad diet”. And know that if you want something bad enough and put in the effort, you will achieve it.

Written by: 

Bishan Fernando

Senior UX Lead