31 Jul A Chef’s Personal Training Experience
Tong Tong is a Chef and a business owner, who wanted to experience personal training. We all know working in a kitchen is a high stress job and that in itself can encourage an unhealthy lifestyle. Tong Tong decided she needed to make a change and chose one of our personal trainer’s Felix to do it with!
Felix Ma: Kudos to Tong Tong for her desire to learn and question (mostly) everything we do. This then allowed her to process exactly what we’re looking to achieve her goals. When it comes to body composition, many make the mistake of setting unrealistic expectations or compare themselves to other people (when they have no knowledge of their training experience, genetic potential and what they generally get up to). The best advice I give to clients is to compare your results with yourself; previous measurements and photos are my go-to tools. You don’t need anything fancy or expensive to make the comparison and see the results.
Tong Tong Stats:
Weight: 57kg to 54.8kg
Waist: 80cm to 74cm
Hip: 94cm to 87cm
Thigh: 54cm to 51cm
Strict push ups for 8 reps
Negative chin up for 10 seconds x 3
28kg Kettlebell swings for 15 reps
15kg split squat for 12 reps
(She started with zero gym experience.)
Ok Tong Tong, over to you…
What made you invest in a personal trainer?
I was working intensively as a chef 70-80 hrs a week in the kitchen, because of the time commitment, I was too busy for life (outside the kitchen), never mind exercise and keeping tabs of my nutrition. It’s fairly common to see people who work in this industry end up really unfit and I felt the symptoms started to creep in already – constant fatigue and fainted a few times.
I wanted to be stronger, lose body fat and feel fitter so this prompted me to invest in personal training. The initial fear I had was the frequent light-headedness I’d get from pushing my body, so exercise to me was already a ticking-dynamite. Also as part of my job , I’d frequently visit food and wine tasting events for research, and also because I have a genuine passion for food, so I didn’t want to follow a typical extreme diet in order to lose weight.
I wanted something sustainable and also to understand my body better.
How did having a personal trainer help you?
Felix is an amazing personal trainer. He listens carefully when questioning what I want to achieve, my lifestyle habits and daily activities. Always responsible for what he’s doing and caring for clients, the training is tailored to suit me according to my level. To him, it’s about building a solid foundation before worrying about the quantity. Whenever Felix corrects me during an exercise, I can immediately feel the difference and what muscles I should feel working.
I think this is the most important part we are expecting from personal training. If it’s only about being controlled and forced into a strict program without knowing why you are doing certain exercises and why you shouldn’t eat certain stuff, you’ll end up being clueless and fall of the wagon when the personal trainer is not around you.
However, once you’ve got that freedom and knowledge, you can go wild without feeling guilty.
Felix: Still doesn’t mean unlimited amounts of wine though 😉
I wasn’t restrained from any food, instead he gave me a tonne of knowledge on calories, macronutrients… basically the important stuff. We even chat about food whilst training since we both joke about having cravings all the time. Also I never knew an “innocent” croissant contained around 350 calories!
Although now it feels silly thinking back, I remember when I told him I wanted to lose (targeted) body fat on my arms and legs, fitter abs and have bigger hips. Then he made me realise, of course we can lose body fat, but to only focus on certain areas I’ll end up being disappointed. He reminded me to focus on the performance in the gym (progressively getting stronger) and the fat loss will sort itself out from my own actions in my nutrition and lifestyle. This then allowed me to enjoy the gym rather than thinking about a photoshopped version of myself – which is not what I really want.
What were the things that surprised you during the 12 weeks of training?
The first time I met Felix, I had attended a Legs & Shoulders class. After the class I felt lightheaded, and almost fainted. When I decided to purchase some personal training sessions and work with Felix, he asked me to keep a food diary from using a simple template to fill out. It was too difficult at first, because I never have a structured breakfast, lunch or dinner. I was generally too busy to eat and normally grab whatever is easy to boost my energy up and continue working.
Surprise 1 I thought I didn’t eat much, I was confused why I was holding quite a lot of body fat. Then Felix made me realise that I’m actually consuming 3000 calories daily (I only need around 1500 cal.) The composition of my daily meals mainly consisted of fats, carbs, coffees and alcohol which made me feel hungry quickly and I’ll unconsciously start nibbling in between. A soya latte is about 130 cal, a glass of wine is about 190 cal. I normally have two of each and add a casual croissant on top, and we’re looking around 900-950 calories…… I never knew drinks can easily add up!
Felix: Although the “formula” stated Tong Tong only requires 1500 calories, it was important for her to gradually decrease her current calorie intake (3000) slowly. If anything, I knew that was a good problem to have. We introduced more protein in her nutrition plan since it’s an important nutrient for our bodies – i.e. help to aid training recovery and to keep us fuller. In a short amount of time, we successfully created a routine which allowed her to eat a decent size meal a few times a day and as a bonus, I haven’t seen her get light-headed, even after a set of heavy squats.
Surprise 2 at FitMiBODY, all the trainers are friendly and non-judgemental. Heck, I even chat to a few of them about delicious food and beers. I then realise shortly that I can eat whatever I want as well. I am the kind of person who really adores fried food and have a massive sweet tooth. However, I have now found a happy medium where I prioritise food for health and enjoy the occasional junk food and drinks without feeling guilty at all. I am very much aware on calories, and if I were to eat an ice-cream today, I won’t “beat” myself up after and feel it’s directly making me fat. I know my own calorie “budget”, and if it goes a bit over, it’s really not the end of the world. Best surprise ever!
Surprise 3 I am not gaining massive muscles from weight training. It was a worry for me before, and I believe a lot of girls would have this concern as well.
Felix: Doing strength training will not make someone look like a bodybuilder out of the blue. It’s actually harder to build (and maintain) muscle mass compared to dropping body fat. If you do somehow wake up one day and feel your biceps have suddenly grown an extra 3-5 inches over night, please let me know, you might be turning into the Hulk!
Surprise 4 I can do push-ups! I thought this exercise was a male thing, and my arms are not my strongest body part. Push-ups was a real challenge for me from the beginning, but Felix’s personal training guided me through various of stages of progression, and managed to smash 8 reps within 12 weeks.
Felix: Like Tong Tong, many assume push ups rely solely on the arms, when in fact it’s a full-body exercise. One that I encourage all my clients to work towards because there are plenty of carryovers for other exercise and general activities.
What has been the biggest achievement?
The biggest achievement is my mentality I have towards fitness and nutrition. I managed to drop weight, all the measurements have gone down but not magically.
Felix: The objective was for the measurements to go down, the weight loss is a bonus for Tong Tong
All this happened even though I wasn’t 100% strict with what I was eating, and as a matter of fact I refused to eat a stereotype fitness diet (boiled chicken and broccoli anyone?) Thankfully Felix doesn’t preach it as well. I am a chef, and I now know exactly how many calories are in my meal whenever I cook for myself. The awareness is an important achievement.
By knowing more about myself, I can now manage my hectic schedule, pursue yoga and definitely not go back to square 1.
Last but not least, I have built a great rapport with other FitMiBODY trainers (who also offer personal training), which never happens in other gyms. Overall, it’s been a life-changing 3 months.