Don’t lose your mind for the perfect body
Updated: Jan 11, 2021
Alethia Toh / @alethiatoh
Loves going for fitness classes at fitness studios, NutriGirl 2014 competitor, huge advocate of telling her friends not to obsess about diets and their bodies
I’m conscious of the way I look. So when I noticed how much weight I’d put on in my early twenties from all the alcohol I drank while clubbing excessively, I knew I had to do something about it. My clothes were starting to feel a bit too tight, the photos I was posing for didn’t look flattering, and my then-boyfriend kept reminding me of how fat I’d gotten. I finally decided to embark on my own weight loss journey after chancing upon Fay Hokulani’s, who had put on 10 kilograms from eating irregular meals and late-night snacking after starting school but eventually managed to lose it all healthily and is now a fitness instructor at Barry’s Bootcamp.
A few months into my journey, a friend of mine persuaded me to join a fitness competition called NutriGirl, organized by the health supplement and sports nutrition company, NutriFirst. I figured that since I’d already agreed to participate, I might as well do the best that I possibly can. So I engaged a personal trainer who I worked alongside four months prior to the competition. I trained twice a day, once doing weight training with my PT for one to two hours, and a second time, alone, usually practicing yoga. I was also put on a strict diet consisting of three meals a day that contained absolutely no carbs, sugar or salt. Even seemingly healthy food like yogurt was off-limits because it is considered a carb. I usually had vegetables with a side of protein, prepared at home; if I went out, I would religiously order a salad without any dressing. I couldn’t even drink enough water towards the start of the competition as dehydrated bodies tend to look more shredded onstage.
Even though I looked my best physically, mentally, I felt my worst. Subsisting on the diet I was on was emotionally draining. My temper became a lot shorter and I would snap at the smallest, silliest things that weren’t worth my anger. I vividly remember having a mental breakdown at a salad shop where I was eating with a friend because I couldn’t believe that I was living like this. (She dragged me off for some much-needed fried chicken after I had calmed down, bless her soul). But the scariest part was probably how obsessive I had become about my body while preparing for this competition. The first thing I did after waking up every morning was to look at myself in the mirror to make sure my stomach was flat and that my abs were visible. Even though I had lost all the weight I had gained from clubbing (and more), I was even more conscious of the way I looked than I was before.
"I may not have that body anymore, but I am much happier now."
I went back to eating regularly after the competition ended in 2014 which inevitably made me gain some weight. It made me slightly sad, but deep down I knew that the body I paraded on stage for the competition was not sustainable in the long run. Even though I was very pleased with the body that I achieved, I probably wouldn’t do it again. Getting into fitness did help me gain a lot of confidence I’d lost when I put on weight, but there’s a fine line between being healthy and being obsessive. Today, I work out five times a week, alternating between HIIT, barre, yoga, Pilates and weight training and eat whatever I want. I may not have that body anymore, but I am much happier now.