Earlier this year when I was out filming, something embarrassing happened. One of my buttons popped off just before the VIP arrived! My big belly had had enough of my tight shirt.
This was clearly a sign for me to do something about my weight. I used to weigh 82kg, but had lost 15kg through my Basic Military Training. So I was confident I could do something about my current 79.5kg weight.
My PIONEER colleagues persuaded me to sign up for the IPPT Preparatory Programme or IPT, a voluntary fitness programme for Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen).
Measuring my height and weight to determine my BMI during the first session of IPT.
In July, I went for my first session at the Kranji Fitness Conditioning Centre (FCC), located near my home in Keat Hong. The fitness trainers from Certis Cisco took my height and weight, and put me through an IPPT to determine my level of fitness.
Needless to say, I failed the IPPT badly, clocking over 21 minutes for the 2.4km run. My Body Mass Index (BMI) was 27.5, so I was considered obese for my height. According to the Health Promotion Board, a BMI value of 23 and above means that you are outside of the healthy weight range.
I was given a Personal Performance Target (PPT) of 27, which means I would be deemed to have met the annual IPPT requirement if my BMI dropped to 27 or below.
When you "in-pro" at the FCC, you can choose from different IPT programmes such as IPPT-specific, sports-based, or weight loss.
It was great to know that NSmen could choose a suitable IPT programme that meets their needs. I felt that those who were extremely overweight would not be able to cope with intense IPPT-specific training, which might discourage them.
I tried the weight-loss programme for a start. The fitness trainers taught us simple exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups and burpees. We had to do them at a fast pace, with little rest in between each set. I was breathless at the end of the 75-minute IPT session. My muscles (and even my fats) were all aching!
A good sport
For my next session, also at Kranji FCC, I joined the sports-based programme. One of the instructors said that I was fitter than I thought, and encouraged me to go for more intense training.
The sport of the day was soccer. My teammates were really happy, like kids playing soccer at the void deck in the good old days.
The eight-a-side game in the multi-purpose hall lasted for about 40 minutes. Chasing after a ball was somewhat like a series of interval runs to help improve my 2.4km run.
The highlight of my IPT was doing yoga at Promontory@Marina, one of the venues for the IPT-in-the-Park programme.
The city landscape scenery was spectacular, a refreshing change from the dull environment of military camps. A fellow NSman told me he came here for his IPT because his workplace was nearby.
Getting to do yoga was pretty cool, but stretching in funny, awkward poses was pure torture for me. My legs cramped when I tried to do a split. My body was not flexible, and I was already exhausted by the fartlek runs (periods of fast running mixed with slow running) and calisthenics exercises earlier.
The instructor explained that doing yoga would help to stretch our muscles, and improve our flexibility.
After eight sessions of IPT in over two months and some training on my own, I lost over 3kg, and brought my BMI down to 26.4. I had passed the IPT and felt confident enough to ace my IPPT. I eventually got a Pass with Incentive, and shaved almost nine minutes off my 2.4km run timing!
IPT today is a lot more fun. You get to play sports, and even take part in kickboxing or mixed martial arts fighting. It's also a lot more convenient, with the various FCCs and parks across the island.
I am not the kind of person who would train on my own regularly, so going for IPT really helped. When the instructors gave me a goal, I would "suck thumb" and just do it.
But ultimately, fitness is a personal responsibility. Unless I start to cut down on my heavy breakfast (usually two pieces of sugar-coated prata and an Oreo milkshake), I think my tummy is here to stay!