You in shape: Lim Kwee Chuan

Shape (Malaysia) - - Contents - BY V.DURGA

Make-up trainer Berry Lim Kwee Chuan, 31, never gave two hoots about her large size. ‘Ex­er­cise’ was an alien word to her un­til she had to hike up a moun­tain in Ice­land. That, along with the death of her grand­mother from di­a­betes, led her to her fit­ness jour­ney. Over the last year, the 154cm lass has steadily shed 26kg and is lov­ing her new shape.

Tell us about your­self “In the past, I thought there was no rea­son to lose weight. I had a good ca­reer teach­ing make-up (my stu­dents love me be­cause of my art­work, and not my size); I was hap­pily mar­ried with a hus­band who didn’t mind my size, I didn’t en­counter any red flags in my health, I chilled out with friends to have a good time, I was re­spected for be­ing a make-up trainer. Ba­si­cally, I led a com­fort­able life. But, I was just giv­ing ex­cuses to hide my in­se­cu­rity. The re­al­ity was that inside, I was some­body who wanted to play un­der the sun, run in the field, en­joy na­ture by hik­ing or do­ing out­door ac­tiv­ity, go to the beach and more. Be­cause of my size, I re­fused to join in these ac­tiv­i­ties and sports. My weight dis­cour­aged me from be­ing ac­tive and be­ing over­weight made me less en­er­getic and lazy. I pre­ferred to plan ac­tiv­i­ties re­lated to food and drink­ing, which I found emo­tional com­fort in.”

Did you have any reser­va­tions about your body when you were young? “I was al­ways over­weight as a child till adult­hood. My weight fluc­tu­ated from 60kg to 83kg but it never both­ered me.”

What led you to fit­ness? “It hap­pened nat­u­rally. In 2017, my sis­ter Kyen and I back­packed to Europe and vis­ited 16 out of the 28 coun­tries. One day in the south­west­ern part of Ice­land, we went to visit the crys­tal ice cave. To see the crys­talised ice, we had to hike up the moun­tains. I re­fused to go be­cause it was a heavy duty task to hike up, walk­ing on heavy snow and bat­tling strong winds, so I asked her to join other tour mates if she wanted to see the view. She was up­set, but held my hand and told me, “It’s only mean­ing­ful if you and I hiked up the moun­tain to­gether, and be mes­merised by the icy crys­tal. It’ll be worth it. We’ll go through this to­gether.”I didn’t want to let her down. That was my first ever hik­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and Kyen was right. When we reached the peak of the Alps, the most beau­ti­ful view greeted us. I felt so good even though the hike was hard. It made me un­der­stand that for ev­ery hard­ship we go through, there is a re­ward. This de­ci­sion I made in Ice­land also made me re­alise that when you change your mind, you can change your life. Around the same time, my grandma died of di­a­betes and the doc­tor ad­vised all our fam­ily mem­bers, who were mostly over­weight, to eat health­ier and ex­er­cise.”

What are your your strug­gles? “Time man­age­ment is my big­gest challenge – cook­ing, cop­ing with work, work­out rou­tine, food temp­ta­tions and peers. At the be­gin­ning, I strug­gled with clean-eat­ing and so­cial out­ings. I turned down many din­ner in­vi­ta­tions. My pre­vi­ous lifestyle in­volved a lot of café-hop­ping, eat­ing sweet desserts and drink­ing sug­ary bev­er­ages with my friends and hus­band. My life turned up­side down the mo­ment I started cook­ing a lit­tle in the kitchen and stopped eat­ing out­side. Now, I don’t have is­sues be­ing de­mo­ti­vated as I’ve blended fit­ness into my life.”

How has fit­ness helped you? “My health and men­tal states have im­proved.

I used to suf­fer from hor­monal im­bal­ance and had a messed-up men­strual cy­cle. My gy­nae­col­o­gist had told me be­fore that my weight could be the cause of my bad pe­riod pains. Once I started eat­ing healthily and cut down on sugar, I no­ticed that my men­strual cy­cle im­proved and I felt en­er­getic ev­ery day. I was no longer a vic­tim of bad pe­riod pains, heavy blood loss and wa­ter re­ten­tion. I didn’t re­alise that my bloated stom­ach and flat­u­lence is­sues were be­cause of emo­tional eat­ing, which many women suf­fer from. I used to eat out of bore­dom or be­cause of my friends, and not be­cause of hunger.”

What is your work­out rou­tine like? “It de­pends on my sched­ule. Usu­ally, I’ll de­cide when I go to the gym. If I worked on my up­per body to­day, I will work on the lower body the next day. I do mostly re­sis­tance train­ing as I’m not a car­dio per­son. Car­dio makes me hun­gry and I start crav­ing for carbs! I travel a lot for work so if I can’t find a gym, that’s when I jog in the morn­ings near my ho­tel and use my lug­gage as weights. I work out daily, even though it may just be for 15 min­utes.”

Do you have a pre­ferred work­out? “Dead lifts! I started with 10kg and am now up to 30kg. I use all my en­ergy and ef­fort to com­plete the rou­tine – that’s how I in­crease my meta­bolic rate. This way, I spend a shorter time at the gym and the re­sults are faster.” What keeps you mo­ti­vated? “My health has dra­mat­i­cally im­proved, my hor­mone im­bal­ance is­sues have been solved and my well-be­ing is great. I’ve be­came very pos­i­tive and in­de­pen­dent. At 50kg, I can fit into smaller dresses and I’m look­ing bet­ter phys­i­cally – all these things make me con­fi­dent. I’m lov­ing my life!”

What is your diet like and foods that you can’t re­sist? “I’ve cut out sugar and don’t add re­fined sugar to my food and cof­fee. I also eat more whole­some foods, nuts and seeds, fruits. I don’t eat junk and pro­cessed food. The food I can­not re­sist is prob­a­bly rice. Be­ing a typ­i­cal Asian, rice is some­thing I’ve eaten ev­ery day since young but now, I eat brown rice and oats.”

Who is your big­gest sup­porter? “My best friend. He came into my life and taught me how to treat my­self a lit­tle bit bet­ter and be­come wiser. He opened up my heart so I can put my thoughts into mo­tion and be a stronger per­son. Af­ter I re­turned from Ice­land, I de­cided to play golf with him. He guided me step-by-step, and told me I was do­ing it for my­self and my fu­ture – that mo­ti­vated me. He then in­tro­duced me to a golf trainer who said my weight was “pulling” me down and thus, I couldn’t swing well. The trainer asked me to go on a diet or ex­er­cise so I started jog­ging and do­ing planks on my own. My weight dropped 10-15kg in six months but my skin started to sag. That’s when I joined the gym. If he didn’t take the ex­tra step to make me move faster, en­cour­age me to hold the golf club and put faith in my­self, I guess I would still be bar-hop­ping, down­ing beers and munch­ing po­tato chips.”

What is your fit­ness goal? “To lower my body fat per­cent­age, gain a health­ier, toned body and to be able to coach more peo­ple who are strug­gling with weight mat­ters.” What do you love about your shape? “I’m in love with all the new me, but my favourite would be my ab lines and col­lar bone. My hus­band is also happy that I now ac­com­pany him to the gym and he has a part­ner to work out with!

Berry and her sis­ter Kyen (left) dur­ing their hol­i­day in Ice­land.

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