Losing weight, Malaysian style
Scaremeister Tunku Halim’s latest book is quite a different beast from his usual fare.
LOCAL author Tunku Halim is well known for his horror and Gothic fiction. For his latest book, however, he tackles a topic some Malaysians find just as scary as ghosts and goblins: losing weight!
His book, So Fat Lah: 30 Ways To A Slimmer You, explains the science and nutrition behind weight loss in simple terms and debunks popular myths about this subject. Comprehensive and sometimes lighthearted, the book is an easily digestible guide to keeping off the kilos, Malaysian- style.
“This is the first ever weight loss book for Malaysians, I believe. Why so specialised? Because I care about Malaysians, and understand Malaysians. That’s why my first chapter is on teh tarik!” joked Tunku Halim ( in full, Tunku Halim Tunku Tan Sri Abdullah), speaking during the book’s launch in Petaling Jaya last Sunday.
Published by MPH Publishing, the book contains 30 practical tips on weight loss, which cover various aspects of diet and lifestyle.
“I’m not saying you have to do all of them. I’m presenting 30 perfect ways, and you can choose which you think you can live with. This is not a diet: a diet has an end date. These are for life,” Tunku Halim said. “Take the habits you can live with, and make them your start.”
Those who have been following Tunku Halim’s writing career will know that, apart from his bestselling fiction titles like Horror Stories and A Malaysian Restaurant In London, the author has also penned nonfiction books, among them The New Golf Paradigm ( with Kris Barkway) and A Children’s History Of Malaysia.
Tunku Halim said he was inspired to write So Fat Lah while living in Australia many years ago. According to him, obesity was, literally, a big problem over there, and he hit upon the idea of writing a booklet to tackle the subject. He then took several years to research, write, and rewrite the book, drawing on information from books, the Internet and his own experience: the author went from 75kg to 64kg in 12 months, without any serious effort!
After all that, when the book was finished, Tunku Halim was not happy with it. “Yes, it contained all the weight- loss information one needed. But it was boring. It was lecturing and not unlike a text book. I dreaded having it published. So I put it away,” he said.
After a discussion with MPH last year, however, the author decided to repackage the book, making it more accessible to general readers.
Among the book’s contents now is information on how sugar and carbs contribute to weight gain, alternatives to otherwise unhealthy food choices, tips on relaxation, and ways to get moving to burn calories. With topics like “Cut out the kuih?”, “Refuse roti canai”, and “Eat veggie- ah?”, the book applies a uniquely Malaysian lens to the subject that is quite rare.
The key to effective weight loss, according to Tunku Halim, is restraint. “In terms of effort, most of it, like 80%, should go into watching what we eat, and the other 20% into exercise. For example, if I gave you a cupcake, and you ate it, it would take you half an hour of running to work it off. So which is easier? Running for half an hour, or saying no to a cupcake?” the author pointed out.
Weight loss was not an easy journey, he said, and it was important that people were properly prepared for it. “One way I would suggest is for people to keep a journal with their goals in it, what you want to achieve and what goals to take on. And on your journey, you may have a few successes, and a few failures, and you write it all down,” Tunku Halim said.
“If your intention is to lose weight, I wish you the best of luck because it is a long path ahead. But I believe my book can be a lot of help to you. It has 30 perfect ways for you to try out.”
Tunku Halim speaking to a rapt audience during the launch. — IBRAHIM MOHTAR/ The Star