Los­ing weight, Malaysian style

Scare­meis­ter Tunku Halim’s lat­est book is quite a dif­fer­ent beast from his usual fare.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - READS - By TER­ENCE TOH star2@ thes­tar. com. my

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

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