See, the thing is, it is easy to set goals, but it can get difficult to stick to the process of achieving those goals. We often hear of people lament about how fat they feel and how they are going to start running and eating salads. However, many end up falling off the track because they don’t see the results they are looking for or they are unable to keep up such a horrible routine of steady-state cardio and plain, crunchy vegetables.
The road to getting lean is a very tough one for sure. The first few kilos are easy to lose and you feel motivated, but the last few kilos will require a lot of discipline, commitment and of course, the right techniques. There is an abundance of information on the internet but not every method will work for you the way it did for others.
Expectations also need to be managed – for example, you might take one month to lose the first 5kg, but another five months to lose the next 5kg. I emphasise that the numbers on the scale don’t matter. Your appearance (you can go by inches or body fat percentage) is most important because that is what you see. Plus, muscles are heavier than fat.
Ultimately, the mental aspect is the most important – you need to firmly believe in your goal and you have to stick out the entire journey no matter how tough it gets. And that is Karen Lee’s mantra.
Battling the bulge
Karen suffered from being overweight before, hitting nearly 90kg for her height of 172cm. She had an unhappy childhood, where she stayed with her grandmother for five years while her parents fought a divorce between them. To compensate for the lack of parental love, her grandmother would stuff her with lots of food in love– typical Chinese style.
Nobody minded the extra weight on her as a kid, often having her cheeks pinched because she was “so cute and chubby”. However, when she went to school, Karen started to get bullied and was often called names. At Sunday school at the church, she was mocked at with names like ‘Cannonball’ and ‘Miss Piggy’ which got so bad that she had to change church.
Remaining plus-sized till she was 17, Karen left for Australia and for once she felt “safe”. “I actually felt more comfortable with myself because the people there are slightly bigger than the typical Asian, so I allowed myself to indulge in endless shepherd’s pies, doughnuts, cottage cheese pies, hot dogs and my all-time favorite pavlova!” she recalled.
Within a year in Australia, she put on a hefty 15kg to hit 85kg and she hit despair. She felt horrible about herself but the only way she felt better was to eat more and she started to suffer from binge eating disorder. Chronic stress then made her experience frequent pangs and she would wake up in the middle of the night for the most sinful of foods.
Then she came across an ad for a three-month summer camp in the States and bravely flew there alone for the transformation of her life. She cut out the ad and took a bus out to a gym one hour away from where she lived in Cottlesloe, Western Australia then, to sign up for a gym membership and prepare for the camp. That was where she got to know this tall Xena-like personal trainer called Trish and hired her. For two hours a day, seven days a week for 60 days, she pushed hard in training and lost a whopping 20kg.
Life changing experience
Through that life changing experience, Karen learnt that the motivation to lose weight had to come from inside. Don’t mix up your goals with your motivation – you may be aiming to look like some Sports Illustrated cover model, but that alone is not enough to power you through the journey. You need to be motivated to work out and eat well, then your goal will be your reward.
Managing to keep the weight off for over 10 years now, Karen has dedicated her life to healthy living and is determined to help as many individuals as possible. Having lost her cousin to diabetes and high blood pressure, her aunt to cancer and her most beloved grandmother to a fall; all within the same year, she cannot emphasise more on the importance of a healthy lifestyle for the benefit of the long run. Thus, she took a big leap of faith and resign from her corporate life of 15 years to pursue this passion full-time.
But the real shift, she said, came early this year when she found out her father had dangerously high triglycerides, a risking heart disease. She worked with her father to change his diet, put him on a a 30-day cleansing programme and got him exercising and taking health supplements. After 30 days, he reduced his triglycerides from 467 to 237. “The supplements in combination with diet, exercise and sleep improved his health; it was about supporting a lifestyle shift and I was there as his cheerleader the whole way,” Karen elaborated.
Making a difference
Seeing the difference in her father and armed with the desire to make a wider difference, Karen became certified in personal training and Precision Nutrition (a leading Canadian nutritional academy) and subsequently launched her company Karen Lee.Fitness LLP. Her biggest milestone to date was coming in Top 6 at the Singapore Fitness Model Search 2014. “I intend on competing again,” she added. “I aspire to be a fitness athlete in Singapore. I want to inspire people and help them through their transformational journey in a holistic manner, overcoming limiting factors to maintain a healthy lifestyle and to spread the awareness of HIIT.”
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), she explains, is a 20 to 30 minutes workout (not including warm up and cool down), which expands the lungs, increases stamina and strength using body weight. It can be done anywhere at any time. This is Karen’s speciality, especially done in Tabata style (20 seconds work/10 seconds rest). This method burns fat effectively in the shortest time possible, as proven by studies, and is said to burn up to 800 calories per session.
Currently, Karen coaches both men and women in fitness and nutrition, giving them personal training sessions as well as providing a healthy meal to have after the session. She develops and customises programmes for individuals by assessing their fitness levels and their limitations. A free consultation will be given to find out what each of them want to achieve, their limiting factors, their fears and their goals.
“I cater for all fitness levels,” she reassured. “I will work where the client is at and intuitively balance challenge with fitness level.” Also, she provides an additional service of preparing healthy home-cooked meals that they can eat after.
“After working out, it’s common to feel hungry and many hold the thought that they can eat anything they want since they just exercised. However, doing that will hamper progress! That’s why I offered this service of preparing meals on top of training,” Karen explained.
This is not common practice for personal trainers in general – most just give nutrition advice – but Karen wants them to see how much she believes in them, to help them believe that they can do it and lose the weight they have been trying so hard to.
Going the distance
Some of her clients have experienced great results in 30 days, with regular exercise and good eating (cheat meals included) but not without a promise of commitment. “I make it very clear at the start that I’m not a quick-fix trainer. I’m not here to feed you marketing gimmicks and lose crazy amount of weight in a short period of time, then leave you to struggle with sustenance,” she said.
She added, “My clients will be made aware of the effort they have to make and I will not take in those who are not serious about wanting to make a change to their lives. As much as I can help you, you have to first believe in yourself that losing weight is not a major feat. It is not about counting calories but understanding the root cause of the problem by eliminating stress and simply believing in the impossible.”
Karen has big plans and her ultimate dream is to open a “HIIT box” with a gym and a kitchen next to it to prepare healthy meals for the clients, helping them reach overall health and well-being.
Here are some real testimonials from her clients:
Please note that as much as Karen can help you achieve your goals, you need to do your part and stick to the training and nutrition plans. Remember, it all boils down to how much you want it. More of Karen Lee’s services at http://www.karenlee.fitness/
*This is a sponsored post.