Guide to health screening

Wake-up call led to healthier diet and exercise

Joggers along the stretch of the covered fitness area under the MRT tracks along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8.
Joggers along the stretch of the covered fitness area under the MRT tracks along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8. PHOTO: ST FILE

Ms Lim Swee Ling started putting on weight when she began working.

Despite regular health screenings that warned of impending trouble, she did not see the need to change her lifestyle.

Doctors had warned her that if her cholesterol level was still high when she turned 35, she might need to take medication and could even be at risk of a stroke.

"My friends and family members told me I would never be able to lose weight or lower my high cholesterol levels," said the 33-year-old account manager, whose parents are both diabetic.

"If people asked me, I would just tell them it was the genes and I could do nothing about it."

Doctors have noted that people tend to ignore recommendations made at health screenings when they find out they do not have any diagnosed illness.

 

However, Ms Lim got a wake-up call after a health screening in April last year at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), when she found out she was at risk of diabetes as a result of being overweight.

At that time, she weighed 57kg, which was unhealthy for her 1.51m frame.

Dr Ng Lee Beng, a consultant at the department of family medicine and continuing care at SGH, advised Ms Lim to lose 5 per cent of her body weight by changing to a healthier diet and starting an exercise regime.

From eating indiscriminately and exercising only once a week, Ms Lim decided to overhaul her lifestyle. Within three months, she had managed to lose 6kg.

She said: "Previously, I didn'twatch my diet. In fact, I ate a lot. I could eat up to two bowls of rice for dinner."

After the health screening, she took less junk food and soft drinks. She cut down on carbohydrates and ate more vegetables.

She also joined a gym and started jogging 5km nearly every day during those three months. She now exercises at least three times a week and has lost a total of 10kg.

Ms Lim's change in diet has also influenced her parents, who now eat more healthily. Her 65-year-old father has high cholesterol levels, while her 61-year-old mother is obese.

Ms Lim, who has a four-year-old daughter, said of her lifestyle change: "I've had high cholesterol levels since I was 21 and it was good to see the levels drop. I realised it's not difficult. It can be done easily if you set your mind to it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2017, with the headline 'Wake-up call led to healthier diet and exercise'. Print Edition | Subscribe