Fit And Fab

Bid to lose weight leads from beer parties to triathlons

Unlike many other serious athletes, Ironman competitor Jonathan Kang admits to a weakness for Coca Cola and chocolate, and says beer is his kryptonite.
Unlike many other serious athletes, Ironman competitor Jonathan Kang admits to a weakness for Coca Cola and chocolate, and says beer is his kryptonite.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Former NS commando decided something had to be done, after his weight ballooned

Q What is your secret to looking fabulous?

A I don't think I look fabulous but people who are passionate and true to any sport do emit a certain glow.

Q Has there ever been a time when you were not fit and fab?

A Yes, from 2004 to 2012. That was when I led a sedentary lifestyle and had regular beer parties.

I started to gain weight after I completed my National Service in 2004. I went from 68kg to 87kg in just four years.

By 2012, I decided I'd had enough of being fat and unfit. I set a goal for myself, to slim down within a year.

That was when I started running. I ran 6km every day of the week, except Sunday. By the end of 2013, my weight had dropped to 72kg. It has stayed around this level since and I've also, since then, signed up for numerous running races.

Q When did you pick up triathlons and what was first race like?

A In May 2015, after watching a triathlon video online, I went out to buy a secondhand bike and started cycling.

I started swimming regularly.

And then, I went crazy. I signed up for the Olympic challenge at the TriFactor race here in September that year, even though I'd never swum in the open sea before. What's more, I had a fear of the open water, but it didn't deter me.

The race comprised a 1.5km swim, a 40km bike ride and a 10km run. For my open sea race, I swam in the opposite direction and when I put my head up, I was already hyperventilating. I then switched to breaststroke and managed to complete the swim.

Q What's your best race since then?

A Last September, I completed my first full Ironman race in South Korea. It was life changing as I never believed that I could complete one. I teared a bit at the end of the race and I felt stronger mentally.

I also felt very hungry as the whole race took about 11 hours. But the first thing I did was to drink a pint of beer. That was a bad idea. I puked.

Q What is your diet like?

A I do not have a strict diet, unlike many other athletes, but I do try to reduce my starch intake as that is hard to burn off. I would try to eat less carbohydrates and processed food.

  • Bio Box

  • JONATHAN KANG YONG DIAN

    AGE: 35

    HEIGHT: 1.73m

    WEIGHT: 71kg

    Exercise was never on the radar for the senior brand manager when he was in his 20s and, as a result, he grew heavy.

    Instead of hitting the gym, he would be in a bar four days a week drinking with his buddies.

    In 2012, tired of being overweight, he decided to run six days a week to shed some poundage and get fit.

    "I just went out to do 6km. I told myself that it doesn't matter how long I took as long as I finished it.

    "I wanted to be as fit as I was when I was a commando in national service," he said.

    Mr Kang is married to accounts manager Cadence Chua Pei Boon, 37. They have a four-year-old daughter, Estelle Kang Yun Xi.

Q What are your indulgences?

A My kryptonite is beer. I also like fizzy drinks, titbits and chocolate.

Q How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

A I believe that, through the sport I am engaging in now, I am able to perform more efficiently and positively in my job.

I try to overcome challenges that I face in life and at work, in the same way that I train for an Ironman race - one step at a time.

Q What are the three most important things in your life?

A My family, health and triathlons.

Q What's your favourite and least favourite part of your body?

A My broad shoulders. My least favourite are my short legs.

I have a long body and short legs, which isn't the best combination for a triathlete.

Q What are your must-dos before and after a workout?

A I do not have a must-do ritual before a workout but a can of Coca Cola after a tough session is a must for me, even though I know that it isn't a healthy option.

Q How important is it for you to keep up with your fitness routine?

A At this point, it is no longer about keeping up with a routine, but rather, how do I do better each time.

The training regime is now a part of me and I would feel extremely uncomfortable if I were to miss a session.

Q How has your active lifestyle influenced your family and friends?

A My active lifestyle has its pros and cons.

In triathlons, you get to do multiple sports and it makes you much stronger mentally.

It takes up quite a lot of my time. I spent a lot of time training for triathlons but my wife has been very supportive.

Q How extensive is your collection of sports-related paraphernalia?

A I have two bicycles and two pairs of running shoes.

Q Would you go for plastic surgery?

A Although I really want to have long legs, the answer is no.

I strongly feel that what defines us isn't the beauty on the outside, but the vibrant aura we emit from the inside.

Q Do you think you're sexy?

A No, not even in a sexy dress.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2018, with the headline 'Bid to lose weight leads from beer parties to triathlons'. Print Edition | Subscribe