From Overweight To Racer: Transformation Stories From Singaporean Cyclists

Cycling is an effective way to shed those extra pounds, and these two Singaporean cyclists are a testament to this statement. Be inspired by their hard work, determination and drive that kept them pedalling towards better health. 


Name: Azhar Abdullah
Age: 28 Years Old 
Cycling team: Treknology3, and I ride with everyone 

Total weight lost: 32kg (From 110 to 78kg) 

It took Azhar 4 months to lose the weight, all through BMT (Basic Military Training) in the Army, but cycling helped him to keep his weight consistent.


Before at 108kg. Photo: Azhar Abdullah
After at 78kg. Photo: Azhar Abdullah


When did you start cycling, and how often do you cycle? 

I first learnt to ride without training wheels at age 6 and got into proper cycling and occasional races when I was 14 years old and have not stopped since! Now, I cycle about 5 times a week with an average weekly mileage of 200 to 250km.


Did you make any dietary changes? 

I did away with fast food, soft drinks and anything greasy and oily. I avoided calorie counting but was always wary of the things that I consumed. For instance, I do not add sugars to my tea or coffee, I opt for wholemeal bread over white bread, and brown rice over white.
It is okay to indulge once in, but I would make it a point to cycle after to burn off the additional calories! 
Moderation is key – eating smart keeps you full, for longer. 


“I established from the get-go when I first started losing weight that diets do not work if I wanted to keep my weight off permanently.”


How and why did you pick up cycling, and how has cycling changed your life? 

I live close to the beach, so cycling has always been the most preferred mode of transport and fun since young. I got serious into cycling when my schoolmate introduced me to the now-defunct Tampines BMX Track in 2004. I got hooked instantly, and that was the beginning of what is to be a lifelong passion for bicycles.
I started on a 26″ BSX Bike (Mountain Bike hardtail, single speed for racing in a circuit) and progressed to an all-mountain bike and then road bikes eventually (I ride across various disciplines till this day!).


“Cycling has transformed my life; from making lifelong friends, to the endless fun on the bike, and engaging in a healthy lifestyle to keep the weight off.”


Cycling competitively also has provided me with a never-say-die attitude. Furthermore, having a goal and achievement in races keeps the passion burning! 


How has your cycling group or the cycling community helped/encouraged you along this journey? 

Cycling with a group of friends, the endless banter and fun are what motivates me to get out and ride. Having a support system of friends is crucial; when you’re thinking of a lazy day of not doing anything, that nudge from your mate is what you need to get yourself out the door and RIDE!

Cycling groups, local races and making new friends are my biggest motivation – it encourages me always to strive harder, push my limits and have constant objectives, be it placing well in races or have a specific mileage target in that month.


Any advice for fellow cyclists who wish to lose weight too?   

1. To lose weight, one needs first to identify and acknowledge the poor decisions made and then make a smart decision to improve and change.

2. Incremental changes always work better than drastic and sudden changes.

3. It is essential to ensure the post-ride meal that we’re having is a well-balanced one. If you ride late at night, it’s always better to have a light dinner before than a heavy meal post ride. Be conscious of what you’re eating and tweak accordingly.

4. It is not about depriving yourself of your favourite food – go for that sweet snack, just in moderation!



Name: Toh Jin Yi
Age: 19
Cycling Team: Specialized Roval Mavericks

Total weight lost: 14kg (75.6kg to 58kg). 

However, Jin Yi felt that 58kg was his carb-starved weight. When he started eating normally again, he went to 62kg and stayed consistent. He managed to lose 17.6kg in 8.5months.


Photo: Jin Yi


When did you start cycling, and how often do you cycle? 

In 2018, I clocked in an average of 300-400+km a week.
When I first started in 2016, I would ride leisurely around 3-4 times a week (average 120km) and increased to 4-6 times as I loved the sport even more than ever.


Did you make any dietary changes? 

I reduced my portion size and started counting calories, and made sure that those calories that I take in are clean, which means no junk food, no processed food etc.


How and why did you pick up cycling, and how has cycling changed your life? 

I picked up cycling because I came across a criterium video and got interested because of the speed. I started out riding leisurely, before going for super hard group rides and eventually venturing into interval training to get started out in racing.

Not only did it improve my cardiovascular fitness, but burned a ton of calories as well which made hitting a calorie deficit much easier. I’ve noticed that I do not fall sick as often as before.


“Cycling has transformed me from a fitness and health point of view. I fall sick less often too.”


How has your cycling group or the cycling community helped/encouraged you along this journey? 

Cycling in groups has allowed me to make many friends and expand my social circle. Regardless of our backgrounds, we come together to do one thing, ride our bikes.

I’m very thankful for all the people who’ve encouraged me to ride more and those who’ve pushed me to my limits.


Any advice for fellow cyclists who wish to lose weight too?   

1.Cut down junk food, processed food and sugary drinks. It’s okay to enjoy it once in awhile.

2.Cook your own meal if you can because you can control the calories and nutrients it contains.

3.The key to losing weight is eating at a calorie deficit.


Are you inspired by their transformations?  Do drop us a message if you would like to share your story! 
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Esther Koh
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