We speak to certified medical doctor and co-founder of Peak Fitness gym Dr Andrea Lim on how to get into a fitness regime and stick with it.

We are all well-educated on the importance and benefit of regular exercise. You not only start looking better, you start feeling better as well. 

Unfortunately, getting into the habit of consistently going to the gym isn’t the easiest thing to achieve, especially with life demands constantly working against us. 

“It’s a habit that you need to make into a lifestyle,” tells Dr Andrea Lim, certified doctor and co-founder at Peak Fitness.

We got the fitness enthusiast, who was also part of the lead story in our April health and wellness issue, to share with us more of how we can all make exercise a regular part of our lives.

 You’re a big fitness enthusiast. How early on did you get into the habit?

I got into the habit when I was in university in the UK. It was my husband who introduced me to a gym. We were in our 3rd year of university. Before that, I was a dancer, not so much a gym enthusiast.

What are some of your favourite sports/activities to do?

In university, I was into plate-shooting, but nowadays I’m very much into going to the gym, working out, doing back exercise classes, spin classes and circuit training. I do everything with a focus on weights. 

Many people find working out or exercising a chore. How do you encourage people to be disciplined?

It’s a habit. You need to make it a lifestyle. A lot of people try out fad workouts, hoping to lose 10 pounds in 2 days, which is really unrealistic. It’s important to set long-term goals and really make it a part of your lifestyle. Also, having someone to work out with you – a workout buddy or a friend, it doesn’t have to your spouse – really encourages you to stick to the habit.

Good health is equal parts made in the gym and equal parts made in the kitchen. Are you a big practitioner of clean eating?

Yes! You’re absolutely right! Clean-eating is a very large part of keeping fit and I think in Malaysia, especially, it’s a huge challenge because of our amazing food.

It’s always important to know what goes into your food and realise what you’re eating. It’s also important to practice moderation – you shouldn’t cut everything out. Even with your diet, everything should be in moderation and most importantly, you need to keep active.

How do you balance your occasional indulgences?

I can’t say no to chocolate. I believe in long-term moderation. If I feel like having a chocolate bar, I have it. I don’t believe in not allowing myself to indulge, I’ll go crazy. I tend to just eat as and when I feel like it, but in very moderate amounts.

What are some of your favourite foods to snack on to keep hunger at bay?

For a quick energy boost, I love cashew nuts. Just a handful, though I know it is hard to stop once you start. Drink lots of water. Try and keep some fruit around you too, or protein bars – they are really good. They really keep you full.

Who are some of your role models in fitness?

I don’t have a specific idol – I just surround myself with a lot of people who are passionate so we encourage each other.

Aside from physical exercise, how do you keep sharp in the mind?

Getting good sleep is really important. People underestimate how much sleep we need to feel fresh. Whatever works for you, 6-7 hours a day. Get good sleep.

What’s your advice for someone who would like to get started on a healthier lifestyle?

Set a goal. It’ll be good if you’re clear about what you’d like to achieve, and be specific about it so you can measure it. Also, get a good support system. Find like-minded people around who enjoys the same workouts as you do.

Take baby steps, but keep at it. Don’t get discouraged and fall off the wagon. It’s a long process, it takes time, just stick with it. 

Dr Andrea Lim also shares her tips to starting a new exercise routine and sticking to it.

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