Personal trainer Liz Zainon decided to shape up to set a good example for her clients. By Lester Wong
Ms Liz enjoys the adrenaline rush after every workout session. ST PHOTO: NIVASH JOYVIN
ABOUT LIZ ZAINON
Ms Liz, a personal trainer, has come a long way from hating physical education classes in school. She joined the fitness industry in 2003 but started serious training for competitive bodybuilding only in 2010. She claimed her first competition win at the Shawn Rhoden Classic held in Manila in October last year.
“It is my biggest achievement and it is proof that age is just a number,” she said. “It serves as a reminder to me that I can overcome challenges with determination, willpower and faith.”
Ms Liz, who is single, lives with her mother, Madam Dila Ibrahim, 63, a retired hawker. Her mother visits the neighbourhood fitness corner occasionally to exercise on the stationary bicycle. Ms Liz has an older sister who is married.
Q What’s your secret to looking fabulous?
A I stopped being critical of myself and worked on increasing my good vibes. I also kept up with a regular exercise routine and stopped eating crappy food in excess.
Q Was there ever a time when you weren’t fit and fab?
A In 2013, due to work conditions and personal issues, I was eating too much junk food and also did not exercise regularly.
I weighed 85kg. I was sluggish and irritable, and I had low energy levels and was easily out of breath.
I became depressed and worried when I couldn’t fit into any of my clothes. I felt ashamed because I was not setting a good example as a fitness trainer to my clients.
I finally snapped out of this miserable state, gave myself a pep talk and set out a plan for regular exercise and eating healthy food.
I lost 19kg within seven months. I was so proud of myself.
Q How did your passion for bodybuilding begin?
A As strange as it may seem, I hated physical education classes when I was in primary and secondary school.
But when I was 13 years old, I started exercising at home by following aerobic workout videos. When I could afford it, I joined a fitness club in 1993 and signed up for both aerobic and weight-lifting classes.
I bought health and fitness books and magazines to update myself on exercises and nutrition.
I remember enjoying the adrenaline rush after every workout session. I was even more motivated when I saw how my body structure had changed.
Q What is your diet like?
A When I am not preparing for competition, I am not strict with my food intake. I give in to my cravings and indulge in less healthy food. I try my best to have five meals a day from Monday to Saturday.
Meal 1: Half-boiled (sometimes scrambled) eggs, or oatmeal, cinnamon and blueberries
Meal 2: Protein shake
Meal 3: Rice and chicken, or beef burger from Burger King or McDonald’s
Meal 4: Protein shake
Meal 5: Fish or chicken or beef and cooked vegetables
Snacks: Peanut butter and almonds
On Sundays, I usually let myself go. I am a foodie and a big eater.
Q What are your indulgences?
A Chocolates, ice cream and nasi lemak.
Q How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?
A Cuddling my cats helps me relax. I also unwind by reading and watching my favourite TV series, The Walking Dead. If I can afford the time and money, I try to go away on trips to relax.
Q What are the three most important things in your life?
A Happiness, health and family.
Q Would you go for plastic surgery?
A No, I have learnt to embrace my imperfections and be thankful for what God has given me. I hope to age naturally and gracefully.
Q Do you think you’re sexy?
A For my age, absolutely.
Q What are your favourite and least favourite parts of your body?
A My derriere is my favourite part of my body. I like that it is neither small nor flat. I get compliments from friends, clients and strangers on this “asset” of mine.
My skin is my least favourite. It is very sensitive and reacts badly to dust and most cosmetics.
Q What are your must-dos before and after fitness sessions?
A I do shoulder-mobility exercises as I have shoulder weakness. I always do stretching afterwards. I also take my protein supplements.
Q How important is it for you to keep up with your fitness routine?
A Very. Since it is my occupation, I must look the part and be a role model to inspire and motivate my clients and gym members.
I also like the benefits I get from engaging in fitness activities – I have more energy, vitality and mobility and I stay in great shape. And I do enjoy the sweet pain from working out.
Q What’s the biggest sacrifice you have had to make to get to your level of fitness today?
A Curbing my sweet cravings and saying “no” to the delicious, high- calorie meals that my mum cooks.
Q What do your family and friends say about your active lifestyle?
A They are generally supportive and understand that it is an integral part of my life.
Q What’s the most prized possession among your sports paraphernalia?
A The winner’s medal from my first bodybuilding competition in October last year.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2017, with the headline ‘Age no barrier to a hot bod’.