You would likely have seen lots of advertisement posts on weight loss programmes using some magical diet formula, and resulting in the famous “before” and “after” shots. After a while, you do take them with a pinch of salt as you know there are no shortcuts to a weight loss or health and fitness routine.

For 49-year old Colonel (Civil Defence) Associate Professor Dr. Mohamad Nizam Bin Nazarudin, his return-to-fitness journey took several years, coupled with a sense of urgency due to his career position.

Born in Kluang, Johor, Dr. Nizam is a Sports Science lecturer in University Malaysia Sabah (UMS). An avid rugby player, he was a representative at school, university and state level. Dr. Nizam also took up rugby refereeing and progressed towards coaching match official in 2005 before landing as a World Rugby Educator. By that time, he had already moved to Sabah and realised that his 100kg weight, lack of physical activities and increase in food intake was taking its toll on his health.

 

ToughASIA: What is the trigger to your significant weight loss and your motivation to keep yourself fit now?

Dr. Nizam: When I weighed 100kg, I experienced chronic knee pain and had trouble walking up a few flights of stairs. My doctor warned that my knees could not cope with my obese conditions. Also, my university dean pointed that my physique did not set a good example in my position as a Sports Science lecturer.

Finally, colleagues who passed on from heart attack and stroke also got me thinking on the need for a drastic change to my lifestyle. I then started to swim, bike and run just like in the old days.

I continued to train, lost some weight and gained confidence. It was magical. Then, I started to take part in competitions, and started to win. This becomes my motivation today.

ToughASIA: What is your personal goal in sports?

Dr. Nizam: After buying a triathlon bike, I first took part in duathlon race in Labuan in 2016. In 2017, I focused on Powerman Sprint categories and got 10th in Thailand, 6th in Indonesia and 7th in Malaysia for my age category. In 2018, I completed IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi.

I have already attempted my first trail run. It was tough, but am not planning to do trails in the future.

In 2020, I aim to complete the full IRONMAN distance in Langkawi as the first representative of UMS and Malaysia Civil Defence. I am blessed to get their full support. Finally, I am setting my sights on Powerman Zofingen in 2021.

 

ToughASIA: What is your sports advice to your students and the public in general?

Dr. Nizam: For those with obesity problem generally, my advice is for you to be physically active and monitor your nutrition for a healthy body. Maintain self-discipline as a daily practice, and you will not regret the outcome. I also often advise my students to acquire Sports Science knowledge and apply them, so that they become a lifelong skill. I have proven that ‘nothing is impossible ‘ and hope to be a model role for all.

ToughASIA: What are your thoughts on the mass participation sports scene in Malaysia?

Dr. Nizam: It is good that fun run events can reach 10,000 participants now, and overall, people are taking better care of their health through participating in sports events, and am willing to pay fees.

I hope that event organisers can look deeper into participant safety and welfare. And also involve children participation from grassroots; for example, Ironkids and Powerkids.

ToughASIA: What initiatives are you implementing at UMS and Civil Defence on fitness?

Dr. Nizam: I am trying to motivate all officers to to have high levels of fitness. I believe that before we can save lives, we need to be fit ourselves so that we do not become the next victim.

In the Civil Defence, I have set new requirements for UMS Sports Science students to swim 750m, cycle 20km and run 5km prior to graduation. Additionaly, UMS Civil defence cadets need to attain standard Body Mass Index (BMI) too.

We get more students working out in the gyms and being active now. At UMS, we have started organising our own mini triathlon events get Sabah state Civil Defence staff to participate. In this year’s IRONMAN event in Langkawi, we will also have a relay team representation. The university top management have been supportive to these efforts.

Photos have been provided by Dr. Nizam.

Are you inspired by Dr. Nizam’s journey?