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challenging myself in the french alps workout

Challenging myself in the French Alps

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challenging myself in the french alpsJeremy Tan is a clinical dietitian and cycling enthusiast. Photo: Jeremy Tan

Jeremy Tan, 27, is a clinical dietitian working in a restructured hospital. If you are meeting Jeremy for the first time, you may think that he has always been this fit given his well-built physique but that cannot be further from the truth.

Growing up, Jeremy was really unfit and overweight up until the end of his Secondary two year. Although he enjoyed sports, he did not exercise because he preferred to play computer games and he loved his food. As a result, he was teased quite a lot for being overweight, which had a negative effect on his self-esteem.

The turning point came though when he couldn't take the teasing and poor self- esteem anymore. 14-year-old him wanted to prove to those who belittled and judged him wrong. And thus, he started exercising and watching his diet. The rest, as they say, was history.

Jeremy said: “While I might have started my journey due to these negative experiences, I'm glad to say it's been the multiple good experiences that have kept me going even now, 13 years later. From learning to love being active and eating healthily, to a really supportive family environment, and a community of like-minded friends, my fitness journey has given me much more gains than I have put in.”

When asked what were some of the challenges that he had to overcome in his fitness journey, Jeremy recalled that there were two major ones.

The first was when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (T1DM) in 2014. T1DM is an incurable autoimmune condition which requires lifelong daily injections and having to constantly balance blood sugars, diet, and exercise. He had to relearn how to live his life all over again, and this included figuring out where exercise fits into this new challenge.

challenging myself in the french alpsJeremy loves his food. Photo: Jeremy Tan

The second challenge was very much internal, and something he feels is common for many who are into fitness. He struggled to find satisfaction with himself and his efforts because he was always comparing myself with others whom he felt looked or performed better.

“Learning to accept and cherish my body for its unique strengths and flaws was a long, but ultimately incredibly liberating process that has totally changed my relationship with exercise. It is a change of mindset that has allowed me to own and love what I do,” Jeremy shared.

Besides hitting the gym, this fitness enthusiast is also an avid cyclist and has even cycled in the French Alps!

Jeremy enthused: “Spectacular, breath-taking (literally), unforgettable. There aren't enough words to describe how incredible an experience it was. Riding up iconic Tour de France climbs like Mount Ventoux and Alpe D'Huez were incredibly hard but also infinitely worth it. The spectacular views throughout took my mind (somewhat) off the suffering on the way to the top and being able to ride on the same famous roads as the pros you see on television; that was a really emotional experience. Also, cycling as a means to see and explore a place was a great new experience. You can see, hear, and feel so much more than you would in a car, but at the same time cover a decent amount of ground. I'm addition, each food stop along the way feels fully deserved and is hence thoroughly enjoyed!”

As to why he finally did it, Jeremy shared that it was something that's always been on his bucket list, and that he had not been able to join his dad and his cycling group on previous trips.

challenging myself in the french alpsCycling in the French Alps was on Jeremy's bucket list. Photo: Jeremy Tan

“Secondly, and more importantly, it was an important part of coming full circle. In the weeks before I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I found riding my bike nearly impossible. I was constantly beset by unimaginably painful cramps that I couldn't figure out or fix. For someone who had been riding all his life, it was devastating. I thought I would never get on my bike again. Eventually, I learned to manage my condition, and relearned how to do things most people take for granted. Likewise, I had to change the way I approached cycling. I got back on my bike, but my confidence never fully returned, and the cramps didn't go away completely either,” Jeremy recalled.

Which was exactly why when he was offered the chance to cycle and climb some of the Tour de France's most iconic (and difficult) mountains, Jeremy was torn. He didn't want to miss out on something he had always dreamed of doing, but at the same time he was also afraid that he wouldn't make it, and that his struggles with his condition would stop him from conquering the peaks.

challenging myself in the french alpsPhoto: Jeremy Tan

It took Jeremy half a year of specific training to try to replicate the conditions he would need to face in France, and during the trip itself, constant monitoring of his blood sugars, nutrition, and effort level. It was unbelievably hard at times, but each pedal stroke brought him a little closer to the summit. And each successful climb went some way towards vanquishing the doubts and demons that had plagued him for years.

When asked what advice he has for someone who is looking to improve their overallhealth and fitness, Jeremy had this to say: “Make a start, no matter where your health or fitness is right now. You may not be able to change every single thing, but each little step in the right direction will add up to make a big difference overall, and I guarantee you won't regret it. Don't be afraid of judgement, and don't compare yourself to others. You will never be anyone else but you, and you will only ever have your own body. No one but you know your effort, grind, and struggles. Be accountable to yourself, find something YOU enjoy doing, and do it to the best of your ability.”

“Cross the line with no regrets.”



Gary Yang is a myActiveSG Editor and Presenter. Gary started his career as a suit cum copywriter at an advertising agency, followed by a successful stint in Corporate Communications with Singapore Press Holdings and Asia Pacific Breweries, before eventually joining the editorial team at Sport Singapore. He now turns his attention to fitness and wellness headlines and sniffing out news angles in the sporting arena. Follow Gary on Instagram @thisisgaryyang


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