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Fashion and Beauty

Erwan Heussaff: Dream guy, nightmare diet coach

STYLE STALKER - Monique Buensalido - The Philippine Star

Hey, can I eat this?” This is the question that Erwan Heussaff gets asked all the time. One would think that he gets bombarded with questions about his restaurants or his love life, or even outpourings of undying devotion or confessions of burning passion. It seems, however, that most people just want to know whether they can have rice with their ulam. Bad news, guys: he can see right through it. “It’s someone that’s looking for an excuse to cheat,” he explained, smirking.

Once upon a time, Erwan weighed over 200 pounds before he gave up the sedentary lifestyle, started eating healthy, and lost nearly 100 pounds. This is the stuff that reality shows and magazine covers are made of, but to Erwan, it seemed like a natural, matter-of-fact thing that he decided to do upon waking up one day.

“It’s super easy. You just have to be disciplined,” he says firmly.

It seems that he’s had a lot of practice in telling people what to do; if you check his blog thefatkidinside.com, there are so many people asking questions on how to lose weight. While Erwan enjoys answering and encouraging them, some of the questions irk him, like the constant “I couldn’t resist this piece of cake” lamentation. “I always ask those people, ‘You’re letting yourself be fooled by an inanimate object, and let your emotions take over just because you feel like a sweet?’ For me it’s ridiculous,” he said disapprovingly. “When someone says, ‘I couldn’t resist eating it,’ I’m like, ‘No. You secretly wanted to eat it! You just gave in.’”

This is what made him the perfect (and slightly scary) diet coach for Freego’s recently concluded “7 Ways to Sexy Fitness Challenge,” where seven girls were chosen to undergo a 40-day program created by Erwan, with the House of Pain’s coach John Aquino (the same guy behind the banging bodies of Ellen Adarna and Erwan’s sister, Solenn) as the girls’ exercise coach. Unlike weight-loss competitions like The Biggest Loser, the girls weren’t whisked away to a house devoid of any junk food to hole up in for 40 days. Erwan helped formulate the program, where he only gave the girls basic guidelines on what they should or shouldn’t eat, and let them integrate the healthier habits into their regular lifestyles.

“We gave them that information in the beginning so they don’t have to keep coming back to me and keep asking, ‘Can I do this, can I do that?’” he explained. “The whole point is to give them a taste of what healthy living is. In 40 days, we’re starting them out, and hopefully they will want to continue it. There are rules; it’s just all about following them.”

And boy, did the girls follow his rules. His basic four no-no’s for them? No wheat, no sugar, no fried food, and no alcohol. (Also known as my basic food pyramid.) The girls dove into the challenge headfirst and were forced to do their own groceries, prepare their meals the night before, and choose restaurants with healthier choices. The fact that they made a WhatsApp group with Erwan helped them a lot, and they all shared everything they ate with each other, even glasses of water with a slice of lemon. “This was probably one of the best ways I lost weight,” shared Erwan. “By the end of the day or week, if you eat or pig out a lot, you’ll read it back and be like, ‘Whoa, did all of that just go into my body?’ And you start being conscious about what you put in your mouth.”

But even if he wanted to girls to learn how to control their diets on their own, Erwan was still quite an active “bad cop” in the WhatsApp group (The words “Diet Nazi” were used by some of the girls — lovingly, I’m sure). “He’s a man of a few words,” explained Rocky Chua, one of the participants. “So, matatakot ka.” Sometimes, someone would ask a question in their group and he’d reply with a single word: “Bad.” Ayee Alberto proudly sent the group a photo of her all-juice drink, and he simply told her to limit her fruit juices. Another time, shared Ana Lim, she made broccoli soup and when she explained that she only gave herself a small portion using a shallow bowl, Erwan replied, “I was about to judge you.”

Erwan’s also a little bit of a Nazi when it comes to exercise. “At House of Pain, the workout is usually an hour and a half. I do it in an hour, but I do the same amount of work — and then more, sometimes,” he described. “I don’t stop or take breaks. I just take one sip of water and I’m good to go. The efficiency is way better. I’ll lose weight faster than everyone else.” When I asked him about the girls’ sessions at the House of Pain — infamously named for its intense plyometric and strength training — he exclaimed gleefully, “Coach John isn’t the type of person to scream, ‘Hey, get up and do it again.’ I’m that type of person. I’ll be like, ‘What are you doing on the floor? Get the hell up.’ I do that to my sister and my girlfriend all the time.”

The girls had a total of eight sessions in the House of Pain each, and these weren’t your ordinary gym sessions. Most people balk at the thought of treadmills and weights; the seven girls described doing planks on balls and stretching against exercise bands. “It’s so painful,” they told me. “The next day you can’t laugh!”

But after 40 days, they’re the ones laughing. In a little over a month, all seven girls had lost a significant and unbelievable amount of weight, fat, and inches. “When I saw the numbers, I was shocked,” admitted Erwan. “Certain people reached an optimal amount of weight loss. I wouldn’t have thought that was possible to lose that much body fat in a little over a month!” Jom, the challenge’s grand winner, lost 13 pounds, four inches from her waist (from a 28, she is now a 24!), and a whopping 12.2 percent fat. When she was announced the winner, the six others happily rushed to wrap her in a big embrace. Instead of a cutthroat competition, the challenge had encouraged the participants to become a support group of giggling girlfriends. And instead of rushing to the buffet to make up for 40 days of starvation, all of them proceeded with their new and healthy way of living the next day. “Sayang ’yung 40 days!” they exclaimed. They admitted that it had been physically, mentally and even emotionally difficult to start, but after three weeks, they started to like their new selves. “Fit, strong, and confident,” declared Ana. It was an experience that they were so happy to have been a part of and will never forget.

Erwan is so proud of the girls — not just for losing the weight, but for realizing that it wasn’t just about the weight. “It’s not about being skinny. It’s about being strong and fit, and to me, that is sexy. I like that,” admits Erwan.

* * *

For information, follow Freego on Facebook (Facebook.com/freegojeans) or on Twitter/Instagram (@freego_jeans), or check out updates on the Fitness Challenge via the hashtag #SuperShapeMe.

 

 

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