John MajedUngab: Positive Change

Michael Vencynth H. Braga (The Freeman) - March 12, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Shedding pounds and getting in shape is a most grueling and strenuous endeavor.  But it’s necessary for jumpstarting a healthy change. But for 26-year old law student and registered nurse John MajedUngab, it’s a commitment.

Ungab, now in his third year in law school, manages to fit school, job and workouts to his time. And he’s been able to bring his weight from 211 pounds down to 138! It has not been easy, of course – especially for a food lover like him.

Again, it’s a commitment. For some “fitspiration” from the aspiring “hottorney,” Ungab relates his fitness journey:

What did your old typical day look like?

It used to be school, and then go out late at night and come home in the wee hours of the morning. Usually, I would find something to eat in the middle of the night after I study. When I’d study, I’d also need about at least two cigarette breaks within an hour, to help me concentrate.
What made you decide on a positive change?

A breakup! (Laughs.) No, just kidding. To be honest, I was just really bored one summer because I didn't have classes. I didn't want to be idle. So, I decided to sign up for a month's worth of yoga. I actually enjoyed it and started noticing all the change in my body – from weight loss, to getting stronger, and being able to survive a flight of stairs without gasping for air. And then I got engaged in TRX (total resistance exercise). That's when all the weight started coming off, and I noticed I was getting stronger and stronger. When I didn't have school, the entire morning would be spent training.
What’s your workout strategy?

It’s different now than before. Back then, my goal was to look good not just in clothes but also in pictures. A few months since I joined Crossfit, my outlook changed. My goal now is to be more efficient and to be stronger. Being sexy is just secondary. It’s now "progress over perfection." I'm working on my lifts one plate at a time. Also, Crossfit has reshaped my views on fitness. I thought before that if you looked ripped, then you’re fit. But fitness is about being able to utilize your body strength to the maximum. I’m all about functional fitness and longevity now.

How about diet?

My diet is actually going really well. For a time, I was a vegetarian… like I had zero meat. No pork, beef, chicken, and fish. It was the yogi thing to do – being non-violent and all that, and I also used it as a way to shrink really fast. However, my transition was gradual. I didn't stop eating meat all at once. I gave up red meat first, chicken next, and fish last. Then I survived on vegetables.

But… I've since re-integrated meat into my diet. Today, I can virtually eat almost anything for as long as it hits my macros. I still eat clean everyday, and on days when I feel my body needs a reward, I let life happen but I make sure I don't let myself go.

How did you track your progress in terms of bodyweight?

At first, I would weigh myself almost every day, but then it made me crazy because there were days when I weighed heavy and on some days my numbers would go down. And I’d get really sad if my numbers went up. To me it was all about the numbers. My TRX coach would tell me that it's not about the numbers you see on the scale… but how you look in the mirror and how your clothes fit.

At the [gym], we have our monthly weigh-ins to see how much we've progressed. It works for me way better that way because the coaches know how hard I can be on myself. Also, I'm more keen now at looking at my body fat percentage and muscle mass as compared to my total body weight. I also stopped looking at my BMI. I weigh about 69 to 70 kilograms now. At a BMI chart I would be overweight, but actually, I'm 59 kilograms muscle and the rest of my body mass composition is fat, bone density, and water. Muscle is denser and weighs heavier. That's why we look more compact even though we weigh slightly heavier.

Now, whenever my numbers would drop below 68 kilograms, I’d start to freak out because it's really hard to gain muscle mass. But when I review my figures on the chart, seeing my body fat percentage reduce would snap me back into zen mode. (Laughs.)

How many times had you tried and failed on this before?

I used to go on a crash diet a lot and it wouldn't even last a week. Crash dieting does not work!

This time it’s different because I love what I'm doing. And when you love something, you commit to it 200 percent, and everything will fall into place… you start seeing results. Keep trying. If you feel that this program isn't working for you, try another one. You have to find something you will love and work for you.

Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand. We have a saying that goes, "you can never out-train a bad diet." You cannot achieve the kind of body of you want with just diet alone. They complement each other like husband and wife.

Aside from looks, what else has changed about you?

My lifestyle. Before I got into fitness, I was a crazy party boy who stayed out late and come home before breakfast. I was on YOLO (you only live once) mode. I've quit smoking cold turkey… in over a year [now]. I now turn down alcohol and I look forward spending Saturday nights at home sleeping.

Also, I’ve gotten a lot stronger, physically, at least.

What’s a typical day like now?

It’s still be school and, if I could squeeze in time, I would go to [the gym] to train. I love going there, not just to train but because of the people there. It is my home – we are a family and a community, and that makes training even more fun!
Do you join fitness competitions?

I joined The Spartan Race, which is a series of obstacle courses. I competed with Team Subtero in the inaugural Spartan Race in the Philippines at Rizal Heights last [year]. I ranked 191st out of 1,126 participants and 36th out of 211 in the Male, 25-29 age group.

I didn't really have any special preparation for the [race]. I just followed the regular program at the [gym] or what we call workout-of-the-day.

CrossfitSubtero hosted a special Obstacle Course Training and invited Coach DwynnTrazo (of Team Tamaraw Dubai) exclusively for the Subtero Spartans. It was during the training that we were oriented as to what to expect during the race.

After joining the race, I’ve come to realize that nothing is impossible if you put your heart into it. I love fitness. I love doing it. I want to be able to give it as well.

How do you see yourself in a few years from now?

Succeeded in the Bar Exam, taken up my Master of Laws in International Business Law and Finance Management, obtained a Crossfit L-1 Certification, and 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Certification, and competed in Crossfit competitions. I would train for competitions after the Bar exams.

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