Mr Randall Lim was diagnosed with high blood pressure and pre-diabetes eight years ago. He was then 42 years old, weighing about 116kg and teaching in a primary school.
Due to his busy schedule in school, he often ate at irregular times and snacked on junk food while marking his students’ work. He also led a rather sedentary lifestyle.
“By the time I got home, I was too tired to do anything except laze on the couch, watch television, or play computer games before getting down to mark or plan for classes the next day,” says Mr Lim.
Permanent diabetic scars started appearing on his leg and doctors warned that he had a high chance of suffering a stroke or even a heart attack. Nonetheless, he wasn’t too concerned about his health.
“I didn’t really bother as I thought I was still young and had a few more years before I had to seriously take my health into consideration,” he says.
It wasn’t until a year later in 2013 that Mr Lim realised he had to do something about his health. By then, he was having chest pain and shortness of breath even when he’s just walking.
“At this point I remembered the days of going to the gym when I was younger and I thought: why not give it a shot?”
He started off with bodybuilding to build muscle and downloaded an application on his phone to track every food item he consumed.
The sudden lifestyle change wasn’t easy. “The first week was hell. My whole body was sore and I couldn’t move on some days,” Mr Lim recounts.
Although the journey was tough, his consistency in exercise and diet paid off. Within a year, Mr Lim toned up his body and managed to shed 26 kg.
Becoming A Competitive Athlete
While at the gym, Mr Lim met a group of powerlifters who were training for an upcoming competition in Singapore.
Powerlifting consists of three parts – squat, bench and deadlift. Athletes need to execute lifts with the best technique in order to lift the heaviest weights possible. Intrigued by the sport, Mr Lim started taking on the powerlifters’ training regimen, lifting heavier weights every week.
“Seeing the weights [I lifted] jump up from week to week became a driving force for me to enter into powerlifting,” he says.
As he continued to refine his technique, he was eventually persuaded by his training peers to take on powerlifting competitively.
While athletes typically start training in their youth and retire by the time they hit their thirties, Mr Lim defied this norm.
In 2018, he entered his first competition under the Singapore Powerlifting Alliance at the age of 46. Despite being a beginner at the sport, he emerged first place in his weight and age category.
“The result drove me to get better in the sport and thus started my journey as a powerlifter,” Mr Lim says.
Never Too Old
Being significantly older than the average athlete does bring additional challenges. Mr Lim shares that he has to “watch [his] technique like a hawk” to keep himself safe from injury as it would take much longer to recover as an older athlete.
He also has to compete with athletes who are half his age and have more experience than him. Nonetheless, Mr Lim isn’t hindered by his age and instead uses it as motivation to reach his goals.
“[Competing with younger athletes] does not put me off but rather instills a sense of perseverance for my personal numbers,” he says.
His intense training regimen and healthy diet has improved his health tremendously. His blood pressure is now “as normal as it gets” and although the scars remain on his legs, he is no longer pre-diabetic.
Mr Lim recently became a partner in the gym where he trains at, The Strength Yard. In addition to his own training, he now coaches other athletes as well.
“The [coaching] process is pretty similar as I learn a lot from my current coach which I apply to my trainees, but I also do my own research to better myself,” he says.
He also started a strength and conditioning class for older athletes like him and is currently coaching a group of women who want to get stronger and to slow down the process of osteoporosis.
To date, Mr Lim has participated in two powerlifting competitions and was going to compete in a third one this year if not for the Covid-19 situation. He hopes to show others who are in their forties that it’s never too late to start taking care of their health and fitness.
“You’re never too old to lift. It’s [important to] build muscles as it is the muscles that help us walk and do daily activities.”