ROCKstar of the Month (August): Gilbert Yang

ROCKstar of the Month (August): Gilbert Yang

I had just landed in Australia and I was ready for a week of sightseeing and filling up my iPhone photo albums with blue seas, green lawns full of sheep and cows, quokkas, great food and wine tasting… when I received a text from Cheryl, informing me that I am ROCKstar of the Month for August.

My response: [‘_’]

It seemed like an unenthusiastic response but I was actually humbled.. and nervous. It is so challenging to narrate myself, not knowing where and how to start. It’s been about 30 minutes since I switched on my laptop. So here goes…

My parents wanted the best of me and they wanted me to be sporty. During a time when there were no iPads or Pokemon-Go in primary school, I took up swimming on weekends and Taekwondo twice a week. Memorable moments from my childhood included coming in third in the 4 x 50m freestyle relay.

Following which, I picked up basketball in secondary school and even played in the inter-school tournament. However, I did not take the sport seriously as playing basketball, to me, was more about getting [some] attention from the school beaus. I had some luck in that, fortunately. 😉 But it didn’t last long.

I got busy with schoolwork, which involved late night drafting and model making, so I stopped being active during my polytechnic days and that was when my physique swelled out of proportion. Thank God for the trend of baggy pants and oversized jerseys back then, which helped me to hide my body.

At that time, I was already running. I started running during the slimmest period of my life and I looked to it as a fun way to challenge myself and break limits. I recalled being very happy when I finally hit IPPT-Gold standard time in the 2.4km run and earned an early book-out from camp. I was also constantly involved with the combat unit’s cross-country team, representing it in the division’s games. I even did my first half marathon then. 

But everything stopped again during my time in the National University of Singapore. I put back more than 10kg of my weight, making me even more plus sized than my polytechnic days. The passion of running was replaced by the love of making great architectural designs and late night suppers.

After I graduated and started my career in private practices, I still couldn’t find the discipline of keeping an active fitness routine. It was also during this time that I went through three incidents that knocked me down hard.

First, my dad passed away unexpectedly due to cardiac arrest. I do not have a pretty picture of a perfect family. I recall how I used to get so excited when I saw my dad (four times a year) and then often cried when he had to fly back for work after his brief visit home. So losing him like that, was very painful.

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Second, years later, my childhood friend was the only victim in a car crash. Third, I broke up with my girlfriend of seven years after we laid plans for marriage.

All of these caused me to slip into depression. I did move on, I dated someone (it didn’t work out though). Then my ex-colleagues encouraged me to seek an avenue to keep myself occupied. I took up running and gymming, something I missed out on during the peak of young adulthood.

I started running four times a day and did weight training every weekend. Exercise gradually replaced my smoking habits. I found the most joy in running and my friends started to notice the subtle changes in me.

Under peer influence, I joined the Sundown half-marathon in 2014, making a confident comeback after a long hiatus (my last half-marathon was in 2006). And I have never stopped since then. You can see all the different running races I’ve taken part in on my Facebook over the last three years.

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Early this year, I came to know of Rock The Naked Truth and I joined ROCKrunners in hope of establishing a network of new friends, and getting to know like-minded people who share similar passions in running.

They became my second family. The close-knit friendships among the members are what make the group so special. We’ve also learnt how to love and be honest with each other.

Over the years of running, my plus-sized physique remains and even till this day, I still get mocked at for my tummy’s trajectory size. However, this time I did not get bigger sized clothes to hid under.

Instead, I embraced negativities and made the best joke out of the naysayers. I am also not a firm believer of eating clean food, thus I am guilt free when I eat. It is about loving and accepting yourselves first for who you are; do not desire to be like someone else. What’s most important is to truthfully being you.

I am who I am today, with God’s grace, my dad’s blessing from above and my mother’s guidance; I am stronger, knowing that I walked though the darkest days; I am still a runner, awaiting more routes to run and discover; I am happier and blessed.

Remember the then-girlfriend I mentioned earlier? We reconciled and exchanged our marriage vows on our 10th year of courtship last year! I am currently more prepared for challenges ahead to come and hey, I am proud to be a ROCKstar! 

Look at this fat kid, a few months prior to graduation from NUS Architecture. I look like a middle-aged man, LOL!

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But now, I am happy and here’s to the lady of my life.

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Lastly, this T-shirt speaks a lot to me. I give my best at every race and to all my friends in RR, I will always have your back. 

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On Instagram

  • (3/10) Going on to secondary school, I was actively involved in the badminton, track and cross-country school teams. So, the baby fat naturally fell off and I became quite thin (pic on left) without having to watch my diet. •
But nobody taught me anything about nutrition and I thought that so long as I exercise, I can eat anything I want. So I kept on eating all the junk in the world! •
I gradually put on weight because I was constantly hungry due to the high frequency of training and I ate what I liked, thinking that I could out-train a bad diet. As a result of the training, my body developed differently from the average girl’s. My arms, thighs and butt were bigger for example. But it didn’t bother me because I was happy with my performance in sports. •
Then I met my first boyfriend and I had butterflies in my stomach from the excitement and novelty. Sadly, he left me after a month for “not being hot/pretty enough”. He was ashamed of being seen with me in public and he would often compare me to pretty girls we see on the streets. At only 16, my self-esteem took a massive beating and from then on, I felt very conscious of myself. •
It didn’t help that someone asked if my secondary school prom night pic (on the right) was a picture of my mum. This was where I started to develop low self-esteem.. where the manifest officially started... •
(In this 10-part series, our founder @cheryltaysg tells her story of how she suffered from eating disorders...) #rockthenakedtruth #bodyimage #eatingdisorders #loveyourbody #loveyourself
  • (2/10) I wasn’t born chubby, but I gained a considerable amount of weight when puberty hit me at 12. I grew a love for junk food and I remember eating six roti pratas (with egg) and two Milo Dinosaurs for breakfast. I would also empty out my piggy bank to buy chips, chocolate, ice cream and soft drinks... and hide them behind my books so that my parents won’t find them. •
In school, my classmates wouldn’t let me off. They gave me the nickname “Sharity” (that pink charity elephant) because it sounded like my name, I liked pink and I was chubby. I played Netball for class and wasn’t too bad in the NAPFA test, but I wasn’t spared from the bullying. •
I was the last to take the school bus every morning and this group of skinny girls, who sat at the back row, would intentionally squeeze into the three seats (of five). They then took out a long ruler to “measure” the remaining two seats and say: “Is this enough space for you Cheryl?”
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At that point, I didn’t feel too bad about myself yet. I didn’t think I was fat or ugly, but I believe it was the beginning of the manifest... •
((In this 10-part series, our founder @cheryltaysg tells her story of how she suffered from eating disorders...) #rockthenakedtruth #bodyimage #eatingdisorders #loveyourbody #loveyourself
  • (1/10) I recall the horror that would overwhelm me when I saw the digits on the scale increase, before I proceeded to slap myself and dig my nails deep to scratch along the sides of my face and forearms.
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I wouldn’t stop until I bled, as it was ‘punishment’ to myself for eating and “gaining weight”. Only 18 years of age then, it was such a strong obsession with weight loss that I got sucked into.
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Absolutely mental.
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(In this 10-part series, our founder @cheryltaysg tells her story of how she suffered from eating disorders...) #rockthenakedtruth
  • Today I want to dedicate this to all the people out there who are struggling with their own shit and trying very hard to move on. You are trying, but yet seeing their photo or hearing their names still affects you. It’s ok, just work on pushing them out of your mind and one day you will realise they don’t matter at all. #rockthenakedtruth
  • Oprah Winfrey is an influential media mogul and the first African-American billionaire. But she came a long way...
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She was born to a single teenage mother on welfare in rural Mississippi. She felt unwanted, as she was often shuttled back and forth from her grandmother’s to her mother’s, and then to her father’s by the time she was 14. •
She lived in poverty and suffered abuse for years. Life started for her on a small farm where her strict grandmother would hit her out of punishment. •
At 6, Oprah went to live with her mother in Wisconsin. Things didn’t get better as Oprah was neglected due to her mother’s long hours at work.
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At 9, she was left in the care of her cousin who raped her. She continued to suffer sexual abuse by other relatives, including her mother’s boyfriend. Finally, she ran away from home at 13. •
At 14, she became pregnant but the baby died shortly after birth, leading her to depression and binge eating. She then moved in with her father, who turned her life around by insisting that she is more than what she was and believing she could be more. Under her father's guidance, Oprah became an honour student and rediscovered her flair for public speaking. •
These childhood traumas are very difficult to live with, but Oprah managed to overcome them and turned her life around to become the success she is today. Keep fighting and believe that you can. #rockthenakedtruth #rockceleb #realstories
  • SAVE THE DATE!
@rockthenakedtruthsg is celebrating its 2nd anniversary on 17 Jan, 7pm at @theautobus.cc. Registrations will open soon, but for now just keep this evening free please!! #rockthenakedtruth #RTNTturns2
  • Things happen for a reason. Don’t panic if something doesn’t go to plan; don’t worry when something unexpected occurs. Sometimes we find out why it happened much later in life, sometimes we never do. But always understand that these things lead to somewhere, so take it in your stride and rise above all! #rockthenakedtruth
  • SCSM x @rockrunnerssg! We had over 20 runners at this year’s SCSM again, so it was quite a party as we grew on the sidelines and continued to cheer! We were screaming for everyone, loudest when we screamed for our own (LOL). Congrats once again to everyone who took part yday! #rockrunnerssg #rockthenakedtruth #scsm2017