If you follow the anime and manga series One Punch Man, you’ll certainly be familiar with main protagonist, Saitama. Saitama has the superhuman ability to defeat any enemy with a single punch, but he began his life as an ordinary salaryman before deciding that he wanted to be a hero. In an iconic moment in the plot, he revealed his super secret training plan that was so harsh, he lost all his hair.
Every single day.
It sounds simple, but it isn’t easy. Yet, one Singaporean guy decided to take up this challenge to make his own superhero transformation from fat to fit. We got in touch with Sean Seah for an exclusive interview about what made him take up this challenge, how he actually did it, and whether or not he can blow his enemies apart with just one punch now.
PHOTO: SEAN SEAH
Name: Sean Seah
Occupation: Investor and Entrepreneur
Father of three primary school kids
How big a fan are you of One Punch Man? How did you become familiar with his training regime/storyline?
I love reading manga since young. My first love was Dragonball, Slam Dunk, Naruto, One Piece, and more.
When I chanced upon One Punch Man about two years ago, I was super amused and became a fan! I am not sure how big a fan I am but I read all the manga on One Punch Man. I love the humour that is injected into this superhero manga and how they bring in characters from all other manga.
What was your fitness lifestyle before? Was this the most unfit you’ve ever been?
I was relatively active even before this. I do exercise regularly about two to three times a week. Usually a slow jog and some static exercises.
But in 2018, around the end of October, I went on a long trip with my family during the school holidays and didn’t manage to exercise for about three months. I travelled to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea, and these were cold places, so I sort of ate more.
PHOTO: SEAN SEAH
When I came back to Singapore at the end of December, it was the Christmas season and we continued to feast.
What was the motivation to make the change?
I have the habit of setting goals on 1 Jan and I decided to set my new fitness goal. I thought about doing the full One Punch Man Challenge, so on 2 Jan, I actually went to complete it! But after that, my entire body ached so badly, I couldn’t even walk properly. I ended up not exercising for the entire month of January.
So lesson learnt, don’t bite off more than you can chew and make it progressive.
During Chinese New Year (CNY), when I put on my CNY outfit, I realised my waistline had exploded! So as I continued to feast, I felt terrible as my pants were so tight I couldn’t breathe properly.
After CNY, I told myself, “lets start the One Punch Man Challenge again. But this time, let’s start at a reasonable level where I can really complete 30 days.”
What did your friends, family and colleagues say/think when you started? Did you tell anyone about what you were doing, and what it was based on?
I did announce to friends on Facebook that I was going to do the One Punch Man Challenge for 30 days, and many of them found it amusing and warned me I may lose my hair! But most of them were encouraging and positive and one of them even joined me in the challenge.
How was your training like each week?
PHOTO: SEAN SEAH
On the first day, I weighed myself on a weighing machine with a body composition analyser. My wife bought this some years back.
Visceral fat: 10
Body Age: 40
The measurements really shook me as it was very bad. I took a video of myself as I wanted to record this journey.
The first seven days were the easiest as the excitement and the adrenaline pushed me every day to complete my daily routine.
I started from what I called “Level 5”, which consisted of 50 push-ups, sit-ups, squats and a 5km run. I did it in sets and for the first three days, I couldn’t finish the run at one go. I had to stop halfway to take a break and walk some portions. But it was OK, as I just wanted to complete the routine regardless.
My body ached quite badly especially during the fifth and sixth days. I was concerned that I would get injured and was asking myself if the pain I was experiencing was muscle soreness or if it was something worse. But somehow, there weren’t any injuries as my body slowly became conditioned.
On day seven, I weigh myself again.
Weight: 67.2 kg
Visceral Fat: 9
Body Age: 37
After seeing the results, I was motivated and continued my routine daily.
For week two, I continued at level 5 and things became much easier. I realised that dieting makes a difference. When I ate fried food, it took me much more effort to complete the routine. I began to avoid fried food, sugary food and also cut down on carbs (I would take half the rice I usually eat).
I realised whenever I avoided or cut down on these three items, it became much easier to complete the routine. Also, I realised my recovery became much faster as I didn’t feel my body aching any more.
At the end of week two, I was excited when I weighed myself, but there was no change at all. I remember feeling a bit down seeing that the results were stagnant.
Visceral Fats: 9
Body Age: 37
Nevertheless, I continued to push on with my routine. But on day 17, I actually felt like taking a break. Frankly, it was becoming a bit boring and I wasn’t seeing results. I decided to motivate myself and get more “excited” by increasing the level to Level 7 (70 push-ups, sit-ups, squats and 7km run).
From that point, I did not weigh myself anymore as I decided to focus my mind on completing the routine and set a goal to slowly increasing my level to Level 10 where I can comfortably complete 10km, and 100 push-ups, sit-ups and squats.
From then, I became more motivated again.
PHOTO: SEAN SEAH
On day 22, I hit Level 9. I decided to go for the full 10km run on day 23 and initially wanted to do a slow run, but I ended up pushing myself to maintain a sub-5min/km pace.
After that run, I felt that I had strained my body and the side tendons of my legs felt weird. So I decided to really take it slow for the remaining exercises.
From day 24 to 26, I went back to Level 7. From day 27 to 30, I dropped to Level 5 so that I would be able to slowly ease back into 5km to 7km runs and then maintain that as a routine.
When and how did you get tested for your visceral fat percentage? What made you do that?
My wife bought an Omron (HBF 375) weighing machine that analyses the body composition. I went on the scale because I wanted to know my body condition.
When I saw my body condition, I felt like a brick was thrown at my face! I knew that it was going to be bad since I could feel my body getting heavier and I wanted to really see my body’s weight, fat percentage, etc. so that I could “wake myself up”.
On days when you were tired and aching, what kept you going on?
I really got to thank social media for this. I posted on my Facebook on 10 Feb that I will be doing this 30 days challenge and asked my friends to join me.
[What's the fastest method to Lose Fats after CNY…]Join me in this 30 days challenge and lets post before and after results! Tag a friend to do this together! Choose your level: (You can increase or reduce as you go along)Level 1: 10 push ups, sit ups, squats + 1km run Level 2: 20 push ups, sit ups, squats + 2km run Level 3: 30 push ups, sit ups, squats + 3km run Level 4: 40 push ups, sit ups, squats + 4km run Level 5: 50 push ups, sit ups, squats + 5km run Level 6: 60 push ups, sit ups, squats + 6km run Level 7: 70 push ups, sit ups, squats + 7km run Level 8: 80 push ups, sit ups, squats + 8km run Level 9: 90 push ups, sit ups, squats + 9km run Level 10: 100 push ups, sit ups, squats + 10km run
Posted by Sean Seah on Saturday, 9 February 2019
Some of them commented that they would do it as well! One friend in particular, Neo Borwen, posted that he would be doing it too, and he updated his Facebook page saying that he would take on the challenge. So whenever I felt tired and aching, I would think of the friends who were doing the challenge with me. His posts became almost like my journal as I would comment on them and give updates on how we were doing.
🐖HAPPY NEW YEAR CHALLENGE🐖We know the start of the year is always the best time⌚ to set goals and targets.I've been…
Did any of family or friends help you or worked out with you?
My wife would work out with me about two times a week. We would start the run together, but ended up at different paces and meet back at the starting point.
The other friend was Neo Borwen. I didn’t work out with him physically, but he was with me spiritually! Another group were my office mates. We had fitness Fridays where we played sports and worked out together after our weekly Friday morning meetings.
When did you know you were getting results?
After the first week when I went on the weighing scale and I saw my results! I was so inspired.
How did you feel at the end of it when you looked in the mirror?
To be very honest… When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t feel like it was good. Because the change happened so subtly and the daily changes were so small, I forgot how I initially looked like. At the end of 30 days, I was looking at myself and felt that I was still quite fat and not super toned.
It was only when I was putting the video together and saw the initial state I was in that I got quite shocked that all this happened within 30 days.
What did you do diet wise the entire time?
After the first week, I started to
- Reduce sugar
- No more soft drinks, and I drank kopi o kosong instead of usual coffee.
- Eat less carbs.
- I took half the usual amount of rice and noodles and developed the habit of asking for less rice whenever I ordered food.
- No fried food.
Actually, I have always been conscious of my eating habits and don’t really eat much fried food and carbs. The most significant change was probably cutting down on sugar. I was not super strict in my diet. I would still eat whenever I wanted to and didn’t do any fasting or any special diet.
Any advice you have for Men’s Health readers looking to try the same One Punch Man training plan?
I had a lot of people asking me about the training regime. I believe anyone can do it. It is more of a mental thing than physical thing.
The key is to set ourselves up for success.
1 Start from a level that we know we can complete.
I started from Level 5 (5km run, 50 push-ups, sit-ups, squats)
I would recommend the readers be a bit more conservative and start even lower if they are not confident, at around Level 2 (2km run/walk, 20 push-ups, sit-ups, squats)
2 Go for completion, and not perfection.
The timing of my run didn’t matter to me. I also broke down my static exercises into several sets. Sometimes, I would do 30 in the morning and another 20 in the evening.
3 Allow lowering of the levels.
If you feel that your body is aching or you don’t feel well, it is OK to drop a level. So if you are at Level 3 and you are aching, go for Level 1 the next day. Come on, I am sure you have time and energy to do a 1 km run/walk, 10 push-ups, sit-ups, squats!
4 Allow cheat days.
It’s OK to eat ice cream, fried food, etc occasionally (not daily).
5 Have fun and have accountability buddies.
It is more fun to do it in a group and have accountability buddies. Many people watched the video and are asking friends to do it together. It is always easier to do it as a group and have fun!
By staying accountable to not just himself, but his friends and family, along with regularly monitoring his progress, Sean showed that it really is possible to have a significant weight loss transformation in just 30 days. Plus, he didn’t have to resort to extreme or trendy diets to achieve his physique transformation. All he did was cut out the unhealthy stuff and balance what he ate.
If Sean had continued at Level 10 permanently, he may have been ready for the Hero Association test and become Singapore’s very own One Punch Man! He’ll just need to brace himself for the hair loss.
By Gilbert Wong, Men’s Health Content Producer