She’s one tough lady ... with a soft spot for kids and dolls

FRESH from her recent win, 2012 World Bodybuilding and Physique Federation (WBPF) World Championships’ gold medallist Lilian Tan, 41, wants to inspire the young to lead healthy lifestyles.

“I’d like to be a role model for students to eat right and exercise.

“Growing up, I never heard of children becoming diabetic unlike nowadays, so it’s really important to get them started on the right path from a young age.

“It would be great if I can be part of a food programme in schools that teaches children to eat right,” she said.

Like most girls, when she started training, the Penangite’s goal was modest enough — to be slim and have a flat tummy.

Then her competitive nature kicked in as the former swimmer’s body bulked up.

“I still get stares when I am in public and it does make me uncomfortable,” she said.

Tan noted an encouraging trend of more women doing weight training at the gyms these days.

“You can be a female bodybuilder and still wear a dress and high heels.

“My favourite colour is pink and I love dolls.

“Bodybuilding is my passion and I would never change who I am just to conform to what society expects me to look like.

“During competitions, even my boyfriend (former Mr Asia Terry Gallyot) comments that my body looks very manly but he respects me as a sportswoman,” she said.

The Kuala Lumpur-based personal trainer has no plans of retiring from the demanding sport for as long as she is physically able.

“I am my own coach and dietician.

“Of course I’d be willing to groom a predecessor but a lot of discipline is required,” she said.

Besides training hard six times a week, she observes a strict, lean diet every day.

“Most bodybuilders only observe a strict diet when the competition comes around but I watch what I eat 365 days a year,” she said.

Tan described her WBPF win in Bangkok last December as “proof” that Malaysian female bodybuilders are on par with the world’s best.

At 157cm tall, the petite lass said the shorter stature of Asian bodybuilders was not a disadvantage against their Western counterparts.

“They may have bigger frames but it’s all about your conditioning on the day of the competition.

“I am among the oldest female competitors at world meets but my advantage is my muscle mass and symmetry,” she said.

Warning aspiring bodybuilders against the use of performance enhancing drugs, she said “only when you train naturally will the results be consistent”.

She said the feeling of pride only comes when one competes on stage with a lean, beautiful and fit body sculpted out of discipline and hardwork.

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