Some people succeed with the help of second chances, and Francis is one of them.
Such opportunity struck for the obese, Francis Asis, an eventual finalist at The Biggest Loser: Pinoy Edition Doubles.
Although Francis has battled with obesity since his childhood years, completing his Food Technology degree at the University of Santo Tomas was his number one priority, despite qualifying for the popular reality competition airing on ABS-CBN.
“I will join Biggest Loser only if it comes after my college graduation,” Francis decided.
As luck would have it, a contestant backed out, granting Francis his opportunity to join. By that time, he was a proud college graduate.
When a 5-foot-8 Francis entered the competition in 2014, he weighed a hefty 305 pounds. Within three months, Francis dropped to 181 pounds, shedding a whopping 40% of his body weight.
Yet his journey abruptly came to an end, as he was eliminated on the 11th week of the show.
But fortune favored the bold graduate yet again. Francis was asked to rejoin the show as a wild card following the premature exit of another set of contestants.
While he may not have clinched the top spot in the finals, Francis shaped up and — more importantly — has managed to keep the weight off.
It’s been two years since Francis brought home the bronze, but the 23-year-old continues to strive and inspire others who wish to improve their overall well-being. He’s now a seasoned marathon runner and a highly-sought after personal trainer at Gold’s Gym Katipunan.
In an interview with Health Begins With Her, Francis shared some of his experiences and nuggets of wisdom on his relatively new-found lifestyle grounded in wellness. Let’s take a look.
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HBWH: What keeps you motivated now that you have achieved such a tremendous transformation?
Francis: I know that I have to do better. As much as possible, I try to maintain whatever it is that I have already gained. It feels good, of course, when someone says, “Uy! Looking good.”
HBWH: So, how DID you manage the drop from 180 pounds to 156 pounds in one week? Is that even healthy?
Francis: The very first thing I eliminated from my diet was MSG (monosodium glutamate) or vetsin. After that, I replaced white rice with less-processed rice such as brown, red, or black rice. I didn’t deprive myself from eating rice. In fact, I consumed a daily total of one and three-fourths cup of rice, divided into six meals, just so I would not feel deprived.
We were also taught while in the contest to eat our rice cold because cold rice becomes resistant starch, which apparently acts like fiber once it reaches the digestive system. After eating cold rice, I noticed significant changes in the dynamics of my digestive tract.
Of course, this was complemented by a diet that I did specifically for the sake of winning the competition along with an intense training regimen for Biggest Loser.
It feels good, of course, when someone says, “Uy! Looking good.”
HBWH: And what diet was that?
Francis: I would NOT advise anyone to follow the kind of crash diet I did. It was NOT fun nor sustainable at all. I did it only because I wanted to make it to the finals for the competition because like what I said, my weight was stuck at 180 pounds. Something people looking to lose weight can follow is to avoid eating after 7PM.
HBWH: Can you share with us what your training regimen during Biggest Loser was like?
Francis: Our training made use of our body weight. We had cardio every now and then, but it was mostly body weight training. So, we had one type of exercise per week, but every week new exercises would be introduced to our exercise routine. There were times though that I had to carry a big pot just so I could increase the level of difficulty of an exercise I was doing.
Eventually, we progressed into plyometrics. The trainers also had us do a primary, heavy workout in the morning, followed by an average level workout in the afternoon, and a light kind of workout before going to sleep so that the after burn effect could be maximized. It was the challenges that were really difficult.
HBWH: Did you try to lose weight prior to the competition? How was it?
Francis: Yes, I initially enrolled in Fitness First. Back then, I was already big at 250 pounds, and I successfully dropped to 236 pounds. But I grew tired of going to the gym, so I stopped and as expected, my weight did a rebound. I eventually transferred to Gold’s Gym. However, I continued to gain weight till The Biggest Loser suddenly came into my life – that’s when I said that I now have a new goal.
HBWH: What were the best things you discovered about yourself during and after The Biggest Loser?
Francis: I learned how to be patient while I was in the contest. I learned how to be of help to my partner. When the contest ended, I realized that I could not let all the hard work I did go to waste.
HBWH: What did you discover about yourself in this weight-loss journey?
Francis: Before entering the contest, I was already complacent with the kind of body I had. But I discovered that there’s another life for me when I started losing weight. My self-confidence improved because all of us were in the same boat while in the contest, so I didn’t feel embarrassed to do all those things we had to do.
HBWH: How did you transition yourself from the time the contest ended to this present time?
Francis: I did the transition gradually. I said to myself that if I get into the food technology industry, being a Food Technology graduate, there’s a probability that I might go back to my old ways and self. So, I decided to get into the fitness industry in Gold’s Gym as a trainer in order to continuously train and maintain whatever it is that I have gained from the contest. I enjoy being in the fitness industry.
HBWH: What are the best pieces of advice you could give someone who wants to live a healthy lifestyle?
Francis: You have to be curious about what you’re doing and how it will affect your general well-being and health. For example, what will happen to me if I do only cardio exercises, etc?
You also just need to start. Sometimes that’s the hardest part. Or if you missed out on a workout, just try to make up for it the following day. Even if your pace is slow, or the improvement you see is small; it’s alright. At least there is a significant improvement. And as long as you continue to keep track of your progress, you will be surprised at how far you’ve gone or how much you have improved from your first day.
Francis now works and motivates other people as a personal trainer at Gold’s Gym Philippines. He specializes in Weight Loss, Strength and Conditioning, Core and Functional Training, and Circuit Training. He also enjoys joining marathons and climbing mountains.