See the shirtless guy below (left)? That’s me at my heaviest. When I was in secondary school, I was a solid mass weighing a whopping 112.8kg.

By the time I enrolled in polytechnic 3 years ago, I was still overweight at 94kg. But one semester later, my weight plunged.

See the muscle man above (right) with the toothy grin? That’s me at 70kg.

At my lightest, I weighed just 66kg.

Many people were wide-eyed with astonishment when they saw my transformation.

“How did you do it?” They asked.

Yes, I was proud of what I accomplished – but I always hesitated about answering their question.

The truth is, my method for weight loss was extremely unhealthy. During the semester break, my diet consisted of less than 1,200 calories a day. I also exercised twice daily without any rest days. That included running 3km every morning, and swimming 10 laps every evening.

During that period, I suffered from internal bleeding.

While I told everyone “I lost weight for health”, “I did it for National Service”, the truth is I did it to look better – to look just like all the good-looking people around me.

But no matter how much weight I lost, my self-confidence still wavered. In fact, I became even more self-conscious about my weight. I weighed myself every day, and whenever the scale hit 70kg, I reverted to my extreme diet and exercise regime.

“Am I popular now, like the rest of them?” I asked myself every time I looked into the mirror.

I “achieved” my weight loss goal, but I was unsatisfied because I still kept comparing how I looked to the “better-looking guys”.

College mental health experts attribute much of modern young adults’ unhappiness to unhealthy social comparisons.

I started reflecting on my own behavior around 6 months ago, and I had to agree with former American statesman Theodore Roosevelt that “comparison is the thief of joy”.

So I’ve since corrected my diet, eating around 2,400 calories a day. I also exercise once a week. In half a year, my weight went up from 66kg to 78kg. My body mass index (BMI) is at its healthiest now.

Sure, I’ve gained 12kg!

But along with it, I’ve also regained my health and self-confidence.