Mikko Tung: ‘In your 30s, fitness is less about aesthetics’

Like everyone in the world, Mikko Lawrence Tung has found these past months challenging.

“In a way, we have all tried to find some semblance of normalcy again despite the ongoing battle with the pandemic,” said Tung, a scion of the family behind Ligo Sardines.

“After a year in lockdown, I have tried to do the same—filling my life with new interests, new hobbies, as well as making it a point to see more of the Philippines with some local travel.”

The 37-year-old entrepreneur was recently part of the AXN television show “Project GO,” a reality show where he and his brothers, alongside Maggie Wilson, Bea Cupin and Tina Shieh of GoDaddy, helped mentor young entrepreneurs for a P1-million prize.

He’s also been busy with Odd Job Bob. “It’s my property management business. COVID brought on so many challenges for our industry, so these last few months have really been about getting back on our feet with hopes for more growth in 2021.”

Another big part of Tung’s life is fitness. “I have been into fitness since my early days in high school—2001 to be exact. Although the reasons for my love of fitness have changed through the years, my passion for it has always remained the same. What started out as a hobby I shared with friends turned into my outlet for all things health and wellness.”

Tung’s fitness journey started because of his friends. “They were already into it before I was. These friends educated me on its benefits and why they had all gotten into it. I initially joined them for the love of the barkada, but I quickly saw what it was doing for my overall fitness, and I was instantly hooked.”

Tung shares his passion for staying fit on his Instagram account @mikko.tung. There you’ll see him hitting the gym, doing yoga and going for runs.

Mikko Tung: “When I started, the sole motivator was simply aesthetic, but as I’ve gotten older, it has become more about health.”

My fitness regimen: My program these days focuses on conditioning my body for the years ahead. At my age, fitness becomes less about aesthetics, and more about strengthening my body to prevent injury and to hopefully slow down the body’s natural physical decline. I try to be as well-rounded as possible to ensure that I’m giving my body the love that it deserves.

My program goes like this:

Monday: 5-kilometer run

Tuesday: Sprint training

Wednesday: Weights (deadlifts and core training)

Thursday: Weights (arms, legs and abs)

Friday: Weights (chest, back and abs)

Saturday: Yoga practice

Workout frequency: I train every morning for six days a week. I’m also a morning person, and so one of the things I look forward to most every day is working out when I wake up. I really believe that how you start your mornings help set the tone for the rest of your day.

Where I work out: I train in Rockwell Atletica. It’s my favorite gym in the city. It’s really near my apartment, and I just love the atmosphere. Something about being surrounded by fitness enthusiasts, I guess.

My fitness must-haves: My AirPods, my training gloves, my lifting belt, a really nice pair of Nikes, my protein shake, and these days, my mask.

My workout playlist: The ’80s has always been my favorite decade for music, so expect to find artists like Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, Michael Jackson and Kiss on my playlist. I’ve always felt like the ’80s style of music was perfect for working out.

My diet: A couple of years ago, I decided to make a lifestyle change. One that was more geared toward health and wellness, and not just fitness. I put myself on a strict diet to not only lose some pounds, but to also start feeling better about myself.

Weight training for arms, legs and abs on Thursdays

I started counting the calories I was eating, and limiting myself to only 1,700 calories per day. I removed alcohol completely, avoided fast food, and I stopped keeping powdered juices and snacks at home.

Now that I am in a happier place fitness-wise, I have been less strict about these things. Although I still make it a point to not indulge, I now also never forget to reward myself for my consistency. I love the occasional burger and milkshake from Shake Shack after a week of training. These days, I really don’t limit myself when it comes to food.

One of the things that I always tell people to do is to figure out how their bodies respond to the food that they like. I’ll eat whatever is prepared for the day, but still keep a mental note of the calories I’m taking in.

What’s off-limits: I also don’t like the feeling of not being allowed to eat certain food. I truly believe that this is the reason people hate to diet. Being deprived of food you love is sad no matter how you look at it, haha! So instead, my advice for people is to just keep a healthy balance. It’s really the only way to properly incorporate a diet into your lifestyle.

Cheat days: I do reward myself with cheat days. My wife and I love to spend our Sundays with food, whether it’s ordering in or eating out. So on these cheat days, I allow myself to just completely cut loose and not worry about calories. We all deserve some down time.

On my cheat days, I like to keep things fairly simple. I’m a sucker for fast food, and like many Filipinos, the Jolly Spaghetti is a weakness of mine, haha! On some days, I order the chicken and spaghetti meal with an extra order of spaghetti from Jollibee, and on other days, I like to order S&R pizza. It really does depend on what I’m craving for.

“My program these days focuses on conditioning my body for the years ahead.”

What keeps me motivated: My motivators for my journey have continuously changed throughout the years. I’ve been inspired by many people, and by many stories over the course of my life, and so my goals have also continued to change.

When I started, the sole motivator for this journey was simply aesthetic, but as I’ve gotten older, it has become less about that, and more about health. I think that most people take their 30s for granted, and often don’t realize that these years really do set the tone for our 40s and beyond. So for me, what keeps me motivated these days is simply knowing that I am taking care of my body.

How the pandemic affected my fitness routine: When the pandemic hit, I don’t think any of us were prepared for how much things were actually going to change, not just for the fitness industry, but the country as a whole. When the gyms started to close, like everyone I struggled to maintain a fitness groove. But then we all got creative.

I started investing in equipment for my apartment. I changed my program to focus more on my cardio and yoga practice, and I even took up jumping rope. At one point, when things really tightened up, I found myself doing sprints in my building’s hallways. (Laughs) I think, if anything, the pandemic taught us that fitness depends less on whether or not a gym or studio is open, and more on how much we actually want to pursue it.

Tips for people who want to get healthier: The best advice I can give to those looking into working on their fitness is to simply have a plan. The worst thing you can do to your journey is to show up in a gym and not know what to do.

“On cheat days, I allow myself to just completely cut loose and not worry about calories.”

First, understand your body and know what it responds to, and what its limits are. Then, determine what your goals are. This will help in putting together your diet and fitness regimen. Once you have all of these things figured out, the rest will quickly follow.

Be patient with your body and focus on falling in love with the process. Those gains will come. INQ