Allan Wu: How the divorced dad of two moved on

August 03, 2018
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    Looking at Allan Wu, you would not have thought that he appeared on the first issue of Men’s Health Singapore back in 2003. The US-born Chinese actor-host flaunts the same youthful energy and charm as before, not to mention a better physique and full head of hair.

    As he turns 46 this year, many things have changed over the years for Wu, but many have also stayed the same. Previously a model with Ford Models in the US, he reveals that it was always an aspiration of his to one day appear on the cover of Men’s Health.

    “For me, honestly, I was over the moon. I was so excited, so proud and so honoured,” he recalled about the opportunity. “I knew the odds of doing that in the US would be low, because one, I was Asian, and also it was just very, very difficult.

    “It is fantastic to be able to be on the cover again now, and as honoured, and as touched, and as privileged as I felt 15 years ago, I feel even more honoured now to be back on the cover for Men’s Health in Singapore.”

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    One thing is evident from Wu’s chiselled physique – time is in a race against him and he is clearly winning.

    “I honestly haven’t done as many ab exercises in the past few years. I did quite a bit for this shoot because I knew it had been 15 years and I have to give face,” he admitted jokingly.

    Related: 13 hot celebrity fathers who are #dadgoals

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    Anyone who sees Wu now would probably find it hard to believe, but his secret to staying in such great shape is not about lifting really heavy or doing hundreds of crunches.

    It is about how you eat, how you adapt your workouts to you and recognising that things that used to work more than a decade ago may not work now.

    “As we get older, our BMR (basal metabolic rate, the amount of energy expended at rest) slows down, and our body has stopped growing and developing,” he said. “So if I am going to eat the same amount of food I did 15 years ago now, I am going look a lot different.”

    “Our bodies in our 20s and teens are a lot more, I think, elastic and more able to be shaped and malleable. It is like soft clay. In our 40s and 50s, we are pretty much set in our ways, mentally and also physically. So it requires more determination and willpower to get it done.”

    Despite this uphill battle, along with his love of burgers, burritos and beer, Wu clearly shows it is possible to achieve what he has as long as you have the right mindset.

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    Here are Wu’s three favourite exercises:

    Push-Ups
    “You can do push-ups with your arms closer together, which focuses more on shoulders and triceps, or push-ups with your arms further apart to focus more on pectorals. It is a great exercise, and it has a built-in plank too.”

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    Pull-Ups
    “I love these more body-centric exercises. As you get older, you focus more on exercises that work multiple body parts. Pull-ups will work your back, rhomboids, lats, biceps and forearms. It is one of those exercises where you can see results immediately if you do them every day.”

    Related: Here’s how busy parents can burn calories while doing household chores

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    Swimming
    “We can all get really muscular and big, but if you want to be able to maintain that level of being lean, then it requires cardio. For me, it used to be running, but now with my knee, I have switched over to swimming. If you can find a cardiovascular or aerobic exercise that you like, then that is a great way to stay in shape and keep the fat away.”

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    It is not just health and fitness that Wu has had to contend with as the years go by. Now a father of two (daughter, Sage, is 14, and son, Jonas, is 12), there have been instances in his career and personal life that have had a lasting impact.

    Whether it is being thrown into the deep end in his job or experiencing heartbreak, it is through these events and milestones that have resulted in a better and wiser version of himself.

     

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    Not only was going from modelling to acting a big enough change, he ended up doing it in a language he could not speak well.

    “When I started doing Channel 8, I could barely speak Mandarin and I couldn’t read Chinese at all,” he said. “Now, I act in Chinese, I host in Chinese, I work in China. But in the beginning, I was petrified.”

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    However, he believes you have to have the courage and confidence to try anything, even if you do not think you can.

    “One thing I have learnt in my life is that if there is a new opportunity in work, in life, and you don’t feel you are ready… Just do it. Someone there believes in you and wants to give you that opportunity.”

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    As for Wu’s personal life, going through a public divorce with his ex-wife, local personality Wong Li Lin, in 2013 was one of the biggest challenges he had faced and coping with it was a slow and difficult process.

    “I was living with the children in Shanghai during the initial stages of the separation, and each morning after I dropped off the kids at school, I would go to a track and run in the freezing cold, lap after lap,” he said.

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    But if dealing with it was tough, explaining it to his children was even tougher. “The hardest part was initially breaking the news to them, which their mother and I agreed to do it together,” he said.

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    “The children had a difficult time understanding and accepting our separation at first, but we emphasised to them that it wasn’t their fault and that both parents still love them and would be a part of their lives,” he added.

    “From the beginning of this period, I believe I have been able to maintain a good relationship with my children.”

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    Despite how things turned out, he has no regrets about marriage and starting a family. “It was one of the best experiences I ever had, and I think that is what life is like – if it works out, it works out. If it doesn’t, then it is a lesson to be learnt.”

    Wu is dating Yvonne Lee, a former Miss Malaysia World who is a now model-emcee.

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    Life may have thrown some lemons his way, but he still found decent ways to make lemonade.

    “I think everyone has their own journey and process that they have to figure out what they want to do. That sometimes takes more time to figure out than we’d really like, but anytime that’s spent trying to assess that and trying to figure it out is very important,” he said.

    Related: Divorced dads Allan Wu and Daniel Ong find new loves

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    Ultimately, knowing when work should take a backseat has been essential for Allan being able to look after other aspects of his life, and ensuring that nothing gets sacrificed along the way.

    “I think we want to live a life that’s not fraught with regrets, a life where we’re happy. And when we look back, we see that we’ve lived a life that we wanted to live.”

    (Photos: Instagram/wulander)

    A version of this article appeared in Men’s Health Singapore.

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