I never thought this day will come. After many years of being called ‘obese’ and ‘overweight’, I am now inspiring many people with my successful weight loss journey.
Did you know that I used to tell people I only weighed 165 pounds, when I really weighed 190 pounds because I was ashamed of how heavy I was becoming? As a kid, I’ve always been so insecure about my weight because compared to my younger sisters who had always been skinny and petite, I looked bigger because I’m taller and had a bigger bone structure. (Read: Diet Plans for Weight Loss? A Nutritionist-Dietician Gave Us Tips!)
Due to the constant comparisons and pressure from school, I turned to chocolates, junk foods, and cookies for comfort. I used to eat two cups of rice every day and finish one pack of Chips Ahoy in one sitting.
Entering the Military Academy
In 2000, I joined the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class in Baguio City primarily to prove something to myself, my family, and my community that I could be the very first female PMA graduate in our hometown, and I was also hoping that the rigorous training could help me lose weight on the process.
Compared to my female classmates who were way fitter and physically prepared than I was, I was overweight when I entered the academy. I couldn’t even pass my physical training tests such as 3.5-km run, push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups.
Being inside the military school was really hard physically because when I was a civilian, I wasn’t physically active and I don’t really play sports, to begin with. But I had to keep up with the physical demands inside the academy. (Read: How a mother’s love inspired this female valedictorian’s success in the PMA)
Luckily, my seniors pushed me to go beyond my physical ability and made sure I would eat less and do extra runs and exercises during my free time so I can pass my quarterly physical tests. Special mention also goes out to my male classmates who would pace me during our 3.5-km runs, company and battalion runs, and would encourage me whenever I felt like giving up.
I lost weight drastically inside the academy, but after two years, I realized that being a soldier was not for me, so I decided to leave for good. Unfortunately, I turned to food for comfort outside the academy, but this time, without the rigorous exercise so I quickly gained weight and before I knew it, my weight ballooned to 190 lbs – my heaviest ever.
Turning Point at Age 38
I was 38 years old when I started having dizzy spells and pain in my lower back hip that I started to consider losing weight seriously. I prayed and asked God to help me as I don’t want to take any maintenance medications.
I tried the 16:8 intermittent fasting as they say it is proven to speed up weight loss by lowering insulin levels and risk of type 2 diabetes, improve heart and brain health, and reduce the risk of cancer. (Read: How It’s Like to Be a Millennial Diagnosed With Diabetes) Apparently with diet alone, one could feel weak and sluggish. So, I realized there has to be a balance: healthy eating and a regular exercise regimen.
I don’t really like the idea of giving up anything or depriving myself of food, so I ate in moderation, especially those cookies and junk foods I used to eat in one sitting. Instead of drinking coffee three times a day, I reduced my intake to once a day. From instant, I switched to brewed. From white sugar, I switched to brown sugar or honey or just creamer. I looked for alternatives. (Read: Five Healthy Alternatives to Junkfood)
What also motivated me to lose weight was because diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease run in the family. My father told me that he was 40 when he found out that he’s diabetic, so I guess that was my cue: I need to lose weight and live healthy before I turn 40 or else suffer the consequences.
Apart from eating healthy, I also exercise. I’m a fan of the outdoors so I chose running as a form of exercise. I run twice or thrice a week or work out at home (if it’s raining). When I’m busy, I do household chores and keep myself active.
At work, I also try not to sit all day. I try to get up at least every 30 minutes or one hour, and drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Whenever I feel like snacking, I try to drink water first. (Read: We Asked a Fitness Coach: What’s the Best Way to Stay Fit at Home?)
Also, I have accepted my strengths and weaknesses and I stopped comparing myself to others. I also learned to love myself more and trust my own journey no matter how slow it may be.
Weight Loss Journey
With hard work and fervent prayers, thank God, I have finally achieved my ideal weight: 140 lbs (which is equivalent to 22.6, Normal in the BMI category) before I turned 40.
But this journey would not be possible if not for the people who inspired and motivated me to make this change. You see, a healthy lifestyle was a decision I made three years ago. Somewhere along the way I may stumble and fall, but I know God will always help me to rise again and find my way back.
Disclaimer: The author doesn’t claim expertise. Just purely personal experience.