I’ve told stories about how I lost weight, what happened, the hows and the whens, countless of times but today I will go a little more in depth and tell you why I did what I did. It is a little long, but hey, everyone loves stories! So buckle up under your doona and let’s get on with it!
If you came from my About page, you would probably already know that I migrated to Sydney from Singapore in 2006. It was hands-down the best move my parents have ever made, EVER but it was probably the worse thing that has ever happened to me too, especially for my health.
Along with the change in lifestyle and increased food intake, I went from my already overweight and big framed body to obese. I weighed 83.8kg at my heaviest in February 2010.
I have always been a big person. Let me set this straight, when I say big, I mean bigger than my same aged peers. Taller and probably looked a little bit more intimidating too. In fact, I was born heavier than average – mum delivered me at 4.08kg, yes I was a big baby. Dinnertime jokes used to be how big boned I was, comparable to a baby elephant or a hippo and it was mean.
All through school life, I’ve always hated physical-ed lessons. I remembered telling mum to fake a sickie for me so I could excuse myself from doing any running, jumping or hopping for the rest of the lessons. Growing up in Singapore too, physical exercise was considered as one of the most important components to get one level up every year. We had this standardized national testing system consisting of various stations from sit and reach, standing broad jump, shuttle runs, incline pull ups and a 2.4km run. I never passed these tests ever.
One time when I was 15, I used to faint after running a 2.4km route. I had to sit in the little welfare room and be fed biscuits and Milo to keep me going. Embarrassing? A little, but it didn’t bother me that much back then.
As I grew older, I’ve always made to believe that I will somehow lose these baby fats. Except that, believing is only half the equation. I never did lose the baby fats. In fact, I’ve put on more weight to an extent that I don’t even know how I have put on all those weight all those years.
The ironic thing is, no one really commented about how I looked. There will be times where I complained, saying things like “I’m fat.” Or “Ugh, I hate this person staring back at me in the mirror.” Whenever I weighed myself, I will see the number and then I will tell my mum, dad, sister and friends and they will simply respond and say that I don’t look . Sometimes my family tries to calm me down by saying things like I’ve always been big anyway. Or I was conceived with big bones. I played along and for so many years I blamed it on my genetics and big bones. Except that, none of my family members were big.
My days in university were probably the worse. Those late night assignments, exams and juggling between school and social life and being constantly broke (student, y’know) probably led to me putting on the most weight ever.
It was terrifying, but at the same time I was happy. And as my sister always tells me “You’re a happy fat kid.” Thanks.
The biggest turn around for me was in my second-year Physiology practical class. That was in October 2009. As a Science student, one of my core modules is Sports Physiology. In that class, we had to go through a series of fitness assessments, not like the ones in Singapore but more of a baseline testing assessment, doing things like a grip strength test, sit and reach and flexibility testing. To my horror, I did so badly in all of the stations except for the eye testing for short sightedness (hurrah!) that I left class that day feeling sick to my stomach thinking about how unhealthy I’ve become. I couldn’t sleep for many nights after that, thinking of ways I can lose weight and be healthier and that was when my weight loss journey began.
My first few trial and seriously big errors
I grabbed my best friend at that time and we spoke all night about my issue. Turns out that she have been wanting to lose weight as well so at that point in time I thought it’ll be just great if we can embark on this losing weight thing together. It wasn’t as memorable as I thought it would be though. Being students, and ALWAYS strapped for cash, we actually relied on one thing – free gym and fitness centres trial. Those one or two weeks free pass or something. We wanted to lose weight, had the drive but we weren’t all that serious. In fact, talk about being naïve or plain curious, we went to the gym once or twice using a couple of free passes spanning about a month and went on a diet shake nutrition plan.
You know those stuffs, those meal replacement shakes. We simply replaced dinner with the shakes and had something like Subway 6-inch for lunch. It went well for a week, I remembered losing 4 kilos that first week.
But. It. Never. Lasted.
We celebrated the short-lived achievement and after two weeks we were back to our same old routine. We couldn’t keep up with the shakes and even that we thought was a little too pricey.
So we put our weight loss journey on hold.
But no one ever told me that putting it on hold meant putting on twice more weight than I lost. That was when it came to April 2010, me, weighing 83.8kg, feeling sick and constantly having flu, colds and sore throat, feeling unhealthy as if I will die young without seeing the whole future ahead of me. Lost. And definitely angry.
My body was failing me, but my mind was so determined to make a change.
I had no idea what to do so I picked up a book one day after class called Crunch – Lose Weight Fast and Keep It Off. It was written by one of Australia’s celebrity trainer Michelle Bridges and till this day I still look up to her as one of my favourite fitness personality.
The deal was simple. I had to go on a 1200-calorie restricted diet and work out six days a week. I learned how to split my meals instead of having three huge meals a day and how to control my sugar cravings.
I started her program on the 26th April 2010. I weighed 83.1kg.
Starting off was indeed tough. I remembered waking up at 5.30am to train in my backyard on a cold winter morning. But I kept going. It was amazing and bit-by-bit I can see not only my weight going down on the scales but the physical changes in my body.
12 weeks later, I managed to lose 8 kgs and by 7th July 2010, I weighed 75.4kg.
Although the original plan I followed by Bridges was twelve weeks long, I knew I still had to go on as I felt my body wanting more. I somewhat felt addicted to exercise and eating well so I started to read more books and started making my own plans to suit my body. And it worked. Absolutely, beyond doubts.
I started out with no absolute end goal, I just wanted to lose weight. I didn’t have a final number in my head, I just wanted to lose weight. And when the weight started coming off consistently, I was losing about 1kg a month in months 3, 4 and 5 and a little lesser than a kg a week for the rest of the year, I thought about what I could do to reward myself. I signed up for a 10km fun run in November.
My life changed ever since I signed up for that run. I was religiously reading books on running, thinking about boring stuffs like biomechanics and stride length and practiced it on myself. I promised myself I will try and finish the run in under 60 minutes. I finished it in 1hr 1min. I was blown away.
A lot of other absolutely wonderful things happened to me after than race. Everyone noticed the change in me, as though I was born again but at that stage, I found pleasure not cause of the things people say but how I felt about my body. I don’t think anyone can ever understand how it feels to learn to accept my body at that time when I was overweight, when I tried and failed in my initial attempts of losing weight, all the time and effort it took to actually see the physical changes and the reasons behind all that I do now.
It was scary, some days I felt like giving up more than anything else but for the record: I did it. And I gained so much life out of it.
December 2010 to now
I was inspired by my own fitness story that I enrolled in a Certificate III course in college to become a fitness instructor. When I graduated from both uni and college in August 2011, I left Sydney to pursue a career in fitness in Singapore. It was the most amazing time of my life, helping people change and achieve whatever goals they have. I remember those feelings today and that is the reason why I will never stop doing what I’m doing.
Ever since then till now, I have ran a marathon, three half-marathons and a couple more 10km fun runs. I decided to give my body a break from running early last year and to focus more on strength training.
Some of the medals I collected from running/cycling events 2011-2013
Post-race December 2012. It was a 42km Ekiden race in Singapore with 5 other friends.
My very first Full Marathon (42km) result, finishing in the top 24% in my division. Totes awesome.
Thank you for sharing your time with me today and I hope this inspires you to take the next step towards a healthier life for yourself.