For the first time in my life, I embarked on a weight loss journey and actually recorded success! For many people, this may not be a big deal, but I can never forget the way it felt to finally see 60-something on the scale after seeing 70-something for so long.
Here’s what worked for me:
1. Lifestyle changes over “dieting”. I found so many diets on Google, and I tried some of them – The Big Breakfast Diet (eat a large breakfast and then basically snack through the rest of the day), The Morning Banana Diet (eat a banana for breakfast, eat normally for lunch and dinner, drink only water), The Cereal Diet (Make 2 out of your 3 meals a healthy cereal, for 2 weeks only), etc – but I found that none of these brought sustainable weight loss for me; they had the yoyo effect instead. When I started making tiny lifestyle changes, I started feeling better and making progress.
2. To lose weight, I have to eat less. This one took me a long time to accept. I kept looking for ways around it, even trying to eat as I liked and then “exercise it off” but in the end I realized if I was really serious, smaller portions were the way to go. Instead of 4 slices of bread, I went down to 3, then 2. I got a “dedicated” bowl which I used for all my meals. I finally understood what my mentor meant by “all things in moderation” when I asked her last year how she managed to stay so fit and gorgeous. I now eat whatever I want, just in smaller quantities. And yes, at first you’re going to be a tweeny weeny bit hungry because you’re used to feeling full. Soon, you won’t notice.
3. It is not compulsory to eat “3 square meals” every day. I was pleasantly surprised to find that if I ate twice a day, I would not fall ill or die. I adopted the “feasting window” method. The feasting/fasting windows are part of intermittent fasting, which basically means you have a period when you eat, and a period when you don’t eat, and stick to it. The fasting window should be 16 hours for men and 14 hours for women (so the feasting window would be 8 hours for men and 10 hours for women). You can eat whatever you want in your feasting window, but having learnt number 2 above, I knew better than to stuff my face. My window opens by 9 a.m and closes by 7 p.m., and I have 2 delicious, filling meals (you can have 5 small ones, or whatever works for you). I eat whatever I want as long as I stop eating by 7 p.m and don’t eat again till 9 a.m. You get to choose your own window; just remember it is NOT a diet.
4. “Eating healthy” isn’t as unpleasant as it may sound. The phrase used to scare me; it reeked of suffering and deprivation. However, I found out that I could train myself to cut out or cut down on harmful (or not-so-helpful) foods and still be happy. I completely ditched sugar and went for honey instead. I trained myself to enjoy wheat bread. Growing up, I used to scoff at the makers of Milo who wrote, “Already contains milk and sugar” on the old tin. Now whenever I drink Milo, I don’t add milk (sugar is already a no-no) and I’m used to the taste already. I also figured if people can enjoy beer, I can learn to enjoy green tea. It’s also an acquired taste.
5. An active lifestyle is non-negotiable. I’ve never set foot in a gym. I’ve always preferred exercising outdoors. About a decade ago I used to jog, and then I took a break from exercising. During this break, I maintained a steady weight partly because I trekked to work and trekked back daily, a total of 44 minutes of brisk walking every week day for a whole year. I had no idea how much this was helping me until after a long work-from-home period. I started trying to lose weight and my sedentary lifestyle was a problem. I went back to the skipping rope I had used for a few months before my wedding, but it didn’t work. I started power-walking for an hour every day, and when I hit 6km an hour I plateaued. I just couldn’t push myself further. Then, something happened. My pedometer happened. Since I bought it, my life has changed. I wear it everywhere, and I’m no longer about that kilometre life. I simply try to reach the required 10,000 steps daily for fitness, and then exceed it, for weight loss. Whether I’m brisk-walking, power-walking or stair-climbing, I’m happy as long as I’m recording enough steps daily. Some days, I take as many as 16, 000 steps. After eating, I dodge my home assistant when she’s coming to get my tray, so I can take it to the kitchen myself. When my son wants to go out and play I’m more game than ever. Any excuse to take more steps…and I’m enjoying the results!
6. Motivation is key. Your motivation can be anything. It just has to be strong enough. For me, it’s preparing for another baby, knowing that losing weight will both increase my chances of conceiving and keep me from looking like an elephant when I eventually add pregnancy weight on top of whatever was already there. I’m not one of those people that fat looks nice on. Your motivation can be something as simple as a gorgeous outfit, or even pleasing a loved one. Whatever it is, let it be strong enough to keep you doing what needs to be done, and sustaining it.
7. When you start, you’ll wonder how you managed your old lifestyle. I don’t know how I was adding sugar to my cornflakes. I can’t even imagine it. The way I used to heap my wide plate, which tummy was I putting all that food in? Why was I eating like a glutton? How did my body manage to sleep after those 10 p.m. snacks? How was I eating 3 times a day? How did I survive before my morning exercise? My old lifestyle seems like a distant memory now, one that I cannot even figure out how I sustained.
Start making small changes today, and keep at it.
One of my lecturers used to say, “You can never start unless you start, and once you start, you’ve started.” It took me 4 months to lose the first 6kg, but now that the trial and error is over and I know what to do to get results, I intend to lose another 6kg in 1 month.
I hope you’re rooting for me!