Hey guys, I just wanted to thank you all for the kind words and encouragement you’ve showered me since I posted about my breakdown a couple of blog posts ago. I am really touched by the love and I am so heartened to know we connected over the sharing of my struggles of late. It reminds me why I write, which is to create open relationships even with strangers and to encourage you to do the same; share wholeheartedly and responsibly so that we can inspire each other to go on and achieve what we set out to. Thank you so much for sharing some of your struggles too with me and for letting me know I am not alone. I’m glad through my lengthy soul baring post, you realised you weren’t alone too!
I’ve gotten quite a few questions about my weight and fat loss and I thought a post like this detailing my journey would be most effective to explain how I got to where I am. I also wanted to show the difficult parts of the road to what is looking like pretty good results now so that you’ll also feel encouraged when you hit snags and challenges. Hopefully, you’ll figure it out faster than I did by reading about my experience.
I fell off the fitness and diet bandwagon after my successful #fitness2013 stint over 17 weeks. I was the leanest and fittest I ever was. When it came to my body and health, that point of time in my life, you asked me to jump and I would ask how high. However, when 2014 rolled around, things changed.
I went back to bad eating habits. One over-indulgent media tasting turned into several. One missed workout became multiple stay and slack at home sessions. I slowly got back into an extremely sedentary lifestyle complete with a high calorie diet that saw noodles, sweetened drinks and snacks as my staple. One week of this and nothing changes, but many weeks after, the physical changes definitely manifested themselves. I found fat rolls hugging waist and my tummy bulging. I didn’t use to have to suck it in, but increasingly, sucking in was a reality. My face became chubbier and I was quite low energy. In fact, I was actually super tired for most of 2014. It could be that I was stressed and that also affected me in terms of fat retention and weight gain.
I eventually did say enough was enough, and I worked in some exercise with weekly 5km runs and physical training sessions at the gym with Loo. But I still found myself out of shape, out of breath and experienced minimal progress. I had small reductions and then increments again in terms of weight always hovering at 60kg. I told myself, weight was just a number, but I also felt disturbed that I was telling myself this is “okay”, because really, I knew it wasn’t.
In September, I made a personal goal to reduce my fat percentage from 30% to 24% in 14 weeks. I was really gunning for a 0.5% fat loss per week and some allowance. I really got myself pumped to work it out. I relentlessly did the same shit over and over again. Bumped up the exercise, did more running and even tried to do more physical training to build muscles.
But you know what, results were minimal and come Week 7 (Oh my gah, that’s just 7 more weeks to go), I was struggling still with no real results. My results were dismal.
25 October 2014 (Week 7)
Body Fat: 30.5%
Body Muscles: 33.7%
I was freaking over 61kg (going backwards from where I started). I was still over 30% in terms of fat percentage. I was so freaking exhausted… I was super drained and I felt like I was going to die and having no result while committing to doing so much work for it, felt like a torture. I felt demoralised and desperate and I had all but given up. I kept hearing things like you need to cut out the fried food (been there, done that), you need to drink more water (and I did), you need to try Flaxseed (and I bought it and did it), and you need to cut out carbs. When it came to that though, I resisted. I was like, no way am I cutting out carbs from my diet.
It’s not sustainable! Why would I do that! It’s everything I don’t stand for!
So I did whatever I was comfortable with and I saw some result.
1 November 2014 (Week 8)
Body Fat: 29.5%
Body Muscles: 34.7%
On 1 November, I told myself, let me document how far I’ve come every week, so I know if I’m on track and I took this photo. I was worried what people would say especially since I was far from being at my best, but I did it anyway because I needed it for some major ass kicking. The improvement was slight, but it was coming. Could I make it to 24% at the end of this? I wasn’t really sure I could, but it was heartening to see some progress.
13 November 2014 (Week 10)
Body Fat: 30.2%
Body Muscles: 34.3%
Then just as things were looking up, I fell sick for two weeks and didn’t exercise. I barely had any appetite at this point and wasn’t eating very well. I was anxious to recover and in the process I may have caused myself to stress out and prolonged my cough and flu. I recalled that I hadn’t taken my measurements and finally checked in on 13 November when I was starting to feel better. Fat percentage was up, body muscle percentage was down, but I definitely lost some weight from being so ill. This was not the result I wanted. Visually however, I noted that despite the increase in fat percentage, I was actually looking trimmer, most likely due to the 1.8kg weight loss.
I was starting to really want my body fat to consistently drop and I struggled to get back to health. When a friend told me to try out a new way to change up my diet for just 3 days as a challenge – just try an egg white for breakfast before 8:00am, one portion of lean protein for lunch between 12:00pm – 2:00pm and veggies for dinner. I was sort of freaking out and really iffy about it. I kept thinking to myself, “This is damn freaking harmful.” But I told myself, you know what it’s just for 3 days. It’s a challenge, let’s see how it works out. If at any point I am unwell, I will stop doing it. But I was willing to just give it a go and stop shutting it down. It apparently had proven results which I laughed off as “Duh… Eat so little sure have results one lah!”
The 3 days on that strict diet was a bit too much for me to take. I broke down from stress (not all because of the diet, but I think it affected my mood) by the second day, but what I discovered was, it was the beginning of some really good results. Initially I saw a spike back to over 30% in my fat percentage and an increase in weight. But after two days of continuing on a 1,200 calorie diet for the rest of the 5 days, I noticed something different happened. All the weight and fat loss I couldn’t stabilise seemed to reach a steady decrease. On 20 November (Week 11), I saw 28.39% fat percentage and a weight stabilising at 58.6kg.
25 November 2014 (Week 12)
Body Fat: 27.9%
Body Muscles: 35.4%
Fast forward to the second week of trying this 2 days of strict diet and 5 days of 1,200 calorie intake and I’ve seen that the body fat percentage has dropped yet again when it was at a standstill and even increasing for months. This really gives me hope that whatever I’m doing, is working. It also tells me one thing: Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting the same results is just pure insanity. I think I said this before, but it never registered like it did now.
Instead of being closed to different solutions and adapting them to fit my body, I just rejected them initially because it was stretchy and scary. Being someone who came out from an eating disorder years ago meant that I was super sensitive to cutting out food groups or very low calorie diets, but what I didn’t acknowledge was that I was also over-consuming on a daily basis and over-estimating what I needed to maintain or even cut my fat percentage.
As you can see, the progress over a month is gradual. The first thing I noticed was the bloat was lessened from my arms, my hips, and my tummy. That was when I was still on a comfortable diet change. As I incorporated a stricter diet that fit my dietary needs, I noticed that my trunk area wasn’t as wide as before and my arms looked smaller and more toned (my two biggest problem areas). This is what 1.6% of fat loss looks like on me.
A big part of my previous failure and my current success is really diet, diet, diet and stress, stress, stress. For so long I was resisting any major changes to my diet, justifying my eating behaviour and habits as “important to maintain the healthy state of my body” and of course being “sustainable” in fear that in future if I eat a bowl of noodles again, I would jump in weight. But then again, an increasing fat percentage would signal otherwise and the fact remains that if I was increasing in both fat percentage and weight, I definitely was having too many calories in a day. Plus, me forcing myself to go and work out till I was totally tired out and not able to function well created a high degree of stress, coupled with the over emphasis on result and my other day-to-day stress build up, this created a fight or flight situation and I was just not in the right state to lose any weight, let alone fat.
Currently I am using My Fitness Pal on my iPhone (which is one of the best tools because it has even local food included in the library) to track my daily intake. It was recommended to me by my friend, Chin Ting, who is a dietician. She personally recommends this to her patients and its found to be very effective. I actually don’t like the idea of obsessing over calories and I don’t do that. I eat bearing in mind my goal to consume say 1,200 or so calories (based on the recommendations by the app after I input my details, goals and activity levels) and if I exceed, then so be it. I don’t nit pick on every calorie. It’s not going to help because that just stresses me out. But what tracking does is it makes me accountable and it gives me data. For instance:
Do I experience any weight loss?
I can look back at the week or past few weeks to see what trends there are that led to that weight loss.
Is my muscle mass up?
What exercises did I do during the past few weeks that may have worked.
Have I lost any fat?
What are the changes I have made to my diet during this period?
Questions like these can now be answered more effectively with some data I have on hand now that I am tracking what I am taking. It also becomes glaringly obvious when I lie to myself to make me feel better about my results. All that data really helps me acknowledge my actions and allows me to responsibly plan my next steps and decide what should be different. Also I try not to underestimate the portion sizes of my food when I track. If I do so, at least the data would signal that when I compare that to my result and I can take steps to input the data more accurately and make smarter food choices.
There are no shortcuts when it comes to this. Fitness, weightloss and fat loss goals are so holistic. Everything adds up and to build a body that is “well”, it takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn’t. There is clearly no one size fits all. Care for your body and your mind and everything including physical change, emotional stability and results will follow. It’s not over yet. I’m still 3.9% away from my goal with less than 3 weeks remaining, so going to apply what I’ve learnt and just take it one
step meal at a time.
Love you all and keep the sharing going. Keep the comments section alive! You never know who is reading and may feel supported by your sharing. My promise is I will share, honestly, responsibly and openly about my challenges and struggles as well as my successes. As you can see all photos #nofilter too. I want you to do the same and let’s make it possible to support each other.