No. Not that closet. Haha. (Pun intended)
I am talking about a literal closet, full of clothes that didn’t fit me anymore.
Over the course of two years, I’ve slowly let go of my old clothes because I thought I was never going to lose weight again. I still remember some of the clothes I let go of and how I regret doing it: those silver jeans, my favorite worn out white shirt, a white polo shirt, and that blue, yellow, and gray-striped shirt. I’ve managed to salvage at least 15 that I either used to wear or I bought but have yet to wear. They fit me now. They are finally out of the closet.
I have been wanting to lose weight for the past four years, but I’ve always ended up gaining. People have been telling me to lose weight practically all my life, but more so in the past three years. I have been called Coach Anzai, Majin Buu, Siopao, Panda, and Kebabs because I was always the fat one. When I was younger, those things made me lose confidence in myself. Only when I went to college did I start overcoming my insecurity about my weight.
“Ang taba mo na”, “Kev, lumolobo ka ah”, “Grabe ano’ng nangyari sa’yo?”, “Diet diet din pag may time”, and “Bakit ka nagpalaki,” are just some of the things people have been telling me since 2015, when I reached 200 lbs.
The worst, though, was when the company nurse from my previous work told me, “Kailangan mong kumuha ng Fit to Work permit kasi hindi ka lang Obese—Obese Class 2 ka pa.”That really infuriated me because I was a writer and me being obese does not mean I couldn’t write. I didn’t get any permit. She never followed up.
I would be lying if I told you my weight didn’t bother me. Don’t get me wrong—I was happy. I was doing things I loved doing. Yes, I sometimes feel bad when I try a shirt I love in the fitting room but it doesn’t fit me. I sometimes feel unattractive when I see how big my tummy had become. I sometimes feel like I need to do something when I look at old pictures from college and see how I looked better without the extra weight. But those thoughts don’t bring me down. They just pass by and I am okay.
WHAT GOT ME STARTED
I still remember seeing the weighing scale reach 200 lbs. for the first time ever. I was waiting for my payslip at the office clinic when I saw a weighing scale and tried it. I was 205 lbs. and my jaw dropped. I didn’t know I already reached 200 lbs. It was a first.
Five months later on September 2015, I went to Kuala Lumpur for a month. My first morning there, my friends and I went on a jog at the KLCC Park and I loved it. I thought this was a chance to finally lose weight. I wanted to do it every day, but I had insomnia, so I would wake up at around 11 am, when my friends already either jogged or went to the gym downstairs. Voila, I’ve gained even more during my stay in KL.
The holiday season arrived and I gained even more. In New Year’s Eve, I hopped on my uncle’s motorcycle and my size 36 shorts ripped open. You’d think I would be motivated to lose weight then, but no. I kept eating junk food and lots of it.
Come March 2016, I wore one of the last three pairs of jeans that fit me, and I had a hard time breathing while I sat down in the van. I felt like my jeans would rip open if I do any sudden move. That same month, I started having chest pains, and that was when I decided I was going to lose weight.
I felt the chest pains several times a day, whenever I stretched my arms upwards. So I researched what might be the cause. Thankfully, according to research, I wasn’t going to have a heart attack anytime soon. But I do know how sedentary my lifestyle was and my heart was not as healthy as it needed to be.
So, I started my fitness journey.
I loved my 220-lb. self. That’s why I wasn’t really motivated to lose weight. That was part of the “self-love” I believed in. No matter how many fat remarks I got, my love for myself didn’t waver. However, sometimes, loving yourself means doing something that will bring you discomfort for a while but ultimately make you better.
I started the process with a positive and hopeful mindset. “Losing weight should not be so hard,” I told myself. The thought that got me through was, “It took me four years to gain this much weight and it will only take me less than a year to drop it.”
Here are the three steps I took in this process.
DEFINE YOUR OWN PROCESS
Each of us has a unique process we go through to achieve a certain goal. Knowing yourself is key to finding the process that fits you best. Through self-evaluation, I identified my strengths and weaknesses.
I only worked out twice during the first month because the truth is I am a lazy person. So what I focused on instead was counting the calories I was consuming and limiting it to 1,500 per day.
On the second month, I finally added cardio to the process. The first few days were hell. I couldn’t even endure the first ten minutes of Tae Bo. My body was that weak. But I endured and ended the second month doing 20-minute Tae Bo routines twice a day, after waking up and before going to sleep.
By the third month, I shifted to 20-minute Zumba exercises twice a day. By the fourth month, I started doing a 40-minute Zumba exercise once a day and bought dumbbells. On the fifth and sixth months, I still did Zumba but I added some routines like lunges, squats, sit-ups, and burpees.
I felt my body becoming stronger and more flexible as time went by.
As for the diet, my weakness are sweets. The advantage I have is that I am not dependent on rice. I have friends who tell me that they can’t survive a day without rice—I can. I started making wiser decisions when it came to the food I ate. I chose to consume green tea over coffee, oatmeal over bread, hard-boiled egg whites over rice, one bite of pizza over half a pizza, a doughnut (or two) over a dozen doughnuts, and turbo chicken over fried chicken.
I didn’t give junk food up, but I didn’t binge on them like I used to. When I eat out with friends, I don’t restrict myself because I think that would be sad. My process also included my mom cooking my favorite meals (she’s a fantastic cook) or bringing home my favorite sweets and me saying no to those. Somehow, saying no became more satisfying than eating a dozen doughnuts.
DEFINE YOUR OWN SUCCESS
When I decided to lose weight, I defined success as “getting rid of the chest pains.” Thankfully, I already achieved that.
The motivation for my weight loss has always been to be healthier because I was already feeling how unhealthy I have become. But this weight loss has given me so much more than I thought I would get.
Aside from getting rid of the chest pains, I now feel so much stronger. Because I do cardio regularly, I don’t feel tired all the time anymore. I don’t get muscle cramps anymore when I climb mountains. Of course, dropping shirt and jeans sizes is a plus. The compliments I get from people are also great to hear.
Some people have told me a few months in that I could already stop losing weight because I already looked great. Some people have told me I should go to the gym to tone my body. But both of those suggestions are not my definition of “success” but theirs.
My point is only you can define your own success. People will have opinions, but you must listen to yourself and reach your goals. If you don’t have your own definition of success, you’ll just go with the flow, and isn’t that boring?
On October 11, from 220 lbs., I weighed 164 lbs. Today, I still weigh 164 lbs. There was a day when I got back up to 170 lbs and there were days I would go down to 160 lbs. I’m now less strict about my diet and exercise as I’ve kind of stopped wanting to lose weight. It’s because I already feel healthy. However, I’m mindful to not get back to my old weight. Next year, I aim to get down to 150 lbs. so I can reach my ideal Body Mass Index.
DEFINE YOUR OWN HAPPINESS
You don’t need a fat body to feel unhappy, and you don’t need toned muscles to feel happy. We are all more than just what meets the eye.
Mary Lambert once said, “You can’t love your body for what you hope it turns into without actively loving it for what it is today.”
I loved myself when I was 220 lbs., I love myself now that I am 164 lbs. The only difference is that I can do so much more right now because I don’t feel tired all the time anymore.
I still hear negative remarks about my weight and fat jokes from some people. Good thing I have a strong sense of self. Good thing my weight loss is not the sole source of my happiness, but only one of.
I hope you are happy today.
There’s nothing wrong with cold water, so go ahead, quench your thirst.
Pasta is just as heavy as rice. Don’t get a second serving.
Do it for yourself. You’ll only fail if you’re doing it for others.
Portion control is key.
Have a cheat day.
When you succeed, feel good. When you slip, don’t feel bad.
Love the process and love yourself.
This article was originally published in Winning Every Day.