Saturday, April 14, 2012

Six Months Along

No, I’m not pregnant. But tomorrow marks the sixth monthsary since I decided to turn my life around and to make a commitment to myself. I’ve mentioned working out and exercising frequently enough that maybe you already know what I’m talking about—my lifestyle change.

I hit an all time low the first semester of my junior year. I was up to my eyeballs in schoolwork and I was unhappy with my classes. I was so haggard and stressed out and thoroughly burned out. I hardly got any sleep and towards the end of the semester I was going through three cups of coffee a day. It got to the point that I would fall asleep in half of my classes without coffee in the morning, afternoon, and night. I was so wired on coffee I would drive myself to school palpitating like crazy with my foot jerking on the gas pedal and all that coffee would make me hyperacidic or give me heartburn, and it was like my stomach would turn in on itself and have me writhing in pain. It was that bad. I’m actually going through my old status updates on Facebook right now, and I was so depressed back then. This is actually the time my hair started falling out. And right about that time, I gained so much weight from stress eating. I felt horrible all the time, and food kept me company.

P1010800Just to give you an idea of how fat I was just six months ago, I took the picture on the left for my Korean 10 final project on October 6, 2011. I was so chubby! Strictly speaking, I’ve never been overweight or obese, but I was round and thick and I have this tendency for fat to go in the most unflattering places like my cheeks, arms, stomach, thighs, and butt (everywhere, basically). And this isn’t the first time I’ve put on weight, because I’ve struggled with my weight for a long time, losing weight and gaining it back in a cycle. I’m not built to be slim, and I’ve accepted that, but I used to be so insecure and I wanted to be skinny so I would go on crash diets (starvation, in short), and it worked. For a while at least. I was actually really thin back in high school, until my first and second year. But when I reached third and fourth year, I stopped caring and I gained a bit of weight, but I went on a diet for prom and for graduation. So I was at a normal weight when I entered college, but since I made a rough adjustment the first semester of freshman year, I lost weight again, without trying, this time! I had consecutive classes in far apart buildings and I would literally run to my next class, sprinting from the fourth floor of AS to NIGS so I wouldn’t be late. I had a pretty irregular schedule and I would miss meals, not to mention my PE back then was Judo. Also, that was when I started to commute and I would walk home. But over semestral break and the second semester, I gained a lot of weight. So I went on another diet. Then I gained it back.

You get the picture. I’ve been going back and forth ever since, going on yo-yo diets. But six months ago, I had really had enough. The first semester had taken such a tremendous toll on me. My skin was horrible, I felt lethargic, and fatigued all the time, and my body felt so bloated and cumbersome. It wasn’t just the weight gain, I’d completely let myself go. I was unhealthy and I knew it, felt it, and looked it. That semestral break I was adamant that it had to stop, I wanted to feel good and well, and I wanted a long-term plan rather than another quick fix. I thought long and hard about it, and the answer was simple. Diet and exercise. In all my experience with weight loss and weight gain, I only ever stuck to the dieting part, because I would achieve really fast results. I would set a target weight and when I reached it, I would stop dieting and return to my old ways, and I would gain weight as fast as I had lost it. I didn’t want to repeat history yet again, so rather than taking the easy way out which had done me more harm than good in the past, this time I took that harder path—regular exercise. I also realized that I was going about it the wrong way because I was more obsessed with the numbers rather than what my body was telling me. When I would lose weight, yeah I would fit into this or that, but I didn’t have any endurance or strength and climbing up a flight of stairs or carrying my own weight would have me panting and sweating like crazy! I just wasn’t fit at all!

Also, I’ve been a picky eater (still am), from birth and my old food pyramid had carbohydrates and sweets and oils at the base and fruits and vegetables at the top. I’ve never tried any special diets, like no carbs or no rice, or nothing after six, my old diets simply consisted of no anything. Very effective, but also very, very, very bad. So I changed that. Instead of saying no to everything, I decided to say yes to more healthy options and alternatives. Meaning, after twenty years of avoiding fruits and vegetables, I started little by little to swap sweets as dessert with fresh fruits, and instead of being this carnivore, I ate more vegetables. Instead of drinking juice and soda, I drank water. And moderation was key to all of this, not deprivation, because in my experience denying myself of my favorites would only result in over-indulgence later on. And don’t get me wrong, I’ll never give up chocolate, and cake, and all that decadent stuff, but I now I’m smarter with my food choices, if I’ve had a thin slice of cake, next time I’ll have an apple, something like that. Also, I eat on a regular schedule, and I as much as possible I try not to miss meals to avoid overeating later on.

But my biggest hurdle was not self-control, or even motivation for that matter, it’s that I hated sweating. The Philippines is a tropical country, so you would think I would be used to it, but I just hated sweating, even lifting a finger and breaking a sweat, I hated it. I would feel disgusted by perspiring and I would take baths frequently to freshen up. So yeah, I was living a sedentary, inactive, couch potato life. That had to change.

I’m not sporty or athletic, so taking up a sport as a form of exercise didn’t really appeal to me and going to the gym wasn’t my cup of tea either. But thanks to Say Tioco Artillero, I decided to try out BodyRock.Tv and I worked out and exercised in the privacy and comfort of home. The first time I was going to exercise, six months ago tomorrow, I was all excited. I was geared up and I was psyched and everything. It was the first time in over a year that my rubber shoes had seen any use. They were just collecting dust and I actually had to brush it off before using them again.









AbyCFbFCIAAMFkxMy very first workout was the Fierce Friday Workout and the first round I was like, hey I got this. No big deal. After the second round, my thighs were crying out in protest and I could barely raise my arms up anymore, they were this dead weight. I finished the workout and I just about died. I think my tears mixed with my sweat. This a picture (see left) I took right after, and another reason why I hate whenever I get hot and sweat profusely is that my rosacea kicks in full force. I was flushed like a ripe tomato. The next day I could barely get up because my thighs hurt so bad. I couldn’t bend, I couldn’t even sit down on the toilet without pain. But the pain didn’t change my mind, I was that determined. I worked out on a Saturday, and I rested on Sunday, but I was back on the horse by Monday.


Photo0174Photo0143Photo0141That whole semestral break, I worked out six days a week, trying out different BodyRock routines everyday. I invested in a quality mat and basic equipment for myself and really pushed all my limits. I didn’t see a difference right away, but I kept at it, telling myself slow and steady wins the race. And along with my daily workouts, my healthier eating habits, little by little, I felt noticeably lighter and better, in general. I didn’t get tired as easily, I felt more keen and alert, I had more energy. My skin cleared like a dream! I felt that I could do more. Another thing that I did differently this time around, is that I didn’t weigh myself anymore. I didn’t want to be pressured by the scales, and I wanted to focus on how I felt rather than on numbers.

Every morning, the first thing I did upon waking up was this simple yoga routine to get rid of any soreness. And I would work out every afternoon, and I made sure to drink lots of water and to always warm up and cool down. I felt myself getting stronger, and leaner, and though I didn’t measure or weigh myself, I noticed it in the way the my clothes fit. Shorts that used to be tight, had gotten loose, and I could wear clothes I hadn’t worn since first year because they didn’t fit me anymore again! It renewed my resolve in pursuing health, wellness, and fitness, rather than just weight loss. It’s actually another thing I learned, that apart from all the abuse my body was taking from all the crash diets and the yo-yoing, I used to have a before and after kind of mentality, rather than setting my mind to the present-tense, or an fitness as an ongoing lifestyle. Because before, once I lost the weight, I would be satisfied, but I would gain it back, because I returned to all the bad eating habits I had in the first place. But now I know better, and that it shouldn’t just be a goal that you set, but something to always surpass and more than that, maintain! 

But when semestral break ended and I went back to school for the second semester (the one that just ended, thank God), I had this reality check and I was really unsure of how I would balance my school work with my fitness goals. How could I find the time to juggle studies and exercise, and junior year wasn’t going to get any easier? Simple. I made the time. Even when things got so hectic, I always managed to allot an hour to work out. I actually only missed working out when I got sick (see my Batad field trip). And even when we went on trips or vacations, I would still work out. When my friends saw me after semestral break, they were so shocked, and they would all tell me that I’d gotten so thin. That suddenly my face had a shape to it and they could see my cheek bones (I love my friends). What had I done? I just told them I had a lifestyle change. In truth, I didn’t really see that I lost so much weight because I wasn’t thinking about it, I was more into how I could get faster and stronger and also get healthier. The whole semester, I brought my own lunch to school, and I would always bring fruit with me.

My family was also really shocked. And here I thought that I had the biggest adjustment, I mean I was the one learning to eat vegetables, but there they were, aghast at me not picking out the vegetables on my plate, and saying yes, please, to fruits. To them it seemed like an overnight transformation, after twenty years of failing to coax, bribe, implore me to eat vegetables. All it took was one awful semester to turn a new leaf. And they know when I’ve made up my mind, there’s no stopping me. And I’m not stopping now, not when I’ve come so far.

My ultimate goal is to have flat abs. After nearly six months of doing BodyRock workouts, I’ve switched to Hip Hop Abs. BodyRock really worked wonders, shrinking my arms, my belly, legs, and even my butt! But now I want more lean and tight muscles rather than bulk, so I’ve switched to Hip Hop Abs to target my abs. I’m on my 2nd week of Hip Hop Abs now, and I really feel a difference. And for the last month or two, I’ve been having oatmeal for breakfast and I’m eating 3-5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day and drinking a liter of water with every main meal. If that’s not detoxifying, I don’t know what is.

Just yesterday afternoon, I removed all my makeup from school, and changed into my workout outfit. Yikes, rosacea and dark undereyes, I know. And no, I am not flaunting. I’m flat-chested, what’s there to see?









And this is legit. I worked out for an hour, with my whole body oozing sweat.


Anyway, I’m really proud of myself and I intend to keep on keeping on. The essence of everything I’ve experienced up until now is that what matters at the end of the day is that being fitter and healthier has given me a new lease on life, if you will. It has opened doors for me and improved my quality of life.

Six months and going strong!

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