First of all, the pose makes me cringe a little too. I apologize. We were on the way out when J took this picture of me and I think I was trying to show off my shoes and skull ring purse. But I mostly chose this because this was the night that I talk about in #10 so it holds a special place in my heart.
To kick this off, I’m just going to get disturbingly cosy with you and be brutally honest with the things that girls don’t really talk about. I’m going to answer the #1 question I’ve been asked over and over and over and over again from friends to family to the girl at Strip as she’s fixing to rip all my hair off a very delicate area:
HOW DID YOU LOSE ALL THAT WEIGHT GIRLFRIEND?!
Well, pull up a chair because it’s about to get real.
At my heaviest, I think I probably weighed around 170 pounds. I’m not entirely sure what my heaviest was, because I stopped weighing myself once it hit “big” and lived in a happy place called denial. When I set out to lose weight, I didn’t really set out to lose weight. It kinda sorta just happened. I was feeling sluggish and crappy, lethargic and I ran out of breath all the time and my knees hurt so I started eating a little healthier and taking better care of my body by keeping my appointment with my trainer and my chiropractor. It felt good, and that kinda turned a switch on for me and I got all hoorah-serious about it.
But there was never an AH-HAH! point where I went, YES, YES!! I am going to get healthy! and eat right! and exercise! and go lose all this weight tomorrow. It was a gradual shift over a year, lots of little steps and lots of little decisions but once I got the hang of it, the last couple of months, everything just sort of just melted off. I had a big awesome beautiful wedding during this time, which was a great motivation but not necessarily the reason I lost weight. I was desperately still trying to fit into a wedding gown I purchased a year before and hand-carried back, poo-pooing the saleslady when she asked if I was sure I wanted to order it in this size and I was all judgy mcjudgy and rolled my eyes at “those girls” and confidently told her “of course”. I indignantly told her I had absolutely no intention to and was so sure I wouldn’t lose any weight. J fell in love with me for me, why change?
Well, I was wrong.
So I’m just as shocked and just as in awe that I lost all this weight. But I also worked really really hard. I literally worked my butt (and boobs) off. But I feel better than I have for a long time, and I learned so so much along the way.
1. Learn to love water and that soda is EVIL.
I was guilty of this for a long time and I thought I hated the taste of water…so I would end up drinking my calories. Even if it was diet soda, it was all still quite terrible on my body. Once I started paying attention to labels, it would blow my mind how much pointless sugar I was consuming. Even if I justified that it was juice and therefore healthy for me. WRONG!!
To make the transition easier, I would “flavor” my water by infusing fresh fruit into it before going cold turkey. A very good way of doing this is to start a pitcher every morning, not only was it easily available throughout the day, but I could also keep track on how much water I was drinking and how much more I needed to.
My favorite “recipe” is just simply mint leaves & lemon (segment and cut off the rind). It is almost brainless how easy and delicious it tastes but Pinterest is also a great resource for more recipes!
Now, I keep a bottle at my desk(if you don’t have a water bottle, you need to run out to the store RIGHT NOW and get one. Just do it.) that I refill whenever it’s empty. Having water handy all the time is what really made this transition stick. In fact, I crave water now, which if you know me, you would find it so weird because I am so totally and absolutely a Diet Coke/Coffee/Oragina for life girl. I always justified it as if I’m going to pay $2 for a bottle of water, I must as well get the soda because who pays for water?
And that’s how I got fat-lah!
p/s Grapefruit and most citrus is the devil if you’re making a big batch of infused water. By the end of the day, you are drinking bitter water and crying and hating yourself for wasting all that good fruit so finish it fast!
2. Greeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen smoothies!
Need a kickstart to your day that packs a punch of nutritional awesome? Need to just feel like a rockstar?
It might be more psychological than anything, but if I start my day off with a green smoothie, I feel like a healthy warrior and make better choices throughout the day because I cannot waste all that effort.
I change it up depending on what I have. Sometimes I add yogurt, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes it’s super green and sometimes it’s more purple. There is no one way to do it, just take a combination of fresh fruit/vegetable and blend it all up. I love adding some chia seeds at the end for little bites of happiness but it is all up to you.
If a vegetable is particularly fiberous(celery nastiness), I will juice it first before I put it into my Vitamix. The key is to still retain some bite to it because it will fill you up!
3. Invest in weighing scales.
Better yet, if you’re like me, get digital weighing scales. One for your food and one for your body.
Watching the pounds shed is a euphoric encouragement. Like everything about being healthy, it is being conscious of what you are putting into your body and how you are choosing to live life. Having something to measure that progress is so valuable to someone that is a perfectionist results-oriented Nazi like me.
A food weighing scale was the best investment I ever made. Especially as a fatty with no portion control. I knew the “theory” of what I was supposed to eat, but I never quite realized how little that actually was.
THAT’S 4oz of meat?
Having to measure everything gave me a good understanding of portion control as a beginner…after doing this for months, I am now able to somewhat eyeball my portions but if you’re in crunch mode and trying to meet a deadline…then precision is key.
A little handy tip is that I sometimes pre-measure out a bunch of portions and stick it in zip-loc bags (mark it with a sharpie) in the fridge so it saves me a bunch of prep time which makes my excuse list for just eating whatever shorter.
4. Count your calories but eat lots of SMALL meals
Again, something I totally knew in theory. If you consume less than you need for the day then you work off your thunder thighs….but who the hell really knows how many calories are in a nasi lemak? Come to find out…a shit ton.
Keeping track of your calories holds you accountable. Maybe it’s a sick game of torturing myself, but plugging in my calories made me very aware of what I was putting into my body and how I was wasting my calories on things that were so NOT worth it at the end of the day. It also helped me make better choices on snacks or treats, and in some, probably, nutritionally unsound way, what I could eat in vast amounts to satisfy my munchies. It’s also how I found out that half a Starbucks muffin held twice the calories of half a hot fudge sundae from McDonald’s. WHO KNEW?!
I have a great little app called “My FitnessPal” that does all the counting for me. I may be Asian but I cannot count. It adds up all my totals including exercise time and it projects my weight loss/gain if I continue eating the same counts. My favorite part however is that it let’s me save and create recipes and has quite a number of major brands and common foods already calculated out for me. It is a group share app so there are a bunch of people constantly plugging in new foods which saves me so much time and math. I can have “favorites” of meals (my breakfast rarely if ever varies, it’s always 2 eggs, a piece of toast, half a cup of coffee = 347 calories) or homemade meals that I have very often and just copy and paste instead of individually keying in every component.
I eat very often, and average about 6 small meals a day. It’s supposed to be good for my metabolism but mostly, I do it because it wards off the crashboombang of restrictive jump-off-the-deep-end type of dieting where you starve yourself then you want to eat a whole damn cow because ohmygodi’msohungryicoulddie which contributes to the vicious cycle of I already ate so much I must as well eat crap for the rest of the day.
The smartest analogy I ever came across this that described this perfectly and absolutely “changed” my way of thinking was say you break your phone (a high-calorie, eat everything in sight meal), why the hell would you continue smashing it (well, I already broke my diet, I must as well eat everything in sight) instead of salvaging it (make a healthier choice the next meal and get back on track or work it off)?
The biggest myth I had to undo and relearn was that it was okay to not finish everything on my plate. It was okay to not finish because I was full. It was okay to take my time and savor every bite and not hurry up and finish. My husband would not get pock marks if I didn’t clean my plate and I didn’t need and shouldn’t use “finishing” my plate as an achievement. It wouldn’t be a big waste if I didn’t finish everything we ordered and I refused to feel guilty about it. I just told myself that we would order less the next time or take it to-go for our next meal.
5. Greek Yogurt happiness.
When I met my husband, I could not for the life of me understand why ANYONE would voluntarily eat yogurt. I thought it was nasty and awful and sour and it just did not agree with me and my opinions …..and then I discovered the wonder that was greek yogurt.
For most of you that have never tried this before, it is a thick, less sour, version of yogurt and it is an amazing low-calorie substitute for EVERYTHING! You can use it for salad dressing, mayo, butter, whipped cream, smoothie filler, ice cream, sour cream, heavy cream…everything! You can just manipulate the flavors by adding different ingredients to this very neutral but awesome base! Look for the non-fat kind.
For me personally, because I hardly eat any dairy (I don’t like milk and most cheeses), it’s a good way for me to get some of that in.
I discovered this one night when I could not for the life of me get a whipped cream craving out of my mind. So I added a packet of Equal to some greek yogurt and served it with blueberries and strawberries and it was the best 100 calorie snack of my life.
My current favorite brand is by Fage (vanilla bean!) and is available at Jaya Grocer and Ben’s in Malaysia. It is so freaking expensive but delicious and I have to remind myself that I either pay the store or I pay the doctor later.
6. Eat clean
This is probably the biggest change I made in lifestyle that I have grown to LOVE!
Before this, I would have considered myself pretty good about eating vegetables and fruits, but after adopting a healthier approach, I was able to see how much of “crap” slipped between the cracks and was contributing to the my sluggish, sweaty, jiggly, yucky.
One of the big things I did was to cut out a lot of processed foods. That meant taking the time to pack lunches at home, bringing a snack bag of whole fruits and vegetables for work, or making lots of meals from scratch. If you’re like me, the 10am and 3pm slump at work is my downfall! It’s the in-between meals where you get the munchies and so you eat all the terrible fast and easy options available like chips, cookies, a candy bar! And you think it’s just a little snack so it doesn’t really hurt you….WRONG!
What I had to learn to do was to take the time in the mornings to pack some “healthy” snacks to bring with me to work. The other thing I would do was to also keep easily available snacks in my fridge that were already portioned out.
My favorite and easy treats to bring are the little cucumbers you can get at the grocery store from the organic section. It takes me all of two seconds to grab them from the fridge in the morning and put them into my snack bag. They are fun and awesome and the “crunch” is so satisfying when you’re “crunching” numbers. See what I did there? Ba da bum.
The other biggest change I made was cutting down on oils. For a buttahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh lover like me, this was a big challenge. And I am such a roll-your-eyes-please-shut-up at people that are all I have a paleo diet! I don’t eat wheat! yadah yadah yadah because that is SO NOT ME. I LOVE food, and I ENJOY food, and I BELIEVE in butter. THE REAL kind. And delicious heavenly marbling on my steaks. And what is this shit about not eating after six. PUH-LEASE. But oh my Lord, I now get it.
I water saute a lot of my vegetables and I eat a lot of fish (recipe and super secret tips later). A LOT of fish. Like the guys at my store (The Food Company in Taman Tun…I cannot recommend them highly enough) know exactly how I like them cut and packaged because I come see them a lot. Find a local wholesaler and buy the fish whole and have them portion it out for you, it is so much cheaper and easier. I prefer the “oilier” type like salmon and cod because of the way I cook it. It makes it still so very yummy with good Omega-3 oils flavoring it instead.
It genuinely shocked me how much better I felt after I cut out all the junk and it made me a believer. Now, does it mean I always go without? HELL NO. It just means I make better choices when I can and when I just don’t feel like it and I just need a hit of chocolate chip cookies and full fat Haagen Dazz ice-cream, it means, pass me the tub, we’re having a treat! 🙂
Here’s the difference though and something so powerful for me, I am not a dog, so I really needed to learn that I cannot and should not reward myself with food.
Another big lesson I learned was not to restrict entirely but to also indulge. I lie, the biggest lesson I learned was to be kind to my body. To nourish, to protect, to make good and healthy choices, but to also be kind to my voices and cravings and not restrict, punish, shame myself when I needed a hit of something universally known as “bad”. It was, and I am so pained to say this because I am so not that girl, a lifestyle change. A shift in perspective.
On a recent trip to France, I indulged and tried to personally eat every strawberry tart in existence and duck confit! and ordered appetizers and desserts but I also made healthy choices in between, exercising, getting in lots of fruit and veggies, taking smaller portions, sharing plates, stopping when I was full, etc.
Basically, I didn’t eat like the end was coming or like I would never get to eat it again because I allowed myself to understand that if you want a strawberry tart later, you will get a strawberry tart. And if you want an ice-cream cone, get an ice-cream cone. And so I didn’t feel guilty or desperate when I had one and had a better sense of when to stop or what to eat next.
7. Find a workout routine you LOVE!
Did you know that 70% of losing weight is your diet? I knew it but I didn’t really “know” it until I put it into practice. The problem is, the 30% matters too. Find a fitness routine you love, do it not just to tone up and shed the pounds, but do it because it is everything “those” people ever told you about….all that energy-boosting, endorphin-happy-releasing, healthy-feeling, bullshit is true! WHAT?!
I used to hate working out. I hated the idea of it, I hated the culture of it, I hated how I felt at the gym, and I hated the monotonous boring awful workouts where everything hurt and everything was just so damn hard.
I hated it until I found something that worked for me..and now, I am so embarrassed to admit that I get a little shaky and crave a good workout out if I haven’t had one it in a while. Everyone is different, stuff that makes me happy might not necessarily make you happy, some people LOVE running and find an absolute high from pounding on gravel….running makes me want to scream and my old lady knees can’t take the abuse. I only run if someone is chasing me or there are evil bunny rabbits within any vicinity I am in. Other than that, I have made peace with the fact that I will never be a runner.
A lot of times, we buy into the fad of what is popular and current and sounds like the next coming of Jesus. But if there is one thing I’ve learned about life, it’s to trust your gut and know yourself. I am just not a runner.
I also found that I am absolutely unmotivated when I work out alone. I like a good challenge, and I don’t want to think when I’m working out. For me, this meant hiring a trainer to come to my house 2-3 times a week. I couldn’t come out with an excuse not to work out when he was at my door but better than that, I also learned that I don’t need an elliptical or fancy machines and gadgets. My brilliant trainer works with what we have, my current “home gym” consists of some free weights, a medicine ball, an exercise ball, a resistance band but mostly we use benches and ladders and coconuts from the garden and whatever random thing he can find to use as a torture device. I kid. 😛
We do a lot of circuits and he keeps a diary of the different muscle groups we work on throughout the week. He is also very flexible in catering to my whims while still challenging me (eg. if he has something planned but I just really really feel passionately about NOT doing something or REALLY WANTING to work w the medicine ball, he changes it up) but the best part is that he makes it fun! We gossip and turn on some music, we play “games” and J and I “compete” with each other but the best and worst part is that he amps it up whenever I reach a new fitness level so I am not doing the same thing everyday and it keeps it exciting.
We also have a pool that I do a lot of laps in. Like I said, I can get pretty competitive so a lot of times, I have a “goal” of how many laps I want to swim or how many minutes I want to do it. J will get in the pool with me and we will take breaks playing with each other which makes it so much more fun. It also puts a lot less pressure on my joints and back but that is what works for me. Don’t be afraid to try a lot of different things and to switch it up until you find what works for you. Trust me when I say, you will KNOW when you have found your favorite workout/exercise because you will get the ohmygodiwanttodothisagaintomorrow! And then your jaw will drop and you will wonder, holy shit, did I just say that?
8. Small steps, big picture
I’m an instant gratification girl. As in, I want to see results NOW! I have an idea and I want to execute it NOW! I want it NOW! NOW! NOW! and I am either utterly obsessed or totally uninterested. So the hardest part about making these changes was that these aren’t earth-shattering, mind-blowing, instant AH-HAs! They are gradual sloooooooooooooow changes in your body. It took me 28 years to build up all these bad habits, and unfortunately, even with a great mindset and determination and my willpower of an ox, shit was just not going to happen in a day.
At times, this was completely demotivating and not encouraging at all. It was hard to work so damn hard all week and to step on a scale and see a number that just made me want to cry. THAT’S IT?!? I worked so hard damnit.
Or after a workout, when I felt so freaking phenomenally good, to still realize that my arms still jiggled and I still had a double chin.
But the secret to it all was just to not give up.
I channeled all that willpower into refusing to be defeated and I channeled all that determination into believing that things were happening even when it seemed like it wasn’t.
Slow and steady Racheal, I would tell myself, slow and freaking steady. Rock on you beast.
I read something that was so powerful for me on days that I wanted to give up.
It went something along the lines of it takes at least 4 weeks for you to see the difference, 8 weeks for your core group to notice and 12 weeks for the rest of the world to catch up.
That for some reason, really gave me the patience and motivation to keep on chugging on days where I just felt like absolutely nothing was working. The little things, the little steps, they all mattered.
9. Build your own cheerleading team!
Did you know that a person is more likely and faster to recover from a major health issue/operation/etc if they have a strong support system? There is something so sacredly special of surrounding yourself with people you love and people that love you. What this meant for me is that I had people to be accountable to and on bad days, I had people to encourage me and let me know that I didn’t have to suck alone and that kept me going.
I had workout partners and healthy buddies, I had someone to talk to when I felt yucky and guilty and I had someone to cheer me on when I did a good job. We are not born to be alone, we are born to be in a community so find yourself a little kampung of friends and family. Love and be loved back.
10. YOU can do this!
I believe that this is possible for everybody. I believe because it happened to me and that made me a believer for life.
In my head, I was the 14 year old dork that is a little chubby and I am always known for my personality more than my banging body. Hah.
I have yo-yoed my entire life, being either really fat or really skinny and it’s nice to be in the between. It’s feels as if I have held my breath my whole life and for the first time, I feel like I can relax. So please trust me when I say this, if I can do it, you can do it too.
Have faith in yourself but most of all, invest in yourself. You are worth it. You are worth this and so much more. Don’t do it for the “Holy shit, you got hot!”, do it for the confidence building, inside repairing, self-worth that says you are important and you matter. Take care of your body because you want to take care of yourself. Don’t do it for a boy, or for acceptance or because you want to know what it feels like to walk into a random store and be able to try on anything because you can finally “fit” their sizes and you cry a little in the dressing room (true story). It is an empowering moment, but it is not THE moment.
One of the hardest things for me after I lost all this weight was trying to get people to see that I was the same exact Racheal before. That despite a 30-ish lb difference, I was still me. And I would get so pissed off and hurt and frustrated that that was all someone could see, or worst of all, when I magically gained new “friends” that were suddenly so very interested in me because I looked the part. My insides were still the same. My insides were there all along.
My biggest gift about losing this weight was shedding the baggage of blaming everything on being “fat”. When I didn’t have the security of self-deprecating jokes and hiding behind, I learned that I was enough. That whether I put on 60lbs or shed 60lbs that I was enough. And because I was enough, I would take care of me. I would do it for me. I would do it so I could live to be a hundred and watch my grandchildren get married. I would do it so that I could be healthy and get to take life-changing adventures with my partner-in-crime and best friend. I would do it so that when haters were going to hate, I would have enough strength and enough courage to just walk away. Size is just a number, and the numbers on my weighing scale are finally powerless against my insecurities. Not because I got skinny, but because I just learned to own me.
I currently weigh about 130lbs-ish, and I’m not sure how much more I will lose or if I really intend to lose anymore. I feel good, and sure, I have spots (can I just say mother effing armpit fat) where I would like to work on, but I learned the biggest lesson learning to love myself, I was finally able to see that for my husband and for a lot of people that love me, they have never seen the things that I think are so glaringly huge and all my flaws. To J, I have been the same girl he fell in love with at all the different sizes of my life, I’ve been “pretty” this whole time and I didn’t know it. I realized this on an epic discovery one day, because here I was thinking hell yes, I am finally a size 2/4 and I look hot and feel hot, and I asked him what he thought and his answer slayed me. Not his words, but the way he looked at me.
He looked at me the same way he looked at me when I was 165lbs. He looked at me the same way he looked at me when I was 140lbs. He looked at me with love and pride and just thought I was beautiful. It was the biggest Ah-HA! moment for me. So there is no magical number I’m trying to reach now, I’m just trying to eat healthy and stay healthy and take care of me…because that’s how I’m going to take care of J too. This is a precious sacred awesome amazing once in a lifetime love, and I owe it the damn respect it deserves to not screw it up by dying early or being consumed with obsessing over my flaws. I owe J the respect to not just take care of my body but to take care of his opinions. He thinks I’m beautiful and damn it, I think he’s right. I just never saw it before. Not the skinny me, or the fat me, the all of me.
Get healthy because it matters. Subscribe to the magical combination of willpower and determination and cushion it with a lot of acceptance and love and you will be unstoppable. I believe in you.
The big secret to losing weight is just believing you can do it, digging deep, and just refusing to let your fears and failures stop you. That’s it, it’s as hard and as easy as that. And you, you CAN do it.
So much love and new beginnings,
Do your thing. Do it unapologetically. Don’t be discouraged by criticism. You probably already know what they’re going to say. Pay no mind to the fear of failure. It’s far more valuable than success. Take ownership, take chances, and have fun. And no matter what, don’t ever stop doing your thing. ~ Asher Roth
***Disclaimer: I am not a professional and everything I’ve written are just from my personal experiences. Please take everything with a grain of salt (except #10, that one you believe like the Bible) and please don’t sue me. I am poor and like buying expensive greek yogurt. ***
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