Happy new year and new decade, everyone. Hope the new year is treating you well so far 😊 So, I know in the new year, most people have some kind of fitness and weight goals. So I thought I would share with you my weight loss journey and how I have maintained my weight loss for 10 years now.
And also a work colleague at work said this to me, “Suba, you have a great blog but you have not shared your inspiring story that you told me that I am sure your followers and readers would love to hear and connect with you on a more personal level”. This has really resonated with me. As such, I would like to share with you how I began my healthy lifestyle and what inspires me to create healthy yet delicious meals everyday and what drives me to continue leading an active and healthy lifestyle. This is by no way easy for me. Sometimes, I get embarrassed by how I used to look. Don’t get me wrong, I was not unhappy with myself back then, but I thought life was stagnant and if you are fat, you will always be fat. But I was very wrong, life is not so simple and if you make little changes, your life can change for the better or the worse 😊
What motivated me you ask? This might sound counter intuitive but being overweight all my life, a part of me wanted to prove that even if I ate healthier and exercised regularly, I would still be fat. I believed being fat was part of my genetics and no matter what I did, I would still be fat because life is stagnant right? But, I was wrong!
This might take a while, so get cosy and grab a cup of tea or hot chocolate.
If you haven’t seen me for 10 years and you saw me on the street now, chances are you probably would not recognise me! And if you cannot already tell (from all my food posts), I love food and I have loved food all my life. I am a true Malaysian at heart who loves her food and sometimes us Malaysians we live to eat (rather than eat to live) 😅😂😂 At breakfast, we will already be planning what we are going to eat for lunch and dinner and meals for the next few days 😂 And to add to that, I have been overweight ever since I can remember. From kindergarten to high school, I used to hate it when we had to weigh ourselves at school because I would always be one of the heavier students, if not the heaviest. I was embarrassed by this but I never really showed this to anyone. I always tried to hide it by doing well academically in school and achieving top marks to compensate for my weight.
Food was life (and still is) to me. I used to overeat and indulge in one too many sweets very often. And I did not exercise very often and if I did, I was not consistent. It was not until after my 21st birthday that I started to do something about my weight and eating habits after a health check up.
I started my weight loss journey walking – I walked everyday at my local park. Walks turned into jogs then into runs as I got fitter by the day. I was quite impressed being able to run past people I thought was running fast. And no, I did not join any fancy gym back then (I was a poor university graduate then). So, it was just me and my feet 😅 I would walk/jog for 45-60 minutes each day regardless of the weather. Call me crazy, but I was committed to making this lifestyle change and I would still go for my walk/jog if it was raining (of course not if it was torrential and/or there was lightning/thunder). On days with extremely bad weather, I would use this little manual step machine (which eventually broke because I think I overused it) that my parents had at home and step on it for 20-30 minutes as well as some light resistance and ab workouts at home.
I also changed my eating habits. I cut down the amount of sweets that I ate and reduced my portion sizes at each meal. The key was making gradual changes. I did not just stop eating all the sweets and significantly reduce my portion sizes overnight. Rather, I reduced the amount of sugar in my hot drinks from 2 tsp to 1 tsp to 1/2 tsp and now, I do not have any sugar in my drinks. And if I did want a sweet tea, I would add a tsp of honey 🍯 instead. I did not have those 3-in-1 coffees/teas that would have all the coffee, milk & sugar in them as they contain a lot of sugar! If I was craving for a 3-in-1 coffee, I would have 1/3 or 1/2 a packet instead. These might not sound like big changes but they all add up. And it is true what they say, sugar is like a drug, once you start, you can get addicted and it is very difficult stop having sugar 😛
I reduced the amount of simple carbohydrates that I was eating like processed cookies/biscuits, chocolates, packaged food, white rice and white bread and ate more complex carbohydrates such as brown/red rice, wholemeal bread and whole foods such as vegetables and fruits. I followed the simple rule of upping my vegetables and fruits intake and reduced the amount of carbohydrates, protein and processed foods. Vegetables and fruit are high in fibre and will keep you fuller for longer. I know a lot of people believe protein such as fish, chicken, eggs and meat are good for weight loss, but I had a big appetite back then and I could eat up to 2-3 fish fillets in one meal 😱😅😅 So, increasing my protein intake was not going to be helpful for my weight loss. And it is important to remember when you are trying to lose weight, the amount of energy you are expanding should exceed the amount of energy you are consuming. So, if you are having more protein and your overall calorie intake is more than your calorie expenditure, you are not going to lose weight!
I would have a cheat meal/day every week where I would eat whatever my body craved. But I did not allow a cheat day to turn into a cheat week or a cheat month. Remember, it is all about gradual changes and changes that are sustainable for your lifestyle. There is no point doing something that is unsustainable to lose weight as once you stop doing that, chances are you will put the weight back on and even more!Having a cheat meal/day once a week is not going to hurt your weight loss journey (as long as it is not overboard) as your weight tends to change from one week to another rather fluctuations from one day to another. And if you really enjoy a food that you think is unhealthy, do not give it up entirely, rather have a smaller portion of it or have it less frequently. Because if you do deprive yourself of your favourite food, chances are there will come a day where you will crash and burn and consume an entire packet of favourite food and feel guilty about it! For example, I still have peanut butter almost every night but I only have 1-2 tbsp peanut butter rather than a whole jar in one sitting 😅
So, in summary I guess I was successful in my weight loss journey because of the following:
- I made lifestyle changes rather than a diet. I ate healthier and exercised regularly;
- I reduced my portion size at each meal;
- I ate more whole food & fresh veggies/fruits and less packaged food;
- I ate food that I love in moderation. I still had food that I love and some people call unhealthy such as cakes, cookies and bread;
- If I was going out for meals, I would order healthier options and I would eat until I was 80% full rather than completely full;
- I ditched checking the scales everyday rather I checked every couple of weeks or every month. I know this is difficult but you don’t want to be discouraged by day to day weight fluctuations;
- I did not count calories – I just filled half plate with veggies, a quarter with protein, an eight with healthy fats and the remaining eight with complex carbohydrates. If I was still hungry after this, I will drink some water and if I was still hungry, I would have more veggies;
- I did not give up when my weight plateaued and I was consistent with exercising and healthy eating;
- And lastly, I did it for myself, to be healthier and fitter rather than for anyone else!
And I am happy to say 10 years on, I have been able to keep the weight off because I chose to lead a healthier lifestyle rather than choose a diet that would see me lose weight as quick as I would put it back on. Yes, I over indulge on holidays or during festive seasons, but I do not let the overindulgence continue after my holidays or the festive season. Instead, I get back into my now normal lifestyle with exercising and healthy eating.
Everyone has a story. What’s your story?
Happy new year,