When I was first asked to write about this, I wasn’t too keen on talking about it. You see, I used to be really obese. In fact, I weighed in at 107kg at my heaviest point. It wasn’t fun to be carrying that much weight around because people made fun of me and it felt like no one really liked me.
Before I could achieve my current weight and fitness levels, I struggled through multiple failures and success milestones. I lost a lot of weight and learnt a lot about myself in the process. Unlike most people, my weight loss story begins in the waiting room of a doctor’s office.
I wasn’t a happy teenager. In fact, I was consistently getting into fights, and lots of argument with teachers. Things got pretty bad when I was 16 and had to go for counselling. On top of that, I spent some time on a prescription of antidepressants to counter my moods.
Taking antidepressants in the midst of puberty did strange things to me. At the beginning, I started to get hungry more often. Later on, I got physically active, playing team sports intensively and fuelling an even larger appetite. I lost weight quickly and became quite skinny. At that point, I was actually quite impressed with myself.
Unfortunately for me, the appetite didn’t go away even after I stopped taking antidepressants and being physically active. I ballooned rapidly, and by the time I was 19, I weighed in at 107kg. At that time, enlistment into National Service loomed over me but I really couldn’t be bothered.
National Service was truly brutal for a heavy person like me. I shed a ton of weight in the army from the physically strenuous training. The daily regime of running and weight-bearing exercises had a positive effect on me, while the constant outfield training helped me cut fat and toughen up. I turned into a very fit and functional 60kg.
However, the one thing I didn’t change was my mindset towards eating and exercise. I still didn’t care about eating carefully, and I loathed exercise.
None of that mattered until I got injured, lost mobility for a good six months and went up to 90kg.
I was really quite upset with myself and resolved to do better. This time round, I did things differently.
In the six months when I was out of action, I did the following:
- Understood the difference between a controlled diet and a crash diet.
- Learnt about building my own exercise regime.
- Cultivated a mindset of fitness, health and wellness.
Kickstart a simple habit
After my body became fully functional, I started by choosing just one physical activity that I enjoyed. My personal requirement was simple: I had to do it everyday. I chose a simple, easy activity that I could scale up when I needed a challenge: running.
I started small, with short 2km runs that conditioned my body. I adjusted my diet to supplement weight loss, then extended my distances. I started to lose weight fast.
Hitting the pavement and pumping iron wasn’t going to be enough. I needed to lose fat and gain muscle mass fast. To do that, I tapped upon the wholesome goodness of my mother’s home cooked food.
Dinners like these would be a regular fixture for many nights. She would prepare a great mix of proteins and vegetables that would nourish my body and help me lose weight while staying full!
Breakfasts were also rather wholesome. I had regular intake of fruits, coupled with coffee for breakfast.
The Next Level
I have a habit of pushing my boundaries, so when I achieved weight loss, I wondered what else I could do to look and feel better. I was also, at that time, a fresh graduate who had to work many hours in the office. This meant I had less time to exercise and more time sitting on a chair. I had to adapt, so I did my research and then started to add HIIT workouts to my training schedule. What that gave me was leaner muscle mass and a hiked up metabolism.
Remember: There is no aftermath
After 11 years of putting on weight, losing it all and keeping it at bay, the key thing I learnt is that there is no such thing as an end to this journey.
The thing is, our bodies continue to change as we age. The science of workouts and weight loss evolve every year, coming up with new techniques to enhance and improve our bodies. With so much change occurring, the only way to stay healthy and fit is to keep on top of new information, be consistent with workouts and choose the right foods.
Remember: Your body won’t last forever, so make the best of it while you can!