Monday, 26 August 2013

Weight Loss - My True Story

Now that I finally have more free time in my hand, it hits me that I should start blogging again; starting with what I’ve been up to for the past 1 year.

Well, I’ve been working on shedding some pounds and here’s my true story. It is a long one so apologies in advance.


I had always been skinny as a kid because I never like eating. Being one of those annoying children that runs around during meal time, I probably burnt more calories than what I ate daily. Finally, in high school I started to find a passion and love for food. I would eat almost everything. Sometimes it feels as though I ate in revenge of all the meals I rejected as a kid.

In high school, I would do anything to escape PE classes because I hated sweating and having to get through the entire day of class smelling like crap. Constantly I ate like the world is gonna end the next day. All that was in my mind when I see food is either eat now or I won’t ever get a chance to eat again. If I could recall correctly, I grew from mere 45kg to 56kg in the span of 5 years. Some may say it is just puberty and part of adolescence but honestly, I think it is just pure gluttony.

The beginning of the journey towards obesity

Sept 2008: This was taken from an extremely good angle. Definitely much fatter in reality at this point of my life.
After high school, I started working part time in an Italian restaurant where my boss would constantly feed me and my colleagues with Italian supper from the kitchen after our 10pm shift about twice in a month. Imagine those rich pasta and pizza going into your stomach at such hours. How not to grow fat? Finally, I broke the 60kg barrier.

Then came the college days. Living a sedentary lifestyle and eating out everyday just made everything worse. Besides those frequent late night mamak sessions, I had minimal to no exercise. I think I didn’t even walk 2000 steps a day (when a healthy person should take 10000 steps a day). From time to time, I would come to realise that I need to try to shed some weight but I never tried hard enough. I would control my meal intakes for a few days and then give up; play badminton for an hour then eat a whole plate of mee goreng ayam for supper. Two years in A Levels made me grew to 67kg.

Aug 2009: Two months into college days - I LOOKED LIKE A BALL!

June 2011: The last day of college and the damage is pretty obvious

Finally, my first year in university. Living in London was a brand new experience for me. Given my passion for food, I was eating, eating, eating and eating. From French pastries, chocolates, takeaways, pizza, Chinese, Korean, Japanese; seriously almost everything that came my way. To make things worse, I lived 20 minutes walk from my university campus (considered relatively near in a country where everyone walks everywhere) and the only time I walked to school was on my first day. The rest of the time I just took a bus because all I had in my mind was ‘it’s too cold to walk’. Since the Easter holidays in April started, takeaways, pizza and instant noodles with added ingredients like sausages, egg etc. became my staple.

In addition to that, I was chasing an impossible dream of winning the grand prize from McDonald’s annual Monopoly game. With the purchase of McDonald’s food and drinks, stickers of property for the contest could be collected. Similar to the Monopoly game, the aim is to collect a set of same colour property. So, the more McDonald’s that I ate, more stickers were collected, the higher the chance of completing a set of same colour stickers and the fatter I grew.

Finally, I made it into the 70kg category. (I am making it sound like an achievement LOL)

Through these few years, I grew from underweight to normal to overweight and finally I hit OBESE, extremely obese to be exact. Being only 4ft11, my BMI was hovering at about 31.5.

September 2011: At my farewell dinner with my friends, I was hovering close to the 70 kg barrier.

Right before departing for London

Instant noodles with pork balls, egg and ham slices - my supper for most nights and staple throughout revision weeks


Honestly, it was not until June 2012 that I finally realised that something had to be done about my weight. Despite my interest in photography, I started to avoid taking pictures of myself. I just dreaded the thought of being photographed because I look horrible in every single photo.

The post exam trip to Sweden with a group of my uni mates completely changed everything. Well, a couple of photos from the trip gave me a serious wake up call. Not forgetting a message from my mom who told me right in my face to lose some weight because I am wasting money on holidays and looking ugly in every single photo.

With my ex-college mate after our exams

I look like the Michelin tyre guy. THOSE STACKS OF FATS *gasps*


The Beginning

July 2012 marked the beginning of my weight loss process. Coming home to Penang, a food heaven, it was an extremely difficult start. After 9 months being abroad with the absence of authentic Penang hawker food, I came home with a massive craving for everything but I needed to have self control.

The first few weeks were the most difficult time of my life. Starting off with the Tony Robbins 10-day challenge (something that my uncle picked up from Tony Robbins’ seminar a couple of years back), it was the most torturing 10 days of my life. For 10 days, I started my day with a glass of fresh fruit juice for breakfast. Then throughout the day my meals were salads and lots of vegetables, occasionally some fish, no meat or poultry and drinking lots of water. There is more to it like how to breathe etc.

(Just too lazy to explain) Read more about it here:

I could still recall that occasionally, I was eating salad in my car while hanging out with my friends. While my other friends were enjoying their food, I had to sit and stare then tell myself it will be worth it in the end. I made it through the challenging 10 days and managed to slot in some gym sessions in between. After 10 days, I managed to lose about 2kg.

Charging Ahead

After the 2kg head start, it was down to making sure that I maintain what I have lost and continue to lose even more. So, I resorted to calories counting. My Fitness Pal became my best friend. I was recording all meals and exercises and keeping track of my calories intake. Despite trying to keep my intake within 1200 calories a day, I slotted in one rest day every week. On those days, I would indulge in one of my favourite hawker food like Char Koay Teow, Hokkien Mee, Curry Mee etc.

The biggest change was eliminating the ‘bad’ food from my diet. For 21 years of my life, I have been a fan of instant noodles, fast food etc. Once and for all, I got rid of all these from my life. Instant noodles – the almost nutrition-less food, processed food like sausages, nuggets and burger patties, fast food like McDonalds and high sugar content drinks were all out of my diet. Anything with high saturated fat content was also a huge no-no.

Besides that, I started setting realistic goals of weight loss that I would be able to achieve and would not demotivate me. As part of my motivation, I made plans with one of my buddy that we would go for a beach holiday in summer 2013 and look presentable in beachwear. I also bought a dress which I could hardly fit and made it my goal to fit into the dress by a certain time.

Throughout the summer holidays, I was hitting the gym about 3 to 4 times a week. My buddies in Penang were amazingly encouraging and supportive. Most of the time they would hit the gym with me and made sure I reach my goal for the day.  After awhile, hitting the gym became a routine. I was addicted to the endorphins from all the exercise and it became such an easy thing to change into gym attire and run a couple of kilometers. The improvement from being able to jog/walk 1km to 2km and finally 3km and more was something that kept me moving forward. Though such distance seem minute to some, it was a great achievement for someone who hardly exercise.

By the end of summer, I’ve lost about 7kg.

Aug 2012: Few weeks into healthy diet and gym, change was on its way

Back to London: Progress & Hiatus

My trip back to London started off with two weeks of vacation with my family. Surprisingly, the holiday was quite a great motivation despite the damage it had on my calories count. In December 2011, I visited Paris with 3 friends and I struggled to climb up the steps of the Tower of Notre Dame. Halfway through, I was out of breath. This time around, I had no problems climbing to the very top of the tower without running out of breath or feeling that I would never make it up the tower alive. Not only that, in that two weeks I climbed up St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, the steps in Montmartre and the Arc de Triomphe. The proof of how 7kg of weight loss made such a huge difference was amazing. After the two weeks of vacation and all the sinful indulgence of pastries and pasta in Paris and Italy, going back to the usual healthy diet was quite a challenge.

Sept 2012: On the family vacation and I was already 7 kg lighter

Upon returning to London, I signed up for gym membership and told myself to make the most out of the £150 that I have paid. I was hitting the gym 4 to 5 times a week either before or after my lectures. My two gym buddies were extremely motivating and their company had made me push myself even harder and keeping me in constant check of my goals.

The advantage of living in the UK was the easy access to healthier option of food. There is always ready made salad available off the shelves if I could not find time to cook my own meals. The calories count displayed on almost everything made keeping track of my calories intake easier. Living on my own also mean I didn’t have to adhere to the standard Chinese home cooked meals where rice is a staple. Back home, my grandmother would ensure everyone is eating enough rice and I was always fed more rice than I can eat. Although I love her home cooked meals, the breakaway from the traditional Chinese way of dining was really helpful to my weight loss.

My daily homecooked meals in London

With steady progress for about 5 weeks, I bumped into a huge hiatus to my plan; a dislocated shoulder that put me away from the gym for almost 5 weeks. It was one of the most emotional times because at that point, I felt that all my efforts for the past 3 months were going into the drain. Undoubtedly, I was haunted by strings of negative thoughts and it was challenging physically and emotionally. At some point, I felt that I am almost destined to be obese for the rest of my life. The funniest memory from this hiatus was how I was crying in the A&E over not being able to exercise rather than the fact my shoulder was dislocated.

After a few physiotherapy sessions, I was cleared to hit the gym with the condition that I do not lift any weights. Finally, it was back to the treadmill. At last, in February 2013 my physiotherapist allowed me to lift light weights and everything was back on track.



By March 2013, a good 9 months from the start of my weight loss initiative; I had successfully lost 16kg to bring myself to a BMI of approximately 24.5. I reached my goals about 2 months ahead of schedule and it had been an amazing journey.

February 2013: Successfully shed off 12 kg

April 2013: Successfully lost 17 kg

It was a sweet taste of success because there was no supplements involved throughout the process. It was all down to a healthy diet (with some exceptions), self control, perseverance and tonnes of hard work. Honestly, I actually had so many rest days and indulged in quite a number of not-so-healthy snacks. Throughout the 9 months in London, I had about 5 tubs of Haagen-Dazs (they were always on half price – I just couldn’t resist), two seafood feast, a few Char Koay Teow in Chinatown, 3 huge bags of Walkers crisps, occasional drinks and some  famous Goldmine Roast Duck.

All the indulgence I had throughout my weight loss journey - lobster thermidor, dim sum, ice cream etc.

What made it possible was my own desires. I wanted to be healthier, to be fit, to live a better life and to keep those obesity related diseases away. The true desire for change that comes within is definitely stronger than any other external factors in life.

Finally in June 2013, the beach holiday plan materialised and Greece was an amazing getaway and self-reward. During the holiday, I was standing at about 18kg lighter than the summer of 2012. My dress size dropped by 3 sizes and never had I thought I would fit into such sizes in my entire life.

June 2013: GREECE!!!

June 2013: On the caldera of Santorini with an amazing group of friends

June 2013: The pledge made and fulfilled. At least I think I looked presentable in the beach wear.


Being home for the summer had set me back a little since I am interning and it’s been extremely difficult to find time to hit the gym. Putting on the pounds brought about some rather emotional thoughts.

Today, I still find it difficult to strike the balance of my love for food and the perseverance to keep myself in shape. The emotional struggle of to eat or not to eat and the guilt from overeating still affects me deeply. At times, my friends think I am plunging into the path of being anorexic. So what’s ahead is to find the balance between indulgence and keeping the pounds away.

A note to anyone reading this:
The key to losing the extra pound lies within yourself and the perseverance and effort will get you there. It's all about the right balance. Who says you have to starve to lose weight?

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