I've been meaning to write this blog post for you guys since last September but I wasn't able to gather all the things I've learned and practised into a written, coherent blog post until now. I apologise for the delay. Let's get right into it shall we?
- Left photo: April 2015, right photo: September 2016, weight difference: 12 kg. -
I lost 12 kg in a year and a half, and kept it off. How did I do it? I changed my lifestyle into a happier, healthier, sustainable one (keyword: sustainable). Was it easy to change? Nah, fam. Was it worth it? Definitely.
Quick backstory: I've always been on the heavier side. My weight has been fluctuating wildly since my teenage years due to multiple failed attempts of losing weight. I often lost weight and gained it back eventually. In hindsight, I realised that I didn't do enough research on fitness and proper nutrition, and my past workout routines and diets were actually unsustainable and unhealthy. More importantly, I had a very ugly mentality where I wanted to lose weight because I hated my body, which got me nowhere.
So what changed? I found somebody to guide and support me in the right direction. This person did extensive amount of research on how to workout and eat properly, and he taught me the healthy, sustainable way to lose weight. You guessed it, that person is my boyfriend, Akash. With his help and my own motivation, I started going to the gym regularly and became more conscious of what I eat. My goals were to lose fat (the number on the scale didn't matter much to me) and get stronger (lift heavier). Along the way, I learned to accept and love the body that I have.
Here, I'm going to share with you how I adjusted my mindset, diet and exercise to help me lose 12 kg and maintain a happy, healthy lifestyle - along with some tips and helpful links for you.
- Important notes -
I am not a professional in any way. These are the things I've been practising and learning from my own personal experience, with the guidance and support from Akash.
If you have any serious physical health problems, please consult your doctor first before changing your diet or starting a new exercise programme.
Everyone's body and goals are different - mine are probably different from yours - so it's important that you do the things that works best for you personally. However, I hope my story and tips will guide you in the right direction.
- Left photo: April 2015, right photo: January 2017 -
- Mindset -
Having the right mindset while going on a weight loss journey is the most important thing, in my opinion. Without the following thoughts and intentions, I wouldn't have come this far into my own journey.
This is a lifestyle change, not a quick fix or fad. It's okay to go off track sometimes, don't beat yourself up for it.
I learned to exercise and eat healthier with the intention of caring for my mind and body, not from self-loathing.
I learned that ideal beauty standards are bullsh*t. I strive to always be a better version of myself, not anyone else's idea of beauty.
I set realistic expectations. I have a big frame, pear-shaped body meaning I'm naturally thick and store most of my fat in the lower half of my body. Therefore, I didn't expect to have super slim legs even after losing 12 kg. I'll always have big thighs, and I'm cool with that. I also knew that it'll be fairly easy to lose fat from my stomach and upper body simply because I knew that's just how my body works. (Find out your body shape here or here.)
I don't compare myself to other girls. The only person I compete with is the girl I see in the mirror.
I'm always a work in progress, and that's the fun part of this lifestyle.
- Diet -
I eat right, not eat less.
I try to eat more nutrient dense food, lean meat (chicken/turkey breasts, fish etc.), healthy fats (almonds, olive oil etc.), fruits, vegetables and eat less processed and junk food. When I cook, I tend to substitute unhealthy-ish ingredients with healthier ones. For example, I use chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs (because the breasts have less saturated fat). I also drink lots and lots of water.
Oh erm, I guess I should mention that I don't drink alcohol. Ever. Yeah. If you do and you want to lose weight, then you should probably control the amount of alcohol you consume. (Here's why.)
I eat intuitively and mindfully.
I don't count calories or track my macros. I used to years ago but it didn't work for me as it lead me to have toxic and unhealthy habits. Instead, I listen closely to my body. I eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm almost full. I pay attention when I'm eating. I know it sounds very elementary but it helps me tremendously in terms of losing weight.
I meal prep.
When I cook, I prepare big batches of food. It takes me about 3 hours to cook enough food that lasts for almost a week (for my lunches and dinners). I also weigh my food so I eat about the same amount of "carbs" and "protein" every meal. For example, when I prepare laab gai (Thai spicy chicken), I weigh out 100g of rice and 100g of the chicken alongside a bunch of veggies. I don't need to prep my breakfast because they're pretty quick and easy to make in the morning. I'll make another blog post with some of the food I like to cook some time soon.
I treat myself in moderation.
Your girl here is a foodie. I love love love food, both the healthy and unhealthy ones. I'd say I eat clean 80% of the time and treat myself 20%. I usually eat my clean, homemade food 5-6 days of the week and treat myself with junk food 1-2 days a week. I cherish those treat days very much, hehe. However, if I really crave for a cookie on my 'clean' day then I'll probably munch on a cookie (or two) and that's okay. It's all about moderation, not deprivation.
- Exercise -
I do exercises that I truly enjoy.
This is probably one of the most important things to keep in mind. For me, I enjoy mainly weight training (bodybuilding style) as well as plyometrics and cardio. I'll write another blog post explaining why I personally chose and love weight training later.
Tip: Try out different types of exercises - whether that's a sport, yoga, dancing, weight training, cycling or running etc. - to see which one(s) you enjoy best and see yourself doing regularly for a long time. There are so many physical activities that you can do, and it's important to choose exercise(s) that you enjoy most. It could be anything, as long as you get your - sexy - body moving.
I work out consistently, most of the time.
Consistency is the key but it's okay to be flexible too. Personally, I aim to work out 3-4 times a week. However during exam seasons or family holidays, I only went to gym once or not at all for a week or so, and then bounced back to my normal routine after the exams or holidays were over. During those times, I became extra conscious of my diet and made sure not to overeat.
Tip: Plan and make time for your workouts. Exercise doesn’t take a lot of time, all it takes is commitment. I believe you can make time to exercise for just 20 minutes to an hour or so, a couple times a week. You can also find workout buddy(s) so you can keep each other accountable and motivate one another. Remember that it's okay to skip some sessions if there are other important priorities you have to take care of, and don't feel bad about it. Just make sure to go back to your normal routine every time.
I keep a workout log.
I use it to plan my workout - where I write down exercises I plan to do before each gym session - and also to track my progress. It makes me very happy and motivated to note that I'm able to lift heavier and heavier over the months and that I've been hitting the gym regularly. I also write down any extra info like how I felt that day because why not haha.
Tip: This is not necessary of course (Akash doesn't have one) but personally I find that having a workout log/diary can help you stay organised and motivated. It doesn't have to be as detailed as mine - a workout log could be as simple as marking down the days that you are planning on exercising and/or have exercised on your calendar. Whatever works best for you.
I'm always learning and being inspired.
Apart from my boyfriend, Instagram is my go-to place for inspiration, knowledge and new workout ideas. I tend to follow girls who post workout videos, share their useful knowledge or are simply inspirational and authentic.
Some of my fave fitness IG accounts: whitneyysimmons - she's my all-time fave inspo, her YouTube videos are amazing too / iifym_meesh - my #1 fave bodybuilder / carolinetusiuk - her advice on nutrition and fitness is fantastic, also great workout vids / _kellyu - making self-love the new sexy / gaugegirltraining - very inspiring, wise posts / cynthialeu - the most down-to-earth, humble powerlifter ever, been a fan of hers for years / achangpt - I love everything that she posts
- Take-home message -
These are the things that work for me, personally. Everybody's interests, body and goals are different, and some of the things I do may or may not be ideal for you. So please do your own research (Google everything, watch informational YouTube videos, follow well-informed fitness IG accounts etc.), educate yourself about fitness and proper nutrition (starving/purging yourself is NOT an option, okay?), experiment with different types of exercises and food, and figure out what works best for you.
The fact that you read this blog post shows that you have some sort of motivation to lose weight or change your lifestyle into a healthier one already, so go you. Keep in mind that it took me around 3 months before I started seeing any big differences on my body so be patient and consistent with your healthy habits, and I promise results will follow.
I know that this is a long post but to be honest, I still haven't covered everything that went into my weight loss journey yet. I'll get into more specific things like what I eat in a day, how I track my progress and my workout routines etc. in future posts. I'm actually bulking right now hah, but more on that later as well.
I hope you found this useful.
P.S. Before you go, please give this a read: you're already perfect.