Since giving birth to my second child, it’s been a never-ending struggle to lose weight.
I weighed almost 80kg before giving birth, and took a few months to lose weight until 65kg, running once a week.
But then I gave up on health.
My second boy was very difficult to look after at night. He would sleep at 9–10pm, after which I’d do housework.
Then he would wake up at 12pm for a feed, another at 2–3am, and then wouldn’t be able to sleep until 5am.
He needed to sleep at a 45 degree angle to breathe properly, hence I had to carry him and lie down at 45 degrees.
At 5am he would be able to sleep better, and by that time I would catch an hour of rest before waking up at 6+am to get ready for work before he wakes up.
This went on for 7 months, and the amount of work that I was given was too overwhelming to manage, even having to work till 12am frequently at night.
I started having anxiety attacks, a few embarrassingly weepy breakdowns in front of people, many silent crying episodes by myself at night while putting the kids to sleep, and the occasional tense incidents with family because I wasn’t able to bear the expected “mother-load” of childcaring due to work.
Then thankfully I had some responsibilities taken away so I could manage work and personal time better, but I was 69kg and not able to lose weight.
I had lost my willpower to control my diet (just too tired from making too many other decisions especially at home).
I was frequently on the move (very disruptive) and was too preoccupied just trying to help my kids cope with school, illnesses and living up to everyone’s expectations. Unfortunately I was born with a tendency to care too much what other people think about it, hence making my anxiety worse.
But how did stress lead to my weight gain?
Eating was an unconscious way to get back some form of control and relieve stress, but I started running out of clothes to wear and people started commenting, stressing me out even further.
I felt really tired every day and just wanted to be left alone to sleep and hide from everything that was bearing me out.
I considered trying out various gym classes, especially those one-off ad hoc ones.
But my low self-esteem and sensitivity to other people’s comments and silent judgement of my fat body was a huge barrier, not to mention lack of time as I always had a tight schedule during the day.
What was the turning point?
Over the last year, I also met up with an ex-colleague and friend J a few times who decided to take back control of her diet and life (she actually didn’t tell me about it until a while later).
After not meeting her for a few months, and catching up with her again in November, I saw she looked slimmer, less tired and her eyebags had reduced in darkness.
Among with other updates about her life, she shared how she lost weight and took back control of her health.
I really wanted to do that but thought it would be better to do so after the festive period, because I would usually put on 2kg after Christmas, New Year, holidaying (I had a Taiwan and Malaysia trips planned) and Chinese New Year.
She challenged me to think: do I want to lose weight now and take back control of my health, or keep on postponing it?
I decided, it’s now or never. And if I really do lose weight over the festive period, I can lose weight over any period.
Starting the journey to self-recovery
After J helped me start the program and diet she was on, my 90 day challenge began.
The first week was tough.
I was really hungry and couldn’t balance out my diet, and would feel giddy often.
Apparently this is normal because I’m reducing my sugar intake and replacing with proteins instead.
But a WhatsApp chat support group that J set up with a couple of other ladies really helped motivate and guide my progress.
Initially I couldn’t run more than 25 minutes, but now I started to challenge myself to run just a little bit farther each week or two.
I set dates for myself to exercise, and would plan meals (roughly) the night before, which I’d write in a diary every day.
The second week was slightly better, but I was still giddy at times. I needed to space out my snacks more.
The third and fourth weeks were filled with Christmas meals and celebrations. I managed to lose weight nevertheless, even though I had 4 slices of logcake over this period.
Over my Taiwan trip, I planned in a hike almost every day, and feasted on apples and jujubes to hold up my sugar level.
On alternative nights, I’d do half an hour of aerobics mainly watching PopSugar YouTube videos. I lost weight muahahahaha.
I lost weight in Malaysia too!!
The only time I gained weight was over the Chinese New Year week (I love bakkwa), and that was about 700g.
Life started to look brighter
I found that by carefully planning my schedule to include dates/meetings with myself to exercise and re-scheduling other appointments, I was slowly putting my health above all other things and gaining back some control of my life.
I now have a digital weighing machine which can also measure muscle and fat %, among other things, which I can track my progress with a mobile app connected by Bluetooth.
At the end of 90 days, I had lost 5.3kg !!! Of which almost 4 kg are fats.
And now I weigh less than I have for the past 4+ years.
My fridge is stocked with fruits (NTUC FairPrice $2 value bag is my regular purchase), eggs, meat (especially chicken) and milk.
I hardly eat more than 1 slice of bread a day now (previously I could wolf down 2–3 servings a day), and don’t feel the yearning for oily food as much.
Occasionally I do indulge in a bit of prata, roast meat, BBQ meat (especially Korean, I love Korean food), Thai food and dessert (must share one).
I’m still continuing my weight loss and exercise journey, hopefully can hike more overseas, sail more and just enjoy the feeling of getting outdoors and burning fats.
Although I still have a belly pockmarked with stretch marks, I feel more confident of managing my life and diet better in the future.
One of the best things is that I actually have the energy to read 5 books to my kids before bedtime (when previously one was more than enough) and go out with them.
The thing about losing weight is that there are many things that will get in your way, such as cheap unhealthy food within easy reach, negative comments by others and not believing in yourself.
But if it helps, I think these tips below can make your journey towards better health more successful.
1. Plan everything, and write it down in detail
I plan what I need to eat per meal, example:
– 1 meat (chicken, fish) — fistsized
– 1 non-meat protein (like soya, mushroom, dairy) — fistsized
– 1 carbo — small ball
– 1 vegetable/fruit — big ball
J shared often with me how it is important to eat quality food, like fish, vegetables, fruits Vs junk food, oily food etc. It’s ok to eat if you’re hungry, just choose the quality food.
2. Set calendar meetings to exercise
If you don’t block out your time, then you’ll always find a reason not to exercise.
Even when I’m planning holidays, I build in time to exercise. It can be as simple as an aerobics workout in the hotel room.
3. Take things one step at a time
I wasn’t intending on losing 5 kg of weight actually when I first started. My first goal was to recalibrate my meals and plan my exercises. Whatever weight I lost would be a bonus.
I didn’t stress myself out by setting weight loss targets I didn’t have any clue if I could hit.
4. Think about what you can do, not what is out of your control
I can’t run fast or far, but I can start somewhere e.g. my 25 minute run, and just add a little bit more when I can.
My last run was a 75 minute non-stop run.
5. Surround yourself with supporters
Sometimes you just need someone else to believe in you too.
Besides my WhatsApp support group (which is dedicated to just me losing weight, and you can also have your own too), my family helped to ensure healthy food was easily available and we ate healthier meals.
My husband and I started to run and swim together again.
6. Celebrate victories, no matter how small
Even on a week whereby I only lost just a bit of weight, I celebrated!!
And on a week when I didn’t lose any weight but even gained weight (like Chinese New Year), J said not to worry, coz in the big picture, my weight is still going down and she encouraged me to jiayou for the next week.
7. Start today
If I had waited till the festive period was over, I may have had lost any feeling and motivation to give this weight loss programme a shot, because I would probably have weighed 71 kg and just felt like giving up even more on life.
But I’m glad I took the leap to start then and don’t regret it.
There are quite a few positive ripple effects on my life after I started the weight loss programme.
I felt I had more space and capacity to listen to people.
I’ve more energy for family.
I’ve more discipline to plan my work and time to what I want to achieve.
I reduced time-killers and mind-numb-ers like dramas and mobile games, and am now trying to finish 2 books, a python coding app (sololearn), and doing new things.
And I don’t feel so shitty about myself.
As with exercise, the hardest part is putting on your socks and shoes and stepping out of the door. Once you get through that, the path is smoother than your fears make you believe it is.
I hope if you’re wanting to take back control of your weight, health and life, you’ll choose to take that first step. No one can stop you but yourself.
There’s more to this which is impossible to share in one blogpost, but you can drop me an email if you want to learn more.
In the meantime, jiayou!
Originally published at Jules of Singapore.