The Weight Monster

My weight is something I struggled with growing up. Actually I still struggle with it. I've been on both sides of the pendulum with trying to actively lose and gain it. And it was just as hard for me to lose the chub I recklessly piled on over the past few years, carelessly abusing my body with eating my feelings, as it was for trying to gain the weight when I was growing up and insecure for being too skinny according to my peers.

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When people think of weight problems, they think of fat people but there's such a thing as being skinny shamed too and the complexes that come with it. 

No, the point of this is not to complain about being skinny. The point is, people don't realize that like fat-shaming, skinny shaming is just as wrong and hurtful and cause people to think there's something wrong with them, when in fact, there's nothing wrong. 
You also don't have to be medically overweight or underweight to have issues with your weight. It's all a mind game sometimes and how you perceive yourself. It's also a hard thing to learn to love yourself and accept things. I'm not going to tell you that I'm a "body positive" thinker. Because I'm not. I don't believe in it. I believe in being healthy, taking care of your body and actively working towards maintaining a healthy weight. It's just my personal view. This is not to throw shade at those with medical disorders and other things out of their control that affect their weight. I mean the people who CAN do something about it but choose not to and hide behind that "body positive" facade. And again, I know how hard it is to lose weight and be on that track and maintain discipline, but I don't believe in making excuses for making poor decisions about your health. 

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When I was a baby, my mom said I was a particular chubby baby, until I got severely sick at the refugee camp we were in, growing up in Thailand. It caused me to lose a lot of weight and my parents were really afraid of losing me, given the conditions in the camp, lack of basic medical care, and because I was so young and their first child. Somehow I fought through it but from then on, my mom said I was a very gangly child, skinny as all hell no matter how much she tried to fatten me up. This followed me through to adolescence. I was always super skinny and I got made fun of a lot in school because of it. Ironically, I was always eating. I was always trying to fatten myself up because I was tired of the comments about how skinny I was. But nothing ever happened. I couldn't gain weight for the life of me. And all the comments really bothered me growing up. You get tired of people always commenting on your body and their disapproval because you look like a bag of bones when you have no control over a fast metabolism. 

And then when I got to college, I was put on a meal plan and ate pretty much everything and then some from the dining hall, it being a free for all. I went crazy. I overate a lot. In 4 months time, I gained 20 lbs in ONE SEMESTER. It was terrible. I couldn't believe it. For years and years, I had an amazing metabolism. Once college hit though, it was gone. I had taken it for granted. I was really embarrassed of my weight gain, despite my not really looking that heavy at the time, when I look back on old pictures. I didn't look that dramatically different or bad, other than actually looking healthier for once. But this was such a deviation from the norm that it worried me. I changed my ways for the spring semester. I cut out all soda, I cut down on sweets, I restricted myself from fries and tried to eat more salads and picked more healthy alternatives and portions than my first semester. The switch from soda to water made a difference. I also started going to the gym at school. 

And then when my mom sent me to Vietnam one summer, I lost even more weight by getting sick from drinking the water accidentally. I was able to lose 10 lbs overall  but was never was able to get back down to 2 digits though although I wasn't particularly too worried about this. I was just embarassed that I thought the freshman 15 was a myth, let alone a freshman 20. 

I maintained a constant healthy weight all through the rest of my college years. And then when I graduated and started working for CVS, I don't know if it was stress-eating or what but I bumped it back up to my freshman 20 nightmares. I joined a local gym to train for my wedding and from wedding stress and all, I lost it back down to 111. And then I switched from retail to hospital pharmacy and because we get free food pretty often in the department, and from coworkers ordering food all the time, I somehow spiraled down this rabbit hole to 130 lbs which doesn't sound like a lot to some people but for my height, ethnicity and stature, it's a lot. My mom even commented that I was getting chubby. Asian moms are definitely pretty critical but they'll keep you in check. I was disgusted with myself. I was in a little bit of a depression last year because of my weight. Especially because I was still working out but there was no progress. I rejoined a local gym in my new hometown and was determined to work off this weight. For the first few months, nothing happened. But by pure luck, I met and befriended another gym member who was determined to help me reach my goals. I've been training with him and maintaining a healthy diet since January and long story short, I am now back down to where I was for my wedding! I've never been so happy to be just 110 lbs since it's been a while since I've felt like myself again. I've always been a confident person but there's a different confidence that comes with being comfortable with your weight. Everything fits again when I was just about to give up and throw out all my old favorite clothes. Now it's like re-discovering your closet. 

I've been maintaining my weight since reaching my goals in May. I've been rubber banding back and forth all summer, eating what I want on 1-2 cheat days a week, and then using the rest of the week to continue working out and eating healthy as recovery. I'm much happier now and have more control over my food and its portions. My weight loss is not a crazy transformation nor did I lose "a lot" of weight, but when you're short to begin with, a little bit of weight is noticeable. And the results showed on my body when I finally slimmed back down to where I was comfortable again with myself. 

But starting in a week and a half, my trainer wants to ramp it back up and lose 5 more lbs before I leave for Disney. At first I didn't think it was possible. That losing 5 more lbs on me might require cutting off a limb, but honestly there's still a slight layer of fat on my stomach left to shave off. And it would look really nice to have it gone for vacation and for my birthday. I'm determined to look my best for my big 3-0 so I'm feeling up to the challenge. Besides, it definitely paid off when I fully committed to lose my 20 lbs earlier this year. I retook photos at Lavender by the Bay and I'm much happier with how I look in them this year compared to my stubby looking Pooh bear body last year.

I also recently attended a friend's wedding this past week and everyone looked great. So I'm feeling really glad and proud of myself for losing the weight I did before summer. I would've felt so embarrassed that I got so heavy while all the girls were skinny, even AFTER their babies. Meanwhile, I'm still #teamnokids so I really have no excuse.

I made it a goal earlier this year to go to the gym for a full year. And even though I still fight every morning to get out of bed and go, I'm still pretty proud of myself for making to month 8. I've gone to the gym 5-7 days a week this entire year, with the exception of when I go away for vacations. 

I've accomplished a lot of fitness goals that I never thought possible either. I never imagined I was going to get back down to my wedding weight. And now, my new goal to get back down to college weight. I don't think I'll get back down to pre-college weight though. Looking back, I really did look sickly at 95 lbs even though I wasn't intentionally trying to be that tiny. I do look better with a little meat on my bones so I'm hoping when we get down to 105, that ends up being my ideal weight and look. I mean, I really love how my body looks right now, with the exception of that last layer of chub on my stomach. It's my biggest insecurity. I used to have such a nice stomach pre-college too but I was so ungrateful for what I had. Sometimes I feel like my weight gain and slowed metabolism was punishment for my unappreciation for what I had going on. 

On top of literal weight goals, I also never imagined I would lift weights. Back then I was just doing Insanity, cardio, and mat exercises. I started weight lifting this year and found that I actually really do enjoy it. It's not boring and monotonous like cardio. It's also more fulfilling. It's so cool to see you do better and better each week. In the beginning I had never leg pressed, deadlifted, chest pressed or did squats with weights before. It looked intimidating and scary af. And I won't lie, it was really hard when I first started. But slow by slow, I progressed and got stronger and now it's so cool to see how much I can deadlift on my own. Deadlifts are my favorite workout to do too. 

Another goal I'm looking to crush is to attempt and finish a half marathon and maybe one day a full marathon. A half is intimidating enough but it would be really cool to just be able to do it. I started running in the spring and it wasn't too bad as I learned to pace myself so I'm really hoping to start again in the fall and progress even more and be able to last longer. The plan is to start training when the weather gets cooler so I can progress in time for Disney Princess Half Marathon in February. 

During my weight loss journey, my workouts had consisted of 2 hours of weight lifting and 1 hour of cardio, approximately 5 days a week. I worked out a different group of muscles every day; one day legs, one day back, one day arms, one day chest and shoulders. This allowed me to not need to rest as much in between since it was a different muscle group every day. I also alternated 20-30 minutes of ab workouts every other day. Currently, I'm still doing the same routine, except not as vigorous and I cut out of the cardio for the summer. I'll probably bring it back into the fold come Sept 1. 

I also was eating really well during this time, eating clean every day and only cheating once every 2-3 weeks and usually only on days I had plans to be out with friends. I honestly never counted calories, macros, micros, etc. I simply followed a few rules my trainer had set for me, and sent pics of my meals to him for approval. I photo documented everything on my Instagram to keep me accountable and wrote down everything I ate and all my workouts in a food/workout diary. I had protein with every meal, only drank water and lemon, and cut out sugar and carbs. It was really hard and monotonous eating the same bland foods week to week and month to month but it paid off. It definitely took time, but my patience was rewarded. The weight came off and stayed off. And since I lost the weight at a healthy rate and didn't follow a fad diet or stupid fake tea cleanse, it didn't rubber band all back when I started to eat normal again and incorporate my favorite foods back into my regular eating. I simply learned discipline and portion control. 

I also feel a lot better too with a cleaner diet and regular exercise routine. I also haven't been sick since I started working out and eating better too. Fingers crossed, but I'm pretty sure the clean eating and detox of processed foods has helped with that too. When I'm eating super clean with very few cheat days, I'm also a lot less bloated and have little to no stomach pains or indigestion to deal with. Although you also learn how sensitive you are to certain foods and drinks. If I drink at a wedding, even a small sip, I'll bloat like a fish and feel it's effects for a few days. It's how bad the alcohol is for you. Cut it out of your diet and there goes a lot of your weight problems actually.

I mean let's be real, a burger and fries will definitely make me feel good instantly and I will definitely still have it from time to time, but overall, my mental health has definitely improved long term from avoiding all those foods. I feel better than I have in a while and a lot of days I go feeling like nothing can bring me down after a good workout. Like that exercise high will have you feeling like nothing can shake you. You could be having a bad day with things hitting you left and right but when you're in a different mindset, it doesn't affect you. It's a different sense of calm and peace with yourself and with others. It had me feeling really inspired and motivated to push through and keep going when I was in the midst of my weight loss goals. During my maintaining phase for the summer, I've been working out still but more lax on my diet so I haven't been feeling the same high as I got from going full force. Unfortunately it's a pick your poison. I do love that feeling but I also love food. So for the summer I took a break but I'm definitely looking forward to getting back into it for the fall to ramp it back up.

A cool and unexpected outcome of my weight loss journey was the cool people I met and helped inspire. I used Instagram as a platform to help keep me motivated and accountable. I only posted to make sure I didn't cheat. But it's so cool to see that my posts ended up helping people gain their own motivation and inspiration to better themselves as well. It's so awesome to read other people's stories, see their transformation photos and learn that because I didn't give up, they didn't either. I went every day even when the weather was absolutely terrible, through snow storms and all, and that had motivated people to not make any excuses if I was still pushing through it. I never claimed to be an expert, nor any type of fitness person. I was simply trying to document my own journey and progress. The ripple effect is really something. I'm glad it's helping someone. 

I'm dreading the Sept 1st startup but I'm also excited to try and see if I can crush yet another goal. I mean, obviously no one is looking forward to bland ass chicken, eggs, yogurt and vegetables for weeks on end, but slow and steady wins the race and patience is eventually rewarded. Let's kick it! 

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