This was what I wanted to accomplish as the weeks neared to May 14, Mother’s Day celebration this year, which also happened to be the 90th and final day of my weight management program.
When the night came, I said thanksgiving to God, for my Mom and Dad, for the 90-day journey. It felt like a marathon just ended, but I know deep inside that this is only the beginning. So finishing strong may be the same as beginning strong.
The 90-day journey will continue up to the end of my earthly life, and may the good habits I formed and the lessons I have learned sustain me in choosing and pursuing a healthy lifestyle every single day.
As a conclusion to this chapter, I would like to share significant pointers I’ve learned throughout this journey:
1. Form good habits.
Since my weight management program transcends 90 days (3 months), that’s a pretty long time to start and build new good habits. This is what I love about this program. It doesn’t make you dependent on its recommendations nor its supplements, but rather, it helps you form time-bound routines.
I would exercise during 3 days a week. I would do cardio, punches, kicks, weights, and body trimmer at least 30 to 60 minutes in a day.
After meals, I would make time to jot down my food intake for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner.
For every meal, I measured my portions to the right amount that my body needed. I also made sure that I had protein, carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables in every meal.
If you want to lose fat, don’t ever skip meals. Our bodies need food as fuel and it requires a minimum amount of energy to operate vital functions; skipping will only get ourselves weaker and weaker. If we’re hungry, we won’t be able to do what we need to do. Always remember that there is a safer and healthier way to manage our weight, and it’s not by starving ourselves.
Because of these habits, my body now consumes only what is necessary; whenever I would eat more on occasion, I will instantly feel and know, because my body has been trained to the right food portions already and delved away from my old ‘last cup of rice + 1 + 1’ or ‘I’ll burn the calories later but gets lazy afterwards’ excuses.
2. Write in a food journal.
This helped me look at the big picture. If I see that I’ve eaten something that wasn’t recommended by the program in – let’s say, two consecutive days – I would backtrack and reprimand myself for letting myself eat what wasn’t needed. (When I recovered from acid reflux, that’s when I started doing a food journal. It doesn’t have to be a fancy notebook; all you need is a small simple one. The food diary above is included in the program.)
3. Evaluate your past food and lifestyle choices.
Ever since, I’ve always been chubby. From elementary school days to first year college, I was big.
As I got into academics and extra-curricular activities more, I got busier and more stressed. On my third year which was 2012, my body took its toll – I got acid reflux, had to drop all of my subject at schools except for one, and recover for three months (that’s one term in our school).
In the photo above, the leftmost 2012 photo is during the three-month-long recovery. The one next to it was after a month or two of it. That was the lightest I’ve been in my life, somewhere around 60 kilograms.
In 2013, I was able to start working out, but eventually, when work started and I became busier, there was little time to exercise. In 2014, I maintained my weight, but after the acid reflux chapter in my life, I gained my appetite back. Since 2014, my weight went up and down. I couldn’t maintain it at all until December 2016 and January 2017 came – I was at 78.6 kilograms.
I couldn’t breathe easily, and the percentage of visceral fat (the fat surrounding our internal organs) was high. So on February 14, I started my 90-day weight management journey.
While on the program, it gave me time to evaluate my past choices. Why I overate. How much time I had to work out in my current schedule. What would good health provide me, my family, and my dreams. Why I didn’t get to exercise much. What my motivations were. How I perceived the number on the scale and my body image. What the consequences were because of my negative attitude.
From carefully evaluating where we were and what our current scenario and habits are, we can change what needs to be changed to move forward in pursuing our health goals.
4. Combat temptations. Listen to your body. Repent for every wrong thing you’ve done.
To be honest, it wasn’t an easy ride. There were times when I wanted to eat pastries (I am such a bread person. Haha!) There were times I wanted to eat more cheese than I ought to. There were times when I didn’t want to work out. There were times that I convinced my Mom that we eat outside when instead we could just have our protein shake at home.
I learned about accountability in health. That was my choice, my poor choice and not somebody else’s influence or persuasion – to overeat at times – and I must be accountable to the consequences. If I gained a few pounds or so, that was the result of my own poor action.
Because of this, I need to repent of that. I studied my emotions, I listened to my body; I know that I’ve eaten more than enough when I feel guilt. Instead of wallowing in it, I must acknowledge my lack of control and say to myself I have to work out harder the next day.
If we can’t control our cravings, if we can’t win over temptations in the little things, how much more in the big things?
5. Take food supplements.
I wasn’t religious in taking my vitamin C supplements. But because of the program, I learned the importance of dietary supplements, and we’re not talking about just vitamin C. Supplements are not meant to be substitutes to actual fruits and vegetables. From the word itself, they are just to add more nutrition to our daily diet.
It helps to find a great supplement, because we surely cannot get the appropriate amount of vitamins and minerals from food alone, especially if today, we may (or we may have already) consume fruits and vegetables that had pesticide sprayed on them.
Ever since I took the supplements included in the program, I definitely felt healthier!
6. Find your main motivation and values.
To be able to pursue a healthy lifestyle and maintain it, I knew that my main motivation had to be strong. It shouldn’t be something as simple as just wanting to look good. We have to dig deeper, ask more why’s than necessary. If we encounter obstacles and temptations along the way to our health goals, we can go back to the reason we started this journey.
Also, find your values. Your non-negotiables like the value of integrity, discipline, and honesty. What is the foundation of our healthy lifestyles? If it’s built on just ‘looking good,’ it won’t last strong. Of course, we all do want to look good, but make sure that this isn’t the only objective, and that this is grounded on a pure purpose rather than wanting to be liked or admired by many people. Think of how looking good can be a way to glorify God and to respect our bodies which were made in His image. Make sure you are not framing yourself in a not modest way.
Discipline too – this is universal; it is not only essential in health. Train yourself to do the hard things, to exercise when your flesh says no, to say no to the extra piece of cake, to glorify and worship God by caring for our bodies the right way and not stuffing ourselves for comfort.
7. Pray about your motivations.
Because of our approval-craving society and the pressures of social media, we can get sidetracked. If you start pitying yourself, being too hard on yourself, or you find yourself being hungry for people’s approval more than wanting to be truly healthy, pray to God about your motivations.
Please give yourself grace and forgiveness as well.
Pray that He guides you in respecting your and other people’s bodies, in understanding its limits, and in anchoring your healthy lifestyle to something like wanting to be in good shape, so you could serve God and your neighbors in a healthy body.
Then listen to how and what He will reply. Acknowledgment to yourself and confession to God can immensely help in grounding our objectives.
Remember who you are doing it all for. Ground your motivations on wanting to be healthy, so you could take care of your parents, your siblings, our families, and other people.
8. Read and understand.
Ever since I started this weight management program, I learned more about the importance of carbohydrates, protein, fruits, and vegetables. I learned about antioxidants too and free radicals. I learned about oxidative stress (too much exercise can cause damage to our bodies!).
I also found more about non-meat protein sources like yogurt, eggs, cauliflower, and tofu.
Research and see what you can apply to your daily diet and lifestyle today.
9. Make the shift from sedentary to active.
While food (its preparations, the kind, and portioning) is a big chunk of weight management, there is also the added benefits of exercise. Find a sport that you love or you’re comfortable in, but when you start getting too comfortable to it, it’s time to bring in more tension and challenges to your body. Invite your friends or officemates for badminton or jogging nights or weekends.
I didn’t let my body do more than four weightlifting exercises during my first few weeks. If we’ve been sedentary for most of our lives, we have to give time for our bodies to condition itself. But as I got into the two months, I added more exercises. I added a bit more intensity. And I also extended to working out from 30 minutes to an hour.
Just make sure that your body is moving and growing as the intensity of your workout or the pounds of your weights increases gradually! But listen well to the limits of your body. Give it ample time to rest and repair.
Jango taught me to start lifting weights, so I started doing it last January 2016. It helps to build and tone muscles which is our metabolic engine. Right now, I can feel the muscles in my arms and legs! Including protein like steamed fish or boiled chicken or eggs will help in growing muscles.
But of course, we can’t let it atrophy, so let’s go train our muscles!
And on another note, to make exercising more fun, add exciting, climactic, instrumental music! Or anything that will keep our energy up. I find that it’s more fun to do jumping jacks, jogging in place, squats, and lunges when I play Earth, Wind, and Fire’s September!
10. As much as possible, prepare your own food and don’t eat out.
Most of the time we eat out, there’s a tendency that I could eat a little more than I should. If you don’t want to be tempted, stay away from situations you could be tempted. Stay clear from deep fried food and sugary desserts!
If going on a trip, you could bring a protein shake or prepare a healthy sandwich ahead.
But still, as much as possible, put your own food together – at least, you get to source, clean, and prepare it the way you want.
Try to evade deep frying too and putting more cheese than you should to the baked fish fillet…
11. Change your perspective.
Here’s a very significant thing that I’ve learned.
We truly cannot see the beauty of a person from the inside just by looking at her appearances.
We also cannot see the overall status of her health.
For years, I’ve had body issues. Or maybe, the better phrasing would be this: “I’ve always seen my body negatively.” I was fat for most of my life, I had gotten called names before in high school, and one I could remember was Godzilla… Haha! And during our first year of college I was nicknamed Hagrid (Hey, at least, they remembered me. Haha!)
Every time battery exams took place during P.E., I would feel discouraged or ashamed, because then, chubby me would have to take a 1-meter jump and end up with just a foot or two from the marker. I would have to face moments of private rejection, because I’d either be overweight or obese, never normal.
Sometimes, I didn’t feel feminine because of that. Because of my bigness. Other girls were slimmer, and I wrongly gauged being feminine and beautiful to our body size and weight.
This brought so much shameful, negative, and painful consequences to me growing up and experiencing college – all because I based my worth and beauty on something as unstable or unsure as a number on a scale. I had low self-esteem, I was chubby, I was shy, and I was introverted – a terrific combination.
But I’m happy to say that I’ve healed from these times. Come to think of it, I didn’t really take all those insults personally before, but of course, just because I didn’t take it personally doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt or it didn’t have negative effects on my thinking.
It took a long time for me, and sometimes, I still have to remind myself that we are not our weight. That our worth or beauty is not in looks nor our size. God made us all differently, and we are unique and beautiful the way we are. How could we say we are unpleasant-looking or we are unworthy when we are approved by God?
Regarding our health and body composition, when we look at a person, we cannot completely say he is healthy. One person may look healthy to us, because he is thin. We often equate being thin to being healthy. That’s the standard we’ve set up in society.
One person may appear healthy to us, because her weight is around 55 kilograms. But we do not know if it’s mostly muscle or subcutaneous/visceral fat. But what is she’s 70 kilograms? Or 80? Before we could conclude her heaviness, maybe she has more muscle than fat.
A body-building athlete is physically fit, yet we say he is not, for his BMI says he is obese.
Our weight and BMI are good references, yes, but they do not tell the whole picture.
We must change the way we look at our weight and the words obese, overweight, normal, and underweight. It’s not the final thing, and pursuing a healthy lifestyle is never too late for anyone, regardless of our age, weight, size, shape, BMI, or conditions. The important thing is we know we are secure in our identity and love in Christ, and that we are actually doing something (small steps add up to big changes!).
I know that we do not consciously choose to be in poor health. Sometimes, we let our circumstances, conditions, or excuses bind us immobile. True, making the move from sedentary to active will be difficult, but if you find a great support team in God, your family, friends, or officemates, you can do it gradually.
We already have the desire, now we must take action, and sustain!
12. Share your journey.
I never thought I would ever post photos of my chubby layers (haha!), but if we are to be sincere in helping and inspiring others too to take control of their health, I have to be brave in acknowledging my weaknesses and where my health currently stands.
In showing our own vulnerability and honesty, we invite others to embrace their own.
In showing our progress over negativity, we encourage others to make their move as well.
Share your journey. Your ups and downs. Record them, and when you finally achieved a health goal, you can look back at them.
Whatever pain you may be experiencing, remember that you are going through it, because you will someday help someone get through it as well. Offer the pain to God and the people you are doing it for.
And those are the 12 lessons that I’ve learned so far in my journey.
And so after 90 days…
Four kilos lost…
2.1% increase in skeletal muscle…
5.1% body fat lost…
2.5% visceral fat lost…
And a total of 31.5 centimeters lost from my upper arms, waist, abdomen, hip, thigh, and calf…
I’ve finished with my TR90 Weight Management Program.
I’m thankful for God for keeping me focused on what He wants me to accomplish, for my Mom and Dad and our family and my friends for their support, discipline, and advices, and for the people behind the program, for their dedication in helping people take control of their health again. Thank you too to my cousins for being inspirations, because they always share about their health journeys.
Finishing the TR90 journey didn’t feel like an ending. Like what I said, this is only the beginning. I still have so much to learn, I still have a long way to go.
Here’s to a lifetime of pursuing good health for us and our families, dear friends.