From fat to fab: My secrets to an all-natural diet and exercise

Nothing is impossible. 

I used to weigh 198 pounds (90 kilos) standing 5’5" at mid 20s. My Body Mass Index (BMI) was 32.9, a number that falls under obesity.

In January 2014, I switched to healthy lifestyle. It was, by far, the best decision I ever made in my life. 


What triggered me to finally switch


Traveling is one of the reasons why I decided to switch to healthy lifestyle.
You've always wanted to start and achieve that fitness goal, but you just can't. It's either you have endless excuses or you just aren't motivated enough to do it. I went through that too. 

Let me tell you what triggered me to finally do it.

I've always been into traveling, but I reached to a point when my weight got in the way for me to travel. With my continuous sedentary lifestyle and careless eating before, I became too unhealthy to travel: easily getting tired, sudden high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, and others. Worse, in 2009, I underwent cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal operation). When my gall bladder was gone, I noticed I have slower metabolism.

It finally dawned me that going on with that kind of lifestyle won't let me go on with travel. Of course travel isn't only the reason why I did it. But I think it's important to have a very triggering reason for you to do it. 

With that, I made the switch. Unlike before that I exercised but still ate a lot, I decided to change both my daily food intake and activities. I realized that diet and exercise have to go hand in hand. 

And after 8 months, I reached my target weight and lost more than 60 pounds (27.2 kilos). 
Monitoring your progress is a good motivation. Take photos. Soon, go back at them to see the changes. To make it more fun, go to the same exact place and have your photo re-taken...
...Also, try imitating poses and use the same items from old photos!
So now I'm writing and sharing the things I learned from this journey. But before getting there, I just want to say first that I'm neither a doctor, a nutritionist nor a gym instructor. All these are merely based on personal experiences. These are the things that worked for me. They may work for other people, or may not. In fact, I also tried a lot of known diet and exercises but those didn't work for me. While it's a game of hit and miss, I guess the key here is always try, do not stop and never give up. 

1. I do small frequent eating

Some people think that they'll lose weight by not eating at all. Studies show that starving even makes you fatter. The body has a natural survival instinct that it stores fat cells when it feels hunger. So instead of helping you burn the fats, food deprivation makes it worse. 
I usually eat 5-6 times a day in small portions. I developed this habit of eating every 2-3 hours. In that way, my body isn't deprived of food and it avoids me from feeling the hunger.

For food type, I usually eat vegetables, fruits, and lean meat (such as breast chicken). I avoid food high in sodium (that causes water retention), high in fat, and sweets (that causes the big belly). During the first 8 months, I ditched rice and substituted it with boiled cauliflower. I also drink tea almost every day which is said to be good for digestion. 

2. I exercise consistently 

During the first 6 months of my weight loss, I was working out 5 times a week, at least one hour per day. I signed up to an inexpensive gym without lockup / contracts with that gym. While most gym memberships should lock you with them for a year or more, I kind of negate to the idea. To me, I feel more motivated when there's no pressure. Without lockups means I can vary my exercises and not limit myself inside the gym. The thing is I reached to a point when my body was so used to that exercise and so I change it from time to time.

As regards gym exercises, I started with zero knowledge. I didn't complicate it much at first so I used basic gym equipment. I just made sure to run at least 30 minutes on the treadmill because to me, running worked miracles. It's said to be one of the easiest ways to lose weight. Aside from treadmill, I also ran at the park and participated in fun runs. By far, my longest distance is 16 KM.


I vary workouts to avoid getting tired of doing the same thing over and over. Boxing is one of my exercises. 
Consistency is the key. Do not skip a workout day because once you skip, it will become a habit. If possible, go to a gym near your office/school and home. Proximity is a good motivation and gives lesser room for excuse. Also, I have the habit of preparing my gym clothes and bag the night before workout. In that way, I don't feel lazy to hit the gym on the next day.

3. I go on detox

Detoxification (detox) is the process of flushing out the toxins. Nowadays, the food we eat have so many preservatives and unnatural ingredients, so body cleansing is important. Detox promotes easy digestion and faster metabolism. In effect, it helps in regular bowel movement and eases the feeling of bloated. 
I came across the idea of detoxification by merely researching and reading the internet. At first, I saw recipes that were hard to follow due to lack of ingredients in my country, so I tweaked some and personalized my detox juices. 

There are a lot of detox juices available in the market, but have you noticed how pricey they are? The good thing is, it's something that can be done at home! It's very easy to do and less expensive. 
I love strawberries so when it is in season, I definitely toss them in the blender.
For juicing ideas, I came up with some recipes. Though they vary, I just make sure carrot or cucumber are the base. If sweetener is needed, I use honey instead of sugar or I add plain yogurt sometimes. Lately, I've been adding flax seeds that are said to help in building muscles and chia seeds that make you feel less hungry. My juices are usually served chilled, and I drink them in the morning. 

4. I make little things count

Do not expect to achieve your body goals overnight. The pyramids were not built overnight either. Be patient. Even if you don't immediately see results, remember that little things count.
I used to have a 41-inch waist line. My wardrobe changed big time that I had to get new clothes. 
For example, in your office/school, choose the stairs over the elevator. It's one of the most disregarded daily activities that's actually as good as a cardio exercise. Also, take every chance to walk: park your car farther to walk to your office, go down the bus a few blocks farther to walk to your home, or simply stand and walk every 30 minutes especially if your job requires you to sit for long hours.

5. I build a support system

Several times, I experienced the temptation, getting demotivated, and feeling lazy. I realized it's all part of the challenge, and it's normal. But this is when the support system comes to play.
My mom is my number one cheerleader. When nobody believed in me, she cooked a healthy dish for me. 
First, start building your support system with the people near you: family, partner, kids, workmates, and friends. Tell them about your health goals. I'm sure if they really care for you, they'll help you. 

Boxing family
But if not all your loved ones may have the same goal as you, do not force them. Healthy lifestyle is always a choice, remember that. Instead, find other people to build up your support system. They may be the gym members, your coach, or the runners at the park. Get surrounded by people who make you as a better healthy person. Choose people, but in a good way. 




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