Baboy. Tabachoy. Aparador. Being fat in a world swooning over stick figures is hard enough, but being fat in a Filipino society is tougher. As famous as we are for being a hardworking folk, we can also be very creative in calling people names – big people included. I could try to recall every name I have been called, whether playfully or deliberately, however that topic could merit another article by itself. Looking back, I actually find it a bit amusing now.
When you’re a kid, being fat is cute. As little girl with stubby fingers, plump cheeks, and an appetite for pizza and heaps of rice, I was adorable for all the people around me. They gushed over me and said that my “baby fat” would eventually go away. But it didn’t and I turned out to be overweight for the next 20 or so years of my life. My dad even took me to the doctor one time and he was advised to make me stop taking my vitamins since I was getting too heavy. While some parents have trouble getting their children to eat, mine had to stop me from eating too much.
As I got older, I found myself stress eating when pressured to meet deadlines. When I was taking up nursing in college, I put even more weight because I ate a lot of chips and soda and basically survived on a diet of instant noodles and fast food. When graduation time came, I was 183lbs with a body mass index of 32. I was obese.
As a woman, I can attest to the fact that being fat in this society is even more difficult than how it is projected. I do not know when out-rightly calling people fat to their faces became okay, but people did that to me all the time. There were those I hardly knew that had the guts to come up to me and say that my pretty face was such a waste because of my body.
I must admit, it hurt me a lot. And with social media, people are so empowered to speak their minds that they forget that their words actually hurt. When shopping with friends, they would gleefully try on clothes in sizes of extra small while I wait for them because in this universe, none of the clothes available in most stores would fit me. At work, I had to instruct some of my patients to stop eating fatty foods to help with their cholesterol, and some of them had this “you-do-it-first” look on their faces.
And so I woke up one day and I decided I wanted to change my life. Partly because I wanted to show everyone how wrong they were and also for the rather shallow reason of getting into my jeans with ease and without it having to feel like a constant battle just to squeeze into them.
But mostly, I did it for myself – and it was the most important decision I ever made in my life. I enrolled myself in a gym and started to count my calories. A personal trainer was quite expensive that time so I had to do some research over the internet and read testimonials from real people who are also fighting to lose weight.
While I found enticing slimming pills online, as a nurse I knew better than to fall for the false promise of fast weight loss. So I went to the gym religiously four times a week and fell in love with running. I encountered a lot of difficulties at first because I was very heavy but when the first ten pounds came off, running on the treadmill became a lot easier. I constantly challenged myself with heavy cardio and ignored other people who stared at me at the gym.
Diet was an important part of my weight loss too. I avoided all fast food, junk food, and fatty food at all cost. My daily caloric limit was 1200 kcal a day – a far cry from what I used to take in, but I was able to survive on it by avoiding soda. The secret is to focus, that’s all there really is to it. Pour your dedication into it and you can make it happen. After 8 months, I lost 52 lbs and I couldn’t be more eager to wear a two – piece swimsuit. I did it! And truly, the rewards of a healthy body are beyond words.
Up to this day, I still carry on working out in the gym, and I still make sure that I don’t take in too much salt and fat. I am now based in London but I’ve managed to find a gym and continue my routine. While, I do enjoy the occasional burger and steak here and then, my choice of living healthy comes first at all times. I began my weight loss journey with the need to be healthier but it slowly became something that has weaved into my lifestyle and I intend to keep it that way.
Here are a few life lessons I learned after losing fifty- two pounds:
1. There is nothing better than the feeling of being healthy. You do not have to struggle to run or climb that flight of stairs. For the first time, I realized how heavy I was before now that I am 52 lbs lighter.
2. You get the chance of proving those people who called you fat wrong. All of a sudden, they have nothing negative to say to you when before, they were the first to point out your weight issues.
3. Let’s face it, shopping for clothes is easier. The first time I fit into a small, I almost cried. Now I shop with friends AND try clothes on.
4. You get to inspire other people. It is flattering when people start to notice your transformation and seek tips on what you did. A woman came up to me one day and said, “Your weight loss inspired me so much that I enrolled into the gym!”
5. Simply, life is better. The world is easier to explore and endure with a healthy body. I am still the same person, only happier and more eager in life. And in my line of work, it has boosted my confidence when taking care of other people’s health knowing that I can do it on my own.
Let me end this article with a message to all women out there who feel like they are losing their battle with fat:
Do not let the world’s unattainable idea of beauty get in the way of reaching your goal. We are the real women of today, and we are so much more than that perfect hourglass figure printed on a glossy magazine.
As cliche as it may sound, but just believe in yourself and it will happen. This day is the start of a healthier you, so eyes on the prize and make it happen!
Got your own inspirational weight loss story? Send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org