Once upon a time, I was a swooping 114 lbs. on the scale. I was close to 100 lbs., the ideal weight for my height. It took me 3 months of gym workouts and strict diet to get to 114. But then on June 2019, I had to fly back to Sydney for school works and in no time I was back on my MAD diet (meat all day). I mean… who can resist Australian Beef Steak with Peppercorn Sauce? I had zero self-control. I was snacking on ice cream in winter. I created a strong relationship with burgers and big fat potato chips. I was stocking on rare TimTam flavors which I could only find in Aussie. Coles, Woolies, and Aldi were my favorite hang-out places. If I felt a little broke, I would turn to $5 Domino’s Pizza and devour the entire thing. Also, my love for noodles didn’t help. Sydney Chinatown was my noodle-go-to place. Dry noodles, ramen, stir-fried, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai… name it! I knew where to get them. Surprise, surprise! I was 121 lbs. when I left Sydney.
I was back in the gym, trying hard to lose the weight I gained. I ran 15 mins. full speed on the treadmill and continuously did circuit training. I did Pound exercises and Muay Thai. It wasn’t hard to lose the excess weight. I went back to counting my calorie intake and avoided rice. I firmly believed that white rice makes my tummy bloat.
2 months of hardcore training and I was back in the game. I was losing weight again. My core training was working. I can see the lines on my abs getting firmer. I had to be stricter this time. Unfortunately, my psychiatrist became a bit worried. I was being obsessed with weight-watching to the point that I sometimes starve myself by eating just a fruit to avoid consuming my calories. It was the biggest mistake I have ever made. My depression went back, and it was bouncing like crazy. I had to stop the “diet”. I was still taking my plant-based protein shakes to replace some of my meals. It worked for a while, but then I flew to Jakarta.
Jakarta is a food-haven. I love Indonesian Cuisine. I love every bit of it, may it be something spicy, or sweet, or out of the ordinary. It was truly a gastronomic adventure that I totally forgot about calorie counting and diet. In Indonesia, rice is life. Plus, Indonesia is the home of “Three Buns” which happens to be the number one burger in Asia. I was lucky enough to be able to taste it while I was there. Each day was a totally different food experience. Which got me thinking… maybe traveling makes me gain weight? Maybe I should ditch food blogging?
TRAVELING MAKES ME GAIN WEIGHT… NOPE. IT WAS THE LACK OF SELF-CONTROL THAT MAKES ME GAIN WEIGHT.
The reality is… when you start eating unhealthy, you become somewhat addicted to it. You go after your cravings. For a few months, I drove to the biggest food night market in Manila on Fridays. It’s a street food heaven! I had pork barbecue smothered in fatty oil and dessert shakes colored in flavorful sugar. I would eat anything I wanted. I would snack on a cheese platter with a cold glass of Moscato while watching Netflix. I was at my laziest. I stopped going to the gym and stayed in front of the TV just like a sloth.
Until I felt it. My spine was hurting. It was probably my scoliosis, reminding me that I was becoming too heavy. I started having heart burns and I had trouble breathing. I wanted to go back to 114 lbs. I was only 14 lbs. away from my goal weight. I had to step on the scale and face it. I WAS A WHOPPING 139 LBS., bloated as hell, insecure, and having nothing to wear from my closet. What did I do to myself???
This is it! I have to re-evaluate all my choices. I started de-cluttering and cleansing. Not only on my diet, but also with my surroundings. I started cleaning my room. I chucked all the things that didn’t matter anymore. Old papers, old cards, old mugs, old clothes… and then I started with my cleanse.
EXERCISE IS ONLY 20% OF THE PROCESS.
I started stretching again and visiting the gym. I was slowly getting back into the rhythm. But, I knew I had to stick to something that would not make me go back to my unhealthy lifestyle. I was then introduced to a Netflix Documentary titled “The Game Changers”. It’s a documentary that explains all the science behind a plant-based diet. At first, I was hesitant to try focusing on a plant-based diet. I mean… c’mon. It was clearly not a balanced diet for me. I need my meat, I need my fish. But… as I slowly took in the facts, it gave me the extra push that I needed. It completely changed the way I see (and eat) food.
I started changing my meal plans. I started choosing greens from being the carnivore that I was. My plate became more colorful, not from fancy sugars, but from the vegetables that I hand-picked from the farmer’s market.
I was doing it. I was giving it a go. Completely changing my diet to plant-based was hard at first. I always craved for roast pork and grilled chicken. But then, realizing that plant-based foods can be as whole as what we would normally eat, I started cooking healthy. My protein source became completely plant-based. My sauces were all plant-based. Some people would always tell me… “No. You need to eat beef or fish or chicken breast or eggs to get your protein fix.” What people don’t understand is that these meats are only carriers of protein. THEY ARE NOT THE SOURCE. At the end of the day, what do these animals feed on? Cows that produce dairy and beef meat eat grass. Chickens eat corn. Pigs that produce your favorite pork chops eat whatever, God-knows-what. THEY ALL EAT PLANTS. These animals are bred and confined in an area where they can get sick and contaminate their own species. They are injected with antibiotics of high dozes to avoid deadly illnesses that can sometimes be transmitted to humans. It’s the same with seafood. Commercial breeders breed the fishes in pens and we can only imagine the amount of mercury they have taken from swimming in highly polluted waters.. Plus, let’s not forget the fact that not all parts of these animals are lean. There will always be excess fats which can tick off your cholesterol levels in dangerous amounts. Hello Bagnet, Lechon Kawali, Crispy Pata… fat deep-fried in fat. THEY TASTE SOOOO GOOD… I won’t argue. But we all know, it’s bad for you.
Anyway, as I started shifting to a plant-based diet, counting my calories was easier. I started avoiding dairy and animal bi-products. Since vegetables and fruits theoretically have lower calories than meats, I indulge, but NEVER go beyond my allotted calorie count. In a matter of few days, I started losing 2 lbs. I was eating healthy and exercising. I started cooking Thai, Korean, Mexican, making tacos out of vegetables and soft shell whole wheat tortillas. I’m a dessert person, so when I craved for sweets, I had almond milk shakes packed with strawberries and bananas. Almond Milk contains 45 kcal per 180 ml serving, compared to 200 plus the excess sugars you get from full cream milk. I made everything homemade… Pesto in Wheat Pasta, Thai Eggplants with Tofu and Basil, Kimchi Stew, Vegetable Curry. Everything was from whole foods, none of the bi-products. I snacked on fruits instead of my cheese platters. I started reading the labels and looking at what I was actually eating. In 2 weeks, I lost almost 6 lbs. I was truly amazed.
SUGAR-FREE? I WOULD RATHER INTAKE REAL SUGAR OUT OF CANE OR COCONUT THAN EAT SOMETHING THAT SAYS SUGAR-FREE.
Anything that says sugar-free uses sugar substitutes that contain Aspartame or Erythritol. These substitutes are essentially cheaper than raw sugar in a mass production set-up, however, these chemicals do more bad than good. They contain carcinogens (main cause of cancer), just the same carcinogens you get from over-cooking processed foods like bacon, hotdogs, and what-nots. I am a Food Technologist myself and I have been working in a diet cafe in Australia which required me to make “healthy” recipes as the head R&D Pastry Chef. They wanted me to create things that say Sugar-Free, Gluten Free, Lactose Free… and whatever “Free” you could possibly think of. Guess what they ask me to use? NOTHING but chemicals. I choose not to drop the name of the cafe. I would rather zip it than get sued. LOL.
SHIFTING IS NOT EASY. IT REQUIRES A MASSIVE AMOUNT OF DEDICATION AND SELF-CONTROL.
I am not pushing anyone to be on a plant-based diet. I am simply relaying how I lost weight by eating healthy and exercising. My therapist would always tell me that 30 mins. cardio a day (dancing, pound, running, walking) is ultimately healthy for the brain. I try to do it even when I’m just at home. This is my fitness journey. I share my healthy recipes on this blog.
DIETS I’VE TRIED BUT I STILL BOUNCED BACK TO GAINING WEIGHT
- Paleo Diet
- Intermittent Fasting
- GM Diet (for cleansing)
- Military Diet
- Low Carb Diet
What works for me doesn’t always mean it will work for you and vice-versa. It’s your dedication and will to change that makes it possible. Weight gain doesn’t always mean you’re getting fat. It can also mean you’re getting leaner, thus the muscle gain. Remember, skinny doesn’t always mean healthy and healthy doesn’t have to be skinny. 😊