My personal goals are to be happy, healthy and to be surrounded by loved ones. – Kiana Tom
This is a very touchy subject to tackle as there are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to health and wellness. I am not an expert myself but I would like to impart my journey and my learnings that I have also learned from experts in the industry. Please note that I am not harboring any ill feelings towards my friends and family and I respect others’ practice when it comes to their health journey as well. I am merely stating my opinion and views about the topic and hopefully will be able to shed some light on others too.
Now, I have been on this long and seemingly arduous path since I was in second-year high school (that’s 14 y/o friends!). I remember feeling very insecure because my crush at that time was pursuing a skinny girl. I resorted to eating only skyflakes and water — with jumping rope as my exercise. There were days when I don’t eat for more than 24 hours too — horrible indeed!
Despite that, I still feel that it’s not good enough. I have never told this to anyone but during my younger years, I have also tried different weight loss products. I have tried slimming/laxative tea, drops, and pills to control appetite. To think a teenager has to undergo that for the pursuit of the “perfect” body shape. It was also highly influenced by the society looking down upon girls who don’t have the figure that passes by their standards.
When I got into college, the journey to being slim still went on. Despite weighing normal in proportion to my height and being exposed to different pageants, I felt ugly and fat — I look up at skinny girls and told myself I am not good enough until my waistline becomes 24″.
I also typically use the word “diet” until I was 24 years old. Often times, it involves starving my self and eating very few to nothing for a period of time. Aside from it being unhealthy, it would also result in binge eating later on.
When I started working in the corporate world, oftentimes, I would resort to eating whatever I want because I am now able to do so. Eat out with friends, eat out (and in) at work, eat out with boyfriend — it was very unhealthy. A wake-up call to workout came when I got home from a trip in Boston that added 10 kilos to my weight at that time. My now ex-boyfriend called me “disgusting” because I was fat — it shed me to pieces.
I first started seriously working out at Anytime Fitness in Paseo. I also got myself a fitness coach that guided me in the 30 sessions I purchased. I remember feeling very weak and not being able to do all the workouts effectively — sometimes vertigo kicking in as well. One of the drastic changes I had to do is the transition from white products to whole wheat options. From white rice to brown rice and white bread to whole wheat bread. Eventually, I was able to eliminate rice completely in my nutrition — having shed 3 kilos off of my weight just by not eating rice at all.
That was also the time I fell in love with running. My very first race was the Nike Women’s Half Marathon and the endorphins from crossing the finish line made me addicted to it. I was almost running 21 kilometers week after week that year until I have decided to sign up for The Bull Runner Marathon, February 2017. I was keeping my weight at par at that time and it was the highlight of my fitness journey — however, I still have an unhealthy relationship with food.
2017 was the golden year of my running journey as I signed up for 3 marathons/42 kilometers run (2 of them being international races) and it was also my lightest. I started intermittent fasting through the encouragement of running mates, I also tried Herbalife’s nutritional shake to replace two of my meals (making me eat one solid food a day), until I tried dirty keto which I did for a few months leading to Standard Chartered Marathon in Singapore (December 2017). Often times, I would find myself fasting for longer hours than expected and not eating as much. One would know that your weight will be relatively lower with that kind of lifestyle — and this brings me to my point that it doesn’t matter so much what type of “diet” you do in your life. Be it keto, paleo, Atkins, etc. — you will definitely lose weight through eating less/calorie deficit. And I think that’s the biggest take on this post.
One thing we also have to stop doing is calling it “diet”. Diet makes people feel restrictive and as we restrict ourselves, we would soon spiral back to our old habits. Why don’t we call it “nutrition” instead? After all, we want it to be part of our lifestyle and stick to it for the rest of our lives, right? That way, when we think about it, it’s not limiting anymore.
Going back to my story, after my running phase, I fell in love with HIIT, Circuit training and Pilates. The Nike Training Club has been the weekly routine and the NTC family encouraged me to pull through the tough exercises and aim to be a stronger version of myself.
From the end of 2017 to mid-year of 2019, I have been practicing Pilates and also embarked on the journey of sharing my love for Pilates with other people. I love low impact movements — I love how slow controlled movements makes one stronger in ways a lot wouldn’t have been able to imagine. The practice taught me that mindful movement and core engagement is so much better than moving with momentum. Pilates greatly helped me with my posture, flexibility, mobility, and overall strength too. It was something I know I would like to do for the rest of my life.
Despite having to work out regularly, my relationship with food became bad again after a series of unfortunate events that made me wallow into depression. I gained more pounds than usual, I was mostly at home playing video games and binge eating — I was always stressed eating.
To add another point to the calorie deficit facet of this post, I was on a vegan diet last year too. I was eating a lot of food thinking “it’s healthy” so it’s okay to eat more. But we know that’s not the case.
Fast forward to today, through the guidance of fitness coaches and my friends in the fitness industry and listening to a ton of Ted Talks, I am slowly regaining my active life and coming to terms with food and calorie deficit. I have undergone a three-day juice cleanse for my gut health, too!
But you know what, my fitness goals have greatly evolved from when I was younger. From aiming to have that small waistline to being a stronger version of myself.
Back when I was running, my endurance on marathons is phenomenal but I know my strength in terms of upper body and core is a flop. My legs sure are tough as hell but the mobility still isn’t at par to what it is right now. I shifted from aiming to be thinner to aiming to become a better version of myself through having a tougher mind and a stronger body. I wasn’t even able to do a full push up before —- plus the form is also ugly.
I think rather than being shallow on looking at people at their physique, we should all invest in protecting our health overall — even our mental health. There are a lot of stimuli right now that easily disheartens us and makes us depressed and anxious. We need to surround ourselves with people that encourage us and make us feel that it’s okay to not feel okay from time to time so long as we pick ourselves up and fight again.
I’d like to think that Pilates as a practice had been my safe place and it will always be dear to me. Some people that surrounded it, however, scarred me. It was a tough recuperation but Barre welcomed me with open arms. I have been doing barre consistently for three months now and it doesn’t get easier guys — but I love the change I am seeing. I have learned to stop beating my self up and to be more patient with my goals.
To be perfectly honest, when people tell me “You work out every day, how come you’re still fat?”, it still hurts. However, I know and I believe that being thinner is less of a priority now than being stronger — I can work out three times (not every day) and still be able to observe proper form and avoid injuries. I can do a full push up, full burpees, and full split as well — showing how much my body has gotten tougher than when I was younger.
I guess to sum it all up, being thin doesn’t always mean being healthy. We should stop the stigma that only those that can pull up a two-piece is deserving of our compliments. Every day, when people thrive to be better versions of themselves by powering through even a 30-minute workout or eliminating a bad habit, we should be disciples of positivity to support them and make them feel that they are not being castigated with their small and baby steps. Despite each and everyone’s struggle, we should all be sincerely and genuinely rooted in saying, “You can do it! you’re not alone in this.”
And with that, wouldn’t the world be a tad better place to live in? 🙂
Let me know what you think in the comments below! 🙂
P.S. I know my thoughts are a scattered here and there but hopefully I was able to impart some knowledge. 🥰Let's Connect!