Like most people, I have my share of insecurities and despite being ‘smaller’ in figure than the general population, I had my own struggles with weight. Being surrounded by my much more petite sisters, I always felt insecure relative to their skinnier proportions.
Entering university in itself is already a daunting task, but the curse of Freshman 15 was also quite the scare. Honestly, I did not believe that I was going to gain any more weight than when I first entered but the load of stressful work, uncontrolled, unhealthy eating, occasional drinking and the absence of mandatory gym class contributed to the reality of becoming victim to such a curse. By the end of first year, I was more insecure than ever. However, I managed to lose the weight by the end of that summer and keep up with maintaining it, if not even better! In two years, I’ve not only gained more confidence, but have slowly built my body and lifestyle to a healthier path. So, what did I do?
1) Change your diet and eating habits
The biggest mistake people make when wanting to lose weight is immediately undergoing change in a short amount of time. Personally, I found that changes should be gradual because it takes time for your body to get accustomed. Eating habits and diet is like exercise: one should not attempt to lift a 45lb weight when their body is only capable of 25lb. I also heavily suggest to not fall for all sorts of questionable diets or supplements. Do what is best suitable for your body and preferences, keeping in mind to treat it with respect.
The first thing I did was eliminate unhealthy foods one by one. Growing up, I had a terrible love for ramen. This tasty, but sodium filled, packaged food is the passage to high blood pressure. Based on our family’s health history, high blood pressure was one to watch out for, as well as diabetes. I admit that eliminating ramen was extremely difficult however, I eventually managed to go for months without it. Though one day, when I had an extreme craving for it, I gave in and ate a bowl of spicy kimchi ramen. But to my surprise, it didn’t taste as good as it used to and my body rejected it. I suppose those few months without it was enough for my body and taste buds to completely put an end to it. Slowly, I also managed to eliminate soft drinks, most juices, candy, chips, most packaged foods, chocolate and sweet pastries (after I’ve become lactose intolerant) from my diet. I trained my body to crave healthier foods and completely forget my old, unhealthy habits.
Yes, you all saw this coming but exercise is more than just getting on a treadmill. It’s dedication, perseverance and determination. The initial, most difficult obstacle to overcome when it comes to exercising is prevailing over laziness and excuses. It can also be intimidating, most especially in a gym setting. What could be worst than not knowing how to use a machine or be surrounded by preying-eyed, fit individuals? To be honest, I still struggle with all these reasons but I’m gradually improving. Realize that they also had to start somewhere.
Change will not happen if you let this all get into your head. I found that exercise is more of a mental challenge than it is physical. Your body requires and is capable of exercise, you just have to sync your mind with it.
3) Find motivation. Stay realistic. Maintain respect.
I had so many reasons to change my lifestyle into a healthier one: from family history to insecurities to even desiring to look ‘ideal’. As many of you may be well aware, the thigh gap became a thing, long enough to even spark debates and rise in advertisements of embracing oneself. I have always been insecure about the size of my thighs and it should come to no surprise that I found the idea of having a thigh gap to be enticing. This new ‘motivation’ was unrealistic because despite after having lost respect for my body (for which I wish not go in depth), my body did not even come close to ‘achieving’ it.
From this, it should be gathered that motivation must come from good intentions. One should respect their body and identify its limits. In the unending debate between stereotyping based on size and embracing oneself, I can only contribute by suggesting that people should divert their attention from everyone else and focus on themselves: focus on your own well-being, healthwise and beyond.
1) Thermo Cool Shirt: Walmart (similar here) | 2) Sports Bra: Lululemon | 3) Running Shorts: Lululemon | 4) Runners: Skechers (similar here)
(Left to Right): 1) Beginning of university: September 2012 | 2) 1st Semester of university: October 2012 | 3) Almost end of 1st year university: April 2012 | 4) After change of lifestyle: July 2014
(Left to Right): 1) End of 1st year: May 2012 | 2 & 3) Months after first year: Summer 2012 | 4) End of 2nd year: May 2014
This is my most recent picture of improvement. Since changing my lifestyle two years ago, I’ve not gone to the doctor once, nor taken any medication (as I’ve let my body heal itself), my skin has improved, my mind works faster and I’ve become more confident. I’m still trying to improve all aspects of my health everyday and I hope to never lose it! I hope I have enlightened you at the very least and good luck on your own journey!
A plus tard et avec l’amour!