While I am taller than most Filipina women, I had been asked many times if I am a basketball or volleyball player. This 5’7 Filipina is amused. Just because I am tall, it doesn’t make me an athlete. I had never been an athlete, a member of a varsity team, or any sporting group. In the past, gym pants for me were useful for long trips or tiring TV shoots as a food stylist. Health and fitness were never really a priority for me. I had never really been fat. But I returned to Manila four years ago. There were many things in my life I did not like. But as a travel writer, I find myself snapping photos of me in my trips. I ignored the weight I was packing in. I would crop my ballooning arms bursting out of my sleeveless tank tops.
But one day, I realized my clothes no longer fit. I had to attend a Travel Fair, but I could not find a dress to wear. I settled on a loose black flowing skirt, and a black blouse to hide the fat I was feeling. Hosted in Manila, the “It’s more fun in the Philippines” fiesta theme was everywhere. But there was nothing fun about being fat. As I sat through two hours of traffic heading back home that night, I sent a message to my friend Ned. “Help nothing fits! I need to lose weight,” I sent my S.O.S. message. He answered, “Why don’t you join me boxing with my trainer? I promise you, you will lose the weight. I’ll help you.” That was September 12, 2012.
I have a habit of walking around my village in the morning. One woman commented, “Tignan mo yung babae and laki niya!” (Look at the lady, she’s so big). It took every ounce of my being to not pounce on her and say, “I may be fat, but I’m not deaf.”
I realized sometime from the time I left Singapore in 2010 to September 2012. I had packed in some twenty something pounds. I was the heaviest I had ever been at 174 pounds. I did not like how I felt, nor did I like seeing my photos when I traveled. So I took up Ned’s offer and started boxing with him and his trainer. I could not skip rope as quickly as Ned did, neither could I do the ten to 12 rounds of boxing he did. I barely survived 3 rounds of boxing in the beginning. But little did I know it was the beginning of my journey to fitness.
Several months later on July 28, 2013, I committed to make health and wellness my priority for 365 days. In the past, going to the gym meant having fun attending Zumba classes. I did not touch weights or attend any toning classes. I was so intimidated of gym equipment, and feared coming close to them. Only the treadmill seemed like a friendly acquaintance. But with my health commitment, I sought some help. I got a trainer to help me overcome my fear of gym equipment. I have to admit my time with my trainer felt like dog years. One hour felt like seven hours. But I stuck to it. I still enjoyed Zumba more, but I was amazed with getting stronger. I also cleaned up my eating habits. I started preparing my meals at 5 in the morning before heading to the gym. I did not measure my food. I allowed myself as much vegetables and protein I wanted to it, but rice, bread, and sweets were eaten sparingly.
I started to drop the weight. On July 28, 2014, I was down to 158.4 lbs. I had lost 15pounds. I still have 15 pounds more to lose. But I am stronger and healthier than I had ever been. I was no longer breathless climbing several flights of stairs. It is not about looking great in photos, but I realized this is the only body I have. I will be living in this body for the rest of my life, and I realized I wanted it to be the best it could be. Fitness has become a way of life I now enjoy. I still enjoy dancing Zumba almost everyday, but I have also found other ways to get fit. I’ve found Definitions classes I enjoy where I plank, do burpeees, mountain climbers, crucifix, and lift weights with other strong women. I began timidly holding 2lb dumbbells suited for petite women, to bigger heavier weights. I now know what a kettle bell is, and actually enjoy working out with it.
I’ve lost half the weight I should. To some people, it may seem like I am half-way there. But my journey has changed. It is no longer about losing the weight. I’ve realized fitness and wellness has become a lifestyle. The human body is pretty amazing. It quickly reacts to how we treat it. On days, I don’t eat clean I see the effect on the weighing scale the next day and on my mood. I can see myself getting stronger. I am no fitness expert, or nutritionist. But I will share with you every Wednesday, this joyful healthy lifestyle I have chosen with tips, delicious healthy eats, good habits, finds, fun ways to move it, and get fit.
Oh, one more thing, the last time I walked in the village, I heard a man say. “Tignan mo yung babae, noon malaki siya, payat na siya ngayon. (Look at that lady, she used to be big, now she’s thin.” I smiled. And yes, I no longer crop my arms from my photos. My arms are stronger. When I look at the mirror, I don’t necessarily see a thing person. My batwings are still there. But I see a happier version of me smiling back.