Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Acne

November 2012; hello i miss you.
this was me, without a trace of makeup or sunblock or anything at all.

/golly, i could probably do a before and after post with and without makeup just check out that difference yo. #imjustsaying

*warning: very long post ahead*
*i had wanted to include some pictures and rubbish to make it more readable but i got a little lazy so maybe i will.. one day. but not now. just going to go ahead and publish this after 4 days already.*

i can't believe i'm writing a post about this, here. it takes a lot of courage to post personal issues here, just like how it takes a lot of courage for me to step out of the house without an inch of makeup on these days. which is pretty much why i would rather stay home most of the time. so, i apologize to anyone and everyone whom i've not met up with at the last minute just because i don't want to get out of the house.

it's hard and people tend to think that i'm overreacting about my skin. but honestly, for someone as vain as i am (yes that's what i said), it really is hard.

on certain days i feel like i couldn't be bothered any longer and i can't be bothered at how people look at me or think. really. i just go out feeling... unbothered. but most days, days like these, i'd rather stay home.

anyhow! just an FYI for anyone who's interested, i'm currently on a makeup ban and it'll be my first full month without makeup tomorrow (19/05/13). *Achievement Unlocked* i miss makeup. it is my hobby and something else that i'm passionate about other than diet and nutrition. i feel really disturbed when i look at my makeup collection and know that i'm not going to be touching them till my skin gets better. :<

i'm going to start talking about my acne story so just a heads up if you're not interested or such th)ings bore you.

(please skip to bottom half if you're not interested.)

My Acne History
ever since i actually started to get acne (15), i visited a dermatologist - Maple Clinic at Tampines. and i've been on their regime for years. this includes probably many products and creams and i've used a whole lot of products on my skin since then. even after i stopped breaking out and had clearer skin, i'd always had that occasional pimple and my face was usually shiny and greasy due to the sunblock and my doctor's belief that oily is better than dry. i mean, my skin was still clear and under control so i learnt to live with it.

before i entered uni (18), probably right after JC, i decided to start weaning myself off her products. my skin broke out a fair bit. it lasted from the end of 2010 to early 2011. it did clear really slowly till mid 2011 just before i entered uni. i had started to use Simple. and my skin was relatively fine and clear all the way till the end of the year, after which i started to break out, presumably from my eccentric diet. and this breakout came with a vengeance. it was so bad - probably the worst i've ever had. i had gone back to see the dermatologist who gave me more products and scolded me for not keeping to her regime. but honestly it was like i was caged to it. and i didn't want to. but i went back anyway because i didn't know what else to do. her products only worsened my condition. after which i gave up and decided to try oral antibiotics from the GP that my cousins visited. that was early last year (2012). so i tried Minocycline first. it's apparently better than Tetracycline and doesn't harm the stomach as much. i was given a two weeks course together with topical medicine Clindoxyl Gel and Epiduo.

The first few days of antibiotics gave me side effects which only worsened with time. i started getting breathless, dizzy and a dead feeling in my heart which left me unable to do anything but to lie on the bed. i felt numbness in my fingers and my heart would race. the world would be spinning even when i was laying flat. i called the clinic and they told me to cut the dosage and take the medicine once a day instead of twice. also, i had to take the medicine on an empty stomach. so instead of 2 weeks, i took the course for a month and besides less angry acne, my skin didn't show much improvement.

The GP then told me that this antibiotic works for 95% of patients (wow that helps). because of the side effects however, he told me to try the other antibiotic and at the meantime, consider other drastic measures like laser, birthcontrol or Accutane. i took the other antibiotic - Tetracycline for two weeks. was barred from Calcium (i.e. no milk), had bad stomach issues like bloatedness, nauseousness and loss of appetite. this was when i became underweight at 47kg. also, i was perpetually grumpy and depressed. things didn't look up either.

On the last day of my dose, i went for a healing service at CSCC - my current church. the Awakening Group was there and one of the guys prayed for me. i guess desperation drove me. after all, if nothing else could save me. God could.

i was supposed to return to the clinic to pick up more medicine since i was out of pills but i didn't have the time. and the following two weeks, my skin just started to heal, miraculously. to God be the glory. i still believe. of course, i also credit Epiduo and Clindoxyl Gel still, since i was still on them. and ever since, my skin cleared up so well and was the healthiest i've ever seen. That was in March 2012. and i had nice clear skin all the way till early this year. probably because i stopped Epiduo for a while in December because i felt it was a little too drying and my acne returned. it may have been partly hormonal too i don't deny. considering i was quite distressed by some events in my life. it started with an allergic reaction to new products, also because i ran out of my usual Simple Sunblock which was discontinued. so searching for a new sunblock did break me out as well. (i tried Eucerin and Avene. Eucerin broke me out while Avene is full of parabens) it wasn't serious and i would just continue with my usual bbcream routine.

but i think the real breakout started in March-April, especially after i had gone through a stressful period then. i have since gone to another two dermatologists, one of whom was going to put me on Accutane, which i didn't want, and the other is the one i'm currently seeing. that's my fourth, by the way.

My Current Treatment and Trimethoprim 
i am currently on topical antibiotics for my skin as well as epiduo. twice a day. he also wanted to put me on Trimethoprim, which is a third-line antibiotic for acne as well. i researched on it before deciding to try it out. the worst side effect was apparently rashes, which i did get after 3 doses. they were fleeting however. came and went within a few hours and wasn't too bothersome. but i was very alert because there are people who may be allergic to the active ingredient. and i've read of cases of people being allergic and hospitalised, ICU-ed. and i was aware of these risks. until i googled about the skin rash (i wanted to make sure it was due to the medicine and not some other rash). then i came learnt that someone, locally, a poly student, died of being allergic to the medicine last year. being allergic basically weakens your immune system, affects your vital organs and may result in large skin peeling. you can google if you'd like. but anyhow, that scared me enough to stop. and i was getting a little uncomfortable. i don't know how to explain it but you'd probably know if something doesn't feel quite right in your system after a few days. that's how i felt. also, it's hard to know if you're allergic to the active ingredient unless you try it. and it could take up to two weeks, after which it may be a little too late. so i stopped and decided to rely solely on topical solutions.

i'd be honest though, and say that on days like these, i would think of trying out oral antibiotics again. maybe try Tetracycline or Minocycline again..

ANYHOW. that's irrelevant to my point.

Stuff I've Tried 
my point is. i have been through a lot with acne. and on top of the three antibiotics i've taken, numerous (honestly uncountable) products i've tried, and the four dermatologists i've seen, i have also tried TCM (traditional chinese medicine). but the TCM doctor refused to treat my skin until my stomach was better - as i mentioned previously about my CMI stomach which suffered my abuse when i went on a diet two years back. so he only gave me stuff for my stomach and not for my skin.

My Thoughts
so.. i really appreciate suggestions and alternatives and options that helpful people may feel obliged to give. telling me what to do, telling me what to eat, telling me this and that. they are good-intentioned and i appreciate that. but there are issues that i would like to bring up.

Things You Should Know About Acne 

  1. Acne isn't as simple as what i eat. if you've read the post below, you'd know that i'm quite the health freak. sleeping early, sleeping 8 hours, drinking 2 liters of water a day and not having fried food or fastfood. So don't tell me to drink more water or sleep earlier. or things like that. also, i have my vegetable intake daily including lots of tomatoes.
  2. Acne isn't as simple as not being hygienic. i change my bed sheet at least once a month. if i'm efficient, twice a month. i have to shower at least thrice a day and i make sure that i don't overstrip my skin of oils by only washing with non-soap dermatologist approved facial wash at night and rinsing with cold water in the morning. i also change my bathing towel frequently. i sanitise my makeup with alcohol spray and find a need to wash my hands frequently. on a side note, i also don't like people sitting on my bed. #justsaying
  3. Acne isn't caused by makeup. it absolutely nerves me when people accuse makeup of being the culprit of my acne. this is verified by my doctor. Makeup can only cause acne when it is not properly removed.  It may worsen existing acne but it is certainly not the cause of acne. allergic or sensitive reactions aside. it shouldn't cause long standing acne. according to my dermatologist, non-comedogenic and oil-free makeup should be fine. i didn't used to use them but i was fine. and a ton of people can have makeup on for ages but they don't breakout. check out the makeup gurus yo. 
  4. Acne is an illness. it is. it can be genetic (in my case i do believe it has a role). most of my cousins on my mom's side suffer from acne and took antibiotics to clear up their skin. my dad has sensitive skin. so i've got both acne-prone AND sensitive skin. my brother has his guy habits but has pretty decent skin. yes i got lucky. it is not so simple as mentioned above and not that easy to treat either. i don't really believe that there is a permanent cure to acne. especially after this incident. even after my skin clears, i do believe it's necessary to continue keeping my pores clear with Epiduo, considering i broke out after i stopped. some people genetically have good skin that don't break out no matter what junk they eat or how late they sleep. life is just unfair like that.
  5. Acne can lead to depression. I'd probably never understand how it really feels if i never had to go through all these. it's easy for me to tell you about acne depression. but people who've never gone through it will never understand the struggles associated. so the least you, or they go do is to be understanding. - when it feels like there's nothing else within your control that can be done to make things better. and that you may have exhausted all options. that was how i felt last year. it can be extremely depressing. i've done a fair bit (or my dermatologist may say an obsessive amount) of research about acne, acne antibiotics, topical medication and effects of acne and came across tons of blogs about acne depression. how girls, my age, younger and older suffer from acne and how they struggle to leave the house or how they hide under their makeup all day while being on Accutane. or how they cannot look at the mirror or cry themselves to sleep. or have random breakdowns. it does take a toll on life and the quality of living and can be very, very damaging.

i sometimes feel like my life has come to a halt, and i'm unable to truly experience living. i still feel that way on certain days but i'm trying not to. because i know i am only 21 once. and i only live once. i am well-aware. but it's not that easy. people blinded by love are sometimes well-aware too. but they do stupid things when they're in love. because we are human and are more often than not, unable to control, and are controlled by our own emotions and feelings.

my mom called me lazy today because i didn't leave the house for the whole day, or wanted to go out for dinner with them. it's not that i don't want to. i mean how i'd love to sit at Starbucks and chill to reward myself for a long week of work. but it's kinda hard with skin in my mind half the time.

I KNOW YOU'RE READING THIS AND I STILL LOVE YOU MOM<3<3

anyhow, all the above brings me to my next point.

Be Sensitive.
i have had my share of tactless comments and tactless people (still do). they don't mean any harm. i know that. but well-meaning or not, sometimes these comments hurt regardless. (TAKING ME A LOT OF COURAGE TO SAY THIS HERE EVEN OK. especially for someone with a lot of pride like me.) i am a girl nonetheless. a vain one too. i know my skin has broken out. and i thank you for your opinion and your suggestions. but the skin is mine, and i'm quite sure that i'm probably ten times more enthusiastic than you in trying to clear it up.

(my current dermatologist can prove it. he seems quite disturbed at how obsessive i am in my research after i showed him an excel sheet i complied of over 100 ingredients for skin products to find out what i'm allergic to. and how i'm aware of all the antibiotics and the risks and consequences. and the number of acne-fighting creams i know. lol.)

i'm not saying to avoid the topic completely. and i'm not saying that i am offended the moment you bring it up. in fact. i find it somewhat reassuring and comforting to discuss about my skin with closer friends. because i want to talk about it to let them know that i am doing something about my skin. and that i am insecure about it. i am perfectly fine talking about it. but it is the manner of speech and the approach of talking about it. maybe bother to find out more before giving any opinion or approach it in a less 'what's wrong with you' way. because it's rude. how'd you like it if i asked you why you're so fat or why you look a certain way. seriously people. some people can be very tactless when they speak. i don't think they think before they speak. yknow? because i didn't know. until i experienced it for myself.

also, healing takes time. especially for acne. as G likes to tell me. such healing doesn't happen overnight. "you think magic ah." lol. which is true. i know. the derm says that there may not be any significant positive change within the first month, or very slight. it usually takes 6-8 weeks. minimum a month. even oral antibiotics take weeks and months to fully come into effect and more often than not, there will be a breakout period. people call it the purging stage. right now however, i don't really believe it's purging per se. but from what i've heard, skin will clear up rapidly after the initial breakout period. but it's the hardest period to endure. time is our worst enemy at times like these. but it gets slightly easier when you know things will get better. i think.

i'd also like to believe that people are more understanding or non-judgemental than i'd always imagined them to be. but the truth is people are more understanding only when reasons, feelings, emotions and sufferings are told to them in their face. it couldn't be a truer fact. i get that all the time. people accuse me of not turning up or being late because of some ridiculous reason like how they're not important or i'm too lazy or i have bad time management or bad planning so i'm late. but the truth probably goes along the lines of, i didn't turn up because my skin really bothered me and i just didn't want to get out of the house, or i spent too much time trying to figure out what to do with my skin so i'm late. or i attempted to do some light concealing but failed and totally gave up so i decided not to get out of the house at all even though i probably was already all geared up to leave. then, people will either 1. think i'm ridiculous. or 2. soften up and realise that i have my reasons.

it couldn't be more true. which is another reason why i'm here. baring half my soul to the world, perhaps in some hope that the world will be more understanding. not just to me, but to everyone and anyone else. you don't know who could have had a bad day. see that slightly overweight girl in the corner? she may have been trying to lose weight for years. or weight may just have been genetic. see that army boy with acne? he may have struggled and felt so bloody insecure about his skin in NS and he even has to shave his head which he may have thought made everything ten times worst. who knows maybe he suffers from acne depression and may suicide if someone provokes him.

.

i exaggerate.

but you know my gist.

honestly, my breakout last year changed the way i looked at the world and i told myself that i will never look at people the same way again, especially when i'm on the train and people watching. #justsaying.

(like when that aunty cuts right in and snatches the seat in front of me. maybe she has terrible knees or has been standing for the entire day working while i have a nice chair to sit in. or if it's a guy and i'd usually think how ungentlemanly but decide that maybe he has a soccer injury or that he's alighting 20 stops later or something.)

if people would just be a little more sympathetic, a tad more forgiving, and a heart more understanding.

*
G constantly reminds me to be patient. i will be.

in the past i'd probably say i can't wait to get my life back. (i noticed this sentence appears a lot among people undergoing acne medication). but i'm trying not to say that any longer because i still want to live my life to the fullest. with or without acne. it's hard and i'm still trying.

i don't know if i scared anyone from writing this post. people who may have thought that my life is awesome (it still is). or people who may have seen me differently, thought that i have no issues with myself or with life. there you go i bared my soul.

nah i'm kidding.

everyone has their flaws and insecurities. this is mine.

and we all have a choice on how to deal with it. sometimes we don't. i try to be positive as you probably can tell. but you probably can also tell that i have my issues. (G, whom i confide in about all my skin woes (and my life actually), is convinced that i am obsessive and need to see a psychologist. not that being obsessed has anything to do with needing to see a psychologist.) yes. i struggle in dealing with it and often have occasional urges to just feed myself Accutane or get my derm to prescribe me more oral antibiotics to get it over and done with such that i sometimes don't really know what i'm doing to my body. if you read the possible effects of oral antibiotics for acne, you'd know what i mean.

anyhow. i'm trying and i'm still learning everyday.

don't get me wrong. i still think my life is relatively awesome and i feel extremely blessed. i know my parents try to give me whatever i want as long as they are able to, and they just want me to be happy. and i love them very much for that. i don't have any particular material desires or wants. i have almost everything i want and need. of course i could think of more but i would need to think. 

Being Thankful
i am going to Europe for 3 weeks in the middle of my internship and will most likely be taking a baking class in Paris. how. awesome. is. that. !!!!!
after which i will be flying to Korea for a 5 months exchange.  HOW. AWESOME. IS. THAT!!!!!

ok that aside. lol.

i have lwssom friends who deliver tauhuey to me at 2am on my 21st birthday because i'm stuck studying and can't go out.

i have amazing uni friends like G who listens to all my crap and knows the names of my friends whom she doesn't even know. super sweet Lyn who gets angry and actually throws virtual punches for me when i get bullied :').

i also have my family, my brother who tries to make me happy when i tell him about my skin, and ships UK stuff that i want to his place so i can get them when i go over later.

my cousins (and cousin's gf) who accept me no matter what (they don't have a choice really hahaha) and i'm mad proud of every single one of them and our (or rather their) ability to do the most ridiculous things ever (like asking the Macs drive-thru dude if we could polaroid him and he said yes hahaha). i love how close we are as compared to most other families.

my ultimate BFF and childhood friend wuzhijun who tells me that she misses me (and my macarons) when she's in Australia and won't be back for awhile. how we are both so thankful for each other because we know there's someone else in the world who thinks the way we do.

my dearest childhood friend claireylim who has always been there. a constant in my life who feels unjust for me. i will never forget how she told me that she wished life was fairer for me.

ok so i could go on being thankful for the two tiffs in my life, sammy, 30/09, eomma, meiling etc etc. but then i would be rambling. so i was saying. i do think my life is awesome and i'm thankful for what i have. it's just that.

i could be happier. that's all. (:

*

there are various reasons for writing this post. some of which i've already mentioned. i also want to state and clarify, once and for all, the misconceptions about acne. because it irks me to no end when i have conversations about this and have to explain repeatedly. i also hope that it may encourage anyone who may need the encouragement.

most importantly, i'm writing for myself. putting all these into words on such a platform gives me strength, in some ways. to keep me patient and sane. to keep me grounded and encouraged. to explain myself - not that it is necessary in any way. but it helps me believe that people may be slightly more understanding in this matter.

from the words of a 20 year old girl on Accutane:


The fact that I couldn’t control my skin, that it wasn’t my choice to look this way, just made matters worse and made me feel ostracized by those who were convinced I was unhygienic.
And then I realized that I do have a choice. The acne is on my face whether I try to hide it or not, but I can choose to be the awesome, funny, happy girl with acne or the quiet, depressed, standoffish girl with acne.When it’s put this way it’s hardly a tough decision at all. 
 - Kat@undermymakeup
not a tough decision. not at all.


*post was written from 18 May 2013 onwards and was published on 21 May 2013

/edit:24May2013

there is just a couple of other things i wanted to mention.

1. i can see you scanning my skin. no matter how fast, no matter how quick the glance. we know. since people with acne are doubly conscious of our skin, we can tell when people are staring. honestly. it's the same when guys glance at chest. no matter how quick the glance, girls know. always. it's just a matter of telling you if we know that you're looking. more often than not, we don't bring it up. but that doesn't mean we didn't notice. #justsaying

2. i am currently on my fourth kind of antibiotics. since the first three didn't really work out too well for me. i'm giving it a 4-6 weeks. although it's not too kind to the stomach, it's the current best option according to my dermatologist. someone once told me that all antibiotics have got side effects, it's just a matter of which is more tolerable. i hope this one will be more tolerable than the rest.

i'm actually experiencing the first effect now. some acid reflux making my throat rather uncomfortable. trying to make sure that i take enough food before having the pill now, or i'd probably risk some serious case of gastric or something. my cousin took the same antibiotic a while back and had to stop because of something along the lines of not being able to keep her food down. i'm keeping my fingers crossed and being extra careful by making sure i take more food and have more water. there are other side effects that i'd rather not mention at the moment.

OK THAT'S ALL.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Diet

hello!

so the semester is finally over for me and i've been wanting to do a post on this for a really long time. i'm actually supposed to be at dance class now but i made a last minute decision not to go and stay home instead, since i actually only have 2 free days before i start work next week.

and i haven't been in the mood to bake these days. so i thought i'd just update with something that i always wanted to talk about, even though i'm not sure if anyone is interested at all but diet and nutrition is actually something i'm passionate about - even more so after i tried losing weight through various means about a bit more than a year ago.

i wasn't unhealthily overweight, or particularly fat or anything. in fact, people around me couldn't understand why i needed, or wanted to lose weight. i always saw myself as a little too chubby or "ba", if yknow what i'm saying. my best friend calls it voluptuous. no i'm not flattered. i always called it baby fats mostly because of my chubby cheeks and the weight bothered more on the top. i guess it all came from my love of white rice, bread, paus and starchy foods. honestly, i could have 4 slices of bread for a meal and be perfectly happy. i only started realizing i was putting on more weight than i would like when i naturally stopped wearing tank tops or anything that made me look.. bloated. ok enough information about that. lol.

i hit my heaviest probably in JC, i would think, 164cm at 55kg. i know, it isn't heavy. but weight doesn't tell you the whole story. for instance, when i lost 2kg, my friend (of many, many years) thought i lost 5kg. i've learnt that sometimes it's not the scale that matters, but how you look and feel about yourself. well it's easy for me to say now, and i wish i believed in that when i was losing weight.

i range from 49-51kg now - depending on what i eat for the week and whether i make the effort to eat properly. this, by the way, is according to my scale at home which i hope is accurate. ^^'

losing weight has always been difficult for me, ever since i tried to go on diets after diets in secondary school. not a very good idea perhaps, since i was probably undergoing puberty. but it never worked anyway, and i started to convince myself that i was genetically born more.. chubby than others. so when i entered Uni in late 2011, and wanted to go on a diet, i was more extreme than it was probably healthy.

No Carbohydrates
at the start, i cut carbs from my diet, almost completely. and survived on soy protein and fruits and sometimes vegetables. i let myself have a raisin bun in the morning and i'd buy 3-in-1 glutinous rice balls (i.e. 4 glutinous rice balls in a bowl of bean curd and soy milk) from Mr Bean for lunch. if Mr Bean wasn't in the vicinity, i would pop by 7-11 and pick up a packet of Vitasoy (soy milk) for lunch. if i got hungry throughout the day i'd cut myself an apple or pear, depending on what i had in the fridge (i was staying in hall at that time). dinner would be a fruit or cooked vegetables which was the best 'unfattening' option that would be available or.. actually. i don't really recall eating dinner at times. this went on for about a week or two i think. i don't quite remember. in fact, my memory of that period is a little vague - maybe i wasn't having enough nutrients which affected my brain. lol. although i do recall that on the first couple of days that i had that 3-in-1, i could finish all 4 rice balls. but the number of rice balls i ate started decreasing with days till i would just have one and throw the rest away because i was so sick of it. then i started to replace that meal with vegetables. i only ate decently during the weekends when i was back home with my parents and family. i also totally avoided high-sugar fruits like grapes or strawberries and didn't touch jam at all.

then i fell sick and my skin was clearly duller and apparently unhealthier. and it felt like i was perpetually sick no matter what medication i took. my senior told me then, that maybe it's because i'm not eating enough. but that didn't stop me.

in fact, i had lost about 1kg i think, from 52kg if i recall correctly, and i was ecstatic, considering that it was hard for me to lose any weight at all. and losing weight is addictive. especially if you check yourself regularly on the scale. when i saw it go down, all i wanted was for it to keep falling. it was quite terrible because i would find myself grumpy and upset for a whole day if the scale tipped a little upwards after falling. if that makes sense.

i honestly don't know how much exactly i lost during that period. i'm guessing i lost 2kg in total. i remember asking my dad one weekend if i lost weight, and he told me that i lost too much weight. and it was only when * started to feel a little too loose for my comfort did i fear that i was overdoing it. i mean yes i wanted to lose weight, but i didn't want to lose the curves. i understand that losing weight is proportionate. so there is bound to be some weight loss up there but i didn't want to overdo it. that marked the start of my second approach;

Counting Calories
so i decided that i would stop torturing myself - i was sleeping with a sometimes growling tummy and would wake up almost every morning with a knotted, cramping stomach. honestly i think i was a tummy-abuser. which is also why i do have stomach issues now - the TCM doctor i visited a while back told me my stomach cannot make it, if i had to translate it literally.

i decided that i had to start eating proper meals, just count my calories. that's what i did. but my appetite had shrunk so much that i couldn't even finish a 6-inch sub. i still avoided meat and ate a lot of vegetables. i recall ordering 3 different types of vegetables once, from a Mixed Rice stall and it cost me only $1.90. hehe.

i limited myself to 1200 calories, sometimes 1210 calories (if that helps lol ^^') and used an app which would break down the number of calories into carbohydrates, protein, sodium etc. to let me know how much i need to clock. and this app is awesome because it has a wide database of foods with the nutritional details already in. so all i had to do was to search for the food, e.g. Starbucks Soy Greentea Latte without syrup (which is less than 100 calories btw) and enter it. so i kept a food diary for a couple of weeks. i literally could remember how many digestive biscuits or weetabix i could have in the morning. 13 weetabix minis if i'm not wrong (a kind of breakfast cereal made solely from wholegrain wheat) although i sometimes cheated by having 15 because they were so yummy.

ok i went to the app (which has a website as well) and dug out my old food diary information. apparently i started on the 24 September 2011 and my last entry was on 7th November 2011. so that's about 6 weeks. here's how it looks, and here's what i used to eat in a day:




Quite interesting, now that i'm looking through it again. it also took me awhile to start eating real meat again. i was so repulsed just by looking at meat that i seriously considered going vegetarian. so this went on for some time until my best friend started telling me that counting calories was not practical. she gave me an example which i completely agreed with:

you can eat chocolate and sweets and rubbish for the entire day and stay within your calorie count. but you will get fat anyway.

so i decided this couldn't last. yes i was already down a couple of kgs. i think i was bordering at 50.5kg and 51kg at that time. actually, i don't really recall how heavy i was. but my ideal weight was 48kg. at that time, one of my favourite singers - Jolin Tsai released a book on how she lost and maintained her weight. and i know that she went through a whole lot of ridiculous weight losing methods. and i also know that cutting carbs or eating in such manners will not last because after you stop, all the weight that you've been losing will come back. so i picked up the book at Popular - one of the best decisions in my life - and read it, yes it is all in chinese. traditional chinese too. but it is very readable.

she goes through a list of myths, some which she has tried before as well, and also a list of things we should do. one of which was to throw away the weighing scale. she mentioned that her mood hinged on what the scale showed. which i completely agree. my mood fluctuated according to how much weight i lost, or gained. and she said, it is not the weight that matters, but how you look and how you feel about yourself. this i completely agree now. i don't think i can go into too much detail about the book but go pick it up if you're interested.

in summary, what she advocates, and what i now advocate as well, is living a healthy lifestyle and eating healthy based on fixed proportions. a certain portion of carbohydrates, certain portion of protein, vegetables and fruits. this is very different from calorie counting. calorie counting takes into account a lot more specifics, like the amount of fat, sodium etc in it. as you would have seen. also, take wholefoods as much as possible because in this way your stomach would have to work harder to break down the food from their most natural state. e.g. having brown rice instead of white rice.  exercise accounts for 30-40% and diet (as in the food you eat) the remaining 60-70% of your metabolism rate (apparently). so it's crucial to focus on your diet as well and exercise alone may not be sufficient.

she includes a table of proportions for different types of individuals, as well as how to count your portions. it sounds like a lot of trouble, but she also mentions that after some time, you will naturally know how much you need to eat. which is true.

also, your stomach can and does expand or contract according to how much you feed it. if you eat more than what your stomach needs, you will feel bloated. this is a sign of overeating and you're training your stomach to take in more than your body requires. being 80% full is more than sufficient in providing for what your body requires. this also explains why i couldn't finish a sub when i started to have proper meals. because my body was so accustomed to small amount of foods that i felt full really fast. so another point to know is that it is okay to have many small meals throughout the day (as long as it is within your portion and you don't overeat that is)

basically, by eating healthy, avoiding processed foods and junk food, your body will work optimally, metabolism rate will be optimal and when your body is at its best, it will naturally have a better metabolism rate which will fully utilise the foods that you consume. pretty simple logic.

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i have an extremely health conscious dad, and so grew up already being health conscious. i take fruit juice and honey vinegar every morning if i'm home and i don't get bak kwa during chinese new years. my dad also frowns at fast food and canned processed foods. cup noodles and packet noodles are disapproved as well. no one buys chips or crackers home when i was younger. hardly anyway. if there were chips at home, my dad would nag a little and make me feel guilty. but honestly, growing up eating so little of junk food grew on me. soon i realised that it was more of a personal choice than my dad's disapproval. i didn't like the feeling i got after having chips and i didn't crave bak kwa anyway. i would have a bite or two when we go visiting or if i was at my grandma's. but in general i wasn't too crazy about them. soon i made it a point not to have chips and junk food at all - because it was heaty and i was convinced that it would make me break out. i was in secondary school at that time.

i went on to quit fries. i still ate McDonalds' at that time but after learning about transfat in fries, i quit it completely. i don't remember the last time i had fries. i stopped eating McDonald's about a year ago as well. only having it when i don't have much of a choice. although i remember the last time i craved the Sausage McMuffin, i had it for breakfast and regretted it in an hour because it made me nauseous. i guess my body didn't fancy processed food and was upset at me for eating it.

honestly, once i made it a point in my life to eat healthy, i stopped craving for excess sugar, simple sugars and things that are not good for me. it's just a very natural thing. i used to have bubble tea (the healthier ones like strawberry green tea in JC) occasionally (without pearls just because i didn't like them). but i have since quit all sorts of bubble tea, milk tea or such. i can walk past gongcha or koi without having the urge to drink it. i honestly don't find satisfaction in consuming them and they sometimes make my throat feel uncomfortable after even just a sip. i avoid fried, and deep fried foods. so yes. i don't eat Old Chang Kee. at. all. even though i sometimes miss the sardine curry puff. if i do miss it enough i may indulge. not like i have such rubbish everyday.

i used to have oatmeal every single morning and it really helped maintain my weight at 49kg. also, my family has converted to brown rice and when i am very anal about my portions, it keeps my weight at 49kg. i have been a little lazy in preparing oatmeal recently, which explains why i'm on the heavier end of the range now. and we ran out of brown rice. but i've been getting my wholefood fix from wholemeal spaghetti and QQRice when i go to school. they have a wide selection of unpolished rice. (: also, i have had my family convert to drinking organic milk, both dairy milk and nut milk (i.e. Almond Milk). i can have a whole post on that i'm not kidding. normal, regular milk is pumped with hormones for the cows to produce more milk and a whole lot of other nasties that you should know about. and these hormones can cause a lot of upsets in your body and much more effects that you would expect. maybe i will write about that in my next post. oh. and i also have at least 1 liter, nowadays at least 2 liters, of water a day. this is important because yes, you will feel full by water. but no i am not saying drink lots of water before a meal. this is not healthy because you are diluting the acid in your stomach before a meal. it becomes a false sense of fullness which will make you overeat after that. i have water about one to two hours after a meal. especially before 11am.

i spoke to a friend about weight loss at that time. she lost much more than me before entering uni and we both agreed that once you get to a certain point on the scale, it is much, MUCH harder to go down.

when i cut carbs and counted my calories, i was my lightest at 50.5kg, if my memory doesn't fail me. when i started eating healthily, i dropped effortlessly to 49kg which actually kind of scared me. but as long as i'm healthy i don't think it matters. the strange thing is, i have a picture of myself when i cut carbs and counted my calories and i look much thiner than i am now. in fact, i don't even look me. kind of scary. no wonder the people around me started to worry that i was anorexic. and the only time when i managed to drop below 49kg to 47kg was when i started taking an acne antibiotic which made me perpetually bloated and nauseous at the same time. i lost my appetite and hardly ate. may i also mention that it made me grumpy and slightly depressed. so i stopped after 2 weeks and went back to healthy range.

i am now perfectly fine being 51kg. even though i know i'm probably healthier being 49kg or 50kg. but because i've been eating a lot of cakes and food recently (i just turned 21 two weeks back WOOOOOOO 21 *^^*^^*^^* lol. ok i will maintain) followed by a string of exams. so i haven't really been eating right. and dance classes were cancelled for three weeks. so no exercise either. pfffft.

but well, sem's over so i can probably start having proper meals. and okay. this concludes my lengthy post about diet and weight. i hope i managed to stop some people from cutting carbohydrates or counting calories. even though my physiotherapist (who has a fantastic memory) told me that people who lose weight usually can't shun away from calorie counting. he also said that weight loss is not successful unless you manage to maintain it for at least a year. 6 months is quite good. but a year is when you know you're there. very true i would think and i'm glad it's been more than a year. maybe a year and a half since i lost weight.

so for all you people out there who keep saying i'm slim and want to lose weight or whatnots. please know, i didn't have it easy either. people say you can learn it the easy way, or the hard way. i learnt it the hard way, obviously. my morning stomach knots lasted even after i moved on to eat proper meals. i don't get them anymore but my stomach now churns food really loudly (i don't know if there is any relation lol) but i believe that i probably caused it a substantial amount of damage and distress at that time. i also went through a terrible breakout from my eccentric eating habits and the lack of nutrition.

i worked, and learnt how to eat healthy. and it is not a diet plan. it is a lifetime goal. it is a lifestyle. and it is a choice.

Written: Friday, May 10 2013
/posted May 11 2013