Saturday, May 11, 2013



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.

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

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