Monday, January 18, 2010

"weighty" issues

As you can see. Huge long list of sports events for this year on the right. :) I shall pick and choose the ones i think are do-able for me. Ragh, i can't help it but rest assured that i will pick the ones my body can handle. I want to do my sport(s) for life and not kill my body too soon and have it cut short.

Since last year, i've been toying with the idea of doing duathlons and mini triathlons to branch out from just plain running, but getting a bike is too expensive for me at the moment and keeping it in good condition requires time to maintain (from observing my sister who's into triathlons). We'll see how it'll work out.

Speaking about health and sports. Recently, my weight has been something of a topic for people who've not seen me in a while. Actually, even those who've been seeing me relatively often have noticed that i've shrunk somewhat. Some people said i looked "gaunt", some said i looked "nice what", some said i looked like "skin and bones" (haha... you know who you are! :P), some said i looked "unhealthy".

I don't really know how to respond to their surprised questions and comments, except to cursorily name one of the few reasons that explain what they see. It got me thinking about what started this whole continuous weight loss. Though i can assure you that i am not anorexic or bulimic, because i love food too much to be! Long story ahead...

It all began when i developed mild IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) during my undergraduate days. My doc said there is no distinct cause for it, though it is most likely due to my lifestyle. At that time, i was stressed most of the time from school and stress is apparently one of the lifestyle related causes for IBS.

Since there was no specific cause, he could only treat the symptoms. So he got me started on establishing good toilet habits. I learnt that i had to avoid certain foods as well because they made me bloat up. I underwent treatment with medication, fibre supplements and even laxatives. Within the few months of treatment, my doc said i had lost a bit of weight. (Ragh, because carbohydrates was one of the things i had to avoid due to bloating)

Things definitely got better in about 4-5 months, with less bloating. But not without being extra careful about my diet. Back then, my concerns were what i put into my mouth. Today, it has developed into a careful monitoring of what i eat, when i eat (time of the day), HOW i eat (i realized that taking more time to eat slowly and chewing my food thoroughly before swallowing eases the job of my digestive tract, less bloatedness), even.

As a zealot-runner, i took part in regular running events. But it was this one sports expo that i went to when i went to collect my Standard Chartered race pack that knocked some reality into me. I stopped by a Cali Fitness booth and did a body composition test, just for the fun of it. And to my ultimate shock, i was informed that at my size at that time (i had always considered myself healthy and even slim-ish!) i was close to being overweight.

My fat content was apparently quite high, which i didn't expect at all. I can't remember which year it was when i found out. But together with that bit of info, plus in 2007 when i put on 3kg SUDDENLY for NO apparent reason after my 21km Standard Chart race (weight ballooned to 58.5kg), i decided that i really needed to lose the weight.

So one day when i stepped on the scales, i prayed. I asked God, "God, i need to lose the weight to get to my ideal weight of 50-51kg. Can you help me, can you partner with me on this? We'll do this together."

I'm serious! I prayed to Father God to help me lose weight. I'm sure He does care about that too to help me! So, guys and girls, you now know what to do if you need help in this area ok.

So of course then came the decision to start making changes to live healthier. CY calls me a health freak in mock disgust though he's one himself! Hur. Well, what did healthier living mean for me? I lived and still live by these mantras:

1) Always pick food that will give NUTRITION. Meaning, i MUST get my fix of proteins, fibre and carbohydrates in my meal (try as far as possible though it's hard when you're eating out). Don't get things that give you calories but yet does not give you nutrition. For instance, potato chips, certain biscuits, doughnuts, etc. These are empty calories.

2) Avoid processed food as far as possible. Eg. i avoid cakes, soft/can drinks, biscuits that i think do not contribute to my health. But... (see point 3)

3) Yet, if something is really good (even if processed AND unhealthy), i WOULD eat it. Hence, I use my daily calorie intake only on food that is worth eating (i learnt this important lesson from a doctor who writes the famous local food blog: Meaning, if the food i'm eating is yucky and/or unhealthy, i won't force myself to eat/buy it just so that i will have something to eat. If something is not worth eating, don't. So yes, i do eat stuff like fried pork lard. Heh. YUMMEH. Because it tastes good to me and it's something i won't regret eating. Which brings me to point 4...

4) Diet is a huge portion of what makes you physically. Hence, "you are what you eat". But like me, if you've eaten stuff you KNOW don't quite score well (PORK LARD!) in the health department, then you need to work it off.

5) When i eat, i don't gobble. When you eat slowly, you'll realize how little food you really need in order to feel full. If you gobble a lot in a short time, you'll realize later on how full you made yourself to be. Whereas when you take a longer time to eat (and hence eat less), your body has enough time to tell the brain that you are full. Less food eaten = less excess calories.

6) Fullness: I eat till i'm just about right or slightly less than just about right. I used to think this was torment! I mean, hello, i LOVE food so if i did this, i would be eating so little!!! But when i didn't heed this, i suffered a lot of bloating which over time i realized was very uncomfortable, so i've learnt to listen to my body and just practice this. I'm now benefiting from this, thankfully.

I realized when i followed these points, it all came together to help me manage my diet, weight and health (IBS) overall. Of course, i was also accountable to God in that i wanted to take care of His temple (my body) and to make sure that i didn't go overboard with the weight loss and have it turn into something pathological. Honestly, there were times when losing the weight was so important that i would do and think really stupid things. So i would have to refocus and remember that i was doing this for my overall health and not to achieve a number on the scale.

There are other things, like stress from school (NIE ah... tsk tsk) and personal life, my busy schedule that sometimes forces me to eat only light meals, my "shrunken stomach" (i feel full with just a bit of food... quite annoying and also amusing lor cos i love to eat at mega buffets like the one called The Carousel), that have also contributed.

Anyway. This has been a rather long post after allowing myself to recollect the whole journey. So after 4-5 years of living this way, i've slowly lost the weight and i'm now at a healthy average of 51-52kg.

Come to think of it, losing 6-7 kg in 2 years (from 2008 when weight was 58.5kg after the 21km run) is actually a long and gradual process (think: it's losing a tiny 67grams a week *chuckle*). Which i guess is healthy weight loss. I'm hoping that the changes to my physical body is deep (cardiovascular improvement, better metabolic rate, etc), rather than on the surface like how it is with crash diets.

This post was pretty much about the eating and food part of living healthily. Maybe i'll talk about my sports regime some other time. :)


melachozy said...

i lost weight too. i will like to put some wt back on.

joline said...


hm, any particular cause that led to that weight loss?

Juz Leo said...

wow! this post is so motivational!

Joline said...

juz leo:

*grin* thanks bro, and your comment was also encouraging for me!

hope that there's something in the post that makes sense in some way.

IzzyBellyHoo said...

how i wish there was a "like" button here like the one they have on facebook...'cos I want to click "like" hahaha

nice Jo! have not seen you in awhile shall see you soon!!!! :D

joline said...


yay! i feel so encouraged. thanks izzy!

yes, i shall see you soon and maybe we can go eat? (like tea or something, like the other time)

Lucille*Fabulous 24/7 said...

count me in too! :)