There have been a few times in my life when I didn’t exercise or eat well and gained weight as a result. One of these times was when I first moved to Hong Kong and I really packed on the kilos going from a size 8 to 12. I was already starting to put on weight in the weeks leading up to the move with farewell dinners, packing, finishing work in Sydney which left little time to exercise and worry about what I ate.
When I arrived in Hong Kong I was eating more junk food and going out to lunches and dinners with new friends and work colleagues. I was homesick and sad in the first few months so I wouldn’t eat for hours and when I finally felt hungry I would treat myself to something sweet or fatty to make me feel better. My new job was very stressful so I spent a lot of time and energy on climbing up the learning curve which left me with no time and energy for exercise. After a few months in Hong Kong, I was lucky enough to be sent to New York and London for 2 months for training but this actually meant more stress, work, eating out and very little exercise. So I went from a size 8 to a 10 and finally a 12.
So when I returned to HK I made a goal to lose the excess weight no matter how demanding or difficult my job was. Especially because the culture in HK favours small, thin girls without any curves. I really hit my lowest point when a shop keeper kindly told me that I should stop eating so much candy (which I wasn’t) because I couldn’t fit into the clothes in her shop…..
So here’s how I lost weight – and instead of becoming a thin girl with no curves, I became a healthier, toned and happier version of me…
- I signed up to a gym close to work and made myself go 3 times a week during lunchtimes or in the evenings. I worked out on the rowing machine, treadmill and bikes for 10 minutes each. Those first few weeks were so hard and I felt awful and sick when I was working out. It was even harder knowing that it used to be easy once upon a time. But I started to improve and began to enjoy and look forward to working out again, especially when I felt my energy levels and performance increase at the office after a workout.
- As soon as I started losing weight, I hired a personal trainer to help me with the last few kilos and to tone up. Yes, it was very expensive, but I guess, as they say, you can’t put a price on health. Plus I had such a busy life that I couldn’t waste any time researching exercise plans. Instead, my trainer would do the research and put together a workout tailored for my needs and goals.
- I cut down on portions and ate fresh, wholesome and healthy meals. I started the day (and still do!) with a strong black tea without milk or sugar in the morning and 2 pieces of toast. For lunch I ate a salad or light sandwich. I snacked on fruit and perhaps a biscuit here and there. For dinner I would eat fish or chicken with rice or noodles. I prefer eating a heavier meal at dinner and I know it’s not the ‘right’ thing to do in all the health books, but it’s what works for me. On weekends I treated myself to something yummy and bad like potato chips or cookies or dumplings as a snack because – well life is too short so we should enjoy good food!
- When I went out, I chose healthier options like meat or fish with vegetables or a light tomato-based pasta. But if someone was ordering fries for the table, I made sure the bowl was right near me. I would also share dessert (and calories!) because that way I could still enjoy and try something sweet and delicious. Everything in moderation was – and still is – my motto.
- If I travelled somewhere exciting for the weekend, I ate smaller portions of the new cuisine. Plus I worked out at the hotel gym and walked as much as possible during sightseeing. I knew that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit these countries so I indulged in the cuisine. But when I returned home, I ate only fruit, salads and drank juice for at least 2 days to give my stomach a break.
Honestly, it took at least 3 months to lose the excess weight and an additional 2 months or so to tone up and become a healthy size 8 again. (Also I don’t use scales and don’t even know how much I weighed or lost because I prefer to go by dress sizes and how I feel). Once I lost the weight I became a happier and energetic person.
Funnily enough, when I moved back to Sydney, I put on a bit of weight again (although not as much as I did in HK) because I had another new stressful job, had to re-settle and make new friends. But it was much easier the second time around because I knew what I needed to do! Plus, health and fitness in Sydney is a BIG deal (and one of the reasons why I love it here!) so it was easy to fall into the rhythm of exercising and eating well when I was (and still am!) immersed in it in the city and at the the office.
I hope this post inspires anyone who is looking to lose some weight in a healthy way. Crash diets and denying
myself yummy food has never worked for me because it makes me sad when I can’t eat what I like. What has worked for me, though, is simply using common sense and eating wholesome and fresh foods, avoiding too much sugar (but not cutting it out completely), salt and alcohol, and exercising at least 3 times a week. If I did it, then you can too!