/ #Self-care 

How I used LOA and IF to lose weight

My weight loss turned body love journey and how I finally learned to release the flab and embrace the fit

“A reporter wants to interview us on TV about our weight loss story and IF (Intermittent Fasting). You okay with it?” my husband messaged me two weeks ago.

“Okay”, I replied.

“Really? I thought you were gonna say no.”

And he was right, there were a lot of reasons I wanted to say NO.

It’s been almost 8 years since I left TV but I knew some things would never change:

  • Out of a 30-45 minute interview, only a minute or less would be actually aired which is barely enough to get the message across.
  • Since it’s a news feature, there’s a high probability it could get bumped off the air by a breaking news story.
  • The camera can expand your face + body twice as much which means I could still look fat.

But there was only one reason which was enough for me to actually do it:

I knew my husband’s weight loss was an important feat for him and I wanted to support him in sharing his message.

So the next day we went for the interview but it wasn’t aired that night as scheduled because there was a breaking news story.

Three days later, it still wasn’t aired so I kind of felt relieved that it won’t ever see the light of day.

A week after the shoot though, the reporter suddenly messaged us that it was going to air in the next 5 minutes.

We rushed home to turn on the TV and tune in to the primetime news to check if it would really air.

And it did.

Behind the scenes (or what it really took to lose the weight)

There’s only so much you can say in a 20 - 30 second soundbite. And when you hear stories like these, there’s a tendency to think that’s all there is to it: eat less and exercise.

While that is essentially what you can do, the truth is it took way more than Intermittent Fasting (IF) for me to lose weight.

And even if I did lose 24 - 26 pounds in 6 months, the real timeline was much longer:

This goal was in the making for 9 years.

I often see people doling out advice saying losing weight is simple and pretty straightforward. And I guess in some ways it is.

But I’m sharing my whole story here to show you that it wasn’t that simple or straightforward for me.

And if you’ve ever tried to get in shape but nothing seems to work, I hope you know you’re not alone and you can overcome whatever it is that’s holding you back.

This story is not a professional prescription or a strict set of instructions.

Rather, I hope you’ll find it as inspiration for your own body goals.

Before my “before”

I’ve always been a slender kid, so I guess I got lucky with my genes. I could eat anything and gain nothing.

Kindergarten. I was six and small. I was often called "payatot" (very thin) because I was skinny

Even my mom stayed slender well into her senior years so that was something I took comfort from, and maybe took for granted, too.

But my all nighters and stressful production schedules in my early 20's caused me to gain weight.

Though I wasn’t obsessed with the weighing scale, I used my jeans as my measuring tool.

Once some flab is spilling over the waistline, I knew it was time to diet. I tried going to the gym and taking up boxing.

And then when I wanted to speed things up with minimal effort, I would take supplements.

The first one I tried was Xenical which supposedly removes the fat from the food you eat. But it wreaked havoc on my stomach each day I took it.

The pills actually worked but they would wreak havoc on my stomach every time I took them.

So I switched to 7 Days, a supplement that suppressed my appetite. It actually worked and I got very thin after finishing an entire month’s supply.

But I was always extremely thirsty and even my skin looked like I was “dried out”, definitely not healthy. I then tried slimming teas but never liked them enough to stick with them.

And then my body changed completely

In 2006, I got pregnant with my first child so all my weight loss efforts came to a halt.

Thankfully, I didn’t gain as much as I thought I would but I still wanted to bring my old body back.

Since I was too tired to go to the gym, I bought exercise DVDs I could do at home: HipHop Abs, Insanity, some random yoga DVDs and Mari Winsor Pilates that I bought from Home TV Shopping.

It helped a bit to bring back my energy but my body was far from what I wanted it to be. I felt frustrated at how much my body had changed and how it seemed so much harder to lose weight.

In the beginning of 2008, almost a year after I gave birth, I found out I was pregnant with my second child. I pressed pause again on all weight loss efforts while feeling anxious that my old body was gone for good.

A few months after I gave birth to my second daughter, I suffered what I later found was postpartum depression.

I hit the gym hard to cope. I would box, work out for an hour and ate less carbs. Save for the stretch marks, my body soon whittled down to its old form.

Beneath the smile. Going toward the tailend of my bout with depression.

I looked great on the outside, but inside I was a rollercoaster of emotional crap. I pretended I was okay when I was actually sad, frustrated, confused and angry.

The road to recovery and... weight gain

I recovered before the end of 2009. And soon after, the weight started piling up again.

But I was happy and I didn’t care so much about my body. I thought: I was a mom and it’s okay for moms to be flabby, isn’t it? Maybe I'm even expected to be.

When I hit 144lbs, I stopped looking at the weighing scale. I was in denial and I thought I was okay.

I just avoided looking at the mirror and taking pictures of myself. If I absolutely had to take pictures, I would angle my face or ask the photographer to shoot down so I would look slim.

Whenever we took family photos, I made sure I was wearing something loose, standing behind my husband or carrying one of our daughters so I would have my cover.

Stand a bit sideways, angle your head toward the front, stick your chin out a little… click. Instant slim.

Every now and then, I’d get a burst of motivation usually because of an upcoming event, a workshop, a reunion or beach trip.

I bought Tone It Up videos and downloaded the Sweat App by Kayla Itsines. I’d see some results but soon as the event was over, I’d start gaining weight again.

It went on like this for years and I thought I’d just have to accept that I was gonna be fat and frumpy for the rest of my life.

Top (L-R): From 2010 - 2013, I was still active with running and joining races.
Bottom: (L-R): From 2014 - 2018, gave up running and gave in to more eating.

That was until December 2017.

We were at a family gathering and a relative approached and congratulated me for being pregnant again.

I wasn’t.

At first, I was indignant and thought how tactless and inconsiderate some people can be.

But later I realized it was exactly the wake up call I needed to admit that I am fat and unhealthy and I needed to do something about it.

Something different than what I did before.

A journey back to body love.

But before I lay out the steps I took, here’s something I need you to know:

This is not the way you should do things.

I’m sharing this because it is what worked for me. I cannot guarantee that it will work for you BUT I intend that you’ll pick up some useful bits and pieces to help you spark your own body love journey.

So read this post, take what resonates and leave the rest. Here we go.

Suggestions before you start

1. Take a “before” photo and keep it hidden in a safe place where you won’t see it often.

I did this but I kept it on my phone and it made me feel bad whenever I looked at it.

I ended up deleting the photo and now I wish I didn’t because I had no clear point of comparison when it was time to measure my progress at the end of each month.

My husband was braver than me and kept his before photo so he had a clear visual for how much weight he lost and how he looked before and after. It became a great motivator for him to keep going.

2. Find someone whom you trust to help support you + keep mum about your effort to everyone else.

My husband told me how he would see some people announce their plans to try IF or losing weight on Facebook right on Day 1. Most of them give up even before they reach the one week mark.

One time when he was eating with his team at work and one of his colleagues casually mentioned he was doing IF too and then another colleague asked, “Really?” while looking back and forth at my husband and him as if the unspoken question was “How come you’re still fat?

Most people can be really kind and supportive when they want to but their own hang ups get in the way. So when they hear someone declaring a goal they probably wish they could achieve, they unconsciously project their frustration toward that person. And they end up making unhelpful and discouraging comments.

So when you embark on your own body love journey, be prepared for some people to make negative projections about their weight toward you and learn to deflect or ignore them.

I remember early into our fitness journey, my husband would come home and tell me about people who would comment on how fat he is getting. He was already doing IF by then and he would end up questioning his efforts.

And I would always ask him, “Well is this person fit and healthy?” His answer was always, “No, not at all.”

There you go. Negative projections.

I’d always reassure him, the efforts add up every day. And I'd tell him the truth whenever he asks me about his progress.

We would police each other when we see the other is overeating rice (him) or chocolates (me). When we get the cravings for midnight snacks, either one of us manages to stand our ground and convince the other to just drink water or sleep.

Get support. It really helps.

3. Accept that you will do this imperfectly.

No matter how much you resolve to eat only during your eating window or work out 5 - 6 times a week, at some point you will overshoot your window or miss 2 days of workouts.

AND THAT IS OKAY.

All of your past efforts still count and you can start over that same moment. Expect that you will slip AND learn to forgive yourself so you can move forward.

Part I. The Inner Work: Using Law of Attraction to Manifest Weight Loss

STEP 1: Set an intention behind the goal.

I used to say I wanted to be 120lbs by a certain date. Usually it would be triggered by a special event I needed to attend that was 3 months away.

And while that seemed like a specific goal, it was easy to get hung up on the metric and feel frustrated when the deadline is fast approaching and the changes on the weighing scale are slow going.

So this time, I supported the 120lb goal with an intention:

I intend to feel good in my body. To be fit, strong and healthy. To have energy all through the day. I intend to be comfortable and confident in my own skin.

This part of my life mandala for 2018 helped to remind me of my intentions for my body.

I shifted from a "weight loss" goal to a "fitness goal."

And while that seems the same, there's actually a distinct difference:

One was focused on losing the weight and I felt constantly pressured because of the weight I needed to lose.

The other was focused on feeling healthy, strong and fit and I was constantly doing the things that would make me feel that way.

This meant I wasn’t waiting for 120lbs before I felt good because this intention was something I can make myself feel right now even if I was still in the process of getting fit:

  • Even if I was still 144 lbs, I felt good whenever I moved for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • I stopped wearing my size 2 clothes that accentuated every flab in my body and bought ones in a size 6 but made me feel good and confident whenever I wore them.
  • More importantly, I shifted my mindset from racing toward a deadline to making a permanent lifestyle change.

No matter what I managed to achieve in 3 months, I was in it for a lifetime.

Remember what you focus on, expands.

So when you focus on losing the weight, you end up finding more reasons to have the need to lose it.

But when you focus on getting fit, you find all the reasons to be able to achieve it.

STEP 2: Be honest about what’s holding you back + the tradeoff for your current body.

Here’s one important thing I learned through the years: “Our brains are wired to keep us safe.”

And while that was useful to keep our ancestors alive from sabre tooth tigers and monstrous predators, it’s not always as useful for us today.

For example: You work out today and the next day you feel sore.

Your brain tells you, Exercise is dangerous, your body is in pain. You need to rest today. So you rest. The next day, you still feel a bit sore and your brain says, Exercise causes pain. Dangerous. Resting feels good and keeps you safe.

Before you know it you have gone 5 days without exercise. And you start feeling like a failure because you can’t be consistent with your workouts.

So you comfort yourself by eating the chocolate cake in the fridge. Maybe have a cup of ice cream or two.

Oh, maybe add a bag of chips. It’s okay, will just try again tomorrow. Oh it’s Saturday. Okay let’s just start on Monday then.

And the next thing you know, you’re back to square 1. Or maybe -1.

True story, for me.

And it’s not because my fear-focused lizard brain is the enemy. I knew it’s just trying to keep me safe every time.

It was because my brain was trying to protect me from something more than just bodily pain.

My main job was to get honest about what's really holding me back and convince my brain it was safe to have a great body.

Why did losing weight seem dangerous for me?

During one of my journaling sessions, I uncovered several memories that gave me the answers I needed.

Journaling helped me to dig deep and get honest about what was holding me back.

One of them happened when I was around 13 or 14.

Every morning, during my commute to school, I would pass by a part of the neighborhood where there lived a guy who would wait for me and constantly ask me out for a date.

I've never met this guy before nor did I make friends with him. I've said a firm and clear "no" several times but he would continue to harass me everyday.

I couldn't tell anyone or ask anyone for help to make him stop. Apparently, he would do it to other girls in our neighborhood but everyone thought it was just harmless fun.

For me, it clearly wasn't. And at that time, I thought maybe if I was plain looking, round and frumpy, he would leave me alone. And I wouldn't get unwanted attention from any other guy ever.

I would be safe.

I released that memory from my body and I wrote in my journal to comfort my 13 year old self. That it's okay. I'm safe now. It's okay to be thin and feel attractive again. Because if any guy would ever try to harass me, I was going to punch him in the face.

Another layer of fear I had to peel away was my battle with postpartum depression. I realised the last time I had a 'great' body was when I was depressed.

Deep down, I was scared that if I get fit, I would trigger the old feelings of frustration, anger and confusion so much that I’ll wreck my life again.

I was crying and yet feeling completely relieved just acknowledging the memory and the fear associated with it.

As I wrote in my journal, I affirmed the truth that this time, I was doing this for love and gratitude.

I am grateful for my body and how it allowed me to birth two wonderful human beings in this lifetime. I am grateful even for the stretch marks because they remind of my strength and resilience.

I love and respect my body. I love my family and I want to be healthy so I can enjoy life with them.

My previous weight loss was motivated by fear. And once the fear faded away, the results faded along with it.

This fitness journey is motivated by love, one I intend to keep for a lifetime.

Truth: This step was hard. I used to bury pain and I am not exactly looking forward to digging it up again.

But once I finally let the memories go, the self-sabotaging thoughts that kept me from taking action or caused me to slip back into my old ways, slowly but surely faded away.

My brain knows: I am safe. I am free.

I’m not a psychologist, therapist or mental health expert so take this step with care and due diligence.

Journaling these things alone + doing energy healing on myself works for me.

But when you really need it, ask for professional help or be with someone who can help you process your memories and emotions in a safe space.

Part II. The Outer Work: Using Intermittent Fasting and HIIT to get Fit

STEP 3: Make it easy for yourself to take action and follow through on your fitness goal.

After doing all that inner work, here comes the outer work of actually taking inspired action to achieve that fitness goal.

Simply put: I knew I needed to eat and move better.

But there was one important criteria I had to meet for both tasks: whatever eating + exercise regimen I adopted had to feel easy and "in the flow" for me.

To be clear, "easy" doesn't mean sitting on the couch, stuffing myself with chips and watching Netflix then expecting the pounds to miraculously melt away.

Easy and in the flow meant finding a way to eat better that didn't require much effort for me especially in the beginning so that I can stick to it.

That meant no complicated eating plans or recipes that involved ingredients I cannot buy in the local market or the grocery.

That was where Intermittent Fasting came in.

Intermittent Fasting

Now there are a lot of great resources out there about intermittent fasting so I’ll keep this definition simple: it’s about setting a schedule of eating and… not eating.

There are many ways to do it like 16/8 where you fast for 16 hours and eat for 8 hours. There’s alternate days when you eat normally one day, then fast the next. Then there’s 5/2 where you eat normally for 5 days and eat 500 - 600 calories only for the next two days.

Since I wanted simple, I chose 16/8 because it felt natural to me: I would skip breakfast and start eating my first meal at 12noon.

But during that eating window, I would still eat homecooked rice meals like I normally would. Sometimes I ate white rice, sometimes black and sometimes mixed white + black.

I still ate chocolate everyday, though sometimes I switched from milk to dark. If I eat milk chocolate, I make sure to eat only 2 - 4 squares instead of the whole bar.

This isn't nearly as tasty as milk chocolate but as long as I'm eating chocolate, I'm okay.

Then after 8pm I just stop eating.

This meant no midnight snacks of noodles, potato chips, ice cream or sandwiches.

IF was perfect for me because eliminating one meal to think about and spend effort eating actually simplified my life.

I could still eat the same foods our family is used to eating, of course within schedule and with moderation.

It was simple but it worked that's why I'm doing it until now. And most likely for the rest of my life.

I have to admit, even if it was simple, it wasn’t easy at first.

But the benefits were worth it to me.

Intermittent Fasting helped me to:

  • Examine my relationship with food.

    This was a major benefit for me because up until I did IF, I was an emotional eater. When I was happy, I ate. When I was sad, I ate. When I was frustrated, I ate. You get the gist. Food was such an easy escape.

    But when I did IF, my relationship with food became more functional. I don’t live so I can eat. I eat so I can live.

  • Have a clearer head especially in the morning.

    Now one of the myths I had to debunk for myself when I started IF was: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Skipping breakfast was bad for your body. You’ll get dizzy and you can’t function properly.

    On the contrary, since my body’s energy wasn’t spent on digesting food, I could process things better and think more clearly. Which means I didn’t need to procrastinate. Which means I didn’t have to raid the fridge so I can eat food to distract myself.

  • Save time and money.

    Since I don’t have to think about breakfast first thing in the morning, I can go straight to whatever task I need to do for the day.

    And since we were eating less, our food supply which usually lasted for 5 - 7 days extended to 10 days which maximises our food budget and minimises our trips to the grocery.

When you want to try IF, here are a few things to consider:

:: Take it easy during the first week. Choose the schedule you want to follow and get used to it. No need to think about what you’re eating just yet. The key is to train your body to expect food only during your eating period. In time, the morning “hunger pangs” will fade away.

:: Try to schedule your fasting period during times when you normally don’t eat, a.k.a. your sleeping period. For example: When I chose the 16/8 schedule, I opted to start at 12nn. That way, I only need to fast while awake from 8pm - 10pm and 7am - 12nn. So it’s like I’m only fasting for 7 hours (instead of 16 hours) a day because I am asleep the rest of the time.

:: When you’re already used to your fasting period, download My Fitness Pal or a calorie counting app and track the food you eat.

I've been using MyFitnessPal on and off since 2017 but got serious with it in the beginning of IF.

This was eye opening for me because I didn’t realise how much the foods I liked were actually making me fat.

You think this should be a no brainer but if you’re an emotional and unconscious eater, it’s so easy to get swept away by “imagined hunger” and overeat everyday.

Picture this: For the weight I wanted to maintain, I needed to consume 1,200 calories per day.

But here's how I actually ate before:

I loved eating rice, sometimes I ate 2 - 3 cups per meal. I wasn’t aware that one cup of rice was 240 calories. That meant, I consumed roughly 480 - 720 calories per meal and that doesn’t include the viand yet.

Then I would have snacks either before lunch or dinner. My favorite cinnamon roll, as it turned out, was 350 calories per piece. On some days, I would eat two in a row!

If you do the math, you’ll see I often overshoot my calorie allotment all before dinner time.

So when I got used to doing IF, I started tracking everything so I could get used to choosing and portioning my food.

Sometimes, I would even input all the food I planned to eat before lunch time just so I can make sure all the meals are within my 1,200 calorie target.

:: Eliminate junk food from your cupboards and fridge so you’re not tempted to snack on them.

Again, this was something that should have been a no brainer but since I had kids at home, I thought they shouldn’t have to change what they eat.

So I would keep buying them Pringles, Cheetos and Oreos thinking I just won’t eat them. Except I did.

So I eliminated all chips and cookies from our grocery list and started buying fruits instead. I still bought peanuts and popcorn though for when I need a snack fix. And when I have extra time, I bake my own cookies so I know what goes in them.

:: When you’re used to your eating schedule and portioning your food, add exercise.

This could vary. You could do it in the first week, second week or after the first month.

Remember, it’s okay to take baby steps so listen to your body and do what feels right and good for you. I started exercising after the second week and it helped me see some significant progress one month after starting IF.

Puny weights. Or so I thought until the reps got higher.

HIIT + Yoga

Just like with my eating plan, I wanted an exercise that was simple, relatively fast and easy so that I could do it everyday.

That meant no hard core workouts where I had to use equipment I didn't already have and took an hour to complete. No going to the gym because that would mean extra time needed to prepare and travel which means extra opportunities to procrastinate and not go at all.

I have tried doing cardio, weights and HIIT workouts but they seemed too “vigorous” for me. Since I was eating less, I needed something that was gentler on my body but would give me results.

That was where Youtube yoga workouts came in.

I’ve tried doing yoga at home before and Bikram Yoga at a studio. I loved how yoga felt intentional and emphasized the connection between mind and body.

I looked for yoga workouts that I could do at home that ran for an average of 25 - 30 minutes. That meant I can do it right after I roll out of bed with just a yoga mat and towel.

I made a playlist of all the yoga workouts I wanted to try then eventually picked two that I would alternate everyday.

You can compile different styles of yoga videos for variety. My favorite ones are from PopSugar's yoga series.

Home workout tips

:: Layout your workout clothes the night before or wear them to bed.

One of the perks of working out at home is you can literally wear anything (or nothing).

I typically wear soft cycling shorts and a dri - fit shirt so I can do the poses without much interference. I would wear the cycling shorts to bed so that when I wake up I only need to change into a dri-fit shirt.

This way, when I wake up, my brain gets the message that I am exercising first thing and having one item of workout clothing already on me shortens the time to get ready.

Tried and true for me: When I wear pajamas to bed, it’s much harder to get up and it takes me longer to change because even if I get up, I always feel like going back to bed.

:: Designate a workout space in your home, have your gear on standby and play some music to ease yourself into your workout session.

We have a separate room in our home that has lot of windows and gets a lot of sunlight. This is where I work out every day because it’s far from the bed, I can close the door and I can blast some music to help me get in the mood to workout.

Once I roll out my yoga mat and the “Good Vibes” playlist is on in my Spotify app, it’s game time.

Current pick to boost my mood: “I like me better” by Lauv.

:: Pick a workout that gets you maximum results for minimum effort.

This was an intention that I made even before I began my fitness journey: “Maximum results, minimum effort.”

I wasn’t even sure if it was possible to do very little exercise and still get fit. Or if it was possible to reach my fitness goals doing yoga workouts. But I followed what felt good because I didn’t want to push myself too hard in the beginning then give up.

So I began doing Popsugar Yoga videos because they were short, relatively easy and they gave me a good sweat.

After the first month and the first few pounds began to shed, I started looking for other yoga videos that would take it to the next level.

That’s when I found Sadie Nardini’s Yoga Fusion HIIT videos.

She’s a big proponent of doing workouts that get you great results in less time and in good form. I love how she creates versions of her yoga moves for all levels so I found myself progressing from the lighter beginner moves to the more challenging ones. She always prioritizes safety in doing all the moves so her workouts leave me soaked and with just the right amount of soreness.

I was hooked. And I’ve been doing her workouts ever since.

Sadie Nardini has plenty of free videos on Youtube but I also like her premium workouts programs from DailyOm.

To sum it up:

I know this post was a bit massive so before I show you the BEFORE / AFTER result, here's a quick reference for some steps you can take toward your body love journey:

1:: Set a goal weight. Example: 120 lbs

2:: Support your goal weight with an intention. Describe how you intend to feel / be in your body. Start with “I intend…” Example: "I intend to be strong, fit and healthy. I feel comfortable and confident in my own body. I treat my body with love and respect."

3:: Find out what's holding you back + release. Do some journaling to uncover hidden fears that are getting in the way of your fitness goals or get professional help when you need it.

4:: Eat better. Find an eating plan that is simple + works for you so that you can stick to it every day.

5:: Find a workout that feels good for your body. Look for exercises that require minimum effort but can give you maximum results that you can do on a regular or daily basis.

Before and after

When you’ve read this far, CONGRATULATIONS and thank you!

I’ve tried to outline everything I did and everything that worked for me.

Remember to use this as jump - off point for you to create your own fitness goal and body love journey.

One last thing, I’d love for you to take away from all this is: Your timing is the best timing for you.

You don’t need anybody’s permission to do this on a Monday, to start on the first day of the month or wait for the New Year. You just need to decide.

I started on a Friday on the second week of January. The moment I decided, I just started. And took it one day at a time.

I wish I had a better before and after picture but here’s something to show you where I’ve been and where I’m at now.

Before | After. Me at 144++ lbs and me at 120 lbs.

As of this writing, I'm at 119 pounds and I've set my next goal weight to 115 lbs. I consider that my stretch goal and I'm following the same steps I outlined here to achieve it.

For now, I’m grateful I can ditch all my maternity pants and garterized jeggings for jeans with actual buttons. That I can retire my girdle and my loose shirts. That I can see my feet even when I’m standing up.

But mostly, I’m grateful that for the first time, in a very long time, I feel strong, fit and healthy. That I can take a picture with my family any time without feeling embarrassed of my body. That I feel comfortable in my own skin.

I love my body and my body loves me.

I intend you'll find the best path for your own body love journey.

To getting healthy (while eating chocolates, too),