From as long as I remember, I always had trouble with my weight. I was never “Asian Skinny” growing up.
The heaviest I’ve been growing up in Toronto was 57kg. At 166cm, that was not a heavy weight, however, I did get people telling me I was “chunky”.
I started my weight loss journey in January 2010. determined to lose 7kg. I started with eating 1400kcal a day, predominantly made up of vegetables, fruit, lean protein and rice. On top of the new diet, I added 45min – 1 hour of cardio a day. Within 3 months, I ended up losing 14kg! That put me way underweight in the BMI realm.
That’s when I started HIIT and weight training so that I could build lean muscle mass and get closer to a healthier BMI. It took me a full year to add 4kg of lean muscle back.
Fast forward 4 years and I still maintained a weight of 47kg while maintaining a healthy diet, occasional snacking, cheat meals and regular exercise. That’s when I decided to move to Hong Kong.
Within 2 months of moving – I gained 13kg to a weight of 60kg, heavier than I had ever been in my life! That was me in August 2014 on the left, at my heaviest.
I remember feeling so ashamed of myself because despite what I did – I could not stop the weight gain. And this was me after eating salad with no dressing, zero carbs and exercising 1.5 hours daily.
Since I came to Hong Kong, I was in and out of hospitals due to severe stomach and skin infections. My home, at the time, had a black mould infestation and I was trying to battle it with bleach.
And that was when I got diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). It helped explain the constant stomach cramps, bloating and water retention. We tried elimination diets, first by taking out dairy, then gluten, then meat, and finally vegetables. The symptoms did not improve. Every time I ate, I had extreme bloating.
So for the next two years, I lived with looking 6 months pregnant, daily weight fluctuations of 4kg, bloating and loose skin.
It took me one year to get to 54kg. It was difficult because I stopped all social activity because I had to run 10km a day to sweat off the “excess water weight” I would gain from water retention. That was me then in the right side.
It wasn’t until last month when I went to a Traditional Chinese Doctor that things started making more sense to me.
We started by eliminating “cool” foods from my diet because my digestion system was too “cold” and “wet”. That included the majority of fruits and raw vegetables. I started eating more “warming” foods like black beans, red dates and meat. It helped my bloating and it did decrease the fluctuations in weight to 2kg.
But it wasn’t enough.
Last week, I started an experiment. Contrary to what doctors and mothers say, I decided to stop forcing myself to eat at regular intervals – breakfast, lunch and dinner.
And that’s when the weight started dropping rapidly.
I ended up losing 3kg in 3 days.
Beyond that, there was no change in my diet, the calories I consumed nor did I increase my exercise.
When I forced myself to eat regular meals, my bloating got worse because the food was stuck in my small intestine and was rotting away instead of being digested. I tested this out by taking peppermint oil gels. Some days, it would take up to 16 hours for me to feel the effect of the oil, which was the minty feeling in your stomach. Some days, it would take me 2 hours. This meant, on some days, my digestion system was working, and on others, it wasn’t.
That’s when I started only eating when I actually felt hungry.
On some days, this meant I ate every 2 hours. And on other days, it meant I could only eat 2 meals that day.
The good news is, I could feel when my IBS was most severe because on those mornings, I wake up with a slightly bloated stomach. And on those days, I stick to eating rice, bananas and lean beef and eggs because those are “safe” foods for me. I would still bloat after eating those foods but the bloating goes away faster. I also try and eliminate salt and sugar on those days.
I normally eat until 50% full. The other 50% was covered by the bloating.
I am hoping this is a permanent solution to managing my IBS.
My stomach on Friday was completely flat 6 hours after lunch. I stuck to scallops, shrimp, miso soup and white rice. I also didn’t like the way the dress looked so I folded it down like a maxi dress. I am 51kg in the photo.