Where do I even begin with this one? Looking back, it’s hard to pin point the exact moment where I decided to go get on the “fit” bandwagon. This is a long one, so brace yourself! 😮
I was trained in classical ballet since the age of four and was active throughout my life. Before I fully committed to dancing when I was around 12 years old, I did other sports such as gymnastics, skating, tennis, and swimming. However, I knew that if I wanted to fully commit and excel, I needed to focus on one thing. So I chose most young girl’s dream: ballet.
While other children my age would spend time at parks, summer camps, and family/friend time, I was at the studio which soon became my second home. I fell in love with the art form. I felt more comfortable stepping on the sprung floors with my pointe shoes powdered with rosin than stepping on the playground pavement with sneakers. I even went to an arts high school and majored in dance to pursue my passion.
The Honey Moon
My years in dance is what I could call the ‘honeymoon’ phase. I would be dancing vigorously at least 2-4 hours a day almost every day of the week. With such a high energy expenditure, I was a fat-burning machine. Basically eat whatever I want and stay slim all year round. That is until, I quit ballet in university and did not take up any exercise.
It’s not unfamiliar to see professional athletes balloon after their prime. My experience was nothing out of the ordinary. You guessed it, I was eating the same amount but was barely doing the exercise. Not to mention, “freshman 15” was not just an urban myth. I was too easily tempted by the buffet style dining offered at the many conferences I was invited to and took every opportunity to sample (aka stuff my face) with global cuisines. Right before my eyes, I gained over 20lb in my first year of university.
As my first year came to an end, I really hadn’t given much thought to my recent weight gain and development of poor habits. I was drinking alcohol way too often, stayed up late at parties, and made very poor lifestyle choices. I had a monstrous appetite for junk food and would foolishly trick myself that a night of binge drinking and eating junk could be erased with one pathetic cardio session. I even remember vividly one night in London, UK after a conference, it was 10AM and the hotel was serving snacks. I devoured a burger and hot dog (with ALL the fixings), a pogo, fried chicken, fries, chocolate cake, apple streudel, and a HUGE ice cream sundae. Mind you, I ate three proper meals of similar monstrosity on the same day. I didn’t realize how sick I felt since I’ve been living like this for almost a year.
Here’s what I typically ate in one day during my ‘binge’ phase…. This was also excluding the snacks I had in between meals! 😮
The best thing about summer is raging my closet and slipping into cute dresses I had worn last year. BUT NO SUCH LUCK FOR ME. To my horror, as I ‘attempted’ to try on some of my favourite clothing for the sunny weather, none of them fit! I could barely get half of the zipper up and it was not because my clothes shrank. At that moment, I knew I was living in denial and there was no way I would let myself continue making such terrible choices for my health.
Right Direction, Wrong Execution
The first thing we do when approaching weight loss is less food and more exercise right? WRONG! I did a calorie restriction diet coupled with some intense cardio sessions for 4 months and was able to lose the weight I gained (and even more). What the diet industry doesn’t tell you is that your body will get so deprived that you’ll go crazy and go into binge mode.
I was at a conference (again), but this time I was in itty bitty (and also starving). I remember I had an insatiable appetite that day and constantly had to stuff myself to the point of vomiting. The feeling was like no matter how much I ate or how full my stomach felt, I could not fill the void.
This was the beginning of my binge-eating. From that day forward, I was fighting between binge-starve cycles because my body was just so deprived from before and had lost so much weight in such a short span of time. I would reach for the most calorie dense foods like chips, chocolate, fried food and still would feel hungry after eating a week’s worth of food I would normally eat in one sitting.
I knew I had to change my habits before I turn crazy. I did some research and read that eating more whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while limiting processed foods would be a good starting point. That’s when I discovered veganism. Everything changed once I started committing to this lifestyle and soon everything made sense.
I loved animals (family of 8 cats), I care about the environment, and I also care about my health. Becoming vegan has enabled me to fulfill all these factors. Once I stopped restricting my diet, it took me around 6 months of eating as much plant foods as I wanted and 15lb of weight gain for my appetite to normalize.
Now as that I was more health conscious, I knew that a consistent exercise regime needed to be coupled with a healthy diet. So what does a broke girl do for exercise? RUN! I remember I hated running back in high school. I had to take a fitness course and it would take me 40 minutes to finish 5km. I was a terrible runner.
This time, I had more motivation. Little by little I would add more mileage into my runs and train consistently. Soon 5km, turned to 10km, and eventually finishing an 82km ultramarathon! Obviously this took 2 years of slowly building up. I’ve been able to lose all the weight, gain strength, and a new mentality!
It’s really been a roller coaster for me. Never would I have imagined myself becoming so environmentally aware of my lifestyle choices. Three years ago I would be sleeping until noon, reaching for some boxed chocolate and bacon and cheese sandwich for breakfast and partying till sunrise. Now I wakeup before sunrise, get in a shakeout run, and fuel up with fruit smoothie and oatmeal.
It was a journey, but I’m glad I was able to learn so much, even if it was the hard way.
Cheers to health! 🙂