Christina Dy is the founder of Polecats Manila. She is an acclaimed international visual artist, an avid math essay reader, and a big fan of peanut butter.
I was never skinny. I didn’t grow up athletic, and my childhood was spent playing the piano and reading encyclopedias. Well, there was a brief flirtation with the Ateneo Varsity Table Tennis team, but that was only because no one else showed up during tryouts. And then my adult life was spent slouched over and drawing. To sum it up, most of my life was spent sitting for long periods of time.
I guess it’s no surprise that I had a 32-inch waistline by the age of 26. It didn’t really bother me back then because I was happy. I had a blossoming career as a production designer, I had a fiancé, I didn’t care about the usual girly things like shopping and clothes. I was happy with simple things, and I just wanted to save up for the future.
But as it turned out, things didn’t happen the way I thought they would. The simple things got complicated, and the future I was saving up for wasn’t going to happen. And you know what? I’m very thankful things went the way they did.
When I started losing weight, I was at around 120 pounds. For a girl who’s 5 feet tall, that’s a whole lot of unnecessary weight! And then I lost about 10 pounds a year for three years. There was a point when I dropped down to 92 pounds! As of last year, climbed up to 101 pounds. But I haven’t gotten on a weighing scale since then. It stopped being about the numbers and it turned into something deeper. I realized that as long as my clothes fit well and I feel great, I’m okay with not knowing.
I wish I could say that losing all that extra weight and getting into shape was easy, but it wasn’t. However, it is possible, so very possible! And here’s what I picked up on the way to health.
STEP #1a : Hit rock bottom
Fall. Fail. And fail hard.
Did you notice that most people gain weight when they’re happy? From my experience, whenever you think everything is A-Okay, you don’t have enough motivation to stick through whatever it is you want to do. It’s when you WANT something to be better, when you see no other way, that’s when you go and achieve something.
STEP #1b. : Pick yourself up
This moment is crucial. Look at yourself in the mirror and accept three words: life goes on.
And then you’ll be faced with two options: 1. Go through life being unhealthy and feeling dumpy or 2. Go through life being healthy and feeling fabulous. Which one will you choose?
STEP #2a : Get off that couch. Now.
I don’t care what you do, just do it. Walk. Run. Bike. Swim. Do yoga. Dance. I find that walking is the simplest thing that everyone can do. You don’t need special equipment and you can do it anytime, anywhere.
Don’t like walking? There are endless options these days, how lucky are we! There’s a gym/ dance studio/ fitness hub in every city. There are fitness DVDs you can follow at home, or if you’re stingy, download them!
Do jumping jacks every time you have a spare minute. Or do 5 push-ups every time before sitting on your couch. Excuses are just that—excuses. They are unacceptable.
Step #2b. Do something that you love
I found something that I loved to do, which was pole dancing, and so I did it. I did it a lot. And I guess consistency is the important thing with everything, right?
Also, the scientists got it right, endorphins do work! The more I danced, the better I felt. The better I felt, the more I wanted to dance. It encouraged me to try out other things as well. I have grown to really love Yoga, I do circuit training for my cardio, boxing, and I’ve even tried parkour.
We work around 60 hours a week. What’s 3 hours that you give just for yourself?
STEP #3 : Put down that 3rd slice of cheesecake
I once dated a guy who was on a strict diet. I was very reluctant to have dinner with him at first, because I had never followed a diet ever. Hanging out with the rest of the Polecats makes that impossible, since we eat together more than we dance.
And then finally I decided to try his diet out. It was simple: no pasta, bread and pastries. All we ate were natural foods– rice, veggies, meat, fruit and tea. Eventually, I saw the effects of the diet. I looked and felt great!
Unfortunately, my recent allergy attack has severely limited my food intake. That means no eggs, chicken, seafood, chocolate and dairy. But I still eat all the time, because if I don’t eat every 3 hours my body hates me. What I do now is eat as much fruit and veggies as my taste buds can take, and limit the amount of processed food.
STEP #4 : Enjoy!
As you’re losing the weight, it’s going to get rough. You’ll WANT that 3rd slice of cheesecake. You’d rather stay in bed than go work out. So what you need to do is make things fun! When I go and workout, I do it in red lipstick, or with wingtip eyeliner. At the very least, I’ll eat pretty looking food.
Also, accept that self-control can’t always be strong. So every week I set aside one giant tub of popcorn (cheese + sour cream!), one donut and one burger. That way, I don’t feel awful when I eat those things, plus I now have a limit. I’m having just one of each a week, instead of one of each every day.
Don’t set unrealistic goals, or else you’re setting yourself up to fail. Going to the gym 6 times a week? Not going to happen. I set aside time to watch a movie or hang with friends, so that I’m actually enjoying my life, and look forward to working out on my own when I’ve had enough leisure.
Some things have changed since I’ve gotten a bit thinner. We all know that we live in a lookist world and people are often judged based on how they look. So if thinness is the standard, then I’d probably pass. I’ve noticed that people are so much nicer, especially when I’m wearing thigh-high boots.
But I’m still the same person inside. At times I’m reserved and quiet, sometimes loud and inappropriate, and the entire time still wanting to change the world.
A few great things have really changed though, like being able to run up and down the beach without having to catch my breath. Walking along Makati streets from market to market on a weekend, without my feet aching. Dancing all night. Carrying my niece the whole afternoon. Shopping for clothes without having to try them on– as long as it’s a Small, I grab it and go.
It’s these things that make life a lot more pleasurable, and they are made possible by a healthier body. So, if you’re done reading this, get off that couch, put your walking shoes on, and shut that excuse up. Change your life. I did it, and so can you.