A Year of Weight Loss During Covid-19

My weight gain started in 2006, after I injured my lower back accidentally. With the injury, I could not stand nor walk for long periods without pain. Exercising took a back seat. Over the years, I sought help from a TCM physician and a chiropractor to help eliminate my lower back problem. They managed to get me up to about 95 percent of recovery and I was able to walk longer distances over longer durations.

How many times have we been told or heard that eating 3 meals a day with healthy snacks in between meals is optimal for controlling appetite and having a balanced blood sugar level throughout the day? Well, following this conventional wisdom, I tried to reduce the portion size of my three main meals, but this usually resulted in my feeling hungry and not satiated, which led to eating more during snack time. To make matters worse, I must eat every 2-3 hours; if not, I would feel dizzy and faint. So, it comes as no surprise that by October 2019, I have gained 13kg and weighed 68kg. Standing at only 1.54m, according to my BMI, I was in the overweight category. I had a huge belly which was always in the way when I squat to do gardening. My clothes felt tight. Even my undergarments felt tight! And, I have a drawer full of new clothes bought five years ago which were now too small for me. I felt that it was time to get my body and health back. I did not take any action until 2 months later.

I was holidaying in Russia with friends in December 2019 when an incident there cemented my will to lose weight. The four of us had to catch a 5.30am train from St. Petersburg to Moscow. To enter the train station, we would need to go through security, and then before we were allowed onto the platform, we would need to go through another security check and bag scan, both of which we got through quickly. We thought that we were just going to sleep through our three-and-a-half-hour train ride so imagine our surprise after we walked up to our train carriage but were stopped by a coach attendant (similar to a flight attendant) asking for our passports before boarding the train! I looked at my friends, stunned! We were travelling within the same country. Why would I bring my passport? One of my friends did not bring her passport along too, while the other two did. I looked at my friend and we checked our watches: 5.15am. Our hotel is 350m away. Two-way trip is 700m, less than 2 rounds around the running track. Plus taking into account 2 rounds of security checks, if we run fast enough, we could still make it!

We bolted out of the train station as fast as our legs could carry us. We ran and crossed the traffic junction to get to the side where our hotel was. My lungs and legs were burning. I felt like an elephant trying to do a 100m dash! My friend ran ahead and had reached our hotel while I tried to catch up. I waved her to go ahead without me. I fought to catch my breath while waiting for my friend to come back with our passports. Off we went as soon as my friend met me with our passports at the hotel entrance. Back across the roads, through the 2 rounds of security checks. I was gasping for air.

We did not make it. I was winded and angry at myself! How did I let myself become so unfit? It was time to change.

So, the first thing I did after I returned home from my trip was to go for a 10km run? Of course not! Plus, I hate running! I always felt heavy and weighed down whenever I run! What I did was what most people would do…research online. There were 2 main ways to lose weight: First option was to reduce daily calories to 1000 or less and exercise like crazy throughout the day. This is not an appealing option for me. Exercising for long durations and at high intensity were not new to me. Afterall, I was on my varsity’s dragon boating team during my studies there and subsequently another year on our national dragon boating team. Exercising at such high intensity caused my appetite to increase, with no weight loss nor gain. It did not work then, so it would not work now, and it is not sustainable in the long run.

Second option was intermittent fasting (IF). Fasting?! This word scared the heck out of me! Remember, I must eat every 2-3 hours, or I will pass out from the sudden drop in blood glucose? How will I be able to survive not eating? But there were so many people who got results. So, I researched a bit more. I chanced upon a 6-part series of lectures called the Aetiology of Obesity by Dr Jason Fung, Canadian Nephrologist, and best-selling book author of The Obesity Code. This was the game changer for me. His series of lectures made sense in a logical, scientific manner. I finally understood why eating 3 meals a day with snacks not only caused me to gain weight but headed towards obesity and having diabetes as a future outcome as well. He also showed how intermittent fasting can reverse insulin resistance and diabetes, with successful results from his patients.

Come to think of it, our grandparents and great grandparents never ate 3 meals a day plus snacks during their time and they were not overweight! Eating 3 meals a day plus snacks is actually not natural. I decided to give IF with exercise a shot. Nothing to lose right? I like to do things which are simple (not necessarily easy), efficient and effective. Therefore, my weight loss plan would be the same, which means an exercise which is simple, takes little time and shows results! And that was how I started, at the age of 45,  on the 26th December 2019 (Boxing Day) morning, with my elbow planks that took less than 2 songs’ worth of time to complete! I was perspiring buckets and aching after the workout!

Eating window wise, I did not follow a strict 18-6 (18 hours of fasting, 6 hours eating window) or 16-8 rule, although to get the best results for autophagy, it would be best to have an 18-6 or longer fasting routine. I listened to my body…and it preferred to eat between 10.30am and 5pm. I am not a picky eater. I ate whatever my helper cooked for my family, but I made it a point to eat similar to the Keto diet and till I feel satiated at every meal.

For the first month, in order to stick to 3 main meals, I drank water whenever my stomach growled. And since Chinese New Year 2020 was at the end of the month, I was kept busy on most days with spring cleaning and that helped to take my mind off my hunger. I lost 2.5kg before CNY (this is usually water weight by the way) and put back about 1kg after CNY. Did I fall off the wagon? Did I kick myself for letting myself go and enjoy a little? No! Remember, while in the process of losing weight, we need to enjoy a little and not be so hard on ourselves. But, always pick up from where we left off and stay on course.

By the second month, I did not feel that hungry anymore. My body had adjusted and learnt to burn my fat stores for energy, and I progressed to eating 2 meals a day. In the third month, I was feeling less hungry and was eating one meal a day. Month after month, I listened to my body and changed the number of meals accordingly.

The same goes for the exercises. The human body is such an amazing machine! It is so highly adaptable to changes that I had to keep changing the type of exercises to keep my body on its toes. Even during the Circuit Breaker, I was still exercising at home or walking an hour around my neighbourhood. And I was enjoying the process! I felt so light that I even felt like going for a run! Ha-ha!

As we continue to battle Covid-19, data has surfaced whereby obesity is a major risk factor for Covid-19. Even if you are a young adult of 25 years old, if you are obese, the chances of you being in ICU due to Covid-19 is higher. Source: https://hub.jhu.edu/2020/06/01/david-kass-obesity-covid-19/.

I am sharing my experience so that for those of us who are looking for ways to lose weight and get healthy, there is an option which you can consider. Especially during these times, when the link between obesity and severe outcomes should one contract Covid-19 has been established, shouldn’t we start to take our health seriously and make that change? If not now, when?

I have lost 18kg in 12 months. My weight is now lower than it was before my lower back injury 14 years ago. There is hope and I wish everyone a happy, enjoyable, weight loss journey!

And my new goal is to be able to do a pull-up!


2 thoughts on “A Year of Weight Loss During Covid-19

  1. Jag says:

    That’s simply inspiring. Love your determination and never give up attitude. I have been trying to lose weight as well. Did manage to lose, but not as much as you. Trying to eat only 2 meals or sometimes 1 meal a day. It’s rather trying. I guess if we don’t push ourselves then there’s no results.

  2. Jag says:

    That’s simply inspiring. Love your determination and never give up attitude. I have been trying to lose weight as well. Did manage to lose, but not as much as you. Trying to eat only 2 meals or sometimes 1 meal a day. It’s rather trying. I guess if we don’t push ourselves then there’s no results.

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