The forced road to skinniness.

You must be thinking I’ve a couple of screws loose in my head to want to be thinner than what I already am. For the record, I was quite happy about my body, even if I denied the existence of tuck-shop lady arms (yes, thin people have those too), a cute little roll of abdominal fat (I put that down to having Amanda), and other wobbly bits best left to your imagination. Not that I’d want you to imagine me naked, but you get what I’m saying.

When I did a straw poll among friends, no one voted me as needing to shed weight. The common consensus was, and still is, I have a pretty decent bod for my age, what more being a mother. We, child-bearers, can’t hope to compare our bodies with our fruitless sisters because anyone who’s birthed and nursed a child will know the toll that takes on your body: the stretch marks, the loose bits…okay, enough of scaring you.

Well, as you might have gathered from reading my other posts, my mother is fat-phobic. Even when I was less than 45 kilos, she’d say, “Of course you MUST be thin. You CANNOT be fatter than your mother. I’ve had 4 children, you’ve only had 1.”

And yes, I’ve heard too many times the story of her emerging, post-delivery, wearing her pre-pregnancy jeans home. I must have my father’s genes because I went home fat, swollen and oozy after having Amanda – proof Asian girls are not naturally thin.

You can only imagine what she said when I went home the December just past, weighing a very hefty (for my height and bone structure anyway) 56.5 kilos! Actually, you don’t have to imagine that either because I’m just going to tell you.

You’re obese,” she declared, right in front of Amanda.

“What’s obese?” asked Amanda, who’d only ever heard me refer to myself, jokingly, as “fat.”

“That’s whale-sized,” I told Amanda, who responded theatrically with enlarged eyes, raised eyebrows and gaping mouth. “Sumo wrestler size.”

What’s a Sumo wrestler?

“Ssshhh…I’ll tell you another day.” To her grandmother, I said, “What do you mean by obese? In Australia, the average woman is a size 14.”

Of course, the average woman in Australia is also supposedly 5 feet 7 inches tall. At 5 feet 3 inches, I shouldn’t be more than a size 10. But I was only wearing a size 8 to 10, so how could I possibly be obese?

“Think of all the illness you’ll be getting,” she said. “You have to be responsible for your health, especially since you are someone’s mother. If something happens to you, no one will love Amanda like you do.”

Ignoring my protestations about being healthy and curvaceous, sort of like Salma Hayek but yellower, my mother had my father, who colludes in all her schemes, take me for a COMPREHENSIVE blood test, where I was duly informed, I have HIGH cholesterol. Wait, it gets worse. You can have HIGH cholesterol even if you eat plenty of Avocados, but my BAD CHOLESTEROL was very, very HIGH. Good cholesterol, very, very low.

You know what that means, don’t you? I was on the fast track to getting a heart attack, a stroke, Type 2 diabetes… It was hard denying the numbers in front of me, even if by Australian standards and the increasing waistlines of many Asians – due to our growing portion sizes and burgeoning love affair with Western food – I was rather slim; my BMI an acceptable 22.7.

As you may recall, when I returned to Malaysia in December, I was greeted at the airport by my sister-in-law who’s now in direct sales, that is, apart from working full time as a tax consultant. To support her growing business, her brother, my husband, HRH, reluctantly agreed to buy me Nuskin’s The Right Approach (TRA) programme. Even at cost price, it is roughly AUD 1505 (RM 4800) for 3 months worth of shakes, supplements, and other odds and ends.

I was skeptical because I had tried Herbalife more than 10 years ago, and within a year, had put back on the 5 kg I’d lost. But since HRH had agreed to buy the whole package for me…

While waiting for my package to arrive, with my sister-in-law’s first entry into Australia as a permanent resident, I devised my own weight loss programme using everything I know about nutrition. Here’s what I did:

  1. Limit daily calorie consumption to 1200. Why 1200? It’s based on my OMRON-machine reading courtesy of sister-in-law. It’s the amount of calories I need a day to sustain my activities. Any less and I lose weight. 
  2. Make meals more flavourful, less fatty. I said goodbye to my beloved fish crackers, which I’ve been indulging in almost from birth. Also sayonara to pig innards, all other obviously greasy foods. Making over favourite foods became a new hobby.
  3. Eat vegetables at EVERY meal time. It’s a no-brainer, but we don’t eat nearly as many vegetables as we should. I recommend you find a tasty low-fat dressing (Sushi Su, balsamic vinegrette etc) and eat that giant salad tonight. Skip the croutons. If having a decadent dressing like Caesar, put it on the side and use it to “flavour” the odd bite or so.
  4. Control portion sizes. Up until the last 20 years, we used to have big feeds only on celebratory occasions. With improved standard of living, we’re celebrating all the time, hence eating more than ever. A quick trick to getting yourself used to eating less is using smaller plates. Research also shows that the more people you dine with, the more you tend to eat. Try dining alone.
  5. Make eating better a game. It’s a fun one too. You’ll be standing in the food aisle thinking, “What can I put in place of fatty ingredient X, to make it taste just as good, if not better?” With this way of thinking, I’ve turn out creamy pies with less than 400 calories, bangers and mash with less than 400 calories…It doesn’t have to be rabbit food all the way, but being thin does require meal-planning and/or an acute awareness of what you put into your mouth.

When my sister-in-law turned up with my Nuskin TRA package 2 months later, I had already lost 2.4 kilos. It wasn’t a whole lot but I was very proud of my efforts since I had identified some of my dietary weaknesses and was able to partake in family dinners as usual. With her help, using the OMRON machine, I found that my muscles had increased by 0.7%, visceral fat (abdominal fat) decrease by 1, total percentage of body fat decrease by close to 2%. That may not seem like a lot to some, but if you are more than 1/3 fat like me (yes, it’s truly mind-boggling how someone seemingly thin can have so much fat), every little bit counts. It should be noted that for long-term weight-loss, healthy-eating habits have to be established and maintained. As for exercise, it  can make you feel good, but undertaken at the amount needed to loose weight, will make you age a lot faster, due to the extra free-radicals generated by the body during exercise. Perhaps, with exercise alone, you will gain back the weight once you stop.

1 month later, on Nuskin’s TRA programme, incorporating my own method of healthy-eating, I lost 3 kilos (4 kilos if you take my measurements first thing in the morning), 3 cm on my tuck-shop lady arms, 7 cm from my waist, 5 cm from my post-baby pouch aka abdomen, 6.5 cm from my hips, 3.5 cm from my thighs, 6.5 from my calves. I don’t have the OMRON machine so I can’t tell you what my visceral fat, percentage of fat or percentage of muscles are, but I can definitely say that I feel a lot better; much lighter.

PLEASE NOTE: I am NOT selling Nuskin or any other product. This is neither a paid endorsement, nor is it a recommendation for the product.

Obliging Asian daughter that I am, I’m simply chronicling my journey to become the thin person my mother has always wanted for a daughter, and perhaps inspiring a few of you, with a few extra pounds of pudge, to embark on health-finding journeys of your own. If my story has taught you anything, it should be that even seemingly thin people can be fat inside. As for visceral fat and the OMRON machine, here’s a snippet on Youtube about it:

May you find your inner thin person!

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