To recap, I started to execute my weight loss and fitness reclaim plans in January 2010. By mid-August, I had lost enough weight to elicit comments from people around me. More importantly, I was feeling healthier and leaner, and my stamina had increased progressively. This is all thanks to the lifestyle changes and good dieting practice I had been investing my time in.

Because Ramadan was on the horizon, I grew concerned that my weight loss trend would be affected. I worried because with fasting, my metabolic rate was going to slow down due to the reduction of food intake. Will the  muscle build up I had worked towards be broken down by my starving body? That’s what the body does when it’s hungry and you don’t feed it – it goes into conservative mode and breaks down muscles first for energy because it takes more work for a body to retain muscle than fat.

Worries aside, I managed to breeze through the fasting month without much impact to my overall physique. I even got to squeeze in a few active sessions here and there, although I did stay away from the park for a month (Aliez was not giving out aerobic sessions anyway). In fact by the end of the fasting month, I succeeded in losing a bit more weight, putting my body at a steady 53kg, which was 2kg above my original target of 55. Wow, I overshot my goal!

At this point I felt super optimistic and had wanted to push down the weight even more, to the lower 50-51kg range. This should be easy, I thought to myself. However because I had lost a significant amount of weight, my basal metabolic rate (BMR) had also decreased. So that in turn meant I didn’t need as many calories per day to live. If I wanted to lose more weight, I either had to increase the frequency or intensity of my exercises to further accelerate my metabolic rate, or decrease the amount of food I took to play around with the calorie-in vs. calorie-out equation.

I tried doing the latter, since I was already putting in 3-4 times worth of workouts in a week and I simply couldn’t do anymore without being too tied up with it. However when I reduced my food intake, I began to develop more frequent headaches and scarily enough, low blood pressure. For a while my weight did reach the lower end of the 50s. But 51kg was about as low as I could bear it. I knew I had to eat a little bit more because I wasn’t getting enough calories to support my active life style, hence the dizziness. Just to get a second opinion, I saw a doctor who advised me to start eating more normally. Incredibly enough my bouts of headaches also improved when I started consuming red meat again. I admit at that point in my life I had reduced eating meat in favor of more vegetarian fare.

And with that ordeal, I decided that my ideal weight should stay within the 52-53kg range. My BMI was already in the 21-22 zone which was healthy, so I made sure I ate enough calories to maintain the weight, no gain nor loss. I was quite happy with that arrangement. My weight loss had finally plateaued, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if I’ve achieved or exceeded my goal.

As the closing of Ramadan and the dawn of Hari Raya edged nearer, I was excited to showcase my renewed self to relatives and friends. In preparation, I had new measurements taken down by my tailor for my new baju kurung. But then misfortune struck: the lady came down with dengue fever and could not finish sewing her clients’ orders. Since my family’s big on tradition and everyone has to wear matching colors, my mom came to the rescue and offered me a pair of baju kurung which she had bought in Singapore but had not yet worn. My mother is a petite woman, smaller than I, and when she told me she wanted me to wear something out of her wardrobe, I was skeptical. I didn’t think I could fit into it without tearing it at the seams.

Doubtful at first, I slipped into the size 2 attire and lo and behold – I could wear my mother’s petite-sized outfit! I simply couldn’t believe it. The last time I could wear anything of my mother’s was when I was 16. I am now twice that age and I managed to shrink myself down to a size that my mother shares. I know it sounds pretty daft but to me it was a significant feat on its own.

L-R: Me, Mom, Aunt, Sis

L-R: Me, Mom, Aunt, Sis during Hari Raya 2010

When uncles, aunts and cousins finally came by the house for the obligatory family visit for Hari Raya, they cooed and commended on my personal success. I felt mighty proud of what I had achieved. An aunt even told me to not reduce anymore weight for fear that I’d look like a walking skeleton. I seriously doubt that since I like chocolate so much and have the body of a breeder, but I took her advice to heart.

So the next time you think about wanting to achieve something as life altering and important as healthy weight loss, why not plan to reach it just before a special event like a festive season or even a high school reunion to make it even more meaningful? Humans are social creatures, to feel worthiness we unknowingly seek validation and recognition from others. Sometimes that is just the extra boost you need to stick with your plans of achieving that desired body.