- Ashley Isabel Tay
Ashley's Weight Loss Journey - "Weight Loss is a Journey, Not a Sprint"
I've been through it, I've been through all the physical and emotional challenges that you're going through. I know exactly how it feels like for every struggle, every disappointment, every sense of unworthiness due to the number on the scale. I want you to know that you're not alone in this journey. The number on the scale does not validate your worth. Embrace your Health as a whole. Health is more than just how you look. Health is when your mind, body and soul are in sync. It is knowing that making the healthier choice each day is for yourself, that your future self will thank you for. It is about knowing that you are worthy to be healthy.
You, in every way, deserve to be healthy.
"I wasn't born skinny to begin with"
I've been lying to myself half of my life.
I like to say I was born fat. Truth is, I was not. I was 3 years old in the picture below, clearly, born a healthy child. I have always been an active kid since young. But yet as I grew older, I grew much heavier than my peers. I was eating too much junk food - chips/ice cream/cookies/french fries/fried food etc that were all conveniently within my reach at home.
"My favourite food was chocolate milk and fried hokkien mee."
Overeating Since Young
I was a lucky kid as my refrigerator was always filled with lots of food, especially my favourite chocolate milk and ice cream. Tubs of ice cream never seemed to run out as they constantly replenished. I would simply help myself to a cup of chocolate milk whenever I'm thirsty or to a scoop of ice cream after dinner. Oblivious to my overeating habits, my weight slowly creeped up. I was 7 years old in the picture below!
Here comes puberty...
Overeating ≠ Puberty
Truth was, when I was growing taller, I really did grow slimmer. I was 12 years old in the picture below. I was very active in sports throughout my secondary school days; joined the basketball team and was a cross country runner. However, as 'O' levels came, all CCA's stopped. I wasn't aware that the halt in my trainings would affect my weight. I wasn't expanding as much calories as I was before and was still eating the same amount of food that I've used to. Thus, I grew.
Then I stopped being active, & my health suffered
Fast food all day, everyday
This was me when I was 18-20 years old. I stopped playing basketball, was stressed out in school, working after school hours and handling a change in environment at home. As I stopped being active, I had no outlet to destress. Thus, I sought comfort in food. (Picture on the left was my favourite plate of hokkien mee infront of me :o) I didn't felt good at all. I felt lethargic all the time and felt like I was dragging my feet due to the excess weight on me. I didn't like who I was, and who I've become.
I decided to change. So I started running, but way too much.
10km run everyday, 1000kcal everyday. I was Obsessed.
I decided that a change was necessary. I resort to eating boiled vegetables and chicken breast everyday. i capped my daily intake to 1000kcal per day and made sure I ran everyday (until my knees got busted). It wasn't easy to get back into running after a long break from exercising. IT WAS HARD. EVERY DAY WAS A STRUGGLE. I started with a 5km goal, then 6km, then 7km.....then 10km. I kept on going, even on days that I don't feel like running. I told myself that I just had to complete what I've set out to achieve that day. When I don't have the time to complete a 10km run before work, I would split my runs into two. I'll run a 5km in the morning and 5km in the evening.
But I WAS HUNGRY ALL THE TIME.
Consuming only 1000 calories/day wasn't sustainable
I was perpetually tired because my body was screaming for food, but I chose to ignore it. I was more tired of being who I was before, and was determined to be the person that I want to be. I lost weight, but deep down I was miserable. I lost weight in the expense of my emotional health. It came to a point where I was afraid of eating anything, I bailed on social gatherings because I was afraid that I might be tempted to eat foods that are "forbidden." The limited variety of food that I allowed myself had to be boiled with no sauce. If there is any sauce or extra seasoning, I would get so frustrated and angry with myself for eating them. At that moment, it just feels like everything I eat was going to make me gain weight. Oblivious to my actions, I fell into an unhealthy relationship with food.
I lost motivation & quickly gained back all the weight.
It became a rebound and I lost it.
I was tired of counting calories, being tired all the time, fighting the mental battle within myself, being hungry, running aimlessly for 10km, preparing my own food and most of all, I'm tired of being labelled a fussy eater by my family and friends. I wanted to enjoy my time with my family and friends, I wanted to exercise because I want to not because I have to, I wanted to be in control of food and not let food take control of me. But I didn't know how to do it. I ate everything that I've restricted myself over the period of time and led myself into a "rebound" phase. Everything went downhill, I didn't know how to handle the weight gain and my confidence was drastically affected. Some days I hid at home, too afraid to receive judgement from other people.
But I didn't lose hope. I was determined to find a sustainable & healthy lifestyle.
Slowly but surely.
I decided to start focusing on my mental wellness, I asked myself why and what is the real reason behind all the exercise that I subjected myself to? Am I exercising for aesthetics reasons or was I doing it for my future health. I reflected and found out that the real reason that I want to be healthy is because I believe that we are blessed to be given a healthy body and we should do everything we can to take care of it, and not take our health for granted. In years to come, I want to be able to still be active and mobile when I am 60,70 or 80 years old. If I am blessed to have kids or grandchildren, I want to be able to be part of their life and not be bed bounded or be restricted in things that I want to do. Life is beautiful and there are many things we can do when we are healthy.
Making the change of perspective, changed my life.
I started focusing on self love. I decided to put my health first before aesthetics. I started to see that health was not just how much you exercise, how much you weigh on the scale, or how you look on the outside. Health, shouldn't be seen as singular, but should be seen as a whole. Health, is a holistic approach in developing healthy mind, body and soul. One step at a time, I was able to slowly get back into my exercise regime, making healthier choice of food, not because I want to look like a certain model or conform to the society expectations, but because I want to do it for my wellbeing.
It definitely wasn't an easy route, it took me some time, with lots of emotional struggles and disappointments. But I constantly reminded myself that being healthy is not a sprint, it's a journey. This constant reminder helped a lot as I started to embrace the changes in my body. I started to listen to my body and differentiate what my body wants and needs. I fell in love with exercising again, loving how it makes me feel alive, loving how jogging brings me to different places to admire mother nature, loving the amount energy and positivity I get after exercising, most importantly, to be able to share this joy with clients and students that I met along the way.
It wasn't easy, but it was worth it.
Embrace it and you are forever changed.
The change in perspective not only changed my life, but also how I saw myself. I started to see strengths of my body instead of my flaws. Stretch marks on my body became a positive reminder of how far I've come instead of being seen as scars. I started embracing my body type and who I am. I am perfectly imperfect and beautifully flawed just as anyone else is. My chains are gone and I am no longer conform to what the society expects what beauty is. To me, Beauty is more than just the physical aesthetics, Beauty comes from the illumination of the soul. Beauty is embracing who you are and not let someone tell you otherwise. Beauty comes from overcoming all odds and staying strong through the storm. Beauty comes from within. Beauty comes straight from the heart.
Everything happens for a reason.
That's why I do what I do.
My journey made me who I am today and that is the reason why I am immensely passionate and obsessed with helping more people getting back in shape and win the battle of health. Let proper nutrition and regular exercise be your antidote, do it the natural way. Medications and fad diets are only temporary solutions but never the best solutions. Take control of your health and be the best version you can be for yourself, for your family and for everyone you love. Because you deserve it.
With all my love,
Ashley Isabel Tay