Here is how my journey started. I remember growing up I could never find a pair of jeans that fit me comfortably. Having to wear baggy sweats and cargo pants made me wish for the day when I can wear something pretty, but my weight had never stopped me from living my life as a happy child.
However, my weight peaked when I was 15. I was carrying 150 lbs on my petite 5 foot frame (BMI=29.4, borderline overweight).
That was the first time when I started to feel the strain. I constantly skipped my PE class because I got out of breath easily and I wouldn’t have extra energy to continue my classes for the rest of the day. Despite my weight, I was under-nourished. My iron was low and was constantly feeling tired and dizzy.
My Yo-yo Diet & Sensitive Stomach
That summer, I became obsessed with dieting and spent 2-3 hours per day on an elliptical or a bicycle. It was brain-numbingly boring but the stringent exercise and tiny portions brought my weight down to 95 lbs (BMI=18.6, borderline underweight). I was feeling light-headed and cold all the time. I had no energy left to focus on other things in life. The worst part was, I lost my period.
The doctor told me I needed to bring up my weight in order to restart my period. Once I stopped my strict routine, the weight came back up again very quickly. During this time I was feeling worse because I started to experience headaches and joint pains. I also noticed my bouts of stomach pain starts to get worse, sometimes after eating and I had to rely on painkillers to be able to stand up and walk. I was always looking forward to my next nap or the next coffee to help me get through the day. I remember food often didn’t sit right in my stomach. I thought the frequent bathroom runs were caused by ‘anxiety’ or my ‘fast metabolism’.
My Light Bulb Moment
Food had always been a comfort for me, so naturally I chose Food, Nutrition and Health as my major. I never thought embracing delicious food can be helpful to my weight. At this point, I was taking a few Advil everyday for joint pains and headaches and I was relying on coffee for energy in the afternoons. Here is a picture of the beautiful Irving Library at the UBC Vancouver Campus, where I spent most of my afternoons on my studies.
I chose to share this picture for another reason.
The computers I needed for my reports and assignments were on the second floor. I hit my tipping point one day when I found out my joint aches are stopping me from taking the stairs. Every step was a painful struggle. I knew things had to change.
Because I was in school to study nutrition, I decided to use myself as an experiment. I didn’t go on a diet. In fact, I refuse to go on a stringent diet again. I focused on getting the nutrients into my meals and incorporating simple lifestyle changes, even when life and work was busy and I didn’t have the time to make it to the gym. I was surprised to find out my meal plans worked and I was lighter and had more energy by the end of that semester.
My Steady Progress
It was nice to have some extra energy and feel lighter and more confident in general, but a few things still didn’t feel alright. My period was very irregular and I suffered from extreme PMS (moodiness, cravings, bloating, cramps, headaches, joint aches…the entire package). I still had to rely on coffee to kick start my day, my acne was persistent, and my stomach pain was getting worse. Despite not being overweight at that point I was experiencing joint pains periodically.
I was determined to get the answer. After getting my science major in Food, Nutrition and Health, I continued my studies at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. With the help of the naturopathic doctor I was training with at the time, I was able to get my energy back and stop the joint pain and stomach problem I had for years in a few short months using food and natural supplements.
This was my long health journey and I learned a lot about how to use food and nutrients to support the body along the way. Now I appreciate my pain-free life and new found energy. I enjoy food and I make my favourite treats a part of my healthy living plan. In my spare time, you will find me whipping up new recipes in the kitchen or looking for fresh ingredients at the local markets.
Building a happy, confident life one simple step at a time.