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90 Going On 65: my transformation journey

"I am sixteen going on seventeen..." this was my favorite song since I was young, but this is nothing about there. I just want a musical-related title as a musical geek. This is entirely about how I transformed myself...

from a late-stage chubby (self-designated) to a much leaner version

from a couch potato to someone who cannot live without some form of exercise for a week

from someone who cannot even run 3 km to a regular runner (still not marathoner)

from 90+ kg to 60ish kg

and many other changes that happened in just a span of less than a year.

March 2017 - happy Nanta Show in Korea

Back in 2017, this transformation has an ironic start. I decided to take a one-month leave from work to study for a GMAT exam and prepare my MBA application. After all, I have been working for already 3 years, and many of my friends who joined the firm at the same time have already left for an MBA. Of course, I did just what I intended to... for a few days. GMAT was a real torture for a slow reader like myself, and I was not motivated at all. By the end of the first week, anything remotely different from studying for GMAT seems attractive - including a yoga class that my sister has recommended me to try for ages.

My first yoga class in a studio was a major blunder. I arrived at Kri Yoga (in Bangkok) for the easiest possible class - Basics, though not knowing that the class was taught by a teacher known for converting a basic class into an intermediate-level class. I was at a near-dead state by the end of the class, while a 70-years-old auntie next to me was completely fine and ready to continue the class after. Not wanting to lose to the auntie and my already-limited manhood's pride, I came back to the studio again for another class. This was even worse. The class was built around Sun Salutation with a few holds in the half push-up position (elbows bent and body at the same level as the elbows). After the class, my triceps went numb and the teacher has to help to massage my arm to get the blood to circulate.

Despite the two major failures, I fell into an escalation of commitment, which is even greater (yet healthier) distraction and procrastination to my GMAT study. I ended up started to be more mindful of my diet (eating a bit less than before) and started running. I also signed up for a 3-month membership at KriYoga and regularly - at some points even daily. Because of the commitment I have made to the practice, I started seeing progress very quickly. By the end of the first month, Sun Salutation is no longer challenging, and I managed to get flowy with basic classes.

The challenging start seemed to end well, yet an even tougher journey was started when I had to go back to work. Consulting is not an easy career to keep yourself fit. On top of a rather sedentary job either in front of a laptop or in a meeting room, we also have to find ways to squeeze in time for exercise if we really want to keep ourselves fit. I tried just that by committing myself to 40 mins run (5k) and 30-60 mins yoga class every day. I was recommended Cody App (now Alo Moves) by Kru Nuna at KriYoga as a solution for self-practice while not being in Thailand / Bangkok. I practiced daily with Briohny, who later became my teacher for my yoga teacher training. During this time, I was not very mindful of diet, but I compensated with crazy exercises. My weekend, rather than being filled with GMAT study, now filled with 3 hours of yoga practice. I also started boxing during the weekend, on top of my yoga classes.

December 2017 - morning run at Central Park during my training in the US

By December, what started off as a procrastinator for my GMAT study turned into my new habit and a gamechanger in my life. It is also during this time that people who have been seeing me everyday started to notice a big change in my body shape. On top of that, I started to feel more energized and appreciative of my body.

This is by no mean because I have an "ideal body" - I'm far from it! I do not have a six-packs (though kind of want it). I do not have a big wide upper body and chest to show off. However, I appreciate it for the mear fact that I have gone quite far from my starting point - the change that I have seen in myself physically and mentally. I believe this is an important point for me to remind myself. This journey is not about having "the body", but rather the mental and physical strengths that have been demonstrated throughout. And those strengths, be it significant or not, deserve love and appreciation to allow myself to continue pushing to do more.

For anyone who is curious about the key to success for this weight-loss journey, I can say that there is no real "secret recipe" or "prescription" really. For me, as a consultant, I would go for (magic) three things:

1. Make a change - it is either you move more or eat less. You are not going to see any difference if you don't change something

2. Commit to the change - the first change can be accidental (like mine), but unless you commit to it, you won't see the real difference. The final loss of nearly 30kg was cumulative. Unless you cut a body part or get liposuction will you see the number instantly - but do you?

3. Appreciate the small change - I get excited every time I see some change, and that's the magic that keeps me pushing forward. For a person of my original size, losing 3-4 kg will get no notice from anyone. It took me 10 kg before anyone say "did you lose weight?". Unless I appreciate and get excited about the change by myself, I will likely have no positive reinforcement to push through.

I guess there is magic in simple things after all...

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