From the very beginning, I knew that the pandemic, although difficult, would bring with it many gifts. For me, the most tangible one over the course of one year has been my 23 pound weight loss. I’m 56 and in menopause, and any woman whose been there will tell you that’s so no mean feat. This is the lightest I have been in 16 years. Three and a half years shy of 60, and the journey ain’t done yet. I’m still on the road to my ideal weight which is about 7-10 lbs away.

It wasn’t really so much for vanity’s sake that I wanted to lose all the pounds that I had packed over the last decade and a half. I was concerned about my health, considering that I have a congenital heart condition that could really benefit from carrying weight that is within the Asian BMI. At the beginning of the pandemic, losing weight wasn’t really at the top of my head. I guess you could say that the weight loss during the first six months wasn’t intentional. It was more accidental.

I will admit that the onslaught of the pandemic gave me a lot of anxious moments. Sleep became erratic and because there were so many unknowns, I found myself turning to prayer morning, noon, and night. Locked down at home, I knew instinctively that I had to do something to preserve my sanity. In comes Tita Leslie Sansone to the rescue. Almost everyday in March to May, I would allocate at least 20-30 minutes doing her walk at home program. When I wanted variety, I would dance to VST in the privacy of my bedroom. At the end of May, I weighed myself. I had lost ten pounds! For someone who had not lost weight for many years, this was an achievement unlocked. I was inspired to do even more.

February 2020.
My face was still puffy, and I hardly ever showed my arms in my photos.

I decided to fix my eating. Around June, I began to do intermittent fasting on weekdays. I would take my first meal at 10am, and my last meal at 7PM. Some days I would just have a protein shake or soup and a slice of bread for dinner. Between the hours of 10am to 7pm I would eat anything. I never deprived myself. However, I also practiced portion control. Only half a cup of brown rice once or twice a day, with mostly chicken and fish/seafood for 5 out 7 days in a week. Fruits and vegetables were a staple with almost every meal. Mondays became Meatless Mondays. Water became my best friend. Whenever I would eat anything fried or oily, Xenical came to the rescue. I know, messy. But it has worked very well for me and so I stick to it.

Around August, I focused on rebooting my sleep. Pre pandemic I would only average 5-6 hours a night. Not a good thing, so I targeted 6-8 hours. I still struggle with getting 8 hours but now I alternate between 6.5 to 7 hours a night. On some days, when the energy is low, I lie down for a bit and nap for 30 mins to one hour. Every night, I pop a Melatonin and drink a mug of an organic sleep infusion. Some nights I keep a lavender scented candle lighted for about 15 minutes or spray some lavender mist on my sheets. Sleep hygiene, I’ve learned is so very important. I wear an eye mask to block out the lights, and keep the temperature at 21-22 degrees centigrade. Some nights depending on my mood, I put on warm and fuzzy socks on my feet. Unglamorous, but who cares, the bed’s all mine anyway.

Also, in August, I did a lot of housework. Because our housekeeper was gone for six weeks total, my son and I earned a masters degree in cleaning the house and the bathrooms. Excellent workout that made me drop an extra four pounds. I also mastered the art of cleaning bathrooms (something I swore I would never do in my previous life) and swore by all the Xiaomi Deerma appliances I could get my hands on in Shoppee. By the end of the year, I was down a total of 20 pounds.

In January, our Manang took leave again so it was mom and son once more who took care of everything at home. When February came along, I was officially down by 23 pounds.

February 2021.
Happier and much healthier by God’s grace.
This jumpsuit is now pretty loose on me.

When I think about it, there wasn’t really any strict formula or diet that I stuck to. It was a slow but steady loss over the course of one challenging year. Nowadays, I strive to do 5 to 7k steps a day, 8-10k on Fridays and Saturdays. Sundays I rest. I alternate now between walking around the neighborhood, walking with Leslie or dancing with Gina B. I still do IF on the weekdays and guard my sleep like a hawk. I guzzle water like there’s no tomorrow. I’m still on a mission to lose those last 7-10 lbs, and toning and strengthening will be part of my goals for the rest of the year. So help me God. By God’s grace, I want to be stronger at 57 than I was at 47 or 37. The pandemic is a portal we are all passing through. It had slowed life down and given us the time to assess and re-boot, release and renew. In many ways it feels like the second half of my life is just beginning.

With the weight loss has come more joy, laughter, and peace. I have downsized not just my size, but also my home. Letting go, learning to forgive, reinforcing boundaries, and surrendering were skills that I was able to practice to the hilt since February 2020. Today I only keep what gives me joy, and what is essential. I know who I love, and who genuinely loves me.

A good friend of mine said that when you get to a point in your life where you no longer have “nothing to fear, nothing to hide, and nothing to prove” is when real peace comes. After a year in this pandemic, I think I have learned what it means to be content with who I am, with where I am, and with whatever little that I have. Only by God’s grace, have I finally arrived at good place in my life. And whatever comes next. Whatever other transitions come, I know that God will be with me. That, more than the weight loss, or any other thing, has been the pandemic’s greatest gift to me.

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