If you know me really well, then you know I have an undeniable and everlasting love for fried chicken. I live by: “I’m here for a good life, not a long one.” While this motto has allowed me to indulge in the greatest foods life has to offer, it’s also gotten me into some trouble with my health and body confidence. Growing up, I was already diagnosed with high cholesterol early on in life. With a combination of genetic inheritance and poor lifestyle choices, I wasn’t exactly surprised, but I didn’t exactly do anything about it either. It was always the same broken record at my yearly checkup: eat your fruits and veggies, limit fried foods, and EXERCISE! Even though I was an athlete in high school, I wouldn’t say it made my health better… I think that being in sports gave me an excuse to continue eating terribly. I continued eating all my favorite greasy and fried foods throughout college too WITHOUT any exercise the entire time. My cholesterol levels continued to be sky high, and my body doesn’t gain weight overall—so you would never be able to notice on social media.
I would categorize myself as “skinny fat.” I usually appear skinny because of my legs—they never grow and they look like sticks. All my weight primarily goes to my midsection—belly, love handles, back rolls… you name it. Because I love wearing oversized clothing and layers so much, I never cared for it either since I figure I’d just cover it up and no one would have to know. This is also a huge reason why I never shop for clothing either. I wear the same things over and over again because I know what works for my body to maintain the illusion that I’m “skinny.” I started to get really tired of it. I hated going to the mall, trying on clothes, and never walking out with anything because I didn’t like the way it looked on me. Come October 2017 (shortly after I turned 22), I had just gotten out of a rough patch with my career too, so I was all sorts of unhappy. I decided it was time for a change, but NOT the kind of change that would be short-term. I didn’t want to have one of those changes where it only seemed like a good idea in the moment, but I would quickly go back to my old ways in a matter of weeks. I wanted real and permanent change, so if you are here for a quick fix—this isn’t for you. This type of change will be ongoing, take time, challenge you, and improve your quality of life.
1. Don’t go full-force or cold turkey; take the smallest of steps towards change.
In the past, I’ve been THAT person that has declared “I’m going on a diet!” or “I’m cutting out BLANK” and 10/10 times I failed. When I began adjusting my lifestyle in October, I was inconsistently going to the gym (probably 2-3 times a week) and still eating my fried foods. In November, I started going to the gym (3-4 times a week), and finally in December I started to gym (4-5 times a week). I still didn’t give up my fried foods at this point. Exercise was easy to adapt to, but fixing my eating habits was the true challenge. It wasn’t until January when I started to focus on my diet. So you see, it took me THREE MONTHS before I even found a consistency. It took me THREE MONTHS before I adjusted to change. It took me three months to FIRST and FOREMOST enjoy going to the gym and exercising. Finally, it allowed me to WANT to see the results from the gym. It felt like a domino effect to me. One thing led to another, and eventually I just wanted better and more for myself. So don’t go cold turkey. Don’t go full-force. Don’t tell yourself “I’m going to gym 6 days this week and only eat boiled chicken.” It’s probably won’t happen.
2. Use the 80-20 rule.
I use this tip particularly for my diet. Ugh. To be honest, I actually really hate the word diet. I feel like when I use the word “diet,” people automatically assume that I’m being strict with what I eat. I am, but I’m not—I will explain soon. But it is frustrating when you say you’re “going on a diet,” and then every blue moon, I’ll allow myself to go eat fried chicken and I immediately receive responses like “what happened to your diet?” “I thought you were eating healthy now.” So I started adapting the 80-20 rule. 80% healthy eating, and 20% fun eating. Although we’re throwing numerical percentages into the mix, it’s nothing specific. In my mind, as long as I’m eating healthy MAJORITY of the week, I can go out with friends and family for a fraction of the week too. I find it a lot more meaningful now when I go out to eat with friends and family too because I get to enjoy good company and good food. I also found that this has really helped me maintain my sanity on my fitness journey. I get a keep a small part of “the old me” while simultaneously working on a “better me.” It doesn’t hinder my progress, and it actually keeps me 10x more motivated. Just be sure to practice moderation and self-control, and that you are as close to 80-20 as possible.
Now this one is a game-changer. I remember in January when I was on my meal plan and going to the gym, I was seeing changes but they were so small. After doing more research, one common theme kept coming up. SLEEP! Part of me always knew that sleep was important, but I never really knew how much it could transform my health. So one week, I started taking melatonin supplements before bed to promote restful sleep. As many of you know, I have a terrible sleep schedule. I’m always filming and working at odd hours and waking up in the middle of the day. So when I spent a week taking melatonin supplements, I would be asleep by 10:30PM and awake by 7:30 or 8 AM. It allowed me to wake up, make breakfast, work and respond to emails, eat lunch, film, gym, and so many other things! It made me extremely productive being able to have a full day. But more than anything, I started to see my body in its BEST state ever. I woke up looking and feeling extremely lean and fit, I had ample energy during the day and at the gym, and I was just an overall super pleasant person. Allowing my muscles to recover and my mind to rest was the biggest favor I did for my body. I know this one is tough especially when life gets so crazy—I still find myself sleeping at odd times now and then, but when I can—I do my best to get a good night’s rest and my body always thanks me for it. If you’re on a diet and exercising, but not seeing the results you want, try sleeping well for 1 week—I promise you’ll see a transformation.
4. Surround yourself around people who support your dedicated towards change.
This one is so important but overlooked. The people in our lives play a huge part in our lifestyle and habits. It’s especially difficult if you’re in a relationship and your significant other doesn’t want to change their lifestyle the way that you do. Luckily, Khang and I made the decision to be healthier together. So we definitely support one another that way and make each other accountable for our actions. If you don’t have a significant other who will keep you in check, find a friend or gym buddy who will. Having someone to turn to when you want to give up will help you through the process. Eventually, you won’t really need to depend on someone because you will have found your own willpower to becoming healthier. Also, surround yourself around friends and family who respect your choices to being healthy. If a friend gets upset at you because you don’t want to go eat out with them (because of your “diet”), then they’re not really a friend. Real friends will completely understand and support your fitness journey.
5. Be prepared to fall off the wagon.
Oh man. THIS RIGHT HERE. I wish someone told me this was going to happen. Chances are, you will encounter this if you’re anything like me. Sometimes, life just gets really hectic. I’m the type of person who finds any reason to eat. I eat when I’m happy, I eat when I’m sad, I eat when I’m mad, I eat when I’m stressed, I eat to celebrate, I eat when I’m having a bad day, I eat just because. And this has led me to fall off the wagon a few times in the past couple of months. Traveling also steers me off course because I can never swing back from vacation mode. What I’ve learned is that it’s okay. Sometimes I’ll feel disappointed that I’ve lost some of my progress at the gym, but the good news is that I know how to get it back. Now that I’ve finally established a lifestyle that I know is attainable, I know I can easily bounce back… AS LONG AS I STILL WANT TO. This is important. Always have the desire to bounce back and continue the journey. I know I’m not always at 110%, but I know for a fact that I will never live the way I used to without exercise and healthier foods. I still enjoy my fried chicken, but I also enjoy my fruits and vegetables, which is something I couldn’t say before. I still enjoy going out, but I also enjoy going to the gym, which is something I definitely couldn’t say before.
If you knew me 4 years ago, then you know that I have come an extremely long way with my health. To others, what I’m doing isn’t the “right way” or the “best way” to perhaps losing weight, or getting into shape, but for me, it is the perfect way to begin a lifestyle that is fun, healthy, and sustainable. I found what works for me, and I hope that after reading this, you can find some inspiration to find what ways may work for you. Comment down below this post or on my Instagram photo to let me know how you live a fun and healthy lifestyle!