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Lifestyle change: The healthy way to lose weight

By IC Calaguas

There comes a point in our lives when all we want is to live healthy and enjoy every single day.

This is why I chose to start on a journey to living a healthy lifestyle, without sacrificing the things I love.

So from 78 kilos or 172 lbs, I am now down to 60 kilos or 132 lbs in just 5 months — losing a total of 40 pounds.

But how did I do it? What was my secret? That’s what everyone wants to know, and what I am willing to share here.

The secret is hard work, intermittent-low carb diet and the constant supervision of our lifetysle doctor, Dr. Michaela Castro-Tinio.

For 10 years, I have been in denial that I had a problem with my sugar level. It was not until 2022 that I suffered from a trigger finger problem.

At first, I couldn’t move one finger. Then in a matter of weeks, I could not lift three fingers.

And in three months, I couldn’t move both my hands.

No amount of medicine I took, even a splint, improved my situation. This has affected my mobility and daily life. I couldn’t even hold a pen to write anything.

Alongside the problem with my sugar, I was riddled with asthma attacks. I coughed constantly, with phlegm, and for 10 years I have had a fatty liver which showed up in my ultrasound results every year.

Something was off with my energy level. Once at home, I would prefer to just lie down and relax, not having the energy to do anything else.

But I was still in denial. I kept blaming stress for my condition, even though every time I Googled the symptoms, it showed that sugar was the culprit.

I used to eat rice heartily, especially during breakfast. I can finish a bowl of fried rice, easily, so afraid of not having my fill of fried rice in a day.

Then in June of 2023, we met Dr. Tinio through a common friend, Raffy Angeles, who then was also undergoing a lifestyle program — and which we laughed about back then.

We thought Tito Raffy was able to keep his sugar low because he wasn’t eating and was “fasting”.

Then we wondered about fasting… what was that all about?

In June 28, after 21 days, Tito Raffy lost a total of 20 lbs. We were literally flabbergasted that he can fit in a small T-shirt.

I told Reina, why don’t I try the program? There might be a chance that the pain in my hands would go away.

So I talked to Dr. Tinio and told her about my situation. She briefly discussed the program, explaining that it was not a diet per se but a lifestyle change. It’s meant to change my eating habits.

I was hesistant at first but I was willing to give it a try.

I had to get clearance from my internist, Dr. Reneah Goingco, who eventually agreed to try the program on the condition that I follow the advise of Dr. Tinio and monitor my creatinine levels, since I would be eating a lot of protein.

Dr. Tinio said one condition before starting the program was that we were taking maintenance meds.

At that time, I was taking metformin, rosuvastatin, finofibrate etc.

Secondly, she asked us to submit laboratory results for assessment.

On Day 1 of the program, you would have to undergo a briefing about the program, learn the do’s and don’ts, what you can and can’t eat, and then a question and answer portion.

Of course, they would have to weigh you.

My condition on Day 1 of the program:
Weight: 78.1 kilos
Body fat: 43.4
Viceral fat (fats surrounding my internal organs, reason why I had a big tummy): 17.5
Waistline: 41.5 inches

I was not allowed to eat rice, bread, pizza, french fries, cakes, sweets, biscuits, pasta, fruits (except berries), juices, etc.

However, I can consume fat, chicharon, chicharon bulaklak, nuts, meat, eggs, seafoods, pork, and green leafy vegetables.

I can also drink black coffee, green tea and plant-based milk like almond and macademia.

The toughest thing I would have to do was go on fasting.

First was a 12-hour window, then 10 hours, and then 8 hours until I could only eat one meal a day.

It was not an abrupt prolonged fasting. I had to go through a process.

On my part, I was able to hurdle fasting for 45 hours straight after two months in the program.

For the first 21 days, I was able to fast for 24 hours straight.

I thought I won’t be able to give up breakfast. But I was able to.

Part of Dr. Tinio’s program was a daily visit at our convenience. She checked my sugar and cholesterol levels, my blood pressure, and more questions and answers.

Four days into the program, the pain in my hands and fingers went away. To my surprise, I could move them, just like before.

On the fifth day though, I experienced sugar withdrawal. I had a terrible headache, and was on the verge of giving up — but it went away the next day. In my mind, this was the hardest stage in the program.

There was a need to exercise daily, too — but not heavy ones. Allowed are light exercises like walking and swimming. Normally I did 1-hour of swimming or 35 minutes of walking. Walking up and down the stairs was also allowed.

Every seven days, I did a weigh-in with Dr. Tinio.

After 7 days, here was my progress:
Weight: 75.1 kilos
Body fat: 42.6
Viceral fat: 16.5
Waistline: 40.5 inches

You may wonder what it felt like to undergo fasting. I felt light and my mind was alert.

Doktora explained that after 16 hours of fasting,  one will experience a stage of ketosis where the body uses excess fats as energy, thereby burning the fats. During this stage, one may feel super alert.

What also went away was the constant feeling of tiredness. Everything felt light — body and mind.

A lot of people are curious as to how hard the program is. It’s not really hard. All it takes is dedication to invest in yourself. Eat right, be  healthy and the program will prove effective for you, especially with the supervision of a professional like Dr. Tinio.

My progress after 21 days:
Weight: 72.6 kilos
Body fat: 42
Viceral fat: 15
Waistline: 39 inches

The best part of it all was that all my laboratory results were normal after just 21 days. Also, there was no more fatty liver.

Magic? Miracle? No. It was simply a lifestyle change.

Now I believe in what they always say: We are what we eat.

My takeaway from all of this is that truly, our biggest enemy is sugar.

I remember Doc Vic Lugue saying that for our cholesterol level to go down, our sugar level should also be down.

Another major concern is how to sustain this healthy lifestyle after the program.

Yes, it is sustainable because after all you go through with the program, you would know what is good and bad for your body. By this time, you also know how to balance everything.

Five months after the program — and after the holidays as well — Reina and I now know what is good to consume and what we should avoid.

Today, I haven’t experienced any asthma attack, and I feel lighter than ever, I can walk 20 to 30K steps a day easily, and my laboratory results are all normal.

This is me now:
Weight: 60 kilos (from 78 kilos)
Body fat: 34 (from 43.5)
Viceral fat: 7.5 (from 16.5)
Waistline: 33.5 inches (from 41.5 inches)

I know it will be a difficult journey for you to make a lifestyle change — but I assure you, everything is worth it.

I will be turning 46 in a few days, and I am as healthy as I could be. My maintenance medicines, which were part of my life for years, are now out of the window.

I must say that changing my lifestyle is the best gift I could give myself. If I could do it, then anyone could do it, too.

Having a healthy body and mind is beneficial for everyone around us, especially our families.

It’s not just about losing weight and being sizes smaller. Spending time with the people we love, enjoying everything we worked hard for, is the best feeling there is.

Try to have a lifestyle change and be a better version of yourself.