It’s been a hard, long journey of weight loss for aspiring performer Cassandra Loh. As told to Deborah Lin.
Weight lost 24kg over 3yrs
Exercise made Cassandra feel better about herself Besides running regularly, she has started dancing again.
Since young, I’ve been called “pig”, “dugong” (manatee) and even “The Rock” – after professional wrestler and actor Dwayne Johnson. I grew up feeling inferior about my size, especially when surrounded by slim girls in ballet class. Eventually, I gave up dancing and other sports because I felt constantly judged.
To shed kilos in my teens, I tried crazy diets like eating only enoki mushrooms. Of course, it didn’t work, and I ended up binge eating and putting on even more weight. Then, for four years, I battled anorexia and bulimia. Still, I dreamt of being on TV and was ecstatic at nabbing the role of an extra in a local drama in 2009. But I was totally humiliated when only the male apparel fit me. That was the last straw!
I started to exercise. At first, I could not even complete a 1km jog and had to walk most of the way. So I set easy goals, like running to a bridge before easing into a walk. Slowly, I started to take fewer breaks. When I first completed 3km in 22 minutes, the immense sense of achievement I felt was indescribable.
In 2012, despite my lack of experience, I signed up for a 10km run. As my company sponsored the participation, I had nothing to lose. I trained by jogging daily. Although I didn’t set a duration for each run, I pushed myself to increase the mileage each time. I made it to 8km.
On race day, I managed to complete the 10km run, despite slowing to a walk several times. Inspired, I joined more races and completed my first marathon in 2013.
My diet also changed for the better. Instead of extreme diets, I made doable changes. I tracked my calorie intake and opted for leaner fare like grilled chicken breast and salads without dressing.
The cravings for fast food and potato chips continued, but instead of a total ban (which I learnt made the yearning worse), I allowed myself cheat meals once a week and worked out extra hard that day.
I try to work out for at least 30 minutes every day. If I am feeling lazy, I do a 15-minute circuit, and make up for it the next day with a 45-minute run.
I thought the name-calling would stop after I’d slimmed down but it didn’t. There really is no pleasing everyone. Being so bothered by what others say or think seems silly now. I’ve learnt not to build my self-worth on people’s opinions.
Exercising has also boosted my confidence. I started taking ballet classes again, but it was a year before I dared to wear my leotard without an overshirt. And I still harbour the dream of being on TV. Hopefully, opportunity will come knocking again.
WEEKLY WORKOUT SCHEDULE
One-hour ballet class once a week, 20- to 40-minute run or swim on three weekdays, and five or 10km weekend runs.
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