article_anything-is-possible.jpgChristine Hermoso, a model from Taguig, cites mood changes and bad choices as the reasons she gained weight. "I love eating," she says. "I was also an emotional eater. Every time I felt depressed or happy, that’s what I would do. I would have six meals a day, all heavy." Finding clothes wasn’t any easier. "When I tried a size XL or XXL, it didn’t fit me. I was so ashamed of myself."

That shame went beyond the fitting room. "Because I was overweight, I believed that I didn’t deserve the best in life. Therefore, I was treated the way I thought I was deserved to be treated—a nobody, nothing." But in 2008, when people mistook Christine for her mom’s older sister or, worse yet, her mom’s mother, she became serious about losing weight. "I was so tired of feeling the negativity," she says. "I knew I deserved the best in my life just like everyone else does."

She started playing badminton and softball in 2000 and got into dancing in 2002. Christine then worked out at Slimmers World in 2008, where she was approached about joining Mr. and Ms. Slimmers World the same year. She recalls, "I was like, 'Are you kidding me? I'm a big girl. How can I join something like that?'" They offered to sponsor her training and non-invasive treatments, which claimed to reduce the appearance of cellulite, so she agreed. She did circuit and weight training five times a week. She used 150- to 180-lb weights for her legs and 70 lbs for her upper body. She stopped eating oily foods, eliminated salt from her diet, and stuck to wheat carbs.

She didn’t win the contest, but she didn't lose, either. "It taught me how to care for myself. I was more at peace," Christine explains. In November 2009, she joined Slimmers World International Mr. and Ms. Great Bodies and won the title. "The competition changed my life. I felt like I could do anything," she says. Hermoso went on to represent her hometown, Meycauayan City, in Ms. Philippines Earth 2010.

Despite all her hard work, she says, "I always have to defend myself. Some think I had face reconstruction because ever since I lost weight, my features look different." Now that she's slimmer, her self-esteem has improved too. "It’s always great to wake up in the morning feeling the confidence and excitement. It’s like anything is possible."

CHRISTINE'S TIPS:

1. Don't crash diet. You’ll just end up heavy again.

2. Do it for the right reasons. Just wanting to look good is not reason enough. Do it to be happy.

3. Know your desires. You have to want it badly enough get it. I wanted a better life.

(First published as "Anything is Possible" in the "Slim-Down Strategies" section of Women's Health Philippines' July 2010 issue. Photos by Christian Halili and courtesy of Christine Hermoso. Adapted for use in Female Network.)

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