in-article_ylyw-may-2010.jpg"I started gaining weight when I was in fourth grade," Jeanna Santos, an analyst from Antipolo, Rizal, shares. "Whenever I got home from school, I snacked and ate whatever was available in the refrigerator." Shopping for clothes was misery for her. "I used to shop for clothes in the boys’ section because there weren’t any plus-size sections for teens then. I cried in the fitting room because I wanted to wear girl’s clothes but couldn’t. I wore my dad’s clothes." When riding the bus, "I felt the other passengers blamed me when it was packed because I was taking up space."

Jeanna shares that boys would call her baboy in school. "I felt that I was not enjoying my teens the way I should because I was heavier," she muses. She also experienced chest pains and leg cramps, which, according to the doctor, were due to her weight. These were her wake-up calls for a new lifestyle.

In 2003, Jeanna began the "three-day diet" recommended by a nutritionist. For 6 months, she had planned meals for three days and resumed "normal eating" the rest of the week. "I had peanut butter and ice cream in the diet as my rewards." Now she just limits the food she eats at dinnertime. She exercises twice a week, playing badminton for three hours or running on the treadmill or doing a dance class for two hours.

Jeanna surprised herself by surpassing her goal. She originally aimed for 150 lbs, but reached 125. "I felt that people started to recognize my other skills, such as singing, after I lost the weight. Before, I felt that people noticed the weight first. I also started having suitors." Still, she admits, "There was a fear of going back to being a 'heavyweight,' especially when I felt that I overate." She wasn’t a picky eater, so she was afraid of gaining weight, not fitting in her clothes, and becoming depressed. Ultimately, shopping became enjoyable and easy for her. "I could buy clothes and styles that I really wanted and feel good wearing them. It boosted my self-esteem."


JEANNA'S TIPS:

1. Diet with workout is best.
"I had more strength, my mood improved, and my workouts were sustainable.”

2. Eat more during the day.
"It’s harder for the body to process food while we sleep, plus we barely use the nutrients in food we eat at night."

3. Nix the easy solutions.
"I tried skipping meals, only to find out that it made me eat more."

(First published in the May 2010 issue of Women's Health Philippines, Slim Down Strategies section as "I Boosted My Self- Esteem;" photos by Dakila Angeles and courtesy of Jeanna Santos; adapted for use in Female Network)

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