Marketing executive Rina de Guzman, 40, used to go home from the mall depressed because the clothes she liked didn’t fit. Here’s how she turned her life (and heads) around by managing her weight.


Rina before her weight loss. She was 198 lbs.

THE GAIN

De Guzman was chubby as a child. She was the butt of all jokes from cousins and friends because she outweighed everyone else. “I never had the chance to get a good part in ballet class because no one wants a fat Snow White or Cinderella,” she recounts.

De Guzman lost some weight in high school but gained it again in college when she was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, a form of facial nerve paralysis and needed steroid medication to manage it. Getting up every morning was difficult because she felt sluggish, and there was nothing in her closet that she felt like putting on. “I lost all hope as far as losing weight and looking good were concerned.”


THE CHANGE

There weren’t a lot of ready-to-wear choices for plus-sized women (Rina used to be a size 16) back in the 90s and if there were, they were expensive. Retail therapy depressed her.

“It wasn’t fun at all because I would just watch my friends shop while I’d go home almost empty-handed,” De Guzman, then in her late-20s, shares. “I had to content myself with wearing
boring or unflattering clothes. But I still wore my high heels, until one day, when I broke a heel while walking to my office building,” she says. That was 1997. She immediately consulted a
health and fitness expert to get help.


THE LIFESTYLE

A strict calorie-count diet plan complemented by a thrice-a-week workout was initially prescribed. “The first 6 months were challenging but the diet plan worked because I could eat anything I liked as long as I kept to the daily calorie limit. I enrolled in a gym very near my office so I’d have no
reason to miss a single session.”

De Guzman became so dedicated to getting fit and active even at work that she climbed flights of stairs in her building and preferred to walk to a colleague’s desk instead of calling them into her office for a meeting.

She now works out for 45 minutes every day. “On weekends, I work out with my partner so it becomes more enjoyable. I also try to run 5 km at least once a week. I still eat what I want and enjoy food but I just make sure that I burn what I take in. The treadmill is my best friend!”


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Rina at 117 lbs.

THE REWARD

“As I lost more weight, I felt happier waking up and looking forward to a new day,” says De Guzman. “I accomplished more at work and enjoyed weekends with friends and family. Shopping was more fun as well because I could fit into regular and trendy clothes.”

Happy to lose her target of just 15 lbs., De Guzman kept going by giving herself a rather expensive incentive: She bought a designer dress that was two sizes smaller and worth one month’s paycheck and told herself she’d be able to fit in it one day. “I eventually got to wear it to my birthday party the following year,” she gushes.

Rina lost 81 lbs. over a course of two years. “But more than shedding the pounds, the real success I consider is being able to maintain my healthy weight for 14 years now.”


RINA’S TIPS:


1. Set a goal.

Small yet sensible weight goals spread over a reasonable time frame are more
doable than a sudden, major overhaul.


2. Visualize.

I read a lot of fashion magazines and imagine myself wearing the clothes in them!


3. Cut yourself some slack.

Sometimes you will deviate from your goal, but remember your motivation for wanting to lose weight.


4. Share your story.

Find friends who are in the same situation as you are and share experiences. It’s a good way to stay committed to your goal.


(First published as “The treadmill is my best friend!” in Women’s Health Magazine’s Slim Down Strategies section. Before photo courtesy of Rina de Guzman; after photo by Christian Halili. Article adapted for use in Female Network.)

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