Saturday, January 30, 2010

a slimming spokesperson ;)

This is a long-waited post. It will begin with the history of my weight-loss battle.

After being overweight for almost all my adult life, I plucked up all determination I didn't know I had to change myself - with some professional help thrown in - last year. And the result was beyond my own imagination!

I have lost more than 15 kg - more precisely, 35 pounds - in about 8 months!

And I won't even go into the inches lost as I honestly have lost count ( you know how they measure all the parts of the body but in total it was 100 plus cm) Suffice to say though, I have gone from a size 14 plus to a size 10 (British size)!!

Of course it has been a lot of hard work. And it's a combination of sacrificing money + time + food! And on top of that, tonnes of discipline and will power!

So what prompted me to take up this drastic measure in the first place? Well, of course I have been unhappy with my body weight and appearance for long. At 5 feet 2, I was quite overweight at more than 60 kg. A year ago exactly, I plummeted to 66kg! Unlike some who have heavy bones, I am actually small-built but what I had was excess FAT! Because I knew what to wear to cover-up, some didn't consider me really fat but my fat content was way high - in the obese category! Believe me, I have enough knowledge to be fooled, plus I have a healthy self-esteem.

The last straw came when I was getting dressed for a concert just after CNY last year. I wanted to wear a pair of pants which I had not worn for a while. I could not fit into it let alone buckle up! I then tried another pair of dressy jeans. The same happened! I ended up trying two or three more bottoms and they were all so tight that I could not wear them! Gosh, I was exasperated!! I was mad at myself for putting on so much weight

So there and then I told myself. I MUST do something about my figure. I just HAD to lose weight.

The next day, I called up My Dream Beauty, a new spa/wellness/slimming centre which I had written their brochure for them not long ago. Through speaking to the manager, I knew they had a comprehensive slimming program and some latest machines. The manager, Stephanie, has extensive know-how on slimming methods/treatments. As it's a very competitive market, I also knew their pricing was less than the other slimming chains.

To back-track a bit, I must now confess that in my life, I've joined 4 slimming centres before. The first was when I just started out working. I was overweight after my university years in the U.K. but since I had limited budget, I chose a cheaper one called Professional Slimming Centre which is now defunct. I couldn't believe they only gave diet advise. And the diet, in hindsight, was quite ridiculous! You only could eat steam/grilled food of limited choices and you had to measure the quantity! It was truly miserable. I followed for a while and lost a few pounds but I could not go on.

My second foray into slimming was in 1999. The motivation being that I was to be a bridesmaid for my good friend's wedding. I decided to take the plunge for what I thought was the `best' and most popular - Marie France, and had to endure the torturing cold wrap, not mentioning forking out an exorbitant sum of more than RM15K in total!! I spent about 10 months with them - having to top up more treatments cos I was told I needed them. Yes,there was result - I lost about 10kg.

Of course I could not afford to go on with them after a while. I did look quite trim but the problem was I was too deprived of food - yes, they emphasised on diet too! So gradually over the next year, I piled back the weight and fat, and it's back to square one!

My 3rd and 4th slimming quests were with Unisense and Slimming Sanctuary. I joined Unisense as they were more affordable. But they only concentrated on one type of slimming treatment - ultrasound, which turned out to be quite slow in making me lose weight. I only lost a few pounds in a few months.

Then a couple of years later, I came across Slimming Sanctuary through work. Maybe I'm a sucker for advertising, but after attending one of their media event, I was quite impressed by the accolades they claimed and since they gave me some discount as media, I signed up. But soon, I was quite disappointed as result was slow. Or maybe I wasn't very determined thus not following the diet closely. My weight loss was hardly noticeable :(

I told myself, that was the last time I would ever joined a slimming centre. It was not worth the money and time. And I could do it myself. But the last slimming endeavour I embarked on was trying out Herbalife. I bought a pack of products from a friend and I ate that for a month. I lost a little bit of weight, but I just could not bear having the sweet `shakes' for meals all the time! On top of that, they ain't cheap either. Again, I gave up...

And then, I seemed to have given up altogether. I succumbed to my innate glutton nature. In that year that followed (ie 2008) I just let loose myself eating. I binged all the time, I ate anything, anytime, anywhere, any how I liked. For instance, in between heavy lunch and dinner, I would buy a big slice of cheesecake and gobbled all up myself. Since I was (and still am) a night owl, I would cook a packet of instant noodle at 3am and ate every strand of the mee. Else, I would dig into my kitchen shelves for cookies or chocolates or anything tasty - and fattening!

No wonder I piled on.. till the awakening after CNY 2009. I reached my heaviest at 66kg!

Till now I still wonder whether it was my successful diet or the effective treatments that had me lose weight at My Dream. I believe it's a combination of both - but more so the diet. And they were really clever in the `diet prescription' in that unlike the previous slimming centres I joined, My Dream advocates the kinds of food to take, but does not limit the quantity. Their diet advice makes lots of sense too.

While I had gone carbs-free before, this time however, it's not so unbearable. True, no carbs were allowed for the first couple of weeks. But I could eat any amount of fish, vegetables, bean products, eggs and oats. Of course, I sometimes craved for rice or noodles or bread but I guess I was so determine to do it that I had accustomed my taste bud to even the yucky oats (that replaced rice and noodles). I like fish and since I am into cooking, I tried various ways to prepare different fish. And I could eat Sashimi!:) And guess what, I had become a fan of salads! There are just so many types of salads you can make.. and thank goodness for low-fat salad dressings.

So ya, with my new diet plus the treatments - a combination of machine, massages and wraps, I saw my weight and figure gradually reduced. I had in the beginning told Stephanie that I did not want drastic and rapid weight loss but gradual loss so that I could maintain it. And that was what happened..

Granted, 15kg seemed a lot. But I did NOT lose that overnight. I started in mid February last year and finally achieved my target weight after 8 months. And from September onwards, my weight has remained between 50-51kg. Yes, I have managed to maintain for 4 months. My treatments had completed in early October.

I know this may sound `boastful' but the thing is, since around September last year till today, so many people - from friends, relatives to acquaintances and even the vegetable seller I see only once a while - had noticed and commented on my weight loss. I would understand if they hadn't see me for a while but even those who saw me quite frequently still could see the marked difference! I was quite flattered at first but now, repeating the same story to everyone became a bit tiring! But maybe it's good practice for my new `role'... :p

Some months back, Stephanie asked me whether I wanted to be their spokesperson. I didn't hesitate because I would be given a period of free maintenance treatments! In return, I would be photographed and the photos would be used for their publicity/advertising purposes. Occasionally, I will be required to appear in their events.

Since My Dream is still a newish centre with not a bit budget, they have not advertised at all, but they may have plans in the future. So to start with, my photos as spokesperson will be used in-house for their potential clients only. Maybe later for press advertisements. But what's good is I'm not required to wear revealing outfits such as bikinis or even swim wear. So I see it as a win-win situation because my wish is to maintain my current weight/figure, and as their spokesperson, my weight can't fluctuate more than 3kg. My monthly free maintenance treatment should help a bit too!

I went for a two-week intensive treatments to make sure I look svelte enough! And as I had to wear a v-neck and cleavage-showing gown, I had my first ever bust-firming treatment! And also a few sessions of Depressology - a toning treatment that is a bit painful!

For the shoot, I put on both casual wear and evening gowns, the latter provided by the bridal house that did the shoot. Everything - from the photographer to the make-up aritst cum hair-stylist to the gowns, were all from Taipei! Aptly named `Very Taipei', it's a new outlet in KL. I marvelled at the speed of which they worked. Compared to the local make-up artists/hair stylists and photographers that I have worked with, I would say these people were very efficient and professional.

It was a tiring day for me.. although what I had to do was basically `just' fit the clothes, get my make-up and hair done, and pose for shoots for five different images. The most tiring was the shoot! I mean this was not the first time for me as I had photo shoots done for make-over int he past. But since this was for slimming `ads' , i had to pose in some rather sexy and perculiar positions to accentuate and emphasise on certain body parts and curves. And of course the photographer knew what he's doing as he managed to capture me real slim!!

All in, it took almost 5 hours! But it was expected as the photographer and makeup artist had to do three more spokespersons as well. Overall, it was a pretty memorable day!

I `curi-curi' (actually it's in the open) used my own camera to capture the behind-the-scene shots, as well as just a few shots after the real professional ones were taken.

Stealing some shots by my camera in the studio

My own dress - now

Same dress - then!

Here are more photos of how I used to look like - yup, I know there's a marked difference!

If after reading this you're inspired to slim down, let me tell you if I can, so can you!! What you need are two Ds and a P - Determination, discipline (which should follow) AND professional help!!

Honestly I couldn't have done it without My Dream - and i'm not playing the role of a spokesperson but a blogger here! :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

my tribute to Robert..

As I write this post, our dear brother Robert Lam has been laid to rest.

He was called home to be with the Lord early morning on Saturday, having battled with cancer for many months.

I have delayed writing this post. For when I went with my cell group to visit him in hospital in new year's day and was so encouraged and moved by his unwavering faith and spirit and he shared with us, I even asked Robert if I could use his real name in my blog to which he smilingly gave his affirmative answer.

Now, I ended up writing a obituary of sort.. but not quite. I am just compelled to share as I saw how much his life has touched so many people, and in death he has left a legacy.

Of course most of us knew of him as a former newscaster, and the man with that deep golden voice. It was only in the last few years that I got to know him because of church ministries such as ISM and worship. I learned that he was truly someone who is really passionate for God's work and for people. He was 64 but had the enthusiasm and zeal of a 46 year-old.

When I knew that he was diagnosed with skin cancer some time last year, I wanted to join my friends to visit him at home. Somehow it got delayed and I subsequently saw him a couple of times in church and got to talk a little with him. And then his health condition took a bad turn end of last year, when cancer cells had spread to all the important organs. But all the while he remained optimistic, faithful and hopeful. To the very last day, he had never once complained or moaned about his pain and infirmity.

I visited him twice in the hospital - first on new year's day when he was fully alert but his strong deep voice had been reduced to half. And he was still very hopeful that God would heal him and give him 10 more years to live not that he's afraid to die but he wanted to serve God more on earth. That's what some of us have been pleading to God as well.

Then last Tuesday afternoon, as I was driving to hospital, I received an sms saying that Dr had given him 3 more days, my heart was heavy but I know I couldn't give up and even then Robert was fully alert. He called out my name when I walked towards his bed. His family was around and he struggled to want to introduce me to his children and siblings. Not wanting to make him talk, I just spent some time praying for/with him and I could feel the power of the Holy Spirit in our midst. Robert responded to my prayer with `Amens' intermittently, i could feel he was totally in God's hands. Although with a heavy heart, I felt peace and comfort because I knew God's peace and comfort was with him..

In the weeks that led to his home-coming, Robert had no short of visitors. And many church friends also had a chance to see him last at an appreciation evening that was organised specially for him - just less than 2 weeks before his real farewell. It shows how much he was loved and respected and although some may see the service as slight `morbid', Robert himself was really excited over it and although he could hardly speak much and had to be wheeled into the church with drips, his spirit was high..

And then, there's the wake service last night. As I entered into my church foyer, I saw colourful balloons, and then the auditorium itself was decorated with more balloons - including heart-shaped ones. Though unusual, I thought it was really refreshing and it would be something Robert would love to see. And true enough, I heard from another church friend that Robert had expressed his wish that his sending off would be a celebration! Indeed even the worship part was exuberant, our church choir singing along side a band of musicians (piano, guitar, bass, drums, violin and bongo) - it was the `loudest' wake service worship I've ever attended - true to the celebration spirit that Robert would have wanted.

I think many more people would have wanted to give their eulogy but the time ran out no thanks to an old friend of Robert whose long speech took up half an hour at least! Maybe it's hard to blame him for he does have many fond memories of his close friend of more than 20 years plus the fact that he is a public speaker who like Robert, could hog the mike with their commanding voice presence for a long time! :p

Personally, besides missing Robert as a friend and brother, I would miss his beautiful deep voice God has blessed him with. When the choir sang `You Raise Me Up', I was brought back to not that long ago, Robert was standing on that same stage as part of the worship team and sang the song. And on that stage, his trademark long yet commanding announcement to urge people to join and support the International Student Ministry which he was so much a part of.

The turnout at the wake service was enormous - the whole auditorium was almost filled to the brink. There were friends and relatives from all over - those who know him professionally, many from other churches, from The Giddeons (where he used to serve) etc.. From the few sharing we heard that gave a different side and perspective of Robert, one thing was sure. That Robert has indeed impacted many people, many lives in ways even beyond his own imagination. He has truly left a legacy.

As I walked past his casket to pay my last respect and bid farewell, I tried to hold back my tears. I was saddened.. but inside I thank and praise God that He loved Robert so much that now Robert is no longer suffering or in pain living in this corrupted world. His soul is in a far far better place with our Lord. And one day, when everything has come to an end, I know I will see him and other brothers and sisters in that place..

My tribute for Robert Lam is summed up in these scripture verses which Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:6-8

6For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Farewell my brother. You'll be missed.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Good Riddance to Facebook Games.

Half a month into the new year.. and I think I didn't do too badly for my ONE resolution.. Though I must confess I have not been doing the devotion everyday.. but I would catch up with it and tonite if I read for two days, I am already up to date.. And in a way I do feel spiritually closer to God.. :)

Then Yesterday (Thurs) I made a `drastic' decision - or you could count it as my 2nd resolution for the new year.

I was in the steam room for my detox treatment and since I had to be stuck in there for 1/2 hour, I used the time to pray and commune with the Lord. And I was committing my work to Him, and also confessing how bad I've been in term of wasting time playing on FB games.. and causing myself to sleep extremely late..

Then, the Lord spoke (ok, not literally but He instilled this idea into my head). It's plain and simple: I should just stop playing ALL the games with immediate effect.

It's not exactly very hard to do right, you would say.. Games are games.. but for someone like me who really enjoyed playing them, and yes, got addicted in the process, it is kinda a `drastic' decision. But I welcome it and I told God and myself that I WILL do it.

So it's set. When I got home in the evening, I went to Facebook as usual. First, I put up a status message to announce this decision - a self-tactic to make my decision more firm. Then I just took away all the bookmarks of the applications of the games.. I didn't go and delete the applications for various reasons.. First, it takes too long and I might soften.. and I have too many applications anyway. Secondly, I have kids friends who may want things from my games which I think I can give to them.. to think of it, for Pets Society especially, it's hard for me to just delete my whole account after I had invested so many months and built up a beautiful `home' with so many furniture and stuff in it. At least now even if I don't play at all, I know it's still somewhere in cyberspace..

Actually the one game that I was resisting last night was `Cafe World', cause I was in the midst of cooking a few dishes.. and then I have so many friends who are active playing this game, who without fail have been sending me gifts (dishes) daily. To show my resoluteness, I even deleted all the gifts that they sent so far since last night..

And then there was Sorority Life - a silly girlie game that actually promotes (if anything) vanity and accumulate material things!! But can you believe I have two characters there and even took the trouble to add many strangers just to be come `sisters' (and then deleted them from FB friends cos they're total strangers) And I reached level 109 or 110? in one.. that's A LOT of hours or days or even weeks of time.... sigh

So am I having withdrawal syndrome from FB games? maybe.. I don't know. I know myself too well. If I didn't take such a drastic measure to stop altogether, I could never have the discipline and self control to play just sparingly. Because I have an addictive streak, and from past experiences I have learned the lesson of how addicted I get with things like computer-related games..

A friend actually commented on my status message: `see how long it lasts'!! Hmm but I am really determined to make it last until I have no more interest whatsoever with these games anymore!!

So, good riddance to Sorority Life, Cafe World, Petville, Restaurant City, Pet Society, and Word Twist (though basically I have only one opponent but I can get carried away) All of you have given me fun and good time but at the same time got me wasted hundreds of hours .. so like what the song sings.. it's `Time to say Goodbye..'!

update 17-1-10:
I DID IT!! I just deleted all my FB games applications except Pet Society (for reasons above) and Word Twist (maybe once a while just to play it as it's non continual..).

Friday, January 01, 2010

Just ONE specific resolution but but there are some plans and wishes

Since I promised at my `year in review' post that I'll talk a bit about my aspirations and resolutions for 2010, so here I am although I don't feel so inspired to write about it as I did for that post!

You know, I always believe in setting resolutions for a new year.. although I always wrestle with them as well. And so in the last four years that I blogged, I have dedicated a `resolution post' marking a new year here, here, here and here. However for 2009 I realised I didn't really write much about any resolution.. could it be because of that I have not really achieved anything significant - albeit it was an eventful year! ?

And if you read these year-end/beginning post on resolutions, you'd realise there were some similar patterns.. I could easily take the resolutions for 2008 and `rehash' them for 2010.. because honestly I haven't achieved almost all of them saved the `diet and slimming' bit. And really they are all important too.

But today after chatting online with a friend, I was inspired to not be `greedy' and focus on just ONE resolution that I really feel is vital for me to want to fulfill. And somehow I believe if I could realise this resolution, my other sub-resolutions from years back could gradually fall into place..

And I'm dedicating and committing this resolution to God Himself.. for I know if I do it, He would be pleased and my Christian walk would be even more fulfilling. Actually it's a basic prerequisite of living a Christian life which I have failed so badly all the time especially in the last year!

So my one only resolution which I am putting down in black&white to remind myself is:

To have my daily devotion with the Lord - i.e. setting apart 15 mins or so (can be more) to read and meditate on Scripture, to pray and to listen upon the Lord.

Only 15 mins a day, and you would wonder how difficult that could be?! Sigh. because of my lack of discipline and self-control, I'm always being distracted by other things esp. the Internet! And doing my Q.T. (quiet time) has sadly been neglected and even forgotten at some stage!

If you're not a Christian, let me explain why doing our devotion is important.. It's basically an intimate time you spend alone with your God. If you're devoted to your spouse/parents/children/bf or gf you would want to spend some quality time communicating with them daily. It's the same with God. I know I could call on Him anytime if I need to but I believe He would be more pleased if I set aside time to have an `appointment' with him daily.. reading what He wants to tell me and conversing with Him through prayers..

And doing devotion regularly actually benefit us not God.. we are the one who need guidance and constant teaching and surely our spiritual life will feel dry if we do not have this relationship with our God through our personal devotion..

Of course, I have other wishes and plans.. one of which is to travel to the U.S. - which I have longed to do so for more than 3 years now. I really really want to visit NYC but I probably will go look for my friend in SF and we can go together to the Big Apple. I know the trip will cost a bomb - and I would need to `eat into' some of my non-cash savings.. But this is the desire of my heart and I know God is faithful if He feels I deserve this journey, I know I will get to go.. if really not this year then soon..

Work wise, I have made a decision on NY eve. I'll register my own enterprise under sole proprietor ship next week, and also to reprint my card and set up a work blog. I even thought of the name already but will disclose a bit later. The reason being I feel I want to treat my freelancing writing career more seriously. Especially since now I've diversified to other forms of non-editorial writing. There is a market as long as I work harder to expand my network and try to clinch more jobs. I know God has been providing and there are doors opening already. So yes, lets pray and hope 2010 will be a even better year, or even a turning-point for this freelancer.

Other plans and wishes? There are of course but I feel I don't really need to list them here. Maybe one of them is that I should blog again more regularly. This would also spur on my inspiration and flair for writing. Facebooking and getting addicted to FB games doesn't really help!

So, I hope that at the end of 2010 when I review this post, I can truly say that yes, I've managed finally to have achieved my new year resolution.

2010 is here!

Jess' two Js wishes you a very Blessed and Joyous New Year!

Woof! Woof!