WHO: Yeeshin Loh , manager at a retail store
CITY: Toronto, Ont.
By The Numbers: At least 151 pounds at my starting point, and currently 125, total weight loss 26 pounds.
The Weight Gain: After having my daughter at 18, I managed to lose all of the [pregnancy] weight quickly. When I turned 25, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Since I was young and already had one child, the doctors all looked at it from a fertility standpoint. They would tell me that I should have no problems conceiving in the future, and they would all tell me to “lose a few pounds.” Asking someone with PCOS to lose a few pounds without guidance is like asking a paraplegic to run a marathon without prosthetics. Due to the lack of information and guidance, I kept my diagnosis in the back of my head and went on with my daily life.
As the years went by, I began to notice that my weight kept creeping up despite being mindful of what I ate. I am 5’3”, and at my heaviest was 151 pounds (that I tracked, it could have been higher). I remember playing Wii Fit with my daughter and when I plugged in my info, my avatar frowned and said that I was obese. Yikes! That was embarrassing, even though it was only in front of my daughter, and it terrified me.
The Final Straw: The final straw was when I was away on vacation in Cuba in 2010. There I was on one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean and I was covering up. I can remember paying for a photograph of myself with the dolphins and I was shocked and disgusted with the picture that was handed to me. I’ve never shown anyone that picture and vowed that no one would ever see it, until now. I knew that I had a little person who watched everything I did, and if not for myself, I had to show her how to live a healthy life.
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The Plan Of Attack: I started to do some exercises at home using workout DVDs. I now know why I was never successful — I didn’t have the encouragement and motivation that was needed when it got hard or when I saw no results. I also paid and joined weight loss companies that solely focused on diet.
Frustrated with getting nowhere, I decided to seek help. I knew that joining a gym was out of the question because I had already tried that many times before, and was too intimidated by the weights and the machines. In September of 2012, I signed on for a one-year commitment at Go Girl Boot Camps (GGBC) and I made it a commitment to attend at least three classes per week.
The Food Element: In February of this year, I became a part of a test group at GGBC called Sexy in Six, a six-week challenge that focused on fitness and nutrition. For the six weeks, we omitted sugars and carbohydrates and only consumed meats and vegetables at specified times to put our bodies into optimal fat-burning condition. I didn’t know it at the time, but coincidentally, the diet restriction is exactly what a person with PCOS requires in order to lose weight, and maintain that weight loss for life. Among many other symptoms, PCOS affects the way the body processes insulin.
The hardest adjustment was to learn how to be creative with what we were given. I had to relearn how I saw and prepared food. About four weeks into the challenge, we were asked to track our calories so that we were accountable for what went into our bodies. My goal for the program was to lose ten pounds, and I ended up losing 12. Now my focus has turned to being healthy and fit.
The Exercise Factor: My fitness level before was pretty sedentary. I would always think that I had no time. Now, I make the time to go and put in that one hour for myself at the boot camp three times a week, where we do circuit training involving both cardio and strength training. I also recently picked up running and actually completed my first half-marathon at the end of September.
The Current Day-To-Day: Through my weight loss and journey to better health, I managed to bring my weight down, and control my hormone irregularity through diet and exercise enough that I am now having my second child. Having a baby wasn't my main focus, but it is for many women who suffer from PCOS.
I am proud that I made the decision to help myself seek the change that I so desperately wanted and needed. My only regret is that I didn’t start sooner, and I didn’t make the efforts to understand how PCOS would affect my life.
If you are just starting out, my advice to you is to seek and surround yourself with others who share the same goals as you. I know that I would not have been able to do this myself.