Story by Romie Pujaan
Disclaimer: In Real Life is a platform for everyday people to share their experiences and voices. All articles are personal stories and do not necessarily echo In Real Life’s sentiments.
I dug my fingernails into the nurse’s forearm as pain surged through my body with the intensity of a million suns.
Every curse word I knew flew out of my mouth in rapid-fire succession, while the pain receptors in my foot screamed their protest.
The doctor had just injected steroids into my left foot in an attempt to alleviate my condition.
By now, it had been 7 months of physical and emotional toll.
I suffered from a severe case of plantar fasciitis
That’s the fancy name for the inflammation of the tendon that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes.
Image via Ohcow.on.ca
But I didn’t know that.
All I knew was the excruciating pain that hijacked my foot. Every day, I would drag myself to work, home, and my other commitments.
Before this, 2 specialists and 3 medical officers had misdiagnosed my condition as gout. For 2 months, I was prescribed the wrong medication, and even had my dose stepped up at one point.
I spent thousands of Ringgit, but to no avail. No matter how much medication I took, my feet did not cease to be the bane of my existence.
The pain woke me every morning and was the last thing I felt every night.
Those months, I lived in a concoction of misery and frustration. I felt like my body was failing me, and there was nothing I could do about it.
Finally, Dr. Syed from the Ara Damansara Medical Center shed light on the impossible situation.
He deduced that the high arc of my foot was the root of the problem. Coupled with years of neglect and my borderline obese physique, my foot had finally succumbed under my weight.
I learned that my only solution was surgery, and even that was no guarantee. In any case, I couldn’t afford the downtime it took for recovery.
I was 94kg at the time of diagnosis
As an airline pilot for a low-cost airline, I lived a hectic lifestyle. Very often, I had meals at irregular hours. I ate when I desired, not necessarily when I was hungry.
Besides, I have a housemate who is a whizz in the kitchen and has the ability to turn the recipes we pull off the internet into scrumptious food.
Years of this pattern did no favors to my waistline and at my heaviest, I weighed 94kgs.
With the diagnosis came the realization of the damage my weight had done.
But my lifestyle change did not come instantly.
The climacteric happened on my birthday this year.
At midnight, my partner and I blew the candles on our homemade cheesecake to celebrate the momentous occasion. Naturally, many pictures were taken.
I looked at the pictures we took and… saw an oversized badak (rhino) grinning back at me.
And that was it—the moment of truth.
It was time for change.
I decided to change my lifestyle
In 2018, I had used my bonus to buy myself a pair of running shoes—a pair that I rarely utilized.
Now in 2020, with fresh resolve, I laced those kicks up, ready to pay my dues.
I started by running in the parking lot of the condo where I live.
The first two months were pure torture. I remember pushing myself really hard to make up for the remorse of what I had allowed my body to become.
My workout partner was with me every step of the way, even buying me new running shoes and a fitness watch as motivation.
On top of that, he is a stallion, often playing the role of my pacer. In those moments when my body screamed for respite and my lungs struggled for oxygen, he was there to raise my morale and I am truly thankful for the support.
After our runs, I would piggyback him and walk around, like a supplement to my workout. The real challenge though, is doing squats with him on my back. But you know what they say? No pain, no gain.
It’s basically resistance training—I’m forcing my muscles to work against my partner’s weight, of which, according to the experts, is supposed to help with fat loss by increasing both the afterburn and my muscle size.
However, working out was not the entire story. I followed the 70/30 principle: 70% diet and 30% workout. I didn’t deprive myself, but I was constantly mindful of the food I put into my mouth.
I made certain to consume less calories than I burned.
Besides, over-indulging on calories felt like a betrayal to all the hard work I had put in.
The hard work started to pay off
I got fitter over time.
As I started to lose weight and improve my stamina, workouts became fun.
Initially, I did not have the confidence to run outdoors, embarrassed by my wacky stamina. Instead, I hid in the obscurity of the parking lot.
But as time progressed, we ventured out. We started running in different parks, sometimes hiking on weekends. We discovered new hiking spots in and outside the city, and it’s been a lot of fun.
I’m so much fitter now. In fact, the tables have turned. Now, I’m the one checking on my partner during our runs to make sure they’re alright.
Right now, I weigh 75 kg.
I lost 19 kg in 6 months.
I built more friendships along the way
Having said that, as I reflect, I realized that it was the friendships that sweetened the experience.
Along the way, I posted about my fitness journey on social media. This attracted more like-minded friends.
Some wanted to lose weight but had no idea where to start. There were those who had been duped by “weight-loss mentors” whose only intention was to sell expensive protein shakes to unsuspecting victims.
Weight loss shouldn’t be expensive!
Therefore, not only is this crappy, it is also dangerous as some of these programs have little regard for a balanced diet. A friend of mine was actually instructed to refrain from fruits to lose weight.
I started working out with these friends. We do cardio and body-weight exercises together, and the company has been nothing short of amazing.
We’ve built countless memories—panting together, encouraging each other, not to mention the quirky dance moves at the end of every workout.
It is no wonder the African proverbs reads: If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.
I recognize that the challenge would be to stay motivated
The challenge now would be to stay motivated and not fall back into my old habits. I recognize that this lifestyle change is a long-term endeavor.
Therefore, I shall not rest on my laurels. I aspire to get even fitter and stronger.
And I’ll do this with my support system—my friends.
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