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Updated: Apr 10, 2021




Angelina Kali

To write or not to write about my weight loss was a dilemma for me. I was unsure if I wanted to let my peers and the rest of the world know about this episode in my life. Considering that I was a pretty successful international fashion model at the time, admitting to having gained weight is pretty much taboo in the fashion world.

Secondly, I am not proud of having gained so much weight that I had to quickly lose 10 kilograms so that I could continue to work as an international fashion model. Did I really want to let the world know? Not really, but considering the current situation with the pandemic, I thought that my experience of gaining weight and then having to lose it could hopefully inspire others who are facing a similar situation.

This drama in my life began with me facing a lot of emotional stress. People tend to react poorly to life changing events like Covid-19, and struggle to cope with excessive stress. I found that out to my horror a few years ago. I had put on 10 kilos without even realising it. How could I not see that I was putting on so much weight? It added to my stress levels as I now also felt tremendous guilt and lack of self worth for putting on the weight.

The cause of the excessive stress was a personal matter which I found difficult to resolve and handle. Being a private person, I found it hard to discuss this issue with anyone so I kept it bottled up inside of me. By not having an outlet for all the angst within me, I must have been comfort eating to deal with the stress. And that’s how I ended up being 10 kilos above my optimal weight.

You may wonder how I came to the realisation that I was putting on the kilos when I hadn’t up till that point. It was when I went for a clothes fitting for a major catwalk show. To my horror, I couldn’t fit the clothes the designer had picked out for me. It was such a humiliating experience. Not only did I lose the income for the assignment, but my entire career as a fashion model was under threat. I was mortified. I just wanted to hide somewhere and never come out as I knew that all my peers in the fashion world would gossip about what happened. How could I ever face them again ?

Either I could just let go and continue in my downward spiral or decide to do something about it. There was only one option. I wasn’t going to throw away everything that I had worked so hard for just like that. I made the decision that it was time to lose 10 kilos in 2 months as I had some very important catwalk shows lined up at one of the most famous international fashion weeks. But where to start ?

The first thing I had to do was to analyse the causes of my weight gain. Firstly, I had to come to terms with my emotional stress. Either learn to deal with the cause of the pain or if you can eliminate the cause altogether even better. My decision was to leave the cause of my excessive stress behind me and start afresh. With the lyrics from ‘Feeling Good’ by Michael Bublé, “It's a new dawn. It's a new day. It's a new life. For me. And I'm feeling good.” ringing in my head, I was ready to start my weight loss journey to lead me to a happier me.

The first step was to analyse what I had been eating to having put on so much weight. In my state of duress, I foolheartedly got it into my head that if I skipped some meals, I could control my weight. But instead of the meals, I snacked on nuts and nutrition bars. 100 grams of most nuts exceed 600 calories which is equivalent to two healthy meals. Then there were those nutrition bars which I consumed all too often, each containing around 350 calories. I was consuming over 2,000 calories just on nuts and nutrition bars.

2,000 calories is roughly what the average woman burns in a day. I was consuming well over 3,000 calories per day. Due to my emotional state then, I was rarely motivated to exercise. That meant that I was consuming on average more than 1,500 calories extra calories per day than what I burnt. No wonder that I had put on weight.

The solution was simple. Cut out all the snacks and begin to exercise regularly. But it is far easier said than done. Humans are beings of habit, and most of us find it difficult to change them. To do so takes a lot of super human effort and determination. It is at moments like this where one really appreciates having true friends. Without their support, I can honestly say that I might never have been able to lose 10 kilos so quickly, let alone lose any weight at all. The support and encouragement made it so much easier, knowing that I was not alone in my struggles.

So the first thing I did was to throw away all the nuts and nutrition bars. Then a friend of mine made me throw away all diet pills and supplements who made me realise that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Diet pills are not the solution as there are consequences to taking them. Then I got rid of all foods that did not form part of the meals in the diet meal plan.

That done, I was now ready to create a healthy and nutritious but still tasty meal plan that kept my daily calorie intake to around 1,400 calories per day for the first couple of weeks. Thereafter, it would gradually be reduced to around 1,000 calories per day at the lowest until I had achieved my weight loss target. Below is a table of my daily calorie intake:

First 2 Weeks Average Calories Last 6 weeks Average Calories

Morning 200 calories 150 calories Lunch 400 calories 350 calories Dinner 400 calories 350 calories Snacks 350 calories 200 calories

As a note of caution, when a person gains and loses weight quickly, it really increases the chances of getting very visible stretch marks. That meant that I couldn’t do a crash diet which is not advisable anyhow as most people merely put on the weight soon after stopping the diet. I decided that I would do it over a two month period. To reduce the chances of stretchmarks I made sure that I kept my skin hydrated and thoroughly moisturised at all times, keeping the skin lithe and supple.

Combined with exercising, the calculated daily calorie intake would just about allow me to achieve my weight loss target. Before creating any meal plan, it is important to set out what not to eat. I cut out almost all carbs in my diet. Bread, sugar, cereals and other high carb food were eliminated from my diet. The meals would primarily consist of lean proteins, fruit and vegetables. Remember that to stay healthy, the diet has to be balanced to ensure that you get all the vitamins and minerals.

I constructed a list of the foods I liked and calculated the calories of each. Oops, there was a lot that I had to eliminate but the sacrifice would be worth it. At least I hoped it would. As they saying goes, “No Pain, No Gain!” Then I put together the foods into meals that met the calorie restrictions. I decided on three proper meals per day rather than eating less more frequently. There is a lot of debate which is more effective for losing weight. Personally I believe it depends what each individual feels most comfortable with. I then made several meals that met the calorie targets for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then I wrote down in an Excel sheet the meals together with their estimated calories for each day for the entire two months. I printed out the meal plans on weekly basis and pinned them up in my kitchen to help me stay focused.

Some prefer having a large breakfast with lighter meals thereafter as many believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Personally I just find it difficult to eat a lot in the morning so the meal plan was constructed to suit my needs and preferences. With a limit of 150-200 calories, my breakfasts consisted primarily of a yoghurt and some fruit, often bananas. For hydration, I had freshly squeezed orange juice or black coffee without sugar. The yoghurt was to help me maintain a healthy gut whilst the fruit provided the vitamins such as Vitamin B and Vitamin C.

For lunch I usually had fish like seabass or salmon with spinach, broccoli or some other vegetable. Oven baking a whole trout is an excellent way of cooking fish if you want to keep the fish juicy and succulent. Seabass (124 calories per 100 grams) contains a lot less oil than salmon (208 calories per 100 grams) so contains far less calories. However, for variety and Omega 3, I just had slightly smaller portions of salmon than of the seabass. The fish provide the protein needed to give me energy as well as build and repair muscle, skin and other body tissues. This is very important if you exercise and also if one of your goals is to reduce the risk of getting stretch marks.

For dinner it was usually a salad or soup. I grew very fond of my homemade spicy Tom Yum soup. I always knew at the back of my mind when I did the Thai cooking course when I was in Thailand that it would come in handy one day. Instead of king prawns, one can add a wide variety of lean proteins such as tofu, chicken, seafood or fish. To make the salads more interesting, I added smoked salmon, avocado and/or goats cheese with a light drizzle of vinegar and virgin olive oil and seasoned with salt to taste. The salads and soups deliver all the minerals required to maintain a healthy mind and body.

I have to be honest that during the first few weeks, it was a real struggle to stay within the calorie targets as I was often very hungry in between meals. But if you have this experience, it is now so important to remain focused, motivated and inspired to stay on course. So I needed to have something to satiate my hunger and retain my sanity. Instead of nuts and nutrition bars, I took to carrying cut cucumbers (15 calories per 100 grams), carrots (41 calories per 100 grams) or watermelon in a sealed container. Watermelons only contain about 30 calories per 100 grams which meant that I could eat almost as much as I wanted and still be within my calorie regime. Watermelon and cucumbers has between 0-0.2% fat content and consists of around 92-96% water so are also excellent for hydration.

I highly recommend to keep regular eating times as it helps the body to adjust to the lighter diet. Also don’t eat too late or just before going to bed as the food needs time to digest, but digestion is slowed down and you are burning far fewer calories whilst you are sleeping. And sleep is very important. The body and brain needs around 8 hours of sleep per day in order to repair and recover properly from the day’s exertions.

As I mentioned earlier, we are beings of habit so the faster you are able to break the old bad habits, the greater chance of success you will have. Remember that we put on the weight in the first place because of our poor habits. My comfort eating had become part of my daily routine. My weight loss success is very much due to being able to break lose from my comfort eating habits. Another important facet to dieting is happiness. Happiness and sleep are both so underrated. So try to eliminate the things that upset you or cause you extra stress. Sometimes drastic action is needed such as avoiding certain people. I haven’t mentioned cutting out alcohol as I rarely ever touch the stuff. But if you hang out with people who like to go to a bar or binge drink in the evening, it makes it so much more difficult to stay within the calorie targets.

And here is a hard truth. Long walks or even power walks (unless you sweat) will not burn any of the excess weight you are trying to lose. The reason for this is that the body will only start to burn fat to release energy after all the short term energy provided by your daily calorie intake has been consumed. Without exercising, it will take much longer to lose weight. But think of the benefits of reasonable exercise. It helps you to improve your cardiovascular endurance which will provide more oxygen to your brain. It tones your body for a leaner you. And helps you to break away from bad habits as you are too busy improving yourself.

I began to exercise again, gently at first and then gradually increased my exercise routines. I tried to do between 40 to 90 minutes of exercise every other day. You need to let your body recover because whenever you exercise, you will do some damage to your muscle tissue. So you do need a rest day in between. And if you do exercise, don’t forget to ensure that your diet consists of a good protein source. I went for jogs whenever I could as I love the outdoors. When it was raining, I did yoga, used an exercise bike or participated in online dance classes at home. I always stretched before and after exercise as this helps to keep the skin supple and reduce the risk of damaging the muscles and ligaments.

Two months later, actually even to this day, I have not put on any weight since I lost the 10 kilos. I have increased my daily calorie intake to around 2,000 calories and my weight is stable. I am glad to say that my regime of stretching, hydration and moisturising helped not only to reduce but actually prevented the appearance of any stretch marks.

It took a lot of focus, determination and discipline. It was very challenging and there were days when I struggled with the reduced calorie intake. But the hardest part was to get rid of my bad habits. This is where good and honest friends provided me with the motivation to keep going. The support is very valuable, but ultimately it will be you and you alone who will determine if you succeed or not.

If you need support, advice or motivation, follow me on Instagram or read my blog. I regularly update my social media with links to published articles about fashion, lifestyle, health and beauty. Remember that you are not alone.