Inches and Pounds

23592317_544254172580427_3302538673682091850_o“I have everything to gain and nothing to lose but all of my excess fats.”

I’ve never been a skinny girl. I have always had chubby cheeks, rolls in my stomach, flabby arms and thighs that touched. Even in my “skinniest days,” I was still bigger than most other girls my age at that time. Because of that, I have endured years of body shaming and ridicule from a lot of people.

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Left to right: Me, my sister and our nanny.

Sometimes, I would make myself feel better by blaming it on genetics. Yes, I come from a family with a lot of our women full-figured. Given that my Mom had Spanish and Chinese ancestors, I often joked that such mixture of races did not result nicely in me. Spanish curves and Chinese height resulted to a little teapot (me) that’s short and stout. I learned to make fun of myself so that when other people made jokes about my size and weight, it would not hurt as much anymore.

I remember loving volleyball and dancing when I was younger. When I grew older though, my asthma became worse. I had something else to blame for my lack of physical activities when one instance of strenuous exercise ended with a terrible case of asthma attack. I still played volleyball and I still danced, but I automatically branded any other physical activity that had my heart beating fast as asthma triggers. I settled into a sedentary lifestyle, spending free time on non-physical hobbies like reading, watching movies, listening to music and the like.

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I think I was 18 or 19 at this time.

The first time I truly attempted to lose weight was in college. I was envious of the skinny girls and my sister who suddenly dropped weight. I was tired being the “fat” one in the group, so I looked for ways I could lose weight without that much of physical activity.

I turned to slimming coffee drinks that were sold online. That was back when Multiply suddenly became an online platform for sellers more than a mere social media account to store photos. Boy, I was dropping 2 pounds per day, so I kept drinking box after box after box. I saved my allowance to keep on buying them, even switching among brands to find which one made me lose the most weight in the least amount of days.

How did the coffee make me lose weight? They claimed it was because of the garcinia cambogia ingredient. The effect on me was that I did not feel hunger at all. I could go on the whole day with just breakfast (and I only ate so my parents will not think I was being anorexic). I also ate significantly less in school, partly because I was not feeling the hunger. My other reason was that I was saving enough money to buy my next box of my slimming coffee. However, I remember that I kept on drinking water and I sweated a lot even if my activities during PE class were not really that tiring.

Did I feel any side effects? No headache, no nausea, and no sleepless nights. But, I was felt so lonely that I was entertaining thoughts of wanting to die. Despite losing weight, I still felt unworthy, “unpretty” (remember the TLC song?) and undesirable. I still felt fat and ugly. I still felt I was not enough. It got so bad to the point that I suddenly crossed the street knowing a car and a motorcycle were moving fast towards my direction. It was only when the motorcycle driver screamed at me, “Gusto mo bang mamatay?!” (“Do you want to die?”) that I realized my obsession with losing weight has gotten bad.

10151625290235923.jpgAnyway, I eventually learned that there was some drug in the coffee that was causing the weight loss and that it was dangerous for the heart. No wonder it wasn’t FDA approved. I decided losing weight only to die was not worth it. I stopped drinking the coffee and threw away my last unopened box of it.

Stopping the slimming coffee meant rebound weight gain. I gained back everything I lost and gained even more. That and combined with the stress in school (I was taking up accountancy which was my dad’s choice instead of mine), I gained the bad habit of binge eating when I was stressed out.

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On my graduation day at 21 years old.

When I realized how much weight I gained back, I stopped caring. I felt like no matter how much I starved myself to death, the moment I stopped dieting, I was going to gain everything back anyway. I started using all my past excuses again, plus more. And by the time I was reviewing for the CPA licensure exams, I’ve gotten fond of salty nuts and instant noodles, justifying my consumption of these foods as being hungry from all the studying.

When I eventually started working, earning my own money allowed me to spend on what used to be luxury for a student. It was drinking Starbucks and CBTL coffee daily. Working for an audit firm then, I justified my need for coffee as necessary to keep myself awake for all the overtime I had to render. Having discovered my tendency to be workaholic, I was chugging down fancy tea and coffee.

Eventually, I started getting my period every two weeks. A trip to the doctor had me discovering that I had polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) which was coupled with insulin resistance. For a few months, I was on birth control pills and metformin to fix whatever needed to be fixed. At that time, I was only worried about getting diabetes because my Dad’s family has history of it. Looking back, despite not being a fan of sweet foods, I did chug down a lot of sugary drinks from the coffee shops I frequented that year. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

10153158853595923I shed some pounds from the medicines I was taking. However, my life as a bank auditor in my second job was filled with out-of-town travels and plenty of overtime hours. Fast food restaurants became our go-to places when we were hungry, KFC being at the top of the list (there was a branch beside my office building). When we were stressed out, we ate out. When we had something to celebrate, we ate out.

The fact that we traveled often for work also meant getting to try foods from different provinces and regions across the country. We had lots of opportunities to eat but we mostly stayed sedentary because of the nature of our work. That awful lifestyle, coupled with my PCOS (I stopped the meds already when I was on my second job), had me packing on pounds. I had no time for any gym membership since I still worked overtime on Saturdays (voluntary because there was simply too much work and too little time) and Sundays were for sleeping and recharging for the next week of work.

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Some of my colleagues and I did try yoga for a bit, signing up for GuavaPass by my second year of auditing for the bank. We also took advantage of promos over MetroDeal for discounted yoga class passes. There were also days when we jogged at night while waiting for traffic to ease. On some days, we played badminton as well.

Despite learning in 2016 that I had sinus bradycardia (athlete’s heart), all those activities did not make me feel anywhere near being an athlete. I got tired easily and would always have to pause and catch my breath. One time, I was telling them how I constantly had to pause during jogging because I was out of breath because I also have a bad habit of holding my breath when I am focusing on something. My colleague was teasing me that I was jogging to lose weight; not jogging to die.

I have been in my third job since December of 2017. I went back to yoga in 2018 but I had to stop for a few months because of complications from a sprain injury early that year. I had to go back to PT sessions and make sure to have my foot completely healed before going back to yoga.

I guess I am lucky that my third job is with a company that values employee health so much. Work-life balance is given utmost importance by our employer. While we still get busy, it was still far from how busy I was in my two past jobs. I actually have time for myself that I never had in the past. It’s only this time that I started truly having the motivation to want to take care of myself and my health.

img_8379-1I am attending yoga classes once again. I am trying my best to be as consistent as I can possibly be because I joined our team’s “Biggest Loser” challenge. In this competition, we all contributed to the pot money that will go to the winners. Any weight gain meant having to add to the pot money. Therefore, if I want new dresses, I’m going to have to lose weight and not lose money to the prize fund.

Currently, I got all the work done with our clinic in order to have passes to our office’s gym. I am also looking into exercises from Blogilates that my sister has been insisting for years for me to try. I also cut down on carbs, mainly by avoiding rice (Asians, feel my pain!).

I do not want to hide anymore behind my asthma or my PCOS. I will just make sure not to push myself beyond my limits so much that it will be bad for my health. I truly want to be more fit and healthy. I truly hope to have the will to be consistent and persevere this year as I work on myself and my health. I don’t think I’ll be sharing “fitspiration” posts just yet, but I hope that the next time I write about my weight, I will have lost lots of it already.

 

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P.S. I do not have diabetes or thyroid problems. All my blood tests showed normal results although I know I can still improve on a few aspects about my overall health. 

I know I do a lot of baking. Trust me when I say that I give 95% of them away. I also post experiences when eating out. I only pig out when I get cravings during PMS but mostly, I do not eat that plenty. In fact, I get full easily because I have a habit of drinking A LOT. I drink more than I eat. Also, I know people who ate twice or thrice of what I eat but are still so damn skinny! Where the hell is justice?!

My doctor told me not to be too hard on myself. Women with PCOS have a harder time losing weight but an easier time gaining pounds. That being said, I need to have twice the self-discipline to make sure I don’t give in to cravings during PMS days. I also need to be smarter with my food choices.

 

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Just Baked: Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

“Anyone who gives you a cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven is a friend for life.” ― Lemony Snicket, When Did You See Her Last?

I am forever in love with the smell of cinnamon and sugar whether they be on my pretzels or on my snickerdoodles. Still, nothing beats warm, fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon rolls that fill the house with a heavenly scent.

With humidity at only 58%, I decided it was time to once again attempt making cinnamon rolls. I had all the ingredients at home to make this treat and it was my chance to use my pastry mat from Hong Kong.

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My first attempt a few months ago was a disaster because no matter how long I kneaded the dough and how much additional flour I put in, the dough was too bloody sticky and soft that I was not able to do anything about it except to just make a cinnamon loaf bread. Hey, it was still so yummy despite being in a different form! Too bad I forgot the recipe I used at that time.

For my second attempt, I followed the recipe of Anna Olson from her Oh Yum YouTube channel. Her recipe looked easy to make for an amateur like me. My only problem was I only had a hand mixer. I figured that if I was able to make Hokkaido milk bread using it, I should be able to make cinnamon rolls with it too.

Oh dear. The dough was still just as sticky as the last time I made it. I think I consumed 60 minutes kneading the dough, alternating between my hand mixer and my own hands.  I also added what seemed like 1/4 cup of flour because everything was freaking sticky! I do not know if it was my flour or if I was simply unlucky because I could not achieve the smooth, baby’s bum texture of dough like I see bakers on YouTube get.

68165312_unknownWhen I finally decided to give up with kneading because my arms were needing some rest already, I placed my dough in a lightly oiled bowl and covered it to let it rise. I left it alone for 90 minutes while I prepared the cinnamon sugar filling and the goo.

The goo! Oooh, it smelled wonderfully of butter, sugar and maple syrup! I added walnuts and raisins in the pan with my gooey syrup mixture because I am fond of cinnamon rolls with fruits and nuts. They give the buns some texture that I absolutely love. That being said, I do not get why A LOT of people hate raisins.

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I enjoyed beating this bad boy.

My favorite part about making bread is that I get to punch the dough as part of the degassing step. Boy, it’s therapeutic when I get to punch it and shout “Bam!” With this dough, I especially wanted to beat the gas out of it because it gave me a hell of a hard time kneading it. Thankfully, it was no longer too tacky after proofing.

Rolling out the dough into a rectangle shape so I can spread the filling was not as difficult as I was prepared for. The best part? I was able to roll the whole thing into a log! I was getting more and more excited because at this stage, I was far better from how it was during my first attempt. This looked promising!

Using a cooking twine, I sliced twelve pieces that were of uneven sizes. Yeah, I still have to improve a lot on that part. At least the twine made sure I didn’t squish my buns unlike if I used a knife. I have to thank Mom for the twine because there was no way I was using mint-flavored floss on my hard work.

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I let the buns proof for another hour before finally baking them for 45 minutes at 350ºF. Oh my gosh! They look adorable sitting on that puddle of goo!

Oh my gosh! Achievement unlocked! I did it! I made my very own cinnamon rolls and I did not use store-bought dough.

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Okay, happiness aside, I admit finding the amount of goo too much for the buns. I would probably use just half the recipe next time because I am not fond of overly sticky and soggy cinnamon rolls. After flipping the buns out, I poured around 3/4 cups of excess goo in a jar to keep and use for something else. I think it would be nice to pour on pancakes.

I also find that the buns browned a little darker than what I was aiming for. I was afraid the bottom half weren’t baked yet despite the tops already browning so, I held on to the last 5 minutes of the baking time. Perhaps lower temperature and longer baking time on my next attempt?

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I am so proud of myself today despite the uneven sizes of the buns and the excess goo. It’s okay to have a lot of room for improvement because it only means more adventures in my kitchen. On my next attempts, I want a tighter roll, more filling, less goo and finally, even slices.

For now, I shall be enjoying this gooey, sticky fruit of my hard work.

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Back to blogging

I am finally back! Yes!!! The last three months at work were so busy that I did not have that much energy for my blog. At least I was able to write a thing or two every now and then.

Despite my failure to post regularly about my baking adventures, I did whip up a few treats during my absence.

Cakes in tin cans are kind of the trend in the Philippines lately. It’s the lazy baker’s perfect solution for not having be very artistic about cake decoration because you only have to worry about the top part. It’s also a convenient way to give cakes as a gift without worrying about how to transport them because tin cans are more sturdy and less accident-prone than your usual cake box.

For my share of hopping on the trend, I made carrot walnut cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

This is my first time to ever make carrot cake with frosting and I fell madly in love with the cinnamon cream cheese frosting recipe by Nancy of https://www.twosisterscrafting.com. I did adjust my ratio by using less powdered sugar because I do not like very sweet frosting. I only used 2 and 3/4 cups compared to her required 4 cups. Since I was not going to pipe it on the cake, I still had a pretty decent consistency for spreading on top of my carrot cake. Topped with royal icing carrot decorations and chopped walnuts, you’re good to go!

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I still badly need to improve my decorating skills.

cookiesI made tons of cookies for Christmas. Someone ordered 200 cookies to give away as gifts. I also made hundreds to give to my colleagues.

If I learned anything about cookies, it’s that no matter how consistent I try to be with temperature and baking time, each batch comes out differently. Some will come out thick and puffy while some batches will come out think and nicely spread out.

I guess people are the same way. We react differently to situations because we bring with us different points of view and we were all raised differently.

I also finally got to make brownies! Rich, chocolaty, fudgy brownies! Thank heavens for the recipe from Tasty.  I was skeptical at first when I watched the video because I wasn’t sure if the goo truly was from the chocolate chunks or if it was due to underbaking. I chose to trust the recipe and it didn’t fail me!

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I brought some to work and sure enough, there were colleagues who went for seconds! Two recipes gave me around 35 pieces of these squares.

Baking aside, I also got to hop on the plane again. This time, we went to Cebu because my uncle is having a house built there. Mom had to check on the progress so she can report to her brother.

I terribly missed Cebu! The last time I was there was exactly two years ago. It has not changed much but my Cebuano language skills has gone way too rusty so I still felt like the place was very foreign.

We went to my Mom’s half cousin’s vacation house before we left for Manila. I terribly missed that house and uncle’s jetski, haha. Too bad though because there was a very low tide that day so riding the jetski was not going to be a great idea. To pass time, I just took pictures of the flowers in auntie’s huge garden.

My sister came home a week before Christmas. With her was her Korean boyfriend. I was sad that my work schedule (3PM to 12MN) did not allow me much time to hang out with them. I actually spent time with them on the day they were going to leave and go back to Hong Kong. Guess I’ll just have to visit Hong Kong soon to spend time with my sister.

Anyway, as usual, every time my sister and I see each other, I get tons of hand-me-downs and also new gifts. For one, she gave me her old iPad (she got herself a new one) and brought with her the Pooh plush toy I asked her to get me from Disneyland!

Christmas and New Year were pretty much uneventful for me. If there was anything I did, it was to sleep a lot and reserve energy for our Q4 sign-off at work. I am so glad it’s over now.

Please stay tuned on my next adventures this year. Hopefully, there will be more travels to write about.