Earlier this year, marketing management graduate and Metro Manila’s popular makeup artist Ciari Luna, decided to turn her life around. After having lost a close relative who also had weight issues, Luna felt that it was time to take control of her health and undergo a serious weight loss regimen.
“I guess you can say that it was fear that finally made me take losing weight seriously,” she tells HerStyleAsia.
She kicked off her journey with a diet called Whole 30 and progressed to running and other calorie burning and endurance building exercises; losing 65lbs (approx 30 kilos) in six months in the process.
The 28-year-old marketing management graduate from De La Salle University, Philippines, who is now a full-time makeup artist shares her inspiring weight loss story with us.
My Weight Loss Journey: How I Turned My Life Around
Here’s the excerpt from an exclusive tete-e-tete with this spirited and inspiring young gun.
Q: Did you always have issues with your weight?
Ciari: I’ve had issues with my weight for as long as I can remember. Growing up I’ve always been called big and chubby.
I honestly don’t know how and when it all started. I just had a very unhealthy relationship with food and did not prioritise health. I ate when I was happy, sad or stressed.
Ciari Luna before she decided to turn her life around and go on her weight loss journey. | Image courtesy: Ciari Luna
Q: What did you do to work on your weight issues?
: I’ve tried so many diets and “tips and tricks
” to lose weight that I cannot even remember all of them. To name a few I have done the south beach diet, atkins diet, the military diet, so many different diet deliveries.
A diet that I cannot remember the name of but I remember it having grapefruit and cottage cheese somewhere in the mix and a multitude of others.
As for exercise, I’ve purchased and wasted multiple gym memberships and tried a bunch of exercise classes. Which all went to waste because I ended up eating all the calories I burnt anyway.
To be honest, I would lose weight with these diets. They just were not sustainable because they were quick fixes, so I did not maintain the weight loss.
Q: What triggered you to change your lifestyle and work on losing weight?
Ciari: I’ve always wanted to lose weight to be healthy but I was just never able to stick to it. Early this year, I had a relative who passed away quite young because of complications from diabetes.
She was an amazing person. Everybody loved her. It was a devastating loss especially for her parents and siblings. She also had weight issues. It was a wakeup call to get healthy. I guess you can say that it was fear that finally made me take losing weight seriously.
Q: How did you lose weight? Any specific diets or exercises?
Ciari: I’ve come to realise that its true when they say, “you cannot out-train a bad diet.” I kicked off my journey with a diet called Whole 30. It’s an elimination diet that cuts out added sugar, grains, dairy, alcohol, legumes etc for 30 days.
Was it hard? Yes. The headaches I got from cutting sugar were intense and lasted around two weeks. But it changed my life. I felt like I hit restart and finally had control over my eating. After I learned how to eat better with whole 30, I slowly reintroduced some of the food I eliminated and started calorie counting.
I downloaded an app called “Lose It” to monitor the food I eat daily. The app tells you how many calories you need based on your height and weight.
For exercise, I started walking my dogs more. When I felt stronger I progressed to running and I now usually jog around 5kms at a time.
I also do kettlebell workouts and I use the NTC app all the time to vary my workout. My favourite workout is jump roping. It is a great calorie burner and builds endurance. I try to workout at least 5 times a week making sure to alternate between strength and cardio, but I jump rope almost daily for around 10-15 minutes.
Q: Why did you think losing weight was important?
Ciari: To live a long and healthy life with the people I love.
Q: What does ‘healthy lifestyle’ mean to you?
Ciari: It means balance. I eat well and exercise at least 80 percent of the time, but I make sure to indulge myself sometimes. It’s something that you can live with for the rest of your life.
I’ve failed at losing weight so many times to know that quick fixes don’t work. Even if they do work in the beginning, these diets are not sustainable enough to continue that you just regress.
Luna after undertaking a rigorous weight loss journey, in which she shed about 30 kilos (65lbs) in six months. | Image courtesy: Ciari Luna
Q: How much weight did you lose throughout this six-month journey?
Ciari: I’m not really that comfortable sharing the exact figures, because I don’t think the number on the scale matters as much as how you feel and how you look. But I have lost more than 65lbs (approx 30 kilos in six months).
Q: Did you have any medical issues due to your weight? Have the risks gone down since you lost weight?
: Luckily, I did not. I’m relatively young, so I knew that I really had to make a change before issues inevitably developed. Being overweight was a real risk especially because I have a family history
I used to often have terrible migraines that I have not gotten since I started losing weight. I think it is thanks to eating healthier.
Q: Do you plan to continue losing weight?
Ciari: Yes! When I began my weight loss journey, I knew that I wanted to change my lifestyle and not just “go on a diet.” I am excited to see how my body continues to improve by eating healthy and staying active.
Q: What do you eat in a day?
Ciari: What I eat varies daily. Especially because I don’t have fixed work hours, I usually have to think on my toes to find a balanced meal or carry snacks around with me until I can eat at home.
I limit myself to around 1200-1300 calories a day and I drink LOTS of water. I don’t eat dairy or drink juice or sodas. I avoid beef and pork on weekdays and save them for the weekend.
Breakfast: Usually black tea or cold brew coffee with almond or coconut milk and stevia. A whole wheat toast with natural peanut butter or a couple of eggs (usually soft boiled).
Lunch: I choose fish or chicken as my protein with a side of vegetables like sweet potato, carrots, zucchini and spinach. More often than not, I just buy a salad and stick to light dressings like vinaigrette and avoid creamy ones like caesar and ranch.
Snacks: I make sure to always have a couple of healthy snacks with me at all times. Almonds, peanuts, rice crackers, oranges, apples and bananas are some of my go to snacks.
Dinner: I eat light dinner. Usually I will have soup or a small portion of chicken or fish.
I try to skip dessert but when a craving hits i’ll have a couple of squares of chocolate or a small piece of whatever it is I’m craving for. The tough part is stopping at just one. Proceed with caution.
Q: What do you recommend is the best way to lose weight?
Ciari: Slow and steady wins the race
Focusing on the kind and amount of food you eat is 80 percent of the battle won. When I started eating better, I felt better, had more energy and became more active. But here are a few things I would certainly advise.
1. DO NOT cheat on your diet and skip workouts on Mondays. I find that if I start on a good note it makes the rest of the week easier.
2. Have cheat meals not cheat days. I have cheat meals once a week. A cheat meal once or twice a week not only keeps you sane, but it also helped me stay on track by satisfying me enough to be able to eat clean the rest of the week.
3. Focus on the positive and ignore the negative. Especially in the beginning, some people will belittle your progress. They’ll make you feel like you’re not losing enough or your workouts are too easy. But for every negative person there will be at least five positive ones!
4. Take progress pictures! There are times that I felt that my mind was playing tricks on me. I’d see myself in the mirror and to me, I looked the same way I did months ago. Seeing my body change in photos month by month made me trust in the process and stick to it.
5. Try not to obsess over the scale. Weigh yourself only once or twice a week. Especially for women, our weight fluctuates depending on where we are on our cycle. So stepping on the scale daily can be discouraging for some.
Ciari Luna reveals her motivating before and after shots. | Image courtesy: Ciari Luna
Q: What kind of support did you receive from your family?
Ciari: Like I said, your mind can really play tricks on you. My family and friends really reassured me that they were seeing progress even when I didn’t.
I could not have lost the weight I did without such a great support system. They were my cheerleaders.
Q: What’s your advice to young girls who may be struggling with weight issues?
Ciari: Don’t let your size dictate how you feel about yourself. People have asked me if I feel different/better now that I’ve lost weight, I always say that emotionally I feel the same way I did six months ago.
I was just as contented then as I am now because I did not let my size impact how beautiful or happy I felt about myself.
But physically, I feel so much better! I can move easier, I’m stronger, I can run longer and farther, I sleep better, my posture, my hair, my skin, my mood and so much more changed for the better.
More power to you, Ciari!
(All image courtesy: Ciari Luna)