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If you knew me in the past 9 years, you’d probably never think that I’ve ever struggled with weight in my life.
At 19, I came to the US for college as a very slender girl. Being completely lost in the different food culture here, I quickly put on 30 pounds in the first semester – that was ¼ of me before I arrived.
Desperately trying to lose the weight and get back to my “normal,” I tried almost every FAD diet.
One time, to avoid carbs (when following Atkins), I told the school that I had diabetes, and they agreed to make a clean chicken breast everyday only for me.
Two months later, the cafeteria manager was amazed (mad) at my speedy recovery progress when seeing me devouring all sweet and starchy food – that day I was binge like crazy, splurging every drop of freedom I had as if it was the last day of the world.
The consequence of being a lab rat for FAD experiments? Another 20 lbs of extra weight plus a deep, serious eating disorder.
My worst fear, every night in front of the mirror when naked, was “am I going to look and live like this for the rest of my life? And what if I become so tired and let go of myself….” And every morning, I had to suck up the fear and pretend that I still had full confidence in myself – in a dark-colored, 1-size-larger sweatshirt that hid my curves (or lack of curves).
That summer, a month back at home in China transformed my life. And the person who made that change happen was my mother – the strict, demanding, tiger lady who I dreaded so badly when making every single mistake growing up.
Before I met her at the airport, I’ve imagined various scenes where she crushed my already traumatized, shrinking ego.
I was petrified! But that just showed how much I didn’t know my mom.
The woman who gave me life, although failing to recognize me within the first few seconds of the reunion, didn’t mention a word about my body. And later, she helped me lose a ton of it.
Not by psychic power, simply by restoring the life that I used to live, through treating me the same home-made food I used to have all the time that made me happy, satisfied and fully nourished.
So every morning, I woke up to a simple yet nourishing breakfast (generally it’s congee with kimchi or a bowl of noodle with a pan-fried egg).
At noon, I had a bowl of rice with 2-3 plates of colorful, delicious stir-fries and a satiating, clear soup.
For dinner, we usually ate the leftover from lunch, but my mom has a way of making everything look and taste like just freshly made. During the day, we enjoyed some fruit platters while watching TV or chatting.
This was the best that could ever happen to me at that time.
It made me happy, and most importantly, it enabled me to feel like a normal person again.
Indeed, when you’ve deprived yourself for such a long time, you forget what living like a normal person feels like.
And there was still one problem: I became even more scared of the scale because I knew I violated EVERY single rule for losing weight, including religiously counting calories, tracking foods, avoiding carbs, and exercising rigorously.
I knew just looking at the scale number would ruin my entire vacation, I didn’t want that.
So I cautiously kept myself away from the scale until one unexpected event happened.
On that day, the pair of pants which I wore during the trip back to China, for the first time, needed a waistband to stay on! I rushed to the scale as if I was on fire, and when the needle stopped, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
I was F.O.U.R.T.E.E.N P.O.U.N.D.S lighter, but wait a minute, only by living a normal life? The thinking blew me away, and I knew one thing right at that moment:
From this day on, I will not encounter another failure on weight loss anymore – just by doing what I’ve been doing.
For the first time after many months, I felt grounded.
But I was coming back to the US in 1 week! Does it mean I won’t be able to maintain the progress anymore?
No way I could let it happen, so I spent the entire week closely monitoring the way I ate and lived at home. The end product was a list of simple yet finely synthesized, practical rules to follow.
Soon, I took this list with me back to the states. Ten months later, the remaining 36 pounds disappeared.