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The Surprising Ways to Achieve Your Perfect Body

  • October 13, 2019
  • By simplycloverliving
The Surprising Ways to Achieve Your Perfect Body

If you look at me now, I am comfortable in my own skin. I eat whatever I like (still quite healthy) and I don’t kill myself during my workouts. I have maintained my weight for the past ten years. In fact, I am in better shape now at the age of 35, than in my 20s.

In Shanghai, 2007, still going through some ups and downs in weight


In Shanghai, 2019. Much healthier and stable weight

This article is NOT about healthy eating and exercise. Because we all have heard it a gazillion times that is the formula to achieving our dream bodies. But the problem is, to lose the weight and maintain it for the long term is not so simple. The answer lies in psychology.

Before we dive into HOW I achieve my “ideal” body, I want to share with you the turbulent struggles first. The journey that got me there ain’t pretty. I almost had to get a blood transfusion to stay alive.

Let me show you what I mean.

My Obsession with Being Thin

When I was 16, I strive towards being under 100 lbs. Because my first boyfriend’s ex was 98 lbs. Well, who wants to be fatter than your boyfriend’s ex? My competitive ego in my underdeveloped mind chirped. Plus, my parents were going through a divorce, and I gained a whole FIVE pounds, and for the first time, I learned the word DIET (Cue the drama in my teenage mind).

That was pre-social media era. So I went to the library and got myself a stack of SHAPE magazines. I found out that exercising and eating less would be the answers to losing weight (Yea yawn). But I did what I had to do.  I went to the gym for two hours a day. I weighed myself multiple times a day. I soaked the grease off my food with a paper towel. I took small bites of food to make myself feel fuller. I counted calories and ate 1400 calories a day. Within a month, I went from 106lbs to 97 lbs with a waist of 23 inches. I could almost see my ribs but I would still call myself fat since I didn’t have those abs of a Victoria Secret angel. That’s how I first developed Anorexia.

Sorry no pictures here, because you know..that was before facebook.

The Eating Disorder

After months of malnutrition and rigorous exercise, I couldn’t take it anymore. Once I had a bite of those crunchy savory chips, it was like a demon has unleashed. I couldn’t stop. I would eat a WHOLE bag of Costco family size chips in one sitting, then a whole TUB of mini croissants, stuffing my face so much to a point I wanted to throw up and I would still keep going. This developed into a binge eating disorder.

I was scoffing down guilt, shame and hatred towards myself. To offset the guilt, I would proceed to starve and exercise the next day to make up for it. This became a form of bulimia with the purge being the exercise because I never had the guts to put a finger down my throat to throw up. But then I’d get so hungry again and ended it with a binge. This cycle continued for YEARS. I would go through periods of “recovery” and “relapse”.

My love for chips continues until this day :p

The Realization

I started looking extremely pale and my menstruation has stopped for a year. This was when my mother intervened and brought me to the doctor. We discovered that my hemoglobin level has dropped to 2g/dL (The normal level is 12-15g/dL for women). This was when I was very close to getting a blood transfusion.

The Recovery

This realization has shocked me back to life and I started eating normally again. I stopped exercising so much as well. Within months my menstruation has returned. The road to recovery was not easy though. It was years of learning to let go of “perfection”, self-acceptance, and not being affected by societal standards and expectations.

The Real Answer

Now that I have come out on the other side, it pains me to see so many people still beating themselves up for not having the perfect body. It is so damaging when we tie how we look to our self-worth, even at the expense of self-sabotage. I am an example of it. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

So the answer to achieving my healthy body was first and foremost developing a healthy mindset. Once we have a healthy foundation of self-worth, healthy eating and exercise will come more naturally as a result of wanting to take care of ourselves.

In recognizing the culprit of WHAT the underlying psychological barriers are, we are better equipped to stop punishing ourselves when we are not achieving the “ideal” body. Interestingly, the results will come as a byproduct.

Let’s look at some of the factors in society today that might have tripped us up:

Being Skeptical of Social Media/Media Standards

Before social media, looking like a victoria secret model was my “ideal” of beauty. Nowadays, social media made it even easier to compare ourselves.

  • A lot of pictures are photoshopped. A colleague of mine once saw a celebrity on a flight who is famous for a certain body part. And in reality it looks very different.
  • Throughout history, the “ideal” body type has changed. Do we then keep losing weight and gaining weight to chase the ideals?
  • Have you seen some behind the scenes for instagram? There is a lot we can do with angles, filters and makeup nowadays.
  • Sometimes, these runway models and celebrities have trainers and nutritionists to make sure they are in tip-top shape for a TEMPORARY duration.
  • Why do society show us these “ideals”? Because they can brainwash us and tell us we are not good enough, so we can keep BUYING diets, gym memberships and gadgets to make us feel better about ourselves.

Understanding Body Types Are Different

  • We all have our own unique body types. Pear shape, apple shape, pineapple shape, whatever that is your cup of tea! (I am getting hungry with all these food metaphors)
  • We can work to get OUR best body shapes. No matter how hard Kim Kardashian works out, she won’t look like Kate Moss. They are just built differently, but both beautiful in their own way!
  • That means I won’t have super defined victoria secret angel’s abs if I don’t go below 16% body fat (Yes because I have tried). I can achieve it but it’s not sustainable nor healthy.
  • Therefore, stop comparing yourself to someone with a different body shape. Work on the best YOU.
  • It also means to stop looking for role models who have different body shapes than you. Model someone who has a similar build.
  • Myth buster: There is no such thing as spot reducing. How do I lose fat in my arms? The answer is you lose weight on your WHOLE body. And your genetics determines which part has more fat than others. Yes sorry that’s the truth.

Confidence and Embracing “Imperfections”

  • It took me YEARS to accept myself my body for what it is. It takes time though, and that’s ok!
  • Usually, nobody even notices that your arms are not skinny enough, your tummy is not flat enough, or whatever that you think is not lean enough. And if they do, THEY are the ones with a problem, not you.
  • Have you seen someone who is so charming even if they don’t fit into that standard of beauty?
  • Have you seen someone who is drop-dead gorgeous by society’s standard, but when they open their mouths, you are like -80 points?
  • Have you seen someone who is obsessed with their looks, constantly talking about it or judging others? Eye roll.
  • Watch this Ted Talk on a model who talks about how looks aren’t everything.
  • Confidence is SEXY.

If this was the old me, I would think my abs are not lean enough. I know WTF. Now I am celebrating what I have got!

Using Food and Exercise as a Coping Mechanism

  • In hindsight, I realized that my eating disorder is a way for me to cope. My parents were going through a divorce and the only thing I learned I could control was my food intake and exercise.
  • A lot of us are conditioned to associate certain feelings with food. Stress eating, feelings of connection at the dinner table, food as a love language, etc.
  • Some people also use exercise as an escape. It works but only in moderation.
  • When we can start to identify our relationships and patterns with food and exercise, then we can make adjustments accordingly.
  • ACTION TIP: Awareness is the first step. Look at why you eat and exercise, to see if you can catch a pattern. From there, replace the current behavior with something healthier.

Cultural Love Languages

If you have seen the movie Crazy Rich Asians, in the scene where the first thing the mother said to his son was that he has lost weight and needs to eat more. That’s the love language of my culture. Criticism of body image.

  • Our loved ones think by pointing out if you have gained or lost weight, it’s a sign of them caring about you. In a youngster’s mind, we don’t know the difference. When you hear negative criticism enough times, even someone with the greatest confidence will start to believe it.
  • When we can start to detach ourselves from that culture that has been passed down, it actually starts to become amusing. We can then take these criticism less personally.
  • I believe constructive criticism is great, when it is productive. And you take it with a grain of salt. However, when their intention comes from a judgemental place, it usually just a reflection of their inner insecurities, because most likely they are judging themselves even harder than you.
  • Truly confident and happy people are happy for others to achieve. Because there is an abundance to go around. One person thriving doesn’t take away from their own. If anything, it multiplies, because they will teach you their tricks too!
  • Therefore, surround yourself with people who support you and are truly happy for you, and ignore the rest.

Getting Results

  • Therefore, to truly get long-lasting results, is having the right mindset. The more we base our reasons to get the perfect body on fear, the more our subconscious will resist it.
  • Interestingly, when I stop caring about what I look like, my weight melted off. I still eat healthy and exercise most of the time, but I have released that pressure to look a certain way. This is when I actually achieve the body I always wanted.
  • If I have to nitpick, I definitely want more defined abs, but I am still extremely happy with what I have got and the health I have.
  • The minute I obsessed over the results, that urge to binge comes back almost immediately.
  • Focus on what you GET to eat, not what you CAN’T eat. Abundance vs Scarcity. Freedom vs Hoarding.
  • In Survival mode: your body will actually hoard fat when you starve yourself.

In Summary

As cliche as this sounds, self love is the foundation of achieving our goals! We can’t truly be happy either even if we do achieve that perfect body if we don’t love ourselves no matter what. We have been conditioned by society that if we don’t look a certain way, we are not enough. Stop beating yourself up! We don’t have to listen to that voice.

Let me know below if you have struggled with weight or if you have any questions! I am happy to help. This issue is so dear to my heart. Thanks for reading!


Disclaimer: An eating disorder typically requires therapy, as it is a mental illness, and hospitalization in extreme cases. Please seek professional help if you know anyone in that situation. 


By simplycloverliving, October 13, 2019
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About Me
Hi, I am Clover
I show the intimidated how to turn adventures into reality by exploring: - Adventurous Travel - Right Mindset - Financial Independence
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