People have different reasons for being obese, such as having thyroid problems and other diseases. In the past 10 months, I learned that mine was more of a mindset issue than a physical issue.

I have lost nearly 70lbs in 10 months, and if you knew me before August 2019, you would probably be surprised.

Growing up, I was told many things. One was that I had to watch my figure while in a buffet, and another was that we should “Kill Ronald McDonald!” so that I would stop eating fast food. “Nicole put the ‘double’ in ‘W’ ”; “Nicole is pretty, but she’s fat”; “Nicole is wife material, but she’s the type who gets fat” – as if being fat would make me fail as a wife.

These comments took a toll on my self-esteem. In 2013, I resorted to starving myself and ended up with cysts on my throat due to hyperacidity; thus, gaining double the weight that I lost. At that point, I gave up on how I looked and had to deal with my self-esteem issues by reminding myself of who I was in Christ.

Despite resigning to the thought that I would stay obese because I was never athletic, I could not stand the lethargy brought about by being sedentary. With all the courage I could muster, I stepped inside the gym and hired a personal trainer amidst people’s doubts—mine included.

At this point, I might seem like someone who started exercising non-stop under a highly restricted diet, but my breakthrough in this weight loss journey was simpler than that.

Simple did not always mean easy, but neither did it mean impossible.

How to Get Breakthrough in Weight Loss

1) Set realistic goals

The chances of achieving realistic goals are higher than achieving the lofty ones. Setting realistic goals gives us more opportunities to celebrate wins. This is crucial when setbacks come because even if the end goal seems lightyears away, seeing the progress in meters can keep us going, one step at a time.

I remember standing in disbelief when the scale showed that I lost my first 10 lbs after one month. This kept me going. I set other goals such as joining a race and doing clean, full push ups. These strength goals that can be done in the foreseeable future diverted me from being too consumed with the numbers on the scale because health and fitness go beyond the aesthetics.

2) Be accountable

Physical activity is not my strong suit. Without a coach, I probably would have been injured by now because I needed someone to check my form and to push me to keep going. Fitness felt like a new dimension to me, and I needed guidance.

Every correction or commendation from my coach sounded like something I would say as a teacher, and even though accountability can be uncomfortable, it opened my mind to act on my blind spots with humility. I framed my perspective by telling myself that I’m the student now, and my teacher is here to help me.

3) Eat properly

Yes, I eat dessert, but I no longer succumb to the unending cycle of consuming salty and sweet treats until I feel guilty. We know the basics of eating properly, and it is easy to access information about it. It’s our unhealthy perceptions that make us consume too much or too little for long periods of time.

Nutrition is crucial in fitness. There was a month when I only lost one pound, despite the regular exercise because I ate what I wanted to eat, without being accountable to anyone. This setback made me realize that I wanted to maximize my exercise gains. Constantly indulging my cravings was detrimental to my progress.

I attended nutrition seminars, talked to registered nutritionists, and read nutrition articles. All that would be futile without applying the knowledge. Food was made to help take care of the bodies entrusted to us, and it was that shift in perspective that made me consume food in a healthier way.

4) Exercise

I mentioned that I am not the most athletic person out there, so, if stepping in the gym was stressful, walking into my first session was daunting, but necessary. Aside from the calories that I lost; exercise made me lose the mindset of not trying new activities just because they’re not my strength.

Conquering one exercise after another showed me that things can be learned. But more than the number of exercises that I had done, discipline was the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far. There were exercises that I dreaded. There were days when I didn’t feel 100%. Showing up and doing one task after another made me see the harvest that came from sowing discipline, even when it was unpleasant. (Hebrews 12:11)

To summarize, living a healthy lifestyle and staying fit largely entails renewing the mind.

I would probably still be 200lbs if I did not change my mind about my “athleticism.” I might have plateaued if I were easily disheartened by setbacks without choosing to look at my goals. I will not be able to do a full push up now if I allowed myself to be intimidated by all the fit people in the gym.

Being transformed by the renewing of our mind applies to all aspects of our lives—spiritual, physical, and otherwise.

I would not call myself an expert in renewing the mind because I still go through that process daily with God’s love and grace, every step of the way.

Fitness made me see how intricate our bodies can be and how it responds to different stimuli. Only the Creator could design that. There have been moments during runs and during stretches when I pray and calm down amidst the anxieties brought by the pandemic. I’m thankful for how God has used the renewing of my mind to transform my body, and how moving my body renews my mind.

Nicole Lacanilao

Nicole is a teacher with many interests. Follow her on Instagram @nicolelac_ and check out her blog at