My weight loss journey: 12 weeks, 20 lbs, no fad diet (

(First published on August 16, 2014 on

Here are some of the things that the writer did to make that change happen for the long haul.


Three months ago, I was 40 lbs. overweight, addicted to chocolates and sweets, and hardly able to walk up 4 short flights of steps without running out of breath. I had just moved into a new job, and my medical test results showed that my cholesterol and triglycerides were high, and my blood sugar levels were above normal.

And don’t get me started on my body-mass index (BMI). At 5’2.5”, my highest recorded weight was 150 lbs., and my BMI category was “Obese I.” Although childless, I had been asked a few times if I was expecting or had already given birth, since I had gained 40 lbs. in 4 years.

No matter how my family and friends tried to reassure me that I still looked okay despite the overall roundness, I knew deep inside that this wasn’t how I was supposed to be.

Fast-forward to 12 weeks later, and I had lost exactly 21.5 lbs. without going on some fad “diet,” surgery, or anything extraordinary.

BEFORE AND AFTER. Happier in the process. Photos provided by Nina Terol
BEFORE AND AFTER. Happier in the process. Photos provided by Nina Terol

did make the decision to completely change my routine, lifestyle, and overall outlook on my health and life. Here are some of the things that I did—and still do—to make that change happen for the long haul.*

1. Walk to work. When I moved into a new job, I also made the decision to move closer to my new office for two reasons: (1) to avoid the horrendous cross-city traffic that would waste so much time and money; and (2) to start walking to work every day. It was one of the best decisions I had ever made.

My daily walk takes around 20 minutes both ways, acting as my warm-up and cool-down for the day. It also jump-started my entire system to get moving again from what used to be a completely sedentary lifestyle.

2. Move, move, MOVE. Once I had gotten used to walking to and from work, I also made the decision to move about as much as I could. I followed expert advice to get up from my desk every 90 minutes—time that I also use when I need a writing break or when I need to talk to some colleagues on the other end of the office.

I’ve also tried editing material while standing up—just to keep myself awake and alert while reading otherwise sleep-inducing drafts.

I’m also fortunate enough to work in an office with a (free) gym just in the same floor, so I started out by doing some slow cycling on the exercise bike—while reading a work-related book—either during the lunch break or after work.

Once my body felt strong enough, I moved to the treadmill and did 30-minute power walk sessions after work. I have since “graduated” to running on the treadmill for 30 to 40 minutes per session, at least two times a week on weekdays.

On weekends, I make sure to wake up early enough to catch the morning sun and jog around the neighborhood by 8AM.


3. Get fit with friends. Thanks to a friend who invited me to check out a Zumba class, I now get to dance Zumba at least once a week—burning a lot of calories while getting fit, making new friends, andhaving fun.

I also realized in the process that I enjoy dancing even if I don’t have a dance background and am not even very good at it. So aside from Zumba, I’ve also started dancing salsa with friends—and taking every possible opportunity to just dance and move to good music.

Aside from that, I have a best friend who’s a yoga teacher and a cousin who used to be a personal trainer. Once I opened up to their guidance and support, I’ve been able to incorporate more balanced practices into my everyday routine and lifestyle.

4. Junk the (bad) carbs. This is important: No matter how much you move, you won’t get healthy enough unless you junk the bad carbs from your system. This includes such Filipino staples as white rice, white bread, white pasta, and all sorts of sweets, pastries, andmerienda fare. For me, cutting the rice, bread, pasta, and pizza was easy—it’s cutting out the chocolates and the sweets that continues to be a challenge.

This is also where the conscious, active decision to be fit and healthy kicks in: I’ve realized that for our bodies to change, we first have to change our minds about “the way things have always been done.”

This has meant redefining what constitutes a “good meal”, as well as getting my family on board about healthier options during family get-togethers.


5. Train your taste buds. Substitute. So if you can’t eat white rice, white breads, and pasta, what can you eat? Some prefer eating red or brown rice, or whole grain bread and pasta, which contain more nutrients than their whiter, refined counterparts.

I, on the other hand, have decided to junk those altogether and instead use salads and vegetables for my everyday meals.

I love the fact that pre-washed salad packs are now readily available in supermarkets and convenience stores—it takes the guesswork out of my meals and makes it easier for me to eat healthy. For me, “lettuce is the new rice.” (It looks prettier on Instagram photos, too!)

Also, if you must absolutely use sweeteners for your drinks, go for stevia or agave instead of white sugar or even artificial sweeteners with aspartame. Both stevia and agave are plant-based, are sweeter, and have a lower glycemic index than white sugar, preventing a “sugar crash” and nasty cravings later on.

Other substitutions you can make: tea instead of coffee, dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) instead of milk chocolate, lemon water instead of fruit juices (which are also high on sugar, especially if they’re processed and artificial), vinaigrette instead of heavy dressings, clear soup instead of creamy soups, and herbs and spices instead of artificial flavors. All those little choices add up, and will contribute to a healthier you in the long run.

6. Redefine “happy meals.” Apologies to the big, corporate fast food chains out there, but my new idea of a “happy meal” is a meal that: (a) is good for me and my body; and (b) I’ve lovingly prepared for myself, right from my own kitchen.

I used to think that cooking my own baon was such a hassle—especially since I cook for just one. But once I realized that cooking for myself was an act of self-love and self-nurturing, I’ve come to enjoy preparing my own meals and see it as my way of taking care of myself. (If I don’t do it, who else will?)

7. Reimagine trips and buffets. My big test came when I had three consecutive weekends of out-of-town trips and access to buffets. Instead of enjoying the fluffy hotel linens and sleeping in like I used to do, I chose to enjoy early-morning beachside jogs, laps in the pool, and detoxing in the hotel sauna—aside from the off-site trips where I walked and moved around as much as I could.

I also used the buffets as opportunities to choose healthier dishes that I normally don’t get to prepare at home.That meant muesli and fresh fruits for breakfast, and different kinds of salad and seafood for lunch and dinner. The takeaways: more confidence to wear a bathing suit and a good, lasting tan.

8. Move on from a heartache. There truly is nothing like a major heartache to motivate you to lose weight, get fit, and take better care of yourself.

But instead of gorging on ice cream and chocolates while watching sappy rom-coms, I did the opposite: I went out there and rediscovered the things that truly meant so much to me but were just buried beneath a gazillion other obligations. I used the space left by the old to make way for the new, and I’m healthier and happier because of it.

A bonus: when someone new comes along to inspire you, you’re already a much better version of yourself—inside and out—than you used to be.


9. Set measurable goals. There’s a saying that goes, “What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done.” At the start of the 12 weeks, I challenged myself to lose 40 lbs.—without spending on expensive diets and programs—in just four months. I set certain special occasions as milestones, and I’ve kept my eye on the ball since then.

I’ve also challenged myself to run a 3K race next month and a 5K race by December, with guidance from my trainer-cousin.

I obviously won’t be able to lose the extra 18.5 lbs. in just four more weeks, but I know that I’ll at least come close to my goal and will end up much healthier and happier than when I started out.

10. Cut yourself some slack. I admit—there were two weeks out of the 12 when I really indulged in a lot of dark chocolate goodies, some heavy red meats, and paella (my all-time favorite dish). I’ve also had the occasional pizza and (again, dark chocolate) cake slice for colleagues’ birthdays.

I still drink wine and craft beer when going out. But that’s the beauty of this new lifestyle I’m on: I am not on a “diet”, which means I’m not going to deprive myself of little indulgences when the occasion calls for it.

Sustainable path

I’d like to believe that I’m on a more sustainable path to health and wellness—which means no feelings of deprivation, no mood swings, no hunger pangs, and no cravings. I’m eating well, taking better care of my body, but also listening to myself when I need a cup of hot cocoa.

I’m also enjoying life and the company of family and friends, and I’m not going to be the party pooper just because there are bad carbs on the table. Life is about balance, after all.

I’m pretty confident that, with a more loving attitude toward my body and soul and with the support of family and friends, I’m not only going to reach my ideal weight, I’ll also be able to keep it off and live healthier for the rest of my life. –

Surviving the 10-Day Lemon Juice Cleanse (

NOTE: My first major piece for the year was the product of sacrifice, self-awareness, honesty, and a whole lot of lemon juice. THANK YOU to my editors at Rappler for allowing me to share this–and thanks to the many readers who made this one of the “most read” pieces for that cycle!

Sharing an excerpt here 🙂

"Surviving the 10-Day Lemon Juice Cleanse": A must-read on! :)
“Surviving the 10-Day Lemon Juice Cleanse”: A must-read on! :)

MANILA, Philippines – The Lemon Juice Cleanse, a.k.a. Master Cleanse or the Lemonade Diet, is a 10-day cleanse that involves fasting on all solid foods and drinking only a concoction made of freshly squeezed (or fresh pressed) lemon juice, pure maple syrup (grade B), and cayenne pepper. It was introduced by Stanley Burroughs in 1940 and regained popularity after pop icon Beyoncé Knowles reportedly lost at least 20 lbs. on the cleanse, for her role in Dreamgirls (2006).

A 3-time “survivor” of the cleanse, I first tried it in January 2009 as my way of detoxing after the holidays and preparing myself for a new job. I did it again in 2010 before embarking on the campaign trail; and, just recently, I did it a third time in order to “reboot” my system and get back on the path of health and wellness.

Here are some things I’ve learned along the way.

This is an excerpt only. Click HERE to read the full post on

Dreamboarding: Cutting and Pasting Dreams onto Reality (

Dreamboarding: Cutting And Pasting Dreams Onto Reality

Published on February 7, 2013 in

To make a dream come true, some action is required. Creating a visual plan may be what you need to help you achieve your success goals.

/ by Niña Terol-Zialcita /

Much has been said and written about visualizing your goals in order to make them real. The late great Stephen Covey, whose Seven Habits of Highly Successful People has guided millions of driven individuals on the path of success, said it best when he said, “Begin with the end in mind.”

You need to know what success looks like for you to know when you’ve already achieved it—much like an architect needs to first create a blueprint, then a 3D rendition or a scale model, of the structure he or she wants to build before the actual construction takes place. Similarly, any traveler will need a map to locate his or her destination and to know the pit stops and potential pitfalls along the way.

It would be difficult to get exactly what you like or where you need to go if you don’t even know what it looks like.

The first step, then, to creating a blueprint or a map for your goals is to create a dreamboard.


This is an excerpt only. To read the full article, visit the website

The Elements of Men’s Style: A Visual Guide to Classic Dressing (Vault Magazine’s special style issue)

I am thrilled to be part of another beautiful issue by Vault Magazine, which this time pays homage to classic style for men. (Why there isn’t a local magazine of this caliber for women, I seriously don’t know.)

Vault Magazine special issue: The Elements of Men's Style (July-August 2012)

The cover features a handsome pair of Carmina brogues (photographed by either Ocs Alvarez, Pat Mateo, or Philip Sison) and was designed by Vault’s young-but-brilliant art director, Karl Castro. In his introduction to this great piece of work, editor-in-chief David Celdran writes:

“… Those looking for the latest trends in menswear fashion won’t find it in this guide. Instead, this special issue of Vault is dedicated to the building blocks of classic style–elements of a man’s wardrobe that are neither dated nor fashion forward. In other words: timeless.”

In working on this issue, I had the privilege of going inside Singapore’s ultra-exclusive shops, Malmaison by The Hour Glass (on Orchard Road, fronting the Paragon) and Uomo Collezioni (in Marina Bay Sands), and learning about such brands as Cire Trudon, Lorenzo Villaresi, Charvet, Rubinacci, Pal Brioni, Zilli, and Stefano Ricci, among others. There I learned what set the truly timeless and classic pieces apart from those that simply come and go with the waves of fashion trends: an unflinching adherence to artisanal traditions and to meticulous craftsmanship. Most, if not all, of the brands mentioned in this issue know the true value of bespoke luxury wear and have helped to define consumers’ definition of “luxury.”

So here, without further ado, are excerpts of my mini-features in this issue.

Malmaison and Uomo Collezioni in Vault Magazine's special Style Issue (July-August 2012)
Malmaison and Uomo Collezioni in Vault Magazine’s special Style Issue (July-August 2012) | Words by Nina Terol-Zialcita, photos by Pat Mateo, layout by Karl Castro


Named after Chateau de Malmaison, the French castle that became home to the Emperor Napoleon and his wife Josephine, Malmaison by The Hourglass pays homage to luxury and elegance through pieces that are timeless, indulgent, and exquisitely crafted by the world’s finest artisans and craftsmen. Owned by the Tay family, long known for their love of exceptional timepieces,  a focal point of the 6,000-square-meter boutique is its collection of the world’s foremost names in watchmaking–including TAG Heuer and Tudor, Panerai and Piaget, Harry Winston and H. Moser & Cie., and, of course, Rolex and Patek Philippe. [excerpt ends here]

Uomo Collezioni

Known in Europe for over 20 years of tastemaking in men’s fashion and luxury items, Uomo Collezioni comes to Southeast Asia through its flagship store at the prestigious Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. Whether one is looking for pieces to uphold classic tradition or to make a bold statement, Uomo Collezioni has a wide range of products to meet every discerning gentleman’s wardrobe need. [excerpt ends here]

Villoresi: The world of heightened senses (Vault Magazine, July-August 2012)
Villoresi: The world of heightened senses (Vault Magazine, July-August 2012) | Words by Nina Terol-Zialcita, photo courtesy of Villoresi, layout by Karl Castro

Villoresi: The world of heightened senses

“A perfume should provide a privileged insight into your own personal essence, a clue to your innermost thoughts and journeys of the soul; a door which can either be kept locked or left wide open, leading to opportunities, games and seduction.” — Lorenzo Villoresi

Seduction was indeed a large part of the Lorenzo Villoresi story, as perfume-making was never in the Florentine perfumer’s lineage or intentions. A student of philosophy at the University of Florence, Villoresi was traveling to the Middle East and Africa, researching about the philosophy of religion, when he discovered exotic spices and essences in Morocco, Egypt, Israel, and Sudan. He was captivated by the sensual alchemy of spicy scents and essential oils, and not long after, felt compelled to experiment with his own customized scents.

From philosophy and religion, Villoresi’s attention switched to the creation of powerful sensory experiences that could, in many ways, alter a person’s state of consciousness. His bespoke fragrances soon garnered the attention of society’s crème de la crème, and in 1990, his eponymous perfumery was born. [end of excerpt] 

Scented candles: Cire Trudon (in Vault, July-August 2012 issue)
Scented candles: Cire Trudon (in Vault, July-August 2012 issue) | Words by Nina Terol-Zialcita, photo by Pat Mateo, styling and layout by Karl Castro

Scented candles

The only candlemaker that can claim an illustrious heritage of wax-making through the centuries, Cire Trudon was established in 1643. It has since been the preferred wax-maker of royalty from the likes of Louis XIII and Napoleon. In 1811, on the occasion of his son’s birth, the Emperor Napoleon gave a single gift: a Trudon candle encrusted with three pieces of gold featuring his head. Even when the Napoleonic Empire crumbled, Cire Trudon candles shone on and, in 1889, won for France a prize at the World Exhibition. [end of excerpt]

Perfumes for Men: Villoresi (Vault, July-August 2012)
Perfumes for Men: Villoresi (Vault, July-August 2012) | Words by Nina Terol-Zialcita, photo by Pat Mateo, styling and layout by Karl Castro

Perfumes for Men

In the olfactory world, there are fragrances, and then there are sensory experiences–those that make a dramatic impact on both the wearer and the people around him.

Made with a strict adherence to the traditions of Italian perfume-making, Lorenzo Villoresi perfumes have been dubbed “Haute Couture for the Senses” because of the richness of the ingredients, the exotic blend of scents and spices from East and West, and the intense energy that comes with every scent. [end of excerpt]

This special issue of Vault Magazine features sections on footwear, suits & jackets, formal wear, neckwear, outerwear, shirts, pants, hats, bags & wallets, jewelry & accessories, eyewear, desktop, grooming, and watches. It is available in Powerbooks, Fully Booked, National Bookstore, and Filbar’s outlets.

From femme fatale to security frontliner (Vault)

Vault takes a closer  look at the evolution of the women who once dominated the skies

VAULT - From femme fatale to security frontliner (June-July 2012)
VAULT – From femme fatale to security frontliner (June-July 2012)

The so-called Golden age of flying coincided with the packaging of female flight attendants as sex symbols. Then called stewardesses, they were meant to coax and predominantly male passengers at that time into flying the airline they represented.

This was evident as early as 1955, when United Airlines stewardess Barbara Cameron posed as Playboy magazine’s Miss December. She re-appeared in 1958 as “The Girl Next Door” and was named one of the magazine’s most popular “playmates.”

A 1965 article in the Des Moines Register said that male passengers expected stewardesses “to look like a Las Vegas showgirl, and are angry when she doesn’t.”

And in 1967, the bestseller Coffee, Tea or Me? The Uninhibited Memoirs of Two Flight Stewardesses revealed the in-flight exploits of stewardesses and their “bad boy” passengers, and listed the celebrities with whom the girls allegedly had had romantic dalliances. The veracity of the accounts has since been challenged and the book is now listed as “adult fiction.”

The in-flight innuendo reached its peak in the 1970s, when National Airlines put out an ad showing a pixie-faced flight attendant with the copy, “I’m Cheryl. Fly me.” Other Mad Men-type gimmicks included Braniff’s “Air Strip,” where “air hostesses” peeled off layers of clothing during the flight; paper dresses for TWA stewardesses (soon junked when male passengers made a habit of burning cigarette holes in them for “fun”—yes, smoking on board was allowed back then); and Eastern Airlines’ little black book giveaway, which was meant to encourage male passengers to get the phone numbers of flight attendants.

VAULT Magazine, June 2012 issue, p. 59: Samples of some risque airline advertising materials (Courtesy of VAULT Magazine)
VAULT Magazine, June 2012 issue, p. 59: Samples of some risque airline advertising materials (Courtesy of VAULT Magazine)


This is an excerpt only. The full article is featured in the Travel Issue of Vault Magazine, (June-July 2012). Vault Magazine is available in the Philippines at all Fully Booked, Powerbooks, and National Bookstore branches. For more details, visit Vault‘s Facebook page HERE.