Following a series of indulgent trips overseas, Marga Banaga, a talent executive for Nuffnang Philippines, reached her heaviest weight in six years. "I became depressed. I no longer felt like my real self and that's when I knew something had to be done," she opens up to Preview. Hence, after coming home from Korea last January, Marga set herself up for a challenge. "I told myself to be selfish for 100 days—to just give myself 100 days to live a healthy [life]style, to eat 100% clean, and to work out everyday."
And so it began. Marga officially started her 100-day fitness challenge to get back in shape. She started working out, meal-prepping, and basically modified her daily routine. "I gave up everything I loved—cheese, alcohol, and sweets. When people were inviting me to hang out, I had to decline. I could not tempt myself with food and alcohol because I knew my self control wasn't good yet, " she admits.
To keep track of her progress, she decided to document her journey on Instagram. She posted videos of her workouts, flatlays of her prepped meals, and the continuous improvement of her fitness. Motivation became a struggle, but she faced it head on. "It was a mental battle—scrolling through Pinterest for recipes, saving motivational videos on YouTube to watch in the morning. I knew I had to keep motivating myself, as over time motivation wears out, but if you've made it a habit then you're good!"
Sure enough, after 100 days of nonstop hustling, Marga lost a total of 30 pounds. "It was not an easy journey, there were a lot of times I actually wanted to give up," she continues. "But I reminded myself that I was not only unhappy with how I looked, but more so with how I felt, so that kept me going."
Now you might be wondering: how did she do it? Marga shares with us some tips that helped her achieve her fitness goal. Check them out below in case you need some motivation, too!
1. Mental preparation is key.
Before starting her journey last January 15, Marga knew that she had to condition herself mentally for the challenge ahead. "I prepped myself that it will be the day I will stop binge eating and that I start working out," she reveals.
She also knew that she had to change how she viewed what she was about to do, explaining, "I had to change my mindset and rewire my thinking of pain and pleasure to see working out and eating healthy as rewarding and pleasurable, since I will benefit from doing so rather than thinking of it as painful and unenjoyable." Becoming healthier is a good thing, so program yourself to enjoy the process!
2. Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep.
"I was successful with my diet because I made sure to prep my meals, even snacks," Marga notes. "The quote 'If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail,' stuck with me because if you don’t have food readily available, you tend to eat whatever is there when you get hungry, and it's usually not the healthiest."
According to her, she spent Sundays preparing her food for the entire week. She paid close attention to getting all her macronutrients instead of going low-carb or low-fat. For her meals, Marga usually went for chickpea spinach burgers, salmon, or tanigue for protein, black rice or quinoa as her source of carbs, and air fried or roasted broccoli and carrots as her usual side veggies.
3. Exercise regularly.
Yes, it sounds cliché, but making sure your body gets moving can speed up your progress while keeping you energized. "I made it a point to find time every morning to get any sort of workout in just to keep my body moving, and to have one rest day a week," Marga shares. "I did High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) five days a week for an hour and I spent my Saturdays boxing!"
4. Ditch the scale.
"At the start of my fitness journey, I kept looking at the scale and it kept me frustrated [with] how slow [my progress] was taking," she says.
That's why if you plan to lose weight, she recommends not obsessing over the numbers. She explains, "Muscle weighs more than fat, so sometimes even when we feel that we are gaining weight on the scale, our clothes actually fit better and we feel more toned."
5. Trust the process.
"It will be hard. There will be days when you don’t wanna work out or eat clean, but do it anyway," she stresses. "Even if you don’t see results right away, keep going, and slowly you will get stronger, clothes will start fitting better and you’ll gain your confidence back again." In the end, all your efforts will pay off, and like Marga, you'll realize that all your struggles were worth it.