In two years, Miss Tan Su Kheng lost 26kg. The change was not just in her physical appearance.
Her self-esteem and life also changed for the better - from being almost a recluse, whose self-esteem had "hit rock bottom", she became sociable and confident.
Now 19, her triumph in overcoming obesity was highlighted by Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min yesterday, when he lamented that only 10 per cent of students and 20 per cent of those at polytechnics exercise enough.
He will be co-chairing a task force, called NurtureSG, to bring healthier lifestyles to the young.
Miss Tan had tried to shed her pounds previously because of persistent teasing about being fat. But, clueless about the right way to do it, she gained weight instead.
She recalled exercising more, but she also ate more because the physical effort made her hungry.
In 2014, she met nurse Faridah Hussain, who was ITE College East's Student Health Advisor.
Ms Faridah taught Miss Tan and her overweight schoolmates how to choose healthier foods to eat and lose weight at the same time.
Miss Tan switched to brown rice and ate less of it. She would opt for steamed rather than fried food and would eat less processed canned food.
When hungry between meals, she would snack on fruit and nuts.
She also learnt to set "small and realistic goals, like losing 0.5kg a week instead of grand and ambitious goals of losing 10kg by the end of the year", she told The Straits Times.
Exercise became part of her daily routine. She would take the stairs and not the lift, and walk home instead of taking the bus. She also worked out for about an hour on weekends.
She said Ms Faridah was very encouraging, giving her little gifts to keep her motivated.
Ms Tan's advice is to start with small changes. "Losing weight does not happen overnight, but never lose faith and don't give up."
Having lost 26kg since August 2014, she declared: "I feel proud of myself."
And soon, she will attend Ngee Ann Polytechnic to be a nurse.
This article was first published on April 14, 2016.
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