Just ask employees at local gyms and health food stores — January prompts a focus on health.
After a month’s worth of overeating, Americans typically vow to make a lifestyle change once the clock strikes midnight New Year’s Day.
Thuxoan Tsang made such a vow last year, but she said it was more than a New Year’s resolution. Those typically wear off around mid-March.
In the past year, Thuxoan (pronounced “two-swan”) lost 70 pounds, toned her muscles and has a newfound excitement for tasks as ordinary as errands, work and physical activity.
How did she do it She found Medifast. Medifast makes each snack, meal and drink easy to grab and go, which Thuxoan found is perfect for a working women.
“I wanted something simple and fast,” she said. “But I also wanted to maintain the weight I lost.”
Within the past few months, Thuxoan has appeared in Medifast advertisements in several magazines, including People, Martha Stewart Living and Us.
She encourages eager resolution-makers to take a step back and find a health plan that can be adopted as a lifestyle.
Our Town: How did your weight throughout high school and college affect your attitude and self-esteem
Thuxoan Tsang: During my school years, I weighed around 135 pounds, and I did not pay much attention to my weight then. I was too busy concentrating on my studies as a biology major. I kept fit by being a member of the crew team at Tulane University and earning my brown belt in Judo. Physically, I felt that I was at the top of my game.
After college, with work and having children, I fell into the trap of neglecting my fitness routine. I, like many other women, placed my family and career ahead of my own health and fitness. The changes to our bodies occur gradually until one day, when you look into the mirror, and “two” of you stare back at you! In the background, you hear the classic Bruce Springsteen song “Glory Days” playing, and you snap out of it and realize that you have to take back control of your body.
OT: What or who convinced you to seriously begin a weight-loss program
Tsang: At the beginning of 2006, I set out a plan to lose weight. I had a very traumatic experience that galvanized my determination to lose weight. My family took a vacation to Hong Kong the previous Christmas. I was excited because I was turning 40 and everybody raves about the terrific shopping to be had in Hong Kong.
When I was in Hong Kong, I felt like I was the largest woman on the island. The women in Hong Kong are quite petite. I could not find ANY cute clothes in size 14! In fact, there was no such thing as size 14 on the island. So there I was in Hong Kong, feeling “fat and 40.” I resolved that I would NOT live the rest of my life as this cliché.
OT: What do you tell working women who are frustrated with the endless line of diets
Tsang: My advice to women who want to succeed with any diet centers on three main factors:
There must be stability in your current life. You have to stay focused on your goal and cannot be distracted by having more children, changing careers or even relationship issues.
You have to have strong inner motivation. Something has to drive you toward your weight-loss goal. For me, it was the trauma of that Hong Kong trip.
You have to have a long-term goal for your health and your body image. I admit, I’m vain, because I want my 40-year-old body to look like it was when I was 20. I also want to buy all of those cute clothes that designers make for small women. Remember, dieting is not only about losing weight but also forming a long-term health plan. Maintaining your health is a marathon, not the 100-meter dash. You’re in it for the long haul!
OT: What is it about your new life that makes turning down fast food worth it
Tsang: The biggest positive to my weight loss is the positive feedback that I get. It feels great to hear my husband say, “You are soooooo sexy”! Also, I feel great to have been a positive influence on those around me to lose weight and get healthy again. I am very proud to say that my office staff has lost a combined weight of 220 pounds this last year! More importantly, my weight-loss success has motivated many women to lose weight, including my friends, other mothers, colleagues, children’s teachers and patients. I hope to have become a source of inspiration for women who a struggling with their weight. If I can do it, so can you!
OT: Have you received any negative feedback about your weight loss
Tsang: Negative It’s all good.
OT: What food is your biggest weakness
Tsang: Carbohydrates. Being Vietnamese, I love rice and noodles. I can still eat it, but just not as much as I used to. One of the benefits of Medifast is that it has taught me to modify what I eat and how much I eat. It has taught me to balance my nutrition and eat what’s good for me. Besides, now that I am smaller, I don’t have to eat much to maintain my energy level. This is another benefit of being small!
OT: Any advice for those who’ve made In-N-Out Burger a frequent lunch stop
Tsang: Don’t buy stock in it! There are alternatives. Pack a healthy lunch, go to your nearest deli for a healthy vegetarian sandwich. Sure, you can have your fast food, but at what cost A day’s worth of calories Your size-2 jeans
I think the answer is obvious — NO! It’s not worth it. Staying healthy means making common-sense decisions regarding what to eat.
OT: What is your resolution this year
Tsang: I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because they are only good for a limited time. I think that it is more important to continuously challenge yourself every day to become a better and healthier person. This should be everyone’s daily resolution. Daily goals are more attainable and have greater cumulative success.
OT: What part does exercise play in your overall health
Tsang: Exercise plays an important part in maintaining your optimal weight and optimizing your health. Now that you have your weight under control, exercise will strengthen your body for achieving a long life. Dieting and exercise is like the yin-yang symbol — it gives balance to having a healthy body and mind.
In the Spotlight is a weekly profile in Our Town. This week’s interviewer was reporter Danielle MacMurchy. To nominate someone to be In the Spotlight or to comment on this week’s column, call 830-4275, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet Thuxoan Tsang
Occupation: practice administrator at Altamont Medical Plaza
Family: husband, Stephen; children, Preston, 9, Hudson, 6, Roni, 4, and Ronin, 2
Exercise routine: yoga twice a week, outdoor walks three times a week
She credits Medifast, a weight loss program, for her size 2/4 frame.
At a glance
According to its Web site, Medifast is a meal-replacement system that aims to help users lose 2 to 5 pounds each week. Users consume about five Medifast meals a day in the form of shakes, soups, bars, drinks, puddings, and other options. In addition to the Medifast meals, users also consume one high protein, low-carbohydrate meal (called “Lean and Green”). By eating every two to three hours, users are able to stave off hunger.
For information: www.medifastdiet.com; look for Tsang’s story under “Success Stories.”