All that Arnis training and I’m still fat

For more than a year now, I’ve honestly been diligent in my Arnis training. I’ve reaped a lot of benefits like skills, strength and power, optimism, and love for my country. So many good things over the year.

But what really frustrated me was that despite all my exercise, I still gained 14 pounds!  At 5 feet, 4 inches,  I weighed 157 lbs. That’s Body Mass Index (BMI) of 27 (overweight).

WHAT HAPPENED? I think I was so confident that with all my physical exercise, I could just let go of my eating.

I didn’t notice the pounds creep in since my photos didn’t look THAT bad.

Arnis evening training

And then, one day I saw this photo.


That’s me and my friends taking a boat ride in Batangas about six weeks ago (April 18, 2014.) Look at my belly!


Despite all my exercise, I was I’m still fat! Do you know what my waist size at that time was? I’m ashamed to tell you. Let’s just say that it was way way over the safe waist size limit for Asian women which is 31 inches. (for Asian men it’s 37 inches. For non Asians, it’s 35 inches for women, 40 inches for men.) Or more generally, about half of your height.

Oh alright, I’ll tell you. It was 38 inches!!!! Not only does it not look good but fat inside the abdomen (aka visceral fat) is really DANGEROUS because it envelopes and marbles internal organs.

Photo credit

Visceral Fat interferes with insulin, lowers good cholesterol, and increases bad cholesterol and triglycerides (blood fat). It significantly increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.


And we all knew that, right? It’s just that for me, that knowledge did not translate to practice. Mea culpa. 

After a few days of feeling down because of that photo,  I willed myself to be diligent about my nutrition as I was with my training.

Author-journalist Michael Pollan articulately summarizes in seven words, what for me is the best eating rule.

Photo credit
  • Eat food — not food-like substances. That means I’m basically saying goodbye to most processed foods. (But I’m not dogmatic. I can occasionally give myself a treat without guilt. As my 16 year old nephew says, “We need treats for our mental health”. I believe he’s right.)
  • Not too much — portion size is key. Green leafy vegetables–I can eat as much as I want. Starchy vegetables, about 1/4 of my plate. Protein, also about a fourth. Same for grains and fruits.
  • Mostly plants – lean meat is still very much allowed

I don’t like  counting calories and I’m wary of most of the diet programs around.  So I made up my mind to just follow the Healthy Plate recommendation because it’s much easier and more pleasurable to follow.

myplate_magentaAnd thank God, I found this book which really helped me a lot.

download (2)

It’s somewhat revolutionary for me because aside from the usual Eat right, and Exercise, the authors also emphasize the importance of  Faith, Focus, and Friends.

  • Faith- pray to God to help you get healthier
  • Focus- have a clear vision of WHY you want to be healthier
  • Friends- find friends who will support and encourage you in this journey

It’s been great so far. I’ve eaten more greens, leaner meat, and healthy grains. And I’ve tweaked some of my eating habits to get rid of sugary food and drinks.  The best thing: I do not go hungry at all. I feel lighter and stronger in my training.

broken stick3


As of today, I’m 146 lbs (BMI 25,  just a tad away from normal weight) and my waist size is now 35 inches. Just 4 inches to go, yay!   Pretty soon my internal organs will no longer be enveloped and marbled by that disgusting and dangerous visceral fat.

There’s hope that I can still be a healthy Arnisador onto my senior years. That’s what I want!

How about you, is your belly healthy?

Thank you for taking time to read The Deadly Dance.



From around the web:

The Doctors

Dr. Oz 







4 thoughts on “All that Arnis training and I’m still fat

  1. Herbert "Dada" Inocalla June 1, 2014 / 9:25 AM

    Nice report of your research about food & weight. As we grow older we have to be conscious of our internal enemies like fear,anger,greed,hipertension, depression, sedentary etc. I think balance diet , regular fisical exercise , emocional control & control of the sensory & motor organs, sexual balance, are fundamentals.Since 1968 i stopped eating meat, practising Yoga, Tai Chi & Arnis & always fill better fisical, mental,emocional &spiritual. We have to balance the 4 beings in the human being. Muito Salamat , Mabuhay!!!!
    Herbert “Dada” Inocalla

    • thedeadlydance June 3, 2014 / 10:33 PM

      Salamat po GM Dada Inocalla! You are right. To be healthy, I cannot rely on physical exercise alone. The other aspects are really important too. It’s awesome that you’ve practiced balance since 1968.
      And on that note, CONGRATULATIONS on being nominated for the “2014 Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Oversees”. What a great honor.

  2. B. Lynn January 12, 2016 / 4:15 AM

    Hi and thank you for your blog. As a female student of Modern Arnis Kombatan here in the States, I too was looking for a better way to support my training and address a lifestyle that was leading me towards Metabolic Syndrome. Congratulations on your progress thus far with the Daniel Plan. I’ve been doing Paleo and the two plans have in common is to eat wholesome foods, get plenty of sleep, and be active each day.

    • Joy January 29, 2016 / 9:32 AM

      Hi B. Lynn. thank you for visiting and commenting.

      If there’s a magic pill or method that can make us healthy I would do it but it’s really discipline: “eat wholesome foods, get plenty of sleep, and be active each day.” I’m still on and off with these but not giving up.

      Paleo is also popular here in the Philippines. How are you doing with it?

Please leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s