Survivor Michelle Arceo is Ms. BodyCon 2019
Michelle Arceo
Survivor Michelle Arceo is Ms. BodyCon 2019
WELL-BEING - Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit (The Philippine Star) - April 16, 2019 - 12:00am

‘Depression is the easiest way to lose weight, but I was too embarrassed to admit how I lost so much weight in just a month.’

Eyes were fixed on Michelle Arceo when she stepped on stage for the first time, donning a two-piece goddess costume, full-blown hair and makeup, and sky-high heels. It certainly helped that she was in the center of the stage and she towered over the other finalists that night.

She was aglow with confidence knowing that she worked so hard to get where she was. The 21-year-old beauty just bagged the top title of Ms. BodyCon 2019 last March 28 at the Music Museum.

More than her looks, Michelle is so inspiring because of her fighting spirit. Her fitness journey started following a battle with a severe and crippling depression. Since then, she has become a beacon of mental and physical health, working out four to six times a week and consistently eating right.

Nobody can capture her heart-wrenching story better than herself, so here is her fitness story in her own words.

As I sit here typing this, wishing I could avoid sharing my very personal story, I’ve stopped many times to really ponder if I’m completely ready to share a side of my life that I have not completely come to terms with yet. The answer to that is no. Except sometimes we all have to face a conclusion that in certain situations, it’s absolutely necessary.

I know a lot of people that have experienced what I have gone through, and I think it’s only fair to share my story to hopefully inspire others to make a change in their lives. By sharing my story, I will be reliving — mentally (which is the hardest part) — all of the events I have worked so hard to overcome.

I have not always been this fit. Growing up, I was always a little heavier than my classmates. I had retained a lot of my baby weight until I got out of high school. But even then, I was not motivated to become fit.  In December of 2016, I was admitted into a hospital for an attempted overdose. Throughout the recovery, I had lost about 19 pounds from not eating.

I weighed around 130 pounds then. By the end of January, I weighed 111 lbs. I hadn’t weighed that low since I was 10 years old. I had mixed emotions. Wow! Depression is the best diet, I thought to myself. But I was too embarrassed to admit to people how I lost so much weight.

I was very weak not just mentally but physically. The more frail I began to look, the more sad I began to feel. I couldn’t figure out how to not be sad anymore. There were times when I wanted to get up and get healthy again but it was just too exhausting to get out of bed and I would just cry all day then tell myself I could just try again tomorrow.

It was in March 2017 that I went to the gym again for the first time that year. I remember feeing so sad getting on the scale and seeing that I weighed 111 lbs. What had depressed me the most about the weight loss was that it was done in the most unhealthiest way. I had always wanted to lose weight, but in a way that I felt proud of and could tell people, not through depression. 

I wanted to become strong again and going to the gym was the only solution I had. I made a promise to myself that every time I felt sad, I would go to the gym. If I wanted to get better, this was the first place to start. Since no one else was going to help me, I had to learn to help myself.

I was done feeling bad. I was ready for a new and healthy version of me. Year 2017 was the worst year of my life so far, but it was also the most life changing. I’m still recovering till this day, but I overcame the greatest obstacle that was ever thrown at me. I slowly became stronger mentally and physically as I continuously kept the promise to myself.

Two years have passed since my breakdown and I can proudly say I live a healthier lifestyle. I workout four to six times per week if my schedule isn’t super busy, ate all the delicious food I wanted (okay maybe not so healthy food, LOL!), I became more comfortable in my own skin, learned to love myself more, and just overall improved my attitude/outlook towards life.

Even though I still haven’t reached my ideal body yet, I’m forever thankful for just being able to pull myself out of such a dark place. Each day I keep getting better. Not everyday is perfect, but I’m still here and I’m a survivor.

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