• Cecille Ilustre’s story is one that’s familiar to many moms. After giving birth to her second son, her health took a backseat to the demands of being a wife, mom of two, and homemaker. She didn’t have time to play badminton like she used to, and the pounds crept on over the years. By December 2014, Cecille’s weight peaked at 170 lbs.

    “In 2015, I had my annual checkup. My cholesterol had gone up. I had ischemia, some kind of blockage sa artery. That was when I realized I had to do something,” narrates Cecille, who was 39 at the time.

    She started making changes in August 2015, going for walks on a 1.3-kilometer loop near their place in Bulacan.

    “Struggle talaga yung 1.3 na mag-iikot ako,” she recalls. “Baby steps talaga, hanggang sa after a month, naiikot ko na siya.” Slowly but surely, she built up her endurance. By December 2015, she was confident enough to join her first fun run.

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    “Then na-no-notice na ng mga tao ang weight loss ko,” she says. Later on, she was able to convince her husband to run with her. They eventually took up biking and started joining duathlons, which are races that involve running and biking. Pretty soon, her husband started joining triathlons too, which include swimming.

    “I was feeling left out because my husband was doing open-water swims pero ako hirap na hirap ako mag-swim,” Cecille, now 41, says with a laugh. Scrolling through Facebook in mid-2016, she came across SwimFit Philippines, a swimschool. “Nag-schedule ako ng assessment,then nag-enroll agad ako for stroke improvement,” she says. She started her swim training around August 2016, and by November, she was ready for her first triathlon.

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    Things didn’t go as planned though, as Cecille had a bout with intestinal flu just three days before the event. “Naka-IV ako, pero sabi ko, ‘Naku, I can’t miss this event kasi I trained for this.’ Kaya nung medyo gumaling ako, sabi ko, ‘Finisher na lang, finisher.’ Mahirap, kasi yung legs ko parang walang power, pero tinapos ko siya.”

    Last month, she joined a triathlon that consisted of a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike ride, and 5-kilometer run. She continues to train for future triathlons, swimming three times a week, running twice a week, and biking at home after her runs. In two years, she dropped around 40 lbs., and currently weighs between 127 and 130 lbs. Her goal is to eventually reach 120 lbs.

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    But Cecille says the best part about this journey isn’t the weight she lost, but what she and her family have gained. “Na-encourage ko yung sons ko na maging active na rin.” In fact, her 20-year-old and her 15-year-old both joined the triathlon with her in November. “And yung bond namin, mas close. Hindi kagaya before na may sariling lakad yung eldest ko, yung isang anak ko nasa bahay, nag-co-computer games, then kami lang dalawa ng husband ko ang nagpupunta sa mga events, duathlon. Lately, sa training, sama-sama kaming lahat, mas close.”


    Her sons have also become more mindful of their food intake. Along with having a fitness regimen, the family changed their diet, eliminating soda, cakes, and chocolates. “Hindi naman totally kasi minsan nagchi-cheat naman kami,” clarifies Cecille. “Hindi ko dine-deprive ang sarili ko. Basta kumakain ako. Enough na ’yon pag natitikman ko, okay na. Minsan mas mahirap pa yung dine-deprive ko totally ang sarili ko, mas nagke-crave ako.”

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    This lifestyle is not without its challenges though. “The biggest challenge, I think, is getting up in the morning, thinking na I have lots of things to do pa after I train. I have to pick up my son, go to the grocery, I have to cook kasi I don’t have any househelp,” she says. “Sometimes, iniisip ko pa lang pagod na ako, ayoko nang ituloy. Pero hindi ko ma-afford ma-miss ang mag-work out.”

    Cecille feels that she is also able to set an example for her boys. “Ewan ko, ha, kung nag-a-assume ako pero parang they look up to me na. Sabi nila, ‘Mom, we can’t keep up with you, nakakapagod yung ginagawa mo!’ ’Pag gising nila sa umaga, ‘Mag-ru-run ka?’ ‘Halika, run tayo!’ So napipilitan sila.”

    Her ultimate goal is to join the Ironman in Subic in March 2019—a 1.9-kilometer swim, 90-kilometer bike ride, and a 21-kilometer run. “And my eldest son will join me. Sabi ko, ‘By that time, graduate ka na. Promise me ha, hindi ka mauuna sa akin! We’ll both join the Ironman together.’”

    Cecille feels somewhat unworthy to be featured since she currently has no podium finishes (another goal), but her journey is nonetheless an inspiration, especially to fellow moms. “Ang naisip ko, nothing really is impossible. Kasi takot na takot talaga ako, hindi ko akalain na makaka-swim ako. Syempre nagawa ko with the help of other people, pero minsan, mag-sa-start din sa ’yo ’yon eh. Dapat may drive ka. ’Pag gusto mo, magagawa mo talaga,” she says.

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    This story originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Good Housekeeping Philippines magazine. Minor edits have been made by the Smartparenting.com.ph editors.

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