Eighteen months ago, you could've called me "Piggy," "Fatso" or "Rosie O'Donnell." Without the XL shirt, the potbelly, and the terrible case of chin acne, you probably wouldn't guess that I weighed 220 pounds just before I entered college.

I'm down to 145 pounds now, and whenever I tell people about those dark days, their mouths drop as if gymnast Gabby Douglas just did some complicated somersault in her sleep. "HOW DID YOU DO THAT?" they ask (and because of the sheer exclamation in their voice, I really had to type that all-caps).

At first, I didn't know how to respond. But after being spammed with that question nonstop, I realized two things: First, I've been telling too many people about my past obesity. Second, besides that Chinese dietary supplement with acaí berry, oyster sauce and a hint of coke (I kid), the key to a successful weight-loss attempt can be summed up in one word: motivation.

So, this is how I motivated myself:

1. Dig Deep.
I remember how my mother told me a story about her diabetic co-teacher who got a small wound while having a pedicure. For some reason, the wound kept rotting, and they had to amputate her limb, little by little. That's how she (graphically/disgustingly) died. I don't want to die that way; I know I can do so much better. So I despised diabetes from then on, and that motivated me to lose weight and stay healthy.
You don't just aim to lose weight for the hell of it. So find your real reason for wanting to—whether it's a healthier heart, a sense of personal accomplishment or a higher seat in your high school's caste—and you'll start to feel motivated.

2. Be Realistic.
You've been running for two weeks, but since you last stepped on the scale, you've lost only two pounds. So you get depressed and demotivated, and you binge eat. As you gain back the fat you victoriously lost, your thighs start to cry. Then you binge eat again.
If you're not Brad Pitt, you can't just go to a bar and pick up Angelina Jolie (although bringing a Somalian infant may help). You get what I'm saying here? I didn't lose 75 pounds overnight. During all of last summer, I lost a total of 25 pounds, but I kept going. Losing 5-10 pounds a month is an acceptable goal that will keep you motivated.

3. Willpower!

While you should attack your plan little by little, never be content with only what you think you can have. Yes, aim to lose five pounds this month, but if you still have three butts while wearing that bikini you've been wanting to show off, aim to lose another five or even 10 the following month. Challenge yourself until you obtain your ideal number of butt layers. Discipline your mouth to want more fresh veggies than veggie pizzas. And don't you dare sass me about hormones and stuff, because your mind is ever better than your body.

4. Never deprive yourself.
I heard this once while watching a Filipino movie titled My Big Love: When your body, especially your digestive system, feels like it's in jail while dieting, it will either give up suddenly (aka binge eating) or get too used to it (aka anorexia).
You don't want either of those. So, from time to time—say, once every two weeks—treat yourself to a chocolate sundae, or a steak, just to tell your body that you appreciate its hard work. Try not to overeat, no matter how hard it is. Then, the next day, do your Zumba with renewed determination.

5. Learn not to care.
Until I started moving in 2010, I had been fat all my life. So I know that awkward feeling, like everyone is looking at your jiggling tummy while you're jogging around the high school track. It's really annoying and demotivational, and it makes it scary to work out.
Good news: nobody's staring. In fact, nobody cares. Whether you want to lose weight or stay flabby all depends on you. And even if you catch someone looking, or even laughing at your sweaty endeavors, it's not like you'll see him again. But if you do see him again, you can always flip him off. And, hopefully, you'll be thinner then.

SWEAT 2012

Sensual Healing
by Alexa Schirtzinger

Roller Disco Inferno

by Enrique Limón

The Balance Between Mountains and Faults
by Mia Rose Carbone

Salad Days
by Alex De Vore

Healing On Your Own Terms

by Dani Katz

Hotshot Trots
by Nick Davidson

Team Ballet
by Lily Wolf

Mind Over Mass

by Ardee Napolitano