It was not that I never wanted to be slim yet healthy, but exercising, dieting were not my cup of tea. Well that is what I used to believe as I thought I had better things to do like reading, sketching, playing sitar, listening to music, writing poetry and relishing good food, rather than walking, playing, running and dieting just because all girls must be slim to look good.
I was 71 kg at the age of 23 when I got married and after giving birth to two children and taking care of the family, one fine day suddenly I realised (rather accepted) that I was obese — weighing 98 kg on the scale.
For me, being fat was still okay, ‘Oh! Come on I am not a teenager but a mum of two teenagers.’ I had all sorts of excuses. I was in an unknown pact with myself to stay in that state of denial.
Then, a day arrived when I was put on medication for high blood pressure, asthma, joint pain and backache. I was already on medication for thyroid imbalance. I was not able to sleep at night because I was scared that my snoring might wake up others in the house and because I found it difficult to breathe without using my inhaler. I was exhausted and irritated all the time. So, in October 2011, I decided to resign from my teaching job and take reins of my health in my hands.
How was the journey? Did you ever feel like giving up?
Overall, the journey was exciting and still is as I have not yet reached my goal of being 60 kg but the worst thing was getting up early in the morning to go for a morning walk. But I was loving and admiring myself all the more for my courage and will power to succeed. Whenever the scales weren’t moving, I was thinking of new strategies to make it work but never give up.
So what was your weight loss strategy?
First and foremost, the key to my losing weight was eating healthy and moving a lot. I changed my eating habits, food choices and walked a lot. I decided to start by walking 10,000 steps daily and doing something extra to increase the numbers as much as possible.
I started going for morning and evening walks. I saw some very good ‘Walk at Home’ videos by Leslie Sansone on YouTube and started following them. Every day, I was walking a minimum 5 miles with Leslie Sansone videos and at least 8-10 km outdoors.
‘Walk at Home’ videos helped me build my stamina and speed and at 90 kg, I started jogging too in-between my power walks. I found a very interesting way to exercise, power walking on Bollywood dance numbers. I made a playlist of all item song numbers and remixes. I still go for brisk walks listening to those peppy beats.
Because of my age and family history of rheumatoid arthritis, I wanted to be careful about the choice of high intensity workouts I did. I tried skipping but felt pressure on my knees and ankles so opted for brisk walks at the speed of 5 miles an hour instead.
What about dietary changes? How did you manage that?
Since I was power walking regularly, I was hungry all the time, and initially I ate whatever I wanted to thinking, ‘I can eat anything because I am also burning out calories.’ As a result, the scale wasn’t moving. This was when I decided to change my eating habits.
The most difficult task was to control my sweet tooth as I could gobble up a whole tin of gulab jamuns at one go! I curbed this by eating almonds dipped in home-made, sugar-free chocolate cream. I used to eat pizzas with my kids but had salad on the side. I stopped eating all confectionery, cakes, refined flour because I was highly motivated to lose weight.
I did a lot of research on the internet and decided to follow the basics of Atkins Diet (low carb, high protein). Reducing carbs to 30-40g, cutting all sugars including dairy and fruits for two months brought my weight down to 78 kg that meant I was lighter by 20 kg in two months’ time. I consider this my biggest achievement till date in life. My meals had lots of green veggies, eggs and fish. For two months, I gave up grains, dairy and fruits.
Did you take professional help?
Why I call my weight loss my biggest achievement is because I did everything on my own, without the help of any dietician or personal trainer. Internet was my best buddy.
What fitness goals do you have now?
I have not yet reached my goal because I need to lose a few kilos more for that. I want to be 60 kg. I can jog but now I want to run!
How do you plan to maintain the weight?
I have to keep an eye on my food choices and try and stay under 100g carbs. If my carbs go beyond that, I ensure that my fat consumption stays low. I walk daily 5-15 km with a day’s rest in-between.
How do you feel after losing weight? Has it changed you or your life in any way?
My first visit to my doctor was when I weighed 98 kg. When I went to him after three months, I was 75 kg and it was an amazing feeling to see his expression when he saw me. He accepted that it took him a few seconds to recognise me as my face had totally changed.
Undoubtedly, I feel like a feather now or may be a butterfly! But more than that feeling, I am off all medicines except my regular thyroid dose — no blood pressure, no asthma, no snoring. I sleep peacefully without any problem. My energy levels are high and doing a 10-13 mile walk without break is an easy task for me now. My equation with my husband and kids has changed. I am a much happier woman today.
This journey has taught me that if I decide to do something, I can do it. Nothing is impossible and life is something that cannot be smothered with high doses of medicines. My weight loss journey has taught me to accept bitter realities of life and instead of living in denial, do something about it.
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