I joined BigLoser a month and a half ago. I had been putting off starting a weight loss programme for a long time, even though I knew very well that I needed it. For some reason, seeing Nikhil aka @nixxin‘s post about joining it, and then seeing my friend Anita (@gyaanzz) offering to sponsor him for Rs. 500 per kg suddenly triggered off something in my head, and I decided to peg my own weight loss on BigLoser. I asked her if she’d sponsor me too, and she readily agreed. And so I was off.
To help give me some motivation, I posted on Twitter asking if anyone else was willing to sponsor me. My friends @ritikadarira and @Thirsty_Crow joined in, and I was surprised when @gulpanag too offered to help. What more motivation does a man need?
I used to be quite a gym rat 5-6 years ago, so I knew weight training was up my alley, but I had been slacking off on it for a while, so I decided to start in a small way. There’s a nice park right in front of my house, and I resolved to go on a morning walk every day. Despite being a night owl, I forced myself to get up at 7:30 AM, and walk at 8. The first week or so, I only did about a kilometre or so and then gradually increased it. By week 2, I had already increased it to 3 km, and in another week, I had done 5 km. By then, I was walking for an hour every day. Thanks to my iPod, it wasn’t boring or tedious. I recommend that anyone starting a weight loss programme get an MP3 player.
I was quite content with this pace of doing 5-6 Km, and didn’t want to strain myself unnecessarily because that’s how injuries happen. So when my friend @MaximusToxicus challenged me to walk two rounds around Ulsoor Lake, I outright dismissed it because the distance was about 12 Km. But it kept gnawing away at me, and a couple of days later, I told him, “I accept your challenge! Walk with me.” So one Tuesday evening, the two of us went walking. 1 hour and 50 minutes later, my pedometer told me we had done what I didn’t think I was capable of doing. It was a huge sense of achievement. Since then, I have tried to walk 12 km once every week, and my next goal is to do 15 km.
I also started going to the gym and lifting weights, but I found that due to my unpredictable work schedule, I wasn’t able to go regularly at the same time. I decided not to have any excuses, so I went on eBay India and ordered myself a weight training bench, along with barbells, dumbbells, and weights. It arrived a few days ago, and now I have weights at home to lift whenever I want.
On the diet front, I have made a conscious effort to eat healthier food. For breakfast, I eat muesli with low-fat milk. I am also cutting out soft drinks and junk food, especially things with refined flour in them. Am I going on a completely fat-free, ultra-healthy diet? No. Because those tend to be the ones you quickly give up on, and I’d rather have a diet that does 80% of the work and is easier to follow, than a 100% one that I give up in a month. The good thing is that a few weeks after you give up these things, your body doesn’t crave them so much any more. Heck, I’ve even started looking for vegetables in food when I go out to eat, and I’m a hardcore non-vegetarian.
I know this is a long journey, because in the long-term I think I need to lose about 20 kg, and in the month and a half I’ve been doing this, I’ve lost 3 Kgs. But it’s a good feeling when you meet someone you haven’t seen in months and they tell you you’ve lost weight. Or when your clothes feel looser.
As a chef, I know a bit more than the average person about nutrition, and there are two things I want readers of this piece to know. One is that silly, unscientific diets like the GM diet or pretty much any miracle diets that promise big weight loss in a week are useless, and sometimes dangerous. Your body really needs a proper mix of carbohydrates, protein, fibre, vitamins, and even fat every day to function properly. These diets may work in the short-term because much of the weight is water loss, which will come right back anyway, and do you really want to be sipping some miracle soup for the rest of your life? And yes, eating celery may burn up more calories than it contains, but for it to have any real effect, you’d need to eat upwards of a kilogram every day. If you’ve taken years to put on the excess weight on your body, don’t expect it to go away in a couple of weeks. We simply aren’t wired that way.
The second is that so many weight loss programmes fail because people try to make too many radical changes in their diet and lifestyle all at once, and after a few weeks of this, it becomes too much to handle. They give up, and just go back to the way they were. There is so much noise made about “lose weight fast” (especially in fitness magazines) but I think that “lose weight at a moderate pace” is more realistic, but doesn’t sound as catchy, of course. It is far easier to deal with incremental changes in one’s lifestyle. So, for instance, start by cutting out the soft drinks from your diet in the first week. In week two, start replacing refined flour products with more fibrous food. In week three, reduce alcohol consumption to once a week. In week four, restrict fried food only once a week. For exercise, start walking for about 15 minutes every day. If you suddenly go from being a couch potato to trying to walk 5 km, your body will respond with aches and pains from the change. And then you’ll give up. Slowly increase the pace of your exercise to give yourself new challenges that are realistic and achievable. Then, when your body is getting used to the exercise, start adding things like weight training into the mix. This will help you come up with a sustainable programme for the next several months, and that’s really the key to long-term weight loss.
@madmanweb wins himself:
* A 6-month subscription to The Ideal Home and Garden Magazine
* An umbrella from The Bombay Store