Knowing you need to lose weight and acting on it are two very, very different things.
I knew I had to lose weight when I heard three hurtful words: ‘Kasto motayeko! Chyaa”. A 60-year-old relative who looks like she is in her 40s said this to me during a family dinner. I was angry. She had no rights to treat me like that. But a trip to the bathroom quickly confirmed my worst fears: I was in fact fat. Dressed in a loose kurti over baggy pants, I thought about my days in college when I could easily wear body-hugging clothes. Looking at myself in the mirror, I vowed to hit the gym from the very next day and get my once envious body back. But knowing you need to lose weight and acting on it are two very, very different things.
The next day, I slept through my alarm. I ate Maggie noodles with sausages for breakfast and had pizza for lunch. Though I had silently vowed to flaunt my toned body during Dashain that year (which was three months away from that eventful family dinner), life isn’t a Hindi movie and I had put on even more weight by then. I took great pains to make sure I didn’t cross paths with this lady who had so blatantly said ‘Chyaa’ at my face during Dashain that year because she would, no doubt, comment that I had become fatter, and those weren’t words I wanted to hear.
When I finally decided that I should do something about my spiraling-out-of-control body, I invested in a weighing scale and stood on it for the first time in years. I was shocked to discover that, at 5’2, I weighed a staggering 74 kilos. No wonder my favorite blue jacket ripped in the arm when I tried it on after finding it squashed at the bottom of the big metal box I stored my winter clothes in. And I thought the moths had had a go at it.
After the much need reality check, I knew I really had to lose weight. But it wasn’t going to be easy, especially since I used to guzzle a bottle or two of Fanta a day and my staple diet consisted of rice and sausages. A day or two of eating healthy – carrots, boiled veggies, and fruits – was the most my body could take before my heart lusted for fat-dripping bacon, and chocolate brownies. It was almost as if I expected instant results and when a day or two of trying to lead a disciplined lifestyle led me nowhere, I gave up.
Time and again, I vowed to be a better eater, and not consume a lot of junk food. There was a time I gave up chocolate, cakes, and everything sweet. But for someone like me who was born with sweet ‘teeth’, it was very hard to give up on the mouthwatering desserts Kathmandu seemed to be teeming with. The glorious cupcakes, the gooey lemon cheesecake, the perfect looking tiramisu, there’s just so much you want to feast on when you are out. And currently, to make matters worse, my all time favorite Café Coffee Day has opened a branch in Kathmandu.
Once, in a single day, I had a thick slab of chocolate cake, two banana muffins, a slice of caramel pastry, and two scoops of Baskin Robbins Mississippi Mud chocolate ice cream – all within six hours or so. Don’t ask me what I was thinking. I wasn’t thinking, just giving in to my intense cravings. I know many people like me who go on healthy diets completely cutting off from junk food and chocolates only to binge eat every few days. This is a common problem faced by many who want to lose weight but find themselves unable to. You restart your weight loss program every week or at the beginning of every month and you are on the right path for a while before cravings come calling.
And for foodies like me, it’s even harder to lose weight. Being a compulsive eater, I turned to food at every occasion. If I were happy, I’d eat. If I were sad, I’d eat some more. And if I were just bored, I’d find something new to eat. I have discovered countless new eateries this way and now have a favorite dish at every other restaurant in Jhamsikhel and Thamel. Food, for me, is comfort. Food is a friend for all seasons.
But I did manage to lose almost 20 kilos and it was by exercising rigorously throughout the week. You can’t want a good body and not have to work for it either. Win some lose some, I guess. In the end, I had to choose between trying to hide myself and feel awful about it and doing something to end that misery. I chose the latter. Also, I had to give up some much loved food. Some people believe that you can eat anything you want as long as you exercise but I have found out first hand that it only works up to a certain age when your body’s metabolism is naturally high. Once you are in your twenties, that doesn’t hold true anymore.
But I can’t and haven’t given up on my favorite foods. I eat whatever I want but just once a week, Shilpa Shetty style. I have designated Sundays as my eat-anything-you-want days and on these days I will give in to my cravings. I look forward to these days so much that it compels me to be strong and stay disciplined the rest of the week. This might sound a bit far fetched but it actually works. And when you have designated a specific day to eat whatever you want, you don’t feel like you have cheated on your diet plan and you won’t have to restart all over again every few days.
So far, it has worked wonders. However, it did take time, patience, and perseverance for me to lose weight. The reason many don’t get to where I did is because, like me in the early stages, they too give up after a day or two or a week of eating right and exercising. Before you begin your weight loss journey, realize that it’s a long process, and be prepared for it. You only have to look at some Bollywood celebrities who are working out to recover their once-fit bodies. Take a look at Kareena Kapoor who is working extra hard at the gym to lose that post pregnancy weight. Remember Aishwarya Rai’s slow transition from fat to fit after giving birth to her daughter?
Patience and perseverance are the only sure-shot ways to weight loss. There is no shortcut. The only thing to do is to keep your eye on the goal and enjoy the process. After all, eating right and exercising can also boost your morale. The scale might not tip soon but your mood will definitely improve and so will your self-esteem. It didn’t take me long after I started my fitness journey to stop avoiding people, even the relative who judges everyone based on how fat or skinny s/he is.
Yes, food will come calling and you will be tempted to skip your gym time to go watch that movie but persevere and make weight loss your priority. And when and if you have occasional lapses, don’t berate yourself too much and fall off the bandwagon entirely. Everyone can be the shape and size they want, you just have to be willing to work hard for it, but you don’t have to give up on life, I mean food, but that’s pretty much the same thing.