Fitness Enthusiast. Obesity Problems….Oxymoron, anyone???
For a long time, through my employed years, I have been living this conflict (with much emotional pain). In my twenties, I was a “gym-fit” youngster, very toned muscles and active into weightlifting and body building. But as time passed and age caught up, slowly and gradually, that peak physical shape started to slip downhill. And before I even knew it, the thirties happened to me. The proverbial six-pack was becoming family-pack and I was wallowing in this self-deception. I (falsely) felt that since I have been such an active gym and exercise enthusiast in the past, I am still ‘just as fit’. But the fact was I was growing heavier and heavier. Until It reached a stage, where I was constantly tipping the scales at over 100+ kgs. No matter what I did, I could not get the damn weight down.
Today, I weigh 94kgs and am well on my path to my ultimate goal of reaching 85kgs. around November 2010 and then stay on that weight range. This initial result was truly the shot in the arm that I needed to get back the motivation and zing back into my efforts. Here’s my story…..
May 2010, was a definite turning point. After much procrastination (oh yeah, I am a normal guy, and I too procrastinate, in several areas – I still haven’t gotten around to getting my car tyres changed – he he), I finally came around to taking an executive health checkup package, at a big hospital. As expected, I was way overweight. This time around, I weighed 102.5 kgs. at the doctors. My BMI was 32.5 – HO! HO! HO! I was now “officially” O-B-E-S-E! (Man just typing out that word was so stressful, imaging being one!). My cholesterol levels were borderline high and I got that ‘oh-you-irresponsible-IT-folks’ look from the physician. Thankfully no heart trouble (that was indeed the saving grace) as I passed the treadmill test without issues :-).
Towards the end of the checkup and after a discussion with the doctor, we figured out that exercise was not my problem area. I have a reasonable workout plan that I follow 6 days a week, with dogged determination. Then what the hell was wrong? While profiling my habits, it was found that my diet was the culprit! Over the years, I had indeed developed erratic eating habits, that were wreaking havoc on all my fitness efforts. Quite literally, my exercise routine was going down the drain.
Once the cause of the problem was identified, I was sent to a dietitian (which anyway, was part of the Health Check Package) and she gave me a diet plan (sounded more of a sermon) that was sensible in some areas, but several other parts of it were totally impractical. So I discussed areas that I needed to strictly follow, and identified a few cheat-zones here and there, and I had a more realistic diet-plan for me.
Some of the salient changes in my eating habits were:
- Increase Salads – Now I try to have at least 3-4 meals in a week, consisting of ‘only salads’. And I prefer it usually at dinner time, so that it feels very light and I get very good sleep on a lighter tummy. The other thing I ensure is that on a Salad Meal Day, only one meal is of salad, the other two meals are normal food.
- Restrict Non-Veg. Food – Now I have restricted myself to meats and chicken strictly on weekends ONLY. Earlier, I used to eat Meat/Chicken based items, whenever I ate out. And that was bad.
- Cooking Methods – We have now switched to Olive Oil for our cooking. It helps in lowering cholesterol levels. It is also a good idea to cycle between oil types every 2 months or so. Example, Olive Oil to sun flower oil etc.
- Snack Time – Most of us IT folks (also most others) have this tendency of nibbling on some snack or the other at odd times. Usually this used to be potato chips or some such stuff. I replaced this with Roasted Snacks. It serves the purpose well, with great taste and at the same time, extremely low on fat and non-fried.
- Alcohol – Ah, this is one of the biggest offenders. Now, as an individual, I really enjoy my drink. So after much thought I came to a conclusion that I am not going to go dry completely. But I will certainly make an effort to enjoy my drink in a more responsible fashion. Towards this end, I bought myself a standard, 2-sided, peg measure. It has 30ml (Standard Small drink) on one side and 60ml(Standard Large drink) on the other side. And , now, restrict myself to either 2 X 30ml or 1 X 60 ml drink, and strictly on the weekends. Earlier I was only a Scotch/Rum drinker but over the last 2 years or so, I have begun to cycle between Scotch-Rum-Wine. And stick to anyone at a time. NO MIXING!!! Once in a while, I do enjoy a party with friends, where I drink a bit more, but that is very infrequent.
- Need-based eating – Earlier, I used to eat, just because it is dinner time OR lunch time or whatever. So several time, I used to end up eating, even when I am not hungry. Big Mistake! I always ended up feeling bloated after this. Now, If I am feeling full, I don’t force a meal down my throat. It is ok, to either skip the meal OR have a glass of buttermilk or juice, instead of a whole meal. Keeps you full, without feeling stuffed, and is easier on your system too.
The big lesson learnt about food is that moderation is better than absitnance. So essentially, I did not totally eliminate any big food groups from my meal, but just reorganized it around to include some other stuff, fruits and salads on a more frequent basis and this way, I have a diet plan that is do-able and something I will not cringe about.
Since my exercise was pretty adequate, only minimal tweaking was done in there. I increased my walking distance from 4.5 kms a day to about 7 kms a day (duration increased to 1 hour x 6 days a week) followed by 30 minutes of floor workout at home (alternating between 3 days stretching and few yoga positions and 3 days of strength training with a pair of dumbbells).
And over a period of 75 odd days, the results have been simply amazing. I have never seen my weight drop like this and this the first time I achieved this kind of success, with weight loss. In fact, a lot of my clothes are so loose that some of my trousers/jeans can be yanked off without even unhooking the waist button/clasp. My next milestone is coming up soon in August, when I will buy new clothes for my birthday, and that sure is going to be fun, because this time I am going to buy smaller sizes (WOW!).
My ultimate goal, that I mentioned earlier, is to weigh in the range of 84-87 kgs (184.8 to 191.4 lbs) around Diwali (1st week of Nov, 2010). My current height is 5’11”. If I continue to keep up this routine, I am sure I will achieve it. And once I do that, I will work towards maintaining it at that level.
Mentioned below are a few learning and some pitfalls to watch-out for:
- There is no secret juice/potion/mixture, that will lead to weight loss. Like it or not, it is still the good old mix of sensible eating and exercise.
- SPOT-REDUCTION DOES NOT EXIST. Get your ass off the couch and your entire body will lose weight gradually and evenly.
- Do not aim to lose weight rapidly! Of course, the first couple of kilos are largely water loss. Aim for about 3 to 3.5 kgs in a month. Depending on body type, anything higher, could be a red-flag. I have also set a time line of close to 6 months to achieve my weight loss goal.
- If you feel constantly tired/exhausted OR you always keep thinking of food and feel hungry, then your diet plan is messed up. STOP IMMEDIATELY and consult a qualified dietitian. Because, if you do it right, then you will NOT feel hungry all the time, but will feel just about full.
Do share all your fantastic thoughts in the comments section. Did you have a similar success of your own? I’d be glad to hear about it! So if you are thinking of losing weight, here’s the secret – “STOP THINKING” and get your ass off that couch!
P.S.>My faithful DSC-W7 is out for repairs due to an alignment issue, so I will post some pictures as soon as it gets back to me!