As a child, I was never “fat” fat. I played sports actively during my school years in Lucknow. It was only in college that I started gaining weight. Soon, I had a paunch and for the next six years — three years each of graduation and law school — my weight kept going up. In October last year, my weight was 85kg. My eating habits had also changed dramatically. I was hungriest at odd hours of the night. Even when there was food at home, I would always order from outside. I love Mughlai food, so butter naan and butter chicken found their way into my kitchen once too often. And if butter chicken was there, could dal makhani be left out? When it wasn’t Mughlai, then it had to be Italian — thick crusty pizzas with loads of cheese. Nights would find me sitting in front of my laptop, gorging on these and then passing out next to the dishes.
Sometimes, I would get conscious of my weight and work towards getting it off. I would hit the gym with gusto for a while, before my enthusiasm would wane. Last year, around September, I was diagnosed with Psoriasis, an auto-immune disorder characterised by patches of abnormal skin. In my case, one of the most probable triggers was that I had a lot of fat mass in my body. Psoriasis is incurable and the news shook me up. It was then that I realised I had to do something to lose all the excess weight I had gained over the years.
I am 26 and nearly 5’12”. For someone of my build, a healthy weight would be about 75kg. By October, I resumed my gym sessions, intent on losing the extra 10kg, but my food habits remained unchanged. Initially, my only goal was to lose weight and lose it quickly. I took to running, which I believed helped one lose fat. But what I didn’t realise was that if you do not train muscles, you also end up losing a lot of muscle mass. Even if you are dieting, you need to have carbs at the right time of the day.
I decided to break up my weight loss programme into smaller, more achievable goals. From 85, I came down to 82, and then to 80. However, I had spent 1.5 months doing nothing but intensive cardio and, as a result, I had lost muscle. Under an able trainer’s guidance, I started strength training. Right now, my programme is to hit the gym five days a week, rest for a day, and, since I’m preparing for a half-marathon, run 15 km once a week.
I started getting serious about my diet around November last year. My diet has been the biggest challenge. No amount of workout can compensate for a bad diet. Unlike what most people think, carbs are actually good for the body, and the best time to have them is in the mornings because that’s when your body needs fuel. One should eat carbs in the morning and decrease the intake over the course of the day. So, I cut out the carbs after sunset.
My diet right now is rich in protein. I consume powdered whey protein early in the morning, followed by breakfast comprising five egg whites and two pieces of brown bread/oatmeal. I consume around six litres of water every day. Overall, I eat 15 egg whites and 300 gm of chicken through the course of the day. Cheats are rare, but I always give in to chocolates. It’s still my one weakness. If I see it, I want it. Otherwise, I have completely cut off sugar, except the ones I get in the form of fructose. This is a huge transformation for me. Earlier, at the end of the day, even if I worked out, I would eat double the amount. It used to take me three days of work to get over that one day of overeating. Now, eating right is not an effort but a habit.
Today, I weigh under 69kg. Earlier, my parents used to tell me I am fat all the time. Now, they say that I’m becoming too thin and that I should stop my diet. Earlier, my family would keep one crate of eggs to last a week. Now, they keep three crates just for me. I come from a vegetarian household, so I fix my non-vegetarian meals myself.
Since I started off with the regime, I have also had to give up on much of my social life. I don’t see the point in eating out often. If I go out, I meet friends at their place. If I have to eat out, I opt for salads and take a bite of my friend’s lovely chocolate dessert, of course. At parties, my friends tell me, “Come over but get your own protein shake.” But, I don’t feel like I’m missing out. All the hard work has been paying off and I am addicted to the grind.
Right now, I am working towards building abs. I don’t know how that sounds to you but, personally, I have always wanted to see what really is underneath all this flab.
(As told to Pallavi Pundir)