FITSHIT #Profiles: Swati’s Story
I am 35, I weigh 54 kgs and my body fat is ~25%.
When I read what I just wrote, I can’t help but wonder if I’m dreaming. Because a little less than 3 years ago, I was 32 and I weighed 80kgs, with a body fat of 46%.
As far as I can remember I was always a heavy kid. Through school and college and post-grad — and I was never shy of accepting I was fat(although I now prefer the word ‘unfit’)
The moment of truth for me was when I couldn’t finish a very easy uphill climb in Hvar, Croatia. For the first time I gave up because
My body couldn’t make the climb my head was aiming for!
And I am not a person who gives up. Ever.
I missed the sunset. Gazing at pretty sunsets and landscapes is what I cherish most on my travels. That’s when it hit me. As I age, my unfit body will keep dragging me down and keep me from realising whatever my mind envisions. Sounds obvious in hindsight, but it was a very scary feeling.
The day I landed back in India, I took an appointment with a nutritionist who’d helped a friend lose 13 kgs. She wrote me a diet, and I started visiting her religiously, every Wednesday morning, without fail.
The diet she put me on wasn’t rocket science. To be fair, my mother’s always advised me on very similar lines. Only I never listened to her.
The routine was just basics:
Eat every 2–3 hours, as far as possible stick to homemade food, add fruits and salad to the diet, drink lots of water and walk 5kms daily.
Simple right? It wasn’t.
The first 3 weeks were the toughest. I had severe withdrawal symptoms. Junk and ordered in food, rum and coke and most of all sugar/ sweets – it took my body some time to accept that none of these were coming back. That they were gone for good.
The quick initial results helped. By the end of the 3rd week I was 4 kgs lighter. I felt more energetic during the day. Slowly the routine started setting in.
I started enjoying my morning walks by Carter Road. If I missed a morning, I made it a point to go in the evening or post dinner. I started getting a high when the weighing scale showed a lower number than the previous week. It helped me keep at my routine with more resolve.
In 2 months I was 7 kilos down. People around me started noticing and complimenting me. In those 2 months, my biggest realisation was how powerful a thing ‘routine’ can be.
Once I started seeing results of maintaining a certain discipline, it became a non-negotiable. Rum and coke used to be my go-to drink at every party or social gathering. It’s been over 3 years since I had my last rum and coke. I started saying no to anything which wasn’t a part of my diet. Even if that meant upsetting people around me, including my parents.
And honestly, it wasn’t as if I couldn’t have cheated occasionally. I chose not to. Because it helped me get more headstrong about my resolve.
The next 4 months felt like a breeze. I was down to 60 kilos. And for the first time in 6 months, my nutritionist smiled at me in an appreciative way.
The best part of this journey was that this discipline started rubbing off at work. I felt I was getting more organised in my approach towards work. And honestly, I never felt more amazing about myself.
I had 8 kilos more to lose as per my nutritionist. And as per my maths, the rate at which I had lost 20 kilos, I would be done and dusted with these 8 kilos in another 2months at best.
Well, if only everything in life was that straightforward ? Remember the marginal utility curve.
Once I hit 60kgs, my weekly weight loss started creeping down. In the next 2 months I barely lost 2.5 kilos.
It was extremely frustrating to see such slow progress especially when you feel you are so close to the finish line. I started reading a lot about diets and weight loss to understand what more I could do.
From walking I gradually pushed myself to running 5 km and beyond. I realised that just like the last kilometre is the hardest one of the runs, the last mile of weight loss is also the toughest. For a simple reason. You are fighting the fat which has been there longest in you and therefore is more stubborn. Hence, you must push harder than ever.
You must be more stubborn than the fat
My nutritionist tried a variety of modifications in my diet to help break the stagnation. She also counselled me a lot in this period which made me realise that what was happening was normal. The only thing I could do is not give-up and stay the course.
By the end of one year, around June 2017, I weighed 52 kilos. With ~29% body fat. It took about 6 months to lose the first 20 kilos and then 6 months to lose the last 8 kilos.
My nutritionist then gave me a maintenance diet with some pointers on how to keep the discipline. I still consult her off and on but it’s not a weekly routine anymore.
The New Life
You’d assume that’s where the story ends. I did too.
I tried to stick to the maintenance routine she prescribed me for a couple of months. But with lack of supervision and, more importantly, lack of a goal to achieve, I felt a little lost.
I started gaining weight again. It did not feel good. I did not want to let go of what I’d achieved. I wanted to build on from there.
I spoke to a lot of my friends who have been on this journey, including Shashank. I realised I needed supervision, and more importantly, a new goal to work towards.
So I joined a gym in early 2018 with a personal trainer. The training helped me improve my strength and toned some loose muscles from the weight loss. More importantly, it gave me a new routine, a new discipline to keep.
Now I go to the gym every morning without fail. The sense of achievement and thrill that I get when I do 1 extra set of squats or 30 more seconds of the plank or lift more weight than the previous week, is phenomenal. I feel like a zombie when I miss my gym.
Till date I have never crossed 55kgs on the weighing scale. Even after having indulgent vacations and cheat days.
The idea is not to cut out the joy of eating things you want to. But it’s more about how you balance it later. I will hog on mangoes as the summer approaches. But I will cut out something else to make up for that.
If I had to list down the things that I have learnt on this roller coaster ride:
- There is no harm in taking expert help if you are not sure on how to go about it. A good start is important.
- Keep at it. Only when the fire in the belly is burning ferociously and constantly, will you see that fat melting away
- Have a goal to work towards. Take your time to get there. Once you get there, find a new goal. Fitness and weight loss are a lifestyle. It’s not a onetime exercise/task.
- Keep experimenting with food and workout both. You should be happy with what you eat. Only then will you see results.
- Say no to anything and anyone who can remotely derail your plans. Not everyone will like it but remember you are doing it for yourself. And you know what’s best for you.
Before I wrap this up, I want to share my most sublime moment. The time I felt every ounce of hard work I had put in had paid off.
It was in St Petersburg last year and we were walking in mall. I happened to like a pink dress at one of the stores. It wasn’t my size, so I asked the lady there if she could get me my size in it. She looked at me and said, “I think XS should fit you perfectly.” And all I could think of was all the years that I walked into shops and was always handed out was an XL.
Also published on Medium.
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