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We asked Get Ahead readers to share their stories of weight loss with us. Subramanian H K, a 26-year-old software engineer from Bangalore, tells us how he managed to shrink his waistline by five inches, and shares some fitness dos and don'ts.
About nine months ago, my friend Mark Viduka (name changed), who is ultra-skinny, passed a funny comment about my weight, which was a staggering 84 kilos (on a 5' 6" frame) back then. I promptly replied that I could drop the excess weight in no time. He just said. "It's impossible, I won't believe it until I see it."
Fast-forward to the present. Today, most of my colleagues still comment on my physique, but the comments are all complimentary. Some of them even approach me for suggestions on diets or exercise regimes. The days of wearing my belt at the penultimate hole are long gone. Now, I wear the same belt hooked to the innermost hole, and it is still not tight enough. The inch tape reads 31 on my waist now, and I weigh 68 kilos.
I used to be a gym freak even when I was pursuing undergrad studies. But what I lacked then was the right information and resources. Even though I spent two hours at the gym every day, I never saw any results. In 2002 I went to the US for my Master's degree, where I survived solely on pizzas and burgers. Within six months, all my trousers were too tight for me.
That was when I took my first step towards fitness. I vowed not to touch another pizza again, and I still follow that rule, except for indulging in one or two pizzas a year. Later, with the help of some American friends and based on my own resources and experiments, I learnt a lot about the metabolic dynamics of the human body from a body builder's perspective. Based on my research I realised that, basically, fitness is not just about lifting weights, not just about running fives miles a day, and not just about having a protein-rich diet. Each one of these is important, and your fitness regime would be incomplete without any one of these elements.
Weight loss (more precisely, weight control) is not a myth. Everyone can lower his or her weight. It is sad, though, that most people get scared of a little hard work and just give up on getting fit. In reality, going to the gym can be quite addictive. Once you get into a routine, you will not want to miss a single workout session even if your girlfriend/ boyfriend gives you an ultimatum!
The most effective and healthy way to burn fat, in my experience, is to add muscle, do cardio exercises and maintain a healthy diet. A friend of mine runs on the treadmill for 40 minutes everyday. Though the exercise should help him lose weight, he still looks plump, and even a short break from his cardio regime causes his weight to shoot up.
Cardio exercises may be the most effective for women (along with diet control). But for men, building muscle improves metabolism significantly, which means fat is continuously burnt even when you are not in the gym. I do cardio exercises only once or twice a week for 30 minutes, and am still able to control my weight only because I have invested a lot of time and effort on building muscle.
A word on supplements
Some wannabe, know--it-all fitness gurus rule out supplements as nothing more than marketing strategies. On the other hand, some people take supplements expecting miracles without any effort. The common trait the two share is ignorance. What I have found is that supplements are blessings of science for fitness freaks. Supplements can be very beneficial if you know how to use them.
A common myth is that supplements are illegal; many even believe they are some sort of steroid. The fact is that dietary supplements, as their name suggests, are something that you can include in your daily diet schedule. Even Horlicks is a supplement, for that matter! Supplements are nothing but processed food, unlike steroids, which are artificially synthesised hormones.
How to get fit
I am not going to lay out my diet plan or workout schedule simply because every individual's need is different. Understanding one's own body dynamics is half the battle won.
There are, however, some general rules that help lose those extra kilos.
In India, the meaning of good health is accepted as not having any disease; in the US you are considered fit if you are able to run 10 miles. That is a huge difference in the mindset. What you must realise is that the definition differs from culture to culture and person to person. There is no such thing as an ideal weight or ideal shape. Each person has to decide what fitness means with regard to his or her body and health. Try to stay fit; the desired weight and shape will follow.
Were you once overweight? How did you manage to drop the excess baggage? Email your contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with your name, age, occupation, contact details, and photographs of yourself both before and after your weight loss. We'll publish the best entries right here on Get Ahead.
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