Photographs: martialArtsNomad.com/Creative commons
Readers share the stories and strategies behind their weight loss.
Last week, we invited you to share your diet and exercise strategies with us.
Here is the next set of responses, starting with Virag Mantri, who managed to shed the pounds without dieting:
I have been living in Hong Kong for the past five years. In December of 2011, I weighed 75 kgs and the bulge on my tummy was bothering me. I've always maintained an athletic body and never allowed fat to win me over.
I lost a whopping 12 kgs in five months -- from January to May 2012 -- with a committed and easygoing workout plan. Yes, believe me it was very easy to lose.
I joined a kickboxing aerobics segment, for one hour once a week. This was it. The kickboxing session was a normal one, meaning we had no targets to hit. Only an intense combination of kickboxing in the air, combined with a fast-moving aerobics session.
Honestly, I didn't follow any particular diet during this course since I'm a serious foodie. I eat, eat and eat. However, I avoided fatty and fried fast foods during these months. The rest of my diet was not affected at all.
Today I'm back to 68 kgs, which I feel is perfect for my height. My key to losing weight is commitment, I don't really like to follow diet plans. My policy towards weight loss is simple -- just have a correct balance between the input and the output. If you are gaining weight just work out properly, or take up a sport. This will keep you fit and in shape, and you can continue to eat whatever you like. If you don't give those fats a channel to escape, they will stay in your body and accumulate. And you don't want them in the wrong parts of the body, it doesn't look nice.
Therefore, my advice to individuals reading these is to balance the input-output ratio. It will work effectively and fast. To add to the workout, it's good to cut out fried foods for some time, so that you lose those extra pounds quickly.
We want you to share your weight loss story with us. Write in to firstname.lastname@example.org (subject line: 'How I lost weight'), with a before and after photograph, if possible and we'll feature the best entries right here!
'Weight loss does not happen overnight -- it takes a long time'
IT professional Anup Raj has some strong views to share with those looking to lose weight:
Before I begin I would like to make some points clear here:
- Weight loss does not happen overnight -- it takes a long time. As some say, it ain't no sprint but a marathon. Hence, it is really important to have patience and believe in the process. The initiation is very slow, as it is natural for your body to counter this change. But once the breaking point is reached there ain't no stoppin' it.
- Diet tricks mentioned in books, online or recommended to you by a friend of yours do not necessarily work.
- Knowing the science behind it is really important. What I mean to say is, you need to know what you're doing -- like what workout you are performing and how it is helping you, and what are you eating and what the nutritional values of the food are.
- Set a goal and go mad for it. I know New Year resolutions never worked for you before, but make this one personal. Make it like this is the sole purpose you have been brought into this world for. Like getting six-pack abs and posting them on FB to make your friends jealous, or making your ex regret losing you, or to look better than that bh in your neighbourhood!
- Be around people who appreciate this endeavour of yours. That kind of has a placebo effect and makes you try harder for more. Stay away from haters who potentially could put a lid on your work by their negative comments (even if they do make comments, try taking them as constructive feedback and do not give up).
- Most important of all: When the chips are really down, when you think you have no energy to go for it, train your brain to believe -- if I do it now, it is just a matter of one month to get rock-hard abs. You all know PAIN IS GOOD.
Okay now let me begin my story. I joined an IT firm from campus in 2005. I weighed 68 kgs back then. Work life didn't give me much time to spend on my physique -- I had to travel around the world, leading an unhealthy lifestyle and by the time I realised that I weighed 85 kgs in 2009. They told me it was a sign of prosperity, but the doctors told me otherwise. I developed high BP and my cholesterol level was very high, plus I used to suffer severe headaches in the mornings. They advised me to change my lifestyle and I started crash-dieting, cheat codes and going to the gym. Nothing helped and by the end of 2010 I weighed 89 kgs.
I thought of re-assessing everything. I came up with a plan. I kept it simple and it worked. It took me nearly a year, but hey, WHEN YOU REDUCE WEIGHT FROM 89 KGs TO 73 KGs YOU WON'T BE REALLY COMPLAINING. Plus I had people -- girls -- confusing me for a fresher and a guy comparing me to Hrithik Roshan. The only nuisance is people are now constantly bugging me to advise them (well, still not complaining).
But before I actually share what I did, I would like you to know there are some side effects caused by it.
- You may feel dizzy and weak at times. Keep some apples, almonds and arrowroot biscuits handy.
- You may suffer indigestion, gas trouble or heartburn. Drink plenty of water and have Gelusil tablets if necessary.
- You may lose a bit of hair, develop dark circles and/or insomnia. Walnuts (hair problems), carrots, beetroots, green tea (dark circles) and lettuce (induces sleep) should do the trick.
- You may get stretch marks as a result of the rapid change in body structure. There are ointments that should help you with this.
Finally, the three step method:
1. Know your food
Food should be taken as a fuel required to run your body, not as a source of pleasure.
Skip dinner, have a heavy breakfast, plenty of water, small healthy snacks and limit alcohol/ junk food.
The thing about eating less is it makes you want to eat more and frequently. Make this a win-win for you by eating less but more frequently.
Tips: Avoid rice when possible. Watch and read the nutritional contents on the pack of any processed food. Drinking alcohol within limits is okay, but not binge drinking. Bananas should not be considered a fruit. Eating salads doesn't mean you can have two portions of them at the same time -- salad dressing contains lots of calories so try limiting them to once in a fortnight to kill craving.
2. Burn the excess that you eat
A sedentary 30-year-old man with a fat-free mass of 110 pounds would need at least 1450 calories a day to function.
Intensive exercise for four days a week, for one and a half hour sessions. Cardio and a weight programme help.
Play physically exhaustive sports (I play football or tennis) over the weekend for at least a couple of hours.
I also swam about three hours a week -- nothing beats it.
Tips: Cricket and golf are not the sports you're looking at -- football, basketball, tennis (singles) and badminton (singles) are. Hitting the gym doesn't mean you go there and do dumbbell curls -- try squats, dead weights or resistance training. Jogging on a treadmill for hours ain't cardio, you got to run at a speed that makes your heart beat at around 130-140 for 20 minutes. Trying for that extra push, caffeine or taurine helps you get there. Watch Terminator, Rocky, Fast and Furious movies or Salman, Hrithik flicks. You can also listen to songs like 99 Problems...remember the ones that provide extra motivation.
3. Out of the box
Supplements are an option, but many supplements do more harm than good. Consulting doctors is advisable.
As advised by my instructor in the UK, I tried the Promax Diet (high protein, green tea and guarana, a CLA and low GI drink) for about six months. I have no idea how it worked, but it cleaned out my stomach (basically emptied it) as soon as I took it. Not an ideal way, but, I suppose, a telling effect on my programme.
'A doctor myself, I was overweight at 35'
Photographs: Stethoscopes/Wikimedia Commons
And here is Dr Faiz Ahmad's story of how a career in medicine had an adverse impact on his own health, till he made a real effort:
I am a doctor by profession, so initially as a resident doctor I used to walk around a lot on the hospital floors. But after my residency ended, it became more of a sedentary job in a chair and within a few years, at the age of 35, I had increased in weight from 68 kgs to 79 kgs.
I began to feel lethargic and tired most of the time and used to get bloated up after meals; my joints started aching and my blood pressure shot up as I already had a stressful job.
At the same time, I did not wish to cut down on eating as I love my food and believe starving is not the right way to lose weight. So I hit upon and devised my own personal plan to lose weight and have lost significant weight gradually over the last one year with this simple and effective plan, which Iwish to share with you all. I brought my wife on board as well and she has been a big help in motivating me all this time:
- I made exercise a part of my life, instead of a boring chore which requires will power. First, instead of taking the car to buy groceries from the nearby market, I started walking -- rain, cold, heat or sunshine, I would walk to the market. At the same time, I started parking my car a kilometre away from my workplace, so no matter what happened I would walk at least two kilometres everyday, to and fro from the hospital where I worked. I used to walk briskly and you cannot imagine how good I felt and how full of energy -- no morning walks in the park, just a normal walk to the job everyday. I never take elevators and even if I have to go to the fifth floor, I walk.
- Instead of starving myself, I ate everything I had previously, but halved the quantities. So instead of missing breakfast as most people erroneously do, I started taking one paratha instead of my usual three; instead of two cups of sugary tea, I took one glass of fresh juice with no sugar; lunch again consisted of half the amount of rice and instead of using cooking oil liberally, we started using less oil and salt in the vegetables. But my wife and I did not skip a single meal. Evening tea was replaced by a few apples or bananas and dinner was quartered, ie one-fourth the quantity I earlier consumed. Simultaneously, I actually started eating more salads and yoghurt, as well as taking a multivitamin capsule everyday.
- Every Sunday (which is a relatively free day for me), I did a heavy workout for around two hours -- this included 30 push-ups, 30 sit-ups, skipping rope and upper arm aerobics till I literally dropped (check with your doctor before you start any strenous exercise).
- Water: I increased my daily water intake by about eight glasses per day, cut down on tea and coffee and brought down my smoking habit of 20 cigarettes per day to two -- one in the morning and one in the evening -- and will totally stop from this month onward.
My weight has now fallen to 70 kgs over one year, and is going down every month,with exercise just once a week, modest dietary restrictions and making walking a part of my normal life. I feel fitter, my blood pressure has normalised and everyone compliments me on how young I look.
I hope this simple method also helps other people who don't want to exercise much and don't wish to go on unhealthy starvation or crash diets.