From Fat to Fit

  • Saqib Malik
  • Publish Date: Oct 8 2018 3:25AM
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  • Updated Date: Oct 8 2018 3:25AM
From Fat to FitRepresentational Pic

Year 2013: Working in a daily newspaper in Pune, in the pink of my physical fitness, some kind of a weird imagination struck me one day, when I assumed that my future was that of a potbellied reporter running around in press conferences, while munching on oily kebabs and curries.

In comes 2015: As destiny had it in store for me, just a year after the massive floods in the Valley, I actually landed up in Kashmir to work for a leading daily newspaper and turned into exactly what I had imagined- a pot-bellied unfit man struggling with the shirt to remain tucked inside the trouser. Soon after the homecoming, a 33-year-old , 75 kilos weighing physically fit and energetic reporter hitting the ground running in Kashmir was quite a short-lived experience. Identifying sources in the government departments and trying to get a hang of how journalism works in Kashmir made me run around a lot in the beginning of my ongoing stint in the Valley. Hardly did I know that a change of place after 13 years, a paradigm shift in food habits  and lifestyle would pile-up extra kilos and unwanted flab around my body. Four years down the line after just imagining what an obese self must be feeling like, I had in reality turned into a couch-potato and started putting on body weight. 70 odd kilos became 80 and then 90 and then gradually a three-figure body weight, that was not just a haunting three figure but guilt that made every day more and more difficult. With obesity came health related issues. From high cholesterol to increasing triglycerides levels to an alarmingly high fatty liver ailment, obesity had taken a toll on me.

One hundred four. Yes you read it right. 104 kilos is what I weighed in January 2018. Just two years back post-wedding feasts and some idling around had amassed surplus body weight on me. I got married in 2016 and if I jog my memory I would assume I would have put on 20 odd kilos post my marriage. But grit, determination and adversity that extra ounces on the body resulted in forced me to shed weight to an extent that I lost 20 kilos of weight without hitting a gym in just five months with a fitness regime which involved bulk of focus on dietary restrictions and a considerable increase in my physical activity. I weighed 85 kilos in July ( I have put on around two kgs of weight in last month and a half post Eid-ul-Adha but work is in progress to come back to a suitable body weight).


How I put on weight?

Rath yeh traw aesas (come take a bite of this). My ears were longing for this motherly and most affectionate offer for food for more than a decade. I would strongly believe that overhearing this phrase for the last four years turned me obese and made me look almost 8 years older than my actual age. An emergency surgery in 2015 became the tipping-point of a process where my food intake became much more than the body output in terms of physical activity. The civil unrest in 2016 in the Valley also curtailed my body movements and dragged me deep into some sort of a slumber without caring that the vicious cycle of eat and sleep is doing a massive damage to my body. I am sure the theme of this write-up is more on the process of losing weight and any reader by now would be more keen to know why rather than how of the body weight mechanics. However, before coming to sharing the mantra of losing weight without hitting the gym, I would like to reiterate a couple of things of significance. A common saying that you gain weight with much convenience and shed it with much more strenuous efforts stands absolutely correct. I would say for a healthy (read not obese) person, gaining weight is more of losing a psychological battle with the inner-self rather than just being hooked on to a plate of food and putting the flab around the belly.  Weight gain and weight loss is all in the mind. It is a mind game. Recently a learned man during a discussion at my work place wisely said “food is culture”. What suits one, he or she must eat that and leave rest, he said. Several Islamic teachings maintaining a balanced diet is unfortunately out-rightly ignored which has resulted in obesity becoming a recurring threat for us and for the generations to come. Rather than due to heavy meals and junk food, I gained almost 30 kilos of weight in the process of homecoming, only by the bits and pieces of affectionate feeding. From fried chicken to chicken in curry and the never-ending feasts of wazwan brought home in carry bags from the weddings triggered an urge in me to eat more. Food was life and life was food without a realization that we don’t just live to eat.


How I lost weight?

Autumn has just set in and the considerable chill in the air is just the perfect setting for relishing food of all sorts. Many connoisseurs of food and average foodies would hate me for writing this. I am sure there would be many a eyebrows raised. But I care for our bodies and souls and want them to be free of disease caused by obesity, hence my firm belief that eat less and work-out more stands firm. If you are one of those who won’t give up excessive eating for some period of time, then beg your pardon. If you have it in you to believe that food is ought to be eaten not just to fulfil some satiating desire of ours but to maintain a natural balance, then please carry on reading.

Crash dieting… many would scare you of this terrible “crash” sound thing leading to so many problems in the body. I don’t buy that theory at all. Extra kilos and don’t want to surrender your body to machines in the gym? Cut down on food, get hold of a good pair of shoes and just leave your home early morning for a “stroll”. Stroll…did I write the appropriate word. I deceived myself for almost 2 years of my life after gaining weight with the daily morning stroll. The food continued to be unhealthy and the so called morning walk did nothing to reduce weight. If it is a walk, it has got to be brisk and if you are able to turn it into a cardio regime (30 minutes of jogging or run, whatever suits you), just go for it.

Coming to the most vital part of the How I lost Weight aspect, I would say bringing a palpable change in diet plan is the key. In January 2018, a back ache (was diagnosed as a disc problem due to my bulging tummy) triggered the urge to lose weight. A visit to a leading physician changed the way I looked at physical fitness. “Your life is all about hurry, curry and worry” .. “give up all these” was a simple but priceless advise from the doctor that changed the way I lived. Amid chilly chilai kalan, I altered my diet plan to a more healthy food regime. Some call it crash dieting but I would say I just changed it from an unhealthy to a healthy and fitness-friendly diet. I gave up carbohydrates and even excessive proteins for some ( the total protein level in my medical examinations was bit deranged). Sugar and desserts went out of my food dictionary and till date I continue having developed some sort of a disliking for sweet. There is no point wasting time on the internet or reading fitness magazines to search for the mantra to fitness and losing body weight. Just get on the job and you will meet the right-minded people to guide you to become fitter and smarter. Having lived more than 13 years of my life in mainland India with vegetarian and non-rice eating regime helped me get rid of white rice and excessive non-vegetarian food in my daily diet. I stuck to a fibrous diet and ate salads, lassi, brown bread and brown rice to an extent that it helped me bring down my body weight from 104 kgs to 85 kgs in just 5 months. My work schedule allowed me to replace the rice and curry lunch with salad, lassi and traditional baker bread (later replaced it with 2-3 pieces of multi-grain bread). Dinner is no more than two phulkas, some veges and a small portion of chicken. Red meat once in two weeks did well for me but more of fish became a regular feature. Green tea and green coffee that sounded absurd for me have now become an integral part of my daily diet. A mountain bicycle has recently become part of my fitness regime and I am doing my best to do running and cycling daily. A zest to lose weight is important for ensuring that your future does not turn bleak by obesity-related diseases and I wish luck to everyone who intend to become fitter and better.