How I lost 34 pounds in 5.5 months

I wanted to explore the topic of weight loss today and share my own journey with you. An important thing to note upfront is that I don’t consider any weight or size ‘good’ or ‘bad’. I think every person is entitled to deciding for themselves what their ideal weight is. However, I am a big proponent of feeling good in one’s body and being healthy. Over the last decade, I’ve found that I don’t feel great when I’m too skinny and look emaciated or when I’m overweight and look bulky. I feel my best when I’m eating healthy, getting 45 minutes to an hour of exercise 5-6 times a week, sleeping adequately, and in the range of what I consider to be my ideal weight.

My weight loss story

It was 2007 and I’d just finished 12th grade. I don’t know how it is in other countries but the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades are brutal in India. Students bury their noses in their books and do little else. I was no different. What’s more, I had done extremely well in the 10th board exams and felt pressured to replicate the performance in 12th boards too. This meant that I confined myself indoors and didn’t so much as move a finger if a task didn’t directly have to do with studies.

The consequence of that modus operandi was a) I got good grades in 12th board exams and 2) I put on a significant amount of weight. My eating habits had become horrendous – I basically ate anything and everything as long as it tasted good. That meant foods high in carbs and fat such as chocolates, cakes, finger chips, samosas…you get the idea. By June 2007, I was 144 pounds. I am 5′ 1″ tall, so I was definitely overweight. While I didn’t like that I was overweight, I didn’t do anything about it. Until my period cycle started getting erratic. After two rather drawn-out cycles, I went to the gynecologist. She was very sweet but made it clear to me that ‘I had to shed a few kilos’. It was embarrassing and I wanted to get my period cycle back on track. I decided that it was time to lose weight.

I wasn’t interested in shedding just a few pounds, though. By the way, the reason I found myself thinking in pounds and not kilograms was that the weighing machine at home was my aunt’s who had brought it from the US. It measured in pounds and I found it easier to just run with that. After a bit of research, I decided that 110 pounds should be a good weight to reach given my height. My mother is a regular yoga practitioner, so after speaking to her in detail, I decided to follow the instructions given in the book Yogic Cure for Common Diseases.

What I really liked was how gentle the process looked. The first week needed me to practice just two yoga poses or asanas four times each. Week two had four asanas to be practiced four times each. The number of asanas increased by two every week until it reached 13. The book also laid out a diet plan to be practiced religiously. Again, what I liked was that it wasn’t like some of the crazy diet plans that I’d heard about. It went something like this:

  • Breakfast: a bowl of cornflakes or a few slices of toast, a small bowl of fruits, a cup of coffee or tea if desired
  • Lunch: a large bowl of soup, salad or stir-fried veggies, a bowl of rice or rotis with lentils
  • Evening snacks: a few salted biscuits, a handful of nuts, and some coffee or tea if preferred
  • Dinner: the same as lunch

It wasn’t just what I ate, though. The book laid out some ground rules:

  • Never eat more than 75% of your stomach. How do you assess that? Basically, stop when you think that you can eat another serving or two.
  • Don’t drink water just before or while eating. Make sure that there’s been at least a 30-minutes gap before and after you eat.
  • Thoroughly chew each mouthful of food before swallowing.
  • Ensure that your stomach has been empty for at least 3 hours prior to practicing yoga
  • Have dinner at least 3 hours before going to bed
  • Don’t eat anything too spicy or oily

There might have been a few more rules that I don’t recall right now, but I remember following these instructions religiously. In hindsight, I know that these eating rules were the reason I lost weight. The yoga of course helped, but it wouldn’t have amounted to much if I hadn’t followed this eating regimen. I started seeing results from week 1. On average, I lost 1-2 pounds a week. When I stood on the scales on Dec 31st, 2007, I weighed a little less than 110 pounds! As you can imagine, I was over the moon. 😀

The thumb rules of weight loss

It’s been 13 years since I shed those 34 pounds and I continue to remain in my ideal weight range. These days, I weigh anywhere between 112 and 115 pounds. The eating habits I learnt when I was 17 still hold me in good stead today. Here are a few rules of thumb I’ve learnt with respect to weight loss:

  • Weight loss has more to do with what you eat than how much you exercise. Eat right for weight loss, exercise right for building muscle.
  • In general, fresh fruits and vegetables are good for weight loss. Just make sure that you’re eating everything in moderation – especially if the item on the sweeter side. Also, eat the rainbow! Make sure you’re eating fruits and veggies in all colours.
  • You can choose any form of exercise for weight loss. Pick something that you’ll enjoy! These days, I am into running and HIT workouts.
  • Adequate rest is important for weight loss! Make sure you’re sleeping enough.
  • There’s no one specific weight that’s your ‘ideal weight’. Weight fluctuates and you’ll find that usually there’s an ideal ‘range’. Also, this changes with age.

There you have it – my weight loss story! Hope you found it useful. I’d love to hear your story too – feel free to share in the comments below or email me using the contact form.

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