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I’ve lost 11 kilos since the pandemic began. It wasn’t easy, but here’s how I did it

Published on:25 August 2020, 20:04pm IST
Losing weight was never a priority for me, even after I was diagnosed with PCOS. But the pandemic changed everything.
Chetna Pattnaik
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The pandemic ushered me into a new way of life…

Did she work out? Did she get on a diet? Did she have to starve? Can I eat those sugar-free ice creams? How do people even do this?

My mind has been flooded with these questions ever since I was made to believe that my body type by biological definition was referred to as “obese” and by social definition, “unconventional”. Tired of being identified by my body mass and size, I would always try to know the inspiring stories of people shredding a tremendous amount of weight and looking Vogue-ready. I always wondered how determined one had to be able to pull off such a drastic change.

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Well, be it determination or motivation, I didn’t have either of them. I loved playing in the park and watching teen shows during study breaks when I was younger.

But what I loved more than anything else was the street food of my town—and I was never willing to give it up, just to torture my body into becoming thin.

And so every time my mother forced me into working out or healthy eating, I would start acting out.

It’s not like the stares and comments that came my way every day didn’t bother me—I have lost count of the number of nights I have cried myself to sleep just because some random person laughed at me. But practice maketh perfect, and I, over the years, had mastered the art of not taking myself too seriously and being able to make fun of myself. Because, it is easier to say mean things about yourself and laugh it off rather than have a third person say it to you.

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My obesity had a sinister lifestyle disease behind it
As much as I liked to blame my genetics for it, I was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) in my early teens. It’s a hormonal condition in women of reproductive age, characterised by infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess androgen levels. It is due to these hormonal imbalances that the body goes through a lot of unexplained changes like facial hair growth, acne, and massive weight gain.

PCOS and weight gain have a tumultuous relationship and I was caught in between them. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Dieticians asked me to get my PCOS corrected as that would make me shed weight, while gynaecologists told me that the ideal way of treating PCOS was by losing weight. Basically, I had another excuse for my obesity and I was satisfied with it.

Then the real health challenges began
I was lethargic, too heavy for my legs to carry, and avoided social gatherings actively. But even then it wasn’t as alarming because thanks to an entire childhood of forced yoga that I was flexible and disease-free at any point of time. The real concern rose when an accident and our negligence over it, wrecked my lower back and I had to undergo a lumbar surgery. My dented back was struggling to support the weight of my body. It was high time I lost weight, and so I made multiple failed attempts at it. The lack of visible results would demotivate me and I would give up, be it gymming, aerobics classes or a keto diet.

What changed?
Anyone who knows me can vouch for the fact that I am a professional procrastinator and have a masters in denial. I sailed through my high school and three years of college either by blaming my health conditions or my living conditions and sometimes by paying gyms and never showing up. I hate to admit it but… I was a lazy ass!

But something changed during this lockdown. I got stuck with two fitness enthusiasts, for three good months, with no escape. All they could do was talk about working out, making their own workout regimes, doing exercise challenges on Instagram, and eating the perfect diet. One of them is my sister who has an exemplary weight loss transformation story herself and the other was a crazy fitness influencer friend of hers.

PCOS, lumbar surgery, and excessive weight… together they forced me to rethink my lifestyle. 

A lot of hesitation and resistance later, they got to me! I started with Yoga and took my time to rebuild my flexibility and give my body enough time to get used to extensive physical activity. Within 10 days, I hit the target of doing 108 rounds of surya namaskar in an hour. The trick was to pace it right and keep the numbers increasing as soon as I found my body getting comfortable with a lower number of rounds.

The real training began mid-May with HIIT (high-intensity interval training), focusing on different parts every day from core and legs to arms and back, spread throughout the week. When I started off, I couldn’t even do three squats in one go, but I was getting better at it every day. Over the next 10 to 12 days, I realised I had not only lost 2 kilos but more importantly—I felt active, free and accomplished. I was capable of doing more number of things than the day before.

There were still days when I had to be dragged out of bed, but once I started I didn’t feel like stopping unless my body begged for it.

This was the first time I was witnessing tangible results and that is the best motivation one can have.  Thanks to being in a lockdown, I could give all my attention to this newly found muse. My body was now perpetually sore and I was loving it. By now I had lost five kilos and the pace of weight loss was starting to stagnate.

The next step…
I needed a second breakthrough and I had this team of the three of us behind this mission. I said my goodbyes to carbs and sugar and shifted to a low-calorie diet. My workouts now included weight training, which was again like starting from scratch. While it was tougher and my body was more sore than before, I had started to show results again. And by the time I had finished around a month of bodyweight training and healthy eating, I was down by an additional six kilos. My productivity had shot up and the happy hormones seem to be doing their magic.

weight loss story
I didn’t just lose 11 kilos, I gained a brand new outlook towards life.

These three months have made me realise that the diet is quintessential in a weight loss regime and is the first step towards it. Having said that, clearly, there is no substitute for a good and diligently done workout regime either. While I looked for inspiration all over the place, I could finally pull it off only once I saw the results for the first time.

Having said goodbye to 11 kilos, a lot of things have changed including my energy levels throughout the day and my emotional health. It is important to understand why you want to lose weight. Is it because others ask you to? Is it because it is the only way to attain social standards of beauty? Or is it for a fitter body and mind? The secret of staying motivated is to have a strong and meaningful purpose behind it.

So, make your wellbeing, your health and happiness your motivation and you will never skip a day of workout or cheat on your diet. And remember that fitness is a lifestyle, you can never be too fit and there’s always more to look forward to, we are all works in progress. I know, I am not stopping here and I hope you don’t too.

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If you too have a weight-loss story, send it to us at: healthshots@hindustantimes.com.

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Chetna Pattnaik Chetna Pattnaik

Understanding fitness the hard way, Chetna has finally learnt to strike a balance between her protein shake and her beer and making room for her writing desk and her gym at the same time.