This story has been submitted by Riddhima
I was—as my parents describe me—a chubby and a bubbly child. I was pampered with a lot of love and all my sweet fetishes were fulfilled without any objection. As far as I can remember, I have always loved to eat and have been particularly fond of sweets and junk food. I was a kid, and at that innocent age, one rarely worries about their health and weight. I didn’t either and despite being on the higher end of the weighing scale, I didn’t bother much about how I looked, for I was a happy and an active child.
My health troubles began at the age of eight
Till my eighth birthday, my food habits were rarely objected to by my parents. They did push to eat healthier and better but nobody really stopped me and my indulgences.
Everything changed when I turned eight years old. I started developing bald patches on my head and began to suffer from erratic hair loss. On my family’s advice, we decided to get it checked and after multiple tests, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. This rare autoimmune disease resulted in a deficiency of thyroid hormones that directly affected my metabolism. The diagnosis also explained the excessive hair loss and obesity at such a young age.
After the diagnosis, my parents kept a conscious check on my weight and I began eating foods rich in steroids to counter the hair loss. Yet, despite still being on the heavier side for kids my age, I didn’t bother much about my weight. I was a growing child and I think we all believed my weight would balance it out itself.
My weight never really bothered me up until I turned 18
Unfortunately, even as I reached ninth class, my weight continued to be on a steady rise. I weighed 70 kilos then and as I grew older, it started bothering me. I suddenly looked different—broader and larger—than my classmates. More than the cosmetic changes that occurred, I think the more pertinent worry was the resulting health concerns from obesity. Considering I was dealing with hypothyroidism, increasing obesity was a growing concern.
Towards the end of 10th grade, when I was just 15 years of age, my weight reached 80 kilos.
Battling weight gain and its social and health implications…
While medicine did help to regain hair over some time, being in high school and a highly impressionable phase of my life, I began to look down upon myself. I began hating the mirror and my image in it. I detested looking different than other girls, especially in group pictures. By now I had become the end receiver of fat jokes. I often joined in on the laughter, to not feel alienated but honestly speaking, it pinched me a lot.
I was weighing 81 kilos by the time I finished 11th standard. It was then that I decided to do something about it if nothing else but for my physical health and mental sanctity.
I decided to take my weight in my own hands…
Somewhere around this time, my mother advised me to visit a dietician. The kind doctor directed me to give up on certain types of food and exercise regularly to keep my weight and health in check.
I was asked to cut down rice, potatoes, peas and watermelon and instead consume fibre rich food such as cucumber. My dietician further encouraged me to walk every day for half-hour and do light exercises at home such as sit-ups and skipping.
To my surprise, I started losing weight progressively. My five-month-long diet not only helped me lose weight but also get fitter. You won’t believe where I was taking 8-9 tablets daily for my hypothyroidism, I went to just one tablet a day. The best thing about my diet was that I wasn’t cutting back on anything, but was eating the right quantity of all types of the right food, such as extra doses of fruits and vegetables. I began to understand that my body was going through adjustments and that I had to be patient. My patience bore fruit, for I lost up to 15 kilos at the end of five months. Additionally, I began to feel more confident and happier about myself.
A hiccup in the road to a better self……
After a successful run of healthy eating and healthy being, my journey to good health hit a road bump. At the age of 16, I was diagnosed with a severe case of typhoid. I would say, this was the lowest point of life.
After a healthy weight loss for almost six months, I suffered a setback when a week-long bout of typhoid resulted in six-month-long side effects. All my progress was halted and I had to once again rebuild my body. Typhoid majorly affected my appearance. I began looking pale and tired all the time and all the weight loss resulted in rolls of loose skin that further fuelled my body image issues. I began looking oddly weak and all the hair that I had regained, began falling too.
I lost up to four kilos due to typhoid in just a week. This wasn’t a healthy way and definitely was not good for me. I had hit rock bottom. But as they say, there is only one way from there and that way up. My hair must have been falling, but my confidence wasn’t. Not this time!
Building back my body and never looking back…..
Almost after a month of rest and recuperation, I finally joined the gym to tone my body, build back my strength and tighten the loose skin. I gradually gained muscle strength and began looking and feeling healthier. From there was no turning back. I made gymming a part of my daily routine and began working on my health with utmost commitment.
My daily routine and commitment to good and healthy weight…..
My routine for the last two years has revolved around my health. I have been waking up at 5 am to hit the gym before heading to college at 7:30 pm. I also gave up on junk completely and began carrying my own food to avoid lapses.
In the current lockdown period, I have shifted my workout sessions to the evening and of course at home. I indulge in online Zumba classes, upper body workout and muscle strengthening exercises. My diet has not been too strict, considering I am mostly at home now, but I still ensure I avoid junk food and limit my sugar intake. This commitment to my health has also helped manage my hair loss and hypothyroidism.
Mistakes and lessons learnt from my journey……
I am 19-years-old now and in the second year of my college. Today I feel happier, more confident and fitter. I have lost more than 15 kilos in the last three years. I might have also gained a few over the years, but my journey has taught me to love myself and be my constant cheerleader, come hail or storm.
In the end, I just want to feel and be like any other person. Forgive me, if on odd days I binge eat and not be ruthless on my body my sweating hours in the gym. Wise words from my dietician come to rescue on some days, ‘you are not aiming for a perfect body but perfect health and state of mind’.