Listen to this article
I was a lean child, up until class seventh. I was a regular school-goer, weighing 42 kilos and enjoying my dance classes. It was in eighth class when I suffered from a bout of jaundice that my weight started to increase and my health became a worry.
For me, jaundice became an excuse to not exercise, to eat unhealthily and in excess. I became a recluse and lethargic. It was during this time that within the span of a few months, I nearly gained 10 kilos.
Junk food: the reason I struggled with obesity
By the time I reached class 10th, junk food became a regular feature of my life. Spending time with my friends meant consuming unhealthy food erratically and frequently. Eating unto 24 momos, failing to follow a routine became waking up late and drowsy became characteristic of my life.
By the time I reached college, I was already weighing 84 kilos. I had gained up to 42 kilos, weighing double from what I was in class seventh.
The shock of harming my dance, eventually jolted me to lose weight
Considering I am a professional Kathak dancer, I am expected to be flexible and swift on stage. Yet as an 84-kilo girl, I used to feel heavy, lethargic and slow on stage—especially when we had to match our steps to fast beats.
My weight was beginning to hinder my dance. I could not sit and stand swiftly. I couldn’t dance for too long, without resting or hydrating myself. I could never fit into readymade dance costumes. I always had to get them stitched.
I remember I was 20-years-old, in college and at a health camp that was set-up for our Kathak class. They were checking everybody’s weight and there in that room, I was declared the heaviest (even heavier than our dance guru ji). He weighed 72 kilos, whereas I was 84.
One’s weight loss journey is quite subjective. In my case, nobody mocked me or called me names but people subtly said things like “don’t wear short clothes, your thighs are too big”. Or that “Don’t wear traditional Indian clothes, they make you like an aunty.”
While I wasn’t dissuaded by these taunts, they didn’t impact me much. I knew that nothing could provoke me or nobody could make me lose weight unless I decided to better my life. It was that moment that I realized I must lose weight. I must become a healthier version of myself.
The journey to becoming a healthier version of myself
My weight loss was self-defined and formulated. I enjoyed it thoroughly for I was not following a temporary regime but an active, improved lifestyle. My diet was mainly shaped by reading self-motivation books, doing weight training, and following YouTube videos on healthy diets.
I began my day with a cup of warm water early morning, followed by a fruit salad.
I then ate a protein-rich breakfast with the right amount of carbs. Lunch was strictly home-cooked. My evenings were dedicated to my weight training workouts and dance classes. This was followed by a protein-rich dinner, with absolutely no carbs for dinner.
I also allowed myself some breather. On Sundays, I opted for a reward meal, which could be anything I like. I think two things that changed my life were eating my dinner between 7-8 pm and cutting out sugar and empty calories from my diet.
My biggest inspiration was my family
I found support and strength close to my home. Once I made the commitment to my health, my mother cooked separately for me and even got the right groceries for me. She pushed me and made sure I went to the gym, come what may.
I also found inspiration in my grandfather, who even at 78, lives a carefree and ailment-free life. He is particular about what he eats, what time he wakes up, and his healthy habits too. I look at him and I am motivated to live a healthier life.
After I lost weight…
Over two years—from 2018 to 2020—I lost 27 kilos. I weigh 57 kilos today and still am diligently following my health routine. I eat in portion control so I don’t under or overeat. I have been consistently maintaining my weight for a year now.
I learnt that one must eat to energize themselves and eat mindfully. One cannot and I emphasize this enough, take their body for granted.
Lesson learnt: my body is my temple
My weight loss journey taught me that just like returning a favour to somebody you respect, one must be respectful to their body and take care good care of it, considering it sustains us and spurs life into us.