This one subject is the closest to my heart as it’s a part of my life now. Sharing with you my journey over the last 3 years from losing almost 60 pounds to maintaining a balanced physique now; in-turn gaining confidence and power in my daily life & routine without the help of any trainer, dietician or any other aspect but by just sheer dedication and following a self made and executed planned approach. That is the simple reason why this is so close to my heart.
You might find it long, but I would request you to read it through as I have penned down in detail about my journey with learnings at every aspect. It would have been easy to share the summary but the idea was to share the process and the journey. Also I am not a fitness expert or a guru and the below is learnings from my own life.
I never imagined that I would be overweight or unhealthy ever. I always thought life is all about enjoying and why to trouble it by exercising like most of the youngster’s at that age felt. I lived my life on my terms all this while and ate what I wanted and when I wanted. My diet was full of calories and sugar from white rice (loads of it) 3/4 times a day to all kinds of fried and oily spices mixed food. Pune, Maharashtra, India being my home for almost 26 years, I developed a strong taste of Wada Pao (Indian version of a Potato Burger) and surviving without it back then till 3 years back was like impossible. A daily intake of the same, weekend parties and dinners outside and what not. I never had any kind of hard beverages or smoked ever but I use to drink a lot of fizzy drinks etc like thumbs up (my all time favorite). You might not find milk in my fridge but it would be full of thums up cans in those days and that is how much I drank it. Well in a nutshell, I was on a completely bad diet which was full of oil, sugar, carps, cholesterol and fats. Also was always in stable jobs so that mental pressure wasn’t there ever to affect my diet. In 2007/2008, I started traveling internationally a lot. By 2011, I was almost out of country for 9-10 months for work as my BD role demanded the travel to countries like US, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Dubai, London, amongst others. Now for me the biggest effect of this rigorous traveling was on my diet habits. People who know me, know that fact that when I am working I forget everything, my food, etc. etc. So this intensive travel to these places and the internal travel in these countries took away my food timing habits completely, not that I had a great habit before that. Just that it became worse. I has no control on eating time or what I was eating. All this added to my body in the best way possible ‘cuz I was not bothered. No Exercise, No fitness regime all together, just eat anytime, sleep less, travel rigorously, drink cola, meetings, eat, and repeat. What was supposed to happen with all of this mentioned above and no balance or plan at all? After all it was my own body and health that I was playing with.
By 2016 December, I was about 95 kilo’s and you can see that in the first picture in the collage above clicked in Goa when I was on a break with family. Even then I did not care and was not bothered. To make the matters worst I always thought in my mind that I was fit and wore tight fitting clothes and thought I looked cool. So what changed and what made me realize that what I was doing to my body was wrong? What made me change? This is where the real transformation begins.
On my 4th day of my holiday, with my daughter who was then 3.5 years old, I was at one of the beaches in South Goa. Kids are always super charged and energized and we all know that who have them. They never lose the energy no matter how much they have played. If they are up they will wanna run and do many things. So she asked me to play with her. One of the play task was to run on the beach close to the sea water coastline. I unwillingly and with push agreed to do so. I ran with her and within a few steps on that sinking sand I gave up and stopped while she with her light feet ran for almost 500 paces ahead of me and was still going when she realized that I had stopped. She came back and said, “Papa not fair, why did you stop? let’s start again”. I looked at her smiled and said, I cannot. She tried her best to plead but I refused as I had no energy and went back to the shack I was at. She continued to play for sometime and then came back to me with a sad face as she was all alone trying to enjoy the best way she could. Of all the statements in her broken language that she said, I only remember one which was, “Papa I hate it when you do not play with me. I wish we could run and play together always”. It broke my heart so hear my lil one say this to me who thought I was super healthy. Those 3/4 hours at the beach was a life changer and I had got my calling. You know before this incident which was my favorite position was of a crocodile, primarily as I used to just lie down and do nothing.
That day and cut to today, I am much more energetic person, with more power and charge. I can give a guy who is in his early 25/30 a run for his money at energy levels. I am Super Fit and at 67 kilo’s. I feel more confident and energetic in my presentations and meetings. The change driver was the reason I mentioned above which made me think as to what was I doing with my life and where was I heading. All the accolades in the world for my professional life was a waste if I didn’t have a health to go with it. Don’t you think so? So in 2017 January 1st a resolution was made, which I did earlier too but with a dedication that I would complete it and not let my will shatter in between. I have always been strong willed when it comes to my work, studies or anything that I can focus on (just that my body was never in that focus for me..). But then it was always easy to make a resolution but execution was the key. The Goal was simple, realistic and achievable. I wanted to lose body fat, weight, build on a little muscle, get into shape and be fit.
I also like all others thought of a Trainer, a gym membership, dietician, etc. like all others but with my first visit to a gym on day along-with a trainer, I gave up on that. The reason for me was simple, the trainers work on a certain pattern even if you tell them what your goals are. They have a fixed solution to a problem. They might adjust but mostly will align to their learnings and knowledge. It might not suit every body type and goals so I stopped just after a day even after paying for 3 months non-refundable membership cost. So then I was back to square 1 where I started. I didn’t know what to do next then. I was confused and irritated. So I just decided to try reading some articles on the net and see if that helps. I came across some very good articles of people who had done it without any gym etc. I started reading more and more as I was intrigued. But then who to follow etc. was the question. How do you choose who is the best and what to follow etc., etc. So I stopped reading being more irritated and disturbed than before. I was almost giving up this time again but then u see when you want something desperately, the almighty above comes to your aid in his own ways. He did come to my help in the form of my daughter who came asking me to play again. The flashback of the previous month’s trip to Goa and the day at the beach flashed in front of my eyes. I knew I could not give up or stop. I went and played with her pushing myself to the limit and guess what for the first time in years I was exhausted physically and still felt happy. I slept like a baby that night as my body was tired. All these were the right signs.
So then that was it. I decided to start running every morning. I started the next day at 4 am when the world was sleeping and it was dark outside, I changed into my sports gear (newly bought mind you for the transformation) and moved out. I tried to run but with every 10 steps I was in a bad shape. But I pushed and pushed and continued. I did not give up. I could do about 2 miles on that day but felt happy and content. Did some stretching exercises and then was done. This continued and by the end of 3 months I was almost doing 10/12 miles effortlessly and my weight started dropping. The results of running have been beneficial always and is proven. Also I started changing my exercise plans and diet habits. Below is what I did in a snapshot for you all to see:
Phase 1: The first 3 months..
I focussed more on running and less on weights at society gym as I wanted to lose body fat and weight which running, does faster. Weights give you shape. The running routine was 7 days a week/ 365 days a year, no matter what even with the travel etc.
Also combined it with about 30 mins of basic Free weight training on biceps, triceps, chest, back and legs (watching the videos on you tube).
Changed my diet and stopped Soda completely, the one thing I loved and had a lot. Also reduced oily food intake but could not stop all together.
High protein food was included in my diet and reduced carbs, sugar, etc.
I lost about 20-25 pounds during this phase.
Learning:- Running is the best way to lose that stubborn Fat fast.
Phase 2: The next 3 months (4th – 6th)…
This phase saw me mixing my workout with running/cardio and weight training. Weights took 50% of the time now as now I wanted to develop resistance, power and shape apart from still losing more weight.
Diet became even stricter so eggs, etc was introduced along with whey protein and basic home made food with less carbs and fats.
Wada Pao my favorite then was given a warm goodbye and was replaced by SUBWAY the more healthier option according to me with veggies.
Continued checking on my progress became almost daily and food habits were restricted.
Water intake became high while the sleep pattern and habits became better.
Was able to control my urge for hogging anything and everything.
I lost about another 15 pounds during this phase. This is less compared to the 1st phase but we need to understand that I was now working on my shape rather than only losing weight.
Learning:- A perfect Mix of weight training and Cardio/Running is best for losing calculated fat and gaining muscle.
Phase 3: The next 3 months (6th – 9th)…
My stamina became much much better and now I moved more to the weight training with proper weights at the gym and less of cardio. The mix was about 70% weight and 30% cardio everyday while still managing to do 7 days a week.
I started the 7 day week workout regime as I worked on only 1 muscle a day. The guru’s of body building say we should do 4/5 days with 2 days break for resting as muscle develops better. Well I believe at first I did not want to be a bodybuilder, secondly I might just let go if I take a break to come back to that mindset and thirdly one muscle a day is good enough as I still give other muscles rest but affecting planning on which muscle which day is important for this to happen.
My workouts became intensified and more planned. I felt the change in the muscles happening.
My diet became even more focussed and planned with zero sugar, very less carbs and high protein.
My energy levels were at its peak.
My gym kit travelled with me wherever I went and I did not miss a day of my workout and the pattern I followed.
I lost another 10 pounds in this phase. The reason for lower pound loss is the same as mentioned above.
Learning:- Increasing Weight training and reducing cardio would help gain more muscle and lose fat but at the same time control weight loss.
Phase 4: The next 3 months (9th – 12th)…
My stamina and my resistance by now were at their peak and I was full of energy and power.
I had never thought that this would happen ever to me.
My workout regime continued 7 days a week as planned.
In this phase I moved to 90% weight training with proper machines and weights and 10% on cardio.
Results were showing as the body fat loss was amazing and the body was coming into shape.
Hours in-front of the mirror now bare & shaved of body hair was a routine (Guess most of people who get into workouts do that).
Diet became even more strict and was focused on natural High Protein.
I lost about another 10/12 pound in this phase while gaining muscle.
Learning:- After the initial phase and weight loss as desired, weight training becomes important to maintain physique, shape and build muscle and control weight.
Phase 5: The Final frontier and maintenance (13th onwards)…
By now I had arrived at my Goal which I had in my mind when I started this journey in chapter 1 above.
I had lost a total of about 60 pounds (27 kgs) in about 12 months which was phenomenal considering I didn’t even know if I will be able to do it.
Now the biggest challenge was maintaining the weight going forward. At the same time a new resolution was brought in.
I looked much fitter, with more energy and confidence so thought why not get into a so called perfect “V” shape with decent muscle size and abs.
This is the most difficult part as to achieve something is easy but to maintain the same it’s much more tough.
Maintaining the achievement is very difficult according to me. Although the hard-work was done already but to push yourself day in-day out to maintain the same levels of dedication and energy is very difficult. For me, this became a way of life and a habit that I cannot live without. A day without working out make me feel that something’s missing in the day. So I have been able to maintain the same levels of energy if not more and kept on exercising. Even under the lockdown and gym closed for last 3 months, I have maintained that at my home.
The point is how dedicated we are and how strong a will we have to make a difference is what matters. Rest will come naturally.
Is all this achievable without a trainer or a dietician? Well it is and as I said I have never had any one of them for myself and I have my proofs that it works but then you need to be studied well on what to eat and not, etc. Remember you would know your body and its capacity the best and no one else will know it as you do.
Did I do something extraordinary that others cant to reach my goal. No. What I did can be done by anyone as long as they are focussed.
Fitness is a way of life and if you make it one, you will be able to see the real power.
I was over 39 when I started this and now I am a lil over 42 and I managed to make this happen. So age is not a bar or criteria to think this can’t be achieved.
So in a nutshell what do we need to achieve this? There are 3 major things required, dedication, dedication and dedication. Well on a lighter note, the first and the most important thing throughout the process which is required is to be Honest with yourself, Dedicated and strong willed. If you have these 3 things with you, You will succeed.
Sharing some summary points to ponder which were a part of my journey:
Remember nothing happens overnight and it’s a slow but steady process. If you are dedicated, you will reach your goal. Focus is very important.
Ensure that you are regular at your workout and don’t break the chain.
Eat 5 meals a day. In other words eat small proportions every time across 5 meals.
Eat healthy and include a lot of greens in your food like veggies.
Eat high protein diet and a low fat as well as carb diet. It has been said that for people who work out about 60-75 mins a day need at least 2-3 gas protein per kg of their body weight. Try reach as close to this.
Avoid sugar or any sugary drinks including soda’s, fruit drinks/juices. Home made juices are the best.
Try change white rice to brown-rice or wild rice and eat less quantity a day or maybe 2/3 times a week.
Say No to Fried, Processed & Junk foods.
Bi-annual check up required for your body to see how have you fared.
Try avoid hard drinks like liquor (or reduce the quantity and once in a while) and smoking if possible as it would help achieve results faster.
If you buying protein supplements, please be 100% sure on what you are buying and if it’s natural or not.
Avoid using other supplements that are in the market. You are trying to remind healthy and stay fit rather not preparing for a fitness or bodybuilding competition.
Say No to weight loss pills, crash diets, etc. Its temporary and leaves adverse effects on body.
Consume less of coffee and tea and avoid sugar in them.
Finish dinner by latest 6:30/7 pm. Don’t eat any solid food after that.
Drink at least 3-4 liters of water everyday. It flushes out the system of harmful stuff.
Avoid lifts as much as you can and use stairs if possible. For people who live on higher floors, use lifts to go to 2/3 floors less and then use the stairs.
Adequate sleep. It helps relaxes the mind and muscles.
You can work out for 5-7 days a week depending on your metabolism and your body. Rest is important for the muscle group you work out and you should avoid putting a lot of pressure on any one muscle group for more than 2 times a week.
At the gym don’t look at people and get intimidated so as to start lifting heavy. Those guys maybe a pro and hence possible for them. It will come with time to you. Lift something that you can control. Remember even lighter weight can make a difference with larger no of repetitions. As a thumb rule, heavy weights with less repetitions and low weight with high repetitions is what works.
Surprise your muscle group and keep changing exercises. There are many exercises for the same muscle group possible. The body gets used to one form and then beyond a point stops changing so a change is required to keep that in check
Some of food and healthy habits that I included in my regime are:
High Protein foods.
Greek or Low fat yogurt.
Almonds and other dry fruits mix
Brown rice/wild rice
Fruit smoothie – Strawberry, Blueberry, blackberry, banana, raspberry, broccoli, mint, etc. mixed with greek yogurt without sugar.
Soups – Tomato, Green Vegetable, Mixed Beans, Lentils, etc.
Brown or multigrain bread instead of white bread
Boiled unpeeled potato – 1/2 medium size everyday
Egg whites – 6/8
Baked or boiled rather than fried cooked food.
No sugar in any form.
So in the end what does staying fit actually do to our morale or for us that so many people across the world wanna achieve it or work towards it?
It increases your confidence levels. At least for me it’s been one of the most important aspects. When you fit well into your clothes, your confidence levels are at a different level.
It does wonders for your personality.
It takes off a few years off your age. I look a lot younger than I used to and the pictures would tell you the difference.
It increases your metabolism.
It helps regain and increase your energy levels.
It helps in generating focus and concentration.
Its reduces health risks and you end up living longer.
A Healthy lifestyle is the best thing to have in today’s unhealthy world when we are surrounded by numerous diseases and other related problems. Staying fit and healthy helps fight against all of them physically and mentally. For an example, I fought Dengue in October 2019 (my platelets went down to 10k against an average requirement of 250k), yet I was out of hospital in 10 days and am fit. The discipline helped me fight and come out strong even that’s what the doctors said. So it works guys.
So stay Fit & stay healthy…
Fit @42 is just to say that there is no age for fitness. Whenever you wanna start, just go for it and be dedicated, consistent and focussed. The option of having a trainer, dietician or anyone else is all up to you. I never wanted one rather I never could trust on them so I chose not to have one.
Stay Fit, Stay Healthy, Stay Hungry & Stay Safe!!