Weight Loss Strategy – Part 1 – Eat it right

After back to back pregnancies, I had little time for exercise, or so I thought then. My weight was wavering around 68-70 kg. Since I was breastfeeding my daughter, I do get hungry a lot. So I could not just stop eating! I thought I should at least start eating right so that I do not go above this already high weight.

With past experiences, I realized that any kind of weight loss (small or big) will stay only with proper diet. It should be a life style change and not a change that you embrace to lose weight. If the change is to just lose weight, the lost weight will definitely be back when the old ways of eating return. This is one of the main reasons that dieting does not work. The changes that we want to make should be sustainable in the long run.

The following were my strategies to eat right

  1. Switching to Oats: My morning breakfast has been cereals (corn flakes) for years now. It could be plain or special K or honey flavored. Though I love traditional south Indian breakfasts like idli, dosa, pongal etc, they do not keep me full for a long time. So, I wanted to switch over to oats for a change and bought a pack of muesli. I realized that I was full longer. But I knew that I should switch to plain oat meal to see any sort of result as muesli had lot of sugary stuff, even though it claimed to have zero added sugar. I had tried oatmeal many times, but I could never enjoy it. May be I can eat it like a medicine. But I cannot do that for a long time. After reading through internet, I decided to cook oats in milk. I used to cook it in water before and may be that is why I did not like the taste and felt hungry soon. Oatmeal cooked in milk, topped with a small banana and a teaspoon of sugar kept me full and I REALLY enjoyed this comforting food. I realized that this change is going to stay with me for a long time. I have been having it for almost 6 months now and I really enjoy it. Though I use an apple or pomegranate occasionally, banana has been the most favored topping.
  2. Cut out sugar: I love sweet and sugary stuff. Even as a child, I loved with my idli, dosai and roti with honey. I loved milk with sugar. But after reading an article in a newspaper recently, I realized that I am eating more sugar than recommended every day. The recommendation is around 6 tsp for ladies including those hidden in your processed food. As a first step, I reduced sugar to 1 tsp to any drink I make. If I had to add flavorings, I made sure that I use less than that. Eventually, I used only 1 tsp of badam (almond) flavor and no sugar. While it is fine to eat more than recommended amount once in a while, we need to be disciplined on a daily basis.
  3. Get those sweets out of the refrigerator: I loved sweets. But I was not crazy enough to buy it every day and eat. However if they are in the refrigerator, I simply cannot resist it. To implement this strategy, you definitely need help from your family. They should be understanding and supportive of the decision you make. In my case, I had stiff opposition. That was because my mother-in-law found that my husband and son enjoyed sweet once in a while. According to her, we need to stock these sweets in the refrigerator, so that once in a while we can treat ourselves. My husband echoed the same thoughts. My problem here was, they may enjoy the treat once in a while but as it is sitting in the fridge waiting to be eaten, I cannot resist it. Back in Mumbai, I was not able to achieve this, but when at my parents’ place in Chennai, I made sure we did not stock them. If there was an occasion for sweets, we bought/prepared only the required amount and not in excess to be relished later. This strategy worked.
  4. Say no to juices/soda: We don’t drink soda in our house hold. But we enjoy juices at times. The trouble here was, we buy the 1 litre juice cartons. Till the time the carton is opened, I keep off it. Once it is opened, I am always tempted to take a sip. Sip by sip, I finally end up drinking a glass of it. In 2 days, somehow the carton would be empty. As we know, these contain no nutritive value. Imagine gulping down a glass of juice after a workout. You are actually washing away all the effort in that one glass. When my husband feels like having this junk drink, I have asked him to buy a single serving carton. Even though it is expensive this way, it is for our own good. Finally at the end of the day, health and not money is important.
  5. Say yes to single serving treats: We loved ice cream (who does not) and we used to buy large family packs. As a result, we always over ate. It is definitely necessary to indulge in your favorite treats once in a while, but we should not make them a part of daily meal. So, we stopped buying large packs of ice cream. Instead, every Saturday, after our children slept, my husband and I went to a local ice cream parlor and had a scoop of ice cream. Added bonus, we got to spend a little time together. Again, we end up spending a bit more, but I was willing to pay the price to keep our waist line under check.
  6. Limit fast food: My husband loves his samosas (deep fried snack with vegetable filling). He buys these when he is hungry at the end of the day. Even if I was good for the entire day, just a single samosa would jeopardize all the effort. So, I pleaded with him and we finally reached a deal. We will have this once a week.
  7. Eliminate “Processed food”: Processed food means anything that comes in a package that is ready to eat. After I went on the sugar reducing spree, I realized that even the humble Marie biscuit tasted sweet. It seems 2 cream biscuits overshoot the required daily amount of sugar! Biscuits do come in handy when travelling, but moderation is the key. Same goes with instant noodles, packaged cornflakes, soups. I read that it is better to stay away from the so called low-fat food, because it has a plenty of added sugar. Do you have any idea how much sugar is added to Bread?And let us not discuss jams. Biscuits were my evening snack and I have let it go eventually. I do nibble on them occasionally, but I definitely do not relish it anymore.
  8. Check your portion size: My portion size increased as my weight increased. So naturally when I tried to control the portion size, I ended up being hungry. So instead of trying to reduce it drastically, I began doing it slowly. I reduced one roti. After I was comfortable with this change, I tried to reduce my rice intake. I did not try to reduce my serving size in all the meals. Rather I reduced the size in one of the meals. After I was used to this change, I tried to reduce it a bit more. The key here is to take it slow. Now after 6 months, I have cut down the portion size by one thirds in all the meals. Recently I read an article where the dietitian said, “Eat the food normally to your hunger. Find the quantity required to maintain your current weight. Then cut down a little bit. This would definitely lead to a slow and steady weight loss”. I think this point made by the dietitian reinforced my belief to cut the portion size slowly.

To be successful in this attempt, it goes without saying that you need your entire family on board. If you have young children, it is pretty easy as they are not yet used to anything. I had to only convince my dear husband. He was and is very understanding and he was on board with all this with a little nudging.

Eating healthy is an important aspect in life. Paying enough attention to the food we eat will eventually lead to healthy food habits. As parents, it is important to introduce children to healthy food habits at an early stage. Of course, we all love to feast on a lot of bad food at times. But that is fine as long as we are not doing it every single day 🙂

Thus, my weight loss journey began. By implementing all these strategies and following a workout routine, I was able to lose nearly 9 kg in 4 months. From 68 kg, I got down to 59 kg!


Things I hated about being overweight

I had written a long post about my struggle with weight. This one focuses on the problems I faced on a day to day basis because of being overweight.

  1. I hated it when people tell me, “No, you are not fat. You are just Healthy”. Wow, as if I did not get the hint. I can understand that they tried to be polite. But somehow I did not want to be told that I am “Healthy”
  2. Mundane tasks like bending down and picking up a few things, walking for long distances, running a few blocks, climbing a flight of stairs etc seemed to get difficult by the day. It was all doable, but not with the same ease as before.
  3. It was taking a toll on my health too. When I injured my lower back, my doctor asked me sheepishly if I ever played any outdoor games as there were no traces of muscles in my back! My thyroid also started malfunctioning in trying to keep up with my extra weight.
  4. My dad usually does not beat about the bush. So he was critical about my bad food habits and zero exercise. Even though that was plain truth, I did not like to hear it. I hated to indulge on food (the bad ones) in front of him because it would definitely prompt him to make a comment that I did not want to hear.
  5. I was self conscious all the time. I was worried if my tummy is showing or if my clothes have become tight. I knew that I was fat now, but I never wanted anyone to call me that. So I wore loose fitting clothes to hide my bulges!
  6. Shopping for western outfits was a nightmare in India. Usually, I do not wear western outfits. When I had to buy formal attires, T-shirts etc for my US trip, I was nearly in tears. No store would stock my size (please, I was not obese) and it used take tremendous effort and will power to visit every store and try so many clothes only to find that they do not fit you. I was very depressed.
  7. This was true even when buying ready-made garments. Quite often, the salespersons told me that I needed to check out bigger size. Probably they were right and were telling it for my own good, but I hated to hear that. It would bring me to tears (I was/am a very sensitive person. The smallest of things would make me cry). Shopping was not a joy anymore.
  8. I hated to look at my photographs as it constantly reminded me of my weight problem. I love to check out other people’s photographs, but would never be happy to look at mine.

To be true, at the end of the day, all this self pity did not help me in tackling the underlying problem. I eventually got to a point when I realized that. It was at that time I took the first step to overcome the problem. More on that in the next post.

My Weight issues

As a child and teen, I did not have any weight issues. I managed to stay under 58 kg. When I started college, I gained a couple of kilos and that was it. I was not lean but at least I was nowhere near being called “Fat”. Till I joined work in 2005, I remained at 60 kg. However things changed, for the worse, thereafter.

Before I realized, I was piling on weight at an alarming pace. I roughly gained 7 kg before I left for the US in July 2007 (in 2 years!). Options were aplenty to follow a fitness routine, but my sweet tooth played havoc with the plans of getting into shape. I gained 2 more kilos by the time I was in India in Jan 2009. I was just short of 70 kg!

I was a software engineer that time. My work involved sitting on a chair for at least 8 hours a day. There are times when we worked overtime. This sedentary life style coupled with stress, bad food habits etc leads to weight gain for many in this profession. I was no exception.

Culprits in my case were the following

  1. Sedentary life style: Sitting on the chair for more than 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. If the commute time is added, then it would amount to 12 hours a day. After a tiring day at work, there was no energy left for any exercise. Even walking seemed difficult.
  2. Bad food habits: For years chocolates were once-in-a-while treat for me. This changed during work years as they were at hand’s reach in the cafeteria and there was no pocket money limitation. Also, if a colleague returned from home town after a short visit, they brought delicacies from their place for everyone to taste.
  3. Back Injury: Once I slipped when I was coming out of the bathroom. I injured my lower back in that and I was unable to walk for more than 5 minutes. It took months to heal. The irony is, I fell down on the day I finished my first workout at the office gym. So when I decided to start exercising, I had to stop doing it on the same day 😦
  4. Stress: These highly demanding jobs made sure that we were always under some kind of pressure. We chased deadlines after deadlines. On days when I actually completed the work on time or before time, it made me feel guilty of under working!

Even when I was in the US, I tried everything to lose the weight. I worked out at the office gym, tried dieting. But I had no control over my diet. I was not eating everything in sight, but I ate all the wrong food! The trend continued after I returned to India for my wedding. Before marriage, I lost 2 kg, but the other excess mass remained firmly attached to me.

After marriage I left to Mumbai to be with my husband. Once I was there, I gained all the weight back because of zero exercise, eating out and all that. I was really sad to look at myself in some of the photographs taken during that time. I went to gym and participated in aerobics class. But nothing got me going

I was depressed about this and cribbing to a friend constantly. She said one of her cousins lost all the excess weight by working out and following a strict diet plan prescribed by a dietitian. She offered me to get the details. Once I had the details in hand, I was motivated to start again. It was not a difficult diet to follow. The gist of it is to reduce your calorific intake to about 1200 calories and workout for at least 40 minutes a day. Eat a lot of vegetables and fruits. I saw instant results. I lost 5 kg in around 6 weeks. I was very happy. I was content at that and did not work hard after 6 weeks. I managed to stay around this weight for some months.

Then I was pregnant with my first child and then my second child. As you could imagine, I gained all that back. I had no time for exercise whatsoever (may be, it was not a priority). I was stuck at 68-70 kg for a long time.

Long story short, I gained around 10 kg in 9 years! But there is a happy ending to it. Read about it in the next post.

A Musical beginning

My husband is in Russia on duty now. He will be returning next month. Yesterday, when I was about to sleep, he messaged me saying that he had a surprise in store. I could sense his excitement. But knowing my husband and the fact that surprises and DH don’t go hand in hand, I did not expect anything big. So, I asked him if he did something that would surprise me or he bought a surprise gift. He said he has bought me something and he was not going to tell me what it was. He wanted me to guess it. I listed the usual things viz. clothes, jewelry, watches. He replied in the negative for all these.

My sleepy brain had enough of these blind guesses and asked for some clues. He said that the thing was a masterpiece and required some skill which he hoped I will acquire eventually. Sewing machine was in my wishlist for a long time now, but couldn’t figure out why he would buy it from Russia . Suddenly I was scared that it could be roller skates. He purchased them for him last year and was learning to skate with the help of youtube videos. I was not game for that and hence heaved a sigh of relief when I heard it was not roller skates.

I had a feeling that I am blurting out a lot of things in my “desirable list” in the name of guesses. I did not feel comfortable about letting out so much information. I said that I was done with the guessing business. Finally he said it is an Indoor thing and it was not electronics. Suddenly I remembered that some of his seniors wanted him to buy Pianos for them. So, when I asked if it was related to music, I got a positive reply. I hoped it was a guitar, but it was Piano at the end.

I was not thrilled. In fact, I was damn scared. Would we have a place for a Piano in our small quarters? Did he spend a fortune for this? After I knew the price and seeing a few pictures, I was relieved. But my dear husband was upset that I was not excited. He thought I would like it and I flooded him with questions. I felt bad that I behaved in this way. DH wanted to make me happy. Since I asked so many questions, he decided that I was not happy with his choice.

Today I emailed him saying that I was all happy and excited. I just required some time to digest the information. When someone decides to gift you a thing that you neither had in mind or knew how to use, I guess it warrants for such behavior from the recipient.

Now coming back to the Piano, when in school, I wanted to learn to play the electronic keyboard. But somehow that did not materialize. I did not have enough opportunity to learn music at any point in my life so far. I guess now I can not say that. I am happy that my husband got me this thoughtful gift. It would definitely let me into a whole new world. I have lot to explore, learn about music. Though it would take another 3 months to lay my hands on it, I have already started my research. Wish me luck!

Different Perspectives

This is going to be my first ever participation in a writing challenge. I used to write diaries and letters. So far whatever little I had written had all been my perspectives. This post here is an attempt to describe a scenario in two different perspectives in response to this week’s (21st Oct 2013) writing challenge from Daily post – the Difference point of view makes

Scenario: Mom is back home after her run. Her year old daughter is sitting in the living room with her grandfather when mom gets back. What happens next is told in this story in mother’s and daughter’s perspective.

Mother’s perspective:

After nearly a week, I managed to sneak out for my morning run. With a baby and a toddler every little task that involves going out of the house is a challenge. I woke up my dad from his sleep and asked him to be in the kids’ room till I got back.

When I entered the house all sweaty and tired after 45 minutes, my little girl Aditi was already up and waiting for me. It was time to relieve my dad of his duties. He was ready to step out for his morning walk. I sat down near Aditi who was playing with her elder brother’s toys. I saw that she was all excited as she rarely gets a chance to lay her hands on his prized possessions.

After giving a peck on her cheek, I laid down next to her for my exercises. I pushed myself to the brink for completing the first set of leg raises wondering how some movie stars sported flat tummies post pregnancy. For the hundredth time, I cursed myself for putting on this much weight. When I was mid way with the second set of exercises , Aditi decided that trying to climb on my chest would be lot more fun than playing with the toys. As a result, the leg raises got even more challenging. Why would it not be, when you got to do them with a baby who is simultaneously trying to practice standing up holding you for support! By the time I was done with the third set, Aditi was all over me. She pulled my hair, checked out my earrings and when there was nothing else to do, she got impatient.

She wanted me to pick her up. Just when I got up to do that, Arjun, my son came running out of the bedroom and straight on to my arms. Poor little Aditi was screaming and as usual, I was helpless wondering how to calm them both!

Daughter’s perspective:

It was still dark when Aditi woke up from her sleep. In the dimly lit bedroom, she was unable to find her mother. Then she kicked her legs in the air and listened to the soft noise from her anklets. She looked around when she heard a noise. It was her grandfather. He whispered “Aditi” and picked her up. 

After visiting her grandmother in the kitchen, they settled down in the living room. She did not like that. She was about to cry to state her disapproval. Grandfather got the cue and picked her up to point at all the toys that were neatly stacked on the television stand. Her eyes caught her brother’s shiny new car, the one he refused to share with her. She waved her hands at it and mumbled her baby words “adhu, adhu” meaning “that”.

Once she had that precious possession in her hands, she calmed down. She examined the car from all the angles, probably to see which side to bite first. She played with the wheels. Then, she threw it around and enjoyed all the noises it made. Right then, somebody opened the front door.

It was her mom. She was happy to see her. For a while, she kept herself busy playing with the new car and looking at her mom. In sometime, she was bored. She went near her mother and tried to get up holding her. After she was done with all this, She wanted her mom’s attention and was desperately trying to get it. She pulled her hair, hair band. But mom was in no mood to pick her up.

Finally, when mom got up, she was thrilled. Now, came the moment she was waiting for. She held her arms high, ready to be picked up. Right then her brother came running from the bedroom and went straight to her mom’s arms. Aditi’s world came down now. She thought how could mom pick up her brother and not her. She was very angry and began crying!


My GMD red edges are here finally!

After reading ravishing reviews about Green mountain prefold diapers, I wanted to try them for my first child. But I found it expensive as I had to a pay for shipping too. So finally settled for cotton babies’ Indian prefolds which were in the affordable range with free shipping (of course not to India )

I liked them in the beginning, but somehow I felt that it did not hold up well and failed the test of time. This could have been because I was washing with powerful detergents that damaged the fabric. Or it could be because it was washed every other day for nearly nine months.

For my second child, I wanted to try GMD at any cost. I had to see if it lives up to all the hype. When I came to know that my friend is making a trip to India, I promptly ordered for 1.5 dozen at GMD website and had it delivered at her place (I paid for shipping). My daughter is already thirteen months now. So I am hoping that this and the 10 pocket diapers I have now would be sufficient until potty training (My stash size reduced dramatically after all my flats and flip organic inserts were torn into bits with excessive washing)

My friend reached Chennai last night and I got the stuff from her this morning. I was very excited and wanted to prep those immediately. But the incessant rainfall dampened my spirits. I am sure that it would take one full day to dry them. I’ve only one dry rack and it is already full with my children’s clothes that were washed this morning. So with a bit of disappointment I’ve decided to wait until rains recede a bit.

I’ll post the before and after images of the prefolds once I prep them.

Shycart shopping experience and Eco femme cloth pads

Shycart.com is a website that helps you order items which you would normally be shy to ask for at the stores. They have a whole range of products under personal care, woman’s care and sexual care. While many online retail stores sell most of these items, some items like pregnancy test kits, ovulation kits, tampons, menstrual cup, sanitary cloth pads etc are only available in a very few websites.

Usually the delivery box of e-commerce sites have the invoice copy with product details like description and cost affixed. Anyone who collects the delivery on your behalf as well as the delivery person would be aware of what is inside. While this is not a big deal when you order electronics, toys, books etc, it makes us self conscious when ordering items like lingerie, sanitary products etc. Shycart promises privacy for the person right till the product is delivered. The invoice copy that will be displayed on the delivery boxes from Shycart claim to just contain the numeric product code, quantity and cost. So neither the delivery person nor the person accepting the box will have a clue of its contents.

The Shycart package

The Shycart package

Now, why I needed to place an order from Shycart. I wanted to try out cloth pads. After using the sanitary products sold in the US, one can easily make out the poor quality (comfort and efficiency) of the same products in India. This despite being sold under the same brand name. Hence inline with my going green initiative, I wanted to try cloth pads. But I was ignorant of their availability in India until a friend recommended it to me and let me know that these are available at Shycart.

So, women like me in India we have the option to use Eco femme cloth pads are manufactured by women’s self help groups that are encouraged by Auroville Village Action Group, an NGO. They have three products viz. panty liner, day pad and night pad. After months of procrastination, I finally placed the order last week.

Due to unavailability of certain products, they shipped out only a part of the order so far. The customer care representative who contacted me for this was polite. As promised, the delivery envelope was white with invoice copy affixed on it. Again as promised, only the product code was printed and hence we get the privacy that was promised. In fact, it was my mother who accepted the parcel. She later asked me what was inside 🙂

The final verdict is, It was a pleasant experience ordering from shycart. Would definitely visit again when need arises. You can check them out here.