My first 10K at TWCM 2013

I woke up at 04:30 am surprisingly feeling well slept. That was a complete contrast to reality, as I slept at half past midnight. May be that was because of all the adrenalin rush in the lead up to the race day.  Since the weather forecast had predicted rains at 50% chance, I glanced outside and was relieved to see no signs of rain. After a light breakfast at 05:00 a.m. (Glass of milk and a small banana), I was ready by 05:15.

Just when I was about to wake up my brother for a drop to the local railway station, heavy downpours started. I was dumbstruck. I was scared that these rains were going to spoil my plans. I was game for a run in the rain, but I was pretty sure my dad would not approve of that. But when I nervously glanced at my dad,  to my surprise, he asked me to go to the venue and return back if it continues to rain. I heaved a sigh of relief. After checking on Arjun and Aditi one last time and giving mom some last minute tips on how to handle them if they start crying for me, my brother and I made our way to the Mandaveli MRTS.

When I entered the station, there were just a handful of people waiting for the train. But as time went by, more and more people made their way into the station. The excitement and butterflies in the stomach started soon after. A few of them had already started warming up. Even I tried to loosen the muscles a bit by walking around and doing high knee ups. Since the starting point of the race was right next to the Indira Nagar MRTS station, we were encouraged to use the train.

This being my first race, I had a lot of questions, concerns and nervousness. My major concern was restrooms. Would the portable toilets be available near the starting point? I dreaded at the possibility of having to run with a constant urge to look for restrooms. After having a near dehydration experience in the mock long run of 8Km, I took every effort to avoid dehydration. I drank electrolytes the previous day, to stock up on all the salts. The other concern was, I never run 10Km before the race. I was skeptical about my own abilities. But come what may, I was determined to cross the finish line, even if it meant that I had to walk for most parts.

As soon as the train reached Indira Nagar, the station was filled with people in orange. It was orange all the way outside the station too. Why wouldn’t it be if more than 7000 were to participate in the 10K event. After a quick bathroom break at a Porta potty, I made my way to the starting point. It was a festive atmosphere with loud music and lot of people, big and small, old and young, Indian and Foreign, strong and differently abled, raring to go.

The starting point was divided into bays based on the time in which one expected to finish the race. The first bay was less than 50 minutes. I quietly walked past it. Then, there was a 1hr bay. With a little bit of hesitation, I walked past it too. Then was the bay for 1hr and 10 minutes. Though my estimate was around 1hr and 15minutes, I decided to stick to 1hr and 10 minutes bay.

With less than 15 minutes left for the race to start, I tried to warm up a bit. Thankfully, I did not feel self conscious as many other people were doing the same (Since I run alone daily, I am constantly looking for ways to avoid amused gazes at me). I wanted a picture taken for my own records. A lady kindly agreed to do the honors in my obsolete smart phone. I needed proof for participation, so how could I let go of the opportunity 🙂

At the starting point

At the starting point

There was a timing chip stuck to the bib to record the timings. The start time for every person is recorded only when a person goes past the start line where a timing mat is placed. So, it actually does not matter when we cross the start line. What actually matters how long it takes to reach the “Finish line” from the “Start line”. The organizers were repeatedly announcing this information over the loudspeaker in order to avoid any panic situation, as for many people, like me, it was going to be the first race.

The race was flagged off at 07:00 a.m. as per plans. With the loud speakers playing ‘The Final Countdown’, it was an electric atmosphere. I am sure everyone was excited and filled with positive energy. I even got goose bumps at this point of time. I slowly jogged with the crowd. It was difficult to get past all the slow joggers/walkers. I know it was not a serious race where only professionals participate, but it would have been a nice, if actually everyone stood in their respective bays. There is no problem with someone jogging slow or walking. It is just that they should have started in their designated bay as it was quite unfair to others. Nevertheless, with a race with 7000+ participants, all these were to be expected.

The first 3 KMs was all about finding a way in between other participants. Initially I had thought that I should stick with someone who runs my pace, but that proved a difficult find. So, decided to run at my own pace. I took a walking break of a minute before I reached the 3KM mark. Volunteers were offering water, glucose, lemon and salt at the 3KM aid station. I grabbed a cup of water and moved forward.

Beyond the Madhya Kailash junction, traffic was closed in one side of the road. Other side of the road was used by all the runners, viz. marathoners, half marathoners and the 10K participants. Needless to say, it was congested. So the task of finding a way in between the runners continued. Volunteers were present all through the route ensuring that runners run in the lane allotted, one lane was for people running towards Madhya Kailash and the other was for people running towards Adyar flyover. I continued jogging at the pace I was used to. When we reached Adyar flyover, I saw a 4KM marker and the clock read 07:28. It was well inside my estimates. I continued to climb the flyover, huffing and puffing. Incline was a new territory to me as I had only ran on flat surfaces. It was difficult, but somehow managed to scrape through. Downhill was relatively easy and once we crossed the flyover, I was happy to spot the aid station. Grabbed some glucovita and continued over Thiru Vi Ka bridge.

The entire route was familiar to me, but still, the roads looked very different with runners all over the road and curious onlookers on the sides of the road. Some were cheering us, some were wondering what we were up to. I was sure of one thing though, the people in their vehicles must have been cursing us for creating traffic congestion early in the morning on a Sunday! Nevertheless, we continued to run cheering the fellow participants who were on the other side of the road. Most of them were half marathon runners. Looking at some of the older runners, I gained much needed determination to continue running and not resort to walking.

Once we went past the bridge, in about 0.5KM or so was the U turn point. It was 07:43 when I crossed it. I was off my target by a minute or two. But since flyover was not a part of my training, I was not disappointed. I continued running. By now, my legs were tired and my pace dropped. The trouble was when I had energy to run, the road was crowded and hence I was finding it extremely difficult to do justice. It was not just me who was in this situation. With these thoughts, I continued plodding along with the crowd.

When I reached the bridge again, I noticed that nobody was using the pavement on the side of the bridge. I took that and started running. As there was no one to pass, I was able to pick up pace and sustain it for a while. The surface was uneven and the rain water was on the pavement here and there. So, I tried my best to be careful too. A gentleman clicking photographs sitting on the edge of the bridge warned me about the uneven surface and asked me to be careful. I thought, both of us were potentially up to dangerous stunts J

I lowered the pace a bit and continued until I reached the aid station. Gulped down glucovita once again and got ready to run over the flyover once more. I was really not looking forward to it. Walked, jogged, walked and jogged until I climbed the flyover. Once on top, I started wondering how many more KMs to go. Though there were markers every 2KM, I noticed only one at the 4KM point. I wondered if the volunteers would know. I started looking for ways to distract myself to continue running. It was at this point, I saw some amazing runners. There were blade runners, there were participants on their pedaling with their hands and there were also participants pushing their dear ones in a wheel chair. These participants gave me the motivation to run.

When I was about to reach Madhya Kailash, presuming there is about 2KMs left in the race, I saw a marker saying 1KM to go. That sight was enough to push me through the last stage. After grabbing some pieces of banana from the aid station, I ran with a determination of finishing strong. But again, the roads were congested with runners. The pavement was uneven and the roads were water logged at some places. So, I could not continue with the same enthusiasm. There were a lot of people cheering us when we entered the CPT campus. Volunteers were saying last 200 metres, keep it up. But I just could not run any longer. So walked for a minute inside the campus and then ran in the direction guided by the volunteers. It was at this point, I spotted the “Finish line”. I sprinted the last 50 metres and finished the run. I have no words to describe how I felt after crossing the line. I was delighted, exhilarated, jumped with joy and when someone handed me the finisher’s medal, it was as if I had conquered the world. I was super happy :). May be, this is what they call as “Runner’s high”! The feeling of accomplishment, the feeling of winning a battle in which you were only fighting yourself.

My family could not be there to see me finish. I was sad for that and I missed even them more when I looked around. Most of the participants were with their family or friends or fellow runners. People like me, who were all alone by themselves were a very few. How I wished my husband was here. He would have been proud of my achievement. May be next time, I will ensure that my family including DH is there to cheer me at the finish line.

My official time was 01:07:59. Never in my wildest dreams had I thought this was possible. Not after stopping my 10K preparations mid way, owing to reasons beyond my control. I was very happy with the final result.

When I sat down to stretch a bit and much on the breakfast, a nice guy stopped by and congratulated me. I never knew him or had seen him before. It seems we were in the same bay at the start line. He said I did excellent and wondered how I got the prediction right and stood in the 1hr 10minute bay. I just smiled 🙂 in reply. Only I knew that I was supposed to stand in the 01:20 minute bay.

It was time to rush home and I was happy to hear that my children did not give much of a problem. They were all excited to see me and my parents were extremely proud of my achievement. Dad especially was excited to see my finisher’s medal. When consolidated results were out in the following days, I found that I stood 29th amongst women. Not bad, isn’t it? If someone, 6 months back, had predicted this (when I did not even start jogging), I would have just laughed.

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After the race

Of course, I did not let go of the opportunity of posting a picture of me with the finisher’s medal on facebook. My friends were happy to know about my participation. A few even asked me if I was a sports person to begin with. They were all amazed to know that I started jogging only 6 months back. I kept telling them, “If I can, then anyone can”. I hope to pull some of my friends in the next edition 🙂

I sincerely thank the organizers, volunteers, garbage warriors and police personnel who helped in organizing this wonderful event. I definitely look forward to the future editions. Kuddos to everyone who was involved with The Wipro Chennai Marathon 2013, for making my first running event a success!

Needless to say, I am eagerly waiting for the next opportunity to participate in a running event. Once my husband returns from his call of duty in January, we will move to Karwar. After that I have to look for events organized around that area. I hope for more opportunities to be motivated, so that I can continue to jog every other day for as long as I can.

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How I registered for my first 10K and prepared for it

In July 2013, I took up jogging seriously to lose weight and become fit. When I started, I could barely jog for 0.5Km, but I tried to do walk/jog as much as I could. As days went by, the weight started coming off my body. I was also getting stronger and by end of a month, I could jog for a mile (1.6Km) without stopping in between.

TWCM

Feeling upbeat, I decided to look for ways to stay focused on this jogging plan. Participating in a running event has always been a dream. Since I was going to stay in Chennai until Jan 2014, I looked up for the Chennai marathon’s date. Only then did I stumble upon the news that registrations were already open for ‘The Wipro Chennai Marathon 2013’ that is to be held on 01.12.13. When I told this to my husband, he tried to coax me into registering for the event. Since I had wanted to enjoy such an experience, I was excited too. The only thing that stopped me was my dad’s impending transfer. There was a possibility that dad could be transferred out of Chennai and if that was the case, then there was zero chance for participation (Travelling with 2 kids for a running event in Chennai is always out of question). But DH’s point was, in the worst case, the money spent for registration would be a waste. Considering that we waste as much money on unimportant stuff, I was bought by this argument and registered for the 10K event in August 2013.

This registration motivated me to keep my jogging routine going. Usually, Arjun does not let me step out of the house without him. Even the iPad bribe would not work, if it is for allowing me to step out. So, I had to take up my jogging after dropping him off at school at 10:00 a.m. Sometimes the weather was awesome, but there have also been many instances when it was very sunny cutting short my workouts. But whatever be the conditions, I could only do it for a maximum of 40 minutes as I had to be with Aditi for sometime before it was time to pick up Arjun.

As days passed by, the ease with which I jogged improved leaps and bounds. As the weight kept falling off, my stamina also improved. One has to be careful here as running everyday is not recommended. But as a beginner I was not aware of that and hence was left with a lot of pain at the end of a jog. When I researched online, I found a lot of articles recommending running alternate days. I was thankful for finally knowing what to do.

My routine was a jog alternate days (3-5 days a week). I also did a little bit of strength training (squats, arm exercises, abdominal exercises, standing on tip toes for calf muscles) when I have time and energy after the jog.

Right when the preparations for the 10K were on track, I hit a roadblock. Wedding of my parents’ friend’s son was supposedly fixed on the same weekend as the marathon. I was disheartened as this would mean we would all be in Erode that weekend and not in Chennai. Since both my parents’ wanted to be there, there was almost no possibility of participation. After all this, I still was a tiny bit hopeful and continued my jogging routine. I was not working towards a long run every week and increasing the long run mileage gradually. So, I was not actually working towards running the 10K.

Two weeks before the marathon came the good news. The wedding date was not 01st December as we had assumed, but 11th December. I was overjoyed, to say the least. I thought all was not lost and tried to do a long run before the event. But due to a chest infection early November, my jogging routine was not on track. I was not very fit at that time. Hence, when I tried to push myself to 8Km on the treadmill 10 days before the marathon, I ended up being sore and dead tired. If this was how I felt after a long run, I was not hopeful of running a good 10K.

The mistake I had done here was trying to increase mileage by more than 30% in a week and sadly, I did this when I was on the road of recovery from a chest infection. Experienced runner’s advice is to increase 10% mileage every two or three weeks. It also goes without saying that we need to rest the body well after illness and we should in fact start slow. But what is done is done. I decided to keep these experiences in mind for future experiences.

Once the soreness and tiredness lessened, I jogged outdoors as usual. I did not overdo it and stuck to around 4 Kms on Monday and Wednesday. Since Sunday was the race day, I decided to rest after Wednesday. I drank a lot of water and fuelled my body with all the good nutrition from fruits, nuts, eggs. It was indulgence in the name of fuelling, to be honest J

On Saturday as soon as I collected my kit bag, I was excited. Yes, I am really going to participate in the first race of my life on Sunday. How was the first 10K experience? More on that in the next post.

Weight loss strategy – Part 2 – Motivation

In the last post, I had written how “Eating Right” was the first stepping stone in my weight loss journey. All my previous weight loss missions did not yield the results I wanted. If I look back now to point at one single thing that jeopardized my efforts, it was the “eating” part. Eating right is the key in any kind of weight loss goal and I was glad that I got it right, at last.

After completing one month of eating right (with no exercises), I saw results. Really! It was my son’s ear piercing ceremony. All the near and dear ones had gathered for the occasion and everyone commented that I have lost weight. I was delighted to hear that and was sure it was due to my new habit. I was MOTIVATED to continue this.

Losing weight had been one of my goals for past so many years. Apart from eating right, it also involves working out! This time, my workout options were limited with the meager time I had for myself with 2 babies under 2 years! Gym, aerobics classes, yoga classes were all not an option. Though there was a gym close by, it opened at 7 a.m. by when my kids are up and it closes at around 11 a.m. when they nap. So making it to the gym was a distant dream.

Since I enjoyed aerobics earlier, I thought I would give it a try. I had bought an aerobics DVD sometime back and so I started with that. But then it turned out to be something very dull and ended up not liking it. I searched youtube, but still could not find an aerobics training video that I liked and could do. Then, I decided try jogging outdoors. To be frank, I can jog a bit on the treadmill but not outside. I used to feel the urge to stop running quickly when compared to treadmill. On the treadmill, I could push myself to jog for an extra minute or two. But when doing it outdoors, even if I set a target to run until the next lamp post, most of the time I would stop before I reach there. Due to this history of mine, I was not very hopeful about my plan, but since there was no other alternative (that I knew of, at that time), I decided to give it a try. My plan was to alternate walking and jogging until I build the stamina to jog continuously for a kilometer at least.

Once the plan was all set, it was time for action. But, sometimes we need that one thing that gently pushes us to take that first step, also called as MOTIVATION. I had had enough of my close family tell me that I need to lose weight. Though it counts as a push, it did not count as motivation. I had asked my husband to be my exercise buddy. However this did not work because one of us had to be around our children. I continued to wait for my motivation.

When my husband gifted Nike track pants and T-shirt for my birthday, I was excited. These were expensive stuff and I just could not continue waiting around for a push. The T-shirt was a size ‘L’ and yes, no marks for guessing that it did not fit me. When we went to the store to exchange it, to my utter dismay, we were told that ‘L’ was the largest size that they stock! Finally, I exchanged it for another pair of running tracks.

By the time I was about to start my jogging routine, my old pair of Nike shoes gave away. It was as if even Gods did not want me to start. A month passed before we had time to check out a nearby Nike store. I was shell shocked to see the prices. The most comfortable pair of running shoes cost more than 6,000 rupees. Are you kidding me? I was not ready to pay this exorbitant sum. We checked out an Adidas store next to it and the prices were in the same range. My husband pressurized me to make a decision quickly. But somehow I could not just buy them immediately. Later that day, I checked online to see if the prices were any lesser. To my luck, there was a store wide promo at Jabong.com. I got a pair of Nike Pegasus 29 shoes @ 20% off. Those were the exact same pair I tried at the store. So, I knew the shoe size. Wow, I really felt proud of my achievement 😉 despite the fact that these shoes cost more than what I planned to spend.

Here is a quick note for any of you who are considering buying shoes online. I definitely suggest you to visit the actual store and try a lot of shoes. Find the one which is the most comfortable and note down the model, size etc. Before you buy, check if any of the online stores stock them. Most likely, they would be selling it at a discount around festival season or clearance. If you can, wait and grab your pair that time. You would be doubly happy to receive your favorite pair of shoes at a discounted price!

Now, let us get back to my story. After spending more than 10K on the Nike running gear (tracks and shoes), I simply could not afford to wait longer. I had to start now. Yes, these expensive running gears were my MOTIVATION to start my workout routine.

Everyone needs some kind of motivation to begin any task that seems daunting. Sometimes this motivation is external as it was the case with me. My husband in his own quiet way wanted to motivate me to start on this journey (He is the one who gets to listen to my cribbing, isn’t it :)). He did that by purchasing me all these and boy, did he not know that I would feel guilty to just sit on it and waste my time! If this was his plan, I should call it a master stroke!

After waiting forever to take the weight loss mission to the next step i.e. jogging, I finally got there after getting my hands on the shoes. Yay! What happened next? Watch out for my next post on this category.

Finally, all these external motivation (running gear and people’s compliments) can only push one for so long. After that, it is mainly self motivation that is going to sail the ship. I will write a post exclusively on that after sometime.

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.