'How I Gave Up Junk Food And Got Fit'

Here is a message to teens who gain weight by making bad food choices and then, struggle to become fitter. Read a first-person account on how you can knock off those extra kilos without dieting!

By RJ Sowjanya

'How I Gave Up Junk Food And Got Fit'

It's been years since I lost all my excess weight. Even now, I get queries from friends and fans as to how I managed to lose almost 30 kilos in a period of two years. 

Well, in my late teens, like most others, I too was lured by ‘junk’ food. Hanging out not just with friends, but also with burgers, fries, and cola drinks was so cool. I never really had any clue what I was getting into. 

Soon after college, things only got worse. I became a radio jockey (felt like a star!) with a huge fan-following and, yes, the feeling of great joy on the last day of every month when my salary would get credited to my account. I spent a lot on junk food every single day and did ‘zero’ exercise. 

One fine (rather, sad) day, I realised I had put on more than 30 kilos in a matter of two years. The Body Mass Index (BMI) confirmed that my 95 kilos was a signal that I was not just overweight, but I was obese. This hit me hard. I was just over 20 years old and lost my confidence. 

Urged by well-wishers, I visited weight loss centres, gyms and parlours hoping for a miracle solution to make me look like those hour-glass figures on the silver screen. Nothing worked and I realised there will never be a shortcut to weight loss. So, I decided to do it on my own.

So, here’s what I did

I stopped eating junk (and saved a lot of money!). I started having six small meals a day, designed my own calorie charts (with help from Internet sources), walked two hours a day, engaged myself in all the household chores and drank plenty of water.

My plan was — cut down 500 calories a day and burn another 500 calories. The result — I lost 1 kilo/week. Yes, it was a slow process, but it worked. Of course, I did have my cheat days, when I would pamper myself occasionally with ‘not-so-healthy food’

On the whole, it took me a good two years to lose 30 kilos and get back on track. In the process, I regained my confidence. All this was achieved with patience — tons of it. And, that is what people who ask me for tips to lose weight don’t realise. Self-discipline and patience are the key factors in losing weight. Today, I am married and hope to continue to follow a healthy lifestyle and be a good example. What better gift to give yourself than health and fitness! So, act now. It’s never too late.

'How I Gave Up Junk Food And Got Fit'

Here are some of my pointers for weight loss:

  • Start your day with a glass of warm water mixed with lime and honey. 
  • Have six small meals a day. 
  • Snack on nuts or fruits between meals. If that doodh peda or a packet of chips tempts you, remember the extra calories piled up will require anywhere from an hour to three hours of brisk walk to burn. So, watch what you eat.
  • Drink lots of water throughout the day. 
  • Remember the adage – ‘Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper.’
  • Begin the day with a heavy meal and reduce the portion sizes as the day goes by. 
  • Finish your last meal of the day by 7:00 p.m.
  • Avoid having fruits after evening. 
  • If need be, cheat once a week to indulge in your favourite food. Of course, remember to burn off the extra calories. 
  • Don’t believe in any advertisement which says you can lose weight quickly without exercise. Do it slowly, losing ½ to 1 kilo a week. 
  • Replace white rice with red rice, and try having ragi for a meal.
  • Cook your own food so that you will be aware of what is going in. 
  • Keep a food journal and track your food intake. 
  • Do it the desi way — don’t forget that all those items your grandma used in the kitchen have exceptional nutritional value. 
  • Be patient. Nothing is impossible. No weight is way too much to lose; start today, start right now!

Expert take by Wanitha Ashok

It’s really challenging to be a parent to a teenager, in this era. Owing to peer pressure, the fancy for size-zeros and six-packs, the lure of fast food, and a technology-driven lifestyle, teens of today are a confused lot. They either indulge in too much exercise and follow a bizarre diet regimen or lead a sedentary life and go on binges. I rarely find teens who are able to strike the right balance. 

It is you, as a parent, who has to introduce your teenage children to a healthy lifestyle by becoming a role model. Keep asking yourself constantly if you are doing the right things. If you are, then your child is likely to follow suit at some stage. 

'How I Gave Up Junk Food And Got Fit'

Here are some quick lifestyle tips for the family:

  • A good night’s sleep is a must. It rejuvenates the mind and the body.
  • An hour of skill-based exercise each day helps. This will improve focus and concentration and help your children perform better in academics.
  • Swimming and cycling are good options for cardio workouts.
  • Weekend family treks should be considered as regular breaks, as they help you keep fit and enable family bonding.
  • Use the right words when making suggestions. Do not bring out the rebel in your child. 

RJ Sowjanya works with a radio channel in Bengaluru and is keen to share her transformational story with teenagers. 

Wanitha Ashok is a certified fitness expert and author of wellness-related books. 

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