'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
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.
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.
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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