Recently, due to my attendance of a fair share of weddings and social events, I met a lot of people whom I hadn’t seen in almost 6-7+ years. A common question I got from them was how I lost all my weight; yes, I was always on the heavier side of the scale and struggled for quite some time to find a good balance. My sister in law nudged me into sharing my story of weight loss; finding and, more importantly, maintaining a weight that was healthy and made me content.
So let me start at the beginning…and I think a few pictures would be sufficient to show where my journey began, and I can thank my dad for having some of my most embarrassing pictures. I am 5 ft 2 inches and weighed close to 60 kilos (132 lbs)-trust me when I say it was a lot of weight for a tiny body. It wasn’t that I wanted to be stick skinny as Twiggy, but I wanted to be healthy…be able to run, not be lethargic all the time, and gain self confidence.
It was not like I had tried before to loose weight, but it was always the wrong way. Extreme dieting, but still binging on junk food, exercising, but not regularly; making all excuses in the world of saying that I don’t have time, etc. I even consulted trainers and dieticians but nothing seemed to having a lasting impact.
I think it was probably when I was in Egypt that really made getting to a health weight a priority for me. I was tried of clothes not looking good on me, hiding myself underneath bulky jackets and unappealing layers. My parents would also tell me quite politely that I needed to do something about my weight, and overall health factor. As I mentioned before it was about loosing excess flab to become fit. I realized that only going to the gym, but keeping up my horrible eating habits was the true culprit. Skipping meals but indulging in a nice KFC chicken sandwich was just plain madness.
The trick for me was eating the right food. Lentils (Dal) and vegetables (subji) became my staple diet. I would eat 3-4 times a day and focus on having wholesome food. My daily intake was something like this:
Breakfast: Fruits & Cereal or a light omelette sandwich
Lunch: Dal (Lentils) & Brown Rice
Evening Snack: Fruits
Dinner: 2 Rotis (Indian Bread-Wheat) & Subji (Vegetables)
This was coupled with going to the gym for 45 minutes at least 4 times a week. On my days off from the gym I went for belly dancing classes. I stuck to this regime for 4 months and finally saw that my clothes started to fit me better. The scale didn’t make much difference, but the inches finally started to come off. Now, I did have a cheat meal once every two weeks or so. I also started making better choices of meals I ordered when we out for dinner. I started opting for fish or vegetables over chicken.
After approximately 9 months in Egypt, I moved back to the US and that is where the real test came. I didn’t have my mom to make to the wholesome and delicious food, so how would I stick to this personal journey of becoming healthy?
I started cooking a lot more! I found an Indian grocery store, stocked up on different types of lentils and legumes, and discovered the amateur chef within me. Now my food isn’t mind-blowing, but it is simple food that keeps me on the health trail. Even when I did go out for dinner and drinks with friends, I made a conscious effort to pick the healthier option. I knew this was a lifestyle change. To be honest, a lot of times I was bored myself with the plain food and gym routine. I asked why wasn’t I just gifted with the best possible metabolism. I would get jealous of my friends who could eat anything and everything and never put on a even an inch. There were days that I would just cry because I felt like I was doing all the right things but not getting anywhere significant (as the scale only showed minor improvements).
But then I would look in the mirror and find myself to having more energy and being happier, and these small joys were ample to keep me on my journey. To break the workout monotony, I researched and tried different exercises. For instance, I dabbled in yoga, spinning, and even belly dancing. I am not a master of any, but these slight moderations gave me new experiences and kept me active. I even had a chance to perform with Troupe Shabaana in Cleveland!
So where am I today?
I can proudly say that today I am a waaayy more active, energetic, and fit person! I have completed a marathon-something that was just a dream. Yes, my clothes do fit me better and I get a nice joy in saying I can go back and wear my high-school outfits (the ones that are still fashion relevant). Dal has become my favorite daily food. At times, I have had it even for breakfast. I found that I actually like eating vegetables, especially spinach and corn; okra and eggplant aren’t that bad either. Sometimes a tomato or avocado with some salt sprinkled over is the best mid day snack.
Above anything else is that I am happy with myself. I know I will probably never get any skinner and I might gain a few extra kilos here and there and I am okay with that. I have found a great and healthy balance for myself through a lot of trial and error and so far it’s working for me. The change didn’t involve any tricks or magic pills or shake, it was the old remedy of just watching what you eat and finding an exercise that works for you.
I am not claiming to be a health expert or anything, but am just sharing my journey….journey towards becoming more healthy and happy.