Like millions of women around the world, I’ve always wanted to lose weight. As a amul-butter-licker, milkmaid-finger-dipping indian, fat has found a nesting ground on my hips. My vengeance against fat consumed a greater part of my adult life-- making me explore different activities to shed weight, before I settled on one method. This is my story on “How I met your weightlosser”.
I used to love running. In fact, I once ran 42 kilometers-- a full length marathon. It was completed not without drama- I crossed the finish line after a last mile burst of sprinting, my arms up in the air and all, like a winner, except there was no ribbon to cross and there were like 20 people crossing the line at the same second.
I was quite pissed off when I saw my finish time. 6 hours and 1 minute. I had dreamt of a sub-6-hour marathon during my 5 months of training. Where did I spend that extra 1 minute, Sherlock? I retraced the 42 kilometers in my mind: Was it my slowdown near the water stations, or the high fives I gave to small children (I thankfully didn’t miss their tiny hands and end up slapping their face), or was my 1 minute lost in side stepping slow runners around me? I concluded I would never be able to tell and made peace with it.
Actually 6hrs:01min is a cool timing. It is remember-able and makes a great story to break ice with. At parties when I was asked to broadcast that one thing special about me, my lips would go up in a half smile, I’d toss my hair over my shoulder and tell them “I missed my marathon run time by 1 minute”. To which I’d get admirable nods, “wow”s or bow-down-to-you’s because running for 6 hours sounds incredibly impossible. It made a great story till a few years ago, when a fairly overweight lady stopped me after I announced my proud achievement, by saying that she had run the same marathon within the same time as I did.
My ego was hurt. My achievement, my only ice-breaker achievement, was crushed. If she, the nice but overweight, unfit, fat lady can run the same marathon in the same time as me, of what showing off value is my fitness achievement worth?
I gave up running.
No no, Not because of this incident. One day, when I was untying my shoelaces after a 2 hour run, I stared at my shoe and realised running wasn’t worth my time! Calculate it yourself: 1 hour to run 4 miles to burn 400 calories, all that time running alone in the company of the most dangerous mind I know-- me and my stupid thoughts. So I gave up running.
I needed to find a new way to shed the pounds.
One night, I was stalking the very slim Shilpa Shetty online. A click led to a series of more clicks, and I got to know that bollywood celebrities like her, Deepika Paudukone and Katrina Kaif go to a Pilates studio to exercise. Bingo!
I booked a Pilates session at the gym. If you have never seen one, let me tell you that the Pilates studio looks like a torture chamber for nice people. Imagine a train bogey on tracks, just that now instead of the train, there’s a bed. You lie on the bed and pull the ropes falling off the machine structure, giving you a good stretch. After 4 sessions, I decided I really want to do pilates, but when I am either old or injured. My time had not come yet.
So I gave up Pilates.
Bored with the indoors, I tried outdoor sports, to shake up my weight loss. But alas!
Cricket was a permanent cool down. There was too much time between overs so I’d have to do push-ups on the grassy ground to make it worth my time. I moved to weekly basketball with a bunch of office guys. Basketball was a huffing and puffing workout, but playing with men was a disadvantage-- They’d just have to stand in front of me, raise their hands casually, and my aim was blocked! I had to take unnatural shots -- shooting a parabolic trajectory, completely ruining a natural game for me. Soccer broke a good sweat till I realised I was just running up and down the field like a kitten chasing an LED light-- the ball was rarely ever passed to me! I moved to the exciting and exotic game of Rugby. Dispite playing with a women's team, Rugby left me with injuries from being attacked, and I quit not because I was told to buy a mouth guard, but because I was moving cities. Really, not lying. I was moving cities. Mouth guard is cool.
Enough. I decided to go all girly and delicate and I moved my weight loss indoors.
I started with Zumba, the kitty party of exercises. All my lady friends would rave about it, so I showed up to see what it was all about. In 7 minutes, I wanted to quit. The zumba dance looked like walking like you badly want to go to the loo and you have to pick garden weed on the way. I had scanned the all-women class around me and each of them seemed to be enjoying themselves. How can someone enjoy this shit? Sorry. It jabbed at my ego-- Me, the cricket-playing-basketball-trajectory-modifying marathoner, picking fake weed in a zumba class? I walked out in 15 minutes and decided to enrol in Yoga.
Yoga tested my patience. Can’t sleep more than 6am. Can’t have food in stomach. Can’t move fast. I was too restless and It was too slow. I asked for forgiveness from my ancient hindu rishi’s, the inventors of yoga, and went my way. Yoga wasn’t helping me lose weight.
Angry with the delicate classes of yoga and zumba, I moved to another extreme. Boxing. Afraid of looking too manly in the golves, I wanted to soften the bad-ass look, so I specifically purchased pink-coloured gloves. The first class, as I stood in the boxing stance, my hands raised in fighting action, my trainer instructed “Think of someone you hate and punch this boxing pad”. I dropped my hands in immediate defeat. “Someone I hate? I can’t think of anyone”. So although it was a great workout, I didn’t hate anyone enough to make a world class pad-puncher.
By now, I had tried everything in the gym and there was no significant weight drop in sight. The elliptical machine, was a ‘fake calorie’ workout-- it makes you think you’re doing something when you’re actually not. The cycling machine looked too laid back--I would be happier chewing gum to burn calories. The stair master was too difficult and the treadmill was always busy. The spin class was at odd hours, the cross-fit class was over-booked and the kick-boxing class was just another version of aggressive flower picking.
It was time to spend some money.
So I hired a weight trainer. My mental picture of weight training was shaped by the gym men, who grunt and do mean looking bicep curls in rhythm, while their veined muscles bulge with each lift. I had a deep fear that weight training would make me look like a man-- a grunting nupur with thick biceps. But weight training had to be explored, as it was my last option to lose inches. So to strategically counter looking manly, I wore long earrings to the gym, left my hair untied and said ‘ouch’ delicately. This lasted about 1 week.
And that was 8 years ago. Weight training with a trainer proved to be a life changer, making me lose the inches that I always wanted to, and I am glad I stuck through it.
Today at the gym, I am blooming in my own element. A pair of workout gloves cover my hands to help them remain soft, my hair is tied back neatly and my grunts are announced in the form of ‘aai ga’ after a difficult snatch and draw. I am usually one of the very few women in the weights room-- a space I made for myself after years of training and gaining confidence in my form. I look like no man-- my arms are toned, the puppy fat on my hips have dialled down and no longer does food stick to me on a relaxing vacation. My long arduous journey ended with no ice breaker, but it gave me a chance to say a cliche’: that weight training changed my life. I hope you try it too.