It’s nearly 4 am and I just got off the treadmill. Most people would think I’m crazy, but this is all quite normal for me. I’m not obsessed, I’m just determined.
Four years ago, I used to weigh over 180 lbs. My BMI was way above what it normally should have been for a 17 year old, I was medically overweight, and I was also on the borderline of developing Type 2 Diabetes. I had been a chubby kid all my life, and I was constantly told and scolded by my parents to exercise and lose weight. Constantly. As a result, I found more joy in defying them and secretly buying and devouring large bars of Dairy Milk, lots and lots of chips, and countless cans of fizzy drinks.
I am not quite sure when exactly it hit me that I needed to urgently change my lifestyle if I wanted to live a healthy and relatively disease-free life. Throughout my adolescence, years went by with visits to the doctor, crash dieting, weight-monitoring, detoxes, herbals teas and wasted gym memberships. I tried Atkins, I tried keeping an organic gluten-free diet, I even tried Beyonce’s diet of maple syrup and pepper juice! It would all have a temporary effect and then my resolve would shatter and I’d give in to my cravings for super-sized meals; as a result, my appearance tended to fluctuate a lot during school and I would always lose inches off my body rather than actual weight in terms of lbs.
I had a passionate aversion for physical exercise, I didn’t enjoy any sports, and I was basically looking for some sort of miracle cure that would eradicate my love handles and double chin and keep me from feeling hungry all the time. I don’t know if anyone will believe it now, but I could actually eat two whole combo meals from McDonald’s and STILL feel hungry afterwards. The truth is though, no such cure exists, and until unless you don’t realize it yourself that you’ve got a lot of work to do, you won’t really be motivated to do it. So all those times my parents lectured me, I wasn’t bothered; it was only when I myself had the epiphany to change myself that I really started to work towards a goal.
I got lucky though; when my sister joined this terrific gym in the neighbourhood, I signed up as well after fighting with my parents that THIS time the membership fees will NOT be wasted (there was a time when I actually GAINED weight after joining a gym). Because I got easily bored with traditional exercise routines, Fitness First was a blessing for me because it had other things to offer such as group exercise classes featuring dance, martial arts and weight training. At first, I’d push myself to go to the gym everyday, but because of the varied workouts I’d do, I actually started LIKING going to the gym. It was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I realized all I needed was a change in environment and options given to me about how to burn calories. I didn’t have a phobia of the gym, I simply hated the atmosphere in most of them, before this one. I didn’t change my diet much, I’d still like to have a candy bar and a Coke a few times a week but because I’d burn it off, it was okay. Unfortunately, I started becoming paranoid about food and also started developing an eating disorder at this time, and would force myself to throw up every single bite I would ingest, even if it was just water!
After a year, my weight in lbs hadn’t dropped much but my appearance was beginning to change, and it was perfect timing too since that was when I was going off to university. To my relief, LUMS had a gym, not very well-equipped but a basic gym nonetheless. With a haphazard schedule, I took time to workout as much as I could, but my penchant for Coke and chips still hadn’t left me. My eating disorder would come and go, I would turn to it every time I felt I was losing control over myself; it added to my sense of discipline, the same one that kept me going to the gym. A few months of this and I was in serious trouble: I’d ruptured the lining of my stomach and my intestines were in a bit of a mess. In addition, I also injured my knee and ankle due to the intensity and frequency of my workouts.
It was a harsh wake-up call, but it still did not deter me from the gym. I changed my workout, I decreased the intensity, and I vowed to get over my addiction to Coke (its fizziness was the main cause of my stomach troubles) and to do my best to stop throwing up everything I put in my mouth. Till now, I’d been living by the motto, “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.” Till now, despite the amount of inches I was losing, my weight still hadn’t shifted since I’d left home, and I’d reassessed my goals completely; it no longer mattered to me if I was at a certain weight, it also mattered that I was fit and healthy. It was as if this reassessment was what my body had been waiting for all along. Until this time, I’d been obsessed with weighing myself and wanting to see a particular number on the scale, but because it just wasn’t happening, I decided to forget it and just continue trying to be active and fit.
All of a sudden (no, literally, I am not kidding), the weight started shifting over a year ago and the numbers on the weighing scale started changing. I was apprehensive at first, and just happy with the small changes which allowed me to indulge and buy a whole new wardrobe. My appetite had decreased dramatically by this point, I also tried to eat very little so that the compulsion to throw it up would disappear, but whatever I did eat, I would try to make sure I was getting the nutrients I needed. One thing I’d learned by now for sure was that starving yourself doesn’t work and in fact has the opposite effect, because without food in your system, your metabolism slows down, as does the amount of calories being burnt. I decided to try a couple of sports, and loved it simply because I was fit enough to play well. Boxing and hockey practices added to my workouts, and further varied my gym routine, and the lbs kept dropping.
I am now more than 40 lbs lighter since I started 4 years ago, and I still have a little way left, and I am now just 10 lbs away from my goal weight. Working out isn’t a chore for me, it’s part of my lifestyle; I can’t go more than 2 days without hitting the gym, otherwise I get cranky and start feeling awful. I do admit that there are times I go overboard (such as not resting and letting my ankle heal after it’s been injured repeatedly) and even now, the desire to throw up constantly haunts me as I try to overcome it. But that feeling I get when I fit into jeans of a size I’d never imagined I would, when I decide to eat a cookie because I can without thinking I shouldn’t, or when I see the looks on faces of people who haven’t met me for a while, nothing comes close to that feeling.
I say it to everyone who asks and I’ll keep saying it, there is NO WAY to lose weight without incorporating exercise into your life. I hated the treadmill for years, and now it’s my best friend. Along with a healthy diet, NOTHING other than staying physically active works. My goal was originally to be THIN, but this was dangerous because, for me, there was no answer for how thin was thin enough. Now, I am just glad I can run 3km without stopping, can give competition to even the most athletic of guys when it comes to working out, and most of all, that I can now finally wear my old pair of jeans and hold out the excess fabric and pose like this: