I’m going on a juice fast…for my future kids!

So, everyone who knows me has somewhat of an idea about my dedication to live healthy.

I was a fat kid, and I dont mean fat in a cute way. No. I mean fat in that frustrating way where you’re 10 years old and every shopping expedition ends in tears because the only pair of jeans you can fit into is a grown-up size 16.

I mean fat in a way where you could easily eat a couple of upsize burger meals, top it off with a few of slices of cake, and STILL be hungry.

Yeah, it wasn’t pretty.

Common sense and listening to the doctor gravely informing me that I was on the borderline of having Diabetes finally gave me a wake-up call. Also, I just wanted to be able to wear some nice clothes…in my own size!

I tried everything, but I was always looking for an overnight cure. There have been ups and downs, including my inexplicable need to go back to the unhealthy habit of bingeing-and-purging every now and then.  Eventually, I found my way back to the gym and a deep, long-lasting love for working out began to blossom. Till date, the relationship  I have with my treadmill has been the most constant one in life.

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Story of my life.

I am a happy 25 lbs lighter than I was 4 years ago. I love working out and challenging myself to do more and more. (This is where I usually start blabbing about Jillian Michaels, Insanity, Bharat Thakur yoga, etc etc). But now, I am in a rut.  Starting a brand new lifestyle in Dubai involves sitting in an air-conditioned environment for most of the day and travelling and roaming in air-conditioned areas.  I am used to walking and walking all day, going across campus for class, running errands around town in the heat on foot and rickshaw, working out all evening, and still having the energy to do more.

This new lifestyle, it’s so sedentary, it makes me want to cry.  Which I have started to do, alarmingly often.  Although I still work out regularly, I have to do twice as much simply to maintain my current weight.  It’s frustrating.  My love for food, already kind of shaky, is starting to fade altogether. Most days, that means not eating much more than a breakfast of cereal and coffee.

I know it’s not healthy, it’s the one major advice i give to all those who ask me how to lose weight and get healthy: eat, but eat right.  And because eating right takes a lot of effort, I choose to just not eat.  This has wreaked havoc on my digestive system to the extent where if I eat more than a few spoonfuls of ANYTHING, I start burping like a sailor.  (I don’t know if that’s a real saying. If not, it is now. Sailors truly are undignified enough to burp and belch without a care.)

My family expressed concern. Still I was adamant.  And decidedly NOT hungry.  However, a recent heart-to-heart with my sister finally struck some sense into me.

“How are you going to have kids?”

I didn’t get it. I figured I’d eat properly if I needed to then.

“But how?” she pressed. “You can’t even eat a proper meal without getting nauseous and sick.  How will you ever be healthy enough to get pregnant?”

I still didn’t get it.  It’s not like i was planning to have a kid right this minute.  She kept explaining.

“It’s been a few years.  You’ve lost weight but technically, you’re still not healthy.  You need to eat well. Your body may fit into a great pair of skinny jeans but it’s missing everything it needs to function well. You’re so deprived of all the essentials, how will you ever sustain another life when you are barely sustaining your own?”

It was true. I wasn’t sleeping very well lately. My hair has been falling, my nails are so brittle, they chip and break before they can even grow.  I’ve also been cranky, angry, and breaking out like a 16-year-old. Ew.

So, in order to give my body a boost of energy, and all the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals it’s been deprived of, I am going to try out juicing.  I know, I know, the first reaction to this is always skepticism.  Mine was the same.  But after reading, researching, and speaking to people who have done it and succeeded, I am convinced this is going to be life-changing for me.

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All the ingredients needed to start the 7-day Juice Master tomorrow, yeayyy!

I won’t go into a detailed explanation of what the juicing involves exactly, you can read more about that here.  Ultimately, my goal isn’t to lose weight.  It’s to learn how eat well again, how to incorporate fruits and veggies into my daily intake without getting sick, and how to have a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.

I’d also really like to have shiny hair, again.

And, of course, I want to have babies.

To be or not to be…THIN: My Story

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:

Aunties at the gym: a terror worse than the terrorists!

I love working out.  If I’ve had a bad day, if I’m upset about something retarded or if I’ve just had one too many cookies, then there’s really nothing more I like to do than changing into workout gear and hitting the gym.  It’s such a huge part of my routine, that I don’t know what I’d do if there wasn’t one around.

To be fair, the girls gym at LUMS is pretty equivalent to there not being one at all.  To my despair, the equipment is old and creaky, there is just ONE treadmill that’s been around for a while and has scars to prove it, and there’s really not much else it has to offer.  It’s a far cry from the facilities of Fitness First but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.  The summer is an especially bad time to go to the gym here, its stuffy and moldy and it definitely tests my lung capacity but thats still not the worse part of it all.  What I hate and absolutely CANNOT stand are the AUNTIES that descend upon the tiny, under-equipped gym, dressed in their shalwar kameeses, which they see as perfectly acceptable workout gear.  Dupattas fluttering by, they’ll hog the treadmill in an effort to lose the post-natal flab they put on about a decade ago, not realising that chappals and flip-flops are actually not effective footwear for the gym!

Aunty on the left, suspect 1

They’ll stroll on the treadmill for a handful of minutes, huffing and puffing, holding on to the sidebars as if their lives depended on it.  Clearly no one’s ever told them that letting go of the sidebars and using your arms actually helps burn 30% more fat, and no, walking at the same pace as a languishing tortoise does NOT count as ‘brisk walking’, aunty jee.  And can someone please tell me how it helps to bring your kids along to the gym?  All they do is run around as if on steroids, shrieking and shouting, being annoying little brats and fiddling with the equipment while their mothers ignore them.  You go to the gym to focus on yourself and work on getting better, and when there are little pip squeaks all over the place, all I can focus on is resisting the urge to strangle them.  Not only is it irritating for everyone else, it’s also pretty stupid, considering the lack of safety involved but honestly, that was the last thing on my mind the other day when there was this little 4-year old girl at the gym with her mommy.  There I was, out of breath and just off the treadmill, about to stretch my quads and suddenly this THING appears right next to me out of nowhere and wouldn’t move! I was accidentally about to kick her (or at least, I would have called it an accident LATER) because it was as if one of the girls from ‘The Shining’ randomly turned up next to me!

Completely exhausted from their 5-minute routine on the treadmill, they’ll fall on the floor mat as if they’ve just run a marathon…twice.  I’ve even seen some that don’t bother with the walking at all and just come to the gym to fling down on the mats and start doing crunches like crazy, as if they get paid a dollar for every single one they do.  I’ve always wanted to make them stop, give them a good shake and tell them there is NO SUCH THING as spot reduction!  The belly flab you have for the past 15 years after having 4 kids is NOT going to go away only if you keep doing sit ups!  It’s especially not going to work when your technique is all wrong and no, the point is not to lift your neck up, its to list your abdomen.  Yet they’ll go on nonetheless, all the while complaining and whining about how its just SO hard to lose the tummy and, oh my god, you MUST try out this new recipe for butter chicken that I found on Masala TV.

Oh and let’s not forget the ‘stretching’ some of them like to do.  Self-proclaimed Jane Fondas, these hefty aunties will come to the gym all pumped up with adrenaline (or parathas) and start moving about in strange ways that would probably even surprise the cast of Cirque du Soleil.  Thy’ll raise their arms, only to drop them again ath the blink of an eye, and repeat the sequence over and over again, mixing in a little windmill movement here and there.  Yes, because acting like an air-traffic controller will definitely help tone your arms better than a few sets of bicep curls and tricep dips, right?  Apparently so, because these aunties go wild with his thing, and with the loud palette of their shalwar kameeses, even the neon jackets of actual air traffic controllers pale in comparison.

No Aunties at the Gym: If I could, I would totally put this sign on the door

What’s even funnier than aunties at the gym are aunties trying to do aerobics!  I agree, some of them can give Shakira a run for her money but that ould be the mod-squad yummy mummies who have too much cash to burn and time to spare with their kids at boarding school.  What I am talking about are the PROPER aunties, the ones who squawk over paying 15 rupees per kilo for aaloo and who rummage around in their outdated bags for all the coins to get rid of while at the cash counter, and of course the ones who think they live for the sole purpose of fixing up Shaheena’s cousin’s daughter with Ghazala’s green-card-holding brother-in-law’s daughter’s friend’s neighbour.  These aunties are a laugh and a half when it comes to synchronised exercise, feet stomping and hands flailing, they’ll think they’re doing it just right when in fact, they missed every beat and oh yea, the song ended about a minute ago.

Maybe I am being a bit harsh, but I have suffered silently for far too long.  This ends now!  No longer shall I remain silent, waiting for the treadmill to be free, while the aunty on it dilly-dallies on it while talking to her husband’s sister on the phone about last night’s episode of Malaal.  No longer will I just watch and wince while so many of them cramp their necks and injure their back muscles while doing rapid-fire crunches.  No longer will I simply shake my head and wish I were at my old gym again when I see a herd of aunties trying to do whacked-out acrobatic moves because they heard from someone’s someone that it really helps.  Last but not least, next time there’s a kid at the gym or even a suspicious looking youthful midget, I am so going to tell it to go play outside!