Lessons from losing 15 kgs

Your mom (at least mine) was right

“Man, you’ve lost weight!”

This is one of two responses people have when they see me. The other is usually asking me (or my wife) in a hushed tone,

“Is everything alright? Have you been sick?”

Between June and November of this year, I’ve lost 15 kilograms (33 lbs) — taking my body mass index (BMI) from 32.7 (obese) to 27.1 (slightly overweight).

For the mathematically inclined that’s a reasonably steady 3 kg (6.5 lbs) per month. The good news is that I know and understand how I’ve accomplished this and am well on the way to losing my next 10 kgs, for my target BMI of 24.

The amazing thing is what I’ve learned in this experience about myself (I do have self-discipline) and my mom (she was right!)

Before you are too impressed, I must admit this is not the first time that I’ve tried to get in shape.

Four years ago, a few months before my 25th college reunion, I decided that I should get in shape. Of course I did nothing about it — sure we had a blast at the reunion — being 18 all over again. A couple of the guys were both trim and buff but most of us had receding hair lines and paunches of various sizes and shapes. Over the next three years I did run two 10K races and got in reasonable cardiovascular condition but continued to be at least 20 kg overweight.

Finally 452 days ago, according to my mobile app Noom, I decided to do something about it and began weighing myself regularly. Promptly over the next one year I added another 8 kilos (17 lbs) — new job, long commute, too many cups of tea with milk and sugar. The biscuits probably didn’t help.

Heading the wrong way!

I have no idea, how I collected data regularly on my weight and yet did nothing about it as it grew linearly!

Finally in June of this year, as my 18-year old first born got ready for college, I decided that I’d better get in shape. I’d been a trim 69-kg when she was born and here I was tipping the scale at nearly 90 kg. As I write this on, I’m at 74.5kg heading towards that 69.

Here’s what I did to lose those 15 kilos.

  1. Cut out all fried foods, sugar and white rice out of my diet
  2. Switched to six (yep 6) meals a day of finite portions.
  3. Exercised four days a week (5 km (3.2 miles) in 45 mins)

And here’s what I learned in these last 5 months.

Diet is a noun — as in what you eat and
not a verb, as in not eating
  1. I have far greater self-control than I realized — and going cold turkey (and removing stuff from your refrigerator or home) certainly helps
  2. Reading helps — having scoffed at all the women who made Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight by Rujuta Diwekar a best seller, the joke was on me. This book changed my life!
  3. Every day matters — eating right and exercising both matter. In my case, eating right seems to matter more, as my weight holds steady, even in those weeks when I don’t get in the exercise I planned to.
  4. Keep things in perspective. Weddings and funerals happen — so you will occasionally over-eat or indulge. Don’t beat yourself up, forgive yourself, if needed but stay with the plan. One day at a time.
  5. Mom was right. Eat many small meals and eat mindfully. Don’t read, watch TV or text while eating. Yes, I’m talking to you.