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The weighty trap

Asma Ali Zain

A picture is worth a thousand words indeed. Add to that a sprain in the neck. That’s pretty much how my weight loss journey started.

It was a casual photo taken during a work assignment that my photographer colleague sent across to me that triggered the whole episode. Of course, he was doing me a favour but he didn’t realise that he had sent shock waves across along with the photos.

All I could see was a bloated face with stretched facial features with no particular shape that you could call a nose or chin. And, yes, I did a double rebound on the double chin.

Probably it was the first time I actually looked at myself that closely after ages.

In short, I was hopelessly obese and it was affecting my health in general and putting a strain on my neck – yes neck – in particular. And why was my neck being affected by my weight, you might ask? Well, my hectic lifestyle as a journalist and poor postures at work have given me a complicated and fatal neck strain which, according to the doctor, is worsening because I am fat. The condition would improve once I lost weight, he said.

I haven’t struggled ever with weight loss per se because I have never seriously tried to lose the flab. I have always been comfortable with my body.

I mean I did try to stay in shape and did the occasional gym sessions, built up some muscle and also went for heat therapy cure hoping to melt the fat away but nothing ever worked because of hypothyroidism that makes losing even tougher.

But when your weight starts weighing you down, it is time to think.

A friend then casually mentioned that a dietician could help and I begrudgingly tottered to one.

I was immediately made to stand on a weighing scale that protested, groaned and creaked loudly under my weight. If the nutritionist noticed, he was good at hiding it or must have seen worse.

Am still not saying how much I weighed, and don’t even dare ask!

You are obese, he said with a face, as a flat as a diet plate and handed me a chart that made my eyes pop out of my head. And I was immediately put on a six month diet to reach a target weight fit for my height and age.

But imagine when a South Asian is told that you can no longer eat chappati or rice and the evening cuppa has to be without milk and sugar! Yeah, that’s what happened to me.

The only allowed foods for that week were boiled eggs, grilled chicken, low fat yoghurt and cheese, green salad and lots and lots of water.

Only those who have treaded this path can know how the journey feels.

However tiring and lonely the journey was, my destination seemed to be nearing.

Did I detect a sly smile on the lips of my dietician when he was looking at my weight results beamed through to him after a machine scanned my body mass index, water retention and fat levels within a week’s time?

Yes, I had lost a whopping three kilos in the first week and that too only with light exercise, and of this, one kilo was fat. Yay.

This was motivation enough to keep me going for the coming weeks.

A new diet chart was floated and again there were more boiled eggs, grilled meat, lots of green veggies, water and endless unsweetened green tea.

No sweets, no chocolates and definitely no cheating and the result was a smooth downhill from that point onwards.

I lost another three kilos the following week and I was already feeling lighter, and healthier. I was still not allowed to eat fruits and all fruit juices were off limit.

The only amount of rice I was allowed to eat after week four was five tablespoons – almost what I used to eat just while tasting if the biryani I was cooking was good enough or not!

More boiled eggs, grilled stuff, veggies and lots of water were in the menu for the following weeks with one cheat day where I didn’t dare cheat lest I gained what I had lost.

Today, it’s been three months to the day since I started and I have lost a total of 11 kilos (woohoo!) out which six kilos is fat. I still have another three months to go to achieve my target weight. But, bring it on! I don’t mind because though I have lost unwanted weight, I have gained a new lifestyle.

I am receiving all compliments with the required grace and have dropped two sizes and one shoe size which had increased due to water retention and bloating.

Am almost looking like what I used to be before I let myself go.

But to top it all, am a healthier me. I feel lighter and more energetic with less aches and pains. And yes, the neck pain is no longer noticeable though that is partly due to the amazing handiwork of the physiotherapist who is treating me.

In all, the tougher the goal, the sweeter the achievement and that’s all the sweet you will be allowed. Go for it.

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