Almost from 2010 to Two years ago, I was on the overweight or obese side.
In my initial years in Hyderabad, I was someone who would skip my breakfast. I was having pizza and coke every alternate day. On weekends I would add garlic breadstick with mayo dip to that list. I stopped having pizza after 2-3 years but then went for having biryani (don’t tell me veg biryani is pulao, there is a difference :/) almost every day for lunch. Sometimes I used to go to Subway for healthy food but then I would have Coke and chocolate chip cookies too because combo would cost less.
Fast forward to 2016, I went to consult a nutritionist friend of mine. She helped me put down weight from 76kg to 63kg almost( Weight loss is food-dependent. Exercise will help you be active and get your results faster as it creates more calorie deficit.) When I was down with dengue, I went to 59-60kg and recovered.
I was working out 5 days a week until a few months back. Then, I started to run. The high I was getting from the run was so much that I wanted to go towards endurance sports(anything with long distances) than strength training(gym). Then I figured out about Triathlon sport. I am working towards it now (Triathlon has Swim, Bike and Run event, all in one go). In the current month, I would be doing 100-120 km run and roughly 400-500 km cycling and a couple of km swim (I need to work on my swim a lot more) for training and will be my average miles or a little more going forward. I am preparing for a triathlon event towards the end of this year.
All well when I compare things in years scale. But my daily, weekly and monthly hasn’t been linear. If I followed the routine that I should be doing, I would have a 6 pack by now (Read it like 10% body fat, right now I have 23%). I would have a better body build and better endurance timings.
You might think, how on earth, my body fat % didn’t go down if I have been working out for so long? As I said, a partial answer is in the food and another part of the answer is my imperfections of discipline(again, mostly of food and little of workouts).
For a long time, I was so obsessed with being very strict about food and workouts, that I made some people uncomfortable in friends’ parties and gatherings. I wouldn’t even have a piece of cake at birthday parties and skip any sugary items without exception. Then, there would come a couple of months where I would keep ordering Death by Chocolate from Cream stone and Coconut or Chocolate Ice Cream from Naturals every alternate day. I would binge eat.
Generally, it takes me a couple of months to screw up 4 months of work(by having controlled food and workouts) and then it will take another 2-3 months to get back to where I was before. I would have lost 6-7 months a couple of times at least. I see the flaw now. I went for all in or all out. I am bouncing between 63kg – 67kg for many months. I know it still is a healthy weight but it’s not about that. It’s about being able to sustain a healthy weight without much bouncing or going away from goal weight.
I realized strictness helps only for a few months. But if I have to do it for years or decades, I would need to practice moderation. Meaning, I should be okay with having non – healthy food in moderation. That way I know I can eat whatever I want and whenever I want. It also gives me more freedom around food. I am on to it right now.
I don’t regret any part of the journey either with my strict diet days, making people uncomfortable or falling off the wagon and screwing up many months’ work in a couple of months(because my mind wanted to indulge). It’s a learning curve.
Most of all, I enjoy the fall-downs, get-backs and getting-better. I see many people pushing themselves to work so hard to get healthy without liking what they do. Chances are, it won’t work. If you see someone so disciplined for so long in workouts/endurance training/diet, ask them if they like what they do. I am 100% sure they would say – it’s fun to do all that. It’s instant gratification vs delayed gratification (satisfaction of delayed gratification by winning goals stay longer with you).
It has been only 3-4 months since I got into endurance sports, but I get high at the end of each workout and I crave for it. Why else do you think people run/bike/swim for long distances?. You won’t get it until you do it.
As I write, I missed a few training sessions and overate last week. I miscalculated my calorie intake and ended up overeating without my knowledge and put on 3.5kgs. I am trying to cut it down again now. I overslept today and missed my morning session because I couldn’t stop binge-watching a tv series last night. I know what I could have done better and I will try to do that. And hopefully, I see it won’t happen again for a long time.
At a basic level, all our emotions are different chemicals in our brain acting on us to produce those emotions. I do this training because it’s a way of having fun(happy hormones are released during endurance which gives a high. Probably a lot more happy hormones released than while binge-watching).
One thing that got better over time, is the ability to get back on the wagon easily when I fall off. I don’t know how it is with others and you. But you have my story.