Dec 19, 2011

Excuse me, While I Eat!

First off, there are three things you must know about me:

A. I have never been thin (like stick thin) in my life.
B. I am a foodie.
C. I have beaten myself up about A and B.

I'm writing to say that I refuse to, anymore. :D

Okay, so now you know what this post is about, let me e-laborate.

I grew up eating a lot of yummy food. My mom is a really good cook, and we went to these social gatherings often where almost all aunties were good cooks. My parents were never the kind to control me while I ate, they took pride in their daughter's healthy appetite (like all parents do).

Photo Credit: Logan (Creative Commons)

Unfortunately for me, my metabolism wasn't able to catch up. Result? FAT! I never really thought much of it myself, until everyone else (read: relatives) started pointing it out explicitly, telling me I needed to lose weight fast. Let me share with you the worst I heard - I was in the seventh class, when I overheard one relative tell another that no man would marry me because of my weight. I wasn't even fat, just a chubby kid. Sad, I tell you, some people are.

So then I started to get guilty about eating. I tried to change, and my mom helped me with it. It was like a yo-yo. I'd control, then lose control, then control again. I'd exercise a bit, then get lazy. Story of my life. There were fruit diets and those no-rice diets, then only boiled vegetable diets, all kinds of stuff. Nothing worked, but only because I couldn't stick to anything for long. I'm a foodie. I need good food.

Then one day, after a bad phase in life, I rose to the occasion. I cut out the rice, I ate only vegetables and proteins, I exercised like there was no tomorrow. I did this for 6 months. I lost a ton of weight. People wanted to know which branch of VLCC I had joined.

The results were nice, I was fitter than I'd ever been, but the no-carb diet had taken it's toll on my body. My hair lost its shine, I felt faint more often and my bowels suffered too. That's when I realized that what I had done was wrong. I could only maintain everything for a couple of years. Then the weight came back on, along with the food.

Photo Credit: Logan (Creative Commons)

The yo-yo was back, trying and failing. I didn't have the energy to go through one more crazy diet again, it just takes up too much. For those of you who are considering, this is how I always felt while eating just fruits or vegetables or eggs:

  • Faint
  • Tired
  • Hungry
  • Constant head-aches.
  • Constantly aching for food. I miss my paneer and mushrooms and warm rotis and hot rice and spice powders and everything else!

Too much control leads to too much craving. This was very true in my case. After a lot of thinking, questioning and analyzing about this entire episode with food, I've come to a few conclusions.

  1. I do not need to lose weight to look beautiful, I already am.
  2. I need to only be fit so that if I run up three flights of stairs, I won't be heaving like an angry buffalo.
  3. I should not be trying out eating habits that I cannot follow for the next, say, 10 years.
  4. I will not believe nutritionists.
  5. I will exercise a fixed number of times a week, and take a break when my body needs it. 
  6. I should enjoy said exercise, and enjoy challenging my body each day.
  7. I will not measure my weight, or my waist, thighs, arms, neck, cheeks, nose etc.
  8. Last, but not least, I will not feel guilty when I eat!

So I did all that and more. I did not go on a diet. I continue to eat regularly. I started a work out schedule, and did not worry about sticking to it. I just enjoyed it. 

Photo Credit: Logan (Creative Commons)

It's been a month now. I don't know how much weight I've lost or how many inches. I don't care. All I know is that I can run up one flight of stairs without panting, and that's something. My clothes fit looser than they used to. I feel energetic and awesome. I'm waiting for the day I can turn those 10 push ups to 20 and 15 dips to 30. Fitness is exciting, when you don't pressure it with too many expectations.

There are a few guidelines that I actually do follow, but it's not that hard.

  1. I avoid eating out. God knows what trash they serve in the name of food. Very rarely, if required.
  2. I cook what I want to eat.  Home-cooked Indian food isn't actually all that bad for you.
  3. I stop eating when I'm not hungry. I don't stuff myself when the food is tasty. 
  4. I include a lot of variety - a lot. So I don't get bored. You can see me in the store grabbing packets of all kinds of pulses and grains.
  5. Remember the 5 food groups we learned in school - Carbs, Proteins, Vitamins, Minerals, Fats and Water? I have all 5 with every meal.
  6. I take vitamin supplements. It helps a lot to stay energetic. (With doc's permission, of course).
  7. I don't eat junk. No chips, chocolates, ice cream, cakes, bread, butter, jams or any other kind of nonsense. I even gave up baking. And you know what, I don't even feel like, when I have so many options stocked up at home.

I think I'm finally doing something sensible. And I pride myself for it. No, I'm not thin. Yes, people still tell me to go on fruit diets. I smile at them politely. What else can I do? When I see magazines with super-thin models, I remind myself that there's something called Photoshop. 

Now excuse me, while I go eat. 

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  1. and the conclusions are perfect .. I have given up on this gettign thin idea .. I cant give up food .. so what the heck I eat what i want when i want :) easy peasy and am happy now .. more than when i was doing all these dieting exercies etc etc


  2. very true sumi, even i tried all these what u have said,
    and felt tired also...

  3. Aww what a struggle you've had with food! So glad you've come out of it positive and healthy! I still have a love/hate relationship with food unfortunately :(

  4. "When I see magazines with super-thin models, I remind myself that there's something called Photoshop."

    :D High-faive on that!!

    I was never the kind to worry about what I ate, and my parents never restricted me from anything either, mainly because I was stick-thin all my life. All the antibiotics I had taken as an asthma-patient had taken it's toll on my body I guess. And my metabolism was a super-fast one. So I never had to worry about eating, which was great, because I'm a MAJOR foodie.

    But now, I guess my metabolism is slowing down. I'm starting to put on weight. So I have started to watch what I eat.. :( I think I'll try the guidelines you've mentioned. It might help me.

    The problem is, like you used to be, I cannot stick to any one thing for long. I used to go for walking. I stopped that because I'm not able to wake up in the mornings. Sigh...

  5. @Bikramjit: Easy Peasy it is! Do watch the junk, though. And exercise is good too, when you don't make a big deal out of it.

    @Anni: I know!

    @Hazel: Ahh, the very food we eat, makes us feel so bad. Hope you feel better about eating soon.

    @Spiff: So the darn metabolism thing got to you to... It's kind of unfair, right?
    Sticking to routines has always been tough for me. Home workouts have worked very well, actually. I don't need to look presentable or worry about the weather or anything. Give them a try sometime.

  6. Are you a mind-reader? Really, I am not obese but I know there is bit more fat than there should be in my physique that makes me pant my lungs out with flight of stairs. I joined aerobics to have a regular workout schedule but then the stupid center was relocated and hence couldn't continue. I will try to follow your tips :)

  7. By the way, can you suggest me some healthy food items? I stay in a hostel and the food here is crap. So, for the time being I have to take food that is nutritious and at the same time readily available/easily cook-able. So I am at a loss here.

  8. @Keirthana: haha. Oh, I haven't been lucky with aerobics classes either. It's never possible to maintain the schedule, and they cost too much according to me. Healthy food? I'm no expert at this at all, but I'll e-mail you.

  9. Thanks to my parents' genes (both of whom are thin) and a high rate of metabolism I've been on the thin side until now.
    But I used to face the opposite kind of reaction from relatives and strangers. Rude comments like "Doesn't your father feed you at home" (which used to make my blood boil) "Don't you eat food" (*rolls eyes*) and so on...

    I was teased in school for years but nobody seemed to notice that I was fitter than all of them combined. The guidelines that you have given are all so true. Best advice I've been given is 'Listen to your body'. Whether you are trying to lose weight or gain weight, if your body is tired -stop, if its hungry - feed, if its full - stop. That's the best route to overall fitness! Crash diets for losing weight and binging on food to gain weight never work.

    Loved this post..! Am going to get back on track with my fitness routine from tomorrow. Thanks for the (much needed) kick :D

  10. @Chandana: People have a problem with everything don't they? Deviate from the ideal and they're going to have something to say. I suppose people just assume that thin people are fit, so maybe that's why they didn't notice? In reality thin may not always be fit and fat may not always be unfit. It totally depends on the individual body composition.

    Glad you liked the post, thanks!

  11. Oh, god...yes, i'm one of the fat ones...n my fitness levels too fluctuate with my workout patterns...
    Sigh...doesnt it suck the life out of you? the sight of those bloody extra pounds?
    I seriously cant resist eating out! I'm THAT kind of a foodie :(
    Somehow, the 'not eating when not hungry' sutra helps me...and of course, the regular work outs!
    Nice gave me new ways of looking at weight loss...
    Thank you, sumitra :)

  12. admirable conclusion there! I am so glad there are more like me out there! I was always healthy (yeah - thats polite!) while my sister sports model-like stats! Needless to say, I grew up with all the symptoms you've mentioned, with the exception of one thing - I could NEVER give up eating - not a single meal! :-) But I guess I am at peace with myself now.... great post!

  13. @Indu: Oh yeah no, I'm that kind of foodie too! But I just decided to draw the line somewhere. So I try to cook the stuff at home, whatever is cook-able at least. Thanks, glad you liked the post!

    @Nirvana: Thanks! Yes, it always helps to know there are more people like us and not just the stick thin supermodels. Great to know you are at peace with yourself. That's all that really matters.