I don’t remember being thin ever. I was always the chubby kid whose cheeks got pulled. If you’re imagining me saying this in a tragic, trembling way, please don’t. I had a super happy childhood and I was one of those smug class topper types who grew up with a reasonable amount of self-esteem. I had the usual bout of adolescent angst over pimples and body image but that was all. I considered myself to be reasonably attractive and my weight did not bother me in any way. But then, I grew up at a time when teenaged girls did not count calories. I see this has changed now. At a party recently, I overheard a fifteen year old asking her friends if she was too fat to eat a samosa. Whut?
Anyway, I was at sixty five kgs when I got married. I’m just about five feet tall, so I was quite overweight. This didn’t bother me or my husband who was also at sixty five kgs then. I should mention that he’s close to six feet in height though! So there we were, a DINK couple in the city of Pune which has plenty of options for gluttons. Both of us enjoy exploring different cuisines and discovering restaurants and eat out joints, so this was all we did in the first six months of our marriage. I’ve absolutely no regrets about this decadence. It was one of the happiest times of my life. I noticed that my clothes were becoming tighter but I attributed that to the change in water (I used to live in Chennai) and the new washing machine. True story.
Around this time, a neighbour of ours mentioned that she bought a weighing scale for her husband for their tenth wedding anniversary. We thought this was hilarious. That evening, when we went out (to eat…where else?), we bought a weighing scale on a whim. I stepped on the scale, thinking I must have put on a couple of kilos. The digits on the weighing scale begged to differ. I was now at seventy two kgs! I’d put on a whopping seven kgs in six months. And no, I wasn’t accidentally pregnant. It was time to address the hippo in the room.
I bought myself a pair of sports shoes, determined to knock off the weight. My husband, who shared my exact lifestyle, had put on a measly one kg. ONE. Bah. Thankfully, we live in a government campus with plenty of space and very little traffic, so I didn’t have to go anywhere to begin my grand fitness program. As a child, I never got any exercise. I hated sports. I preferred sitting under a tree and reading my Enid Blytons, thank you very much. So walking for more than ten minutes would make me hot and sweaty. Gradually though, my stamina improved. I started watching what I ate. The walks became longer. And I lost whatever I’d gained over a period of six months. I was back to sixty five kgs.
And then I became pregnant.
By the ninth month, my weight had gone up to seventy two again. I kept myself active throughout my pregnancy, walking and doing prenatal exercises, so I was confident that I’d knock off the kilos easily enough. However, I turned out to be one of those women who find it impossible to lose weight when breastfeeding. I walked for close to six kilometres every day but the weighing scale refused to budge below sixty eight. My face appeared bloated, my features hidden in rolls of fat. I found myself looking at photographs and wondering who the heck this stranger was. I already felt like a cow with all the breastfeeding and here was proof that I looked like one too!
I stopped breastfeeding when my daughter was eighteen months old. Around this time, I read that giving up sugar would lead to weight loss. I thought I’d give this a shot, not really believing that the one spoon of sugar I put in my tea or the occasional sweet I ate could make such a huge difference. I went cold turkey. I’m good at being pig-headed, so for an entire month, I did not eat even a granule of sugar in any form. I did not give up anything else – ghee, butter, non-vegetarian food, the works. At the end of that month, I lost four kgs. It was working!
I walked up a small hill near our house, increasing my walking distance to seven kms. Gradually, I dropped to fifty eight kilos. It’s not easy for me to stay at this weight and I do put on holiday weight at an alarmingly fast rate but now, I enjoy exercise in any form. I taught myself to cycle at the age of thirty (no, I never learnt as a kid) and enjoy riding my bike around the campus. I’ve signed up for a yoga class and work out at the gym too. I’m still a glutton and my husband and I (along with our daughter) continue restaurant hunting with enthusiasm.
I have to lose at least five more kilos if I’m to reach my ideal BMI. But I’m not too fussed about this. I simply wasn’t cut out to worry if I’m too fat to eat a samosa.