The quest for a healthy body led me in search for a healthy and sustainable way of living. One of the first few questions that I tackled was “Is dieting a useful?” Or more precisely, is dieting an effective way to lose weight and remain healthy? In the course of our discussions in the articles I will take you through a grueling and transformation which I and a few others underwent successfully.
In mid of 2017 I decided to initiate a new endeavor with a highly ambitious goal of 15 kg weight loss. Although I had tried to start similar weight loss attempts in the past (and failed or gained back the weight very soon), I was determined to find a sustainable weight loss regime this time. What this led me to was a journey of physical & mental transformation. The dieting & exercise soon got escalated into inculcation of new habit patterns and inculcation of entire philosophies & principles of living.
But before delving into my own dieting journey it would be prudent to cover the basics of theory as to why one should embark on a diet plan in the first place.
The personal transformation pyramid
Before getting into the specifics of what to eat and what not to eat, it would be prudent to understand our own motivations. This is because simply knowing what to do doesn’t inspire long-term behavior. But if we know the behind-the-scene workings of any process, we feel ownership & belonging-ness towards it. We are then more prone to dedicate ourselves to it. It can be safe to say that every individual has 3 very basic needs which needs to be fulfilled for a happy and fulfilling life:
1. A healthy body
• A muscle-rich, fat-lean body is always full of energy which is highly resistant to diseases
• A healthy body can get more work done & enhance professional life
2. A healthy Mind
• A fat-free body frees the mind from distractions or pains of the body. Without distractions from a malfunctioning body, the mind gets free to focus on other more important things
• Forming good routines & habits is key to long-term sustainability
3. Healthy relationships
• A healthy mind and body makes us better versions of ourselves and people stay in positive frame of mind around positive people. The result is: healthy & fulfilling relationships.
It turns out that a prerequisite for a healthy mind & healthy relationships is a healthy body. That is why the diagram below depicts the “Personal transformation pyramid”, the body is at the apex (top) and the mind & people form subsequent dimensions of life.
The Pyramid & the bulls-eye
Any long-term change or transformation has to be routed in healthy body habits pertaining to health. Hence, If there is any place to start any personal transformation, it has to start with the body. It is the body which is the house for your mind and the medium via which you interact with other people (friends, family, colleagues & acquaintances). 1 The transformation journey begins from the top and the effects trickle down to each layer at the bottom one-by-one. A healthy body is like a domino which when conquered sets a series of events in motion which eventually lead to the transformation. The same pyramid when viewed from the front looks like a triangle with 3 layers, however, when viewed from the top unravels as a bulls-eye.
Why narrow-down to fight obesity?
For many people, obesity is the single biggest factor limiting their health potential. A healthy body state arrived at via Ketosis has the potential to totally transform your personal & professional life. It has the potential to make you reach for your dreams. A healthy body & mind then lead to a cascading effect in your life with rapid strides of improvement in multiple fields simultaneously. The rest of the pieces of the puzzle have a higher probability of falling in place (e.g. Work effectiveness, healthy relationships at home & work) due to balanced body. Your perspective of life itself changes towards positive emotional states which is catalyzed by the right hormones secreted within a healthy body.
Of wildlife & humans
Personally, I am very fond of watching any wildlife documentary on TV from time to time. Watching the lions, Zebras, chameleons and all kinds of aquatic animals fight it out for food, mate & social dominance is entertaining & soothing at the same time. No wonder that almost every organism in the wild is amazingly fit. After all, its a matter of life & death for them. I guess that is how nature intended all biological living organisms to be. Alas, humans seem to have forgotten this very basic wisdom.
Humans have supposedly overcome the basic food & survival needs & are now busy chasing mental projects in artificial concrete jungles. The needs of the body are being increasingly neglected. The steady ignorance of physical well-being & fitness has started taking a toll on an increasing proportion of the population. More and more people are falling victim to a variety of lifestyle diseases (physical as well as mental disorders) as humans diverge away from evolution’s tried and tested formula.
The widespread epidemic of obesity
Obesity is a term that means the person weighs at least 20% more than what is considered a normal weight for their height. With >20% over-weight any predator would have easily outran any human & made him a tasty meal. Most of us today find ourselves living unhealthy lifestyles. According to CDC statistics more than one-third of adults in the USA have obesity. In India, according to National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), ~21% of women in 15-50 age are obese. India is also has the 2nd highest no. of obese children (14.4 million or 1.44 crore).
Unnatural physical bloated-ness is unacceptable in nature. Obesity increases the risk of many diseases. To name a few: type 2 diabetes, high BP, heart diseases & strokes, fatty liver & kidney diseases, osteoarthritis, pregnancy problems & many more. Clearly, the problem of obesity is reaching epidemic proportions not just as per the number of people being affected by it but also in the variety of health complications that it is causing.
Obesity types and its causes
The primary types of obesity (by causal factors)
1. Food Obesity
Caused by overeating or eating unhealthy food. This is the most common form of obesity in urban people. Teenagers are one of the most vulnerable set of people falling prey to this form of obesity. Their plight is further compounded by the dilemma of eating enough to fuel their body growth while not over-consuming food leading to obesity. The perpetual desire to eat & consume in today’s consumerist & capitalistic society with all kinds of food outlets & options have rendered individual’s to succumb to their taste urges. 2
This leads to imbalances in the body which show up as food obesity, the most common form of obesity there is.
2. Sedentary Obesity
Lack of exercise can lead to fat accumulation in the body even if unhealthy food is not consumed. The phenomena is commonly known as the “Couch potato” phenomenon. Women in their post-pregnancy phase are most vulnerable to this form of obesity. During pregnancy, women are used to an increased appetite to provide nutrition for both themselves and the child. Due to the very nature of pregnancy, their movement is restricted leading to an increased body-mass. Post-pregnancy most women find themselves in a state of morbid obesity. Coupled with the sedentary lifestyle and increased appetite, the task ahead for them is mostly uphill.
3. Anxiety Obesity
Anxiety or depression makes the body go in fight-or-flight mode & store fat for future. This leads to obesity.
4. Genetic Obesity
Certain people have a genetic disposition of storing fat.
5. Hormonal Obesity
Hormonal malfunctions can cause obesity. e.g. Thyroid gland, gluten obesity or pregnancy.
Crushing the menace through dieting
There are a plethora of ways to attack obesity and acquire good health. One of the most effective though is a healthy diet regime which has the potential tomitigate the food & sedentary obesity and to some extent the anxiety obesity as well. Majority of people are obese due to these causes and hence adopting the right diet can be the critical difference between living healthy or sick.
My personal situation prior to weight loss
Unlike many advocates of weight-loss programs who looked like rhinoceros prior to their transformation and more like models after it, I was a typical unfit overweight and obese working adult. I was 12 kilo-grams overweight from my ideal BMI weight, I had a bulging tummy and I lacked the stamina to even climb 7 floors to my office seat by stairs. In other words, I was the textbook representative of the unfit & malfunctioning urban human. I wasn’t a monstrosity like they show on TV, but every acquaintance of mine, if probed with the relevant inquiry would agree that I needed to lose weight (fat), that too tummy fat!
Although a year ago, I had entered into a weight loss challenge with my flat-mate and colleague and had managed to win it by losing 6.8 kgs in a mere 50 days. It was due to a combination of dieting (more like food deprivation) and intense exercise. Unfortunately though, I had gained all the weight back within a span of mere 3-4 months. All that effort had eventually amounted to nothing. I understood that mere will power and motivation to lose weight are not going to cut it. I needed something which would give me a life-style enabling sustainable fitness. Not wanting to expend so much effort just to come back to square one once again, I was in a fix.
At 5’9” tall and with a weight of 82.6 kgs and a tummy (navel-to-navel) measure of 42”, waist size of 38″, I was far from being fit. I was a fatty. Sitting on the sofa while watching TV my tummy bulged outwards stretching my T-shirt for all to see. Yes, I was embarrassed of my own body. It was time to change.
The dilemma of 2 mentors
A seat shuffle at office led me to sit side-by-side a colleague who had undergone the Keto diet 2-3 months earlier. I naturally enquired. On the other hand, another collegue had undergone Intermittent Fasting (IF) diet. I, being the curios cat, went to both of them for tips. Both had lost amazing weight quantities in impressive times (15-20 kgs in 2-3 months). And both were pitching for their respective diet plans. On the side I was also in talks with a former collegue from my previous firm who was also on a diet regiment. He was undergoing frequent meal high fibre high exercise regiment with 14.5 kg weight loss in 1.5 months!! I was in a fix. I had lots of options to choose from.
Taking the guilt-ridden plunge
I knew that my aim was not the speed of weight loss. It had to be a durable and sustainable weight loss for the long-term. So ruling out the frequent meal high exercise regiment was easy. But to choose from IF & Keto was tough. I heard and read warnings that only a small % of people who start the Keto journey are eventually able to sustain it. But the Keto benefits was long-term and exactly what I needed. I supplemented the word-of-mouth information with Internet search taking into account my own personal situation to finally choose Keto diet. The IF spokesperson didn’t speak to me for 2-3 days. Guilt-ridden, I embarked on the Keto journey & the challenges that lay ahead. 3 The road was filled with excitement!
At the end of the day, the answer to the question “Why did I go for a diet” was always a personal one. But to put it in a word, it was pure greed. I wanted to look and feel good! And I was greedy for all the possible cascading positive benefits that might accrue from this one habit.