Note: Read my previous article ‘How to go from overweight to awesome‘ first and understand what it actually takes to make a change this significant.
In March 2011, I got an email from this person…
Divya (October 2010)
… and it read -
Greetings from Sydney! I came across your blog via the Jugalbandi blog, and was very impressed with your own story, the diabetic client’s story and so on. Needed some advice, and perhaps you can help!
I am an almost 40 year old South Indian living in Sydney. I am currently a stay at home mom with a one year old daughter. I have always been overweight (obese per the BMI index calculations), although no noted medical problems. I have had a typical sedentary lifestyle being in IT. I am a staunch vegetarian (no eggs, avoid cheeses that are made with rennet etc.) I do however love my milk, curds, ghee, paneer etc!
About 3 weeks ago, I felt bloated, uncomfortable and without energy. I decided to change my lifestyle, and slowly began cutting down on grains, and started some moderate 30 min work outs - with the Biggest Loser XBOX game.
Last week my med report showed 5.8 on the Total/ HDL Ratio. and the GP’s suggestion was ” get some cardio exercises” and “watch your diet – dont eat fried stuff”. I do know that typically the only cholesterol source that I have is the dairy products, so the last one week I have done away with dairy, have negligible oils, but landed up not watching the grains!!
I know from your blog I have to go ‘grain free’. However with cholesterol do I have to give up dairy as well, or will the grain free diet be enough to correct the imabalances? I dont mind swallowing fish oil if I have to …but really cant eat eggs, salmon etc! I want to stay fit as long as I live and have an active life …I dont want to run marathons etc!! I lost two approx 3 kilos in 3 weeks and currently weigh 82kgs (my height is 5.2′), and want to get to 70 kilos for now. Please advice!
Thanks and Regards,
Realize that I get too many emails like this and 1) I’m not going to play doctor and give them specific health advice and 2) Is it worth my time? How many of these people are truly going to make a change? To want is one thing, but (as many of you know real well), to do is a whole different ball game. So I replied with general information that could possibly help her. Very similar to what you would find on my Nutrition Cheat Sheet.
I love helping people who are committed to make a change and I always give them a choice between…
Here is the general information I can give you. You can start here and continue making iterative improvements. I’ll help you as much as I can without getting into specific details.
If you are not comfortable doing this by yourself, then (and only then) we can consider an online consult.
I have certain rules when I work with people. I always urge people to make changes by themselves before ever getting into a consult with me since there is a lot one can do using the information that is on this site. Its never about the money. Its about the commitment. I don’t have enough time to consult with everyone who contacts me but I do have the information that could help pretty much everyone who reads this site. So why not use it right?
Anyways, after that initial email exchange, Divya kept sending me updates with plenty of questions and concerns. Soon, I realized she was not the usual ‘Help me now!!!‘ fat loss enthusiast but the unusual ‘I had a wake-up call and I’m ready to make a serious change!‘ fighter. Our interactions grew and we moved on from general recommendations to more specific recommendations as and when she shared more specific details with me. It had been 2-3 months since we started interacting and Divya was seeing some great results mainly because she was making every effort possible to eat real food irrespective of whether she was traveling or working or whatever. Only at this point (mid-May ’11) we got into a consult and we got into a more regimented approach with respect to nutrition and working out.
Slowly but steadily we worked our way up to 150+ emails. And this is what we have in the end after 10 months, here is what we have.
Part 1 – Some random emails
Exhibit A – An update email dated 8th June ’11
Hello Raj – Weighed and measured my self today. Before starting the workouts my weight was already down to 71.65kilos! I was 75kilos when I filled out your questionnaire. Was thrilled to find that today’s reading was 70.40kilos!
Exhbit B – My reply
You know why this is so awesome? Because on March 6th when you first wrote to me, you said…
“…I want to stay fit as long as I live and have an active life …I dont want to run marathons etc!! I lost two approx 3 kilos in 3 weeks and currently weigh 82kgs (my height is 5.2′), and want to get to 70 kilos for now. Please advice!
Thanks and Regards,
And in 3 months you have lost ~ 12 kg and reached your goal. All this while you slowly made changes to your diet and while you traveled to India and while you were a vegetarian! And guess what… you have just started consulting with me and your journey toward fitness has just begun!
Very very proud of you!
Keep pushing hard… its all going to be great!
Exhibit C – A not so unusual OMFG email dated 14th November ’11
Hi Raj! I feel like I betrayed my good body! I cooked and cooked and cooked for my little girls bday party. Sugar, Fat, Wheat, Deep frying etc etc! The food was a hit, and I did land up eating a lot – in the name of tasting etc. But my weight is down to 60.85 today!! Maybe yesterdays sins will catch up tomorrow!!
Exhibit D – My reply…
Youre good dude. Its your little ones bday and you had some fun. Chill out. Havent you realized that youre not the crash dieting type? You are all about lifestyle changes and thats why you are at 60kg today… far far away from where you started! You are adream client Divya! Dont feel bad about the party and please dont call it a sin. Food is nourishment for the most part and celebration rarely. Embrace it. You’re good dude… you’re good!
Smile… cos its all good!
Exhibit E – The final update dated 30th January ’12
Hi Raj! Didn’t realize its been over a month since my last update!!! Well I got down to 56kgs and then did some mega cheats over the holidays! I also landed up not working out for a week as I was down with a severe cold &flu! Re-started my strict routine last week!
Part 2 – Some random thoughts from Divya
Note: I wanted to keep this real (like I always do in this blog) and hence didn’t want to Divya to write a testimonial or anything. I asked her to jot down whatever she could come up with when thinking about the last 10 months and this is what she had to say. Again, everything is quoted verbatim.
* I have always been overweight / obese. I have tried a few diets and programs earlier. It’s always been a losing battle that left me demoralized. I never realized health and fat-loss is so unbelievably simple until I started reading Raj’s blog, and began trying his approach. I am convinced that this lifestyle is one of the best, and I can very easily follow it for the rest of my life.
* Something clicked when I felt his no-nonsense approach. Fat-loss, not weight-loss. Nutrition, not skimpy diets. Minimal effective exercises, not boring cardios. Great Health, nor merely great looks.
* I was obese, had messed up cholesterol figures, sleep-deprived, stressed, irritable and totally unfit. I shot off a mail to Raj, not expecting him to reply to a random blog reader. To my pleasant surprise, with two days, I received not just a reply, but clear and concise guidance on what to eat, what to avoid, what supplements to take and how to begin exercising.
* I started feeling better, happier and healthier almost immediately after I began following his advice on eating clean. What had always seemed a Herculean task, was suddenly so easy. Weight seemed to fly off effortlessly right from week 1.
* Raj’s blog is a wealth of information for anybody. His customized nutrition and exercise program even more effective. It is easy to follow, and filled with sample diets, exercise videos, inputs on what supplements to take and so on. He understands where you are in life, and plans what’s just right for you, and directly addresses your goals.
* The nicest part - he even tells you how to have your ice cream cheese cake sundae, without beating yourself up about it!
* Raj’s facebook group of likeminded people is huge support, in a world that still largely believes whole grains, low fat food, heaps of fruit and expensive gym memberships are key to good health!
* I used to find simple day-to-day household work tiring. When I wasn’t at the office, I was zoned out on my bed in front of the TV, for entire weekends. These days, I am nearly always out all day – Beaches, Parks, Swimming,Dancing, Music, having the time of my life with my toddler. I am raring to go even after the part is over.
* Motivation is key. It’s not enough just to want and wish to be fit. Healthy lifestyles cannot be just a choice. I believe it’s the only way to live. I am in my 40s, and I found my motivation with the arrival of my little girl. I HAVE TO BE physically and mentally young and healthy in order to be a good parent, for many many more years to come
* Socializing, partying, travel is not so difficult, and becomes easier and easier once you learn how to choose the right foods within the options available.
* About Familial and social pressures – What I have realized, is that people who care about you, are happy with your choices when they see the good it’s doing you. The others who mock your choices or refuse to see reason - I couldn’t care less about!!
* Interactions with Raj – Always honest, factual, no-nonsense and very prompt!
Part 3 – The before and after
I work with so many overweight/obese folks and they all complain about how long a journey they have ahead of them. What they don’t realize is that a year or two of fighting hard results in 30 or 40 or even 50 more years of bliss!
Divya realized that and here she is showing us what (a short) one year of investing in health and fitness can do for you…
January 2011 January 2012
Thank you Divya. Thank you for being awesome! You inspire me and I’m sure you will continue to inspire many many more folks who see, hear and learn about you!
So a 40 year old vegetarian (who doesn’t even eat eggs) was able to lose 60 lbs in 10 months and literally changed her life around. All this she did by just eating real food and working out 2-3 days/week for less than a total of 2.5 hours/week. I’m sure a lot of you eat ‘cleaner’ than she does and workout for much longer than she ever did, but there is something she did that you didn’t do – she stayed the course! Divya was very very consistent and lived true to her goals. And that is exactly why she is where she is today.
So I have nothing different to say other than stop complaining, quit whining, forget shortcuts, throw your excuses into the bin and start making a change already! But what do you have to say? Why are you not making the change? Is it motivation? Do you not have the resources? Can I help you in any other way? Let me know in the comments section.