“At 26, I weighed about 106 kgs. I was then told by my doctor that if I continued living this way, I would only have a few more years ahead of me,” says Gayathrii Sitaraman, adding, “I remember seeing the fear in my parents face. That shook me up.”
For as far back as Gayathrii can remember, words like Gundu (fat) have always been associated with her. “I have had relatives and friends refer to me as Gundu Gayathrii and never once did anyone think about how that impacted me,” she tells The Better India.
Gayathrii describes her growing up years as being “lazy and sedentary” and says that despite her parents nudging her ever so often to lose weight, she was not motivated to do so until that fateful visit to the doctor. With each passing year, her weight increased and after a point in time, Gayathrii just stopped stepping on the weighing scale. “My relationship with the scales was just terrible,” she adds.
Gayathrii immersed herself in books, completing college and getting a job in Bangalore. However, her health deteriorated further.
“I was a 21-year-old living on a good salary all alone in Bangalore. I ate out, I partied, and seldom stopped to see what it was all doing to my health and weight,” she says. Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), knee and back pain, pre-diabetic, and several allergies which led to severe hair fall were all part of Gayathrii’s life and it was at 26 that Gayathrii got a rather rude awakening.
“Until that moment, I had chosen to give up on the constant increase in weight and all other allied health conditions I was battling. I just chose to ignore it all and immerse myself in food,” the 31-year-old shares.
Coming back to life
“I was in Dubai, where my parents reside and one afternoon while at the mall, I just fainted. I had no energy and the doctor who examined me said it was caused due to a fatty liver. Everything wrong that I had done over the last few years suddenly hit me. He said if I did not change my life around, I wouldn’t live beyond 31 or 32,” she says, admitting that those words shook her to her core.
As a first step, towards the end of August 2016, Gayathrii enrolled in a gym, and worked diligently for six months. “Despite being regular and consistent, I saw no change in my weight for close to six months and I continued to weigh 106 kgs. I still went day after day and that was a game changer for me. Slowly, I began looking forward to working out,” she says.
Every little victory at the gym helped, whether it was to squat, or climb up the stairs without difficulty. “it felt good to do what most other people were doing,” she says.
For six months there was little to no visible change in her weight. But her blood reports started showing some positive signs. She says, “There were changes in my blood work and the doctor was happy with that. That for me was a big motivation to stay on the path.” She urges everyone on the path of getting healthier to look out for various other markers other than the weighing scale. These can include inch loss, significant changes in the level of activity being done and blood reports.
Set your own rules
Gayathrii turned losing weight and getting fit into a game. She speaks about how she would set small targets for herself and with each accomplishment she felt good. “I had stopped eating out, did not indulge in consuming anything that came out of a packet (noodle, biscuits, chips, etc.). I had also given up on alcohol completely.”
She speaks about how a lot of one’s weight loss journey begins from tuning one’s mind.
“While my friends would sit with their pizza slices, I would sit with my bowl of dal or vegetables and allow my mind to believe that I was eating something as awesome as pizza,” she says. While it was very difficult in the initial stages, Gayathrii got used to it soon enough.
Find ways of talking to yourself and explaining the benefits of what you are doing to your body.
She adds, “Come what may, I would sleep by 11 pm and be at the gym by 7 am each morning.”
It needed a lot of self-encouragement and self-love. “I had managed to lose 8 kgs but because I was at 106 kgs, losing those 8 kgs did not make much of a difference to my frame. It wasn’t until I had lost close to 13 kgs that people started to notice,” she says.
At each stage in her weight loss journey, Gayathrii set small goals for herself. From being able to walk on a treadmill without holding on for support to increasing weights during exercise.
After three years, when Gayathrii had lost close to 30 kgs, what remained the same was her intellectual ability.
“Unfortunately, people started noticing me only after the weight loss. Suddenly people discovered that I spoke well, was able to articulate my thoughts in a cohesive manner and also was good company,” she says.
“It was upsetting but it made me change my ways. I decided to never treat anyone in a manner that would hurt them,” she adds. Asked what kept her going, she says, it was the commitment she made on her Instagram page. “The public accountability helped me with the weight loss. First it was with friends and family and then the circle grew to include many people via Instagram.”
Gayathrii started uploading pictures and videos of her work outs and even started interacting with her followers, both to draw inspiration and inspire others.
Today, Gayathrii has close to 17,000 followers on Instagram and in an attempt to stay motivated and help others get fit, she runs a programme called #3WeeksWithGaya3 Challenge. If you wish to be a part of this and want to lose weight and get fit, click here to enroll.
Gayathrii’s rules to live by:
- Never starve yourself in the hope of losing weight. Quantified/measured and nutritionally-packed meals can work wonders for you.
- If you are a woman, do not be afraid of picking up the weights. It will not make you look muscular or bulky. On the contrary, it will aid you in your fat loss journey.
- No pain, no gain is not something that you should follow. If you experience pain while working out, stop and examine why that is happening. Chances are you are doing the exercise wrong.
- Do not confuse soreness in the body for pain. Learn to distinguish the two from the beginning of your weight loss journey.
- Learn to say ‘NO’. Remember that whatever you are doing is for yourself. It’s perfectly fine to refuse a social outing, a drink at a party, or bringing your own food to a dinner. Do what you think is best for you.
- Anyone can lose weight. There’s nothing that you cannot achieve if you put in consistent work. Stay the course and you are sure to see results.
- Make working out and eating clean a part of your routine. While it can take time, you will become a part of that routine with consistency.
Gayathrii’s experience teaches us all that we are capable of our dreams, given that we are surrounded by loving and supportive people.
So the next time you meet a person who is obese, do not rush to judge them or give them unsolicited advice. They’re on their own journey, and like Gayathrii, may even end up inspiring many others.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)