Night after night, I make a promise to myself. Tomorrow will be a new day and I shall begin my fitness routine with sincerity. It always begins with great fire, but by mid-week, that enthusiasm has tapered off. Does this happen to you?
In the case of Vivek Raj Singh Kukrele, a 41-year-old IPS Officer, there were many such false starts.
Having been a “chubby” child during his growing years, in 2006, when Vivek joined the National Police Academy, he weighed 134 kgs.
“That was when I started working on my body. With the rigorous training we underwent for 46 weeks at the academy along with the extra hours and effort I put in, I managed to shed 30 kgs,” he says speaking to The Better India.
While the initial euphoria of having lost weight was high, Vivek fell into his old routine when he joined active duty, and started piling on weight. “There came a point where my weight loss came to a standstill. I was serving in the Naxal-hit districts of Bihar and the work was difficult, which in turn meant that I was eating erratically and ended up putting back on all the weight I’d lost, along with a few extra kgs.” At this point, Vivek weighed 130 kgs.
In December 2019, at 130 kg, Vivek started his weight loss journey again, and by July 2020, he’d lost more than 35 kgs. After that, he slowly lost another 7 kgs until September 2020 and today, in June 2021, he weighs 86.5 kgs, which is more than 50 kgs from his start weight. He shares his inspiring transformation and the roadblocks he saw along the way.
‘Don’t make food a weakness’
Vivek describes himself as a foodie and says he would feel bad whenever he wasted his meals. “This meant that I would end up consuming whatever was put on my plate, even if I’d reached a point of saturation,” he recalls. The breaking point came when he hit 138 kgs. He knew that he had to start work and lose weight. “It was a slow process and I started by going on walks,” he says.
With so many fitness apps and groups available online, all one needs to do is to find the right fit, he adds. “I used an app called ‘Step Set Go’, which is a step counter. I found the app to be very motivating, and it helped me stay consistent,” he says. “Soon, walking became a part of my routine. I started losing weight, albeit slowly, but seeing the numbers drop kept motivating me to work harder,” he says.
In order to lose weight, one has to consume less than what is being expended. However, in Vivek’s case, he decided that since he could not stay away from food and did not want to necessarily go on any diet, he upped his step count. “There was a time when I was pushing myself to take close to 50,000 steps a day,” he says.
Vivek says he lost close to 30 kgs yet again by just walking, and that’s when he hit a plateau.
Speaking about how he slowly increased his step count, he says, “I started with trying to get 30,000 steps a day. I would walk around every time I was attending a phone call. If I had to visit a place that was close by, I chose to walk and not take a vehicle. Incorporating these small changes over a period of time helped.”
He adds that he would spend close to 4-5 hours walking each day, but never found it strenuous as he ensured this time was adequately distributed through the day. “It was never done in one sitting,” he says, and notes, “Find and make opportunities for yourself to walk and keep moving as much as you can.”
Fat loss and muscle loss
“Ensuring that muscle mass remains good is very important during one’s fat loss journey. Not giving nutrition the importance it deserves can actually be detrimental to losing weight and impact the body negatively,” he advises. It was in this phase that Vivek understood what Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) are.
BMR is the amount of energy expended while at rest in a neutral environment, while TDEE is a measure of how many calories you burn per day. “During the fat loss journey, one should consume more than the BMR and about 200-300 calories less than the TDEE daily. With this, increasing the protein intake to at least 1.2 – 2.0 gram/kg of body weight is important as it aids in good fat loss,” he says.
“I lost all my weight without ever having to give up on my favourite foods. I continued to eat biryani, bedmi puri, chat, pizza and even cake. The trick is to stay within the calorie permitted each day. If you are mindful of that, you can enjoy the food while losing weight,” he says.
While there have been many physical changes that weight loss has brought about, going off his hypertension medication has been a big deal for Vivek.
“I was diagnosed with hypertension almost 17 years ago and had been on medication since then. But since I lost weight and changed my lifestyle, I’ve managed to go off these meds completely,” he says.
Some tangible benefits of losing weight include better fitting clothes and higher self-esteem, Vivek says. “I didn’t realise the importance of losing weight until I managed to lose it,” he adds. Some small achievements he has celebrated along the way include being able to run on the treadmill at a speed of 11 km/hr. “This was something I had never imagined being able to do. It wasn’t even something I had dreamt about,” he says.
Things that aided Vivek’s fat loss journey:
1. A food weighing scale
“This is important, at least during the initial days, since one does not always understand quantities. Keeping a close tab on what and how you consume will help aid your fat loss journey in a better way. This will also help in building a quantified diet for yourself. You will also start to pay close attention to the macro and micro nutrients in your diet, which include carbohydrates, fats and proteins.”
2. A food tracking app
“This is another useful tool in one’s fat loss journey. Being accountable for what you are consuming and keeping track of how many calories you are consuming plays an important role. Make sure that you note down everything that you consume in 24 hours, even if you think that the calories that it has is negligible.”
3. Leverage online communities
“There are many online communities focussed on helping people lose weight and get fit. I used an online community called FITTR on Facebook. There are enough free resources which can be used. One does not need to necessarily spend too much money on these platforms. Read as much as you can, draw inspiration from other transformational stories and get moving.”
4. Use a good step counter
“Using an app to count your steps can be a huge motivation. If you can make a circle of friends and engage in healthy competition with each other, that is even better. Try to increase your step count on a daily basis.”
“Ultimately, weight loss can be sustainable if you approach it with the right mindset. Ensure you do not eat lower than your BMI, that will only harm your metabolism and not aid in weight loss. Be mindful of what you eat and exercise well,” he notes.
(Edited by Divya Sethu)