Kapil Bajaj from Indore was born with dwarfism, a genetic medical condition that leads to short stature of a person. This condition comes with different physical complications, to which Kapil was very privy.
Since childhood, he suffered from many medical conditions that brought limitations in his personal life. At one point, the condition resulted in him becoming obese, to the extent that even sitting on a chair for five minutes became unbearable for him.
“My weight was 68 kilos, which is acceptable for a fully grown human. But as a dwarf, it is considered overweight. It affected my physical and mental health,” Kapil tells The Better India.
This was in 2015. But now, the 26-year-old has overcome all odds and fought through several challenges to shed 29 kilos in a year. His shirt size has reduced from XXXL to S.
Kapil shares the story of his transformation, which is both motivating and heartwarming.
Amid several setbacks
Kapil says that along with dwarfism, he was born with Arthrogryposis, a condition in which a newborn has stiff, crooked and contracted joints. It causes decreased movement in multiple joints such as the jaw, shoulders, hands, elbows, wrist, fingers, knee, feet, toes, hips and spine.
“I don’t have a kneecap and my hip joints are dislocated. Moreover, I suffered from Scoliosis, which is an abnormal sideways curving of the spine, as well as Lordosis, a condition that causes inward curvature of the spine. It results in compression of nerves and causes tingling, pinching or a sensation similar to an electric shock that runs down the legs,” he explains.
During his childhood, Kapil underwent leg surgery, which affected his ability to walk. “I found it difficult to climb the stairs at school or carry bags. I needed assistance at all times,” he says.
During his Class 10 in 2010, he suffered a leg fracture. “It takes one month for a person to recover from it. However, with my health conditions and complications, it took two years,” he says, adding that he relied on physiotherapy to recover.
Kapil says that he managed to move out of bed and walk after struggling for two long and painful years of healing. But his sedentary lifestyle had resulted in a weight gain of 68 kilos.
As he began his graduation course in commerce, he soon realised that his condition was worsening. “I could not sit for the classes and sometimes had to leave in the middle of a lecture due to the pain. The physiotherapy did not help, and by the end of my graduation in 2015, I could not even sit for five minutes straight due to the unbearable pain in the legs and joints,” Kapil says, adding that he felt depressed and suicidal.
A new lease of life
“I realised that my weight and height were the problems. There was nothing I could do about my height, so I decided to focus on my weight. When I approached a nearby gym, they refused to allow me admission because my physical complications would put them at risk,” Kapil adds.
Kapil then decided to do the work by himself. “I referred to social media like YouTube and Instagram for workout plans and diets, and read motivational quotes. I could not perform high-intensity workouts or lift weights. So I lifted water bottles for weights and walked as much as I could during the day,” he says.
He started in March 2015 and lost four kilos in a month. “But the weight loss was not visible, and that demotivated me further. However, I decided to continue and slowly, the weight reduced from 8 kilos to 14 kilos. The clothes started to feel loose. By March 2016, I had reduced 29 kilos,” he says, adding that since then, he has been maintaining his weight to around 40 kilos.
Along with physical workouts, Kapil reduced his diet to include 600-800 calories a day. “As I could not perform a heavy workout, I changed my diet,” he says.
However, as he worked on his physical transformation, he had to keep himself motivated mentally. “The mirror was my biggest motivation. It was the only means to know that I was losing weight. Besides, as the size of my clothes reduced, I could wear a variety of clothes that were limited earlier. I was moving towards positive changes,” he says.
Kapil also faced parallel hurdles, such as failing to clear bank examinations for three consecutive years. “I also tried to pursue graphic designing courses as it interested me. But when I applied for a job at a company, they offered me a meagre sum of Rs 2,500 per month,” he says, adding that while his parents could understand his pain, they could not do much to help.
Watch Kapil and Payal sharing their life struggles below.
In 2018, Kapil decided to give a fresh attempt for the bank examination. He cleared and joined as a junior assistant with the Union Bank of India in 2019, a government job that his parents wished him to have.
Kapil says the transformation helped in multiple ways. “I used to be bullied in school and even teased on the streets. My obesity and looks discouraged me from stepping out of the house. I did not possess the confidence to pursue a career or lead a life. But all this changed as my body became more agile, flexible and enabled me to bear physical exertion for hours. Now I do not feel tired even after a long day of work at the office,” he adds.
His wife, Payal Thawani, who also has dwarfism, says that Kapil’s journey motivated her and brother Deepak to lose weight. “Physical ailments are common among people with dwarfism. But when I learned about Kapil’s journey, it inspired me. I lost 10 kilos following his tips, while Deepak lost 14 kilos,” she adds.
Kapil and Payal have an Instagram page where they make videos for 60,000 followers. “Earlier, I used to feel ashamed of being visible on social media platforms. But losing weight has helped us become confident, and now we have many followers with dwarfism, whom we help overcome their fears,” she says.
Kapil has put out his journey on Quora and speaks about his life on social media. “I do not mean to brag about it. I aim to inspire as many people as possible. If a person with multiple health conditions can achieve this feat, anyone can. A person needs to commit to it. I was knocked down, but not knocked out,” he adds.
Edited by Divya Sethu