Just as one bad meal cannot lead to you gaining weight, one good meal cannot make sure that you lose the weight either. Taking care of your body is a lifelong process and one that many of us tend to avoid.
“My name is Venkateswaran Subramanian and just saying it out loud will help you burn close to 50 calories,” he jokes as we begin our conversation. Known to his family and friends as Raja, the 50-year-old learnt about the importance of taking care of his health a tad bit late. But once he did, he managed to shed close to 50 kg by focusing on eating nutritious meals and walking every day. From 112 kg to 63 kg — Raja has taken 2.5 years to get here and his journey was anything but easy.
A resident of Dadar in Mumbai, Raja is a teacher by profession and also an international billiards player.
He has also won two golds and one silver medal while participating in various tournaments over the years. He was also ranked 13th in the international circuit and 8th in India.
“In 2011, when I was 39, I weighed a maximum of 112 kg. I had to undergo a bypass surgery after a few blockages were found in my heart, and that changed my life,” he says. Raja then decided to start exercising and he chose to walk. “Initially after the surgery I would walk for about 3 to 4 km each day just to improve the blood circulation in my body. This was coupled with a very strict diet that the doctors had put me on,” he says.
With a strict adherence to this routine Raja was able to shed 10 kg “almost unintentionally”. “I must also mention here that I used to be a chain smoker and completely quit when I had to undergo the bypass surgery. The realisation that moving more and eating less is a great way to lose weight struck me after the surgery and since then I have managed to follow that,” he says.
Lifestyle tweaks that aided the weight loss
“Prior to the walking routine I had noticed my sugar levels were high as were the blood pressure parameters. As I started being diligent with my walks I noticed a drop for the better in all my health parameters. That motivated me to continue the routine,” he says.
In the beginning, Raja only made small tweaks to his lifestyle but the benefits were so visible to him that he kept at it. He mentions how he started feeling lighter and was also able to breathe better once he started watching his weight and food intake.
“Seeing the benefits, I gradually increased my walks to almost 12 km each day and with that I lost yet another 10 kg,” he says. In a span of one and a half years, Raja had lost close to 30 kg and continued to work towards losing more weight. In order to hit the 12 km mark each day, he would break his walking routine into two. He would complete close to 4 km in the morning and spread the rest across the day.
Despite suffering from arthritis in his left knee and polio in his right leg, he never gave up on walking. “It was never an easy task but having tried multiple other forms of exercises, which included cycling and swimming, I felt the benefits from walking were the best for me. I was even advised to undergo a complete knee replacement but that wasn’t something I felt comfortable with,” he says. Raja also made his walking exercises interesting by often walking inside a swimming pool.
“At that time, I didn’t even know how to swim so I would end up walking in the pool, covering close to 3 km at one stretch. Walking in the pool was great because I would only end up feeling a third of the weight I was carrying due to the buoyancy of water. This technique helped me burn a lot of calories,” he adds.
Dealing with weight loss plateaus head-on
In this journey of weight loss Raja encountered many weight loss plateaus, where he would be stuck on a certain weight for a long period of time, and says that with each plateau he found a new way to break through. “There were times when I would travel for my billiards tournament and would almost certainly hit a weight loss plateau. For those periods, I realised that the key was to watch what I was eating. That is when I introduced my body to a calorie deficient diet,” he says.
This helped Raja shed 20 more kg and he went from 83 kg to 63 kg. Sharing some of his learnings, he says, “Always remember to move more and eat less. Following a calorie deficit plan will always result in one losing weight. The amount of weight you lose is dependent on the amount of calorie deficit you create.” Yet another thing that worked for Raja was a double pronged attack, where he would ensure that he worked out twice a day. “This method helped in losing weight at a faster pace and that in turn kept me motivated,” he says.
Raja says, “I would never deprive myself of any food but always followed portion control and ensured that I neutralised whatever I ate with my next workout.”
“I even indulge in one or two spoons of ice cream every other day,” he says with a chuckle. Yet another strategy that worked for him was working out on an empty stomach “since the source of energy for the workout would come from the stored fat”.
In conclusion, he says, “Remember the weighing scale never lies. Keep at it and once you see the numbers drop, you will automatically be motivated to work harder.”
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)