Mumbai-based Jasleen Kaur talks about her struggles with PCOS, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and several other lifestyle diseases which led to massive weight gain, and how she fought her deteriorating health to lose 20 kilos in six months through a number of dietary changes and workouts
Like many, Jasleen Kaur from Mumbai had been struggling with maintaining her weight due to a poor lifestyle. She recalls that her weight started becoming an issue in 2017, just as she began working as a marketing professional.
“My weight gain was a result of a poor lifestyle and eating habits. But I never worried and assumed that eating healthy and exercising could resolve the issue,” Jasleen says.
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The 29-year-old says her weight gain worsened over the next couple of years and became severe to the extent that in 2019, she was diagnosed with PCOS and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an auto-immune condition. “Both conditions are significant contributors to weight gain. Moreover, it makes shedding weight difficult,” she tells The Better India.
Jasleen says that her health condition came with other ailments such as severe migraines, leaky gut, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), ulcers, hair fall and acne. “My health kept worsening, and I could relate to symptoms of multiple lifestyle diseases,” she adds.
Jasleen felt that the situation was going out of hand, and decided that she had to make a few strict decisions to improve her health. “My breaking point came when I had no stamina to cope with socialising with friends and balance a corporate job. I felt fatigued, anxious and depressed. I visited many nutritionists and doctors for a year, but I could not follow a plan that suited my body. I focussed on consuming a healthy diet and exercising twice a day, but it was all in vain,” she adds.
Journey towards healing
Jasleen quit her job in 2019. “I decided to take charge of my health. I knew the task would be difficult, but I also realised that it could not be any worse than what it already was. But I lacked knowledge on how weight loss functions. I read books on Ayurveda and functional medicine. I unlearned many habits that I was practising and started working on addressing issues such as inflammation, insulin resistance, gut dysbiosis and immune dysfunction by making dietary changes,” she says.
She adds that instead of weight loss alone, she focussed on a holistic approach to good health.
Jasleen says that she switched to a gluten-free lifestyle and dairy-free diet. This was to reduce inflammation in auto-immune diseases, she says. “I mostly ate bajra roti, white or brown rice, dosas and millets in grains. I included fermented probiotics like kimchi, kanji and sauerkraut for healing my gut,” she adds.
She notes, “Thanks to the vast information available on the internet, accessing and eating clean and healthy food is not that difficult. There are many gluten-free and dairy-free recipes available on the internet. The more I got involved with my health, the more interest I developed in finding the best possible ways to support it. I continue this practice today and keep my health a priority.”
Jasleen worked hard to lose 20 kilos between December 2020 to May 2021. “I saw so much difference! It’s tough to explain the difference it made to my mental health as well. From being pushed down to the bottom, my weight loss feels like I have risen back to the top. Even when I was not overweight, I never experienced the amount of energy that I possess now. I feel positive and have experienced a dynamic mindset change, which reflects in my behaviours and thoughts,” she says.
Jasleen says that her six-month journey was gradual. “I was on a plan where I could enjoy my cheat meals once every four days. Through the information I gained via research, I devised a plan to include the right amount of proteins, healthy fats and carbs in each meal, which drastically reduced my cravings. The key is to include protein in each meal,” she adds.
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She says, “Everyone has bad days and good days. The key is to be consistent and disciplined. Being lazy is just an excuse for not prioritising yourself, which nobody should do,” she adds.
Speaking about her struggles, Jasleen says, “It was difficult to explain to my friends and family how the excess weight was affecting me emotionally and mentally. Everybody would think that I was giving excuses and being lazy to put in the effort. But this was not the case. So the first challenge was to get rid of all that negativity around me.”
She adds, “My other challenge was to find that right combination of diet, exercise and bring lifestyle changes for myself considering the PCOS and Hashimoto’s.”
Jasleen says she never went to the gym. “I always exercised at home using bodyweight and strength training. For cardio, I spent my time outdoors walking or running. So exercising never was a challenge for me because I devised workouts that I enjoyed doing,” she adds.
She believes that staying active and healthy has to be a conscious choice, which is a challenge for many. “You have to put sincere efforts to get to the target.”
Jasleen says her journey brought transformation in her career path as well. “The biggest change of my life is that I earned certifications through the research and experience I put in during the journey. It enabled me to start my company Heal with Jasleen, wherein I guide clients who face similar struggles as I did with PCOS, Hashimoto’s and weight loss,” she says.
One step at a time
Sharing some tips through her experience, she says, “Stop chasing on isolated weight loss by doing fad or crash diets. You will lose weight, but you will also lose health. Focus on good health.”
She recommends including an adequate amount of proteins and fats in the diet.
“Avoid refined sugar and processed dairy. Do not over exercise as it reduces immunity and stresses out your metabolic function, especially for those with hormonal imbalances,” she says, adding, “Listen to your body and try to understand it better. Never blindly follow any random tips on the internet.”
Jasleen suggests bringing lifestyle changes by getting eight hours of sleep, building a routine and spending time amid nature. “Use supplements with caution or only if guided by a practitioner. Try to get all vitamins and minerals through food first. Remove all processed and refined foods, even if the label reads vegan or gluten-free. Eat foods closest to their natural form,” she adds.
For beginners, she says, “We can all strive to be a little better each day. Always start small and have realistic goals. Do not rush. Drink that extra glass of water today. Walk those extra 1,000 steps today. Have one meal with yourself every day without any distractions. Grow plants and say positive affirmations to yourself on some days.”
Jasleen says that the progress should be gradual and sustainable. “The only way to achieve it is by being consistent and remembering to be kind to yourself through your healing journey.”
She says, “The most important tip is to reduce internal and external stress. Use tools such as meditation, have emotional resources for support and focus on having a positive mindset. No one becomes positive in a day. It takes consistent practice to encourage peaceful thoughts and positive behaviour.”
Recipe for a delicious green smoothie
Jasleen says everyone can include this smoothie in their diet once a day. “It is high in antioxidants, essential minerals and has anti-inflammatory properties,” she adds.
*Five soaked almonds
*1 tbsp soaked chia seeds
*1/2 cup blanched spinach
*1/2 cup coriander
*½ cup cucumber
*½ cup carrot
*2-3 mint leaves
*1 spoon of wood-pressed coconut oil
Prepping the Smoothie
Step 1: Soak the almonds overnight
Step 2: Soak chia seeds for 30 minutes
Step 3: Add cucumber, carrot, spinach, coriander and mint leaves with one cup water.
Step 4: Blend with the grinder
Step 5: Top with chia seeds, soaked almonds, add a dash of lime and pink salt and jeera powder for taste.
Edited by Divya Sethu