A trip to his hometown after graduation turned out to be the proverbial wake-up call for Akash Gusain.
In January 2021, when he visited Uttarakhand and went for a hike with his friends, he was shocked by his stamina, or rather the lack thereof. He was unable to go for a short hike, which would be a walk in the park for him earlier.
“Due to my unhealthy lifestyle in three years of college, as well as the lockdown, I had gained a lot of weight. I weighed almost 119 kg at the time. When I visited my aunt’s place and went trekking, I was panting just while climbing 100-200 metres. I felt like my heart would stop. Before this, I always thought I was healthy. This gave me the push I needed to start on my fitness journey,” the 23-year-old tells The Better India.
A fit man till his college days, Akash says that he was a regular at the gym and played cricket for his school and junior college. Used to going on long treks till 2017, this sudden loss of stamina shocked the marketing professional.
“I was extremely fit till 2017. I used to play district-level cricket. After that, I used to go to the gym. I had a very active lifestyle and maintained a healthy weight. A complete lack of exercise after joining college, junk food, and parties with friends really hampered my health, without me realising it,” adds Akash.
Even a chance diagnosis of fatty liver in 2018 didn’t bother the college student at that time. What’s interesting is that the diagnosis was completely out of the blue.
“One of my college friend’s uncles was to undergo a liver transplant. For that, he needed platelets. Before checking your eligibility to donate, the hospital took a slew of blood tests. That’s when my fatty liver, along with elevated levels of liver function tests (LFT) was detected,” adds Akash.
The youngster, always interested in nutrition and fitness, started doing some research and decided that intermittent fasting, along with exercise, was going to work for him. He embarked on his fitness journey in January 2021, when he weighed 119 kg.
‘Discipline and focus helped me lose weight’
One of the first things that Akash did was bring small changes in his lifestyle. This started with getting up early and having meals on time, he says.
“I think lifestyle changes are very important when it comes to being fit. I would get up at weird hours and eat at odd times. I first started getting up by 6-6.30 am daily, and doing some workout. I also stopped eating junk food and practised intermittent fasting. I would eat only between 12 PM and 8 PM,” adds Akash.
He maintains that calorie restriction worked for him.
“I would only eat in those eight hours. Whatever happens, I finish my dinner by 8 PM, and that early dinner has helped me. I was very strict with my diet from Monday-Saturday. I have cheat meals on Sunday. I also almost turned vegetarian when I started this diet in 2019. I would only eat fruits, vegetables, curd, paneer etc,” adds Akash.
He also incorporated a good cardiovascular workout, as he needed to build stamina.
“During my school and junior college days, I used to focus more on weight training. However, my lack of stamina showed me that I need to work on my cardiovascular endurance. I did running and skipping on alternate days. The other three days were for weight training, which consisted of upper body, lower body and whole body each day,” adds the Delhi resident.
The Winning Diet
Breaking fast at 12 pm with fruits like papaya, and seasonal fruits like mosambi, watermelon
Lunch: 2-3 ragi rotis or poha, yellow dal, boiled vegetables and boiled broccoli or spinach
In between snacks: 2-3 spoons of peanut butter, roasted nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts
Dinner: Paneer or soya or sprouts, boiled vegetables, eggs, dal
“With this diet and exercise regimen, I was able to lose almost 25 kg in three months. I went from 119 kg to 95 kgs in March 2021,” says Akash
‘Maintaining a journal of what I ate really helped’
Akash says that he felt good after losing weight.
“I felt light as I lost the weight. While I didn’t have major health issues before this, I was able to control my fatty liver also. My LFT, taken sometime in March this year, was fine. Even when my entire family got COVID during the second wave, I managed to escape with just a day’s fever. I attribute this to my fit lifestyle,” adds Akash.
He says that each person must figure out what diet and exercise works best for them. A good method to do this, he adds, is by maintaining a journal.
“People tend to get demotivated if they put on some weight or aren’t losing weight. You must be consistent. I used to note down whatever I ate daily and my weight. By this, I was able to realise which foods suit me and which don’t. While I lost weight very fast, I realised that it’s not the best thing. It’s better to be slow and steady,” adds the marketing professional.
He says that even if you don’t exercise, calorie restriction is key. Try to reduce 200-300 calories per day, he adds.
He also notes that mental strength is key to maintaining discipline.
“Many times, I have not gone out with my friends, as it would mean eating out. I also completely cut out on alcohol. We need to be very strong, otherwise frequent cheat meals don’t help. I avoid junk food and snacking. Discipline and consistency are most important because motivation will fade away after some time,” says Akash.
What keeps him going is his improvement in his workouts.
“When I started running in January 2021, I could run only six minutes for almost a month. In April, I was able to run 14.5 kms in 1 hour and 23 minutes,” he says proudly.
Edited by Divya Sethu
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