“When you really want something to happen, the whole world conspires to help you achieve it.”
― Paulo Cohelo
The Journey and The Results
I began a committed journey on 14th November 2013, I still remember the day, It was the day after my birthday, I had just turned 24 and I had a friend over at my house, I was wearing one of my Red Seneca Alumni t-shirt and usual Capri pants. My friend mocked me the moment he met me, “Bhaji ki gal, bada tidd kadeya aa?” (translation: Wassup brother? What’s up with the weight?). He did meant this in a very friendly and amusing way, although, this one sentence, one mockery, one taunt, one-act of amusement changed my life for good and I cannot thank my friend enough for what he did to me.
It’s not like this was the first time it happened. It was just that this was the first time I actually cared. Something that was on the back burner for quite long, quickly took center stage and priority in my life. I don’t see this friend very often and clearly this was not the root of my motivation, may be a little alarm bell yes.
My motivation was myself and my love for myself.
So, here’s what really happened after November 2013:
|Time||Weight||Body Fat Percentage||Body Mass Index||Delta Weight||Delta BMI||BMI Status|
PS: Between Feb 2014 and May 2014, I was focusing on weight training so, I didn’t lost a lot of weight but did lost some Fat percentage. Which is exactly what I wanted.
Before I dive into any details explaining the execution of what I did (in terms of workout & diet), I would like to share some backstory to put things into more context and give more juice to the story. I was not obese by birth, If I can recall correctly, I think I used to weigh around 154lbs (in 2009 when I came to Canada and back then I was 19 years old). The numbers were pretty standard for a guy with my height. Not one of my best pictures but here’s one back from the days, this one was taken the day after I landed…
As you can make out, I was not obese at all back then and quit skinny infact. However, something clearly happened between 2009 and 2013 that I went from 154lbs to 202lbs. I knew when and how these numbers went up, but I didn’t bothered. It all happened right in front of my eyes. I didn’t wanted to bother because my priorities were totally different back then. Like most people, I wanted to accumulate as much wealth I could and leave the health part for later when I had more time at hand (Yes, not the best decision I know but that’s how it was, I was quite ambitious to put it in simple words. A person like me, when they want something really badly, they go all out and risk everything, I risked my health, which I knew I’ll be able to recoupe sometime in future). To fulfill these ambitions of mine during those early days, I was working night shifts at a warehouse and doing school full time during mornings, leaving me with 4-5 hours of sleep every evening. The odd working hours definitely screwed things up and lead to an imbalance inside me and my metabolism. To add more fuel to the fire, my eating habits were not that healthy either. I would try to eat out as much as I could because there was no time for me to cook at home, and I didn’t liked or knew cooking anyways. Even if I was cooking at home, I was cooking the wrong thing: Maggi or Alloo de Paranthe (Flatbread Stuffed with Potato Mash, yes those were some Carbs!)
By 2nd semester at school, I had found a Software Developer Intern position at a small company in Downtown Toronto. The rituals continued, I was eating out at Subway, McDonalds, nearby Food Courts every single day. I would skip the morning breakfast and do my lunch straight at one of these fast food chains. The job that I had at this company was not particularly that labour intensive, I had to sit on a chair all day long and write code, you cannot go more sedentary than that. In the evenings I’d just throw up a packet of our very favourite Maggi or order a Pizza from PizzaPizza, scratch some balls and call it a day. Quite ruthless lifestyle if you ask me.
Yes, I was and still am lazy as hell.
Around mid 2010, I fell sick for a week (I think it was some FLU thing) and some stupid doctor prescribed me overdosed Anti-biotics, which just took my obesity to a whole new level. But, my eyes were set on something else as always, Even until this point health was on the back burner as usual. I was looking pretty much like below by the end of 2010:
As I was progressing more into my career, I was equally progressing at tipping the scale on the weighing machine towards higher numbers. Surprisingly, I was not the only one in this boat, A lot of my friends were surfing these same waves with me. Sometimes, just having others with you amidst a storm makes it easier to surf these brutal waves, even though you know your boat will be wrecked by the time the storm ends.
After I graduated school in 2012, being a software developer I was again asked to sit on a chair in front of a computer and write code all day. Around this same time, I had founded my own consulting company with my brother, which we both focused on as our part time stint. So, I was in front of my computer on a chair or on the bed pretty much all day long. Any free time would go into watching movies as I’m such a movie lover. 😉 So, there’s no doubt I was living the life of this uber coder with little or no activity and a sedentary lifestyle.
..closing in on ambitions and shifting gears…
So, until November 2013, I kept pushing hard towards my ambitions and after realizing that I had done enough. I switched gears to focus on the next most important thing on my list: My Health.
Here’s present me, after shedding off roughly 32lbs and at 13.5% body fat percentage. I’m down from 36′ waist to 30-32′. My goal which is currently in progress is to reach 8-10% body fat percentage and be more lean. But that’s still a work in progress. I’m looking at another 4-6 months until that happens. So, clearly I’m still not quite where I want to be, but getting there day by day.
People who know me and see me day in and day out and have commented and appreciated my new physique. Some aunties have had reactions such as, “Jasdeep, puttar, bada kamjor hogya tu?” (translation: Jasdeep, you’ve gone weak son? ) I cannot stress enough how encouraging and satisfying such comments have been. Not that I need someone’s approval, but when people notice it does carry some value to it. It tells you that you are doing the right thing.
Starting the Training
I started my training Mid November like I mentioned. When I started, I knew nothing about how to execute things, but one thing I knew was – The scale has to tip downward on the weighing machine. That’s all I knew and that’s all I wanted to see. I was literally clueless as to what I should be eating and what exercises I should be doing. But, Google is your best friend when it comes to researching. I’m going to compile my learnings from last couple months here, I’m not a pro at all this, but I’ll outline what worked for me, and what I believe will work for everyone. But, please do take any of it with a pinch of salt..
I’m not a pro at all this, but I’ll outline what worked for me, and what I believe will work for everyone.
Busting some myths and setting some ground rules:
- Fat Loss, Fat Loss, Fat Loss! If you are obese, search for fat loss not weight loss on Google, you’ll get better results.
- Absolutely important: Diet will do 80% of the magic, while Gym and exercise has just 20% contribution to your goals.
- Make friends with Cardio: 5 times/week. 45 minutes to 1 hour each session.
- Ab crunches alone will take you nowhere. Spot reduction is a myth. You will not be able to reduce that waistline by doing crunches alone.
- Don’t kill yourself by dieting, fasting or eating less. This has opposite effects. Don’t eat less, but eat the right thing.
- Don’t blame genetics. Blame laziness and priorities.
Simple Caloric Maths:
There is very simple mathematics behind fat and weight loss. And it’s no rocket science. Let’s set some ground rules again:
- Your body burns calories no matter what. Even if you lay in bed all day, you are still burning calories. How many calories you burn with no activity is known as your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR, you can calculate yours here: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/
- When you put anything into your stomach, you are consuming and adding calories to your body.
- As long as you end your day with calorie deficit, you are on your way to fat loss. In case you are calorie surplus, you are putting on weight.
- Example: If you consumed 2,000 calories and your BMR is 2,000 and you laid in bed all day, you neither gained or lost calories. So, the net effect is Zero. However, if you hit the gym and burnt let’s say 500 calories, you are ending your day with -500 calories. 3500 calories roughly equal to 1lb. So, loose 3500 calories per week and you’ll be on your way to loose about 1lb/week. Simple enough?
|Item||What to Do||Comments|
|Water||PUMP IT UP!||Drink atleast 4L of water everyday.|
|Punjabi Diet||Ditch it||Plan your own. Go Raw. Go Paleo.|
|Ghee and Oils||Ditch them||Use Olive Oil Instead (I strictly use the ones that come in a Spray Can. You end up using less oil in your food.)|
|Milk||Ditch it||Use Almond Milk Instead|
|Rice||Ditch it||Use Brown Rice Instead|
|Yogurt or Dahi||Ditch it||Use Greek Yogurt instead. Lookout for the ones that are high in protein.|
|Raspberries||Have lots of these||Raspberries contains Ketones which is known to be the most effective fat burner on the planet|
|Red chillies||Make a moderate amount of these part of your diet||Thermogenic effect of chillies raises Metabolism of the body causing you to burn more calories.|
|Chicken||Pump it up||Try to eat lean cuts of Chicken more such as Breast and Ground Chicken. These cuts are high in protein and low in fat.|
|Cookies||Ditch it||Lots of bad fat here.|
|Butter||Ditch it||Sweet jesus||please NO!|
|Cheese||Ditch it||Try to use only low fat and high protein cheese if possible.|
|Chocolates||Ditch it||No way!|
|Cakes||Ditch it||STAHP PPPALEASSSSSSEEE!|
|Veggies||Pump 'em up!||Steam cook your veggies!|
|Protein Shakes||Pump it up||Get yourself a decent protein supplement and have 1 shake each day.|
|Juices||NO||-Lots of sugar and fructose-|
|Soft Drinks||HELL NO!||Run away from these any day you can|
Scheduling your Eating & Workouts Properly
- When you are trying to burn fat and shed some extra pounds, it helps to schedule your workouts earlier during the day. Like I said, Cardio is your good friend, for first 3 months don’t even touch the weights. Concentrate on just cardio.
- Try to hit your morning Cardio empty stomach or after having a small shake or snack meal. Don’t do cardio after a large meal. Wait atleast 2 hours if you’ve just had a large meal.
- Have any Carb rich food earlier during the day if you absolutely need to have it, so stuff like potatoes, rice, bread should come in as early as possible in the morning if they have to. Avoid consuming any carbs later in the evening or during dinner time.
- Have your last dinner 3-4 hours before going to sleep.
- Consume 4-6 small meals per day instead of 3 large meals. Eating more meals at intervals of 3-4 hours keeps the metabolism of your body up and you burn more calories. I usually grab a shake, some greek yogurt, some small salad, steam cooked veggies or granola bars as my small snacks.
- Green Tea: The absolute holy grail of fat loss. Have 2 cups of Green tea every day. make sure you absolutely do this!
- Put more chillies in your food. Chillies have this thermogenic effect that helps you burn fat quickly.
- Urinate a lot: If you are putting in a lot of water into your body. You’ll urinate often and you’ll urinate more. This is a good thing, helps you detoxify your body.
Sleep is Important Too
Another key piece of the puzzle is to sleep well. Try to sleep for atleast 7-8 hours each night. Stress less, relax more.
It’s OK to Not Follow the Plan
This might come in as a shocker. But what ever I’ve explained above, I’ve not been able to follow religiously and to the T. There has been gaps, cracks, falls and misses with sticking to the plan. Life gets into the way, unplanned stuff will show up and you’ll miss a few things here and there. Missing on the plan is better than not sticking to the plan at all. I’ll be totally honest, I’ve had days where I’ve had to eat out due to my busy schedules. I’ve had may be less sleep someday and may be even missed my workouts. But that’s all OK. Just like how eating healthy food for single day is not going to make you healthy, similarly eating Junk food for a day is not going to make you weak and fat again. You the reader, knows your circumstances the best. It’s upto you how you want to tackle these unplanned situations in life.
Try to Treat yourself with a cheat meal may be once bi-weekly or once a week, whatever works best for you. But, remember that you’ll be doing this at the cost of your workouts and training efforts. So, you want to keep it to the bare minimum.
The Key Ingredients: Motivation, Lifestyle & Priority
I switched up a few levers in my life to realize my goals.
- I changed my lifestyle by changing what I did on a day to day basis.
- I changed my priorities by giving higher importance to my health over work.
- I kept myself motivated by using 2 techniques: Social Sharing & Measuring Results.
Social Sharing: I made it a habbit that I’d check-in at my gym everytime I went there. This is not to brag or to flaunt. But to keep the motivation going. In a social context, skipping a check-in would mean public shaming thus forcing you to follow the drill. I’ve had instances where I had to skip the gym for almost 2 weeks and had a couple friends asking me where did my daily check-ins go?
Measuring Results: A lot of people drop off and stop their training programs due to lack of results. The truth is that most people seek visible results which can be comprehended by the naked eye. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. You need to measure using real numbers not the naked eye. You won’t see any major difference when you’ve lost 3-4lbs, however you’ve made some progress nonetheless. It’s important to recognize your small success’s and keep building on top of them rather than expecting a visible change in a matter of weeks. Give it some time, persevere and you shall be rewarded.
When I started my training, I wanted to drop down to 165lbs minimum and then start another weight training phase to build up muscle and lean body mass and be able to flaunt that 6 pack. Unfortunately, I’m not there yet, I’m only half way there but Fortunately, I was happy with dropping down to 170lbs and switching my training phase to build muscle and lean body mass. So, for the next 4-6 months my sole focus is to reduce my body fat percentage even further by 4-5% more while maintaining or even gaining more lean body mass. I’m already sticking to a plan to achieve my goals. Let’s see where my next 6 months take me and may be I’ll do a follow up post as well to share my experiences.
Good luck with your health goals! May the force be with you! <3