Akshay Saluja weighed 260 kg when he stepped on the scale in 2013. He tells us how he lost 160 kg over a period of 2 years, and went from fat to fit.
It’s hard to believe that just 4 years ago, I was double my size. In mid-2013, I weighed 260 kg. My BMI was 101.6. Being this fat made me self-conscious, so I never attended family functions or went on outings with my family, since I was scared of being made fun of. I didn’t want my family jeered at either, because of me.
Two years later, I dropped 160 kg and brought my BMI down to 39.
Stuck in a rut
In our society, fat people are constantly bullied and picked on. I was the butt of all jokes, wherever I went. The constant negative attention stressed me out, and I plunged into depression.The only way to cope was to eat and drink all the time.
So I ordered food from outside on a daily basis, and drank heavily too. Whenever I decided to join a gym, the gym owner refused to sign me up, based on my appearance. Even when I did manage to join a gym, I couldn’t last beyond 15-20 minutes, as my body began hurting. Believe it or not, I paid the entire year’s subscription in 2 gyms, but only went for a week each time.
Excessive lifestyle took its toll
So I sat in my car instead, gorging on burgers and pizza.The heavy drinking and excessive eating took its toll, and I fell ill regularly. In 2013, I was with some cousins, and after a few drinks, I fell ill. My condition deteriorated rapidly. It was a real wake-up call, when the doctor told me I wouldn’t live beyond 10 – 12 years if I carried on in this manner.
A strong support system
A close friend Anna Thapa, stepped in at this point, supporting me to make the changes I needed to. Other friends and gym instructors Pritam and Puneet, owners of Fiziko Fitness, also came to my rescue.
When no gym was ready to sign me up, they helped me, by curating a workout regime specifically for me. They also ensured that I got the right amount of exercise every day, ate healthy and rested enough.
Aside from friends, my biggest motivator was my mother. She was hesitant in the beginning, when she saw the pain I went through after working out, and giving up foods I loved. Though she cried with me, she supported my fat loss efforts and diet plans, and even started going for walks with me.
Changing my way of eating
Initially I wanted to lose weight so desperately that I followed random diets, available on the internet. I tried GM diet, juice diet, military diet, etc., but nothing seemed to work. So I decided to meet a dietician, who told me I needed to be mindful of what I ate, and keep a close watch on my calorie intake.
For the first year of my diet, I steered clear of sugar and sweetened drinks like Pepsi, Roohafza, etc. In addition, I stopped eating rice or any rice based dish. Instead of junk food, I opted for salads or fruits as much as I could, along with protein rich foods, such as boiled chicken, sprouts, and so on.
Slow buildup of exercise
For the first 3 months, I was unable to workout at all. Because I was so heavy, any kind of physical work was simply out of the question. Walking continuously for more than 5 minutes was impossible. So I focused mostly on making dietary changes, so that my body could gain strength while losing weight.
Thereafter, I started walking a little bit every day. Even if it was just a kilometre, I completed it, no matter how long it took me to do so. Going to the gym was out of the question at this point, because the machines would not function properly because of my weight.
Adopting a mixed workout routine
At the same time, I attended a yoga workshop, where I learnt a few basic exercises that I could do at home. After about 7 months, I was able to walk continuously, and decided to start swimming and join a gym. My first priority was to lose more weight and to gain strength as my back, legs and arms were extremely weak.
I went to the gym every day for 3 hours , and did cardio exercises such as walking, cross training and cycling, and steps to gain strength in my legs. The basic exercises built strength in other body parts, too. By mid 2014, I was able to work out properly, as I had lost weight and gained strength.
Thereafter, I practiced cardio daily for a fixed amount of time, and in addition to this, I eventually had a dedicated schedule in which I focused on a few body parts every day.
Success has changed my view
Having lost over 100 kg, I have gained immense confidence. My fitness level has improved, and I’m more active and energetic today. Also, I enjoy activities I’ve always dreamed about, such as rafting and playing cricket. I travel and I eat what I want, but ensure that I work out every day so that I don’t get fat again.
I am more confident in my interactions, and have stopped worrying about how others perceive me. The single lesson I’ve learned through this experience is thathard work and dedication can help anyone achieve seemingly impossible goals.