Kanav Sahgal tells us his weight loss journey, which was triggered by watching others lead a healthy lifestyle. 

I started my weight loss journey on August 28th, 2016. On that day I weighed 71 kg and had a waist size of 36 inches. By October 30th of the same year, my waist was 30 inches and my weight was down to 61 kgs.

At that time, I was in Toronto. It was inspiring to see how the people in that city- as young as 18 and as old as 70- put in time and effort into leading a healthy lifestyle. So, I asked myself why I wasn’t doing the same thing?

This self reflection made me decide to take my leap of faith into working my own way to fitness. Though I used many strategies to achieve my goal, my main one was to change my eating habits.

Mindful eating was key

I took care to control my portions. I had the unhealthy habit of eating voraciously, and eating more than I should have. So, I changed this and made it a point to eat only as much as I needed. For example, when I would sit down for dinner, instead of eating 3 servings of rice and 2 servings of daal, I took just 1 serving of rice and 1 serving of daal. In addition, I skipped the second and third helpings.

This technique ensured that I was more disciplined, and ate only as much as I really required. I also learnt how to cook through YouTube. Furthermore, I researched on how to eat the appropriate quantity of carbs, proteins, sugar, fat, and discussed this with my friends and family, so that they could motivate me further.

New food habits

#1 Eating at the right time helped me get fitter. I would start my day with a heavy, nutritious breakfast (2 eggs and 1 piece of toast), indulge in a light lunch (sandwich or salad), and would finish off the day with an early dinner at 8 p.m. (with meat). If I felt hungry throughout the day, I would snack on healthy foods like fruits, carrots and nuts, instead of munching on unhealthy foods.

#I avoided junk food (pizza, pasta etc), foods high in sugar (cakes, pastries etc), refined carbs, fattening and oily food, and most importantly I stopped eating outside. Having said that, there was a category of foods I could happily indulge in, including fruits, vegetables, meats, and salads.

Alternatives to the gym

As a student, I couldn’t afford to spend on a gym. I found a healthy alternative- I’d use the Nike App to track my performance on evening runs. I’d make it a point to run 5 km every evening in 30-45 minutes with breaks, of course. Having a nice playlist on my phone while running really helped- because good music gave me that boost to workout longer.

It must be noted, however, that I did not jog- I ran. In fact, I used to implement the intermittent running technique, where you run really fast for 3-4 minutes and then you cool down for 1-2 minutes, following which you run fast again. This technique really helped me burn fat and inch closer to my weight loss goal.


Many challenges to overcome

It has been a challenging journey to fitness and weight loss. Everything I did was within a fixed budget and without a proper gym. Fitness had to be cost effective, so I ran outdoors instead.

In addition, I worked to overcome my mental barriers too. For instance, I had a habit of starting things and not finishing them. To overcome this, I researched and dug up healthy meal plans in advance.

Ignoring criticism

Furthermore, I made a conscious effort to stop listening to criticism from negative people around me (“You can’t do it so quickly.”, “Why do you run so much?”, “Why are you eating so little?”, “You should not workout like this-join a gym.” etc). I believe that you just have to be confident in yourself and listen to a few trusted friends to guide and encourage you.

It gives me pride to say that I didn’t require any professional help and did everything alone, with the help of a few friends and family members and of course the internet. I had no trainer, no coach, nobody to make my diet plan and exercise routine.

This is not to look down upon those who do employ personal trainers and professionals. I simply wish to illustrate that one does not require professional help to become fit- so if that’s what’s been stopping you, think again!

Going forward
My transformation has helped me in many ways. It has made me more confident and determined as a person.It has allowed me to work on my appearance too. From wearing loose, baggy clothes, to  slim fit shirts, the change is apparent- so was the boost in my confidence. This has motivated me to keep going on my fitness journey.

This transformation has made me more health conscious. I no longer cave in to cravings of unhealthy foods, and I am proud of how I’ve developed a healthy living mindset. Since losing weight, I’ve started practising yoga to improve my spiritual and mental well-being. I also go to the gym to build my strength.

Results take time so hang in there

My advice to people trying to get fit is simple. Don’t be afraid; everything starts with baby steps. So, don’t feel disheartened if you don’t see results in the first week or two.  Further, find people you trust and ask them for advice.

If you use the internet, ensure you double check your facts from multiple sources. Lastly, always remember that your body will always be thankful for the positive changes you make. Weight loss takes time, so respect the process. This is a wonderful journey and I hope it changes your life, as it changed mine.