Deepti weightloss
Deepti before (left) and right Image Credit: Supplied

Menopause – that inevitable biological process that marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle - can take a toll on a body and mind. It comes with raging hot flashes, mood swings and weight gain.

In the case of 46-year-old Indian expat in Dubai Deepti Gupta, the transition over a period of four years left her short tempered and about 20 kilos heavier, she tells Gulf News in an interview. The dentist who found herself breathless often owing to a chronic respiratory condition, asthma, exacerbated by the extra kilos wanted a change. Then news came of the toll COVID-19 was exacting upon the world and the fact that of all the organs the lungs were most affected and Gupta knew it was time to take things seriously.


“About three years ago, I had lost some weight using the keto diet. I lost around 10kg, but then I gained more than that, because the hormones were not settled and once I went back to normal eating practices, I put on that weight plus some extra weight. So I waited for it to settle down, and this time instead of going on a diet, I started gyming. I hired a trainer, Subin Babu, at the Restart Fitness gym. I took the challenge,” says the mum-of-two.

The keto diet
The keto, or ketogenic, diet is one that ups one’s fat and protein intake and lowers carb consumption. The result is the body produces ketones, a chemical that uses fat for energy instead of glucose, which is what you get when the carbohydrates break down.

The goal wasn’t to hit a certain number, says the five-foot-two-inch expat, it was to just get fit. “In those days, I would walk a little and need my inhaler to breathe.” So when I started… cardio, [on the] cross trainer I could not do more than two minutes. I used to tell him [Subin], I hate the cross trainer, I don’t want to do this. But now I can do cross trainer for 30 minutes on level five without any break or inhaler.”

She recalls the first few days of exercise as excruciating, saying: “Initially it is very, very painful – the leg day, the abs day. For your body to get accustomed to those exercises it takes a minimum of 15-20 days. It was the mental support of my husband that helped me overcome it, because some days I felt like I don’t want to do it – walking, sitting, normal chores at home became painful. But somehow I crossed that threshold and mentally, I was feeling better.

Deepti weightloss
Deepti before (left) and right Image Credit: Supplied

“Somehow after doing the exercise, I was tired but still the activity made me feel very good … with time, the intensity of the pain reduced.” She attributes this to the release of ‘feel-good’ chemical endorphins during a workout.

In fact, says Gupta, when she suffered a personal tragedy a few months ago, it was this exercise and yoga regime that centred her, kept her going.

It wasn’t all about exercise; she also worked on the principal of calorie deficit and for three months did intermittent fasting.

What is a calorie deficit?
US-based Cleveland Clinic explains a calorie as "a measurement, just like a teaspoon or an inch. Calories are the amount of energy released when your body breaks down (digests and absorbs) food. The more calories a food has, the more energy it can provide to your body. When you eat more calories than you need, your body stores the extra calories as body fat.” To lose weight then, you need a calorie deficit. It works on the principle that if you expend more calories than you consume, you’ll shed the weight.

“I don’t like sweets so I don’t eat those. I don’t take tea, coffee. But I have consciously made a decision to stop all fried items and eat a low-carb diet. I make an effort of have healthy food – lots of salads, fibre-rich food, protein in the form of egg,” she says.

How does intermittent fasting work?
Choose a window – 12, 16 or 18 hours - during which you eat. The rest of the time, you do not consume anything that has calories. This technique of fasting and eating has proven to be an effective tool for weight loss.

Three months into this routine, Gupta had lost 10kg. Today, she’s at 76kg and pushing for more. “I have reached my plateau so I’m trying to overcome it,” she says. She feels stronger and calmer, she says. “When I started exercising, I could hardly do eight sets and then take a break. And weights, I could not go beyond 5kg. I could not jump to the stepper. I could not do skipping; I had to stop after ten skips; recently I did 200 jumps non-stop. I have started doing jumping exercises. I have started doing serious exercises now,” she says pride lacing her voice.

And her goal has been replaced – she has a numerical target now: 70kg.

Menopause is the shower of hormonal arrows that you knew were coming but landed on you anyway; for Gupta, that rain was nothing but a slight dampening and just for a while. Now, it’s time to soldier on.