Vinod Bhatia Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Vinod Bhatia, a 47-year-old Senior Projects Manager, weighed 113kg. He was also a chain smoker for 25 years and had two stents inserted for blocked arteries. One day, just about 90 days ago, he decided to bring about a major transformation in his life. He quit smoking - went cold turkey - and planned to reduce his weight and follow a healthy lifestyle. 

As of today, Bhatia has cut down his weight by 20kgs and has inspired friends from his community to follow his path. 

The Bhatia Community that he belongs to provided him a platform to arrange a health talk by leading experts, dieticians, nutritionists and fitness trainers from within their community. Many of his community members are now following his path with the catch word being on self-control: “You may see me fail but you will never see me quit.”

Speaking to Gulf News, Bhatia revealed his battle for betterment backed with the determination to succeed. “I’ve always been on the much higher side of the weighing scale. I don't recall seeing myself under 100kgs for a long time.  Being a chain smoker for nearly 25 years and with two stents for blocked arteries, one day, about 90 days ago, I decided to quit smoking right away without following the slow down process.”

Bhatia was initially worried about whether he would be able to stick to his new path, but still went about the task. “What scared me was whether my weight would still go up, but I plunged head down into leading a healthier lifestyle. A change, which I believed, will be for good. My family friend Mr and Mrs Dinesh Khiara and his wife who lead a healthy lifestyle gave me the confidence. Another friend too motivated me to look good."

Bhatia then narrated his step by step process of travelling towards his goal. His plan was simple, but it had to be followed with discipline and determination. “The first step was to quit smoking completely. Then I ensured that I drink at least four liters of water every day. The next was to start going for a daily brisk walk, at my pace, for at least 30 minutes covering a distance of at least 2.5km a day. I made sure that I took at least 10,000 steps a day.”

Besides walking, he also made changes to his diet.  “I stopped consuming white sugar totally, put an end to having aerated drinks, all kinds of processed and fried foods. I started making weekly notes of my blood sugar, blood pressure and weight along with measuring my waist size. In about 90 days I lost approximately 20kg (from 112 kgs to 92 Kgs) and from a waist size of 48 inches I brought it down to 42!”. As a result my vitals are now stable and my medications have also been slowly lowered. Above all, the positive impact it had on my mental well-being was special,” he stresses.

When asked how he managed to stick to his changed habits, Bhatia said:  I believe it’s the prize you should keep your eyes on and not the price you pay for it. Despite many previous attempts to go about this change, this time I made sure I did this for myself and the ones I loved.”

Bhatia went about spreading his new lifestyle changes to everyone he met and enquired about his new look. “I went about telling them about my weight-loss programme and giving up smoking. Many now look up to me and this also helped me to keep going and not give up. They believe in my story and that inspires me to never turn back. That is when I realised that the main thing is about controlling our mind, and if that is possible then nothing is impossible to achieve if backed with self-discipline.”

Bhatia then revealed how he has encouraged his community friends to bring about changes in lifestyle. “As soon as I began to experience the positive change in myself, especially in my mental well-being, I felt it was my duty to try and spread the word and the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. The rapid obesity among children and teens these days, coupled with the lack of any form of exercise and physical activity and sedentary life style has made obesity one of our biggest social problems today. I wanted to inspire at least one or two people to take care of their health by motivating them and guiding them with whatever little experience and knowledge I had gained. I knew that this could go a long way in helping my community get rid of this problem." 

Bhatia devised his own ways to inspire and motivate everyone. “While I try to talk to people of what I went through during my weight-loss process, I always tell them that the biggest challenge is to remain steadfast in what you are doing...although results will not be immediate. Today I give a motivational quote and a healthy tip every day to the people who follow me."

To a query on what has been the reaction to his suggestions, Bhatia said: “The first reaction was amazement followed by lots of compliments. Then what follows are questions, which I always look forward to answer.  I have realised that most people are aware they need to make changes, but they are all waiting for that spark of motivation. Once motivated, all that is needed is a strong mind and the will to keep going. Remember, you may be able to fool others when no one is watching, but you cannot fool yourself.”

Bhatia is very keen to see that he is able to reach his goals. “It has been more than 90 days now. I have set only a slow and reachable goal of trying to lose about three kilograms a month or about five kilograms in 45 days. I still have a long way to go. My target is to bring down my weight to around 70kgs by April 2019. There will be challenges and plateaus in between but the key is to make the changes a habit for life and not merely set a target for a year or two. I have been ignoring my health for 25-35 years, and now I have given myself at least five years to get my life back on track. The feel good factor as a result of these changes cannot be explained. And motivating a few along the way is my driving force and ultimate goal.”

Bhatia is also grateful to the Bhatia community for proving him the platform to boost his mission. “The health talk by leading experts, dietitians, nutritionists and fitness trainers from within our community a month ago was attended by many who were keen to start a healthy life style and weight loss programme. On June 1, 2018 we had an informal weigh-in for people who were serious on joining the weight loss regime. Now a group of 10 men and 19 women have got involved in a 100 day fitness programme challenge which will end on September 7, 2018. At the end of the challenge, we plan to ask them to share their experiences and motivate each other towards a healthy lifestyle change, and also identify a winner with the biggest weight loss among them, one each from the men and women.  I believe this is a good way of giving back something to the community that constantly supports us."

Bhatia's tips to a healthier lifestyle:

- Drink at least four liters of water every day.

- Walking briskly for 30 minutes covering a distance of at least 2.5 km daily

- Walk at least 10,000 steps a day.

- Stop consuming white sugar totally

- Put an end to having aerated drinks

- Stop having processed and fried foods

- Make weekly notes on blood sugar, blood pressure and weight.

- Measuring waist size at regular intervals

- Set a slow and reachable goal of losing about 3kg a month or about 5g in 45 days.

- Inspire and motivate others and keep going


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K.R. Nayar