Dubai: Indian expat Vandana Datar, wife of Dhananjay Datar, chairman and managing director of the Al Adil Group in the UAE, has lost 26kg in three years.
From weighing 82kg previously, Datar is now a lighter and energetic version of herself at 56kg.
She not only lost body weight, but also underwent a complete mind, body and soul transformation, most of it through self-motivation and rigorous discipline, she told Gulf News.
Nothing worked at first
Struggling to lose her stubborn weight for years, Datar had tried many regimes - at detoxification centres, slimming clinics and gyms. But nothing seemed to make a difference.
She said: “My health reports became a concern, I had high cholesterol issues and my physician prescribed statins. I had tried everything for many years prior to that. Nothing would make me lose weight. I had tried various diets, slimming therapies and yoga, and would lose a couple of kilos that would return with a vengeance in no time.”
Datar said: “By mid-2017, on the advice of friends, I visited a health farm in Bangalore. Although I lost only a few kilos, which was only fluid weight in my body in the 10 days, I stayed there on a residence programme, the rigorous lifestyle changes they suggested made a lot of sense. Upon my return, I decided only I could help myself.”
Self-help to the rescue
Datar said she implemented a back-to-basics lifestyle. “I belong to a simple village near Pune, in Satara district, India, and decided I had to return to my grassroots lifestyle. With a busy social schedule, dinners, late nights, my routine had gone awry and my body was suffering from an inflammatory response,” she said.
She also became meditative. “I recalled a practice in the scriptures where people give up oil for nearly four to five months from July to November. I decided to follow that for my health needs. For five months, I completely gave up oil. It was challenging, as people who would invite me for a meal would have no clue what to prepare for me. I usually avoided social dinners and where I had to attend, I would have my evening meal at home. But I did not touch a drop of oil for a five months.”
‘I didn’t give up’
Datar incorporated many other practices in her strict regimen. This included rising early, intermittent fasting, yoga, breathing techniques, giving up sugar completely for some time and retiring to bed early.
“Despite these routines, my body fat was so stubborn that it would not budge for nearly five months. For the first three months, I had only managed to lose 1kg and in the next three months, another kilo of weight. However, I did not give up; and continued my routine from 2018, through the lockdown and I follow it to this day. It is my lifestyle now,” said Datar.
The winning routine
Datar said she implemented what she had learnt as a young girl in her village, tuning her circadian rhythms to the sunrise and sunset timings. “Every single day, I am up by 6am and immediately go for a 45-minute walk. Immediately after that, I get into yoga and stretching. For some time, I hired a yoga teacher, learnt all the asanas [yoga poses], but now I choose the cluster of poses each day. If I do sitting asanas one day, the next day it is standing poses and the next it is supine poses. I do my breathing workout daily with a series of yogic pranayamas that helps cleanse the body,” she said.
“From 6 to 8am, I keep a vow of silence, looking inward, That helps me stay focused. After my exercises, I have nearly a litre of lukewarm water to hydrate myself. This helps in kickstarting the metabolism. My first meal of the day is by 10am and so by default, I have nearly fasted for 14 hours from the previous evening when I had my last meal.”
Spartan vegetarian diet
She said: “Usually, my breakfast is the heaviest and includes fruits, millets, sprouts, steamed vegetables and an assortment of soaked nuts as I am vegetarian. In the afternoon, I prefer to have a bowl of fruits or vegetable salad. By 7.30pm, I have my last meal, which is usually soaked and ground lentil-based pancake, some dal, and a bowl of salad,” said Datar, who prefers to retire for the day by 10pm.
Datar, who initially lost 1kg a month, managed a 12kg loss in a year. “Giving up oil completely and sleeping on time and having plenty of water each day was actually showing its impact, even though my weight loss was slow. I was losing inches and friends noticed it. I could also experience so many changes in my body. I was calmer; less stressed and felt very much centred.
“To me my weight loss was like a spiritual journey and I understood why in olden times, so many religions and cultures followed the routine of rising early, fasting, giving up on oil, following a satvik [non-spicy, simple] meal. These not only help you lose weight but have the power to transform your very outlook to life,” said Datar.
A new person
Her transformation was so complete that some of her regular clients at Al Adil store were asking her who was the elderly woman accompanying her husband a few months ago. “I was perplexed as this regular client insisting that she had seen a rather plump elderly female. It took me sometime to understand that she was referring to my older version,” recounted Datar.
“I feel so physically fit and energised and my body fat and related cholesterol issues have just vanished. My family which includes my son, husband, sister, all followed my routine and have lost weight.”
‘Treat your body as a temple’
Datar’s advice to others on the path to self-discovery and good health is very precise. “Health is true wealth. Your body is the temple that houses your soul and is sacred. The food you ingest has a direct impact on your physical, mental and spiritual health, so be judicious in what you choose to eat.
“Believe in yourself, never give up, have patience, don’t follow a fad, but integrate the tenets of 360-degree change in lifestyle in your daily routine and weight loss is bound to happen. Now my metabolism is so good, that even though I am on maintenance and tend to eat everything in moderation, my weight stays steady at 56kg.”