Confusion is key to weight-loss, claims Indian expat Rupesh Sawant. It’s something he says he’s learnt along the way to shedding 70kg this year.
Sawant spent some time befuddled at the start of 2021; strangers would say to him, in a gentle tone, “Take care of yourself”. Once, recalls the five-foot-nine-inch Mumbaikar, a taxi driver said to him as he ended his journey, “Lose some weight for your own health.”
The concern was aggravating but also touching for the link between severe COVID-19 and obesity had become clear by this time. And so one day, in February, the designer decided that 157kg was enough. He would change things.
Maintenance is hard work
This is the second time he’s shed so much weight; he lost 80kg successfully once before in 2014, but gained it all back and then some. “When I ignore my body I tend to put on weight, because my lifestyle is also like that – I eat fast-food, junk food. I live alone so I eat out a lot. The weight is also because of heredity and thyroid issues. You need to study your body to know what works and what does not.
“I’ve learnt my lesson: it’s not tough to lose weight, it’s tough to keep it off,” he tells Gulf News, convinced that this time things will be different.
He adds that curbing appetites leads to bingeing, so he had a new mantra this time around: “It’s not like I said, 'I’m going to start now and go on a diet' – because the body hears the word diet and reacts in strange ways. So this time, I was sure that I wasn’t going to ‘stop eating anything’. I eat small portions – and I eat whatever I want every day.”
“I know which yoga exercises that can help, how the body works. This time I’ve done everything with full dedication; I’ve given it my 100 per cent. It’s 100 per cent natural too. And the best part is, I ate pills for my blood pressure for two-and-a-half years – now I don’t need to,” he says.
It wasn’t just blood pressure, it was an army of health issues that were plaguing him. “I had started to get itchy feet, lethargic. When I would get up after sitting for a while, my knees cracked. And I used to find that the easiest way to deal with stress was to eat.”
He had given himself and his new protocols a time period though – December. He stopped sugar and alcohol, he says, but everything else he ate – just in tiny portions. “First I fill my stomach – if you are hungry, as medicine, eat something and fill your tummy, then pander to the taste buds. That’s my rule,” he says.
The one thing he did say no to was office celebratory treats. “Earlier I would not only eat but went back for seconds. I had made a dustbin out of my body. Then I thought, it’s fun to eat but that’s just for a few minutes. And then it goes into the stomach and that’s it. Getting rid of those calories becomes a big chore.
“And to get rid of that you have to run kilometre after kilometre, so why put yourself in a place where you’ve to make such an effort?” he wondered.
The thought kept thoughts of cheat meals away. “I had no major side-effects; it’s all about mindset,” he says.
That brain over body tactic would work further. He would soon stop eating lunch – creating a calorie deficit since he was sedentary though the day – and eating only post exercise, at 11pm.
As a bachelor, he explains, he tends to eat out, so some sacrifices are necessary to even out calorie consumption.
As for exercise, this life upgrade came slowly. “I did what I could with the stamina I had at the time. It’s only recently that I’ve begun to do sun salutations. And now I walk 15 floors a day – I gave up using a lift four months ago,” he adds.
Exercises that work
The two exercises he finds most helpful, he explains are Kapalabhati (a breathing technique that targets the tummy) and the butterfly, which works on the thigh muscles. He spends about two-and-a-half hours exercising; yoga, cardio and running.
He aims to work out seven days a week, but admits this is not always the case. “The day I can’t work out, I just think of it as my ‘rest’ day and double up during the weekend,” he explains.
As for weight plateaus, he has a simple way to rejig his metabolism – to confuse it by shaking up his diet and exercise plan.
At 87kg, Sawant says, people refuse to believe that he hasn’t has surgical intervention, the change is so drastic. But for a laughing Sawant, it’s been an easy journey – keep the mind focused, the body confused and change will come.