Fighting the flab

My battle with the bulge started at exactly 4 pm on December 4, 1974, the day I arrived from Wellington (Ooty) to Bangalore. I was then in the Indian Air Force. I landed at my in-laws' place where I found a weighing machine in the toilet. I jumped on it on instinct and was shocked to see the needle on the scale pointing towards 83.3 kg! "What the heck is going on here?" I said to myself. Then, I was struck by the real reason why I had to take a deep breath while getting into my uniform trousers. "No way, no way," I kept saying to myself.

That is when I started doing cardio exercises with a skipping rope as well as long distance running. This regimen continued for years even through the transition from the air force to the corporate world. During my frequent travels, the treadmills in the hotels became my girlfriends. I couldn't do without them.

While on a diet, I would sacrifice the corporate dinners and head for the salad bars. (Just an aside, I came to know much later that my colleagues would call me Salad Kumar in their private conversation). Over time, I became a marathon runner. "Calories in, calories out," was working out successfully for me.

Once, on a visit abroad, I fell down on the floor while getting off the bed. Later, visits to the doctor showed that I had been starving myself given the exercise I was doing. I started increasing my intake. Lo and behold, one day when I stepped on the weighing scale, I found the needle pointing, yet again, at 83. 3 kg. I was shocked. This can't carry on, I said to myself in a soldiery command voice.

I was guided to a well-known nutritionist. Her conclusion: I needed to eat more considering the exercise I was doing. "What about 'calories in, calories out' formula?" I asked her. She leaned forward and said, "Sir, that is an outdated approach" and emphasised that our
bodies were intelligent beings. "They know that this idiot is not going to give me sufficient nourishment, so let me take charge and store some fat to meet any exigency." She gave me a diet sheet which meant taking five to six small measured meals. Yes, it helped a bit but it was too slow and steady pace for the fast-moving Salad Kumar.

It was then that a friend suggested I watch the video of Aamir Khan who first gained about 30 kg and then lost it all for his movie Dangal to show the transition in his roles from a lean and mean muscular wrestler to an aged, obese father. Aamir used the analogy of the fat bank account and small bank account. "Eat more, spend less, and grow obese. Eat less, spend more, grow lean."

I was sure that he would have consulted the best minds in this field. Later, the formula was also confirmed in a Ted Talk titled "The mathematics of weight loss." I went for it with all gusto, but what had worked for Aamir (and me) in the past, refused to work for me in the present.

I am still desperately waiting for some advice. If you have any, please contact me. Thank you!

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