Consistency is Key
Consistency Is Key
Bismillah, Alhamdulillah, Wa-Salatu Wa Salamu Alaa Rasulillah,
Alhamdulillah, It has been exactly one year since I’ve started my weight loss journey and what a long ride it has been. Last January, I weighed 137.4kg; the heaviest I’ve ever been, and today I’m glad to say I weigh 95kg. All praise is due to Allah, the Master and the Controller of all our affairs.
Weighing nearly 140kg was a massive wake up call for me. I’ve been fluctuating for many years, going up and down in weight, but this was the worst I’d ever been. My eating was terrible, my sleeping pattern not great, and my living was difficult. Those who know me, know that I’ve had a number of health issues throughout the years. Looking back, I feel as though the doctors were too shy to attribute the problems I was facing to my weight. But now, having lost a bulk of that weight, I can say the issue was all too clear.
I started off with small changes in my life. Every change needs a foundation. Making big, inconsistent leaps seems like progress, but due to it being inconsistent, I often found myself falling into bad habits again.
On my way to work, instead of taking escalators and lifts, I took the stairs when possible and walked up escalators. I would sometimes take the harder route to work just to make myself feel active, and at that weight, small things like this usually left me tired. I then changed how much I ate, rather than changing what I ate; I couldn’t let go of the typical Bengali diet just yet.
I had one meal at 6am and another at 6pm, and would eat out every Friday. I started weaning myself off PFC and fried food in general. Doing this for the first two months allowed me to lose 7kg so I was around 130kg. Then Ramadan came along and it allowed me to fast longer hours. My brother had started the ketogenic diet (Keto) months prior and I saw that the efforts were paying off for him. So I intended to join the diet after Ramadan and Eid.
In the first month I didn’t lose much, it was mainly my body getting used to the diet. But by the end of May, I weighed 123.6kg. The weight loss wasn’t noticeable because that’s just how big I was. This is when I started having one meal a day (OMAD), 5 times a week, and on weekends I’d fast 18 hours. By the beginning of July, I was weighing 118.2kg and by the end of it, I was 112.5kg; simply doing Keto and OMAD. I was losing a ton of weight all while not being active. This is when people started noticing my weight loss. All of my clothes were far looser and it was apparent on my face.
By the end of August I was weighing 108kg and still sticking to the same thing. By September, I weighed 106kg. This is when I noticed a few issues though. I was experiencing strong bouts of nausea and my stomach felt like it was eating itself every night. The doctor explained to me that the prolonged fasting and the lack of food may have built my stomach acid up and asked me to eat a bit more frequently whilst introducing fruits back into my diet. I did this and it fixed the problem for the most part, but I started slowing down in my weight loss. I was still fasting 18 hours a day and having an eating window of 6 hours. I would look at pictures of myself and realise that I had lost a lot of muscle during the cut and I needed to become active again, so I challenged myself to do pushups every day in October.
I started off on my knees, barely able to do 3, but I promised that every day I would at least do 50 regardless of the effort and pain. And by the end of October, I weighed 101kg. I realised that though on the scale I had not lost much weight, visually, more people noticed that I had dropped a large amount. I compared pictures of myself before and after the challenge and there was a drastic change. My shoulders were broader, arms bigger, and chest and belly much smaller. I realised I had gained back some of the muscle during this challenge.
November went by and I lost even more weight. I was around 99kg by the end of the month. The scale showed that I was still around the same weight, but visually I had lost more, and more people were able to tell. I could see in the pictures that most of my weight at this point was being lost on my back and legs. In this month in particular, I introduced a variety of exercises such as squats, exercises using resistance bands, and free weights that I had lying around. My goal was simply to build a bit more muscle to contribute to the calories used per day and then build from there.
By the end of December, I was buying new clothes again and again due to the rapid change. I went from an XXL size to XL to now just L. This month I weighed in at 95kg and this was my final weighing before the new year.
Lessons I learned:
1. Excuses will break you.
Excuses you give yourself, whether in the beginning of the journey or the middle, is the thing that makes you go back to your old ways. I found that consistency in all aspects was required and the biggest challenge I know for our Asian brothers is the diet.
The good thing about being older and employed is that I was buying a lot of my own food so I didn’t really need to have the curries at home. My parents saw the changes that were gradually happening and then they also supported me, so now instead of rice, my mum always makes a side of salad that I could have. Sometimes I’d have it with curry and sometimes I’d have it with grilled chicken, fish, or meat.
My point is, be responsible for your own eating and your own food if you want change in your own life. It requires you to have great discipline and it is time-consuming but is all worth it. When the people around you see that you are changing, they start helping in that change.
2. Stick to it.
A lot of people give up their diets in the first few weeks or months but dieting requires long consistent work. Think about it like this: for the brother who is overweight, think about how much work you put in to get to that weight. Now realise that you have to put that same level of work into getting rid of that weight, probably even more so.
3. Don’t compare your weight loss to the online gurus or anyone else.
Your own weight loss/gain is part of who you are and part of the work that you put in. A lot of people become sad that the scale is not showing the numbers they wish to see. They become upset that their numbers aren’t as similar as the ones that others are seeing online. Different bodies will lose weight at different rates.
4. Set small goals for yourself.
I found having small milestones motivated me to do more. Though I don’t recommend you do it, I obsessively weighed myself every single day, and each week I’d see a change in weight. After starting the ketogenic diet at 131kg, I said my goal would be 125kg, and then I went on from there to 120 to 115 to 110. I kept small targets so that I would keep going.
5. Be grateful.
Regardless of whether you see change or not, be grateful. Giving shukr to Allah will ensure that you are keeping a positive outlook. We also need to recognise that tawfiq is from Allah and no one else.
6. Take advantage of fasting.
Everything the prophet SAW said is true. It strengthened my discipline in every single aspect. I strongly recommend that if you can’t do the ketogenic diet, at least fast, and every day you’re not fasting, fast intermittently (with water).
7. Cheating is okay sometimes.
Every month I would set a particular cheat meal out for myself. I found doing this kept me disciplined. If I hadn’t done it, I feel I would have relapsed and gone on a massive binge for a few days. Keeping a single day out of the calendar month for a cheat motivates you to get those last few kgs off just before it.
8. You are what you eat.
If you eat unhealthy food, then you’ll be unhealthy. If you eat good, healthy food, then you’ll be healthy. It’s not so complicated but it’s difficult to apply in your life.
9. Healthy = happier.
This isn’t something that I learnt but it’s something that just sort of happens. Naturally, I’m not as sick. I’m mentally more disciplined and in control of what makes me happy.
If you’ve made it this far and are looking to make a change in your life, start with something small and consistent, whether it be climbing up stairs or taking a longer route home or something even smaller than that. Make that change. Foundations are built one brick at a time and not set all at once. Don’t compare yourself to others and keep to yourself. Let people see the changes in you, don’t force your changes onto others.
Finally, I would like to thank my brother who really inspired and motivated me. Jazakallahu khairan.
“The most beloved of deeds to Allah are those that are most consistent, even if they are small.” [Bukhari & Muslim]