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Weight loss

Present Scenario - obesity used to be a serious health issue in developed countries. But that has changed over the years. It has reached epidemic proportions in India too affecting a large population particularly in urban areas. It is gender neutral rather in women aged over 35 the problem is more acute. A study reveals that in cities, especially in north India, over 50 percent women are over weight.

Why weight gets piled up

Some few decades ago, most of the work used to be done manually. Public transport was not that good, so people had to either cycle to their offices or walk down the entire distance. There were no kitchen appliances, the system of employing maids was not that prevalent , therefore, women had also to do all the household chores manually. Apart from this eating outside was not the trend nor was it affordable for most middle class families, so home cooked food was the only option. Now with fast food global outlets coming up in every city, disposable income at hands, the people go out not only for snacking but for several meals in a week. Therefore, sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, rich food, and gradual slowing down of the metabolic rate are playing havoc with waist to hip circumference- Times Wellness Guide p.28. The basic cause therefore, is that we are ingesting far more calories than required which shows up as extra weight in course of time.

How serious is the problem?

Search online and you’ll find dozens of sites promising you how to lose 5 Kg / 10 kg / 20 kg (or more), often with exaggerated claims of speedy success, like” losing the weight in four weeks “ , “ 20 days and it’s Gone”, or “just six weeks!” The reality is that losing weight is the most difficult thing than putting on. Still it's not that weight loss can not happen

Piling weight is automatic. It keeps happening the way we ingest calories. But there are certain scientific standards as to how much a person should weigh depending on his/her height. You can see your ideal weight here. The problem is not excess of one, two, or three kilos, the problem is when excess is ten, fifteen or twenty kg or even more. That is a big health hazard. Reducing weight is really a tough challenge. Let us understand it by some figures scientifically.

Reducing one kg weight means burning some 9000. Calories. That is 300 calories per day- no holidays here- Saturdays or Sundays. Burning 300 calories means walking 5 km every day. That is if you walk all 30 days five km a day, you may reduce 1 kg in one month. But a rider is here- this one kg reduction will happen only when your existing calories intake is equal to your body requirement. If excess calories is there your result will be neutralised to that extent. So it is two things you have to do it simultaneously- walking all 30 days and not to add extra calories in excess of what you need and then you get 1 kg reduction as a reward. Now you can visualise the enormity of the difficulties. Errors and omissions can happen both ways- you are sick, you have urgent things to attend, you are on tour- going out and this prevents your workout on certain days of the month- despite all good intentions. On the other side- you attend so many social gatherings- birthday, marriage parties, official meetings and dinners, hangout with friends and families and your diet plan goes for a toss. You ingest calories in excess by say 1000, 1500 to 2000. If your requirement was 2000 calories you may end up taking in 3500 to 4000 calories as dishes on display are high calories items that taste tasty.

And now imagine someone who has to reduce 10 kg or more. How difficult it gets? You have to multiply the efforts in the same proportion on both sides. Any battle for reduction in weight has to be fought on both sides- exercise and diet, then only you have chances to succeed. If it is minor reduction say 2 to 5 kg then one way - either diet or exercise can work. So you need to take care of your weight when it has not piled up as after it has piled, battle becomes tough.

So what is the solution

According to one survey of adults who have successfully maintained their weight loss:

  • 98% have modified their eating habits.

  • 94% have increased their level of physical activity, especially walking.

  • 78% eat a healthy breakfast every day.

  • 75% weigh themselves at least once a week.

  • 62% watch less than 10 hours of television per week.

So any solution, if it has to be effective, has to have at least two important components of weight loss program- Exercise and Diet.

So what things we need to consider with regard to exercises

  1. Weight loss or no weight loss, exercises are otherwise also required to keep yourself fit and healthy. So cultivate a habit of exercising in any form- walking, running, swimming, gymming, climbing, yoga, aerobics, Pilates, sports etc.

  2. If you are already into it, then it is a separate issue, otherwise ( if you are beginning now) go slow and then gradually build on it. Your body needs to be prepared before you go whole hog. If you are unprepared, it might cause injuries. So whatever is the type, go slow initially and then introduce vigour and rigour into it.

  3. If you can’t manage it in one go, you can divide it into various slots. If you need to walk an hour daily you can do in two/ three or even more slots depending on availability of time. But do you must. Whatever goal/ target you have set, see that it is done before you go to bed.

  4. Don’t do anything mechanically. Do it with love, do it consciously meaning tell your entire being ( auto suggestion to your body, mind and soul) that this is the purpose I want to achieve. If you give clear and unambiguous signals to the brain, it helps you in many ways. So before you start, make your purpose clear . Your thoughts carry much more power than you imagine.


  1. Decide first or set your goals with regard to diet as to how much support you want to take in your weight loss program by dietary restrictions. If required take professional help.

  2. See that in your eagerness to reduce weight quickly, don’t go overboard, do not starve yourself, do not torture your body beyond a point. It will be counter productive. You must have enough strength and stamina to do your work and of which diet is the main source of energy.

  3. Rely on homemade food. All homemade food are good whether it is East Indian, West Indian, South Indian or North Indian. The problem is outside food- the processed, the preserved , the refrigerated, the fried food. Snacking is the route through which most calories are ingested. Take care of snacks time- exercise healthy low calorie options- some slices of fruits, salads, roasted grams, sukha bhel, even homemade chapatis.

  4. Take care of parties and functions- it is again where we forget all our weight loss plans. It is difficult to restrain there seeing varieties of mouth watering dishes. So best option is fill your stomach with homemade food at least two-third to three- fourth before you venture out. This will automatically reduce your chances of taking extra calories.

  5. You need to read the labels on your food package, it is mandatory to give information about calories it contains, amount of various types of fats etc. You will be amazed to note that a simple Parley G 100 gram biscuit carries 462 calories; other creamy, tasty varieties have 550 to 600 calories. And to digest that 100 gram biscuits you need to walk 10 km. Same is the case with other namkeen, bhujiya, farsan or any sweet items - laddus, pedas and jalebis, puddings etc. - roughly 600 calories per 100 gram.

  6. Read diet related other articles on other pages for more information.

How much calories we need to take?

Will differ from person to person, depending on his/ her age, height, level of activity, lifestyle etc. But ordinarily this should be the norm.

There could be three scenarios.

You want to maintain your existing weight

You need to reduce weight

You need to increase the weight.

The formula is

Weight x 20/25 for persons who want to reduce their wight.

Weight x 25/30 for those who want to maintain their weight at existing level.

Weight x 30/35 for those who want to increase their weights.

The lower frequency 20/25/30 is to be used for the days you are not working out and higher frequency is to be used for the days you are working out.

Weight loss habits

  1. Decide your goals - first thing in any thing important is to define and decide what exactly you want to achieve. Your goals should be measurable, realistic and achievable in a particular time frame. Having decided, write them down on a piece of paper and keep reviewing your performance against them. If required you can modify them based on your actual performance.

  2. Keep food records — write down everything you eat. Record keeping lets you know exactly what and how much you're eating. It also allows you to identify problem patterns in your eating behavior. People who keep food records are more successful at weight loss.

  3. Keep activity records — type of activity, duration and intensity. Track the variety of activities and exercises that make up your day. Keeping a daily activity record for at least two months helps you to be accountable and should help you establish a regular exercise routine. Seeing your progress can build confidence and inspire you to set higher goals.

  4. Seek help and support- you will be faced with lots of problems initially. This is the time to seek support from your family members and friends to enable you achieve your goals. If required seek professional help with regard to planning your diet or exercise regimen. Your friends can motivate you, can share your burden in office for some time to give you space. Your family can take care of your other things till you are on your mission. But mind it, NEVER, NEVER NEVER GIVE UP.

Practice point

It is not the enormity of the problem that matters, it is enormity of your determination, your resolve that matters. If you are determined, nothing can deter you. So first thing is that dogged determination. Then plan that works keeping your circumstances in mind. No doubt challenges will be there but if by the dint of strong will you succeed in the first month, you have almost won the battle. It is in the initial days that nature throws all its challenges and that is the time to keep going and not to accept failure or defeat. One month is gone, nature’s grip will loose and your grip will be more tighter. Believe- it is possible and I am going to do it.

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