FITNESS: The Pros and Cons of Getting Healthy

This is a quick update post on the fitness side of things, since I have unfortunately neglected it. There are two more hours left until I turn eighteen years old. How did that happen? I’m not really sure!

In other news, however, it’s been about eight months since I started my fitness journey on March 23rd 2014 and since then I’ve lost 50lbs or about 22kg, who knows how many inches and a tonne of insecurities. So that’s a very happy piece of knowledge to accompany me into adulthood, and I can’t wait to see what the next few months bring me. Just to summarise things a little neatly so far, I’m gonna list five pros and cons of losing weight because honestly it’s not all sunshine and rainbows (but I’m not gonna complain either).

Let’s start with the cons just to get them out of the way, and I’m gonna be as brutally honest as possible.

  1. Less cushioning.

This one may break your heart a little bit, but I never realised what it was like to lie down and actually feel my (gargantuan) hip bones sticking out awkwardly and hurting on the mattress. When I was chubby everything was comfortable! Because I was living in a human pillow! They were simpler times, they were better times.

  1. I can’t pig out anymore.

I honestly miss the days where I could stay up until about 2am, drinking half a litre of Dr Pepper (Zero if I was feeling particularly healthy), eating Doritos, Nutella toasties and watching marathons of Game of Thrones. No matter how hard I try, soya chocolate pudding is not gonna taste like chocolate fudge cake. A girl can only dream.

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No one can be this happy about leaves. There’s not even a vinaigrette. It’s all lies.

  1. None of my clothes fit!

I need to buy an entirely new wardrobe, and although I really love baggy clothes – they make for optimum lazing attire – they really hide all of my progress and I don’t have anything nice to wear when I need to go somewhere fancy. Even my shoes are loose! Who would’ve thought you could have chubby feet?

  1. I have to actually move.

As much as I might try and convince myself, I’m not gonna get goddess-like thighs or huntress arms by sitting on my tush all day. Granted, 75% of weight loss is down to eating well, but actually toning the muscle is imperative to get a trim figure. Which means moving around and doing cardio and lifting weights. Sigh.

  1. People really hate fat girls. Really really.

This one was bigger than I realised. Now I’m not gonna sit here and tell you that everyone loves thin women because they do suffer at the hands of prejudice in different ways. Thin privilege is undeniably a thing in the Western first world though, and it works in the same way as white or cis privilege. No one makes cute clothes for big girls, no one takes a second look at big girls, and no one tells big girls they are beautiful (except for maybe MIKA). We’re even likely to be paid less than our thinner sisters. We have to do that all for ourselves, and it was almost like the extra chub I had physically was padding me mentally from all that hurtfulness which I catch every now in then in the voices of people I love making fat jokes or being exasperated at fat women’s “laziness” and “neglect for their health”. Who are they to judge how she lives her life and runs her body, and who are they to say she isn’t trying or there isn’t something clinically preventing her from being thin? Why is it okay to say these things around me now I’ve lost a couple? Is this what they thought of me when I was big? It’s not an easy reality to face but these some of the unfortunate epiphanies that have come with shedding the pounds.

But onto brighter things! Here are just five from the vast plethora of pros that have come with getting healthy!

  1. I can run.

Okay, I know I was complaining about the fact I have to move in the previous list. But running is a genuinely awesome experience when you’re outdoors. In March, I could barely run for thirty seconds and I hated it. Abhorred it. Loathed it. But now I can run for far longer, especially with the HIIT programme I follow. I adore the feeling of being able to move through my town, everyone going about their business around me, without getting (too) out of breath. In fact, it’s amazing not getting out of breath just running upstairs! I can run, I can jump, I can move around freely without my body weighing me down. It’s amazing.

  1. Cute clothes look cute on me.

They don’t make cute clothes for fat girls, and that’s something I really want to change. But at the same time, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t happy about the fact that there is now high-street clothing that caters to my shape and size, that flatters me properly and that includes me.

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This frightening mirror clip art is supposed to represent how I feel when I look at myself in my nice clothes.

  1. Food tastes different.

As a foodie with a sophisticated palate – don’t let the Nutella toasties and Doritos fool you – I love experimenting with food. Changing my diet in order to allow for optimum nutrition has meant I’ve had to be extra creative, and it’s nearly always meant that most food tastes better, not worse. I’ve tried new varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables, like mango nectarines and heirloom tomatoes, so vibrant and delicious that I don’t miss the junk food. Swapping out things like whole cow’s milk for coconut or almond milk, or white bread for wholemeal seeded loaves have not only made things taste better but…

  1. My mood has improved!

All the rubbish I was eating, the refined sugars and flours, the grease, the oil – really, it was a nightmare. And cutting it all out has made me feel better. It may have something to do with the fact I’m getting all my vitamins and minerals now, but my organs feel cleaner somehow. Is that weird? A little bit, but it’s great.

  1. I can fully enjoy my late teens and early twenties. And my thirties. And life in general really.

I’m so glad I started this at age 17, because it means that I can enjoy my university years to their full extent without having to worry about my body and any insecurities that would’ve come with it. Granted, there still are and always will be parts of it that I am a little frigid about but the number of things I fret about is significantly less than it was when I was 98kg/216lbs. Of course, I don’t mean this to say that I didn’t love my body when I was big, because I did, and I will forever be an advocate of body positivity at whatever shape or size but on a more personal level I do feel better in myself. And on a physical level, it means years have been added to my life. It means I’ll be able to run around and play with my kids, it means I’ll be able to run around and play with my grandkids. I won’t be held back by my size and my weight, and I feel physically lighter. I’ve also learnt a shedload of personal lessons from all this: I’ve improved my own discipline, I’ve improved my stamina physically and mentally, and I’ve learnt how to do things in moderation – including moderation.

I am proud of myself. I’ve done so much for myself to love myself and improve myself, I wouldn’t believe where I am if you asked me this time last year.

And what is the absolute best part, you ask?

I’m not even done yet.

RECIPE: Healthier Srikhand

 

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Relax! Summer is (nearly) here!

As is Gujarati tradition, I thought that it might be a good idea this weekend to bless this blog with something sweet. For as long as I can remember at the start of any new journey, my mum would feed me a magical elixir of natural yoghurt and sugar into my tiny mouth. Somehow, it brought me luck throughout that whole day and as a child it made me feel like a superhero – as a (kind of) adult in the middle of exam-season, eating this little concoction each morning is an instinct now. It fills me with strength and with good reason.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Virginia Woolfe

Natural yoghurt, in my opinion, should be a superfood. A perfect balance of carbohydrates and good fats, it delivers half your daily requirement of calcium and is also a great source of illness-fighting bacteria. Fat-free natural yoghurt also contains a load of amino acids, making it a complete lean protein which is perfect for building muscle and toning up! However the sugary side of the sweet yoghurt isn’t as sunny as it tastes – refined sugars come with a lot of health risks which is disappointing for a Gujju girl with a sweet tooth.

ImageStrained natural yoghurt, ready to be transformed…

So I decided to re-create my favourite sugar-saturated, yoghurt-based Indian dessert – srikhand – but with a healthy twist in honour of Gujarati traditions. Summery, decadent and fragrant but totally nutritious, this recipe uses a plethora of foods that will nourish your body at only 226 calories per serving.

Prep time: Overnight straining + 15 minutes  | Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg (preferably fat-free) natural yoghurt – full of protein and calcium
  • 1/2 tbsp Manuka honey – a powerful anti-bacterial
  • 2 tsp agave nectar – a natural sweetener that boosts the immune system
  • 1 ripe mango – an anti-carcinogenic skin cleanser
  • 1 apricot – an anti-oxidant fruit that’s great for your eyes
  • 1 tbsp ground nutmeg – a brain stimulant
  • 1 tbsp ground cardamom – can detox and alleviate depression
  • 1 tbsp flaked almonds – lowers cholesterol
  • 1 tsp saffron – aids digestion

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Method:

  1. Drain the yoghurt overnight or for 5-6 hours in a muslin cloth over a colander. It may look like a lot now but it will shrink as the water falls away.
  2. Transfer the strained yoghurt to a mixing bowl and soften it with a spatula until soft but thick. (Work out those biceps!)
  3. Add the Manuka honey and the agave syrup and fold into the yoghurt, followed by the nutmeg, cardamom and almonds.
  4. Peel and cube the mango and apricot and fold these into the srikhand.
  5. Finally, gently fold in the saffron and add a few strands to garnish.
  6. Chill in the fridge or serve straight away either on its own or as a dip for other fruits! Voila.

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Bon appetite!

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