We all know how difficult it is to stick to a resolution to lose weight. Whether it’s a few stubborn kilos or years of obesity, the only thing holding us back is lack of motivation.
Well, that’s not much of a problem any longer as you’ll discover when you begin exploring social media sites. People are now uploading videos of their weight loss progress via video logs (or vlogs) to inspire others and also to keep themselves in check. And oddly, it’s working.
Doing it together
Reshma Badi, a 24-year-old Mumbaikar who was once bullied and mocked because she weighed 115 kilos, has spent most of her life trying to shed that weight. “I first enrolled myself in a gym when I was in the seventh standard. But I only went three times a year.”
Two years ago, the biotechnology postgraduate decided to take control and really work at her goal. Now, she’s lost 45 kilos, thanks to the support she receives on social media. It began with weight loss transformation pictures posted on Instagram, and then, upon requests from her fan base, continued with videos posted on her YouTube channel. Here, Badi shares her workout routines, diet, recipes and important tips, revelling in the encouraging comments she gets from all over the country. “Some days, when I feel very low, I can watch all my videos again and see how motivated I was,” says Badi, who is still headed toward her optimum weight of 55 kilos. “Sharing my journey is helpful for the viewers and for myself. Posting my journey on social media keeps me on track as well.”
As easy as this sounds, it takes guts to put yourself out there and leave yourself open to all sorts of comments. “Showing your emotions and what you have been through is hard,” says Badi. “But I have to do it for the people who watch my videos. People don’t understand that even being fat is an emotion. The last thing I used to say before sleeping was: ‘I wish kal kuch aisa ho jaye that I shrink.’ And I realised that this is not just me. The girls who message me send me paragraphs about how they feel. I connect with them the way no one else can because I have been through that journey.”
Chennai-based Amith RV, 25, once weighed 136 kilos. He’d been putting on weight steadily since he was 10 years old, but only decided to get slim at the point when his weight made everyday activities tougher.
“I used to travel by bus and I wasn’t able to sit comfortably in just one seat, and the other passengers stared at me,” he says. Clothes were hard to find. “My biggest pant size was 52 inches, and it was very embarrassing to get inside a showroom and buy clothes.”
He lost 10 kilos by making small lifestyle changes such as not skipping meals and drinking a lot of water. But major changes came about when he began watching weight loss transformation videos in which people were losing pounds by the hundreds. “At first, I thought this could only happen in Western countries, because they might have access to special gym equipment,” says Amith. But soon he realised that all he had to do was to just get down to it.
Amith promised himself that he’d start his own YouTube channel if he succeeded at losing weight. After losing 46 kilos, he uploaded his first video on YouTube in April 2016.
“When you are on a public domain like YouTube, and post a video in which you say you’re working on a transformation video, you can’t step back, right?” says Amith. “It would be making a fool out of yourself.”
Greatly inspired by actor Aamir Khan’s transformation for the movie Dangal, Amith now wants people to know what their bodies are capable of. “I want to show what a common man with a nine-to-five job can do,” he says. “You just have to make time for it.” He doesn’t have many followers, but a lot of people still reach out to him via comments, email and Facebook.
But Amith acknowledges that having a vlog is not magic. Staying motivated is still a struggle. When he injured his shoulder last year, he gained back a couple of kilos. Still, his vlog keeps him going. “If you are on YouTube, then you think about the fact that next week you have to upload your video and talk about the progress you have made,” he says.
Currently at 102 kilos, Amith uploads vlogs of his workouts coupled with what he eats, and his food challenges. “I just want to show people that you can eat whatever you want and still stay healthy.”
The right way
Sharing success stories is all very well, but according to fitness consultant Raghav Pande, people are generally not losing weight for the right reasons. “For a lot of people, weight loss is just cosmetic. They just want to fit into a dress,” he says.
Pande works at a fitness centre in Delhi and maintains a YouTube channel. A couple of years ago, a comment on one of his videos sparked a major discussion. The person who posted that comment had said something about how people don’t realise that they’re putting on weight till they reach a point when they have to lose it.
This comment gave Pande’s video channel a direction. Now he shows his viewers that all it takes to acquire a lean, sculpted body is a healthy diet and exercise. He began by vlogging his unhealthy diet for a week, and then recorded his transformation over the course of 30, 40 and 60 days. The idea was to make people realise how easy it is to lose weight. “All I have done is just exercise and diet, nothing else besides that,” says Pande.
Pande had gained weight while working at a call centre where junk food for meals was the norm. He lost his father to a heart attack and did not want the same for himself. “All lifestyle diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome, are caused by piling on weight,” says Pande. “I think the worst combination is that you are inactive and that you put on weight on top of that. Inactivity is the main reason why 40-year-olds have health conditions that once belonged to people over 60.”
From HT Brunch, January 22, 2017
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