My name is Shomprakash Sinha Roy, and this ‘Weight Loss Basics’ piece was written at the behest of many friends, former colleagues and family members who have asked me to share a ‘diet chart’ or a ‘workout plan’. To put things in context, let’s first establish that I haven’t ‘invented’ anything new, nor have I formulated a ‘secret’ recipe that helps in losing weight. I have tried and tested multiple methods suggested by experts such as Kris Gethin and Akhil Bhardwaj, to create a plan that worked for me. In the process, however, I’ve identified a few steps and items that remain unchanged, irrespective of pre-existing weight, body type or gender. A collection of those observations, is at the core of these Weight Loss Basics.
1Weight Loss Basics – The Magic Of Caffeine
I’m going to start with a seemingly irrelevant fact. In reality, however, this is the single-best advantage that I’ve had while doing my cardio, and definitely deserved to be at the top of my ‘weight loss basics’ list. When I joined my gym a few months back, my gym trainer looked at me and clicked his tongue; I used to weigh 89 kgs, was on the verge of hitting 90, and I was overflowing from every imaginable angle. So, as a precautionary measure, he asked me to indulge in at least an hour of cardio every day, split between 15 minutes of running on the treadmill, 15 minutes of cross (elliptical) training, 15 minutes on the rowing machine, and finally, 15 minutes of cycling, to warm me up before even attempting my strength training components.
The problem that I faced here: I had no stamina to boot. I have been a smoker since 2008, and my nicotine habits had drained any possibility of me running for more than two minutes without heaving and panting like a pig. And the breathtaking sadness (pun intended) of my situation left me wondering if I’d ever be able to kick-start my goals.
Fortunately, my friend and partner-in-crime Gaurav Singh had introduced me to a living legend named Kris Gethin. But before I ask you to jump into his portfolio (I will, shortly!), I want to give a brief introduction to the man. He has personally trained Hrithik Roshan, Ranveer Singh, Mahesh Babu, John Abraham and scores of other Bollywood fitness freaks, and all his workout programs are absolutely free to join. According to Kris’s fitness advice in the book Bollywood Body By Design, he has listed caffeine as an ingredient that creates a surge of energy while working out, and doesn’t add calories.
So I put it to the iron test. I started consuming one-to-two cups of black coffee about 30 minutes prior to my cardio sessions, and the results were dramatic. In about a week’s time, I had gone up from my ‘panting’ self to a star runner. I was running enough to burn 300-400 calories on the treadmill, followed by another 200-300 calories on my cardio extensions. That was a heavenly feeling to live with, in the hours that I spent at the gym.
Please note that black coffee really means black coffee. I wouldn’t advise you to add milk or sugar, as that’ll mess up your weight loss goals.
2Weight Loss Basics – The Gym Miles
When I began working out initially (sometime in 2015, prior to my dengue episode), I made a very basic error. I picked a gym that wasn’t close to my house, and I picked a jogging track as my cardio replacement. I’m not saying that jogging isn’t a healthy routine, but when you’re as overweight as 2015-me, or when you’re equally lazy, you need a little more motivation to keep your workout sessions regular, repetitive and effective. For me, what did the trick in 2016 was choosing a next-door gym. Although it may raise a few eyebrows in your building, create some awkwardness in the elevator, or maybe inspire a few giggles down the street, it will still be one of the most important decisions that you can make as far as losing weight is concerned. So please choose a gym that’s close to your house. You’ll have one less excuse to not attend.
3Weight Loss Basics – Don’t Eat Shit
Let’s get this clear – eating healthy is not the same as not eating. A lot of my friends and well-wishers were scared during my initial weight-loss phase, because it appeared to them that I wasn’t eating anything. But the key to understanding my weight loss basics piece, is that you can’t stop eating or merely ‘reduce’ your food intake to correct everything. It just doesn’t work that way. Fair warning, though. The list of things that you shouldn’t be eating, will include almost everything that you love eating right now.
- Sugar: Ages ago, the sugar industry played a bad trick on consumers by shifting the blame for obesity to its cousin ‘fat’. In reality, however, the refined sugar that you purchase at grocery stores, or the sugar that you consume in tea/coffee/sugary beverages like cola, adds up to a tremendous amount of unhealthy carbs. Stop consuming sugar. You can switch to low-calorie sugar alternatives such as Sugar Free Natura or Sugar Free Gold (I use both).
- Dairy: This is not a complete no-no; In your initial 90 days, I will advise you to stay away from all forms of dairy – milk, curd, ghee, butter, everything. After you’ve reached at least 90% of your weight loss goals, you can start consuming skimmed milk (I trust Good Life Slim) and low-fat, high-protein yogurt (I use Epigama yogurt, natural flavor).
- Oil: Repeat after me. Refined oil is poison. Don’t believe those heart-loving adverts that you see on TV all the time. Saffola, Fortune, everything else… refined oil is just bad for you. For the first 90 days, stay off oil completely. Have boiled veggies, oats soaked in water, marinated and dry-grilled chicken. Again, post your 90%-goals stage, you can start consuming Mustard Oil, Olive Oil and Coconut Oil in limited quantities in your food for natural fat requirements. (Surprise: coconut oil is healthier than olive oil!)
- Redundant Carbs: During my first three months, I didn’t eat rice, chapatis, or any other form of carbs that would stop my calorie deficit – simply speaking, I had to make sure that I was consuming lesser calories than what I was burning at the gym. I stuck to boiled oats, soaked oatmeal smoothies with honey, and digestive biscuits – not only are they high on fiber, they help you curb the continuous cravings by providing a nutritious alternative. If you know what Sattoo is, please know that it’s one of the best dense carb-sources of all time.
- Restaurant Food/Street Food: If you’re on this program, you need to stay away from restaurant food and street food completely. That means no junk, no instant noodles, nothing that’s swimming in Dalda. Try this – the next time someone in your house orders food from a restaurant, freeze it overnight and the next morning, take a look at the orange layer that gets deposited on the container. That’s just dalda. Most restaurants do not want to incur the expense of using good cooking oil, and end up using Dalda, which eventually lines your hip and adds inches.
4Weight Loss Basics – Eat Well. Eat Natural.
I guess you could go as far as calling this section the ‘diet chart’. Although it isn’t really a chart, it outlines the food habits that you can choose to inculcate as part of the ‘Weight Loss Basics’ regimen.
- Go Lean, Eat Meat. Okay, I don’t wish to attract the wrath of vegans, PETA activists and other similar organizations – so let me clarify this part. I’m bengali. The first time a bengali baby consumes carbs, he is given rice with fish-curry. So, non-vegetarian food is basically in my DNA, whether I like it or not. And in 2007-08, I had tried a pure vegetarian diet to slim down, and it worked to an extent, but like I said, my body craves for meat and it wasn’t sustainable. Another interesting observation: Animal protein is an anti-ageing substance. That’s right. In a regular vegetarian diet, you’ve got lentils and veggie proteins, but the absence of 70% protein in your diet means that you’re ageing faster. That’s how Caucasian people look so young, compared to their asian counterparts. Their diets incorporate all types of meats, and almost always has a high protein:carbs ratio. In India, that ratio is reversed, our staple diet includes more Rotis (Flat bread) and Rice, and that’s just stupid.
- Don’t randomly consume meat. The above part withstanding, it is equally important to note that feasting on your favorite Chicken Butter Masala or Empire Grilled Chicken or Mutton Biryani is not going to help you lose weight. Lean meat is usually present in Chicken Breast, Lamb legs, Chicken Salami, etc – and none of it can have any oil. The grilled chicken that you usually see in restaurants is dripping with oil – you need to learn how to grill your own chicken at home. I might write an article about it independently someday, because it’s a really big cluster of information all by itself.
- Discover Cold Pressed Juice: Many intense diets recommend that you stay away from fruits, as they contain fructose, which may hamper your weight loss goals. Fortunately, I found a place called Fresh Pressery Cafe in Koramangala, Bangalore, that delivers fruit juice cocktails prepared with a twist – the juices are cold pressed, and effectively cleanse your body of toxins and keep your colon clean. In my time spent admiring their awesome menu, I also discovered that a mix of Watermelon, Mint and Lime juices fares well as an after-party cleanse.
- Say Hello To Honey: This is something a lot of grandparents keep repeating, and I just added it to my to-do list back then, and I was surprised at how efficient it is. Every morning, after you wake up, have a glass of warm water infused with honey and a pinch of lime before you eat anything else. To improvise, you can soak a green-tea bag in it, too, the green tea adds a healthy flavor to the mix and this combination helps your body in burning fat through the day.
- Quaker Oats: This is your go-to food whenever you want to prevent hunger. On that note, it’s always better to prevent hunger than to address it. Before you step out for work, have a tall glass of an oatmeal smoothie: Soak oats in water for about ten minutes, run it through a blender for a minute with a teaspoon of honey, and drink up! It’s the best carbohydrate source that your body can hope for. It kills hunger pangs through the day and loads you up with the right calories.
- Stack up on Eggs: There are many videos on YouTube that show you how to remove the egg white from the egg yolk. Watch one of them, and master the art (it’s really pretty straightforward). Now learn the art of making omlettes with egg whites, pan cakes using Sattoo and Egg whites, etc. You can also consume boiled egg whites by the dozen, if you’re trying to build lean muscle, fast
- Add a Multivitamin: It’s important to understand that the ‘Weight Loss Basics’ principle isn’t complete without the ability to reject your cravings (Fried Food/Junk/Sugar/Cola/etc) – And the answer to that, is a multivitamin regimen. Call it the secret ingredient, or call it a necessity, but don’t forget to take a capsule in the morning. The human body usually craves after stuff because it’s deficient. In addition to proper nutrition, consuming a holistic multivitamin will ensure that your body doesn’t sway from its food commitments. You get tons of multivitamins over the counter at pharma stores; I usually get mine shipped from HealthKart.
5Weight Loss Basics – Follow The Experts
This is a recurring source of laughter at my apartment – my gym trainer has jokingly remarked, more than once, that I could consider turning into a personal trainer to make money. While I don’t think that’s possible right now, I will recommend that you follow the online tips and suggestions of two individuals – whose observations technically laid the foundation for my ‘Weight Loss Basics’.
- Kris Gethin: Kris can safely be referred to as the father of the ‘six pack abs’ culture in Bollywood; his clients range from Hrithik Roshan to Mahesh Babu. His famous 12-week program, also known as the Dramatic Transformation Principle, is at the core of every attempt that I’ve made to lose weight and transform myself. It’s the same program that he used on Hrithik, and what’s best, it’s available for Free. Try it here.
- Akhil Bhardwaj: This dude is based our of Bhilai, Chhattisgrah. I used to follow his Facebook feed, mostly because he shares amazing Indian recipes, which are both healthy and delicious. His Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/akhil.bhardwaj.73 (Statutory warning: He looks better than Hrithik, girls might go weak in t heir knees).
6Weight Loss Basics – F**K Dedication, Just Find 2...
I think this bit is just as important as the coffee bit. Look, there’s no way to motivate someone into getting fit. My ex-girlfriend/fiancee tried for ages and then finally dumped me. My mother used to tell me how fat I’d gotten, and that didn’t get through to my head. I guess the biggest motivation that I found, was my first notable dip in weight. It was the weight scale. After a month of rigorous cardio and absolute healthy eating, I had lost my first 10 kgs, and that was a big step for me. It pushed me lose another 20. I don’t know if the same will work for you, or if its okay for me to tell you that most of your problems (and most of the country’s problems) can be solved if you turned into a fit and attractive version of yourself – or if it’s ethical to point out the pending benefits that you will redeem in the bedroom (or on Tinder, hello, PG-13!) after you’ve lost weight.
The bottom-line is, ‘dedication’, ‘commitment’ and ‘discipline’ are all made-up words. Nothing means anything. The only person who can help you lose weight is you, and the only time when you can start is today.
So, where’s your gym?
(Next up: Depending on your feedback/comments on this piece, I’m going to write more about recipes, cooking techniques, gym reviews… and yes, supplementation! If you have questions, feel free to share them in comments!)