Being in a relationship that challenges my utopian perspective of love and has educated me in more than one way. As a person, being close to my partner and family has always been important. Most of the decisions I’ve taken in my life come from this need of proximity to my dear ones. That said, none of my decisions have left me with any regrets, but it did sometimes feel like I am giving in too much a couple of times. My decisions to appease the people who were around me or often made me ignore what I really needed at that time. As a chubby kid, I used to stuff my face with yummy goodies and my elders used to laugh it off saying, “it’s okay, it’s the baby fat; it’ll go away as she grows up”. Believing this theory, I grew up ignoring the signs my body gave me when I am full at the dinner table or even when I am full of someone’s manipulations.
I took me roughly 15 years to understand that my expression of self-love especially about my body has been a pity show for myself. Everything from changing jobs or moving cities or gobbling down that extra serving of anything just because someone “asked nicely” has left me with a faux feeling of satisfaction about honoring my side of the bargain in the business of love. Unfortunately, not only people took me for granted, I took me for granted. I am a poster child for stress consumption. If I am stressed about something, I’ll either binge eat, splurge shop or Netflix & snooze. For years, I thought this was “self-love” and not a defense mechanism. Food or Money, and in most cases, both, has often left me bloated and broke.
Meanwhile, I started dating a man who believed in every dream of mine and loved me even when I shopped from the “plus-size” stores or whipped something up in the middle of the night. He respected me for what I am and continues to urge me to step out of my comfort zone. Many dinner dates later, we both decided to work on bettering ourselves, me working on my waist-line and him working on his dark circles and now-prominent pot belly.
I started pushing my self harder at the gym and crunching raw greens at lunch. Things were great, I lost a lot over a very little time, but my “willpower” was tired resisting salt and sugar so often. Every inch of my being started craving the yummy goodnesses and some rest. Eventually, I got pissed at the way my body resisted me and I fell back into the loop of stress-junking. I gained double of what I lost – my flabs became flabbier and the weighing scales even more merciless. I was now back to spotting fattest girls in the crowd and deriving a stupid pleasure of at least not being as big as them.
My partner & I started disagreeing a lot more and he used to get irritable at my “laziness”. Everything was a downward spiral – Stress about still being the same dress size – Eat to suppress emotions – Stress about still being the same dress size. All this while, life happened. Everything inside me felt murky, I lost the urge to exist or even wake-up, I started drinking 5-8 cups of coffee to stay sane and come home to a ramen dinner. This havoc on my body led up to insulin imbalance, dangerously close-to-threshold levels of thyroid and high percentages of visceral fat. Concerned looks on my doctor’s as well as my parents’ face were far scarier than being of the “wrong” size in a Zara store. Unlike the movies, I didn’t take up to transforming myself over-night, infant it took me a good week to come to terms with my body. This time, however, I didn’t go crazy following perfectly fit people on Instagram to save their washboard abs in my “body goals” folder, I didn’t go on a crazy diet of eating only raw vegetables and banning sugar and salt and neither did I punish my body for being the way it is.
Instead, this time, I chose to listen to it rather than commanding it. I started treating it with respect it deserves. I googled alternative ways to diet better in a more sustainable way. All forms of literature pointed to one thing – Eating Right and Exercising regularly. Inner me scoffed at this revelation. I brushed past the moment and downloaded this interesting title – Don’t Lose Your Mind Lose Your Weight. This book is authored by Kareena Kapoor Khan’s personal dietician – Ms. Rutuja Diwekar. The Author has used her client interactions and daily conversations from her social circles to pen interesting stories about how people treat about their bodies. She recounts relatable albeit funny situations where women like me have starved and “balanced” their diets by binging later. This book opened my mind towards the possibility that maybe it isn’t what I am not supposed to eat but what I was not eating. Broadly, the book explains how sticking to what we’ve grown up eating is both good genetically & metabolically. This book helped me love my plate of 3 idlis and a small serving of sambaar as well as evening pakoras with chai. Of course, things changed like instead of having only protein shake as breakfast I started with dalia or Rava upma. My crazy cravings subsided, I’ve almost quit coffee and feel energetic longer. The book also emphasized the necessity of exercise.
As for my exercise routine, I started with literal baby steps. My brother suggested this amazing app – Nike Run Club which accurately calculates your pace and the kilometers you walk/run (I chose to walk). This App comes with awesome challenges and motivational badges for every mile that you walk. I started walking once a day for a kilometer and now cover almost 7 on a daily basis, completed 1 weekly and 2 monthly challenges. It was unbelievable how my body finally started listening to me again, how I would automatically wake up at the same time every day, walk/jog, EAT and function. In addition to walking, I am trying to mangle myself blissfully into some yoga poses my mother taught me. I may eventually even try weights again or even hit the pilates. My boyfriend also suggested to keep things fun and urged me to try different options, however- One thing I am sure is that I’ll Move!
Things are different, but not so much that I barely recognize myself. I still treat myself to cheesy popcorns but only when I am in the theatre watching a movie. I sip on a glass of wine only when I am on a formal dinner date with boo. I’ve drastically not lost any weight or dress sizes, but I am finally happy with myself. I’ve understood that ogling Noah Centineo/Cole Sprouse while I munch down an entire pack of lays or nachos isn’t self-love – It is waking up, not hating what I see in the mirror and treating my body with respect.