It’s easy to fall into the well of self-deprecation when others validate your worst thoughts. “I used to think others called me fat because I was fat,” recalls Veena B.Nair. The mother-of-two found herself agreeing with body-shamers more and more as she hit 90kg.
Then when she decided to stop working in Dubai and focus on a being a homemaker in 2018, she also resolved to make a change. “I was just trying my own thing. I was going through videos etc. and basically they all spoke about reducing carbs. I have purely focused on [food to lose weight],” she says.
She explains that she can spilt her weight-loss journey into three stages. In the first and second stages the self-confessed foodie stopped eating from restaurants. She stopped eating non-vegetarian food and she cut down on her portion sizes. “Instead of 4 chappatis [flat bread] that I was eating I would eat 1.5,” she explains.
Every week Nair would check her weight. And every time there was a drop in numbers she’d celebrate. The feeling that overtook her was “So I can reduce [weight too].”
She also began to drink more and more water. “Once I started drinking water I could see the results. I was drinking 3 litres of water [every day] for 3 months,” she explains. She drank water before meals to curb appetite, she drank water when she was bored; she drank water through the day.
She said goodbye to her favourite treats – from the bakery or just hot off the wok.
As for exercise, she says laughing: “Exercise I didn’t do much – only housework. And sometimes I will do walking or something, but it was not a factor at all – I was lazy to do [any more exercise].”
At the end of three months, she lost 15kg.
Nair has always loved her food, but the weight began to pile on soon after puberty. She has PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), a common hormonal issue, that can lead to weight gain. Her menstrual cycle was irregular – “it would come once every 45 days or so,” she recalls. Doctors told her to lose weight and “people used to make fun like, ‘you are growing size wise not height wise’,” she says.
She had tried over the years to kill the kilos but nothing had worked and for each child she had, she gained 10kg.
So it was heartening for her to see the change from phase one – “It was very motivational for me to see my looks change,” she says. And the reception this got was even more gratifying.
She happily headed into stage 2, where she increased her food intake, still boycotting all meat products and keeping away from food from outside.
Over the next three months, she lost 5 more kilos. Her menstrual cycle became regular and she began to see a change in herself.
Finally, in stage three she went back to eating non-vegetarian food. By now Nair had honed her skill keeping portion sizes small and limiting her intake of unhealthy goods. She was also determined to lose weight.
She lost, in another 6 months, another 6 kilos.
After this giant drop, she began to draw concern for ‘being too thin’ and as a result began to let her hair down, ending 2019 4kg heavier. She’s maintained this new ‘goal weight’ – 68- since.
That’s not to say there weren’t any hiccups. “One problem I faced later on was I started feeling my skin is having some problem. Like that time I went to a dermatologist. She said it’s ok, because you have reduced so much of weight, maybe because of that. I was having hair fall and skin issues,” she says. She hadn’t been on supplements of any sort. But this has since balanced out.
It’s easy to fall into the well of self-loathing when others give voice to your worst thoughts. But grit will always beat the nexus of negativity. And when it does, the butterfly will emerge.