“At 50 years old, I’m the fittest and healthiest I’ve been since my twenties.”
I have exercised intermittently for most of my adult life. But in hindsight, I realize I have never worked out with a larger purpose in mind. The intent was mostly superficial, and a mental shift towards a more holistic lifestyle never happened. I knew I had to make a change when I came down with Covid early 2021. During the recovery phase, I went into a vicious food binge cycle with nearly zero physical activity, and before I knew it my weight had escalated to a staggering 96 kgs (211 pounds).
My stamina had hit rock bottom, it was difficult to climb a flight of stairs without losing my breath, and that inertia, this inability to be agile in body and mind, was taking its toll on every aspect of my life. I was in a constant state of lethargy, with aches and pains in my joints, and I was sluggish and distracted all the time. I also wasn’t getting any younger. That’s when I felt a genuine need to resurrect my physical self and fervently hoped that it would impact the other areas of my life too. I started scouting for a fitness regimen that would be radical in its approach, yet practical enough to sustain every day. That’s when I stumbled upon Ultimate Performance’s Mumbai gym and booked a consultation.
UP promises a physical transformation that’s almost unreal. So, I must confess I joined the program with some trepidation. But within the first few sessions I realized that if I brought in my A game and a strong commitment, there was nothing stopping me from achieving the best version of my healthy self. I trained like a diligent student under my trainer Vatsalya Jaiswal. He was the wind beneath my wings! I lifted heavy weights and trained four times a week at the UP Mumbai gym, as well as walking 10,000 steps every single day. In fact, I haven’t missed my daily step count to this day.
Pullups have always been my nemesis, and at the start of this process I could barely do one: at the end of six months of training I could do 13 pullups in a row. Personally, that to me is monumental. There is tremendous emphasis on proper form and technique at UP Mumbai, so I found myself unlearning some old tricks to learn the correct ones here. They also have a pretty monstrous piece of equipment called The Pendulum which offers possibly the most grueling work out for your legs. And it was an exhilarating feeling to tame that beast towards the end of my transformation period.
I was passionately committed to the changes I was making, and structured my daily life around my health goals. I ensured I got my step count before I started my workday or after my dinner. I also grabbed every opportunity to walk including pacing around my house when I was answering a phone call. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t impossible either.
Early on in my transformation journey, I learnt that this process was not going to be a solo endeavour. It’s tough to endure the rigor and the routine of the program all by oneself. My trainer Vatsalya was with me every step of the way through this entire journey. He was regimented in his monitoring of everything I did within and outside the gym, which included regular sessions at the UP gym, logging my daily steps, recording my daily calorie intake, clocking my sleep and ensuring I didn’t cheat on my diet. Importantly, he made sure I worked out in proper form with no injuries.
When I joined my weight was 95 kgs with a fat percentage of 31.6%
At the end of the 28-week transformation period, I weighed 73.7 kgs (162 pounds), a total loss of 22.3 kgs (49 pounds). I had also more than halved my body fat percentage from 31.6% to 13.5%. My physical and mental strength have drastically improved: my sleep has never been better, and I ensure I do not compromise on the number of hours I sleep every night.
For the last few years, on every visit to my general physician, he had been gently chiding me to lose weight. As long as I can remember, my uric acid levels have always been on the higher side and I have been on medication to reduce the formation of uric acid deposition for several years now. However, on a visit to the GP this March, he was elated after my reports came in. My uric acid levels along with all other vitals were in the normal range. He excitedly said I could well have been in my twenties.
Personally, there have been other benefits with even larger emotional implications. When you hit a certain milestone age, you begin to believe the widespread theories around your limitations, especially in my part of the world. The things one can do and cannot do, or even should not do! Society is quick to throw your age at you, to dissuade you from pursuing several dreams that you may want to chase. My transformation has made me realize that I am capable of achieving anything if I put my mind to it. The UP experience has brought in me a renewed enthusiasm towards my life, and I can see the positive cascading effect of it in every sphere of my being.
My next goal is to bulk up on muscle mass without putting on weight, and to continue to improve my flexibility and physical agility. I’d also like to take that pullup count to 26.
The best advice I can give to anyone who is at the start of their own weight loss journey is to start by walking. It’s the most underrated form of exercise. Then, invest in your health and if you can, opt for a program that offers personal training: this will give you the accountability, education and guidance you need. It is the most profitable investment you will make in your life.
Half of life is just showing up. Adopt the mindset of a student, and show up to class every single day. Once you are in that gym, you don’t have any option but to exercise.
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