Story of a Weight Loss Soldier Weight Loss Soldier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The start of every noble cause happens for a reason. And with that reason follows the most important thing, attitude”.

As William James once said: “The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude .As you think and then act, so shall you be”. There is so much knowledge and wisdom hidden in the above quote, as I have been privileged enough to implement it in my own life and I am still living with it. A change in ones attitude in a positive direction can lead to positive results which sometimes are termed as miracles. A miracle happened in my life too and I give the credit to the human spirit blessed with god   grace which helped me achieve my goal which many people term as miracle. Everyone is born with a positive attitude and once it gets realized and implemented, it can lead to so called miracles.

I was born in an Indian middle class family. Though I was a cesarean child, my mother was blessed as she gave birth to a healthy kid with all organs working. I call it a blessing because I was born healthy. A new born baby who comes out of the womb of the mother brings good health as a blessing to the entire family. By the grace of god, the next two kids (my sisters) my mother delivered were also blessed as they were born healthy. We thank god and our mother to have given us this blessing.

  a healthy kid at age 3

Both my parents were Indian Government Servants and they raised me and my two younger sisters with the best facilities a parent can give to their child. And as I was the eldest child, I was a bit pampered and was offered all sorts of comforts. Now among those comforts, one facility I always exploited was FOOD. Throughout my childhood, I never compromised on my food loving habits. It always came first in my list of priorities.

The following saying would go perfect on me: “I, RISHI SHARMA Lived to EAT”. 

Food was made for me and I was made for food. Eating to me was like going through a spiritual ritual, which I enjoyed many times daily. All the major types of rich foods (chocolates, pastries, samosas, cheese etc.) were on my top food priority list. My huge personality demanded large food servings in each meal I had. And I use to love them.

  a chubby kid with family at age 7

As far as I remember in all my school batch years I was the fattest kid. Kids use to tease me by all fat names (mote, fatso, heavy duty etc.) which to a person can be annoying. Many times I did used to feel offended, but there was nothing I could do about it as I did not care about it seriously. My big fat image was like an open pool which everyone loved to dive into and pass comments on. Sometimes the overweight feeling used to sink in deep and my inner voice would scream “Rishi do something about your Fat image”. But the main thing in that something was to get rid of my unhealthy food loving habits which I was not keen to compromise on. Though I used to engage myself in a lot of sport activities, my body was so huge that every sports teacher would turn a deaf eye on me. Every teacher used to tell me the same 2 words which used to pass through my ears quite often, “LOSE WEIGHT". I would always take it casually, ignoring it carrying on with my food loving habit.

the fat school kid the fat school kid

 

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After finishing my High school, I was lucky enough to get an Engineering seat in a reputed Engineering college. In the year 1993, at 17 years of age and weighing approximately 95 Kg, I joined Manipal Institute of Technology in Electrical Engineering branch. Among all the new joiners I was one among those students who nobody wanted to mess out with. I can say this with pride that one advantage which my huge body gave me was that people used to never take me for a ride, knowing that they cannot mess with a huge fat giant.

  in my Engineering days

I carried my huge body image in all the 4 years of my graduation, getting good grades, living life to the fullest with regards to everything but most important, food. In the year 1997, I became an Engineering graduate and at that time at 22 years of age I weighed around 100 Kg (I ton). Crossing the 100kg mark should have been a triggering signals for me, but that was not the case for me as at 21 years of age weighing 100Kg. “I still lived to eat”.

My first job after graduation was in a reputed software company in India with a decent pay of Rest 10,000 per month. For me at 22 years of age, it was a very good salary.

Since now I had my own money to spend, my food eating habits got more scope and they became more erratic. I started eating a lot of junk food from many small and big food chain outlets which were just stone’s throw from my working place. Having a samosa or a sweet- dish was now a daily affair. I was spending my own money and so I could afford the everyday food rituals. In terms of food enjoyments, I was having the time of my life. My weight was further increasing but again I was not at all concerned about my health. One more habit which my first job gave me was that of SMOKING. Being surrounded with smoking companions in my workplace and having my own money to buy cigarettes, smoking became a habit for me.

After completing 2 years in the company, a dream which every IT Software Professional from India looks forward to was turning into a reality for me. And that was GOING TO USA. Year 1999 was a booming phase for the IT software industry around the world as well as India.

USA was the working destination for every Software Professional from India. This was with regards to getting more opportunity to work for big USA companies and making more money. Above all landing in USA itself was a cherished dream. I was getting a chance to go on a work permit to USA to work there as a Software Consultant. I attribute the moment when I was told that I will be flying to USA as one of the happiest moment in my life. It felt like being on top of the world. I got my work permit USA visa in a month's time and I was preparing myself to fly to USA when a terrible thing happened.

My father suffered a heart attack and went through a triple bypass heart surgery. As both my younger sisters were studying in hostels far from home, I was the only one to take care of him. Therefore, I had to postpone my USA trip by a month. I had seen the entire ordeal of my father going through the bypass surgery, always being with him 24 hours in the hospital. My mother too was a diabetic and she also had some common diabetic ailments. Hence, it was a tough decision for me to leave both my ailing parents at that moment.

Coming from a middle class family, going abroad and earning good money was the top priority for me to be able to financially support my family better. Both my younger sisters were studying top  professional courses from top universities and as my father had retired it was also a kind of necessity for me to go to USA and not leave such a wonderful opportunity to earn money and also to earn good experience which would benefit me in my career as a Software Professional. I must mention here that after witnessing the entire episode of my father's Bypass Surgery, I did get the realization for the first time that I should also take care of my health as I was over a ton (100kg) that time. But again, this realization was not that strong enough to motivate me to the fullest to work myself towards losing weight. And moreover my ‘Going to USA Hangover’ was on which kept everything aside.

I reached USA in March 2000. My blood relation, Uncle Balraj (my father’s younger brother) came to receive me at JFK airport. Apart from the hugs and kisses he uttered ' Rishi, you have grown very huge’. What he really meant was that I was too much overweight as he was seeing me after a long time. Well, I had been hearing such sentences many times in the past so this one also was causally taken by me. I replied in a laughing tone, ‘Uncle, this shows that I belong to a rich family as I have all the good foods to eat’.

  When I reached USA

On 13th march 2000, I joined my first job in USA in New Jersey as an onsite Consultant for a big US telecom IT Giant. My experience in my first job in USA was a very pleasant one. The work environment in the company was great. All the people around me were very nice and helpful. My Manager Mike was the best person anyone would like to get associated and work with. I was very much enjoying my stay in USA. Good job, good people to work with, good manager and good money. What more can a person ask from God? And with all good things came another one, complementary lunch. And at that part of my life ‘I still lived to Eat’. Every day lunch at the company was the most enjoyable, having all the good and unhealthy complementary foods (Burgers, French fries, etc.) to eat.

There were many other Indians working in my company in New Jersey and soon some of them became my friends. As I was a Bachelor at that time in year 2000, I rented an apartment near to my workplace with two other Indian Bachelors named Srinivas and Vishnu. Both my apartment mates were nice people. All the three of us were drawing handsome salaries in USA and most of the times we used to have food outside. Which was majority fast food? My favorite meal used to be a double cheese burger with French fries. All these foods come under the unhealthy food bracket, but Srinivas and Vishnu had not to be bothered as they were half my size. It was only me who needed to care about what I was eating because I had gained more weight since I had arrived from India since I had to buy new sized clothes for me as I was not able to fit in the clothes I bought from India.

Life in New Jersey was job, eating all kinds of junk food, watching movies and sleeping.

  Enjoying my job in USA as a fat person

Enjoying Life in USA as a fat person

Enjoying Life in USA as a fat person

My unhealthy living lifestyle with my first job in USA carried on till a year, when ultimately I got the SHOCK of my life.

 

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-----------------------------------------------THE SHOCK------------------------------------------- 

 On 30th July 2001, I came back from work and as a normal routine, switched on the television with a can of coke, and chips to enjoy. As I watched television, my body started to sweat and I experienced a very uncomfortable feeling from inside. The feeling was leading to giddiness. I thought this to be fever and immediately lay down on a bed. For about an hour the uncomfortable feeling persisted and I also started having a terrible headache I was able to hear my heart beat palpitations going high. As I could no longer take it, I mentioned this anxiously to my roommate Srinivas. Srinivas was a nice and caring human being. Judging my medical problem and my immediate symptoms, he advised me to rush to the nearby hospital or call 911. 911 is the number which one can dial for any type of emergency service required in USA. Being on a work permit VISA in USA, my medical insurance was fully covered. The next moment I called 911 a number which is dialed in USA in any emergency. Nervously, I explained the all type of symptoms I was going through to the person who received my call. In a few minutes the paramedic's van arrived at my doorstep and in the next 10 minutes I was on a stretcher being moved in to the van. For emotional support I requested Srinivas to accompany me.

The paramedic's van was fully equipped with a lot of medical instruments. Some Medical gadgets were immediately wrapped around by chest, hand and stomach. I lay down in the van as it was moving towards the hospital. I was so scared to death that I was hardly able to speak anything as the paramedic professional kept pacifying me and was talking to me continuously to ease my anxiety and nervousness. In a frail voice I asked one of the paramedic as to what was wrong with me and he replied gently “Your Blood Pressure is a bit high, but don’t worry everything will be alright”.

The next moment was like end of the world for me. I was shocked. I asked the paramedic's how much it was and they replied calming me down, “its 210/125”.Immediately, I was also given a Blood Pressure Suppressing medicine as it was badly needed to bring it down. I was now not only shocked but shattered. Carrying a family history of Hypertension (both my parents were hypertensive) and having gone through the ordeal of Bypass Surgery of my father, I very well knew everything about Blood Pressure. And to me my blood pressure reading which the paramedic's told me was like a severely sick man approaching death.

These are the negative thoughts that came to my mind as I lay down in the paramedic's van shocked, shattered with all kinds of pessimism flowing in my mind:

High Blood Pressure and me, how and why? What the hell will I do now? Oh man 210/135 is very high. You are a gone case!

•Rishi, your father and mother are both hypertensive so this might be genetic but now as I have blood pressure I am a gone case.

•Rishi, your father went through a triple bypass, u will also go through it

•Rishi, your mother is a diabetic so maybe u might also inherit that as I have inherited blood pressure from her.

•Oh God, I want to die in front of my parents, so please give me strength so that I can go back to India.

As the hospital arrived, I was taken to the emergency Patients Lobby, where I was greeted by other emergency patients. The emergency nurse on duty gave me a medical form which required me to furnish my medical insurance details so that my treatment could be covered by the hospital under the insurance scheme. As I was filling the form, the nurse also took my Blood Pressure and the reading came out to be 170/105. And this reading was 30 minutes after I was given the blood pressure suppress ant. So it was sure to me that I, Rishi Sharma, aged 25 years was suffering from High Blood Pressure.

As I finished filling up the medical form, I was approached by a tall gentlemen who introduced himself as Dr. Mathew. He was already briefed about my Blood Pressure readings and the symptoms which brought me to the hospital. Dr. Mathews wanted to hear it from my mouth as to what kind of problems I had experienced. He started asking me about my family medical history regarding which I told him about every medical problem which my mother and father had. He comforted me by saying that my blood pressure rise can be temporary also, and medical investigations need to be done for that.

Knowing about my family history of hypertension, my mother being a diabetic and my father undergoing a triple Bypass Heart Surgery, Dr. Mathews wanted me to undergo a couple of medical tests. He told me that these tests were essential to find out if I was having any chronic ailments like diabetes or heart problems etc. He asked me to give my blood sample empty stomach the next morning and he also took an ECG of my heart which luckily came out to be good. A heart lung monitor was implanted on my chest to record my heart beats for a period of 24 hours to check if everything was fine with my heart. It was all very scary. I cannot tell in words as to what kind of pessimistic feeling I was going through when Dr. Mathews was putting all kinds of medical advices on me.

Dr. Mathews also asked me a couple of other general questions .He asked me

1) Do I smoke?

2) Do I drink?

3) Do I perform any kind of exercise?

4) Is there Stress in my life?

5) Do I take any medications?

With a guilt feeling, I answered his questions honestly in a very low voice. I was smoking cigarettes, drinking occasionally and exercise was way out of my life. Basically, my overall lifestyle was messed up and in emotional anxiety I told everything which came to my mind.

He asked me to measure my weight on the weighing scale and the next moment the words which came out from his mouth were ‘OH MY GOD’. Then at that moment on 30th July 2001, I, Rishi Sharma, present at the hospital emergency department in New Jersey, weighed 270 pounds (122 Kg).

“You are way too much above your weight Rishi, you need to lose weight buddy” were his words.

Oh, again those words LOSE WEIGHT entering my ears. I had heard those words from many people before, but this time the scene was different. The words LOSE WEIGHT coming out of Dr. Mathew’s mouth at that moment was like an order which a captain gives to his soldiers and to me too these words meant an order. For the first time in life I got the realization to the fullest that I was really a FAT, OVERWEIGHT UNHEALTHY person. Pessimism flowing in every cell of my body, I cursed myself honestly for the first time for being OVERWEIGHT.

All the egos, aspirations, life struggles, anger etc. end when a person is lying on a hospital bed helpless with a medical problems. And the doctor comes and tells that these are the medical problems you have and this is what you need to do. The same was the case for me. A FAT overweight me, at 270 pounds with High Blood Pressure problem lay helpless in front of Dr. Mathews. Out of nervousness and emotional anxiety I asked the doctor many stupid questions regarding my health.

Dr. Mathews was a very nice and experienced doctor. Noticing my anxiety levels and pessimism, he mentioned that everything will be alright and things would be clearer after my tests report come out. Yes , but one thing which he mentioned to me was that since I was heavily overweight , had a smoking habit and was carrying a family history of diabetes and hypertension , I need to take care and I should quit smoking . Now the sentence “need to take care” had a lot of meaning in it for me. Taking my mother and father into consideration, in my past I had witnessed as to what kind of complications diabetes and hypertension can bring. And the repeated thought that I can also get these problems or I might be carrying these problems made me more nervous. For smoking, I made a temporary resolution at that very moment that I will never smoke. Dr. Mathews ended his conversation for the evening by telling me to come for a blood test the next morning empty stomach. He smilingly told me that everything will be alright and again he mentioned to take care of myself. He also told me to take the Blood Pressure medications which were prescribed to me.

With the heart lung monitor on my chest, a dejected me walked out of the emergency department carrying my medical papers. Entering the visitor’s waiting room, I was greeted by Srinivas. With the negativity flowing in my mind, I needed an emotional support badly. And Srinivas was the perfect person to do that. As Srinivas was driving me back home, I narrated the entire episode of my emergency stay with Dr. Mathews. Even a calm and composed man like Srinivas was a bit shocked to hear about my Blood Pressure and weight. I heard it from his mouth too, “Rishi your Blood Pressure is too high and I could never imagine you could weight so much (270 pounds). You look huge but 270 pounds is a bit more”.

We reached home at around 12:00 pm in the night. After having a glass of milk I went straight to bed as I had to get up early the next morning to give my blood tests in the hospital. That night 30th July 2001 was a very heavy night for me. I could hardly sleep as I was worried and scared as I now had the knowledge that I have Blood Pressure. As I had to give my blood tests tomorrow morning. The negative thoughts coming in my mind were bothering me.

• What if the tests say I am diabetic?

• What if the tests say I have high cholesterol?

• Could I be suffering from Arthritis because of my excessive weight?

• How will I carry on with my job if something wrong comes out in the tests?

All kinds of pessimistic thoughts flowed through my mind the entire night. Never in my life had I felt so much scared, depressed and pessimistic. The next morning I reached he hospital and gave my blood and urine samples. The heart lung monitor on my chest was removed.

Dr. Mathews had recommended all kinds of tests to be done, therefore I was very anxious for the reports to come out. The test results came out in the evening which added more fuel to the shock I had gone through. My Cholesterol and triglycerides were high. Now both of these blood parameters are related with heart attacks. My lipid profile levels were not in normal range. Some other general parameters like hemoglobin related to blood were also out of range. The only relief I got after seeing my test reports was that my Blood glucose was in range and hence I was not a diabetic. Also my heart lung monitoring tests came out to be negative.

When I met with Dr. Mathews with my Test results the next day, he mentioned to me that my report was not very good and I needed to be started on some more medicines. These medicines were not very strong but to bring some of my blood parameters like Cholesterol in range these need to be started. Also he put me on a light Blood Pressure Suppressant as my Blood Pressure needed to be in control.

Dr. Mathews told me that he was sorry to put a young 25 year old man on such medicines, but after my medical investigations they were required. I asked him will these medicines be for life and he told me

Rishi, you are very young. You can get back control of your health by adopting a healthy lifestyle. You need to lose a good amount of weight, you should quit smoking and moreover you should not take your health now for granted.” 

He told me that the medicines he is giving me are not addictive. For some time if I took good care of my health, I can get rid of them.

Being software professional, for many years I had been using the intelligence of my mind for creating software, but I never used it for my health. The reason being that I never thought of healthy living because never before I had come to such a situation. Never in my life before I had visited the hospital in such circumstances. Never before did I ever get the realization that HEALTH IS WEALTH. Health is indeed the biggest wealth anyone can have. No one but me in the world at that moment could appreciate the above saying. I had always happily enjoyed my LIVED TO EAT habit combined with some supplementary habits of smoking and drinking. The realization that I was responsible for ruining my health was very strong at that time. These were some of the many answers I got when I started thinking on rational grounds for all types of questions coming to my mind:

I have blood pressure because I am overweight and also I smoke. I have to quit smoking.

•My overweight problem is related to my unhealthy eating and unhealthy lifestyle. I have to change my lifestyle.

•I do not exercise consistently, so how can I solve my weight problem. I should start exercising.

•Drinking alcohol (beer) has also contributed to my health disaster.

•No one but only me can work towards making my heath better. I have been responsible for ruining my health and only I can get it back on track.

•Though I have been put on medicines, but I will do everything to get rid of them.

•I will try best to do everything for my health which is in my control. I will try not to compromise on health at all.

•God gave me a healthy body and its only me who has ruined it by my erratic lifestyle , unhealthy eating habits and also having some bad supplementary habits(smoking, drinking)I pledge that I will do everything to get back my good health.

 The above answers which I got to my questions were just coming out of my commonsense. Yes commonsense was prevailing for most of my questions.

Having been educated as an Engineer, I decided at that moment it self that I will use my rational thinking to get rid of my weight problem and will try to work on my health through a commonsense approach. Nothing in this world comes easily and when my health is the issue, I got to be ready to leave my comfort zones and do everything possible to get back my health. The first thing I needed to do was to work towards losing my weight. Yes, finally the words LOSE WEIGHT which I had been hearing all through 25 years of my life was now a part of the Battle I had decided to start, ‘The Battle of Losing Weight and getting good health’. 

Since I was emotionally charged at that moment, I made all kinds of resolutions which I knew were difficult to stick to. But at least the promises I was making to myself had at least some conviction in it. This I can say because these promises were being made by a 25 year old overweight unhealthy man, who was now carrying the realization after going through a tough hospital ordeal that how important Health is for him.

  My last fat pic before I started my Weight Loss Journey

Hence, my journey towards weight loss started from that very day. Many hurdles came in between , some I crossed some I could not , but finally in a time span of 12 months I managed to win ‘The Battle of Losing weight’ and achieve my weight loss glory. The battle was not easy as it required a lot of commitment, focus, discipline and perseverance.

I lost the extra weight and came in my target weight range. In July 2002 I was a different man lean, thin and happy. 

I got rid of my bad health parameters (High Blood Pressure, High cholesterol etc.)  

I have managed to sustain my weight for many long years since I lost weight.

A disciplined healthy lifestyle of proper exercise, proper diet and proper rest made me accomplish my weight loss goal and gain good health.

My first Thin snap with mom after losing 50 Kg of weight

 

 feels good to be thin , fit and healthy

 Feels good to be thin , fit and healthy

 

Family suffering as a cause of realization: 

All humans on the planet earth irrespective of their culture and community have one thing in common and that is family. Family is like a shell where every human finds warmth, knowledge and love.

And parents (mother and father) are the building blocks of a family who provide endless unconditional love to their children. There is a saying that 'if you want to serve god serve your parents' and I agree with that. Having gone through my shocking unhealthy ordeal and making the realization of getting my health back on track, I still had something more to be added which made me more committed of getting my health back and losing weight.

And that something more was witnessing the suffering of my mother due to her bad health.

After about 2 months since starting my journey towards weight loss, I suddenly had to visit India in October 2001 as my mother had gone through a major life threatening surgery and was critically ill. Being a diabetic for 15 years, she had developed major complications. I saw my mother lay in the Intensive Care Unit Department of the hospital unconscious and surrounded by machines. Because of diabetes and hypertension and going through 3 Caesars, my mother had developed Hernia complications and she had to be operated in critical circumstances. Nothing on this earth can be as painful as watching your parents suffer because of health problems. Since I had already gone through my father’s triple bypass heart surgery ordeal before, witnessing my mother suffering made my thinking about health more optimistic. I prayed to god from deep within my heart to make my mother well and I vowed that I will set an example for everyone in the family. I vowed to give my mother a gift of her seeing me healthy.

God did answer my prayers, my mother survived the ICU ordeal and came back home. Her health deteriorated more in the next 2 years of her life and her kidneys failed. She went through a heart operation and she came on dialysis. I returned back from USA to India as my mother’s chronic illness needed my support. I have witnessed my mother go through the pain of dialysis for 7 years until she expired in May 2011. Her suffering made me stronger day by day to take care of my health.

I thank god for making me realize how important health is.

I thank God for listening to my prayer of letting me serve my mother when she most needed me.

I try to live as healthier as I can with my family and propagate the message of good health.

 

I have narrated as to what prompted me to work towards the goal of losing weight. Being overweight throughout my life, I have explained what happens when one's Health is on stake. How and why an unhealthy overweight person gets the realization and motivation to lose weight. Also I mentioned that how important it was for me to appreciate health more when I witnessed my mother going through the sufferings due to her poor health conditions. Watching a family member of yours (especially parent) suffering due to ill health is more painful than witnessing your own suffering. There were two strong reasons which made me work towards losing weight and good health:

·          A visit to the hospital which showed me the health mirror consisting of the health problems surrounding me.

·          My mother and father’s suffering due to illness which made me realize how important it is for me to take care of my health. 

Until a person HAS A STRONG REASON fueled with a passionate desire to lose weight, the person will never achieve the desired weight loss goal.

All the struggles and successes of life end at the point when a person is diagnosed with major health problems. No money on this earth can buy your natural health back. A person may have some luxuries, but health is a priceless luxury. If you are healthy, your family and your environment will also get healthy. If a human being by birth is born healthy, then he/she are said to be blessed if they die healthy. The biggest blessing a human being gets in life is at the moment of his/her birth. If all the organs are fine and a human being is born healthy, that is the biggest blessing the human has come with. Everyone should live and appreciate this blessing which God gave us. Till 25 years of age I never appreciated this blessing which was given to me by god. The realization of this blessing did come late to me. And now I live everyday with this blessing.

I thank the almighty for making me go through the transformation process of losing weight, which made me realize that health of a human being is in its own hands and living with good health is not a difficult task.

I thank god every day that all my internal organs are fine, all my body parts are moving and I do everything possible not to let this blessing get away from me. I end this chapter with:

If a human was born healthy and the human died healthy, the human was blessed “. 

Please have a look at my life snapshot before and after I lost weight

                             

 

 

 Please have a look of my weight maintenance timeline snapshot.

                

 

 

Disclaimer:For people who plan to follow the healthy Weight Loss Soldier Program, the weight loss results may vary as per their age, body type , existing  physical and medical conditions. Weight Loss Soldier Program is based upon a healthy consistent lifestyle of Proper Exercise, Proper Diet and Proper Rest. Following this program consistently will bring weight loss results and good health.

 

 

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