Weight before: 76 kg
Weight now: 65 kg
Lost 11 kg
Spending 15-hour days in a sedentary corporate job, Gopal Singh Naruka woke up one day to realise his weight had crept up on him. “I had become a workaholic and it had taken a toll on my health,” says the 33-year-old Delhi resident.
His 2016 New Year’s resolution was to shed the kilos, and to that end, Gopal did an online search for help. That’s how he came across HealthifyMe, and after an incredible 7-day free trial experience, he opted for the premium services in February 2016 to avail of a diet and fitness plan customised to his goals.
‘First I wanted to lose weight. Then I wanted to run the Airtel half-marathon’
Gopal had three objectives – first, he wanted to lose weight and had set a target of 10 kg for himself. Secondly, he wanted to run the Airtel half-marathon in November. “At the time, I could barely run one or one-and-a-half kilometres, so I wanted to train in a planned and programmed manner and complete the 21 km run,” he recalls. Lastly, he wanted a flat tummy. “I don’t want to be Salman Khan, but I wanted to look toned,” he explains.
Nutritionist Sonia Shankar and fitness instructor Dileep Shivaram helped Gopal work towards his goals. “Eating healthy was a big change, and initially I found it very challenging. But Sonia motivated me a lot, and asked me to start by breaking my bad habits and making small changes to my daily diet. Now I am addicted to healthy food,” says Gopal.
The first step was to cut out junk food, unhealthy snacks, fat and sugar, and to regularise his meal timings. “Earlier, I had almost 5-10 cups of tea and coffee. I’d start my day with butter-laden parathas for breakfast, and would snack on burgers and samosas from the office canteen whenever I felt hungry. When I signed up with HealthifyMe, I realised how imbalanced my diet was and how that was causing me to put on weight,” says Gopal.
The initial task being weight loss, Sonia helped Gopal ease himself into new habits. “I gave him a few simple snack options that he could carry from home, like boiled eggs, carrots and cucumber sticks, chana, roasted paneer and tofu, and nuts,” she says, ensuring there was enough variety for him to stick to the plan. Gopal continued to frequent the office canteen, but says Sonia’s advice helped him make better food choices. “I had to train myself to eat only what I required. But when my hunger pangs became unbearable, I’d tell Sonia what was available in the cafeteria and she would point me towards the healthiest option, like a plain dosa. Today, even if I am surrounded by junk food, I will automatically choose the healthiest option in order to maintain my diet,” says Gopal.
Given his job involves a lot of socialising, Sonia suggested he fill up on salad before snacking on fattening party fare. “She didn’t ask me to stop going for parties, which was very encouraging. She said I wouldn’t be tempted to eat a lot if I filled my stomach with salad first. I was really surprised, but she was right,” he says.
Breakfasting on poha, suji uttapam or upma, cutting down on the number of rotis and adding salads and curd to his daily meals, swapping potatoes for green vegetables, and white rice for brown, were other significant changes he made. “I can skip my roti now but I won’t miss my salad,” Gopal says.
Sonia says Gopal’s greatest strength has been his ability to stick with the plan. “He’s very committed and is quick to clarify any doubts he has,” she says. “His level of interest and dedication are definitely the main reasons why he has successful managed to lose weight.”
‘The goal was to run the marathon in November. But I cleared the qualifying race just three months into training’
Changes to his diet, and 30-45 minutes of daily exercise, it took Gopal almost three months to build the stamina he needed to pursue his second goal – running the half marathon.
“After spending 15 hours at work, I didn’t want to go to the gym. So Dileep, my trainer, designed a workout plan that I could follow at home,” he says.
Dileep says the first few weeks of marathon training were focused on weight training and the rest on cardio and running. “It was about an 80:20 ratio since I needed to ensure his lower limbs gained strength,” says the trainer. The second phase of training was a 50:50 split of running and core strengthening exercises, where Gopal would run every alternate day. “I could manage about one or one-and-a-half kilometre when we first started training at the end of May. Gradually, I kept adding more and more miles to my run,” says Gopal, adding that the pre and post workout foods recommended by Sonia did wonders to boost his stamina.
The goal was to increase Gopal’s running endurance by 5 km per month, so that he’d be ready to cover 21 km by November. However, just a few weeks ahead of September, Gopal learnt that he had to run a qualifying race before the actual marathon. “That was a surprise attack, but Dileep was confident we would be prepared. In September, three months into my training, I completed the qualifying race. It was a life-changing experience for me,” says Gopal, who went on to run the half marathon, completing it in 2 hours, 39 minutes.
Dileep says Gopal’s commitment to his training was commendable. “He would maintain the correct intensity in his workouts and was very disciplined about his diet and sleep. That went a long way in helping his achieve his goal,” says Dileep.
‘I’m now focused on my final milestone – getting rid of my belly fat’
During the course of his plan, Gopal was able to surpass his goal weight by losing 11 kg. He also managed to fulfil his marathon wish, despite training with an injury. He maintains his weight at 65 kg now, and is focused on his last milestone — trimming his tummy. He spends about an hour-and-a-half working out now, and is surprised at how easy it has been to make the time for exercise. “It’s been an amazing journey and I couldn’t have done it without my two superstars, Dileep and Sonia,” Gopal says, adding that they stepped in with suggestions whenever he faced a roadblock. “I had to attend a family wedding, and was unsure about being able to exercise or eat healthy. They both gave me simple tips, like staying on my feet as much as possible, and sticking to salads and fruits at the buffet. I thought I would gain at least 2-3 kg after the event, but surprisingly, I actually lost 1 kg!” he says, grateful that he always has access to them in his time of need.
The compliments are pouring in – he’s told he looks 5-10 years younger – and he’s feeling more confident at work too. His wife, also a client with HealthifyMe, has lost 10 kg too. “When family members and friends ask me how I’ve done it, I tell them it’s thanks to HealthifyMe, and my gurus Sonia and Dileep, who motivated and taught me how to lead a healthier life,” he concludes.
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