Standing tall at a hundred odd kilos of pure chhola bhatura and lamb burgers, they called me the cutest ogre in the city. Everyone knows how it is with a Punjabi family – parents, relatives, extended family, dogs, cats – everyone just showers their love with tons of food, and I loved every bit{e} of it. What made it better was that Defence Colony was my hood; a glutton’s paradise, with Hot Chocolate Fudge from Nirula’s, the Dominator from Dominos, mutton burgers from Kents, Rara momos, and butter chicken available at every restaurant in the vicinity. To sum it up, my life revolved around food, video games, lots of Cartoon Network, and more food. When I got into college, it meant more hours hanging out at new, undiscovered food joints. Big Chill at Khan Market, Noodles and Momo’s Point in DU, and my college canteen – all of which did their bit to hit the spot. Whatever meagre pocket money I got was spent on fat, oil and sugar. Delhi, without doubt, serves up some amazing food.

The city actually has a bunch of great people, so being overweight never affected me at all; I was barely bullied or laughed at {also if I ever was, I could’ve eaten them for dessert}. There were always fit, healthy and active people around me, and I knew my day would come too, but didn’t know when. I did play some sport at any given point in time, but just couldn’t keep my hands off the cookie jar.

And then one day, in the midst of a ‘Rocky’ movie marathon, I realised Delhi wasn’t as unhealthy as it seemed. It was as simple a realisation as that. I enrolled at my local gym {Healthline} the very next day. They really do know how to make sure you resort to shedding real, actual tears, but since I still work out there, I can tell you the tears are worth it. Everyone remembers Sylvester sprinting and training all over Philadelphia. I chose Lodi Gardens to copy his moves. Flora, fresh air, music on my iPod, and inspiration from people of all ages in there was all I needed. I zoned out and disconnected from the whole world while I ran. Also, deep down, I knew I had a bit of Kobe Bryant in me; regular basketball sessions at Defence Colony also helped me quite a bit in burning those XXXL calories.

So here was the problem – I hated running, or any kind of physical activity, so it took me a while to get used to it. The concept of working out at a gym was alien to me – I couldn’t even do one push up, and that was pretty embarrassing. At the basketball court, I was one of the last ones to be chosen for teams because of my lack of agility, and level of ‘unfitness’. But by then, I knew I had the drive, and these were just hurdles. I started running on the streets of Defence Colony, so that no one saw me panting or fainting, a huge possibility at the gym. It was only after my runs that I entered the gym. Every weekend, I used to end up at the court half an hour before everyone else to practice, just to try and match up to my fellow teammates.

Cutting down on my intake of all things delicious seemed impossible, and was a painful task initially. I had to discipline myself. The delivery staff of many of my favourite joints had a crisis when I stopped ordering in. The most irritating bit about keeping a check on my diet was that wherever I went, people still tried their best to shove food down my throat. They never understood {and most still don’t} where I was coming from and what I was trying to do to help myself. People do get offended when you say no, but I stopped caring.

Eating right wasn’t easy, but I worked it out. I learnt how to make salads and smoothies at home, Subway sandwiches were my new best friends, and I stuck to tikkas and whole wheat options whenever possible. No more pizzas, momos, burgers, maggi and hot chocolate fudge – the ogre had finally decided to turn human.

Days became weeks, and even though my stamina improved and I was regular with my regime, I didn’t see any difference. I was getting impatient and all the effort I was putting in seemed like a waste, but my trainer convinced me to wait it out and keep at it. It was only after 3 odd months that I noticed a change, and there was no looking back. For the first time in my life, I could happily give my clothes away and bid farewell to the XXL labels.

before-after Fat To Fit: Confessions Of A Delhi Foodie

Every time I peaked, I had to push myself by reminding myself that it was only the beginning. I clearly remember – I started with running a kilometer in 7-8 minutes, and went on to running 6 kilometers in 30 minutes. It took me almost 6 months to get to that speed and distance!

Yes yes, I know you’ve been waiting for the part where I talk numbers. My regime didn’t disappoint, and neither will I! I’ve lost 8 inches, and 40 odd kilos. The best part – I’ve kept this weight off for about 5 years now.

A year or so ago, I started cycling in the city every Sunday. Apart from being a great workout, I also got to discover the city myself – the architecture of Central Delhi, the charming sights of Lutyens, and a bit of South Delhi as well. The capital does have some smooth roads {surprise surprise}, and I would urge all enthusiastic riders/cyclists out there to hit the roads on an early morning. PS: I finally know where all these confusing roundabouts take me!

I must admit, I still suffer from a ‘See Food’ disorder. I can’t stop bingeing or say no to food, but I’ve made it necessary to hit the gym or workout in some way or the other. The next stop for me – to build up on my core with mixed martial arts {hearing a lot about Warrior’s Cove}.

It’s a simple motto for me now – Live to eat, run to live. 

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