Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Post Pregnancy Weight Loss - 1

As an overweight person one of my concern during pregnancy was to get back my pre pregnancy weight. At 84 kilos, 70 kilo sounded like sweet heaven to my years but it also looked like a distant dream. I felt so bloated and huge that getting back in my jeans seemed impossible.

There is a very beautiful thought in Buddhism "In the world of prayers nothing is impossible, nothing is unachievable, so pray. BUT prayer alone does not do anything, with your prayer take some action(how ever small) towards your goal". SO I did pray for my weight loss and I took (no matter how small) steps towards my weight loss.

1. Reading weight loss articles - We all do that but the question is how many of us follow the advise. There were two suggestions that touched a chord with me. One said that its possible for a woman to lose up to 75% of pregnancy weight within 3 months of delivery just by eating healthy (you can read it here) and the second said "remember the feast is over the day your child is born." These two thoughts were pasted in my mind and they did help me to carve my own path to weight loss.

2. Starting With the obvious - During pregnancy I did eat high calorie food that I carved for, so the first step was saying no to obvious high calorie foods. I used to love eating vada pav and chole bhature and my weekends were reserved for craving indulgence, so step 1 was to stop indulging in such kind of foods.

For two months I avoided eating out. I was not allowed to exercise for 2 months so to get in the weight loss I had to concentrate on my diet. Whenever I want to get in the weight loss with less exercise this is what I do and it always works for me. Once I get in the weight loss I do allow myself to eat out once a week.

3. Post pregnancy traditional food - My friends, my family and everyone around me wanted me to eat ghee and panjeeri(made from lots of ghee, sugar and dry fruits). This was like coming face to face with my nightmare. There I was all prepared to lose weight and there they were all prepared to tempt me with the most delicious fattening foods in the world.

I called up my aunt(who is a gynecologist), she told me that it is not necessary to have lots of ghee. She suggested 3 natural lactation agents 1)Broken Wheat(daliya), 2) Milk and 3) Papaya. She also suggested that instead of having dry fruits in ladoos or panjeeri, I can have a handful of almonds.

I always knew that lot of ghee is not required after birth and it was a relief getting it confirmed from a doctor. I never gave up ghee, I have always eaten it in small/moderate quantity BUT I was against the idea of consuming it in large amounts.

Quick Panjeeri Recipe From my MIL - I point blank refused to eat sugar and ghee, so my MIL came up with a very innovative Panjeeri recipe. She roasted all the dry fruits in microwave (instead of frying them in ghee). She used equal amounts of wheat barn and semolina (roasted them in small amount of ghee). Added all the traditional spices, very less sugar and grounded dry fruits. She made Panjeeri in 1/4th amount of ghee and sugar.

Quick Tip from my aunt - Ghee is required to bind the ladoos so instead of binding them keep the mixture loose. Sugar is added to make the ladoos taste good, so decrease the amount of sugar.

I did have my Panjeeri for first 40 days but only 2 table spoon as a small mini meal.

4. Post Pregnancy Cravings- I thought cravings were only for pregnancy but I was hit by major cravings post pregnancy.

One visualization trick I learnt long back was to imagine eating yourself healthy food. For example, when you go out and you start thinking "I am going to have pizza for dinner today", 90% of chances are you will have a major urge to eat the pizza and you will have it.

Instead it was suggested to start thinking of having something healthy (idli instead of pizza) and the urge to eat will be shifted to idli instead of pizza. I had tried it during my weight loss period and it did worked for me. The best part about thinking tips is that you do not have to pay a dime to try them.

This time around I tried this trick again. I thought about eating lot of healthy stuff, planned my healthy meals and I did found myself having healthy cravings. I had a huge craving for avocado, bottle gourd(lauki) and eggs along with these good cravings I did develop vampire sweet tooth. As a rule if the craving is healthy I honor it and if it is unhealthy I dealt with it in the smartest way possible.

I am still trying to deal with my sweet tooth. A piece of jaggery after my meals seems to do the trick for me.

5. Post Pregnancy Diet for first 2 months- As I stubbornly said No to any high calorie food my MIL came up with really good nutritive recipes (which I will share shortly) of daliya khichadi and vegetable roties.

My sample(not exact) diet for first 2 months was

Breakfast - 5 soaked almonds, 1 veg/egg/avacado sandwich (made of two big size multi grain breads) with tea.

After 2 hours - 1 banana. 2 bananas a day are a must for me. One I have in morning and one in evening. I have never changed this habit of mine.

Lunch and dinner - 1 bowl vegetable daliya with lots of dhal, 1 green vegetable, bottle gourd raita and salad(made from boiled sprouts, grated carrot, cucumber and salad leaves)

I had severe craving for bottle gourd and for two months I ate bottle gourd raita with every single meal.

Evening - 1-2 Vegetable roti with tea.

I cannot drink milk to save my life, so it did not figure in my diet.

6. Dealing with Hunger pangs -Breastfeeding is always accompanied by hunger pangs, so its best to be prepared. I always opt for fruits, boiled sprout salad, jhal mudi (bengali style bhel) or dry fruits(within my daily limit). When the hunger strikes hard its very easy to lose control. Denying food during breast feeding was not an option for me so I simply opted for healthy food options.

7. Getting back to exercising- After 2 months I started with my elliptical but my stamina was zero. I could only manage to do the elliptical at resistance load 1 for 10 minutes. I felt exhausted after 10 minutes of my exercise. I did not push myself. My first week target was to do light exercise for 10 - 15 minutes. Only after 3 months I had enough stamina to do my cardio exercise for 30 - 45 minutes.

8. How did the weight come down -
I weighed myself the day I came back from the hospital and I was 78 kilos at that time. I still felt pregnant with a huge belly. As I was very strict about my eating choices the weight started melting, also with time body gets rid of the excess water. I came down to 75 kilos in next 25 days. I cannot think of anything special that I did except for eating home made less oil food for 2 months straight. I was 72 kilos at the end of 2 months.

72 kilos stayed with me for sometime and it was very difficult to break that plateau. Once I completed 3 months I increased the time and intensity of my cardio exercise which got my weight down to 69 kilos by the end of 4 months.

9. Yes breastfeeding does leads to weight loss - Before my pregnancy I always used to read about how calorie consuming breastfeeding is. I agree to this point now. I did not do anything special for my weight loss. I only opted for healthy food combined with some exercise (only after 2 months), so breastfeeding did played a major role in my weight loss.

A woman does burn calories while breastfeeding, the only problem is that burning calories leads to hunger and if you are not careful with your calorie intake you can end up gaining weight instead of losing it.

10. What will happen to the baby if you don't eat fats - Your baby will be healthy and fine. I fail to see any nutritive value in ghee laden parathas and sweets. Don't let aunties and relatives tell you about the health of your child. Your pediatrician knows best so consult him.

Where I stay my baby is due for a complete medical checkup every 2 months, where they monitor his height and weight and he is in the healthy range.

11. Where do I stand now with my weight,exercise and diet - Now my weight is between 68-69 kilos. Right now my aim is to try to lose 500gms/1kilo a month(I am in no hurry).

I can no longer eat lot of food instead I keep eating small amounts every two hours.

Break Fast - Same as before. Sandwiches on most days.

2 -3 hours after BF - 1 banana

Lunch - 1 big roti with sabji, raita and salad. I would love to include lot of things here but I get time to cook only this.

Evening at 5 pm - 2 rusk with tea.

7pm - Handful of dry fruits with apple/banana.

Dinner- 1 big roti with lentil/beans or any protein, raita and salad..

If I am hungry in between meals then I opt for fruits most of the time. I eat rice only on weekends. I try to make daliya(broken wheat) whenever possible.

My diet and hunger levels changed past one month. Though I eat only 1 roti/chapathi, my roties are made with different grains,seeds and grated vegetables which makes 1 roti quiet heavy.

As for my exercise I try to manage 5 days a week but sometimes its not possible. I alternate my workout between elliptical and treadmill(on alternate days). I have also started jogging on a very slow speed on the treadmill.

As always with my weight loss once I achieve my set goal I give myself some easy space till I set myself a next target. I was very strict about eating outside, now I do have outside food once a week(can no longer avoid it)

Post Pregnancy Weight Loss - 2

Few Suggestions and Recipes from my side

1. Listen to your hunger - If you are really hungry then you will eat a simple meal of roti and sabji, if you find yourself wanting to eat only fried food then its not hunger.

2. Nutritive meals - Make your meals as nutritive as possible with small or moderate amounts of fat.

3. Quick Meals - Keep easy quick meals in your fridge. I always have sprouts which I steam in microwave. It just takes 5 minutes. I can then prepare sprouts sabji, add them to my bhel or just have them with lemon and cucumber. They are healthy and take care of hunger very well.

4. Easy Tiffins - I used to carry paneer-peas stuffed grilled parathas whenever I was out shopping. As a new mom my body did demand food and if I did not carry a tiffin with me I always ended up eating lot of junk food. Stuffed parathas are easy to prepare and are mess free.

5. Vegetable daliya khichadi - This always works for weight loss and is very healthy too.


A) 2 tablespoon daliya/broken wheat + 2 tablepoon split green mung dhal.

B) 1 tsp ajwain/carom seeds.

C)1 tsp til seeds

D) Grated ginger

E) Finely chopped carrot and french beans (or any vegetable of your choice).

D) Salt to taste

Procedure - Pressure cook all ingredients with water to make khichadi. Consistency should not be very thick or runny.

I used to eat 1 big bowl of this khichadi with my sabji, dhal, raita and salad. Khichadi was just a replacement of roti. It really fills the stomach.

6. Vegetable roties

A) 1 cup wheat flour

B) 1/2 tsp ajwain/carom seeds.

C)1 tsp til seeds.

D) 1- 2 tablespoon finely chopped coriander.

E) 2 tsp grated ginger (you can add more if you like)

F) 1 grated carrot (or 1 cup grated cabbage)

G) Salt (optional)


Make a soft dough using milk if possible and make roties.

These roties are extremely flavorful. You can have them with your meals or enjoy them with your tea in evening.

7) Multi seeds roti - I have now started adding flax seeds, onion seeds and til seeds in my plain roti flour. They are nutritive and add flavor to a simple humble roti.

8)Multi grain roti - These roties are not very soft, they are chewy and I like them this way. You can mix and match bajra, jawar, sattu, soya, ragi flour. I also add oats to make roti flour.

9) Salad works - I was not a salad person before but now they are a must have in my meals. I cannot have salad before meals, I like to eat it between my meals along with my roti and sabji.

10) Lovely Thalis - A bought myself a big thali with separate sections. The idea is to fill it up to have a complete meal and its easier to wash too.

The first two thali have stuffed raw papaya roties and the third one has a multi seed roti.

11) Planning- We all know that if we fail to plan then we plan to fail. Its very important to have a road map. You know what are your boundaries, your constraints and your priorities, so plan within your limits to achieve your goal. Just running head first towards weight loss will not achieve anything, so plan your diet and exercise according to your taste and convenience.

 I have jotted down everything that I can think of right now that worked towards my post pregnancy weight loss. Please remember, that I am not an expert and my diet is based on what I am comfortable with. The diets mentioned in the post are sample diets i.e the things that I remember eating, I tend to eat every 2 hours (it can be a cucumber or a carrot or a fruit), I eat alot but I stick to healthier options.

Remember, the weight loss journey as always will be very frustrating and extremely disappointing but it will make you do things that you would have never done, it will teach you not accept things you do not like, it will force you not to bow down before things that you do not want. It will make you look beyond yourself to see what you are made of and to achieve what you always wanted to be.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Game of Healthy Weight Gain

I was on a happy vacation when I discovered I was pregnant. I started on a very shaky ground when I also discovered that I was 5 kilos over my lowest weight (which was 65 kilos).There I was standing on the weighing machine, staring at the number 70, the ground underneath me not only shook but also moved is an understatement.

The below picture is NOT taken during my pregnancy. This photo is taken around 2008 when I was 86 kilos and growing.This picture was a reminder of what I have been fighting all along and what can I become if I am not careful about my pregnancy weight gain. What I was, what I am and what I can be were the three questions I always kept in mind.

I embarked on the journey of my life time where my aim was NOT to lose But to gain weight.

My pregnancy journey in short.

First Trimester - There was nothing much I could do in this period. I was not allowed to exercise. I felt terrible nausea and was on bed for sometime due to vomiting. All I could manage to eat was bread and butter and I lost few pounds.

Second Trimester - Sunshine returned in this trimester. I felt hungry, I liked few foods and I returned to my senses. On an average I was supposed to eat 300 calories above my normal intake. I invested my time in eating home cooked healthy and nutritive meals and I returned to my 30-45 minutes exercise routine. I followed the rule of eating at home during the week and indulging my craving on weekend. By the end of this trimester I gained 6 kilos. I weighed 76 kilos.

Third Trimester - In my 7th month I experienced hunger as I never experienced it before. I was hungry most of the time. I ate and ate and ate. The only rule to eating policy was to eat at home and not eat free calories like biscuits, chips, ice creams instead I ate mutltigrain roties, sprout bhel etc. I gained most of my weight during my third trimester, towards the end I was 84 kilos. A gain of 14 kilos was considered healthy by my doctor.

Diet that I followed : I am a very lazy creature and I tend to eat any thing that is easily made and quickly consumed. I kept my meals as simple as possible.

Breakfast-  5 soaked almonds were must. My breakfast was usually veg/egg sandwich with a big cup of tea. I did craved for Sago/Sabudana so I used to make microwavable sabudana khichadi which consumes less oil. If I felt like eating poha or upma, I added lots of veggies to it.

After 2 hours- Apple or a banana

Lunch - 2 roties with sabji and raita. It was a conscious decision on my side not to eat rice every day. I kept rice for the craving days.

Evening - Handful of walnuts with tea. Depending on my hunger I would either opt for a multigrain roti OR sprout bhel with green chutney.

Dinner- Same as lunch

I ate nutritive filling meals and there was nothing very fancy about it. Simple rule, eat whatever you want but make sure to eat low calorie version.

I chalked out few rules for myself which I followed to the T in my pregnancy.

1. Better to be Silly than sorry - I always consulted my doctor regarding my doubts which included my questions about weight and exercise. Keeping your doctor in loop is not only good its common sense. No question is too small NO doubt is too silly.

2. Diet Busters- Most people advised me "Not to Diet" during pregnancy. I really don't understand what does NOT to diet stands for. When I lost weight I ate healthy and never stayed hungry and I refuse to call this lifestyle as dieting. During my pregnancy my rule was to eat healthy food. When hungry I could have easily opted for a samosa, burger, french fries BUT I chose to eat roti-sabji, fruits and eggs, which are not only filling but are also healthier.

I have seen people (and I am sure most of us have) who eat tub of ice creams, chips, loads of fat just because they are pregnant. There is nothing wrong in indulging yourself but with my weight issues I just could not afford to be a part of frequent indulging philosophy.

3. Call of the carvings - I wanted to enjoy my pregnancy by eating all the sin food BUT I also wanted to be in the healthy weight range. So I made a rule. Week days were strict home cooked meal days and cravings were to be addressed on weekend. I made a list of my cravings and every week I enjoyed one craving guilt free.

I felt like eating vada pav every single day, had I done that I would have easily crossed my weight limit, instead I ate it on weekend. I never for once felt deprived during my pregnancy, if craving is there then it will be fulfilled on weekend. The guilt free craving encounter kept me motivated to eat as healthy as possible during the week. Just because I was pregnant did not mean that I had a "all that I can eat" free pass.

4. Late Night Tiffins - My hunger level started to rise during my second trimester.
As my late night hunger pangs started, I used to quickly go and have a big tomato cheese sandwich. After few days I realized that I cannot do this on daily basis, so I came up with late night tiffins. I kept a box of roti-sabji, litti,vermacili ready in the fridge. As long as it was tasty I was happy to eat it at night.

My night time tiffins helped me to avoid instant 2 minutes noodles, chips, biscuits, namkeen, cheese and bread and what not.

5. Exercise- My habit to exercise before pregnancy helped me to stay active during my pregnancy. It was a personal decision, which was made solely on my research, to pack my bag and go to gym. Throughout my second trimester I did treadmill and elliptical at low speed. I did 30 -45 minutes of cardio workout.

The reason I opted for treadmill was that I felt( and it is solely my opinion) that treadmill provides a smooth walking space, there are no sudden jerks and surprises. Elliptical and treadmill both are considered pregnancy safe.

While exercising I was super conscious about my body indications. I did not let my body dehydrate and over heat. I never once pushed myself, if I felt tired I would immediately stop exercising.

I was asked to stop exercising after my 7th month which I did but I was active doing my house work and doing shopping for the baby.

6. Knowledge - It always helps to understand things. We live in an era of easy knowledge and I see no harm in making use of this knowledge. I read as much as possible about healthy weight gain and exercise during pregnancy. All the articles and books that I read helped me to shape my path. Knowledge is the most powerful tool that we can use in our weight loss journey.

7. De bunking the myths - I have seen people eating junk in the name of pregnancy. One common belief is to eat whatever you feel like, I did that too BUT I also kept a tab on the frequency of such treats.

During my last days of pregnancy, there were suggestions to drink ghee with milk, so that the baby comes out easily. The thought of such deadly combination and the amount of fat it will accumulate was horrifying. I am fortunate enough to have an aunt( who is a gynecologist), she told me that the place where the baby comes out and the place where ghee and milk are digested are different. There is no connection between loads of ghee and easy baby.

Some suggested that keeping brick of ice cream in the fridge is a sure shot cure for acidity, I agree but it is also a sure shot way to gain fat.

I stayed clear from such myths, in case of any doubt I consulted my doctor(and my aunt).

As a simple rule, where my weight and diet during pregnancy was considered I did not listen to anyone except my doctor.

8. Maternity Clothes - I refused to buy clothes tagged as Maternity. My fear was that because these clothes are so comfortable I might keep wearing them.

I opted for large size clothes. I bought really few of these dresses because there was no way I was going to keep them after my pregnancy.

Just after my delivery I could not fit back in my old clothes and I just had handful of dresses to wear outside. I refused to make any new purchases for my new big size. Wearing few clothes over and over again was just my way of reminding myself of what I was trying to change, what will happen if I did not work towards my vision and what awaits for me if I work a little hard to chase my dream.

I never had a pregnancy wardrobe(apart from extremely few large size clothes) and I do not have a post pregnancy wardrobe as I fit right back in my old dresses.
The best part about healthy pregnancy weight is that you lose almost half the amount right after delivery and with little effort you can lose the remaining.

Remember, when you are dealt the cards you don't like then the only way to play the game is to give your very best shot and to play as if you can never lose.

You might also like to read - The Last Laugh

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Last Laugh

Once upon a time when I was a little fat girl, me and my cousins got involved in a tug fight. My cousins were pulling and forcing me to stand on the weighing machine at the railway station And I with all my strength was trying to run away. In the end I gave up and took the challenge to stand on the machine,braced myself for the coming attack. I was fattest of them all and everyone wanted to laugh at my weight. When the weight slip came out of the machine there was a pin drop silence from my cousins, curiously I took a look and burst out laughing. The machine just showed 20 kilos ( which I definitely was not). I kept laughing and dancing in front of them for a very long time. For all these years this incident stayed with me because it taught me the power of the last laugh.

When I got pregnant, most people told me that with a tendency to gain weight, 20 - 25 kilos of weight gain is normal. I should not expect this weight to go easily, in fact it will be very tough for me to lose weight after delivery because hunger levels do increase while breastfeeding. Every time when someone commented on the impending weight gain and how I won't be in a position to lose it, the railway weight machine incident flashed in front of my eyes.

During my pregnancy I gained 14 kilos and 4 months after the delivery I managed to lose all the weight plus an additional kilo as well (in total 15 kilos). When I stood on the scale one 31st December I just could not stop myself remembering my day at the railway station, just could not stop myself from laughing out loud.

Somewhere in my life I discovered that its not others who decide my fate, its just me alone who calls the shots and decide my destiny.

The one who laughs last, laughs loudest and longest because she knows that no one can take hard work away from her and hard work is the only thing in life that always always pay.
Just after the delivery

Wearing my old jeans felt like a distant dream


Finally the Jeans are back on.

Remember, when underestimate your strength then you and me we both know, who will be laughing in the end.

A very happy new year to all of you. This new year don't forget to chase your dreams.

PS: And yes I am back to blogging.