Simran Chopra thought that it was okay to put on a little weight after she got married. Then she decided to have a baby and the severity of a pre-existing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) hit her. “Conceiving became really hard because of my weight,” says the 35-year-old, who weighed around 65 kgs at 5 ft 7 inches.
She did get pregnant though, and the birth of a healthy baby boy was a welcome blessing after months spent in agony, as she grappled with self-doubt.
But pregnancy and the resultant weight gain made it harder for her to move around. Additionally, she began eating without reservation, again. “I kept telling myself that I needed to eat because I was feeding,” she says.
Before she knew it, she was 20 kilos overweight and depressed. “The PCOS was causing hormonal issues and mood swings, and my self-confidence was at its lowest. I hated looking at myself in the mirror.” As her self-esteem plummeted, she began avoiding social gatherings and continued binge-eating. But her weight and lack of strength soon began affecting her back. “One day I just collapsed and could not move. I was alone with my three-month-old baby when this happened. The doctors diagnosed two bulged discs and one degenerate one,” she says.
The pain was so excruciating that she was forced to crawl around the house for a week. But since she was still feeding, she was unable to take muscle relaxants. Sitting beyond 30 minutes would cause her back to freeze, she remembers. “I couldn’t go for a movie or sit down to dinner.”
A wake-up call
Though the doctor insisted that she needed to lose weight, her first attempts to do so were fruitless. “I resorted to dieting, which, with my limited knowledge meant ‘eat less’. I lost a little weight, but nothing noticeable,” she says. More importantly, her back didn’t feel better, and she realised that dieting this way wasn’t sustainable. Then a close friend made a remark about her weight. “I was hurt, but in retrospect, I am glad he spoke his mind,” she says.
Although she has always found the gym boring and was under the misconception that strength training would make her bulk up, she agreed to try it out. The first thing she did was reach out to a personal trainer.
The old-fashioned way
She went back to doing it the tried-and-tested way: strength, cardio and a sensible nutrition plan, with Sunday being a rest day. At first, it seemed like too much food, but she persisted eating balanced, healthy meals and snacks spaced out all through the day, and avoided carbonated beverages, refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, fried stuff, refined flour and packaged food.
Additionally, she quelled the guilt she first felt at taking two hours away from home and her baby, and was diligent about working out. She lost 4 kg in the first month. In five months, she dropped four sizes and 22 kilos.
With her transformation, the PCOS corrected itself, and she now has no back problems. From not being able to sit through a movie, Chopra now goes rock climbing. She says, “Now, I have realised how far I have come, and how important it was to be fit and not skinny. I want my son to look up to me as a strong, healthy, confident and happy person. Not a woman who puts everyone before herself.”