Fitness

When the doctor helps himself

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Being a doctor does not provide you immunity against obesity. This, Delhi-based Dr Gulati learnt, as he strived to drop 25 kilos

Back in early 2015, when Dr Tribhuvan Gulati, a diabetologist and obesity specialist, advised his patients to lose weight, he did not appreciate the looks he got. “I couldn’t possibly sit there with my paunch, asking people to start dieting,” says Dr Gulati, who at 5 feet 11 inches, was bordering 100 kilograms at the time.

The 41-year-old was not blind to the irony there. Despite what he did for a living, Dr Gulati himself was caught unawares when he was diagnosed with diabetes in 2015. In fact, that he get himself checked was his mother’s dying wish.

The stress of it all

“My mother passed away in November 2014. But for nearly a year-and-a-half before that, she was bedridden,” reveals Dr Gulati, whose mother had diabetes and was hypertensive. “She had a stroke and her left side was completely paralysed.”

So in 2013, Dr Gulati quit his job and stayed at home full-time to take care of his mother. Everything from feeding her, to taking her to the washroom, to changing her clothes, to simply giving her company — all of it fell on his shoulders. “I would have to get up thrice every night for some reason or the other,” he says.

The stress began eating into him, and in turn, he began eating junk food. “Almost every meal was a take-out. Pizzas, burgers, chicken masala gravy, all of it,” he says.

His sugar intake also shot up. “I was running on low sleep and needed to stay active, so I would drink three cups of cold coffee, and tea — almost 13 teaspoons of sugar in total every day,” he says.

Over the span of those two years, his waist size ballooned up. “The metabolic damage I was inflicting upon myself had probably started prior to this, but it was now that I had hit rock bottom,” he says.

Where’s my motivation?

After his mother passed away, Dr Gulati got himself and his father checked; both of their blood sugar levels were above normal, as was his BP. “Once you are in your late 30s, you can see your future. I did not want to face the end like my mother had to. I loved my job and the thought of being bedridden terrified me,” he says.

Having specialised in diabetes, he had always known the causes and risks that lead to the disease, he had known that he was not on a healthy path. “But then, I was not thinking about myself; I had no time for that,” he says. Like many of us, the information was available at his fingertips, but not the motivation.

But the hammer truly hit the nail on its head when, after rejoining his practice in 2015, he saw his patients’ attitude towards his weight gain. “Patients need to look up to their doctors. It’s only when you walk the talk that you inspire them,” he underlines. “That was my main motivation.”

On track

“The first thing to go out of my diet was sugar,” says Dr Gulati, who stopped taking it in any form: in tea, coffee, or sweets. “I also made sure that I did not allow refined oil or flour either,” he says. “Fat gets a bad image, but overdoing carbs and sugar is just as bad, if not worse. I reduced my carb quantity, and cut down on bread and junk food,” he says.

He also got into the concept of intermittent fasting. “Fasting is something that every religion and culture promotes; you can easily fast for 12-16 hours,” says Dr Gulati, who generally eats his dinner by 5.30 pm and his breakfast at 8.30 am.

Though he never dedicatedly went to the gym to work out, he strived to return to his more active self; as a teenager, he would swim, play soccer and practise karate.

“I began scheduling an hour of physical activity every night after my clinic hours,” he says. He would divide his workout into 30 minutes of running, and 30 minutes of strength training at home: push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, free weights.

“The older you get, the easier it is to lose muscle mass. So strength training is important,” he adds.

Dr Gulati lost 25 kilograms to claim his patients now follow his advice to the T. And then there are other superficial but equally satisfying joys.

An avid biker, he laughs, “Somehow, it is just cooler when your belly fat doesn’t spill over on the engine.”

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 6:25:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/fitness/when-the-doctor-helps-himself/article25095853.ece

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