Weight before: 85.5 kg
Weight now: 65 kg
Lost 20 kg in 9 months
While Neeraj Tomar was never huge, right from childhood he has been on the “healthier” side. His weight gain became a matter of concern once he moved to a job that involved a lot of travelling, this resulted in him developing irregular eating habits. Things came to a head when Neeraj was diagnosed with prediabetes. “I always wanted to lose weight, but my routine wouldn’t leave me with enough time to do so. However, when I found out that I had borderline diabetes, I knew that it was now or never,” the 46-year-old Delhi resident says.
Neeraj’s endocrinologist recommended he download HealthifyMe, but was a little sceptical about doing so. “I have consulted a number of nutritionists before and have never been too pleased with the outcome. They would provide me with a standard diet plan, which I would never be able to follow, since it never really catered to my requirements. After a couple of days, I would just stop trying,” he says.
‘Zuha didn’t insist on a 180 degree change in my diet. Instead, she focused on educating me about the nutritional value of food’
What favoured Neeraj the most was the fact that HealthifyMe didn’t follow a fixed diet or schedule. Medical nutritionist Zuha Ali designed a meal plan that was customised to fit Neeraj’s palate and lifestyle. “What was wonderful about working with Zuha was that she didn’t insist on a 180 degree change in my diet. Instead, she focused on educating me about the nutritional value of food. She showed me how to evaluate whether what I was eating was simply tasty, or tasty and healthy,” says Neeraj, who has become far more careful about his food choices now. “Earlier I would eat anything that was put in front of me, and at no particular time. My only concern was satiating my appetite – irrespective of whether what I ate was fatty or stuffed with carbs,” he says.
Being aware of his fat, carb and protein requirements, made it easier for Neeraj to pick out his food preferences. “For eg, if I had to increase my protein intake, Zuha didn’t insist only on egg whites or chicken. Instead she gave me a variety of non-veg and vegetarian sources to choose from. This level of flexibility allowed me to modify my diet without any roadblocks,” he says, further explaining that he would not eat fish that often, but now that he has a daily protein requirement he includes fish in almost every meal, including breakfast.
The fact that Neeraj could track his own meals and modify his eating habits using the HealthifyMe calorie tracker was a big plus point. Given his borderline diabetes, his physician had advised him to completely cut sugar out of his diet. While Neeraj did find ways of bringing it down – by swapping his daily cups of masala tea with green tea, for instance – he would continue to fuel his sweet cravings from time to time. “I used to have ice cream once a week before I joined HealthifyMe and I continue to do so even after. Moderation is important,” he says.
‘Before joining HealthifyMe I was eating less. Now I am eating more than ever’
A balanced change in what he ate and how much he ate helped Neeraj lose weight. He emphasises on the fact that he did not drop the kilos by starving himself. “Before joining HealthifyMe I was eating less. Now I am eating more than ever. My frequency has gone up from two meals a day to five or six. In fact, earlier I would carry a three-tier lunch dabba, whereas now I take a five-tier one,” he says, adding that two of the five dabbas contain healthy snacks like sprouts, salad, fruits and dry fruits. His healthy eating habits extend beyond the food cooked at home. “Even when I’m traveling, I look for healthy food options,” he says. Neeraj’s family has been very supportive about his diet overhaul, especially since no food has to be cooked specifically for him. “Zuha’s recommendations hold good for my entire family. So in a way, although only I have enrolled with HealthifyMe, my whole family benefits,” Neeraj says.
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The diet, along with an exercise plan, has helped Neeraj drop 20 kg in nine months. He works out five days a week at the gym for 30-40 minutes, doing a mix of cardio and strength training exercises. He says HealthifyMe fitness coach Rohit Singh and yoga coach Chaitanya Varma have been very diligent about sending him customised strength training and yoga routines based on his physique and age. Zuha has been his pillar. “I would always joke with her saying the first person who taught me what to eat and what not to eat was my mother, and the second person is her,” he says, with a laugh.
‘I love the compliments I get, but more importantly, my weight loss has brought my blood sugar down to a normal range’
Neeraj totally recommends HealthifyMe’s friendly approach to weight loss. “Zuha gave me complete freedom to eat whatever I wanted, while convincing me that I should avoid certain foods and make healthier choices,” says Neeraj, who is of the opinion that this approach works wonders. “If there is a patient with an ailment, and the doctor tells him that he absolutely cannot eat X, Y or Z, that can be very hard to stomach. We all want to be able to enjoy our meals – what is the point if we can’t? However, if you allow the patient to eat what he wants, in limited quantities, it becomes easier to introduce long term dietary changes,” he explains.
Zuha says Neeraj’s faith and commitment to the plan has helped him lose his excess weight. “He signed up for the one year plan after our first conversation,” she says. “From that moment onwards, he showed great resolve. When I pointed out that he was going off track, he listened and made the necessary changes and regularly posted weight loss updates on a group chat I maintain with clients, since the feedback motivated him. By equally focusing and dedicating himself to his diet and workout, he was able to achieve his goal.”
Over the course of nine months with HealthifyMe, Neeraj has set weight loss goals four to five times, and each time he has achieved his target ahead of schedule. “Now my task is to maintain my weight loss,” he says. “I know many people who lose weight, by following a strict diet or even starving themselves, and then put it all back on by going back to their old habits,” says Neeraj, who sincerely follows his diet and workout plan, and weighs himself every fortnight to ensure he stays in shape.
The most amazing outcome for Neeraj has been all the praises he has been receiving. “People I meet after three to four months are dumbstruck when they see me and all the compliments I get are a huge motivator,” he says, adding that he’s had to invest in smaller size clothing. Most importantly, he’s successfully brought his blood sugar down to a normal range. Neeraj credits HealthifyMe for helping him set his health back on track. “I’ve already recommended it to 10-12 of my friends. I’m happy to share the secret of my weight loss with others.”
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