Three months ago, I set a goal for myself when I began training — by the time I turn 20, I should no longer be overweight. I looked at myself in the mirror and the first thing that went through my head was, "Is this what you want to see every day when you wake up, an out-of-shape piece of shit growing fat folds by the minute?" I've always been insecure about my weight since the third grade, where my insatiable love for chocolate, fruit snacks, and anything else chocked full of sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup led me to rapidly gain weight in elementary school. I was constantly reminded by my pediatrician to keep my weight under control, as it is so much easier to be healthy when you're young before all the complications of obesity kick in later in life.
I have been bullied about my weight, leading me to resent myself for my poor lack of judgment. But exercise was too much work, and I kept getting tired too easily. In addition, my insecurity only led me to stress-eat comfort foods. I genuinely love food and love eating, but my lack of self-control led to me eating almost nonstop until my weight ballooned. When I was at Harvard for my summer program, I completely lost control and kept eating as much junk food as I could — the euphoria from eating was too much for me to control. In seven weeks, I rapidly put on 10 to 20 pounds and gained so much fat that my shirts stopped fitting and I needed a size up. Luckily, I never gained weight from that point on, but on the other hand, I never lost any. This seemed to be my new weight.
Physical education in all my years of schooling was completely useless at getting me to lose an appreciable amount of weight — the most I ever lost were tiny fluctuations that when added up were negligible to my overall health.
I was nearly 200 pounds at one point, and for my height, I was borderline obese.
This continued into my freshman year of college. Every time I looked in the mirror, I hated myself for what I've become over the past decade of low activity and unhealthy eating habits. It contributed to several depressive episodes and a decade-long feeling of learned helplessness.
But something managed to change my mind entirely. When I was living off-campus while my EMT course was going on, I made it a goal to do 100 pushups, 100 sit-ups, and 100 squats, inspired from the "One-Punch Man" character Saitama, who showed me that if you have the determination to do something, you can accomplish it. Training every day was arduous and nearly broke me — I was SO out of shape. When I first started, I weighed nearly 200 pounds. But training alone did not help me — I was still eating unhealthily. I immediately switched my diet to healthier, more nutritious meals full of fruits, vegetables, tofu, and poultry, and made it a point to walk at least five miles a day briskly.
Every week when I got home, my weight started to go down, albeit gradually.
I was frustrated with my efforts yielding so little results, but I then realized that people who are so lean and fit became that way only because they trained for years and slowly progressed. I came to terms with this and realized that progress is a gradual process, not instantaneous. I learned that I had to be patient and let my results show up after months of training. I had to also discipline myself to make sure that I don't slip up too much and destroy the results of my hard work. For my genetics and body type, it's a lot easier for me to gain weight than lose, so the most I've ever rewarded myself with was one kid scoop of ice cream. I stopped eating white rice (much to the chagrin of my Indian parents), started eating more protein, and cut my portion size by half.
I think diet is just as important as exercise. I can still eat delicious food that's healthy and in moderation, and I go to the gym four to five times a week now, incorporating strength training with calisthenics and running on the track.
All this training eventually led me to be much healthier and happier.
Three months after I set my goal, I've officially lost 24+ pounds and am no longer overweight, much less obese. I still have a ways to go and my training method is not perfect, but I'm much healthier. I am living proof that you can lose weight if you set your mind to something like Saitama did. And while I'll never be as strong, fast, or lean as Saitama, I am a lot more confident in my body and am even more determined to push it as far as it can possibly go.