Starting up strong

05-10-2017

Three years ago, when Bhavishya Wadhawan came back to India, he returned with more work experience at his IT job, but also 28 kilograms heavier. “I left India at 70 kg, and returned at almost 100 kg,” he says. The lack of physical activity and irregular eating habits, he says, were the main reasons: “I’d sometimes be on an empty stomach the whole day, and sometimes eat at 2.30 am.”

At 27, he knew he had age — and the fact that he had no medical issues — on his side. But because he comes from a family of doctors, he knew he had to do something fast, before diabetes and hypertension got to him. So he began what was a series of weight-loss attempts. “I met with old classmates and realised that while in my career I was way more successful, with my body, I was not, and this hit my confidence,” he says.

Diets, gyms and slimming centres

Wadhawan first went to a dietician who he says put him on a plan he later realised was well below what the National Institute of Nutrition has recommended. The diet dipped below 1,000 calories, and his regular quarterly medical exam threw up a high ketone count. He showed his results to his doctor sister, who advised him to stop the diet immediately, because his kidneys were under tremendous load.

So he approached what are commonly called slimming centres, places that use non-surgical therapies, such as external ultrasonic liposuction and what they called a fat-mobilisation massage, to get rid of fat. The so-called counselling was in reality a marketing pitch, and no information of the positives and negatives was given out. Wadhawan found that there was little effect, and “it was a criminally expensive affair”. Again, his sister asked him if he had checked the credentials of the people administering the treatment. He hadn’t.

With the belief that exercise would be the way to go, he then approached a trainer, who in addition to exercise, ‘prescribed’ low-intensity steroids and fat burners (high-caffeinated capsules) to accelerate the weight-loss process. His research uncovered that both could have an adverse effect on the liver and kidneys.

The last straw

Having lost just a few kilos and faced with the threat of long-term health issues, Wadhawan felt “all my weapons were down. And while I was doing well career-wise, it isn’t a good feeling when you go to a party and people ‘joke’ about your weight,” he says.

Finally, he approached a doctor who was also a trained and registered dietician. “He told me I didn’t have to starve and didn’t have to give up on foods that I loved. All I needed to do was choose wisely (grilled chicken over a gravy dish, for instance), restrict portion sizes, eat at the same time every day, and finish dinner by 7 in the evening.”

He lost 24 kilograms in eight months, coming down to his ideal weight of 67 kg, at 5’ 9”. Inspired by his own success story, , he began his own venture, 98Fit, earlier this year. A free-to-use app, its logic is based on dietary guidelines for India, set by the National Institute of Nutrition.

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