On losing weight and finding life (Part 3)

Asthma – lots of people suffer from asthma. There’s something about asthma that’s binding, suppressing and restrictive. I couldn’t walk much. God forbid it were a little windy – out came the mask. I looked like a lady from the containment zone at a Zombie Apocalypse. Couldn’t enjoy sitting on a park bench or walk to the car if it is parked farther away than the exact front of the store.

We continued walking though – small baby steps. One fine summer day, I walked up one flight of stairs and collapsed in the hallway. I vaguely remember being rushed to the emergency room, put on nebulisers and subject to a dozen tests. You see, it was a time when a certain respiratory disorder was rampant in other parts of the world and one can never be too careful…fine take a few pints of blood and no I ain’t got any bodily fluid you haven’t tested yet – Sigh!

This was stifling for me, having to use a steroid based inhaler. Every other person I came across (including the company physician) told me that steroid based medication would make me gain weight. The problem was threefold : morbid obesity – asthma – PCOS. All will help me gain weight. What fun! We flew to India for second opinion too. No matter where we turned, the consensus was the same. ‘Get healthy. Oh and by the way your blood pressure is constantly high. Here is a ridiculously low calorie ‘diet plan’ that can only be followed for a week before it destroys your psyche’.

It was July 2014 and at 109 kg I was getting pretty sick and tired of being unwell. Jose, at 98 kg was batting diabetes with fasting sugar levels at 180 to 200 mg/dL – expensive medication, constant monitoring and increasing levels of cholesterol were eating away at our quality of life.

So we came back to UAE mid July feeling tired and met Dr.Nirmala Nayagam. She is quite a unique physician. Holding a post graduate Diploma in Obstetrics and Gynecology and a Post Graduate Degree in Diabetology, she was our doctor of choice.

Dr. Nayagam’s advice was simple. I still have the diagram she drew for us. Let me try and represent it.


Her mantra was  “Today’s overweight is tomorrow’s diabetes” and the solution was simple, satisfy your stomach not your tongue. Having said that, she showed us out.

Hmm… now what did that mean. She was appreciative of our efforts to walk everyday. That was nice. But there was no ‘diet chart’, no magic medicine, no ‘lemon water in the morning’ gimmick, no ‘powder in the night’ plan.

So we did what we could do. We discovered a walking track in Ajman that was just under construction and walked it.

Ajman Corniche, UAE

Ajman Corniche, UAE

WalkingTrack 3 Waking Track 2








We also discovered myfitnesspal.com and started watching our calorie intake. We ate everything rice, pasta etc, all within our calorie goal.

This is when we heard about The Landmark Group’s Beat Diabetes Walkathon. It was coming up in November 2014. A 6km walk around the F1 race track in Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina Circuit). I signed us up and a couple of cousins for it and requested Jose’s help in training. We had a plan and everything!

Meanwhile, the BurJuman Pink Walkathon (Oct 2014) was advertised. A 2km Walk that raises funds for Breast Cancer prevention, seemed like a good start. It was a small achievable target and a good milestone before a 6km walk. It was successful and a lot of fun. It boosted our confidence and we kept walking and increasing distance and pace.

PInk Walkathon 2

At BurJuman Pink Walkathon 2014

PInk Walkathon 1

Getting ready for Pink Walkathon 2014









November rolled around and The Beat Diabetes Walkathon was not just a significant milestone but an eye opening experience. There were people of all ages, people in wheel chairs, people with prosthetic limbs… back home we reflected on our learning and drew comfort and strength from those heroes.

Diabetes Walkathon1

#BeatDiabetes Beat Diabetes Walkathon 2014

Phase 2 was successfully transforming into an exciting Phase 3 at this point.

Phase 2 Challenges:

  • Lack of direction due to ill health
  • Exercise hampered by heath conditions and weather

Phase 2 Successes:

  • Realised that there were no shortcuts
  • Discovered Myfitnesspal
  • Completed two walkathons
  • Progressed with weight loss despite the odds
  • Newfound self reliant spirit
  • Open to new – reasonable – logical ideas
  • Rejected weight loss myths and ‘magic solutions’
  • Friends started noticing weight loss.

Jose and I closed Phase 2 weighing 86 kg and 93 kg respectively. That brings us to the end of Part 3.

Part 4 reshaped our thinking, bringing consistent habits that were instrumental in sustaining our weight loss. Watch our website for Part 4 -exciting, heart wrenching and exhilarating. It pushed me to the brink of breakdown and also gave us amazing moments.


Here are links to Part 1 and 2:

Part 1

Part 2