I’d like to introduce you to one of the hardest working people I know. Not when it comes to her studies but when it comes to her health.
Sorry P… I went there.
Payal has had one of the most dramatic transformations I’ve ever seen and I’m happy that she decided to share her story with you. She’s lost 75 pounds in the last 8 months and is still going strong. Outside of the physical progress Payal has made she’s also completely changed as a person.
Let me give you fair warning. Payal curses like a sailor. If you don’t mind a well-timed F-bomb than keep reading and enjoy this physical, mental, and emotional transformation.
Justin: Tell me a bit about the “old you.” What were your eating, fitness, and lifestyle habits like?
Payal: The old me honestly didn’t give a single shit about what I was doing to my body. I used to eat everything that was in front of me and never said no to food…unless it was “too healthy for me”. I used to always skip breakfast and lunch , and eat junk food to fill my hunger instead. When it was time to eat dinner, I used to stuff my face with the meal in front of me because it was my first proper meal of the day.
After high school, the effect of my eating habits were kicking in and took a huge toll on my body. I was so overweight that the only exercise I could do was a fast walk; so I chose to never exercise instead. Even during P.E., I chose to have a lower grade instead of actually trying to do any of the exercises.
Due to the lack of exercising and excessive food I ate my energy level was always low. I was drowsy 24/7. Whenever my friends or family wanted to go out and do something active, I made up an excuse to get out of those plans and stayed sitting at home instead. Most of my day consisted of glueing my ass to a chair. From the 7 hours of sitting in school, I would look forward to coming home and sitting again for the rest of the day in front of the TV.
I decided that I’d rather have a boring and lazy life with food, instead of a healthier one. Even though my problems from being overweight were pretty obvious to everyone around me. I was in complete denial of what I was doing wrong and how I was slowly killing my body.
My mom pushed me for 6 years to start looking after myself because she didn’t want me to make the same mistakes that she did with her body. I used to laugh in my head every time she tried to persuade me to hit the gym. I had a false image of who I was. I told myself that I was perfectly fine and was always going to be perfectly fine. I hurt my body every single day for 18 years. Luckily for me, I finally got the reality check I needed to make the right change.
Justin: What was the specific moment that inspired you to make a change?
Payal: The moment that inspired me to make the change was the day I turned 18. I realized that I’m now an adult and needed to start acting like one. I needed to start looking after myself instead of having others look after me. So that’s what I did. I decided that I needed to make the change.
The key word is “I”. For the six years that my mom pushed me to lose weight it was HER making the choice for me. I wasn’t ready to go forward with that choice until July 2nd. I took a good look at myself and realized that how I presented myself and my body actually said a lot about me. It said that I don’t care enough and that I’m not working hard enough. I wanted to change that. I wanted to love myself, care about myself, and work for myself. So after that day I planned out what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. 3 weeks later, I started my journey and I’ve never been happier.
Justin: What’s a typical day like for the “new” you? How much different do you feel?
Payal: A typical day for the new me starts off with much more energy and joy than it used too. I spend more time loving my body and giving it what it needs to be healthy and full of energy. As each day goes by I start taking away things that are bad for my body and replacing them with beneficial things instead. Overall all, I feel happier as a person and proud of what I have done. Unlike before, I have a positive outlook on life and look forward to getting healthier and healthier every day.
Justin: What has been your exercise strategy and how has this changed over time?
Payal: I’d never worked out a day in my life until I decided to lose weight. My strategy was to work out everyday for a month. I made this my number one priority because I knew that if I didn’t force myself to go everyday I would slowly start making excuses and blow the workouts off. After going at least 6 times a week for a whole month my plan worked. Working out became a habit and something that I actually WANTED to do. I ended up enjoying working out a lot because it gave me the chance to take my mind off things for an hour and focus on my health instead.
Another strategy that was really important for me was taking my time and taking things slow. When I started working out I started off light with running and biking for as long as I wanted too. Whether it was 20 minutes or a full hour. My body wasn’t used to getting exercise at all, so instead of jumping into it too hard, I took it easy and escalated my way up with training and specific workouts. This was really important because I quit easily when things get too hard. I knew that if I pushed myself too much and too fast I would end up hurting myself more and just quit. Instead, I started off with basic cardio to get my body used to working out and trained twice a week after I felt like I was ready to move forward. After a working with Justin, I knew exactly what I needed to do to gain muscle and lose fat.
Justin: How has your “diet” or nutrition changed? How did you get started?
Payal: I used to only eat one meal a day and junk food when I wanted. Now I actually eat more food, but it was eating the right foods which made a big difference in my life. The easiest way for me to start was my meal planning. My mom and I would plan all the meals out for the next 3-4 days, do the prep for them, and pack them up so it’s easier to control portions and how much we were consuming.
Instead of constantly eating fast food or unhealthy meals made in restaurants and home, I make sure that my meals have plenty of vegetables, good fats, and protein instead of processed carbs and fried foods. I eat more greens and fruits now and I’ve replaced my breakfast of cereal or pop tarts with a protein shake. My junk food snacks that I would normally have for lunch are replaced by yogurt, nuts, and fruits. For dinner I’ve replaced my oily and fried foods with salads, lentils, and quinoa.
– Editors note: Because of cultural reasons Payal follows more of a vegan nutritional approach.
Justin: What has been the toughest change, challenge, or moment of your transformation and what have you done to overcome it?
Payal: I think that the toughest moment of my transition was the first step. Realizing that I have to make a transformation. It was really hard for me to realize that I had killed my body for pretty much most of my life and needed to change. So to fix that challenge, I had to gain more self-love. I learned to love my body and want what’s best for it.
Justin: What kind of support system have you had and how has that helped or even hurt your progress?
Payal: Even though my parents decided to stick to their regular lifestyle they supported me and provided me with what I needed to make my change. It was easy for me to go to the gym on my own and get my exercises done but one thing that I would have struggled with if I didn’t have my parents would be eating healthy. Since I don’t know how to cook many meals and don’t have much time in my day to make meals, my mom went out of her way to make sure that I had 3 healthy meals everyday.
Another thing that I wouldn’t be able to do without my parents would be financially keeping up with what I needed to make more progress towards a healthier lifestyle. My dad happily paid for my gym membership, new clothes (because I lost so much weight), training, and encouraged me to continue pushing myself everyday. If my parents noticed that I was slacking a bit they would push me to try harder instead of letting me fall back
Justin: What would you tell someone who has tried but failed to get healthier in the past?
Payal: I would tell them to get their friends and family involved. When someone is going through a life changing phase it’s easier when there are friends and family there not only to support you, but also to make sure you keep going when you don’t want to.
Eating well and staying healthy can be hard and complicated because it’s very easy to just fall back into old habits. But when there’s others who are watching over you and learning from you, it motivates you more to keep going and to push yourself towards the right direction.
For example, I could have chosen to go through my transition all by myself. I could have done my own research, gone to the gym on my own, make my own meals. But if I did it this way I would have gotten bored and slowly gone back to making excuses and eating junk food. Instead, I used the people I had around me to make my journey not only easier for me but more fun. I found people in my life who would help me moving forward and kicked out the people who would hold me back.
I was honest with my friends and family about my struggle and that allowed them to do what they needed to do to help me. My cousins and uncle would make me promise to meet them at the gym. We would have Monday dinners where me and my cousins would try new healthy recipes every week. My friends and I started going on hikes when we hung out instead of just sitting at home. It’s little things like this that can make the biggest changes in the long run. So be honest with yourself, find those who are willing to come along and help and make your journey fun for yourself.
Justin: What are you excited to do now that you could not do in the past?
Payal: The last time I was able to play basketball without running out of breath right away was when I was 12 years old. It was the only thing that I was ever passionate about in my life but I gave it up because I chose to live the unhealthy life instead. Now I’m excited that I’m able to go to my friend’s house and play a good one-on-one game like I used to because I actually missed it a lot. I’m also excited to be able to go on more hikes and other active plans instead of making up excuses to avoid doing any physical activities.
Justin: Aside from your amazing physical changes what other changes in yourself have you noticed?
Payal: I feel lighter and just more active overall but the change that made the most difference to my life was actually how I felt about myself and my body. Ever since I started training I’ve become more confident and happier with myself and who I have become in the last couple of months.
Before I started my journey I used to always cover myself up and not go out that much because I was uncomfortable with who I was. I never needed anything special for myself or worked hard for anything. Ever since I started being more health conscious and taking care of myself I’ve learned that I really am capable of a lot more than I thought I was.
Sticking to a plan and not giving up on that plan required a lot of inner strength and I never knew I had it until now. I would have never thought that losing weight would give me other qualities that I have obtained in the last couple of months. It’s made me more aware of my surroundings, better at time management, and more independent than I have ever been before.
FAST AND FURIOUS ONE SENTENCE OR LESS ANSWERS
Justin: Who is a character from a TV show or a book that you’ve always resonated with?
- Payal: Fat Amy from Pitch Perfect
Justin: Favorite song?
- Payal: “I Don’t Fuck With You”-Big Sean
Justin: Quote to live by?
- Payal: “Sometimes I feel like giving up…then I remember I have a lot of Motherfuckers to prove wrong”
Justin: Favorite thing in the entire world?
- Payal: Watching that number drop on the scale
Justin: Where is your favorite place to go on a weekday afternoon when you have no plans or obligations?
- Payal: I would definitely go to the park with my cousins or catch a movie with some friends
Justin: Notorious B.I.G or Tupac … or other?
- Payal: Gotta go with Tupac
4 BIG TAKEAWAYS FROM PAYAL’S TRANSFORMATION
1: She didn’t just eliminate the things she thought were bad for her. She crowded them out by incorporating more of the good stuff. She did this by slowly adding more fruits and vegetables to her meals and snacks. This didn’t leave any more room for the pop tarts, cereal, and other junk food she had been consuming.
2: She didn’t try to change everything at once. Payal understood that if she made this too difficult for herself she was more likely to quit. Her first month she only focused on one small thing – working out 6 days per week. She was focused on building the habit by committing to consistently going to the gym or working out at home even if it was only for 5 minutes. Payal made consistency a priority over intensity.
3: She prepared food in bulk. Payal and her Mom decided that cooking the same 1 to 2 meals on Sunday for the next few days was the easiest way for her to make better nutritional choices consistently.
4: She used her support network. Payal decided that the best way for her to succeed was by using her friends and family to help support her. She was open and honest with them about her personal struggles with food and fitness and asked for their help. Payal also focused on spending more time with the people that really supported her and less time with toxic people that made her transformation more difficult.
Big ups Payal! It’s really been inspiring to see your transformation. Thanks for sharing your story today and continued success on your health and fitness journey.
PS: In July of 2016 Payal joined the Limitless Body Coaching Program and completely changed her health and life. Get your invitation to join the coaching program here and build a body you’re proud of without the gym, kitchen, and confusing fitness bullshit taking over your life.
Photo – Autumn Goodman
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