By Sumathi Chutkay, Manager, Health Informatics & Monitoring, Digital Healthcare Solutions, Medtronic
There is no one size that fits all
As the new year 2017 was fast approaching, I was wondering what new arrow I acquired in my skills quiver. With a week to go before I had to pronounce 2016 as a barren year for me, I had to act. I called up my entrepreneur friend who suggested that I pick up something on mobile app development. He extended his help by providing access to his expert team and the infrastructure. It was like a high quality crash course in learning Native Android in Java, iOS with Swift and Ionic hybrid framework. However, when I started penning down my recent key achievements, it was my weight loss that stood tall. The transformation amazed everyone, including me. It would be nice to have a definitive article. So I decided to write one.
My journey from ‘XXL’ to ‘S’
One fine day, I availed myself of the corporate-paid health check-up package. My blood glucose level and LDL3 cholesterol levels were brimming to the point where I could soon be called a diabetic or a heart patient. One thing that was constantly ringing in my head was – ‘your weight increases the risk’. It was an eye-opener for me. Consequently, losing weight was my priority and I had no choice. I was exploring options and I surely did not want to go under the knife. So to reach my goal, I decided to follow a lean diet and workout. First, I announced at home and the office that I was embarking on a weight loss diet.
Sharing your aspirational goal with your family, friends and colleagues has a two-fold benefit: You get their support and they let you do your work.
Through my sister-in-law, I learnt about a 7 day diet that assured 3-8 kg weight loss. That’s precisely, what I needed. Following this diet plan, I lost 3 kg after 7 days. Hurray! My first achievement was quite a feat for me. As my confidence grew, I set a target to shed 16 kg in 5 months.
‘Nothing Planned, Nothing Measured, Nothing Achieved’ was my tagline. So, I came up with a SMART4 plan based on my first experiment. After all, I had been doing this for many years now as a Program Manager.
SMART plan is important to set a direction, to measure how far you are from success, and to target a date to work towards.
SMART plan may have a Work Breakdown Structure consisting of SMART work items
My sister-in-law and brother strongly recommended a gap of 3-4 weeks between the 7-day diets. But I turned a deaf ear to their advice and instantly iterated the process. The results were slow this time; 1kg in the 2nd week and ½ kg in the 3rd. I was not delighted, but I couldn’t complain. Then something hit me hard. My immune system weakened. I had food poisoning and was admitted to the hospital. My vitals were so low that it concerned the doctors. Thankfully, their care and my strong will power helped me recoup fast, and overcome the situation. I was back on a regular diet and to my dismay, gained back all the pounds I dropped.
The incident didn’t deter me from pursuing my goal. I realized that basic domain knowledge is essential for me to keep going. This time, I did my homework: surfed the web; read a few articles on health & nutrition; discussed them with people; and built some familiarity around the subject.
It is important to have sufficient domain knowledge and skills and not rely on external experts alone. We disregard this aspect many times. ‘Domain Knowledge’ is often seen as a good-to-have attribute in job descriptions while this plays a significant role in day-to-day decision making.
Armed with the knowledge, I defined my own diet plans that I changed every week. I understood, there is no one size that fits all. Also, I resumed yoga that I practiced after a month’s training at my previous workplace. I could easily reach 30 repetitions of Surya Namaskars5 in 30-45 minutes. Gradually, I started losing weight and got back on track with my SMART weight-loss plan. In 2 months, I lost 8 kg.
Not very long after that, I hit a roadblock – or a plateau. However, this did not bother me as I got caught in the complacency trap. I was satisfied after achieving the intermediate milestone and lost sight of the target.
Just when this feeling started to sink into my head, I got my wakeup call. I happened to meet a friend after ages and got commented, ‘hey, I think you put on some weight’. My goal stared at me hard.
Skipping to the good parts, my friend also shared a fruit and vegetable diet plan that he accidentally discovered while following a religious ritual. I jumped at it and took a challenge to lose 8 kg in 45 days. As I set out on this new diet, the results started showing up at a snail’s pace. When I discussed my progress with my friend, I found that I was deviating a bit from the recommended diet. So I made a mid-course correction.
Audits and reviews are imperative to know if you are complying with the standard process and take up any remedial actions. The sooner, the better.
Finally, on the 45th day, my scale showed the results, I had been waiting for: I lost 9 kg and exceeded my own expectations. For all the hard work I put in, I let myself indulge in an equal amount of chat, samosa, ice cream, etc. If you are thinking I am back to my old ways, you are wrong. Now, I know the trade secrets, and I am still using my learnings in my everyday life.
Institutionalize the learnings for wider benefit, with an eye to gain new insights and new solutions. Improvement is a continuous learning.
A few days later, I had to overhaul my entire wardrobe, albeit for a good reason!