Muscat: Oneza Tabish, a well known food columnist in Oman and her husband have lost 35 kg together by adopting a holistic approach towards food and exercise.
It is an incredible story of the will of this couple to fight weight gain without going for any fad diet. While Oneza lost 25 kg in a few years time, her husband lost 11 kg in the last 6 months by cycling 40km daily along with intermittent fasting.
As a newly married couple in the year 2004, Oneza and her husband had developed unhealthy eating habits. Reminiscing those days she said that their fridge would always be stocked with fizzy drinks, commercial juices, ice-creams and more.
“We would binge on biscuits and cookies whenever we were hungry and my husband, Tabish would have around 8 cups of tea with evaporated milk and sugar. We also ate out twice or thrice a week,” said Oneza.
In no time their body weight shot up to 90 plus kg when she was in her late 20s and her husband in early 30s. “With my elder daughter’s birth in January 2007 and my father passing away the same year, I got into “emotional eating”.
Food somehow became a cure to all my emotional traumas. I also worked for long hours, and during lunch had no qualms in ordering a burger or a pizza. So by the year 2010, the year my second child was born, I had touched 92 kgs.
Talking about the moment when realisation dawned, Oneza remembered how once while on a shopping spree in India, the salesman had told her she needed to wear XXL top.
“I was not only very embarrassed that day but also couldn’t keep up with my children and running after them seemed a task. That’s when I decided that I had to work towards my health, come what may.”
Oneza started her weight loss journey by reducing the portion size of food.
“I came down to 1 chapati from 2 and 1 cup of rice was replaced by a fistful. I walked and walked my way to weight loss. I made sure to walk a minimum of 5 km a day and around 10,000 steps daily. I also skipped dinner. So this worked for me and I lost around 8 kg in just a month. With Ramadan and being a fasting Muslim, I went a step further by not eating any fried food during iftaar, continuing my walks and just having one meal a day all of Ramadan. Successfully I could lose around 26 kg in few months.``
At 42, Oneza’s weight is 70 kg but she aspires to make it to 65kg in due course.
“I have maintained my weight, after losing, since 2012 despite being a foodie, a social media food content creator, a home chef, a food critic. I make sure to not eat anything heavy in the evenings. At times I go carb free by sticking to a grilled chicken with salad or some upma (savoury semolina pudding) or poha (beaten rice).
"My lunch is always 2 chapatis with a bowlful of vegetables and dal. Breakfast is boiled or fried egg with 1 toast. At home even though I have help, I make sure to do some bit of housework be it cleaning, washing dishes. I love to cook and can do so for hours which again helps me burn calories plus it’s rejuvenating.
“Whenever I have a pizza, I make sure to make up for it the next day with some exercise and by consuming less quantity of food. Meal timings are important for me as after 7:30pm I do not eat anything and have my breakfast the next day only by 8:30am. That leaves me with 13 hours of fasting,” said Oneza.
Highlighting the challenges that she faced, Oneza said it gets tough when kids waste food.
“Try not to eat your child’s leftovers. Box it and get your child to eat it the next day. Being consistent is a challenge but look at weight loss from a health point of view.
"It’s ok to give into temptations, I do too but I make up the next day. I do not punish myself for enjoying a pastry! In my case, exercise and portion control helped. I did not give up on any of my favourite foods.”
For Tabish, her husband, the awakening was when he started getting a few aches and pains when he walked or exercised.
He tried to go carb free and low fat but only intermittent fasting worked for him. Following the guru of intermittent fasting Jason Fung, Tabish strictly followed his diet regime for a year.
“Tabish starts his day with black coffee at around 5am to boost his metabolism and control his uric acid.
He heads out to cycle till 6:30am and covers around 40km daily. He cycles another 100 km over the weekends. He doesn’t have any breakfast and eats a proper lunch by 2pm.”
“This comprises 2 multigrain chapatis with a bowl of dal and sabzi or some mutton curry or mince meat curry.”
“He has dinner by 6:30pm which consists of a raw salad with toasted seeds and nuts, 2 grilled chicken thighs and a small bowl of bone broth. This diet regime has enabled him to lose around 10 kg of weight in just 7 months.”
“He has gone down from 91 kg to 81 kg at 47 years of age. He has maintained this weight for a year now,” she further added.