Diksha Singhi is a Delhi-based professional and a body-positive influencer. An overweight person in her early years, she has worked hard to reduce a whopping 20 kgs over the past few years. A proper diet and workout schedule enabled Diksha to achieve such a transformation. Team Optimist talks to Diksha on her journey as a body positive icon. Read on…
Team Optimist: As a health enthusiast and a body-positive influencer, what do you think is the role of parents in ensuring a healthy mind and body for their children? Is peer pressure a curse while someone struggles with weight gain?
Diksha Singhi: Firstly, I’m no influencer, not even close to it. But having been through the journey where I’ve lost over 20 kgs, I can surely shed a few opinions.
The problem is that many parents who want their kids to be healthy are uninformed. They try to feed their children such supplements as Bournvita, or Horlicks without considering their nutritional information. Of course, the ads are created to lure parents! About one serving of Horlicks alone is 380 calories. Double it up with milk and it’s almost as good as a whole meal for an adult. But Horlicks is not given to kids as a replacement, but as a complementary meal. This means that a child must be eating about 800-900 calories simply for breakfast! How on earth is the child supposed to maintain, or lose weight?
A small tip for everyone out there: Let’s put Google to good use and start reading about nutrition. Also, start looking for nutritional labels before buying packed food that claim to be ‘healthy’.
Besides, there’s a total lack of physical activity with both kids and their parents constantly on their phones. Where’s any kind of body movement? So, the calories hardly get burnt! Their lifestyle is such that parents have started spending less time with their kids. There’s nobody to check on the mental or physical health of kids and, by the time they realise this, the damage is already done!
Talking about peer pressure, having been an overweight child, I can tell you that the kind of struggle and mental pressures you’re put through by friends, family and even strangers by way of casual jokes can make the struggle even challenging. Stress eating begins here.
Team Optimist: Tell us about your transformation and how it impacted your life.
Diksha Singhi: My transformation journey began one lousy Sunday! I’d tried losing weight more than a dozen times already, but failed terribly, only because I was looking for shortcuts to losing weight. I wasn’t paying attention to what was happening to my body and why.
But, this time, it was different. This time, I was ready to be patient with my body and give it the time it needed to become healthy. The impact was huge!
First, I posted my initial workout pictures on Instagram two weeks after I had enrolled at the gym. I was proud of myself. I had lost two kgs. That meant a lot! I could feel my tummy tucked in slightly.
Fast forward 18 months. I posted my last workout picture a few days ago. I had lost about 20 kgs. The entire journey has been dramatic, to say the least. I’ve had my ups and downs — both on the weighing scale and my moods! I started realising that the unbelievable could actually be achieved. I started taking care of my body in its truest sense. I didn’t binge on fried food or desserts — not because I’d gain weight, but because I didn’t want to damage my body. It’s the only one I have and I’ve got to take care of it!
People around me also started dishing out compliments. The same people who had body-shamed me now looked up to me. But the most important impact of all was when, in my own little way, I was able to motivate at least 100 women to join the gym. They look at me and think, “If she could do it, so can I,” and that’s exactly the feeling that makes me feel so contented and happy. Whatever I did I shared with my Instagram family and that’s helping them make a positive change. Additionally, now, I own my curves! I still have my bulges coming out from here and there, but I own them so proudly and gracefully (pats her back).
Team Optimist: Shedding 20 kgs is not at all an easy task. What change in lifestyle did you adopt to bring about such a positive change?
Diksha Singhi: There were two major things! First, I started weight training against the general notion that women should do cardio to lose weight. And second was diet. I ensured I ate calories that I could maintain. That didn’t stop me from going out and socializing. I simply made wise choices about my meals. Even if you make small changes, you can bring about a positive impact on your life.
Team Optimist: How did you combat deviations on your social outings?
Diksha Singhi: Yes, had I eaten all the meals at home as planned, my results would have been very different. I’d have lost another 10kgs or more. Optimal may not always be realistic. But I wanted to make a fair choice that could become a 100% lifestyle change. I’m 24 and can’t really stop going out, taking vacations, or attending weddings. I’d hate life then, as that’s not the kind of life I aspire to live. So, I made choices that wouldn’t hinder my journey. I’d eat sauteed vegetables over pasta, or drink a salted nimbu pani over a mocktail, have paneer tikka over nachos, and rice over pizza. And that’s a change I can easily continue for a lifetime. Don’t be a person who’d either eat only home-cooked calorie-measured meals, or would binge on pizza. All or nothing doesn’t work. Find a middle path.
Team Optimist: Body-shaming is considered a major factor for depression and other mental health issues among millennials. What should the right approach be while dealing with such abuses?
Diksha Singhi: Yes, I couldn’t agree with you more on this! Many women have told me how they’re criticized at home, or by friends, or even their partners just because they’re overweight. I feel the biggest problem is that we’re not true to ourselves. We either ignore, or avoid accepting, our vulnerabilities. We should gracefully accept our shortcomings and make them our strengths and start making positive changes. Trust me, when you know you’re working, your confidence shows. You’ll be able to kick people’s butts and be the chic and beautiful woman you always meant to be!
Team Optimist: There’s a common trend — opting for readymade techniques, or surgeries for immediate weight loss. Does immediate weight loss have its own perils, too?
Diksha Singhi: Of course. There’s no shortcut to weight loss. I spent 23 years of my life gaining weight. I might as well give it three years to lose it. You lose weight the wrong way and chances are that you’ll gain it back easily! So, what’s even the point of that? And where’s the beauty in reaching the destination and not enjoying the journey?
Team Optimist: ‘Pretty, but fat!’ Is Indian society breaking stereotypes to accept such a reality, or is it still prejudiced against weight gain?
Diksha Singhi: It’s moving towards accepting it surely, but that’s just 0.1% of Indian society. I get umpteen messages every day on how women want to lose weight because their husbands don’t love them, or because of which they don’t want to have kids, or their colleagues think lowly of them. It’s a reality in almost every household. The fact that there are many people who can relate to my life story is rather unfortunate as that means so many more people have gone through the same unnerving body-shaming.
Team Optimist: Being fat and unhealthy — which is the thin line body-positive influencers should be concerned with in this digital era?
Diksha Singhi: That’s my utmost concern. Being body-positive isn’t simply about wearing fashionable clothes. Yes, it could be a part, but that’s not all. Being body-positive would mean taking care of your body and loving your body in its truest sense, which also includes staying healthy. I can’t be eating three burgers a day and claiming myself to be body-positive because that’s nothing but abusing your body with unhealthy food. The idea is to enjoy the way you look, but to ensure health first.
Team Optimist: Any advice to youngsters on tackling social media bullying?
Diksha Singhi: There’ll always be people telling you all sorts of things. Even now, people come on my social media and leave ruthless comments, such as, “You’re a sand (ox),” or “You’re a moti (fatso),” and such abusive words. There’ll always be dozens of people doing that to you. But remember, you’ve got to remove negative people, negative thoughts and negative energy from around you. Trust your vibes! Challenge yourself to do something better and, trust me, nothing in life will feel more beautiful. Duniya ka sabse bada rog, kya kahenge log. Iska solution, bhaad me jae log! (smiles drily).