Growing up in India, Navin Kunde had always been on the stocky side. It wasn’t until he came to the US in the early ‘90s, though, that he really started gaining weight. And in the last ten years or so, after getting married and having kids, the 48-year-old R&D manager from Pleasanton, CA, saw the gain accelerate. He was eating badly, not exercising, and sleeping just five or six hours a night, stressing himself out at work.
He was topping 250 pounds, with a BMI of 37, which is technically considered morbidly obese. He’d been there before: Twice in the past he’d gotten that heavy, then buckled down with a trainer, losing the weight. Then he gained it back. It was a demoralizing cycle. “I was sick of feeling slow, tired and old, but didn’t know how to escape the brutal stress-sleep-exercise-diet cycle,” he says.
This time, he was inspired by a colleague who’d tried Real Appeal, a program offered through their company that provided scales, exercise DVDs, recipes, portion plates, and more. He learned about portion control and started tracking all of his meals. He started walking daily, with strength workouts twice a week.
That was enough to help him drop 40 pounds. But he’d done that before; it was part of his cycle. The program helped him understand the two elements he hadn’t focused on before: sleep and stress. “Stress takes away your ability to sleep; lack of sleep leads to low energy to not having the willpower to exercise the next day,” he says. And, of course, being tired makes you that much more likely to settle for whatever food is easiest, no matter how unhealthy it may be.
So Kunde really devoted himself to getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night. He ratcheted down his stress as best he could—though he admits that’s an ongoing project. As part of the program, he had app-based weight-tracking and could connect with his coaches, which gave him support.
In about ten months he’d lost 80 pounds, dropping to 173. Most importantly, in the last nine months he’s kept it off—no more of the familiar yo-yo-ing. Along the way, he learned just how much neglecting his sleep and stress were contributing to his weight. “Diet and exercise are a must,” he says, “but sleep and stress management are key to staying healthy.”
He’s got more energy at home and feels more productive at work. “I fulfilled a lifelong dream—a bucket list Safari in Tanzania, Africa—last July, which I would not have been fit enough for in the past!” he says. Now he’s looking forward to dropping that BMI below 25. He just needs to lose another ten pounds.
Upon reflection, he cautions others: Don’t lie to yourself. “When I was 253 pounds and morbidly obese,” he says, “I kept convincing myself I was adding weight because of muscle, and, ‘Muscle weighs more than fat.’” He didn’t want to admit the truth, but he had to. “Once I took a good look in the mirror and faced the truth,” he says, “I was open to making the changes I needed and good things started to happen.”
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