Small changes helped Ramani Durvasula stop stress-eating, take charge of her weight—and lose big
I never struggled with my weight until my mid-20s, when I put on 50 pounds thanks to the pressures of graduate school. I went on a diet and kept the weight off until my mid-30s. I had a new job and a new baby, and was feeling insecure about balancing my life as a professor and mother. I turned to the solace of food. Before I knew it, I was nearly 40, and all the moms in my daughter’s kindergarten class looked svelte and fabulous—except me.
But reality didn’t hit me until the night of a friend’s wedding. My mom had just returned fromIndiawith a suitcase full of flowing silk gowns—perfect to disguise my robust figure, or so I thought. Surprise: One after another, the delicate dresses ripped at the seams as I forced them over my waist and hips. I couldn’t even stuff myself into a sari! Shocked and saddened, I stood in my closet and cried. Later, I ate like it was my last meal. It would be the final time I let myself indulge in an out-of-control binge.
Slimming Down in Secret
I began with a simple formula: Reduce my portions, stop picking off my kids’ plates, and eat produce at every meal. I also began walking each day on our treadmill. I told nobody, in case I failed. Four weeks later, I stepped on the scale: I was 7 pounds lighter—and triumphant.
After 2 months, I hit a plateau. I kicked up the treadmill’s incline, increasing it more each week until I reached the steepest path. Pounds started rolling off again, but I got bored, so I began walking outdoors in a weighted vest. I’d even put it on whenever I did chores. Presto—I’d turned laundry into weight-bearing exercise!
Fit at 40
I lost 65 pounds in a little over a year, and I’ve kept it off for nearly two. Workouts used to seem like selfish time away from my children. Now I consider exercise as vital as brushing my teeth. There are still days when I want to dig into an extra slice of pizza—and sometimes I do—but generally, I turn to exercise to cope with stress. What amazes me most is that instead of launching a midlife crisis, turning 40 gave me the courage to become healthier than ever.
My Top Tips
Grocery shop every weekend. I’d bring a full bag of groceries to the office on Monday so that I would have all the ingredients I needed to make healthy lunches for the rest of the week.
Lock your kitchen cabinets. Opening them gave me a 30-second pause to consider the kind of food I would eat. I kept the locks on for 6 months, which really helped me cut down on junk food.
Make the treadmill/TV connection. I built exercise into my schedule by allowing myself to watch TV only when I was on the treadmill. That got me walking at least 4 days a week!
Set an example. My older daughter tells her dolls, “Okay, girls, it’s time to do our exercises!” And when I stop to do my sit-ups, my 4-year-old gets down on the floor and does them with me.
Relish your newfound energy. Since losing the weight, I’ve climbed to the summit of two of California’s 10,000-foot peaks, including Mt. Baldy.