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I am the Optimal Health Program poster child
I come from a typical Anglo-Indian family. Food was always at the center of life. We used to sit down as a family for breakfast, lunch and dinner — all meals usually prepared by my mum. As a child, I was expected to finish everything on my plate, so I did! My mum’s cooking was delicious, so this was never a problem. I ate as much as my appetite allowed. In fact, in those days, being slightly overweight was considered “healthy”: it meant you were well fed. I took part in all kinds of sports as a child: the 100m sprint, badminton, my school’s soccer and rugby teams. My dad took me swimming every Saturday. I remember swimming a mile once!
Bad Habits Die Hard
When I left home for medical school, my habit of eating as much as possible persisted. I gained weight, but initially that wasn’t a problem for me because I didn’t believe that my physical attributes were important. My mind, my intelligence were much more important. I’d been admitted to one of the most prestigious medical schools in the U.K. — I was on top of the world! I’d compete with my friends to see how many pizzas we could eat in one sitting. My record was one whole large pie followed by a medium size pie. Does any of this sound familiar?
As my weight increased, I began to feel tired all the time. So, I tried to be more active. I played tennis, which I enjoyed. Afterward, I’d reward myself with a large pizza followed by ice cream for dessert. I wasn’t losing any weight. Whenever medical school stressed me out, I’d eat cookies and drink milk to relax.
After receiving my M.D. and becoming a practicing physician, my eating pattern worsened: being ‘on call’ meant grabbing food whenever I could. There was no time to exercise and I continued to relieve the stress of work with food.
After practicing medicine in the U.K. for six years, I emigrated to the United States, far from home and family. For the first time, I was truly alone. I used food to ease my terrible loneliness. On a really bad day, I’d eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner: a Mars bar and a glass of milk. The only exercise I got was hiking in the forest to relax and find some peace.
At 32, I met and married my soul-mate, Shilpa Gosrani M.D., a pediatrician. Shilpa’s told me many times that she fell in love with my ‘sexy’ brain. Our married life was very busy; there wasn’t time to cook at home, so we ate out often. I continued to overeat and to cope with stressful situations by overeating. Even during happy moments, I ate to celebrate.
Eventually, Shilpa commented on my weight. I had to do something. I tried several diets including Weight Watchers and the Flat Belly Diet to name just two. Initially, I lost weight but quickly became so frustrated by restricted portions and forbidden foods that I resorted to what I knew would make me feel better: chocolate, cookies and ice cream, all with milk. This series of failed diets made me feel so guilty that I — you got it! — ate more junk to feel better. Thirty minutes later, the relief disappeared and I’d feel even more guilty.
When we were blessed with two wonderful children, the midnight feedings and resulting sleep deprivation left me exhausted and hungry for chocolates and ice cream the next day. Shilpa would get angry. She’d throw away my addictive junk-food. She’d snatch it out of my hands when I was about to overindulge again. Then I’d be angry, but not with her — with myself. How could Shilpa be satisfied with one bite of chocolate while I was compelled to finish the whole bar, with milk, and have another one later?
Commitment, Discipline and Goals
About five years ago, I met Victor Coffin, a 57-year-old retired Special Forces Marine who became my karate instructor. I’d dabbled in Shotokan karate in my youth and the familiar form appealed to me. As my karate study progressed, I understood why all my attempts at weight loss had failed: discipline and structure were the keys to controlling the body’s appetites.
Although acquiring the discipline necessary for good study habits had been easy, but I never considered applying this approach to my body. Sensei Coffin, in his own unique way, gradually taught me to value and respect my body as much as I did my intellect. As sore and exhausted as I felt after karate class, I was absolutely certain that I was moving in the right direction.
That first year, my diet improved very little and I didn’t lose much weight. The second year, Sensei Coffin encouraged me to bicycle and taught me how to swim. My third year, I completed my first triathlon at the Parris Island Marine Corps base. The joy of victory was as intense that day as it had been on the day I became a doctor. This was my first physical triumph, the first time I’d accomplished something worthwhile with my body. The following year, I cycled 100 miles across North Carolina in three days. While Sensei Coffin and I trained for this event with long bike rides, my weight loss was steady and significant.
Months of training went by before I felt really strong. After a long ride, my energy level would drop too far; I needed several days to recover. My appetite was immense. I’d eat whatever was available, believing that I deserved it, and still lost weight. But when winter set in and the cycling season ended, I went back to my old eating habits. I regained all the lost weight and then some! I felt so guilty, so disappointed in myself that I reverted to comforting myself with food. I’d failed, again.
My parents brought me up to believe that most of life’s challenges can be overcome. My dad taught me never to give up. As a result, I’m an optimist: there is a way to get healthy and I am going find it. One day, Sensei Coffin mentioned that a Las Vegas medical practice was looking for doctors. The practice was focused solely on wellness.
After making some inquiries, I decided to become their patient. (I discovered later that physicians applying as candidates to this practice were strongly encouraged to become patients.) At first, I found the recommended nutrition and exercise program very hard to stick to. But after the week-long course where I learned the science behind optimal health, I was totally motivated! Once I understood the why and the how, I was able to embrace the program completely.
I’ve never looked back. In spite of my busy schedule, the program works. This past year, I’ve lost 25lbs., 6% of my body fat (from 37% to 31%), taken two inches off my waist and added 5lbs. of muscle. Shilpa can actually get her arms around me now! My clothes are loose but I won’t buy new ones yet because I’m going to drop even more weight and lose more inches. My energy is much higher. I feel at least 10 years younger. I’m a 2nd degree black-belt now and my recovery from those grueling karate classes isn’t a problem anymore. My outlook on life is more positive. My ability to concentrate has improved.
If I can do it, so can you
Shilpa was so impressed by my transformation that she’s following the Gosrani Optimal Health program, too — with great results! Every aspect of our relationship has improved (including our sex life!).
My results convinced me to open my own practice helping others to overcome similar challenges.
You can do it! I can help you.
Nimish C. Gosrani, M.D.
August 29, 2013