"It's been life changing for me"
Pinki's journey to a healthier lifestyle
Name: Pinki Vyas
Weight lost: 18kg
Was: 76kg | Now:58.1kg
How long it took: Three months
Method: Workshop + Digital with Ian Anderson in Perth
Then & Now
When Pinki Vyas' husband Sudheer got an engineering job in Australia in 2012, she was more than happy to relocate from India with her young children. "It's a better quality of life for kids, with less pollution so they can breathe fresh air," she says. "Day-to-day life is safer and more secure as well."
But while she expected a quieter life without the congestion that came with living in New Delhi, Pinki says she noticed something completely unexpected: women doing things for themselves. "I grew up in a small town in India and for women, the priority is the house and family," she says. "When I came here, I saw the other school mums do drop-off in their active-wear, ready to go and do a fitness class or boot camp. I loved how people looked after themselves here. It wasn't selfish – they just had an awareness of knowing what they need to do for themselves." But it wasn't until she joined WW in 2015, that she learnt the tools to follow in their footsteps.
Pinki had long pined for a slender physique but in India, wearing traditional saris or suits allowed her to hide her shape. "Those Indian dresses are really long and you don't see curves so you don't feel you need to change," she says. "When I went on holidays I would wear Western clothes but I never felt good because of my big body. I always wanted to have a slim body and enjoy those outfits."
Growing up on traditional Indian foods, it was difficult not to gain weight. "I learnt only an unhealthy way of cooking that involved deep fried food, curries with lots of oil and sweets made with ghee and cream," Pinki says. "When I was at school, people would make fun and say, 'Pinki is the fat girl'. I used to laugh but I would feel bad."
Hitting a plateau
After Western dress became her daily reality in Perth, Pinki decided it was time to lose weight, so did what she thought she had to do: cut out meals and hit the gym religiously. "I was starving and not eating enough, which was causing low blood pressure, dizziness and constant headaches," she recalls. "I also had an unrelated eye condition that was affecting my vision and I was worried I had something seriously wrong with me."
She managed to lose seven kilograms on her own but hit a plateau and was miserable living such a restricted life. "It was the biggest downer," she recalls. "I was a cranky mum – it was mentally stressful and physically uncomfortable." When her friend Rinky, a WW member, suggested she come to a WW Workshop, Pinki was reluctant, doubting the program would cater for her as a vegetarian. "She pushed me, saying, 'You don't know what it's about unless you go'," Pinki recalls. "She was right. Once you join, you quickly learn exactly what you need to do."
Making traditional India food healthier
Much to Pinki's surprise, the first thing her WW Coach Ian got her to do was to increase her portion sizes and stop skipping meals. "I started eating at regular intervals with the right amount of protein and carbs," she says. "I now have three meals a day and two snacks and I feel so much better."
Pinki learnt clever ways to adapt traditional Indian foods so the whole family could still enjoy them and eat together. "Instead of using cream and coconut milk in curries, I use 99 per cent fat-free yoghurt, which is ZeroPoint™," she says. "If I need oil, I'll use spray or reduce the amount, such as using four teaspoons instead of four tablespoons. I'll add more vegetables as well, so it tastes nice." Within three months she hit Goal and she's still there three years later. "It's been life changing for me," Pinki says. "I learnt how to focus on the changes I wanted to make to my life – that was the biggest thing I learnt."
A family affair
Pinki's husband Sudheer, daughter Anveysha, 13, and son Advit, 8, have been only too happy to enjoy the fruits of Pinki's WW success. "I decided that my whole family could eat the same foods," Pinki says. "I would portion out my meal and tell my husband and children that they could eat as much as they liked." Now Anveysha gets in the kitchen and prepares vegetarian WW recipes, such as mug muffins or three ingredients pancakes, for herself and the family. "All of our lifestyles have now changed," Pinki says.
Inspired by her new zest for life, Sudheer started walking with Pinki and before long had set his own lofty health goals. "He was encouraged by the positive changes and started running and ended up competing three marathons in a row!" Pinki enthuses. "My son tracks the number of steps he takes each day on his fitness tracker and my daughter goes to the gym." Being honest with herself, Pinki admitted didn't really enjoy the gym, so quit her membership to start walking in nature instead. "I ended up doing 7km every day," she says.
And in the process of living a healthier life, Pinki realised she was doing the very thing she had admired in Australian women when she first arrived here: doing things for herself. "I was in a new country, trying to adjust to a new society," she says. "I learnt that if you take care of yourself first, then everything else would fall into place. My weight loss journey gave me the self-confidence I needed – I was proud of myself and that improved my confidence."
Becoming a WW Coach
Pinki's extended family and friends were also in awe of her turn-around and were soon asking for pointers. "I helped one of my cousins in India lose weight by measuring and tracking and now she's not having to take medication," Pinki says. "Some Indian women I met in Australia were asking me, 'What are you doing? How did you get this body?' so I said, 'Start walking with me. It's free and it moves all of the muscles in your body'." Those walks gave her an opportunity to share knowledge about the role of nutrition and healthy cooking in maintaining a healthy weight. "I was putting emphasis on what we are putting in our mouths – how we cook and how we can make swaps," Pinki says.
So great are her motivational skills, that Pinki is now an in-demand WW Coach in Sydney. "WW started out as a good way to connect with people," she says. "It took time to develop fluency in English, as it's my second language, so I started as a second Coach, learning how the WW Coach put things together and helped people. Now I run seven WW Workshops a week – I love talking to people and helping them solve problems. My members and their achievements are my biggest source of inspiration and motivation."
In fact, Pinki says meeting around 300 people a week has also helped her adapt to the Australian way of life. "I get a glimpse into lots of other people's lives," she says. "I learn about what they do in their homes and consider whether it would work in my family. If I had another job, I wouldn't have learnt these things [about Australian society] so quickly."
Fit, confident and in control
In her quest for greater self-care, Pinki puts her hand up for just about any activity or adventure on offer. "I wasn't a sporty person – I was more studious," she says. "Now I want to enjoy all sorts of different sports." That's meant snow skiing trips, running a 12km fun run, doing Bollywood dancing and even learning to swim. "That was a really big thing for me," Pinki admits. "I used to close my eyes in the shower when water came on my face and I thought I would sink in the pool. But I started walking in our pool and my daughter is teaching me to swim. It helps that I can wear bathers with confidence!"
Seven years ago in India, Pinki says she never could've imagined that her life could look so different. "A lot of my family are overweight and have chronic diseases, so it was hard-wired in my brain that I couldn't lose weight because it was in my genes," she admits. "Once I hit goal, I had an incredible sense of self-control – I realised that if I can control myself, I can control anything!"