New Delhi: Concoctions of methi seeds and jeera in hot water, spoonfuls of flaxseed, plant-based “herbal weight-loss” drinks, no-carb diet, no alcohol, and 4 am runs — these are some of the methods being employed by National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel to shed extra kilos and become fit.
The exercise has become a healthy competition of sorts for the officers. Some have been able to lose over 11 kg in just 40 days, many others have slimmed down by 7-8 kg, and others who have made slow progress are looking for “quick fixes” to reach their goal. The struggle is real, but “worth it”, one of the officers told ThePrint.
The efforts are part of a fitness drive that aims to bring down to below 25 the Body Mass Index (BMI) of approximately 14,000 NDRF personnel across all 12 battalions. For most adults, an ideal BMI is in the 18.5 to 24.9 range.
Currently, more than 30 per cent of the force — which responds to disaster situations by carrying out rescue operations, often in difficult terrain — is overweight, ThePrint has learnt.
NDRF Director General Atul Karwal, who is closely monitoring the weight of all his personnel and has digitised reports of the progress of each individual, told ThePrint: “We felt that since NDRF personnel are involved in rescue operations where they have to operate heavy machines and work long hours, a great degree of fitness and strength is required. But this is an aspect that is not paid attention to.”
“To bring back the focus on fitness, we started this exercise, which is voluntary, but we have encouraged everyone to be part of it,” he added.
According to the Karwal, an initial check revealed that over a third of the force was overweight, and had a BMI above 25. “After we started the exercise, the number (of overweight personnel) has come down to a fifth. The aim is to bring down the number to zero, with no personnel in the force overweight,” he said.
Also read: How the average Indian’s emotional dependence on food is fueling widespread obesity
‘Calls to spouses, personalised diet plans’
The NDRF leadership has devised innovative ways to ensure that the weight-loss exercise is a success.
From bringing in dieticians and doctors on board, to making calls to spouses of personnel asking to “keep a check” on their diet and report if they “slip up”, the force is taking the exercise very seriously.
The NDRF has also tied up with the Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education (LNIPE) in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, for training its personnel.
“We have roped in dieticians who are experts and we call them for presentations. Doctors have also been made available. Moreover, we have gone the extra mile, and calls are made to the wives and husbands of the personnel, requesting them to keep a check on their progress at home. A personalised diet plan has been provided and the personnel have taken to all this sportingly,” Karwal said.
“We are also sending our boys for training in batches to LNIPE in Gwalior,” he added.
‘Hot water has replaced alcohol, I feel light & confident’
For inspector Rajender Singh, 47, who lost 11 kg in just 45 days by following a strict diet and exercise routine, the weight-loss journey has been challenging.
Cutting down on his favourite foods, giving up alcohol, cold water and tea, and switching to small meals and no dinner at night, was initially frustrating. But as he started to see results, especially with his face slimming down and his jawline becoming visible, he has now set new goals for himself.
“It was very hard. But now I can say, it was worth it. I feel more energetic, more confident in my uniform and can work longer hours. I wonder why I never paid attention to this earlier,” he told ThePrint.
He starts his day early, ensures he completes 10,000 steps a day, has a teaspoon of flaxseeds, a spoonful of ghee, and drinks only hot water through the day.
“I have stopped eating at night and take only salad. Earlier, I used to have 10-12 cups of tea daily but I have given it up completely now,” he added.
Losing weight from his face was what spurred on Singh faster towards his goal.
“My face looks slim, I look younger,” he said, laughing. “I have lost four inches from my waist. My knees, which used to hurt from the weight, are perfectly fine, and my backache is much better. Now I have set a target of reducing another 5 kg by 30 October. This is addictive.”
Head constable Vinod Kumar, 44, who weighed 90 kg in May, is now 79 kg.
Methi dana soaked in hot water and giving up eating food leftover by his kids has worked well, he told ThePrint.
“I wake up every day at 4 am and go for a run. I drink hot water with methi dana and cumin every morning on an empty stomach. I have reduced the portions of my meals and have started to watch what I eat. I have also prepared a diet chart, which my wife helps me follow. It has cucumber, raw beans, moong daal and I have cut down completely on sweets. I devote one hour to exercise daily,” he revealed.
“Earlier, I used to eat whatever my kids used to leave and ended up overeating. I was never conscious of it. Now, I feel more active and confident. My diabetes is in control and I have stopped taking medicine for blood pressure,” Kumar added.
The head constable is enjoying the attention from his wife and family members. “I feel smart. I feel good looking at myself in the mirror and I am enjoying the compliments. I aim to lose another 5 kg and there is no stopping now,” he said, with a smile.
(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)
Also read: Weight loss isn’t related to when you eat your biggest meal, this UK study says