This is the inspiring story of a man who saw life slipping out of his hands in front of his very eyes, caught it by the collar and said, “This ain’t the way I am gonna go down.”
Fitness Freak, Addicted Marathoner, Entrepreneur, Doting Partner and World Traveller. Gaurav Katyal has perfected the art of ageing backwards. He prefers to lead by example than preach people to live healthy and love their life. Here’s Gaurav’s story in his own words.
O.B.E.S.E. In capital letters.
Around 2004-05, I was going through a rough patch and that’s when I piled on a lot of weight – 40 kg to be precise. Before I knew it, I had gone from 80 kilos to a hefty 120 kilos. I was smoking like a chimney, drinking like a fish, and I had no lifestyle. I was eating every odd hour, eating everything that came my way. A gas cylinder weighs about 28 kilos. So imagine a normal human being carrying two gas cylinders on himself, every waking moment. That was me.
During this time I was also put on medication for hypertension. So one fine morning I went to my family doctor for a regular health checkup. He ran a few tests, read my charts and looked up at me and said, “Gaurav I give you 6 months for your first heart attack.” I was 35.
While I was still trying to absorb the information, the doc did something that was to change my life forever. On top of my report, next to my name, he wrote O B E S E. That moment, that word just triggered something in me. That was going to be the end of my self destructive lifestyle.
I want to lose all this flab.
The first time I walked into a gym was in December 2005. I told the trainer, “All I want is to lose the weight, I don’t want to build muscle, I just want to get this off and walk out, that’s all.” He said to me, “Gaurav, either you will be obsessed with this or you will give it up in two months.” And the latter happened.
It was an uphill task, to say the least. I just couldn’t push myself. Ten minutes on the treadmill and I would be drained of all of my energy. Intially you are really gung ho about things but when after so much hard work all you lose is a 100 grams here and there, you get frustrated. However I was hell-bent. I had to do this.
For the first six months I did not step out of the house. I would go to my office, go to the gym from there and head back home. I killed my social life. I would read a lot, people’s blogs, how they lost weight, how to build stamina, the right diet. My father is a fitness freak, and mum is great at cooking healthy food with no salt, no oil – all of this helped a lot.
I took to walking as much as I could. Gave up drinking, My friends, my drinking buddies stopped calling me up, they thought I had lost it. Gradually everyone moved on with their lives. Today when they look at me, they say it’s commendable how I lost all the excess baggage and also managed to maintain it. I have seen myself come out of a 140 kilos to about 80 kilos in 8 months and I haven’t put on an ounce since.
In our country feeding people is an expression of love, and more so in Punjabi families. In fact I have offended quite a few people by refusing to eat or drink when I didn’t want to. Now my friends and family know there’s not point forcing this guy. I eat my meal before I leave home for a party. I will probably have a glass of wine and that’s it. Discipline makes all the difference.
The Compulsive Runner.
I have totally imbibed fitness into my life. In fact I am quite close to being a fanatic. My whole regime, what I do, what I eat, where I vacation, everything is related to fitness. When I am travelling, before I am looking for a hotel, I am looking for where I can run or work out. If the hotel does not have a gym, the first thing I do is signup for a gym in the area. Plus, European cities are great for running. People have space to walk.
Gaurav started running in 2008. In his first marathon, he ran 25 kilometers in 2 hours. Till date he has run about 50 half marathons in India and abroad.
Running is therapy. When you are running, you tend to think about things that matter to you, you get ideas on how to make things better, your relationships, your work, your life. It’s like flying on air. Anybody who works out for an hour feels at the top of the world.
Running takes weight off of you, physical weight and mental weight. It’s great for you, it’s great for your relationship, it’s great for your children. It is addictive.
This year Gaurav plans to run about 14 international marathons. With a demanding business, we ask him how he is able to pull this off, and do it consistently.
My work involves a lot of travelling. So I plan my travels in such a way that they coincide with the running events. You really can’t be there for all of them but there are some famous marathons, such as the Paris marathon, or the Barcelona marathon which I just can’t miss.
In my day, there is always time for a run. I have formed a group of about 14 friends who love to run. I have also found some likeminded clients. So when they come here or when I am visiting them, we get together for a run at sunrise. The kind of connection that can create between two people is way beyond what a business lunch can do. For me, running is indispensable.
There are so many lives Gaurav has touched, many people he has inspired, and he would rather not talk about it. But we managed to extract it all over coffee.
People tell me, “You come to the gym, and thinking about you we come to the gym.”
There was this friend of mine who was about 140 kilos when we first met, I had lost all my weight by then. I would watch him work out but not an inch lost in 4 months. He was all of 29, newly married, had a good life. So one day I asked him what he thought he was doing wrong. We discussed his food habits, his routine and I put him on a strict diet, which sort of kickstarted the weight loss. He ended up losing 50 kilos.
If you can imbibe fitness into your life, if you can work out for even 45 minutes a day, that’s all you need. I don’t force anyone to run. I just run myself and that inspires people.
The Engineer turned Entrepreneur.
I come from a family where education and degrees are important so I knew I had to become an engineer or a doctor. I somehow managed to get into engineering and completed my BE from VRCE, Nagpur. I landed my first job with an electronics company and they put me up at the TV production line where I would sit all day watching television screens go by. But it didn’t take me long to realize that I wasn’t cut out for it. One day I said to myself, ” This is not for me. I have to be outside. I have to interact with people and do something creative”. And soon I was out of there.
In 1995, I launched Condor, my home furnishings enterprise from a small office in Delhi where I was the boss, the peon & the receptionist. Today we have about 250 employees under our roof and clients all over the world. Condor also provides indirect employment to about 2000 craftsmen across the country.
The Mush behind the Sweat.
From trustworthy sources we hear that Gaurav is quite a hit with the ladies. At the end of this two hour chat, the reasons seemed more than obvious. On the personal front, Gaurav is at a happy place in his life, with a partner who is more of a friend and a companion to him. The lady also happens to share his love for travel.
There are three things a relationship stands on – Love, respect and care. Cut one off, and the relationship is doomed. Our relationship is based on friendship. She is the reason I gave up smoking. All she said to me was, “I wish you didn’t smoke.” And I gave it up the same day. She understands that I am a people’s person and gives me my space. We value each other’s individuality and freedom and I think that’s what keeps us going.
This was some conversation. It was great to meet Gaurav and we wish him all the best for his life. And here’s the before-n-after picture you are dying to see.
Stay Fit. Stay Young!