Papri’s Weight Gain Challenge: Why I Want to Put on Weight

Papri’s Weight Gain Challenge: Why I Want to Put on Weight

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Camera: Shiv Kumar Maurya, Athar Rather, Abhay Sharma, Sumit Badola and Abhishek Ranjan

Graphics and Art: Erum Gour and Arnica Kala

Video Editing: Deepthi Ramdas

Yes. You read that headline right. I am Papri Das and I have taken on a ‘weight gain’ challenge, not weight loss.

Growing up, I knew I had a unique problem. I was always underweight, with a very high metabolism. Whatever I ate, (whenever I did) I hardly put on weight.

To the world that is constantly bombarded with images of skinny models and free fitness ‘gyaan’ on how to be size zero this may be a blessing, but trust me, it is not.

Being a 27-year-old journalist, having a lean structure and a baby face was more of a curse. People hardly took me seriously, friends and colleagues constantly teased me, and of course, I was told I couldn’t possibly be healthy.

At this point you are wondering exactly how skinny am I?

I weigh 33 kg.

Bet you have face like this right now.
Bet you have face like this right now.
Photo: Giphy

Why I Want To Gain Weight:

Hailing from a middle class Bengali family, my physical features were never on par with what the society expected from me. I was subjected to some severe ‘thin-shaming’ when growing up. (Yes, it is a thing. You can Google it)

It was unpleasant but I never actively tried to changed myself. Things started to change when adulting happened -- my emaciation started affecting my health. To the point that I fell severely sick once. It was a rude awakening and a stimulus for me to take up this challenge.

Why Am I So Skinny?

My road to gaining weight started with answering this obvious question: ‘How come I am so skinny?’ I did some research on it. Turned out there are quite a few reasons.

  1. Illness: Being underweight could be a direct result of a chronic health condition -- physical or mental or both. Few such conditions include hyperthyroidism, celiac disease, gastroenteritis, diabetes, bulimia, tuberculosis and anorexia.
  2. Lifestyle: Second and probably the most common reason is often our ‘millennial lifestyle.’ That would include eating out more often that eating at home, eating junk food, irregular and unbalanced diet. And of course, skipping meals.
  3. Genetic: We can’t take the power of genes lightly. If both of your parents happen to be on the leaner side, especially when they were of the same age as you, then the ‘lean’ structure may as well be hereditary.

Impressed with my research? You can thank Dr Ashwini Setya, the gastroenterologist I first consulted with when I severely fell sick -- to the point of puking out blood -- which also led me to take up this weight gain challenge.

Dr Setya gave me a list of blood tests I needed to take to find out if I had any chronic illness.

Complete blood count (CBC), Liver function tests (LFT), Kidney Function test (KFT), Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), Thyroid-stimulating hormone,Anti-tissue Transglutaminase Antibody and  mmunoglobulin A 
Complete blood count (CBC), Liver function tests (LFT), Kidney Function test (KFT), Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), Thyroid-stimulating hormone,Anti-tissue Transglutaminase Antibody and  mmunoglobulin A 
Photo: Screenshot of the prepscription

Thankfully, I was in the clear. Dr Setya reassured me that there was nothing ‘physically’ wrong with me. My problems were an mix of a crazy lifestyle I had normalised for years, and my genes.

Most of your health issues could be stemming from a low immunity problem. Your BMI is also very low. You need to eat well, eat regularly, and do some exercise to build your immunity. Why don’t you see a nutritionist who would draw you a diet chart that would help you achieve a balanced diet?
Dr Ashwini Setya

So here I am, taking on an 8-week Papri Weight Gain Challenge.

(Follow @Quintfit and @PapriTweets for updates on how I fare, and keep an eye out for my first few days of progress that I’ll be posting in the coming week.)

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