Most of us have a long, complicated and not-so-pleasant relationship with those extra kilos that refuse to leave us like bad memories.
Growing up, I was referred to as: 'khaate peete ghar ki', Indian society's polite way of fat-shaming.
I started out skinny, and then puberty hit me like a truck, leaving me with 15 extra kilos and acute arthritis.
With that much weight to lose, lack of time (on account of crazy work hours) and my complete resentment for exercising, I ended up trying everything from yoga, online exercise videos to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) in the hopes of finding something that I would actually stick to.
This conquest ended when I chanced upon Melt, a tailor-made accelerated weight loss program at Qi Gym, Mumbai.
A long conversation with Qi's in house nutritionist, Ruchi Shah helped me understand the program, leading me to achieve my weight goals.
Here's my weight loss journey with this unusual and intense program in the past 5 weeks:
What is Melt?
The specialized program is an intense five-week regime that takes place in a closed chamber that simulates oxygen levels, comparable to 10,000 feet above sea level.
A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Obesity backed this claim, the results of the study showed that Americans living at sea-level are up to five times more likely to be obese than those who stay at high altitudes, even if all of factors like exercise level, socioeconomic status and family history are the same.
Another 2010 study published in Obesity showed that even if you don't live in a high-altitude area, just visiting one could help you lose weight.
How does it help your body?
Other than promoting weight and fat loss, the program also claims to increase the body's relative Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
What are the dietary changes required to get best results?
The program requires you to follow a strict but filling diet for the coming weeks, nutritionist Ruchi Shah is always present to provide guidance and reprimand you when you give in to your guilty pleasures.
Ruchi says, "The diet requires you to reduce your excess carbohydrate intake, increase intake of healthy fats, and adds just the right amount proteins and micro nutrients."
How is it different?
A half-hour workout in the chamber is as good as a 90-minute workout in normal conditions. This ends up being very helpful for those of us who are constantly in a time crunch.
One can expect to lose between 5-10 per cent of their current body weight within 5 weeks. The program is specifically tailored for overweight people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 25 kg/m2 though almost every one can benefit from it.
Ruchi adds, "The success rate of the program is excellent with over 90% of our members achieving minimum of 4 kg weight loss in 4 weeks and over 80% of our super achievers maintaining their weight loss."
What is the fitness level requirement?
People with very low fitness levels to extremely fit individuals can do the program, the intensity of the program goes on increasing when you can handle it.
The strenuous exercises are hard to do during your first session, the lack of oxygen may even give you a headache (it triggered my migraine) and nausea, but by the third session you are not only successfully doing all the exercises but also managing to up your level in every progressing session.
Who cannot do this?
Individuals who fall into the absolute contraindications category for exercise, or those who have not been cleared by a physician cannot partake in the program.
What is the cost?
Rs 26,860 for 25 sessions (inclusive of all taxes).
How effective is it in reality?
Personally, for me the first session was the hardest, although in hindsight I can now do it without losing breath.
The lack of oxygen gets to you in the first few sessions, but it is easy to get over if you don't give up after the first try.
Other than getting a better, toned body, confidence and great muscles, I also felt a major improvement in terms of strength, agility, endurance, flexibility and overall fitness levels.
I was quite diligent during my Melt sessions, except for the occasional nihari or chocolate cake, in five weeks I managed to bring down 7 kgs, and considering I was stuck in a plateau for a year, I consider this a big win.