Curries and Kayla Itsines: How this woman ate and exercised to shed 16kg without crash dieting

A US woman has shared how changing her eating habits and adopting an online exercise program changed her life, helping her shed over 15kg.

Akanksha Gupta told Women's Health while growing up in India she never struggled with her weight, but after moving to the US gained about 20kg in just a few months. 

"My eating schedule was all over the place, thanks to the long hours I was putting in for grad school, so I would regularly eat not-so-nutritious foods at all hours," she reflected.

"I also had very easy access to processed foods, like pizza and doughnuts, that I was regularly turning to whenever I felt hungry."

The toll on her mental health led her to follow unsustainable crash diets and quick fix solutions - but nothing seemed to work.

In January, 2017, Gupta says she found Kayla Itsines' BBG (Bikini Body Guide) online, and it led her to fall in love with exercising. 

"I now look at it as meditation. After exercising, I'm able to focus better, and also end up feeling way more grateful for my body." 

It's also made her appreciate food as fuel. "Before finding the BBG program, I looked at exercise as something people only felt forced to do, like as a punishment for eating a slice of pizza. 

"I never thought exercise was something I could actually enjoy."

Gupta also began experimenting in the kitchen, finding ways to incorporate more protein into traditional Indian meals from back home. These days on her Instagram page 'Banana bread to burpees', Gupta now shares delicious tofu and paneer curry recipes, like her homemade 'Butter Tofu'. 

"Since making those changes, I've lost about 35 pounds [16kgs] in total."

It's taken around three years, but Gupta says the slow process is key to her success. 

"The changes in my body happened gradually, not overnight... I've found long-term changes that have helped both my physical and mental health."