Don’t exercise to lose weight; rather get moving to be healthy, wealthy (at heart) and wise.
I am surely not the right person to lecture anyone on fitness regime – I haven’t seen the face of my yoga teachers for last two months. But what I want to say is please, please don’t confuse fitness with what you weigh. Yes, being overweight can cause health complications so be fit and active to avoid those – not to simply lose the kilos. When you divert your attention from the focus – that’s your health and wellbeing – to where the needle tilts on the weighing scale, you invariably push yourself into a self-critical gear. And this critical mode is not motivating. It is pressurising. Get the drift?
This morning I saw one of those supposedly fun posts on Facebook that said:
“If a woman asks if she looks fat, it’s not enough to say ‘no’. You must also act very surprised by the question. Jump backwards if necessary.”
So what did I do on seeing that? I laughed and immediately shared it. As the day progressed that “Share” received a considerable number of “Likes”. Every time the “Notification” alert buzzed, I got that “feel good” sensation that we experience these days when our whacky words (or so we think), profound musings (or so we like to believe) and “fun” posts get “engagements”. Can’t deny, it is comforting – a little pat on the back. Of course, this is vanity! And I admit I am guilty of it. I don’t realise it often. Perhaps consciousness is so numbed that I fail to recognise it most of the time and then there are days like today that shake you up a little and compel you to think. So I was basking in that “I-shared-a-smart-post” moment and kept checking every time the post received a “Like”. Every time I checked, I read the post once again and hey, suddenly it didn’t feel like so smart anymore.
Did I really believe in such a stereotype? Hell no! Yes, of course I want to look good and I do often ask my husband and friends if I am looking fat. But why do I ask that question? No I don’t believe in having washboard abs, I don’t want to be a size zero. But I definitely want to be fit and that’s why I want to get back on my fitness track and get my body in perfect health. I admire those yoginis in my yoga class who can do those inversions with such ease. I admire their bodies not because they are lithe and thin but because they are supple, flexible, healthy and therefore, so beautiful. It is that level of fitness that I want to achieve – weight loss will then naturally be a beautiful side effect.
Having said that, let us ask ourselves this question – is fitness fashionable? Well yes, but let’s say it’s a fashion trend that we should aim at turning into our personal style. There are enough writings, advice columns, books and research thrown on our face daily to push and prod us into the “fitness” bandwagon. But how many of us are doing it for the right reasons? I am not against anyone who wants to lose weight to look good, all I am trying to say is please link it to a higher goal and then perhaps it will be worth the effort and even easier to achieve.
Let me explain it with a personal experience. In 1995 I suffered from a viral infection called GB Syndrome that temporarily paralyses the muscles. It was a traumatic experience but at a very young age it taught me to value the blessing of having a healthy body. The two weeks that I was dependant on others for even a glass of water, taught me for life to care and respect my body. It was through regular exercise and dance that I was able to recover quickly from the ailment. Then in 2014 I suffered from a prolonged period of allergic bronchitis. Nothing helped till I tried yoga. Deep breathing, regular exercise and a healthy meal plan brought me back to normalcy. I learnt another lesson: don’t take your breath for granted, earn it. Since then I dedicate at least 10 minutes every day to deep breathing exercises and while I may not be hitting the gym regularly, I keep making the effort to do some exercise.
There are times that I let go but a bout of cold and cough, stomach ache or fever shakes me up and gets me back on track. Many a times, a wedding or an event has served as an incentive to lose weight but most of the time it has been short lived and rather than taking the fitness route I have veered towards semi-starving. That’s what I call being “pressurised” to be fit. And it seldom works. But when I get into my get-fit mode for being healthy, I sustain it longer and the effects are dramatically better – that is working under “motivation”.
So next time you laugh at “losing weight” jokes, think about it. Love yourself, respect your body and be healthy – you will automatically look beautiful.