As I got up from my bed having overslept and reached out lazily for my phone a series of messages on WhatsApp flashed on my mobile screen. There were quite a few YouTube links and articles shared by my elder sister. All of them circled around the theme of fitness and workout. I could make out that my concerned sister had once again adorned the cap of being my adviser/ health consultant. My sister had been persisting hard in this role motivating me to workout consistently. Initially, her lectures and advises used to make me feel guilty but now I had got pretty used to be affected by it. Today’s messages were like- ‘this 90-year-old yoga teacher’s flexibility will leave you stunned. This 70-year-old bodybuilder proves that age is just a number.’ Actually, I felt inspired after watching the 90-year-old doing tough asanas and the 70-year-old biceps made me quickly pull down my sleeves. I replied to her message with a wow smiley emoticon and put down my phone in shava asana.
Being a weekend, I told myself- ‘today I will workout’. During my bachelor days my workout comprised going regularly for a brisk evening walk or yoga but post-marriage and baby, workout somehow failed to find a place in my daily schedule. So, it had been more than 5 years now where workout rarely worked out for me! If it did, it was like one day of extreme workout and then months of hibernation. On occasions it did, it ended up being more pleasing than rewarding. When I stepped outside last time to go for a walk in the nearby society, I walked briskly for two kilometers. While my legs were in brisk motion so was my mind in utter cognitive dissonance. My mind questioned me repeatedly that whether post-walk I should call my husband who loves coffee and have Starbucks caramel latte or quietly finish a Baskin Robbins cup and leave for home? I decided for the latter and returned home elated and satisfied. Returning home, I deliberated over the importance of exercise at home and also with my neighbourhood friends. Motivating myself to be consistent yet laden with the secret guilt of ice-cream cup, next day I decided to go to our apartment gym.
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Fueled with determination and guilt I was prepared to burn all the accumulated calories today. Entering inside and seeing the gym empty my guilt was instantly transformed to self-pride. I could feel an invisible strong hand patting my back while my inner voice roared with achievement ‘See everybody is relaxing lazily at home, only me a disciplined and sincere soul has taken the time out valuing the importance of good health.’ Lest I get lost in self-glory my watch reminded me that it was 9:30 pm. A time where most people with disciplined and regime life plan to relax or go to bed. Before you blame me let me tell you that this was the only time, I could make out for myself after being busy the whole day with work and baby.[RVListenButton]
For the ten minutes I walked over the treadmill, the machine repeatedly threw one question before me- ‘how can you do this boring stuff? Left, right, left then what? This machine knows me so well. We think alike.’ With the desire to act in consonance with my machine friend and avoid getting hysterical finding an answer I stepped down from the treadmill when a Facebook notification popped on my phone. Don’t press the button my conscious mind ordered but my disobedient hand simply rejected the thought. Thirty minutes passed away like five minutes and the thought of pending dinner made me rush for home. Entering home, I saw my husband face beaming with satisfaction as he said ‘good, you worked out for full forty minutes! Continue with this every day! Let’s order something from outside today.’ I nodded in agreement secretly applauding myself for refusing to be tamed by a repetitive and monotonously acting machine. While I was enjoying every single bite of my dinner my sister called up just like that. ‘Having dinner? ‘she asked. Sounding uber happy I replied ‘yes’. ‘What are you eating?’ she asked curiously. ‘Just a small round crouton with lots of veggies and fruits.’ My sister gave a satisfying nod while the pizza laden with cheese, mushrooms, capsicum, pineapple and chicken winked at me like my most understanding confidante and friend.
Finding this gym workout futile for a personality like me, I decided to go for brisk walk near the beach. Kids were playing, adults were religiously jogging, and many others sat on the sand with family enjoying snacks. Having a toddler, it was difficult to walk so I conceded to her demands joining her near the play area. Later as I sat on the bench and my stomach cramped for dinner, the ice-cream shop gave a welcoming look and my humble stomach decided to comfort itself with just one ice cream before returning home. Somehow every time I decided to work -out, workout left me pampered like my mother.
Before my mind could trap me into feeling guilty – I decided to be positive. ‘What matters in life is to stay happy. If you are happy you will be healthy even with the minimal workout,’ the words of my Bengali friend came to my rescue who often overlooked the unhealthy food choices of his aging father just to see him happy.
In college and job, having eaten mess food for years, who will realise the value of delicious mouthwatering food better than me? While I have high regards for Gandhiji, I could not reconcile with his quote, ‘eat to live, not live to eat’. In fact, before entering in matrimony I often pictured romance as dates in exquisite hotels or enjoying Indian street food together. Once in a mall, I found a ‘to buy list’ in a trolley. The items listed were white bread, butter, cheese, brown Christmas cake, and rasagulla. Looking at the list I was sure that today I found my soulmate in this mall but unfortunately, it belonged to a girl. I don’t want to brag but I had already prepared myself for a worst-case scenario. When buying clothes, I never opted for the right fit and a whole lot of baggy clothes in my wardrobe were like my reserve asset and a true friend.
Being a mom of a toddler and with demands at work, most of the days I am not able to make time for myself. On days I get time, I prefer sitting with a book, writing something, watching the moonlit sky or chatting with friends. However, my dreams of chasing ultimate fitness goals and consistent workout are still on my list. My relationship with workout maybe complicated and incompatible as of now but I have not lost hope. So Indian mithais, chocolates, desserts, chole bature, pani puri, chat, French fries, burgers, pizza and family-lend me your ears! You may continue to succeed in igniting my five senses with your charm, but my heart is a seeker of love. For the sake of self-love and love of my loved ones I will make sure that workout one day is not merely pleasing but rewarding for me!
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A featured contributor with The Dispatch, Dr. Farah Naqvi is an academician, writer, corporate trainer and HRD consultant associated with many MNCs and institutions in the field of academics, behavioral training, consulting and research. She has to her credit many research articles published in international refereed journals. Dr. Farah has conducted consulting; Management development programs for a diverse clientele throughout her career. She recently forayed in the literature world with her bestselling fiction novel- ‘The light in Blackout’. Dr. Farah is a regular columnist and contributor in different newspapers and online portals. She loves to express herself through her writing on varied themes.
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