If you’re here for fitness tips or for tips to lose weight, stop right here. I’m sharing neither nor am I qualified to do that. This blog post sure is about my fitness journey so far but it’s also me going on about a lot of random things. Now that you’ve got the warning, proceed at your own risk.
I’ve never been an outdoorsy person. I sure did write ‘love being outdoors’, ‘love sports’ in my Orkut profile at some point and also probably ‘liked’ such pages on Facebook when I was younger, but we all know how that worked, yeah?
The only memories of real physical activity/sports from my childhood I have are one where I won a ‘Frog Race’ when I was in grade 4/5 and one a few years later of my team losing a relay race of which I was forced to be a part of. I did enjoy basketball a fair bit when I was older but again, it didn’t excite me enough for me to keep at it. Cycling is probably the only other activity I have enjoyed the longest. Partly because it meant I was ‘not a child anymore’ and could go by myself to school riding my bicycle. Oh, and also to ‘explore’ the streets of good old Madras (more like Nanganallur, but whatever) with my cousins during summer holidays.
In September 2019, I decided to give my physical and mental health some importance and took the bold decision of enrolling in a gym. This was a bold decision, because I’ve an abysmal track record as far as enrolling in a gym is concerned and I’ve paid for it (partly or in full) but never really made it through a single subscription, no kidding.
The most important reason why I chose to go ahead with it was so that I could be away from *everything* for an hour everyday. It may sound selfish to some, but not for me, because after being surrounded by 2 mini humans almost all day, I was starting to lose my sense of freedom, patience and motivation. I was neither giving them nor myself the best I can. I needed a change from the mundane, from parenting, from the chaos, from everything. This seemed like a way to get some time for myself and it eventually became the ‘me time’ I thoroughly enjoyed. It was also only time I got to step out to the real world and that has immensely contributed to my mental well being over time because as much as I love my children I don’t really enjoy parenting them all the time.
At this point, some of my closest friends had already been working out/on fitness journeys of their own, and that was another reason why I may have started mine – peer pressure. But I’m glad it happened because I cannot begin to describe what a world of difference it has made in my life.
When I started, I was extremely conscious and all I would do was head straight to the treadmill for 15 minutes, be on the elliptical or cycle for another 15 and head right back home. In fact, the first day at gym, I was panting so bad after 10 minutes on the treadmill + some aerobics that I went home 15 minutes after getting there.
Although I was determined to make some progress this time I still worried a lot about how other people looked at me or what they thought about me. I also constantly compared myself to other people I met at the gym and was positive I’d never be as fit or flexible or agile as them. If you’re anything like me, I can assure you (now) that it was all my mind playing games and that no one really cared/cares. Even if they did, I don’t think it should matter or at least I’ve reached that level of confidence now because there’s always going to be someone stronger, leaner, and fitter.
After over a month of sticking to this routine, I decided to get a personal trainer because I was starting to get bored and I knew I’d give up if I didn’t have enough motivation. This, my friends brought a change that I never expected – I actually started enjoying the process, the endorphins and the high completing a good workout gave me. My trainer made me cut down my cardio time and gave me a more rounded approach of fitness that involved calisthenics, weight and strength training. Although I was still huffing and puffing my way through the workouts, I felt a steady improvement in my stamina and strength.
One question I get asked a lot is how I take the time to go to the gym while also managing two kids and a home. I think it’s because I’ve been extremely particular (to the point of being annoying) about going to the gym everyday irrespective of when my husband gets home. That was the mutual agreement we had when we enrolled. I finish everything I need to including cooking dinner and a few minutes after he’s home, I’m out of the house. It helped that the gym was just downstairs and open 24*7 which meant I didn’t have to stick to a particular time. This used to be the norm before all the pandemic craziness started.
Going to the gym is what I missed the most during the initial days of lockdown. I got some amount of exercise in every day in spite of it and eventually made peace with the fact that I wasn’t going to be returning there anytime soon and so decided I’ll have to do better if I didn’t want my efforts to go to waste. This is when I also decided that I will actually make use of all the home workout videos I had been bookmarking on Youtube and Instagram for long.
Though I don’t feel as motivated as I used to while going to the gym and I miss the weights and equipment and my nutrition has been crap the past few weeks, I’m still extremely proud of myself for keeping at it and working out at least 5 days a week. It’s extremely hard to focus some days with all the anxiety surrounding what is happening and not knowing what (more) is coming. On some such days, I push myself to get at least 20-30 minutes of active time merely for a change. But if it feels like too much effort, I don’t. That said, I still have the fear that I will go back to my old habits if I do take a break for a few days in a row, so I try my hard not to skip these 30-60 mins of my time. It only takes putting on my favorite workout clothes or my favorite workout music (Tamil kuthu songs FTW) on good days but some days I really need all my will power to not give in to temptation and just potate (and eat my body weight in cake).
I’m so grateful to the internet for making this time easy for a whole lot of us in different ways – be it connecting with family and friends, or finding the right workout that can give you a happy high and also for all the dessert recipes – healthy or not. A lot of apps, gyms and fitness centers are also offering free trials and/or free workouts that you can follow either through their apps or on their Instagram/Facebook pages or websites. I’ll share some of my favorites soon in another post. There is also Youtube which costs nothing (assuming you don’t want/have a premium membership) and can offer you endless choices of workouts according to the level/intensity you choose.
I’m penning all this down hoping someone reading this will be inspired/motivated to get started. Trust me, the hardest part is getting started especially if you’re someone like me who’s never given any importance to being fit or active. I still have a long journey ahead and I’m nowhere close to loving my body as I’d like to and certainly need to work on getting back on track with what I eat, but the most important thing I’ve learnt is to keep going taking small steps keeping the big picture in mind.
If you think, you need a distraction or have been wanting to get started on your fitness journey, now may be a good time. That said, I’d also like to remind you that there is absolutely no pressure for you to do anything at all at this time if you don’t want to. I know for a fact that there is plenty of other things to do at home now that we are all home. Working, cooking, cleaning to laundry, to looking after children and elders at home, watching (or re-watching) your favorite shows, or just staying sane in spite of the overload of grim news everyday, we all have a lot to deal with anyway.
I’m not a writer and certainly not as eloquent and good with words as I’d like to be most times but let me just tell you a few things in simple sentences – you do not have to come out of the lockdown a size zero or five sizes down to feel like you’ve accomplished something. This is a tough time for a lot of us and it’s absolutely fine even if we just make it alive without a 100 certifications from Coursera or a chef’s degree or as an accomplished baker with a thriving sourdough starter. The weighing scale doesn’t have to show a few points less every time you step on it. You absolutely don’t have to look like anyone or be a certain size. It’s okay to binge eat and chill if that’s what is keeping you happy at this time. You don’t have to workout every single day if you don’t want to. Do it for yourself, to take a positive step in the direction of self love, for your physical, emotional and mental well being, if you think it would help.
In summary, you do you because only you know what’s best for you.
Thank you for attending my Ted Talk. *mic drop*