They say that once you get entrapped in a rut it often takes a Herculean effort spurred by a combination of internal motivation and external impetus (criticism, soothsaying or what have you) to help you snap out of it. That is precisely what many of us fall into in today’s hypercompetitive environment where work (read careers that you may not always like) actually becomes “worship”. The working professional’s life seemingly revolves around stiff deadlines, hectic working hours, endless presentations, team reviews and client meetings. Consequently, the haloed concept of “work-life balance” doesn’t just take a backseat, but gradually gets erased from the working man’s lexicon altogether. Set in this backdrop, holistic health and wellness becomes a lesser priority…and dangerously so. The weekends (or whatever is left of them) appear to be the only time where you might get the chance to let your hair down; usually engaging in activities that seldom add much value to your actual wellbeing.
A few weeks ago I happened to find myself in that exact same predicament and rapidly realized the toll it was taking on me physically, mentally and emotionally. Apart from the gradual gain in weight, my biorhythm was out of sync and I was battling fatigue for no apparent reason. For someone who has always enjoyed physical activity and the outdoors, I gathered that I was metamorphosing into someone I had vowed never to turn into, back in the day – the quintessential corporate slave with precious little personal time. The clarion call for a critical lifestyle change had been in the works for a while but I had seemingly been ignoring the same; and detrimentally so. The final nail in the coffin came when I struggled to fit into my favourite pair of Jeans one evening. Five minutes of huffing, puffing, stretching, lunging, wincing and cringing had reduced me to a breathless heap on my crisply made bed. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be!
I ended up changing into a far more comfortable pair of tracks and proceeded to stay home that evening; determined to somehow find a way back onto the road to redemption. What followed was a night comprised of “Fight Club”, “300” (for the umpteenth time) and a slew of fitness related motivational videos on YouTube. I went to bed early that night after striking some unflattering bodybuilding poses before my stained mirror with Rocky’s “Eye of the Tiger” playing in the backdrop and vowing to hit the gym with aplomb the very next day. And, hit the gym I did.
I walked into my gym, post office, much to the surprise of my long-time trainer who had seen my commitment to the cause waiver on multiple occasions previously. Honey Singh’s “Brown Rang” (not the ideal workout track by any stretch of imagination) blared from overworked, bass-deprived speakers as I confidently strode towards one of the recently vacated Treadmills (pounded upon relentlessly by an over eager Aunty) and broke into a brisk run. Five minutes in, I was gasping for Oxygen and clutching my back in agony. I was faced with two choices. Either I could get off, bum out and relax in the Sauna. Or, I could power and grit through the initial discomfort. I gallantly chose to do the latter much to the chagrin of my revolting knees and ankles (a full blown bodily mutiny was now on my hands). And, power through I did.
It has been a month since I hit the gym in earnest on that “momentous” day. I have stuck to my regimen, dropped a satisfying 8 kilograms and continue to build muscle mass at an even more satisfying rate. Patience and persistence become the keystones to improved and sustainable physical prowess and performance. I feel a lot better about myself; not just because the results have been favourable but also because I have managed to stay true to the cause this time around and plan to continue doing so; sore, complaining muscles or not.
I am not here to extol the multiple virtues and advantages of physical exercise. For that is something everyone is familiar with. The idea is to wake you up to the reality that given our existing lifestyles, it becomes extremely imperative to invest sagaciously in your health. Nobody is asking you to transform into the next Mr. Universe, Tour de France Champion or UFC super-achiever. But pursuing some sort of physical activity, adhering to a relatively disciplined diet and getting enough sleep can go a long way in aiding your overall wellbeing. Essentially, the sooner this realization dawns across the murky horizons of ignorance or apathy, the better. All it requires is (reinforced) concrete commitment, ironclad will and balls of steel (figuratively, of course); the building blocks for a potentially healthy tomorrow. The beauty of it all is that once your mind and body get aligned to the rigors of a more disciplined lifestyle, it will crave the same when not supplied with generous doses periodically. That is what conditioning is all about. Begin with the simplest of fitness goals and scale up from there gradually. You’ll be surprised how your body responds to that persistent call.
I might be getting a little carried away with this part-personal experience, part-sermon narrative; but that’s perhaps because I have just returned from the gym and can now comfortably fit right back into those Jeans that had rallied me to embark on this path in the first place! Sometimes, it is the accomplishment of the simplest and perhaps, silliest of goals that give you the greatest highs. True story.