Around 90 kilos.
That’s the range my body has seen. More than that, this was the number that totally changed the way I looked and felt at that time. It’s the number that changed my life.
13 years ago, I was a different person who had no control on body and mind. I mean, so different that if you ask me to recall my personality at that time, I wouldn’t be able to go back in time and be able to feel it. Hell, don’t ask me to do that because I don’t want to feel that terrible feeling.
I lost control on my body fully in 2006 when Jaundice took over my system and stayed for six months. I think I never had a control on my body then, rather I did not know how to develop a sensibility to control my body and its growth.
I was suffering from Hepatitis A and the bilirubin had reached 23. To the ones who don’t know about bilirubin and what it means when it clocks that much, let me explain. Higher than normal bilirubin in the blood cells are indicative of Jaundice and 23 is an alarming stage. I remember my naniji (grandmother) telling me that she knew of a case where bilirubin touched 21 and it was a case of Hepatitis B (non-curable). So, yes, that’s the extent of seriousness it had.
It took me a total of 6-7 months to fully recover as there was a re-lapse too, this was just a year before I joined my first job at The Times of India.
And when the recovery was in full swing, the side effect was the weight I was bound to gain from the amount of fluids, glucose and what not that my body had to deal with.
It wasn’t that I didn’t play sports earlier in school or college. I played Badminton and Table Tennis but not at a level where I was aiming to achieve fitness from it. Post jaundice, when I went to the gym for the first time, it was a new lease of life of sorts. I had a lot of apprehensions, I was scared and unsure of my body’s response. Falling ill does not mean just a physical setback. It derails you from the mental well-being because you learn about your body from others and have gone through a phase where you’ve seen yourself weak, dependent and vulnerable.
A year later, my mind and body, together, gave me the second blow. Depression hit me after a first major heartbreak. I used to go to work not knowing that I’m suffering from one. I used to try and talk to my colleague but feel ashamed of it. It was really suffocating. It was also the time we had shifted from the place where I spent my childhood. The changes were hard to accept and a fall-out of a worthless relationship made it worse. I used to lie in the bed for hours and liked to spend time in darkness. During the nights, I used to sit near the window of my room and look for the moon and stars. It’s been so long that I have almost forgotten how and when I cried much. I wished to escape. I wished somebody helped me. But I never wished to tell it to anyone because I was really scared and too broken to mend things on my own. I wanted to fight and come out of it but there were too many things that pulled me down. It was the worst phase of my life.
I would lie if I say that I had the lost the feeling to live. But I tried and tried again and tried a million times and chose to take the spiritual route and came out of it very slowly. I learnt Reiki (Japanese technique for stress reduction) and helped myself heal out of depression.
Or so I thought! There was a re-lapse and it took shape of Pancreatitis in my body. I say that because I know every pain, stress, disease that our body suffers is a result of all the negativity and bad experiences snowball into. Not that the doctor told me, but I know that my depression led to this disease. Doctors told my mother that it was a life-threatening complication if not dealt with sensitivity and care.
After a month’s time, I was back to work and this time with the promise I had made to myself on the hospital bed. I was back with renewed determination and will power.
Slowly and steadily, I started understanding the importance of staying healthy and what it means to lead a thriving life. I understood that health is everything. These were the times when “fitness” wasn’t “in” and rage on social media. Yoga wasn’t cool and going to gym was seen as luxury.
I kicked off my fitness crawl, got interested in new avenues and challenged myself to take up never-imagined-before activities. Fitness didn’t come to me easy. I really had to work my ass off to get it to me.
I can’t believe I chose Marathon to begin with because I hated running all my life. I couldn’t even run for a mile. It’s almost unbelievable how I conquered that strong inhibition of allowing my body to run.
Half-marathons (21kms) have played such a huge role in getting me closer to understand my body, mind, life and soul. I have participated in five half-marathons and I treasure them as one of my biggest personal achievements.
Soon after I quit NDTV and before joining exchange4media, my life was ready to take me to the next level of fitness. I thank my stars for having been introduced to a popular chain of fitness club by an ex friend and what a turn-around it proved to be.
I started falling in love with the fitness classes and more importantly, what they did to my mind, body and soul.
Strangely, I was never surrounded by fitness enthusiasts at work or otherwise and they perceived my strict work-out regime as weird. Basically, it was same as how people discard those who they don’t understand or don’t want to understand.
I commonly received this reaction, especially, from a boss at one of the organizations I worked for. He taunted me and made sure he subtly rubs in his displeasure in front of my other colleagues too. He himself never looked to have picked up a weight in his life or seen the door of the gym while due to his freaky workaholic nature, wanted everyone else to become like him – work 24/7 and be at his disposal.
I can tell you, with a conviction, even if I was fired, I’d be okay to choose my body over my boss. I could get a new boss but not a new body. My body had become a priority for me and it wasn’t my problem if people understood it or not. I walked on my path and wanted others to come along. It was never going to happen vice versa.
When I started working with Zee Business, my commute to my office in Noida had a gym-stop in between at Connaught Place. I used to carry a huge bag that had my gym stuff along with the regular go-to office belongings. I don’t remember anybody else taking that much pain just to keep the gym schedule intact and none whosoever carried a bag that big. So, obviously, my bag was always the centre of attraction and everybody used to get curious as to why I carry such a big bag to office. I used to laugh it off with them because I know if I explained my love for fitness to them, it’d only be handful who are going to take the trouble to empathize.
Eventually, I reached a stage where I stopped finding any kind of work or engagement more important than my work-out. Even when I had no other way than to miss it, I made sure I compensated by working out extra. Weekend concept soon made its way out of my life. Saturdays and Sundays meant Body Balance and Body Pump group classes. : )
I think when you find fitness, eventually, fitness also finds you. By this I mean, when you make an effort to inculcate fitness hours in your day schedule, with time, it takes over as a priority equivalent to eating, sleeping and working. It becomes an inseparable part of your lifestyle and life journey.
Zumba (fitness dance program), body balance (a mix of tai chi, pilates and yoga), body pump (weights), body combat (mixed martial arts), steps (rhythmic cardio) and spinning (rhythmic cycling) are some of my favourite group fitness classes and I highly recommend them.
Till today, whenever I travel, I make sure I carry my gym attire, shoes and try to not miss work-out at any point of time. If I get an indoor facility, I use it else I go out in nature and embrace it with running. There’s nothing like establishing a connection with nature and going back to it when you are seeking something as natural as health for your body. Not just oxygen, our bodies intricately comprise of same substance as nature around us and that is why, the feeling to work out in parks and gardens can never be matched with closed spaces.
People often on social media have mentioned their disappointment on my fitness regime. According to them, I haven’t lost or toned down as much as I’ve put in the hard work.
What they, also, miss is my consistency and dedication year after year. What they don’t know is that I have left behind the concept of losing weight and that I now only focus on fitness – everything else, be it the peace of mind, rejuvenated soul or healthy body – all are a by-product of fitness. I have come to understand that for majority of people, ‘weight loss’ is a benchmark because it’s visible to the naked eye and of course, it isn’t new that the world only gets floored on results and what shows. I’m not here to impress anyone other than my own self.
A testimony to that thought is that I underwent Zumba training and never used my certification professionally. Zumba became my most favourite when I began doing 10 years ago and I wanted to experience it in depth. Hence, I took up the instructor training two-day course in Mumbai and received licence to conduct Zumba classes as a certified trainer. The idea was to satiate the intrigue to know Zumba more. That’s it.
As I became independent professional, I continued going to Central Delhi even when I didn’t have any work around that place. I tried changing my gym but the same chain of fitness centres aren’t available around my place so for a good amount of years, I have only gone there just to work-out. Some people have called me crazy on hearing this often.
I think we’re now living in the world that, even if it is sometimes for the heck of social media posts, does understands the value of workouts and taking up fitness activities like yoga, cycling etc.
I don’t think now bosses at workplaces make faces on hearing, “I have a Yoga class at 7” anymore because that indirectly signals that you’re against Modi ji *winks*
On a serious note, times have changed and so have the conversations. Since past few years, the narrative around fitness has evolved and people have, gradually, understood the significance of healthy bodies, diet, veganism, vegetarianism and so on. You can, partially, blame it on marketing and partially, thank growing awareness.
Coronavirus has changed the game further.
Now, no one cares whether you are going to the gym or not till you’re delivering your work on time from wherever. And, this is exactly what I always wanted my bosses to understand then. Am sure, they’ve understood now.
It takes time but people will come along on your path if you aren’t ready to do vice versa.