It’s about time I did a story on myself … Not because I wish to showcase my achievements (well, yeah I am proud of myself), but mostly because I wish to influence, inspire, motivate and reach out to average women like me who are yet to see the fire in their bellies.
My transformation, that’s what many people refer to is as is not only external, it’s more of an internal shift. I have changed into a whole new person, inside out. I have become more confident, outgoing, fearless, assertive, empathetic and empowered.
I am a 36-year-old mother of a set of seven-year-old boy-girl twins. Like any average woman my age, I juggle between caring for my kids, running a house and a full-time career. I help run an IT start-up. I have worked as a management consultant with companies of global repute including the Big4s. I am an Economist by vocation and am currently pursuing my P.hD in Strategy from Xavier’s University of Business (XUB). I am an avid reader and passionate about writing. I am a trained painter and a fitness enthusiast. When not working in the office or working out in the gym, I spend my time baking, painting, trekking, biking, running and observing little things as the world goes by doing its job.
From having “no time for anything” when I was just attending office to now having time for everything, I have learned the art of balancing my different roles and prioritizing people and activities that add value to my life.
“Never forget the past, for therein lies the road to your future.”
A stressful job, food loving family and friends and a complicated twin pregnancy pushed me from being pleasantly healthy to overweight and to being obese in no time. The weight and the rolls started piling on over the years and before I could realize I reached three digits (102kgs with over 45% body fat) in summer of 2013. Non-malicious comments from friends and acquaintances, at times, were under the belt and caused immense hurt and some anger. Buying clothes, what was earlier a happy thing, slowly became a pain. I so despised hearing the phrase “sorry madam, aapke size mein nahin hai!” (sorry, we don’t have this in your size!) I found out a novel way. I’d feel happy shopping for small or medium size in the ‘plus’ section!! Through the years I did a number of fad diets, pills, and powders, which did make me lighter, only in my pocket. LOL!
How I started
“The most difficult part, most often, is the beginning.”
A hurtful jibe from a close person, kick started my fitness journey on 01 April 2014, which at that time I had no clue would be sustainable and would eventually change my life for good. I started by making small changes in my diet. Quitting junk was the single most important change that I made. Sticking to it wasn’t easy and I did falter. After a couple of weeks, I began incorporating simple exercises like walking. Not to my surprise, I would huff and puff after a couple of steps. I would slow down but not stop. I started noticing small changes in my body and could feel my clothes fit better at the hemlines within two weeks and the world took notice in two months. There has been no looking back ever since!
Gradually I moved from walking to jogging and soon incorporated strength training into my schedule. I enrolled in a friendly neighborhood gym. I made new friends, in a long time. I loved weight training and never shied away from lifting. For the first time in years, I noticed my jawline and collarbones!!
Somewhere along the journey, I realized fitness is not a destination. It a journey into one’s own self. It’s a journey of self-discovery. I was no longer too fixated on how much I weighed. Instead, I was more focused on eating right. You will seldom find me talking about weight. And it really amuses me when people ask me “How much have you lost?”. The only right answer that comes to my mind is “Well, I have lost all my inadequacies, insecurities and fears”. My perception of my body and mind underwent a sea change.
How I make time
“A want without action is merely a wish!”
I am an ardent believer in the saying that the busiest person makes time for everything. Being a full-time working professional who spent over 5 hours commuting to work every day, and a mother of a set of toddler twins, my hands were more than full. The only time that I could possibly find was, well, anytime I could find time. Unearthly hours suited me best. It drained me. Bu, by then it had become a part of me and took less effort.
Strength and Endurance Training
“Dumbbells doesn’t make a woman bulky, cupcake does!”
I am not much of a fancy equipment/machine person and do not enjoy running on a treadmill or doing the elliptical in a gym. To take care of my cardio, I took to cycling for fun and that was perhaps one of the few turning points in my life. It turned out to be my biggest passion I never realized I had. What began as 10-20 km rides soon went up to 100 and 200 km and more. For the first time ever, I made long lasting friends beyond office and neighborhood. My fitness fraternity increased and each one inspired me in unique ways. I have recently started running and attempted the half marathon. Being a finisher gave me a sense of accomplishment and newfound self-worth. My eyes are set for the full marathon. I am still discovering new things about myself, potentials I had no clue I had!
I strength train 4-5 days a week and do cardio 3-4 days a week. My endeavor is to train every muscle group twice a week and allow enough time for recovery. My workouts are rather simple and I use a couple of dumbbells, medicine ball, and barbells. That’s pretty much it.
I learned many things by doing it wrong many times over. Earlier I’d not take rest days. I thought the more I work out the sooner I drop sizes. I was wrong. I didn’t understand the importance of stretching, warming up and cooling down. I considered it a waste of time. I was wrong. I would completely avoid fat in my diet. I was wrong. I focused more on my workouts and less on my diet. I was wrong. I now believe the best abs are made in the kitchen.
Everything is not rosy along the journey. I slipped many a time, cheated, fell off the wagon, plateaued….But picked up myself and carried on. I have learned to forgive myself and not be too harsh. It’s ok to slip. But getting on is what makes me feel good. I still treat myself to my favorite pastry once in a while and do not curse myself for having cravings. I crave for chocolates, sizzlers, and more importantly life.
Food & Nutrition
“The best abs are made in the kitchen!”
As my knowledge and understanding of nutrition, strength and endurance training increased, I began viewing it more as a lifestyle shift. Weight loss happens to be just an obvious by-product of it.
I do not take any nutritional supplements. I eat what I make in my kitchen, with minimal time and effort. I have now been following a simple way of eating and it has given me a whole new perspective on nutritional science.
How workout helped me
“I compete with none, but myself.”
It is a liberating experience to discover a new strength, push your limits and explore new dimensions in life. My journey has had a deeper impact on my mind and soul apart from the body. I have been through a personal crisis and came out of if unscathed, more confident and empowered. Had it not been for my fitness, I don’t think I could have survived it. My life is more fulfilling now and I live it to the fullest. I make time for everyone and everything. I complain less and live more. I need less and appreciate more. I think less and act more.
A few words of wisdom that will help newbies take their first step towards reclaiming themselves:
- First things first. Make good health your priority. Not a cousin’s wedding or to please a spouse.
- Don’t make grand plans. Stick to doable plans. I will workout at least three days a week, works better than I will not skip the gym any day of my life.
- Focus on eating clean. Educate yourself on nutrition. Do not follow fad myths.
- Strong is the new sexy. Lift weights.
- Declare your goals to the world and make your colleagues, family, and friends your aide.
- Focus on fat loss and not weight loss. Educate yourself.
- Consistency is the key. The weight didn’t pile on in 15 days so it will not go away in 15 days either.
- Do not be too harsh on yourself. Allow failure.
- If you are not enjoying your eating or working out style, you aren’t doing it right.
- Make activity buddies.
- Invest in good active wear and running shoes.
I urge women to take charge of their lives. The world is waiting to see the fire in you! Don’t wait for the magic to happen. You are the magic. You are the hero of your story. You have the power to give it a brilliant script.
I conclude with this quote from Audrey Hepburn –
“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love and her strength resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It’s the caring she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, the strength with which she faces every hurdle and the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.”