Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Good health vs. Fitness

I’ve been fortunate enough to have grown up with a bunch of football crazy blokes who even in their late twenties and married  wouldn't mind spending a Sunday participating in some beach footie.
While we used to do this more often, and didn't need the open beach to play, we’re married now, and the beach is the best handshake between a romantic spot and a footie ground as our wives and girlfriends now accompany us.
Most recently, on Sunday, a large group of about 20 people-and a dog- travelled 20 kilometers to reach Rajodi beach, a scenic place which is visited by a few people. I had spoken to my fitness consultant/best friend for life Arun Selvakumar to accompany us and make us go through the motions-for free, I repeated this thrice till he cussed me and said he wasn’t planning on taking any money anyway-of warm up and body weight exercises that could be done at home, or in the open, without having to enroll in a gymnasium.

The 20 odd people were a diverse mix of teenagers, middle agers, tiny tots, men-women, and..well, dog. All were from different walks of life; some were studying, some were studying but not getting educated, some worked for Contact centers, some were running Yoga schools, some were IT folks, while some were home-makers. None of us were regular gym goers, but were moderately healthy, and addiction free.  
Having said that, nobody had imagined what was in store for us when we started off with the warm up session.

The almost Circuit training like High Intensity Intervaltraining warm up schedule had us panting and wheezing in its 2nd iteration out of the supposed 5! The women weren’t as flexible as they thought, the guys weren’t as resilient as they imagined.

What was supposed to be a 45 minute session was cut short to 30 minutes, and not every member could finish the training program. The select few who could do it were driving on fumes, adrenalin, prayer, ego or shame and embarrassment!

Whilst many people had different emotions, the one feeling of being humbled set upon everyone. We were given a quick reminder how unfit we were.

We were all mostly healthy, but not fit. Being healthy may mean we are able to perform our mundane tasks without any problems, and our immune system is decently strong enough to ward off most illnesses. Fitness meant being able to go that extra mile, run faster, think quicker, have a stronger will, perform better and give up later. Fitness didn’t mean having huge biceps, or being able to lift huge weights, having a slender waist or even having a six pack (I can assure you some girls and boys had slender waists and six pack abs), it was about being able to physically and mentally push your body to do extraordinary, unprepared for things without stressing the body too much!

I’ve noticed that as opposed to a few years back, I am now unable to stay awake throughout the night, at least without coffee and worry, and even when I do, I tend to feel sick the other day, thus decreasing my productivity. Whilst I don’t endorse this habit, I used to do it quite easily a few years back.
I’ve noticed many of my friends who could play for hours on end just a few years back now need breathers after every ten minutes.

A few years back is 5 years back tops, and our eldest groupie was 31! The only thing that’s changed is that all of us have gotten into our comfort zones. We have either comfortably landed cushy desk jobs, or are comfortable in matrimony. The surprising thing was that even the teenagers of today are comfortably into social networking. This has resulted in a drastic decrease in any kind of physical activity, and the results are for everyone to see. We as Indians are eating more processed food, live in a more polluted country, have access to more comforts, are privy to a more stressful life, and have reduced our physical exertion considerably. Does our ever increasing obesity to fit ratio and being heralded as the soon to be Diabetic capital of the world sound really surprising then?

I don’t think I have to really preach here. We need to get out of our comfort zones, and exercise! Walk, play, swim, gym, do anything that we fancy-or can tolerate- and do it regularly. This will help us not only get healthier, but regain some fitness which will bode well for our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being in the long run.

To end this, I have two questions.
1.      Are you coming to the beach to play footie the next time around?
2.      What form of exercise will you be adopting?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Had enough of Retail therapy? Try Gifting Therapy!

We're young, we're rich. We've got spending power! The new India. Our disposable income is hiking up by the moment, along with the inflation. But, so are our desires.

I usually head to an Idli- mendu vada vendor near Vasai Railway station on weekends I'm here with my girl ( She's my wife now, but I still like to call her my girl).

He saw me today with my swanky ride, a Bajaj Pulsar 220 F- I really don't know what the F stands for, but I can think of a few words to describe it ;).

Handles best with both tyres on the ground
Courtesy- http://pulsarmaniac.swaggerunit.com/

Whilst I am not much into the aesthetic value of bikes and more into the horsepower in it, I have to admit it's a beaut. My kid brother gifted it to me for my marriage; he was deliriously happy some woman had agreed to matrimony with me, and hence is a much loved materialistic possession. Add the fact that I reached Vasai to Andheri in 35 minutes flat says a lot more about the speed machine the bike is than my riding skills.

It came as no surprise when the enthusiastic 'Anna' proclaimed that this was a really beautiful bike, and the one in silver was better lookin', in his opinion. I was too busy devouring the delectable Mendu Vadas, and the most I could do was nod. You don't ever want to argue with the person serving you, do you?

When full, and having ordered some for home, I saw him gleaning at someone else's bike, and asked if he was really into bikes? This was the surprise.

He said yes, he liked the bikes. And yes, this was his age to enjoy them. But, he also remarked that he was sure months after buying it, his mind would get satiated off it and meander towards other materialistic possessions, and that's how it was.

What struck me that a hard working, moderately educated breakfast provider had understood that this Retail therapy was an exercise in futility, the void of desire in us would never, ever be fulfilled.

That's what we do all the time, don't we? We want good grades at first, then a kick ass job, then an increment, a new job, a bike, a house, a car, a bigger house! It's a never ending list.

The way I see it, if I look at it from a different perspective? We learn less, cram more to get good grades. Understand less. We lie and warp the truth to get a job. Every increment gets in more responsibilities, every new job absorbs more of our time. A bike, a house and a car bring along loans, worries and sleepless nights.

Of course, we are social animals. Of course, we need a car to reach late to work in, good clothes to flaunt, and trophy houses to gloat over. My question is, does it end, and can it end?

Honestly, no. I don't think it can. We take pride in these achievements, and rightly so. It is directly linked to our self esteem and self worth. It's retail therapy.

Regardless of this, try gifting therapy. In simple terms, gift your time, your attention, your skills, your money, to your loved ones.

Gifting therapy means doing things for other people. For their happiness, for their well-being.

We have the latest smart-phones, who not gift a 1000 rupee phone to your loyal house maid? Got some free time, who not teach a few children? Gift a kind word to a sub-ordinate, it may mean so much to him. Gift a seat to an old man in the train, and his thank you will really make you happy. On your birthday, gift half the amount of the wicked party you were to have to an orphanage, and interact with the children there, I can assure you the party will still be great, and you won't need a lot of alcohol to get high.

I know of many people who keep gifting materialistic things, their time, energy and skills, and they are the happiest people around. That feeling of doing something for others, that high is ten times greater than the feeling of buying a new tee to accompany those 48 others in your wardrobe.

Some people may call it a selfish need again, and I am not debating that. I do it, because it makes me feel much better and happier than buying anything for myself. I am but sharing my experience of Gifting therapy.

Let me know how gifting therapy works out for you. I'm hooked to it!