A few years back I was back to Bangalore from Singapore. When you live in Singapore, the city makes you at least walk a few kms every day. After coming back to Bangalore, I was so happy to see my friends, glad to be back in my own backyard, and was partying at least 3-4 days a week. Very quickly I hit the century mark on the weighing scale and was showing all the positive signs of deteriorating health. Then I decided to do something about it.
As long as I can remember I was a reasonably healthy-looking kid. I always was a big guy through school and college. I wasn’t too much into sports or other fitness activities, I played a lot of Table tennis during college and that’s about it. A walk to the neighborhood joints or lifting pitchers of beers was as much fitness as I used to get :).
I used a mix of dieting and exercise to get reasonably fit and lost around 20 Kilograms to get to an ideal BMI. I had to try and test many formulas before I could get to that magical mix that worked for me. The most important thing I found is to enjoy what that you are doing, this goes a long way in making the health routine stick.
So once I decided that I should do something about getting fit. Here are the things that I think helped me out the most.
- Get a partner: This is a good way to push each other and make the fitness journey fun. Your fitness partner can change with time, my first partner in health was a chef. He used to give me some crazy and healthy recipes, one major thing was to introduce Ragi (finger millet) in my diet. I could see crazy results with this newfound food. After that, it was a cyclist, a runner, a couple drinking buddies, and various other people.
But definitely, do get a workout partner and be accountable for each other’s progress, share what you have done to get there with each other as well. If it’s not possible to get a partner, get a coach. Coaches can help you get tremendous results, quickly.
- Be consistent and do not give up: If you are on a holiday, have loads of work piled up, under lockdown, or want to take a break from the whole routine, it’s perfectly fine to not work out or eat healthy for a while. But do return to it when you resume your daily routine. Fitness is more a journey than a destination.
- Do not give on things that you love: Don’t give up on your favorite things, that’s not a sustainable way according to me. Instead, try to control or limit them. For example, if you love Biryani or the big burgers, try reducing them to once a week from every other day. If you are drinking everyday, try to reduce it to the weekends.
Giving up on things just creates more cravings, and when you go back to them. The flood gates open, and you forget about the fitness goals.
- Walking is your best friend: A lot of people don’t give walking the credit it deserves. In my opinion, it is the best low-impact cardio that anyone can do at any time and without any equipment. I once heard a lady who was 100+ years say the secret to her long and healthy life was her everyday morning walks. Use walking as a form of commute for short distances, it goes a long way in keeping better health.
- Build some muscles: Do some calisthenics and weight training too. This adds variation to your workout and the more muscle you build the more fat you will burn. You also look good when the muscles add on.
When you have more muscle, you need more energy to run your everyday life. So you end up burning fat. Fat = Fuel. Consider 2 bikes, one Harley and another a Splendor doing a 50 km stretch, which one do you think will burn more fuel.
- Try out many forms of exercise: Try out many forms of exercise to figure out what you enjoy the most. Mix and match them once you find out what you enjoy. This can make fitness a lot of fun. I initially started with swimming 500 meters a day, after like a month my skin started troubling me. Then I started playing Table Tennis and thought I should go for something more intense so I choose boxing. I kept at it for a couple months till my partner knocked a tooth loose while sparing. My dentist told me to stop messing around or end up with no front teeth, so that was that. After that, I tried badminton, cycling, running, football, trekking, skipping, gym, home workout etc etc etc. The point is to try out a few more things, learn a couple tricks and some new skills, trying out something new is always fun. Just go out there and try whatever fitness activity comes to your mind, you meet a lot of new people, it is a lot of fun, and you never get bored.
- Just like exercise, experiment with your diet as well: Try out many diet routines and see what works for you. I found the intermittent fasting diet the easiest to follow. It’s simple and can get good results. I go back to the 5:2 intermittent diet whenever I find myself packing those extra pounds after a holiday or after cutting back on workout. I found the calorie counting diets a tad too difficult to follow because of my lifestyle and large circle of friends.
Staying with the Fitness Routine
After a year of getting a bit of fitness into my new lifestyle, I noticed that I was slacking off again and had to take some steps to make the routine continuous. This happens to a lot of people in my opinion, you start a fitness routine, get the desired results, stop following it and go back to being your old self. So I decided to take some steps to try and not let that happen to me:
- Invest in the right gear: Once you’ve decided that an activity is for you and you’re really enjoying doing it. Try to do a bit of research and invest in the right gear for it. It might be the right shoes for running, a good racket for badminton, or a nice watch to track your calories burnt. The right gear always helps you perform better and that is a very good motivation. Plus it always feels good to look like a professional.
- Set yourself some goals: Having some goals is a great way of motivation. Run a 10 K or attempt to do 20 pushups (which I can’t do :)). Register for some event, right now I have registered for 100 days of running. Where you have to run/ walk a minimum of 2 km for 100 days.
These kind of events want to make you want to get up do something, which otherwise I might not have done.
Also consider registering for a long-distance trek, it’s a great way to keep yourself fit and the training before the trek that you do is also good motivation. Right now I am thinking I should do a 10 K below 60 minutes, let me see how that goes.
- Try not to keep your goals weight-based: When you start working out, you will see results immediately because of the new routine and the newfound energy, like up to a kg a week, possibly more. After a few days time, you will notice that you start losing weight a little more slowly. So keeping weight-based goals can be de-motivating at times. You’ll also notice people loose weight faster/slower than you, this totally depends on the body type, height, muscle mass, and a lot more factors. Instead, make goals based on fitness levels. For example, by August I should be able to ride my bike for 50 km under 3 hours. Or I am going to do 10 laps of the pool non-stop.
- What do I do if I still hit a dead-end? This probably happens to everyone. The lack of motivation to work out or eat healthy. This is where that fitness partner or coach, or a group comes in very handy. For example, I joined a cycling group on the weekends and we do rides around the city. You could try out new activities, for example, cycling, horse riding, etc. New activities always somehow ignite that spark in me, I think it would do it for you too.
The Final say
There are undoubtedly a lot of benefits to leading a healthy life. It helped me be more confident, feel younger, have more energy, make new friends , keep away from falling sick, and have a fuller life. It is definitely worth giving it a shot if you still haven’t considered it. You will invariably learn a lot about dieting, exercise, and other important know-how about many things.
Best of Luck!!!