In 2018, thanks to a lifestyle I had built over years of corporate employment and entitled weekend indulgences, while my spirits were in their late 30’s, my body felt twenty years older. Bad eating and zero workout continued to add fat to the waistline. Was I not conscious of my appearance? Indeed. Only my hardened inertia kept me from considering any radical lifestyle changes.
Instead, I wore colours and patterns that I thought would make me look leaner and did my hair to go with my puffy face. Occasionally, I weighted myself that only led to further disappointment and dangerous overeating.
My way out was to make peace with myself for I was a mother of two, ( both C section deliveries) with a history of weak bones (knee surgery at 19) and in a profession that involved long hours of writing. A nagging insecurity however remained. The arrogance of youth was also slowing waning. In my aching knees and squeaking spine, I saw glimpses of a middle-aged woman high on aspirations but limited in movement and consequently bitter with life.
My friend circle then consisted of two highly motivated women who spend an hour every morning in chatty brisk walks. On their encouragement, I joined them and, in a few months, together we enrolled for a yoga class. The first six months of yoga was excruciating. My body refused to bend and twist; my treacherous mind was ever willing to give up, delivering new convincing reasons to skip the yoga class every morning. And while it was often disappointing to be so inflexible, so not in control of my body, the presence and positivity of my yoga guru and fellow yoga mates ensured I persisted.
The realization of transformation is a retrospective experience.
Almost a year into yoga, while the aches and pains had vanished, and I had developed the agility of a child while performing advanced yoga asanas like a pro, it was yet to manifest into any significant weight loss. That any workout must always be accompanied with a diet plan to result in transformative weight loss was a discovery I then made.
During the same time, my husband gifted me a BSA ladybird bicycle for my birthday. As I child, I had loved bicycling – the only sporting activity of my life till then. The ladybird became my wings and soon I was cycling up to 40kms a day. I had also simultaneously started focusing on eating right by cutting down on sugar and increasing the vegetable and fruit intake. The results reflected through the reduced numbers on the weighing scale. This kept me motivated. I still gave in, occasionally to the junk my body kept craving for, sometimes even overdoing it. But the fear of gaining back the lost weight kept me going.
On my brother’s encouragement, in the spring of 2019, I started running. As someone who had not even run 100mts in life earlier, it was an unthinkable physical challenge I had undertaken. I took the walk-run approach and managed to run up to 2.5 kms a day. Self-motivation is probably not my forte and hence after the initial euphoria had died down, I became inconsistent, taking it up seriously only after joining the Coastal Runners Chapter of Chennai Runners in July of the same year. With the group, under the guidance of experienced runners, I learnt to run right and consistently.
YOGA, CYCLING & RUNNING
2020 was a defining year in many ways. In the backdrop of deadly Covid, while I continued to work on my story collection and corporate projects, I went full throttle with Yoga, cycling (on a roadie now) and running. Yoga helped me breathe right during runs and strengthened my core. Cycling was great for cross training and as a recreational non stressful sport. But running became my mojo.
I did my first official 21k run with SPCM January 2020 in 2 hours 58 mins, bettering myself in February 2020 with a 21k run time of 2 hours 28 mins. After the lockdown, I continued my individual runs and rides, clocking an average of 100 kms of running every month. In June, I rode my first 100 kms and then went on to do several 100s (with WCCG riding group and other rider friends), 200s and a 300 km official brevet to become a Randonneur (Long distance endurance rider). I spent the last four months training for a full marathon that culminated in its completion on 3rd January 2021 in 5 hours 19 mins.
This is not my success story. Rather, it is a story of my learnings. Yoga, riding, and running has taught me some important life lessons:
- It is never too late to make new beginnings
- Do not place a limit to what you think you are capable of
- Surround yourself with positive people only
- Don’t let anyone convince you what you cannot do, and
- Contribute to your area of passion by including others through knowledge and experience sharing.
The last three years have changed my life in more ways than I can think of. From a writer, I have now become a ‘Writer, Marathoner and a Randonneur.’ These are not just titles and activities; they are my identity and dictate my though process and environment. And, this is the legacy I wish to leave behind.