Yes, I’m a fitness freak and I’m not ashamed to say it

A self-confessed health enthusiast justifies her passionate love affair with fitness

Mind your own fitnessI have many pet phobias. It’s not as if I love collecting them; they simply land from nowhere and get attached to me. As I grow older and wiser, they alter in character and shape. From tail-dropping lizards to cobwebs on walls to the fear of having nothing to do—I have been through them all. The newest entrant to this exclusive club is my phobia of becoming fat.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against fat people… as long as I don’t have to share a seat with them. They are usually a jolly good species and can devour buckets full of fried chicken minus the guilt pangs. An extra inch or two blends in harmoniously with their wide girth. The truth is, I secretly envy them. It’s me I have a problem with. You see, I was born with a manufacturing defect. I have wrists so thin that bangles slide down my arms like an avalanche in a hurry. Europe doesn’t make shoes my size. My dainty frame allows me no concession for extra kilos. And, to make it worse, that stupid gulab jamun I sometimes succumb to makes its way to my cheeks!

Imagine your embarrassment when a more than well-endowed aunt of yours sizes you up and says, “Aahh, P has become fat!” Secretly you are sputtering with rage and dying to bellow, “How dare you call me fat! When was the last time you checked yourself in the mirror, you stupid Cow!” With your appetite buried deep underground, you barely touch anything at the party, while your dear aunt’s face is strategically hidden behind the mountain of Biryani she’s gobbling.

I wrote these lines to justify my passionate love affair with fitness: Why my life seems incomplete if I don’t get to run on the treadmill; why everything seems pointless if I don’t raise my toes to the ceiling; why I think I might die if I miss even one day of my fitness regime. I have tumbled down the stairs and still gone for my morning walk. A bleeding knee, an aching back, a neck that scarcely moves—nothing discourages me from huffing and puffing.

My family insists that even if our house is on fire I will rush to the gym murmuring, “Darlings I will be back in 45, I’m sure you can manage till then!”

A bleeding knee, an aching back, a neck that scarcely moves—nothing discourages me from huffing and puffing

I wasn’t always a fitness fiend

Twenty years back, had someone gazed at the crystal ball and predicted that I will be a fitness fiend, I would have laughed at her face. Physical exercise and I could never see eye to eye. In school I made sure I bunked all my physical education classes. I played badminton just to shut my sports freak dad up. I was more into activities that did not disturb the rhythm of my assorted body parts—reading, music, yakking with friends. My brother would take care of my cardio. All I had to do was crack a joke at his expense and he would make me run all around the house. My mum’s eardrums would reverberate with my loud shrieks.

That girl who could demolish a box of chocolates in one sitting, the woman who had to have ice cream everyday during her pregnancy, is a stranger to me now.

Do I curse myself for favouring a healthier lifestyle? Not really, in fact I am quite proud of it. And it’s not as if I munch on carrots and seeds all through day and barf at the sight of ice creams. I still can’t live without my daily dark chocolate fix and binge on weekends.

Twenty years back, had someone gazed at the crystal ball and predicted that I will be a fitness fiend, I would have laughed at her face

I’m OK, you’re OK

What irks me is, when your close ones, who are well aware of your aversion to oil drenched delicacies, will still insist on plying you with it. Myths are woven around your so-called diet and you are projected as a fat-hating ninja. Dear God, now that you’ve had a pastry, will you be running for an hour on the treadmill! You smile even as you are trying to shove that sickeningly sweet cream in your mouth. Be damned if you do, be damned if you don’t.

And what I don’t understand is why certain people project their cholesterol loving and exercise shirking ways as an act of bravado. I am glad you can devour half a dozen bhature with chole for breakfast and still be alive and kicking. It’s great that exercise bores you and your idea of cardio is walking to the fridge to get yourself a beer. But don’t tch tch when I tell you I prefer yoghurt with fruits for breakfast and sigh in sympathy at my yoga-loving ways. I am old enough to decide what’s right for me and don’t need your unsolicited advice.

I fail to understand why most of us are so eager to project ourselves as the coolest and insist our way is the right way. Should your self-esteem always be at the cost of someone else’s sense of self-worth?

Yes, I suffer from guilt pangs when I reach out for another slice of brownie. I can’t remember the last time I had a samosa but I don’t miss it. But at least I don’t crib about my extra kilos as I tuck in yet another helping of aloo kachori. And don’t you worry, I will be the last one to call you fat. I don’t have the need to make you look bad to feel good about myself.


A version of this article was first published in the January 2016 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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