I am Radhika. I am a lifter, swimmer, yogo-er and (a tad unwilling) runner. I do all these, and more, in a constant endeavor to improve my fitness. I love food – I love to cook, bake, eat and feed others. I read and paint. I have two small children who bring colour in my life and a husband who finds me continually amusing (the feeling is mutual). I have always been, what a dear friend once called me, “pleasantly healthy” 🙂 It’s a wonderful way of describing someone just over the “healthy weight range” with a few extra percentages of body fat.
My relationship with fitness
My induction into fitness started at birth. I was never athletically inclined and yet, thanks to our parents, my sister and I have always been fitness conscious. We were brought up in an environment that oozed fitness as a priority, not an option. My mother participated in aerobics classes at a time when Indian women didn’t even walk for fitness. No one who has ever seen my father cycling will ever forget the sight- a blurry whirl of sweat and effort.
My husband is a long distance runner. During our courtship and early years of marriage, our favourite thing to do together (besides vacationing and eating good food) was to go to the gym and spot each other!
My first pregnancy added 18 kilos to my 5ft5 inches frame. That’s a lot! Breast feeding didn’t lead me to losing weight, neither did weaning. I kept making my c-section an excuse for not working out. My knees ached, my energy levels were low all the time. Food started becoming an addiction. Mood fluctuating, health slipping, I was in a slump. My husband literally pushed me out of the house to send me to the gym, turning a deaf ear to all my excuses – baby, meals, milk, feed, sleep – no no no – just go! Slowly, my passion for fitness re-emerged. Staying unfit was not an option. Things had to turn around.
And they did!
My energy levels moved up immediately. I slept better. I smiled more. I went out and shopped for better clothes in my actual size, knowing that soon I would be replacing them for smaller sizes.
I started working again. Then quit my job. Then started working part time. Gave birth to my daughter (total weight gain: 8 kilos). Changed jobs. Changed homes.
Through all this, I worked out as regularly as I could. Tried my hand at long distance running. Started lifting weights seriously. Swam when the weather permitted.
My quest for fitness has saved me from drifting away many-a-times.
Why this blog?
I have many small groups of close friends. There are two common themes that run across each of these groups. Care to guess? You’re right! Food and fitness. (Over the last 5 years, a third theme has been added – babies).
What is it about food and health that unites us where ever we go? Love for food and the ever present, almost constant tug-of-war with the oh-so-elusive “ideal weight” is universal. I have struggled with it myself. An entirely new industry has been built on it. In just 60 years, globally, it has grown from close to zero to over a 100 billion dollars (in just equipment and clubs). In comparison, the Indian fitness industry is still fledgling and often considered synonymous with “slimming”.
Culturally, in India, women have never really “exercised” till as recently as 10 years ago. We played in school, and unless you were an athlete, that part of your life ended in grade 10 or 12. Our mothers walked in the evenings with their friends. Some did yoga, but that too was rare. And that’s about it. When I worked out in 2004, I used to be one of maybe 4-5 women in the gym, and very often, the only woman in the weights section. Women were content with elliptical and treadmills.
This has changed, and how! I now see 50 year old women lifting weights. They hire personal trainers to introduce them to this new workout regime. I always want to yell “hurray!” when I see them 😀
And yet, there is information asymmetry. Diets, myths, harmful routines, wonder foods, magic pills from Amazonian forests all find a ready market in a very information-starved and outcome-addicted audience. “Lifting weights will make you bulky!” “Use olive oil only.” “Make sure you have chia seeds.” “Running will injure your knees.” Familiar noise? 🙂
Women are especially vulnerable and so, the fitness industry (along with the beauty industry) has them in their sights. For some reason, common sense fails to prevail in even the brightest of minds when it comes to fitness – everything sounds and looks so good! There are new theories everywhere.
I read a lot (a lot!). And luckily for me, my first encounter with a professional fitness expert was with Rujuta Diwekar, who has had a lasting impact on me. With all the information I take in, I attempt to view it dispassionately and see if it appeals to common sense.
This blog is an attempt to cut through the noise and start talking and thinking straight about women’s fitness. I will attempt to distill information on women’s fitness into usable knowledge. This is where I will share recipes, new information, workout routines and attempt to find answers to questions I hear repeated around me. I will try and make my suggestions suitable for the Indian woman. By this I mean things like, ensuring that recipes include local ingredients and substitutes for inaccessible ones; suggesting workouts that allow for a variety of fitness levels, access to equipment etc.
My story is not unique to me. I know so many women who have their versions of it. They are at various stages in their own journeys. Some are starting out. Some are well along and striding ahead. What I know very well is the importance to have a forum where there is unconditional support and no judgment. To share the joys, pains, stumbles and victories of this voyage.
This blog is an attempt to provide a safe, welcoming forum for women aspiring for higher level of fitness. A groups of like minded women, challenging & motivating each other to seek more difficult goals, and yelling & celebrating raucously when they are achieved!
I would love to hear from you. This is an opinion-sharing forum and you are free to agree or disagree. If you agree, do call out. If you disagree, do call out. In either case, please do the calling agreeably!
It is a never ending journey – this quest for fitness!