FITNESS COLUMN

How to make fitness part of your lifestyle

First step in overcoming an unhealthy relationship with exercise and food

How to make fitness part of your lifestyle

Photo for representation only

Vishnu Venugopal

I have met many trainees for whom fitness training is enmeshed in the net of their worries. Their worries are mostly about their looks.

 “I need to do workout; I need to watch my food. I need to do these because I no longer like the way I look.” This is the common refrain of many young and middle-aged trainees, some of them stepping into their training shoes for the first time in their lives.

 Are you not missing the real thing when you start off looking at fitness from this angle?

Big biceps, flat abdomen and beautiful curves are fine, but they are the natural outcome of constantly enjoying your exercises and feeling great about yourself.

Putting the horse on the right side of the cart

Let me put it in another way. We are putting the horse on the wrong end of the cart when we see exercising and watching our food as a hard toil to push our fitness cart forward. Think of exercising and watching what we eat as the horse that easily and effortlessly rolls the cart forward. The cart follows the horse and the horse doesn’t look back, racing towards its destination.

 Doing daily workout is not to make others around you look at you with admiration for the way you look, but to make yourself admire how good you feel. It is not for approval from outside, but a quiet approval from inside.

Don’t exercise as a means to burn calories

Again, I have seen trainees worrying about how much calories they might have worked out at the gym to subtract the unusually high calorie intake at a weekend party. Working out with the inward target of burning out extra calories carries an element of nagging guilt in it, doesn’t it?

This means your time spent exercising carries some kind of burden in it, a seething irritation. Then you are no longer enjoying what you are doing, whether you are exercising at a gym or just walking or putting the spade to use in your backyard.

 It is best to keep the calorie count in the background, seldom allowing it to come up in mind and spoil the enjoyment of what you are doing. Worrying overmuch about calories tends to develop a kind of self-consuming obsession that brings only stress and anxiety.

Exercise to set the note for the day

In its pure form, physical exercise is no different from what we call meditation. Let it be any kind of physical activity—walking, jogging, lifting weights, or whatever suites you. Listen to yourself for, say, one hour a day. Listen to your steps, your breathing and your heartbeats. Physical activity done this way, brings alive the body. It is like setting the note for the day. You have so much energy to do your duties on sucha day, because you feel so good about yourself. You are on the move.

 (The author is co-founder and Product head at Alpha Coach and writes a fortnightly column on fitness for www.tribuneindia.com)

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