Fitness Queen 2021

“If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.”

-Fred Devito

In the last week of January, my running group mentor posted about an event called “Fitness Queen” in our group chat. I was quiet intrigued by the details of the event as this is the first time an event like this was supposed to take place in our town. Usually, my first reaction to any challenge is that of anxiety and fear. I am amongst the kind who dive headfirst into any new challenges and learn with the flow. I like to be prepared with everything I do in life. But this challenge was different. I have been working out for over 2 years now and this event was a perfect way to test my level of fitness. I signed up for it right away!

My running group mentor motivated all the women in our group to participate in this event. Her motive was to push us to participate and give our best for the event. She gave us the confidence to aim for a win and kept practice sessions to help us prepare for the event.

We had been given a wide range of exercise/workout types to prepare starting from basic ones such as jumping jacks, skipping, squats, crunches, burpees to difficult ones like pull ups, chin ups and pushups. When I saw the list, I was confident about most of the excercises except pushups, pull ups and chin ups. My arms had zero strenght when it comes to performing a push up and I have been struggling with it ever since I started working out.

The first training session with my running group was kept in the first week of February. It consisted mostly of cardio based activities which I’m comfortable with. My mentor then asked us to try push-ups amd I failed miserably. I couldn’t even perform 1 push-up. I was terribly upset and decided to work on my push up daily from that day onwards. I started with wall pushups and did it daily for over a week till I could safely perform an incline pushup. After a week, I still stumbled while performing a full push up! It was totally demotivating but I decided to keep going. I was happy with my improvement in a week and continued with my practice. The second training sessions consisted of skipping (which I am good at), yoga asanas and ladder drill. I was quiet comfortable with these but what came next shattered my confidence! We were asked to perform push ups (I could do 13 here with a bad posture though!). My incredible group members inspired me beyond measure by performing more than 25 perfect pushups! I was spellbound, I couldn’t believe what I saw! These super humans (who are married, with kids, who handle way too many responsibilies than me!) were INCREDIBLE at push ups! It doesn’t end here! We were asked to do planks next where I gave up afterb 2.20 mins (after a week’s practice!). Some of my superwomen, running group friends pushed through till 5 mins. That day I reaslied I have a LONG way to go in my fitness journey and was extremely motivated to practice harder thereon.

With a month’s practice, I saw good progress in below activities.

Skipping : From 150 skips o 570 skips at one go

Plank : From 1 min to my personal best record of 4 mins

Pushups : From zero to 20 in average form

27th February 2020 (Event day)

The event consisted of 2 rounds, prelimnary and final. I was decent in most of the activities which earned me good points (BMI, Hip to waist ratio, Forward Bend, Squats (47 in one minute), crunches (37 in one minute), shuttle run and sprint). I stumbled in Vrukshasan and lost 20 marks (Honestly, could have performed better in this one, I was negligent!).

I almost lost hope of advancing to the finals as everyone else had done a great job at Vrukshasan. From 17 participants, only 7 were selected to the finals. When they called out the name of finalists, my name didn’t come up in the first 6 slots. I was sad but still prayed to the Universe to grant me this one wish. I wanted to be in the finals! The 7th name was called out and as luck would have it, it was me! The Universe heard me out!

The final round was a circuit drill with started with a 10 step jumps, 1 round of ladder jumps, 10 jumping jacks, shuttle run to 4 different points, flipping a 10-20 kg tyre over a 20 metre stretch, duck jumps over a 20 metre stretch and finally ending with 10 squats!! (Phew!!) The top 3 quickest contestants would be declared as Winner, 1st and 2nd Runner’s up respectively.

I was totally drained after performing the circuit, I overestimated my strengh and underestimated the weight of the tyre. Everyone performed exceptionally well and I was back at my prayers to the Universe to help me win the beautiful trophy!

When the winners of my age category were announced, I waited with bated breath.

The Universe heard me out once again and I was placed 3rd (2nd Runner’s up) in my age category. I was estatic and absolutely delirious on winning the trophy (by now you would have come to know about my obsession with medals, trophies, any accolades for that matter!)

I came back from the event with memories that would last me a lifetime and being extremely happy with my decision to participate in it. I would have lost a great opportunity to challenge myself, work on my shortcomings, understand where I stand amongst my peers and last but not the least, have a great time had I done otherwise!

Moral of the story : Never shy away from trying. There’s nothing to lose, we either WIN or LEARN!

The secret to success

#39/100

BTS : First Korean act to top the Billboard chart ever

I literally jumped with joy when I got this news yesterday. My beloved BTS has created history yet again. They are the only Korean act to top the Billboard chart in it’s entire history. This news made me so happy, it felt like my success. I have been closely following BTS’s journey since 2015 and have been their ardent fan ever since. From being disregarded in their country to becoming the global sensations and music legends that they are now, BTS has come a long way.

BTS always make me wonder how they managed to get this successful in life. They are small time boys from South Korea who were passionate about music and dance and wanted to make a mark in their local music industry. For 3 years since their debut, they were moderately recognized in their country but were subjected to harsh criticisms, mean comments, jealous remarks, derogatory opinions and snubbed by their own industry. However, they continued to work hard each day with the dream to make it big one day. Their hard work knew no bounds, they put their heart and soul into everything they did and managed to enjoy and live in the present. I don’t know what they did exactly to tilt the universe in their favor but their countless hours of hard work paid off eventually. They earned international acclaim in the year 2016 and their popularity has increased by leaps and bounds ever since. In the words of John Green, their life is a roller coaster that only goes up. With each success, they continue to work harder, be happy, live in the present, be humble and just love themselves and their life.

BTS has been a big source of inspiration for me ever since I’ve had the privilege of knowing them. Their journey gives me hope and great strength to deal with every situation in my life. I remember during my weight loss journey, I was constantly inspired by BTS to work a little harder, do a little better each day. I still remember my first 10 km marathon run. The last 2 kms with extremely tough and I wanted to give up. At that moment I closed my eyes and thought about BTS and their undying spirit, it instantly energized me to finish my marathon strong.

From BTS’s journey, I’ve realized that the cheat code to crack life is very simple but somehow extremely hard to implement by many people. We need to live in the present, give more than our best in everything that we do, be kind and humble, be grateful for our blessings and find happiness in everything that we do. So simple right, this is what BTS do as per my observation. These are very simple steps but somehow we fall prey to the challenges that life throws at us and bow out of the success race mid way. I’m trying to follow these ‘cheat codes’ to the best of my ability and have never felt happier in my life.

Let’s try to un-complicate life and be happy no matter what. I’ve been grinning from ear to ear throughout the day today because of this incredible news of BTS. Cheers to many more amazing accolades in future. Thank you BTS for keeping me sane and being my number 1 source of comfort and happiness whenever I am down and out. Thank you for inspiring me to do better and celebrate all the small wins in life. Life is extremely beautiful, let’s keep it that way and make it brighter and happier.

There’s always a way out

“When someone points a gun at your face, “you take the gun, or you pull out a bigger one. Or, you call their bluff. Or, you do any one of a hundred and forty six other things.”

-Harvey Specter

#27/100

I watched the show “Suits” recently and was hooked till the last season. When Harvey Specter, one of the main characters in the show, suavely uses the above dialogue, the only thought I had in mind was, “Yeah, good for you, you are a fictional character, your writer will always have a way out for you!” I firmly believed that it’s diametrically different in reality. If you have a gun pointed to your head in real life, YOU DIE!

However, after experiencing a bit of life, I have come to realize that this might not be the case always. There have been many instances in my life where I felt like I had my back against the wall. However, with time, not only was I able to get out of the situation, it didn’t really seem as hazardous as I imagined it to be. Over time I was able to completely erase these kind of perilous situations from my memories that once gave me anxiety and panic attacks.

The basic instinct of every human being is to survive, non-existence is our biggest fear. Whenever we face a situation that is beyond our control, our brain immediately sends out fear signals to avoid it completely. But if we get past the initial inertia, we can come out with some way out for every situation. I’m not talking about a situation where you have a gun pointed to your head, I wouldn’t know what to do either. I am talking about the smaller, more relatable situations.

Like, you have been given a project to complete at work and haven’t been finding time to pursue your other interests. Eventually you give up on the hobbies that truly gave you happiness and push yourself to the brink of constant sadness. As you can see, the initial few days of handling any kind of change in your life is overwhelming, post that once you are used to a routine, you can always squeeze time out for your interests.

If you love sports, you can find time for it during your off days if not every day, if you wanted to hit the gym each day, you can resort to home exercises, if you want to learn a new skill, you can download an app or find a buddy with similar interest, you can always find an easier way to fulfil your interests. It’s very easy to blame your external situations for all your inadequacies, but if you look closely, you have the solution to all your problems deep within your mind. You just have to pay attention.

Initially, when I was asked to travel to office which involved a commute of 8 hrs per day, I was very upset to skip my workouts for those days. I really enjoy working out, it keeps me sane and gives me an endorphin rush that can’t be put to words. Today, after giving up on my workouts for several office-commute days, I managed to squeeze in a 10 min skipping session in the morning. It was a small session but made me feel more productive than my usual long routines. It’s because I did something that I believed was practically impossible. The adrenaline rush after completing such tasks is inexpressible.

Do you have any such thing in mind which you have been missing out on? Try making time for it tomorrow and realize the true potential of the human mind.

Run with the wind

#9/100

Many years ago, I was going through Will Smith’s interviews on YouTube on a lazy afternoon. I had watched his movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” and was mesmerized by his performance in the movie. I wanted to understand his personality and ideologies more and would end up watching a lot of his interviews. During one such browsing session, I stumbled upon his award show winning speech which left a huge impact on me.

“The keys to life are running and reading. When you’re running, there’s a little person that talks to you and says, “Oh I’m tired. My lung’s about to pop. I’m so hurt. There’s no way I can possibly continue.” You want to quit. If you learn how to defeat that person when you’re running. You will know how to not quit when things get hard in your life.

-Will Smith

During those days I was completely cut out from any form of physical activity. As a kid, I was never into sports and ended up being that overweight kid who avoided the sports class in school. I never had a dislike for sports or any exercise in particular, I was just not into multitasking back then. School only meant studying for me, I was never part of any extra-curricular activity (a thing that I totally condemn now).

My tryst with running started when my best friend enrolled us into a 5 km marathon about 4 years back. I had never run more than 100 mtrs in my life till that time but somehow had the confidence to complete this run. You can sense my total disregard to the concept of distance and time here. In my mind, 5 km didn’t seem that difficult a target to accomplish. My confidence was crushed when I barely huffed and puffed my way past the finish line in 55 mins on the race day. Although my timing was horrible, this run somehow managed to release a great deal of endorphins in my body and gave me a sense of accomplishment. But that was it, I made unsuccessful attempts to make running into a habit many times after the marathon. I even purchased running shoes and active wear to motivate myself only ending up being stored safely in my cupboard. I just didn’t have the will to wake up early and run during the weekends.

Two years back, I was reunited with this sport when I was rock solid on my resolve to lose weight. I started slow but was determined to be consistent this time. I barely could complete 2 kms in the beginning but didn’t lose hope. I slowly increased the distance of my runs with each passing week and was able to build up the confidence to enroll myself into a 10 km marathon within 3 months.

Today, my love for this sport has completely transformed me for the better. As Will Smith said, it helps us quieten that little voice in our head which says “No” to any hurdle/struggle/change. Running gave me confidence to begin any new task headstrong and just dive right into it. The longest distance I’ve covered in a single session in the last 2 years has been 26 kms. Before the start of each long run, my mind always presents me with many negative emotions and doubts about completing the run. However, I’ve managed to complete every single run target I’ve set for myself and crossed the finish line feeling like a super woman each time.

There are certain habits which you know would work wonders for you yet difficult to imbibe. In my case it was running. I just had to force myself the first month and then it benefited me ways which were hard to ignore. I ran 5 kms after 4 months today because of the lock down and had the most surreal start to my day.