Today after several decades of trying, I’ve finally accepted the fact that I’ve lost the Battle of the Bulge.
I have tried starving. I have tried exercise.
But nothing seems to work.
The other day, browsing at Crosswords I came across several books on losing weight. Unlike the books in the past which were written by Americans and needed copious quantities of food unavailable in our markets, these books are written by Indians. These books take into account the Indian psyche and food culture. Many of them are written by savvy young women, in a friendly readable style – almost as pleasant as fiction.
Women & the Weight loss Tamasha by Rujuta Diwekar remains my all-time favourite. Strangely enough, all these weight loss programs are targeted at making women look better but all weight loss programs for men are aimed at making them healthier! But that’s another story for another day…………..I have been doing yoga since I was 16 years old but am still unable to do the Lotus Pose, the Pose of the Sage and several other convolutions without huffing and puffing. But hope lives eternal and I am sure that one day I will be able to do the Boat without toppling or the Cow Face with ease. Till then I will keep on trying.
After years of hanging from the door frame in an attempt to grow taller failed miserably, my mother marched me off to my first ever yoga class at Mumbai’s Kaivalyadham . This Institute which is still by the sea has a very scientific approach to Yoga and every prospective student is given a medical test before admission. Then a consultation with a doctor follows, after which a customised set of exercises is prescribed for each student. Gradually building up to your optimum level, each student is carefully taken through the poses by one teacher attending to around four students. Even today though the place is jazzed up, it lacks the sophistication and slickness of Yoga studios but is popular nonetheless for that old fashioned no-nonsense Yoga where a pose is a pose is a pose.
But the tedium of the long bus ride far outweighed the promise of growing taller and I gladly abandoned Kaivalyadham for a quick racquet game played with my friends in the club. Even though I could connect the ball and had a fair aptitude for the game, I had no great passion for the sweat it generated and after my friends acquired the boyfriends they were after, this form of exercise was abandoned en masse. Besides, I think I am intrinsically lazy, so for several years, my only form of exercise was walking. And when the girls began playing at the club, I picked up the racquet from where I’d left off. For several years we had fun at the Club playing badminton during the rains and tennis in the winter months and of course, swimming in the summer. But as the girls grew, their interest in games diminished and I had to re-structure my exercise program yet again.
The tyranny of the Gym
In order to keep my weight under control, I tried walking in the dark (before the household woke up) and mixed it up with the fad of the 80’s – Gymming which was more about where you gymmed and who you gymmed with rather than the weight you actually lost. Week after week I would stand on the scale and measure up and watch my inches shrink as my poundage grew. ” It’s all your fat being converted into muscle,” the instructor would tell me ” and muscle weighs more than fat.”
“But, ” I would counter, “In absolute terms isn’t 50 kg of blubber ( or fat ) less in terms of weight than 54 kg of muscle?” Unfortunately, she never got it. Nor did I; so I threw away my twinkly tights, leotards, leg warmers and other trappings of the Gym and went back to my walk : an erratic exercise program which again depended on the girls’ school timings, the visitors living at home, my own work schedule ( we worked from home those days) , the weather , my mood etc etc.
Yo Yo Yoga
So it was with dismay that I watched the pounds pile on and started looking at the at slim and sexy mothers in their forties with something akin to envy. Once again I was torn between the gym and the yoga mat and it was finally the yoga mat that won. This time I joined something closer to home – the BKS Iyengar classes at Home Villa . I loved those classes even though I literally had my heart in my mouth as I hung suspended upside down along the wall on the first day itself. I loved those classes even though Kobad, the instructor, would gleefully pump my upper arms and wait for the titter from the class as he described them as wonderful specimens of pure Porbunder ghee . I loved those classes that made me stretch till my tendons snapped till one fine day the guy opposite me winked while we were doing Downward Facing Dog. At first I thought it was a tic of his that I’d missed in previous classes but when I found the frequency of the winking increasing, I just upped and quit.
Once again , for several years I pounded the roads again till I found Shiv Kumar’s Yoga Classes at the Club. Now those were classes that were sheer bliss: springy wooden floors, colourful non-slip mats and a bright airy space. Besides, the young girl who took the classes was easily bullied and after the 10th Surya Namaskar, she lamely acceded to our demand to abandon the 11th. What I loved about these classes was the period of rest between every set of poses. However, with two hours of Yoga three days a week bang in the middle of the morning, my time to do things shrank so when my back froze to the floor in a particularly tough Upavistha Konasana , I had to abandon this class too.
Defying the Law of Gravity
There were some more years of walking round and round – this time around the Racecourse, round the building or round the neighbourhood till I finally thought I’d fall down dizzy and decided I’d better go back to yoga. Which is what I did. It’s been five years or more that I’ve been going to a Yoga class which is across the road from home. We are a bunch of middle-aged ladies with no passion for fashion and no desire to look good or lose weight. We have finally accepted that weight like age is a phenomenon that defies the Law of Gravity. So we do the Tibetan Rites in an unhurried pace and sometimes skip the Head Stands. After 5 Sun Salutations, we do some Poses of the Sage, we do a few graceful sequences and then wind down to the most wonderful Dead Man’s Pose, which sometimes, is the only restful period I get in my busy day.
A granny who always sees the humour in life and tries to do things differently. When others make cupcakes, this granny makes banana fritters. When she’s not busy chasing her grandchildren who love making her run around, she indulges in her passions of reading, writing, meeting friends and watching movies. And somewhere between all this she enjoys travelling and cooking!
View all posts by Unishta