Weighty Issues

“Do you think I need to lose more weight?” asks this near anorexic lady at the gym. My jaws nearly dropped to the floor. But at moments such as these, I become incredibly profound. No woman is content with what she has, each one of us wishes for a little more of that and a little less of this, I replied with a Zen-like expression. Ask me, I know, I have been a lifetime member of this club.

Weight petrifies me, especially if it threatens to come anywhere in the vicinity of my petite frame. I am fitness fixated and I have no qualms admitting it. With age my regime has become more severe. Each time someone compliments me on my well-maintained self (I hate that term, makes me feel like a vintage car), I mentally start charting a newer even better fitness plan. I can’t afford to put on weight now!

We women are our greatest critics. At gatherings, most of us love greeting each other with weight updates. Have you put on? As if the lady doesn’t have a weighing scale, looking glass or a husband at home. But then husbands/boyfriends are programmed to say, “No honey your posterior looks just fine in that little black dress”, even if you look like an out of breath orange.

We are living in an age where all of us strive to be picture perfect. Obesity, cellulite, bad hair day, sagging skin are the new cardinal sins. Contemporary couture regrettably is designed for near perfect bodies. Most women in a desperate attempt to fit in, ape these unflattering styles, completely ignoring their body type. So we have to bear the ignominy of watching Mrs Gupta waddle around in her city shorts or squirm at Mrs Bhalla’s love-handles protruding from her “oh so tight” dress.

Indian women are meant to be curvy, some of us have it at the right places and some of us don’t. The last decade has witnessed a fitness revolution of sorts. There was a time when exercise meant taking a post dinner stroll: the rotund lady in her nightie-chunni (a favourite apparel of many a Punjabi woman) and the gentleman in his PJ‘s conversing animatedly and walking up and down the street. Not anymore. The lady has now ditched her nightie for track pants and does pilates with her private trainer. Her daughter loves kick boxing and aspires to be a size zero. Both of them are addicted to lauki juice and love snacking on pumpkin seeds. The son weight trains everyday and the poster of John Abraham’s butt adorns his wall. Of course there’s another breed that can wolf down a mega bucket of KFC’s winglets and perceives exercise as sacrilege.

It was only when I hit my 30’s that I diligently started an exercise routine; the “wake up at 5 and take a brisk 45-minute walk before going off to work” type. Prior to that, it was mostly need-based and mood-based. My first day at the park is clearly etched in my memory. Dawn had just broken; the air was fresh and crisp. As I approached the periphery of the park I heard a faint humming sound which grew louder with each approaching step. I was curious, a little scared. It was then, that I spotted three old ladies stuck to each other on a small bench, clapping furiously and chanting. I was mesmerised. The place was a frenzied hub of activity, youngsters walking at a furious pace with flailing arms, a gaggle of old men laughing deliriously in unison. It was surreal.

I religiously stuck to this routine (not the getting scared part) till we shifted to Gurgaon. I now huff and puff in the air-conditioned confines of the gym and discuss soup-salad dinners with my friends.

The near anorexic lady has managed some angry-looking eruptions on her face, apparently an infection she picked up somewhere. Other gym mates are concerned about her health and the possibility of contagion. But she refuses to stay put at home. When people say fitness is an addiction they are absolutely right. A celebrity more famous for her toned frame than her acting skills proudly proclaimed in one of her interviews, “My fitness takes priority over everything else in life. Even if my house is on fire I’d rather run off to the gym”.

Scary but true for many of us?


  1. I'm not fitness freak and I'm not bothered at all. But, it was nice to know your story. :)

  2. If you ask me, size zero is a turn off for me. Only few can carry it well. I have always been telling my friends to try an reduce extra mass and not essential mass...

  3. "It was only when I hit my 30’s that I diligently started an exercise routine" -- you have told my story here :-p
    but that was only for a few months.

    You always have some interesting story curved out of the normal. Keep it up.

  4. Good for you Nethra.

    Karan: The problem for most is when they start they don't know when to stop. And there's a thin dividing line between extra and essential.

    Raja: Men can afford to take it easy. If they gain fast, they manage to shed faster :)

  5. a very important part of modern urban life presented so beautifully!
    "Indian women are meant to be curvy, some of us have it at the right places and some of us don’t." This reminded me of a quote "All women have dropped from heaven, only that some dropped on their faces" I think it was GB Shaw who said it.

  6. It should be part of today's life style and for many it is...

    nice read and how you turned a normal routine thing into a beautiful post.

    Nice observations too.

  7. Umm I liked that determination! May be reading you article should inspire me to take up exercising... may be at home.... a bit more seriously :-D

    Pixellicious Photos

  8. @magiceye : A fad is nothing but an induced epidemic(Shaw with a bit of twist)

    @Sorcerer :Whoever said normal was boring, was definitely not me. :))

    @Kcalpesh : And you are waiting for inspiration?

  9. Just like some one said, size zero is a real turn off, but keeping oneself fit is very important in toady's life.

  10. healthy life with a healthy diet and 30 mins of walking...that's all I can manage!...more than the body it's the mind , I feel, that needs exercising in most cases!

  11. Haddock, I advocate Fitness for all, irrespective of your size.

    Nalini, Exercising releases Endorphins and rejuvenates your mind. And your routine sounds good.

  12. @purba I wish, but TIME?? can't find it anywhere. Lost it since I begun working :-|

  13. Beautiful post, Nalini, felt like I was at the park at 5 a.m.... And it motivated me to get back to my eating/fitness routine, mind you, not as an addict, but just as a favour to my envelope :-)

  14. @Kcalpesh : Busy is good :)

    @Aline CineHindi : Thanks for your comment and am not Nalini, but Purba :)

  15. I absolutely love this post. I have struggled with weight issues my whole life till I hit my 30s and realised how pointless it was to focus only on the aesthetics of our looks.
    Now I try and stay fit & healthy - mind, body & spirit. And I am happy.

  16. And wow...you love the Hours too. It's only my most favourite film :)

  17. And that's the spirit :)


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