Wednesday, July 28, 2010

One for a healthy heart

"All the first year students should report in the seminar hall for a medical check-up." The notice-board on the college walls made this announcement. It is compulsory to record the medical history of every student in the college, so that it is easy to administer medical care in case of an emergency.

"So, what all will they record?" This was Leena's first question. Height, okay, blood-pressure, pulse, allergies, anything else except weight. She dreaded that part, because she had been overweight (on the borderline of being classified obese) right since her school days. Not that she didn't exercise or try to reduce her weight. She tried jogging, skipping, aerobics and many other things. But, she always did it under parental pressure. Surprisingly, she didn't pay heed to peer pressure.

"Leena, don't worry, you won't have to give your weight details," said Sumati, mischievously. "Why?," asked the others around her. "Well, you see, her weight is beyond the limits of the weighing scale!!" Everybody standing around poured into laughter. Leena, took it sportingly, but it always hurt her. Not that she was a lazy-bum, couch potato. She stood 5'8" tall, could walk for miles together or any given day, but her weight still was a concern to her. After college had begun, under pressure from her parents, she joined a gym, where she diligently followed their workout programme, hoping that she will lose weight. But, again, she dropped out of the gym at the very first excuse available.

Now, let us fast forward. Two years into college, Leena had made a nice group of friends. Everytime after the results were out, the group used to gather in a restaurant just to celebrate their success. Even if somebody had failed in a subject, (s)he would join the celebrations. But this time, they decided to go out on a trek to the small hillock just on the outskirts of the town. Excitedly, they all rushed to the hillock on their bikes and started trekking up the hill. While the group was moving ahead, Leena was stuck behind, because her weight didn't allow her to make quick moves up the hill. Sumati, who was with her because she always used to be, asked her to speed up. "But..... hmpf, hmpf, I can't go up any further," said Leena gasping for every breath of air. "It is too tiring. " "Come on, Leena, you can make it," Sumati couldn't think of anything better to encourage her. Leena continued, although she felt like her legs would break up into pieces, she had decided she wouldn't give up on the trek. The pain was too much to bear. Finally, almost an hour after everybody had reached the top, Leena managed to tumble up the summit. And she wasn't left with any strength to proceed further. She just gulped 2-3 glasses of cool lemon juice, which had a refreshing feeling.

At the summit the entire gang just sat and had lots of discussions over all possible issues under the sun. Suddenly, realising that they would need to start now, if they were to reach home in time, Leena and Sumati ushered the group to wind up and start the downward journey. It was a bit early, but Leena needed extra time than others to complete her downhill expedition.

When she came home, she withdrew to her room and tried to think what could be done about her weight? Dinner time came and went, but she wasn't able to make up her mind. She was completely embarrassed by today's outing. Something within her didn't want to take it lightly. She wanted to be fit and fine for every physical activity. For the first time, she realised the importance of all those health related articles she'd read on the internet. They always warned about eating right and exercising so as to stay fit. It finally dawned upon her that if she didn't take efforts to stay fit, not only would she end up at the back in treks, but also end up with heart problems, diabetes or blood-pressure. She desperately wanted to follow some of the fitness tips offered on the websites, but knew she couldn't stick to them as these tips never ever addressed beginners.

She then devised a plan for herself. Firstly, she would bring her diet under strict control. Not the kind of diet that aspiring models indulge in. She would limit the quantities of food she takes. Breakfast, which was normally healthy and sumptuous, needed no attention. So, during lunch it would be just two chapatis and a serving of rice, supplemented by ample amounts of salads like cucumber, carrots, etc. It shouldn't matter how favourite the vegetable is, the amount had to remain fixed. Dinner, would mean three chapatis only. Nothing more nothing less. And a strict cut down on intermediate munching. If she was hungry, it would be fruit juices, for she couldn't carry fruits to college. For the first three months, she would be just ensuring a discipline in her diet. Physical exercise was necessary if she wanted to reduce her weight. Leena decided to participate in the monsoon mini-marathon, which was 8-9 months away. To prepare for the mini-marathon, she would have to practice jogging. Since, it was a target for her to complete the marathon in respectable time, she would be forced to practice for it. And, to avoid embarrassment at college, she wouldn't be able to withdraw at the last moment. But, will she be able to run? She was determined to try!

Three months later.... Leena was sticking to her schedule. Her diet was under control for 6 out of 7 days of the week. Once in a while, she did give into the temptation. Her jogging efforts too were taking shape, albeit slowly. She was able to jog for 1 k.m. before tiring out. A good progress, for some one who had detested the idea of running around without purpose. Over time, she had realised improvements in herself. Although her weight wasn't coming down quickly- she lost only half a kilo in three months- she was feeling better. She felt fitter, lighter and quicker. Out of curiosity, she had got herself tested for blood-pressure and other conditions. She found out that everything was well within limits. Her blood-pressure was normal, sugar and cholesterol well within limits. And her exercise schedule continued like before, diet under control, jogging distance increasing gradually.

Now, almost a year has passed since Leena embarked on her fitness plan. It was totally self-motivated. No parental pressure or peer pressure. Just self-motivation. It all began with her desire to stay along with the rest of the pack during their trekking excursions. She realised the power of positive emotions. Previously, all weight-reduction plans had failed, because they were thrust on her. This time, it was she who had undertaken the task herself. And she couldn't let herself fail!! She completed the mini-marathon, 12km, in 1 hr. 45 min, a respectable time for her. Her weight too, had come down by 6 kilo, but her frame appeared still leaner and fitter and her waist was down by three sizes. This time, when they went to trek the hillock, she wasn't far behind the rest of the group!

Note: This post was written as a part of "20000 Bloggers for a Billion Hearts" contest for Through this post, I wanted to convey the importance of self-motivation that can drive obese/lethargic people into doing the impossible. You can see my pledge on the extreme right gadget bar. I urge you to take the pledge too and spread the message for a safe heart.

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  1. The Indiblogger writes . . . Vinay don't you smile frequently? Was just curious. I liked the way you have included something you like: trekking and fitness and made a short story. First attempt, I reckon. Nice. And smile more often :)

    Joy always,

  2. Good one.. Thanks for participating in this initiative.. I wish you a Good luck..

    Do stop by Save a Heart - The Untold Story !

    Yours Frendly,
    Saravana Kumar M

  3. @Susan,
    Thanks for your keenly observed comment. About the pledge to smile thing, I was given options like I shall quit smoking, check cholesterol, control diabetes, exercise regularly, etc. But, I do not smoke or drink, I sleep soundly, and I've probably taken most of those pledges. The only harmless one seemed to me was about keeping smiling. So, I selected that.

    @Someone is special,
    Thanks for your comments!

  4. @Vinay
    Thanks a Billion for stopping by Few Miles, do be regular on my updates. Do vote if my Initiative worth so..

    Yours Frendly,
    Saravana Kumar M