Inches, Pounds and Calories- Avoiding the Numbers Game

Saturdays With Shivani

Last year when I started my fitness journey, it took me six weeks to gather the courage to declare it here. I had mentioned that this column was ‘like a promissory note to myself; a journal that I shall try to update every month so I can share my journey with all its pitfalls and milestones’. I haven’t done it in a long time but as I inch closer to the one-year mark, an update now seems quite appropriate.

One year! That’s HUGE for me. Never have I ever voluntarily committed myself to any form of exercise for this long. I get encouraging (and surprised) nods especially from those who know this fact.

Sadly though, the most common I’m question still asked is, “How much have you lost?” When I shrug and claim ignorance, another one pops out, “Well, inches then?” My non-committal no-expression look finally waters down their enthusiasm and they close it with a feeble ‘Oh well it’s important to be fit, at the end of the day’. And to that I agree whole heartedly!

‘Fitness’ was the operative word this time around when I took to exercise. This was my last-ditch attempt and I wanted to approach it differently. Like everyone else around me, I had always focussed on numbers- be it inches, pounds or calories. I had failed miserably so this time I vowed to myself that I shall steer clear of the numbers game.

Thankfully when I started, my weighing scales were broken. They still are. I have consciously not replaced them. I’m tempted but I’m also terrified of their verdict. What if the scales don’t have the desirable numbers? I run a very real risk of getting sucked into that vortex of hopelessness and inactivity again. I’m walking on a tightrope here. With my focus steadfastly fixated on fitness, I don’t want anything to distract me and throw me off balance. I am worried I may never have the courage to get back there.

Let me make it clear that when I say calories, I mean I am not into strict calorie restriction (1200/ 1500 types) or counting every single morsel that makes its way into my mouth. I am cleaning my habits. You may not find fizzy colas in my fridge but you can help yourself to a kombucha instead. I have a sweet tooth that I am trying to tame but I can’t suck out all the joy in my life fretting over every single calorie that I consume. Not right now atleast.

I would be lying if I say I don’t want to be thin. I want to. I am vain enough to want to try all those dresses and hope to look good in them. However how I do it has to be sustainable on a long-term basis. As my trainer says, fitness is a lifestyle and I want it for a lifetime. So, I am gradually building up my stamina, my core strength and my muscle mass (My daughter, a budding fitness enthusiast, recently complimented me on my ‘quads’. That’s what I am trying to earn.)

I don’t know if writing this is going to help anyone. I am not even sure if anyone would be interested in reading one more write up on fitness. Nonetheless, I want it to be out there if for no one else but for myself.

Finally, a word on fat shamers. I have already written about them but I shall say it again. Fat people are not imbeciles. Telling them that they need to lose weight (they know!) is not going to help them reach anywhere close to it. Unless you want to lose them in your life, I think your strategy has to change. Talk to them and listen to what they have to say about it. Support them in their journey howsoever flawed it may seem to you. Be gentle. Be kind.

Love and Light

Dr. Shivani Salil