The Second Biggest Challenge

There are a number of things that trip up my progress with the whole weight loss gig. First, it is my lack of resolution and staying power. I have staying power for a lot of things, unless they are wholly in my control. Then, I tend to take the easy way out. With my new combat fitness class, I am going to be shelling out a substantial sum, and that will goad me into being regular.

But this post isn’t about how I battle my lack of resolution, but the second biggest demon: embarrassment.

In this wonderful class, with an amazing coach, and a fantastic trainer, I am in the worst shape. [I kinda love this sentence, with all the superlatives. hehe.] I am the fattest, not the oldest (but those guys are fitter), and the one with the least ability. And therein lies the rub.

It would be awesome to go into something like this with some sort of pre-existing ability. Like I did with my French classes in Goa. I had already been through levels of French in Pune, and I found the course a breeze. It enabled me to stop feeling nervous and to really grasp the nuances of language that has escaped me the first time. That sort of leg up can make it for me. And it is a tremendous confidence boost, although I wasn’t in competition with anyone else.

Right now, I’ve been to two fitness classes. And it is a struggle not to want to collapse into a heap because everyone else is [literally] running laps around me. In short, I feel utterly humiliated and embarrassed.

Stupidly though, and I know this because I have a functioning brain, all this is purely in my head. Not by a word or glance have any of the others, least of all the trainer, betrayed disgust or disdain for my lack of ability.

So I tell myself, everyone has to start somewhere. Everyone had a first day once. At least I am here trying to get to the next day, the next month, the next year: the next level.

I cannot also myself to be discouraged with lack of immediate progress, because that’s not how physiology works. I have to focus on doing one more rep, being a little less breathless, kicking a little bit higher, and tweaking my form a little more each time. That is going to be enough, but I have to keep telling myself that.

Ultimately, I want to enjoy this process. And focusing on the result isn’t going to get me there any faster or happier, which is more important.

Whittling Down Happy Days

3rd April was my birthday. My 33rd birthday to be exact. My first birthday without my father. [We lost him on 5th April 2016.] Two days after my 32nd birthday.

These thoughts have been ringing in the same staccato fashion in the confines of my head for the last few months. I realise my extreme good fortune that of having had such amazing, loving parents at all. I also recognise that I was lucky to have the most amazing father in the world, who was a father in all the right moments, but like a brother in others, and a pal for most of my life.

Doesn’t stop me from feeling incredibly sad though. In fact, this post has been languishing in my drafts folder since the 3rd, which means I have had to go back and change the tense and add a few explanatory lines.

I am not a great believer in date milestones. Funnily enough, it started off with my grandfather’s death. On 11th August 2002, he breathed his last, and my mother went into a complete tailspin. It took her months to recover the shreds of her sanity, and year after year, I felt the same tremors of grief engulfing her on the 11th.

After we moved back to India, I moved away to college in Pune. It was hard to make friends, but I fast formed a lasting bond with one girl. And her birthday was on the 11th of August.

At that point in our lives, birthdays were a big deal. And I was always part of the celebration, but at home there was an ambience of sheer despair. What was I supposed to do? Ultimately, the penny dropped. I refused to remember the anniversary of his demise; I would rather focus on the anniversary of his birth: an arguably happier occasion.

As I’ve grown older though, new year’s days, Valentine’s days, and the like lost significance. A concerted effort to blot out sadness on death anniversaries of grandparents, beloved pets, and so on has made those days pass by too. The only remaining days of significance are birthdays and wedding anniversaries.

The only wedding anniversary celebrated by my family is my parents’. Now with dad gone, that’s become a sad occasion too. I’m not married. My aunt’s marriage didn’t work out.

Finally, birthdays. Mine: 2 days before my father died. My father’s? Without him, it’s sad. My aunt and mother are twins. That leaves a grand total of one day of celebration in the year.

Why bother?

April Madness

My birthday is in a couple of days, so in that sense April has always been a little special.

Or maybe I am telling myself that so that I feel a bit better about starting to exercise today, instead of January 1st.

Whatever works.

Today I have started on my new regime:

  • Exercise to a plan. No random pinwheeling around like a demented scarecrow.
  • Take up Duolingo again. I am losing my grip on my French skills. Connard!
  • Finish the Khan Academy Math programs. I left this excellent resource halfway. Argh.
  • Signed up for sketching classes too. Drawspace. Pretty excellent thus far.

Just being my normal, random self. Yay.

The Boredom Problem

In my expert opinion of myself, the biggest obstacle for me is boredom. I sometimes cannot will myself to something that it boring. And the trouble with this tendency is that it can strike at any moment.

I am not doing one of those humble-brag type of posts, where I am secretly proud of my “flaw”, like some people are about being short-tempered and so on. I genuinely wish I could get over the disinclination to continue when I get bored.

For example, I was giving my shoes a facelift. I initially planned to coat the raw edges with a matching ecru fabric paint, and call it a day. However, the paint in the bottle and paint on the shoe looked vastly different. It was less ecru and more a peachy beige with undertones of pink. In short, a disaster. But since I couldn’t change the colour at that point, I decided to turn the beige into a base coat, and apply a second layer of paint in a different colour thereafter.

There are 6 stripes on either shoe, and by the time I reached the third stripe, I had lost interest. The shoes weren’t looking great yet, the process of dabbing paint on the uneven surface was tedious, and the colour was boring. I would have happily chucked it up, and left the shoes as is.

However, I have recently discovered that I can be extremely tenacious when I want to be. Also, a natural inclination to be thrifty and try and save things stopped me from giving up. I plugged on doggedly, finishing up the base coat on all the stripes.

Again, I could have stopped there. And now the shoes didn’t look incomplete. But, the boredom had vanished now because I got to pick out pretty colours for the top coat. Knowing what happened the first time around, I picked out three different colours.

Eventually, the shoes got painted. But I really wish I didn’t have to trick my mind into making me do stuff that I do anyway.

The Elusive Quality of Coolness

Writing the previous post opened up a can of worms in my head. I have mostly conquered the feeling of being an outcast, but the journey has been fairly tortuous. I pulled up some chronicled events from my old blog that shed some light on that journey.

First up, my analysis of my erstwhile status in school:

Uncool in School

I was having a chat with an old school friend the other day, and we started reminiscing about our school days. The ‘good ol’ days’. Except they weren’t. Good, I mean. Then it started a chain of thought that continued after the conversation had ended. Why wasn’t I cool?

Zipping to the present day, I have found myself on the fringe of any group, in class, in any gathering involving people of my own age. And I find myself standing outside, looking longingly in. Somehow, I cannot muster up enough courage to insert myself into a group. And it’s a direct result of the agonies of my pre-teen years. I don’t blame anyone in school, but I am merely wondering how different my life would have turned out, if I was ‘cool’ in school.

I remember when I was very little, around 6 or 7, I was very popular amongst my classmates. The kind to be picked first for teams, the one everyone surrounded at break. Then zip forward to when I was 12. In a matter of 4 years I went from centre of attraction to wallflower. And then I started putting on weight.

As I can see it, there were a few factors that contributed to my dismal status in school (I was never even close to being ‘A’ list).

1. I didn’t listen to the right music – very simply I didn’t have satellite TV at home, seeing at my family barely spent any time at home, what with jobs and school and staying far out in Sharjah.

2. I didn’t watch the right TV shows – same reason; but this had the effect of making any conversation about shows like the X-files totally incomprehensible.

3. I didn’t have a friends’ circle that went out regularly – I stayed too far away again, and plus my parents always insisted on a chaperon. Makes sense, in retrospect, after all we were a bunch of little girls.

4. I put on loads of weight – Ah, my nemesis even now – my mother fattened me up, because I was a scrawny little thing and I was on the verge of being malnourished.

I remember making some tentative forays into making friends, and was met with such out and out derision for my clumsy efforts, that I retreated further and further into my protective shell. Slowly but surely, my self esteem completely eroded away.

Now over 10 years later, I find myself in a strange situation: I am now ‘A’ list. But it so seems that I’m the only one on the list. Spending much time on my own, has taught me to be comfortable with my own company. I go about my activities singly, without any need for support. In a word, I am a loner. I have some close friends who I will cherish for the rest of my life, and I know that I will receive all the unconditional love from them, that any heart could possibly desire.

But, there is uncomfortable thought niggling in the back of my mind: I find I need to prove that I’m not a loser to the folks who made me feel like one, all those years ago.

And second, a dawning ability to find and be comfortable with my own place in the world:

Stay (Un)Cool

I often feel very uncool. Possibly because, in school, I was the very definition of uncool – short (ish), long (LONG LONG) hair, braces, chubby and bespectacled. Not precisely a recipe for hotness. Also, when I was in school, it was cool to, well, rebel. I never rebelled. EVER.

Not that I blamed my classmates – rich, spoilt kids, mostly higher-middle class. Both parents were always busy with their own lives, and had very little time to spare for miscellaneous offspring. Our school was practically full-day, from 7:30 in the morning, to 5:00 in the evening. They rebelled, loved it, and painted anyone who didn’t with the unanimous brush of uncool.

My parents have always been there. I had (and still have) great relationships with all three of them (I consider my mom’s twin my ‘second mom’). My dad never yelled, my aunt showered me with love and my mother yelled till ceiling tiles dropped. It worked. We had fun together, and my parents were by far the hippest lot I knew.

(I’m totally serious. My mother thinks I should live with a bloke for six months before marrying him. UNHEARD OF in Indian society. Apparently I need to know whether I like his smelly breath and unshaven mug early in the morning. Her words, not mine.)

I have lived in hostels/paying guest accommodation/alone for the past 10 years. And in the last year, I moved back home (joint family decision). My teenage self sometimes asks whether I am violating my own sense of cool by living here (and enjoying it). All my peers are moving out, getting married and setting up lives FAR away from their parents. I, on the other hand, am getting more comfortably ensconced in my parental abode. I have no romantic plans, which I find a HUGE relief.

Then today, I heard my father cough (ex-smoker – GRRR!). I saw my mother’s knees stiffen after sitting for too long. I saw my aunt press a hand into the small of her back and wince a little in pain. It made my heart twist.

I may be the queen of uncool, but my place is here.

Ageing Like Wine

I was a dumb kid. And I don’t say that with any degree of shame; it is a simple fact. Also, when I say “dumb” I do not mean unintelligent, but merely a thorough lack of awareness of cause and consequence, relativity between situations, and generally the power of deduction. [To be fair, I still fail to grasp the connections between things sometimes, and thus remain in constant awe of people who are able to see things outside of their contexts.]

Today’s musings are not so much about my ability to think, but the changes that have happened to my personality over the years. I say happened, because truly many of them were the result of situations and circumstances that I faced.

There are a few things that I know I didn’t have before, and chiefly amongst those things is clarity of thought. My behaviour was primarily reactionary and thoughtless, and there was a lot of instinct thrown in the mix. Sometimes it worked, others not so much.

I sit back today and realise that fear was the primary obstacle in my life. That’s not to say that I have conquered fear; I have not. I have learned to be brave. Again, this is not the courage that comes about from conviction – I’m not there yet – but the bravery that has you analyse the pros and cons and be prepared to face the worst possible outcome.

My instinct towards kindness has not abated though. I lost it somewhere in between, on this journey to strength, but found it again fast enough. There is no space in my life for myself if I cannot be true to myself at the very least.

All in all, I look at my trajectory with a dispassionate eye, and feel that the journey has been a successful one. I am happy with the way I am, content in the knowledge that I have grown considerably from before, having ironed out the rough edges I perceived; but equally secure in the certainty that I have a long way forward too, where I will look back at this moment with greater clarity and know there were things I did now which have smoothened further.

New Year, New Start

I sometimes feel it is a bit cliche to think of the new year as a new start, because really it is great to make positive changes at any time. That being said, the undeniable attraction of something new is only compounded by the fact that I reached 100 posts yesterday. [This is 100+1.]

I would like to post my resolutions here, even though that is the most cliche thing ever.

  1. I would love to actually lose weight this year.
  2. I would love to hit my target of a book a week, because I only reached halfway in 2016.
  3. I would like to post regularly on here, but without it feeling forced.
  4. I would like to finish my French examinations too.
  5. I would like to wipe out my to-do list.

And lastly, but most importantly, I would like to spend less time being stressed. I recognise that pitfalls and problems are a part and parcel of life, but how much time I spend agonising over things I cannot change is entirely in my control. Here’s to reducing that by a LOT.

Happy new year to everyone! May the new year bring you and yours health and happiness, much success and fulfilment in whichever form it takes.