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Tag Archives: Health
Go Back To Your Own Insecure Bodies And Leave Mine Alone!
So this whole trend of being ‘fitter-than-thou’, here’s my problem with it: It assumes that human health is a simple linear equation of calories consumed and gym hours sweated/miles run. If that were truly the case, our demigods would not be doctors prescribing medicines but engineers churning out equations.
The human body is far more complex than even professionals have been able to quantify. I have always been a lean person. I have not always been a fit person. I eat regardless of calories because I do not put on or lose weight. But I watch what I eat because I do not digest certain common foods (like corn, rawa and mutton) well.
I am also neither a gym fanatic nor a runner (since these are the two most popular fads in the so-called fitness space). But I have always been on the higher end among my peers, on stamina and energy. I have a high pain tolerance and I heal reasonably fast but I also have low immunity. I can’t cope without food for very long but I can manage without sleep for a longer than many others. I drink more water than average and not because I’m following some beauty editor’s advice on number of bottles translates to clearer skin. See how ‘strength’ is far more complex than one single measure?
I had a terrible experience last month with a certain ‘fitness tracker’ that promises expert consultation. The expert would not stop guilting me on what I ate (despite the fact that I said weight loss was NOT my goal). She kept insisting that I stop eating bananas (though these are the one sure-fire cure I’ve found to shut down acidity) and make my dinners even lighter. When I told her that meant I woke up hungry in the night and with acidity the next morning, she suggested I eat biscuits. If you have acidity, eat banana before going to gym, she added. So basically, cut out what already works, interrupt sleep to eat a processed, baked food instead of a fruit. And in the daytime, eat and then go exercise. The company kept chasing me after I stopped using the product. I wrote them an email explaining why it didn’t seem like the product was the right fit for my lifestyle but if there was something additional they could think of, I’d be happy to listen. The lead trainer (presumably having neglected to read my email though it was sent to him) said “Ask me anything”. I repeated what I’d said on email and he wanted to know why I had bought the product then. Whew, insecure people really go on the offense when their brittle pretences are broken, don’t they?
It’s the oldest trick in the marketing book – to make people feel inadequate, drum up that doubt into sizable insecurity and offer yourself or your product as the only solution. How come highly educated, successful, intelligent professionals (some of whom do this very same thing in other industries) are falling for this?
Yet, I know more and more people are buying into this grand myth. I am surrounded by friends and peers who inadvertently guilt me or shame me about the things I eat/do or don’t. “How long has it been since you went to gym? That long! Ah, you’ll pay for it. I never skip a session with my trainer.”, “Chocolate at night??” and so on it goes. Mercifully I’ve struggled with my own health issues and found ways to deal with them so it gives me the confidence to see their behaviour for what it is – fear & insecurity. I know that I know my body better than any other human being does and nobody should be given the right to make me feel less than that.
If you truly care about your health (and you should), stop letting commercial entities and other people’s insecurities abuse your body. And tell anyone who guilts you when you eat without counting calories or enjoy a day instead of going to gym TO STFU AND GET OVER THEIR OWN INSECURITIES.
I took the first step today. I asked for help.
I’ve had a fracture and a ligament injury within a year. I’ve had a recurring cough for over 2 months. I have probably fallen asleep before 3 a.m. some 4 times this year. And I don’t remember the last time I woke up feeling refreshed and excited about the upcoming day. But I vaguely remember that once upon a time, I used to.
I went to an Ayurvedic clinic that worked wonders with my health problems a few years ago. It took about an hour to capture vital information about me. It was the first real conversation I’ve had in many, many years about myself. That is odd, isn’t it? I have one of the longest running personal blogs in the country. For ten years, I’ve talked about my feelings, my relationships, my dreams, my goals, my observations, my angst.
But in telling her why I stay up late at night, why I sleep fretfully, why the frown lines on my forehead are deeper than the smile lines on my cheeks, I found myself talking about another me. I found myself realising, I’m not happy.
Well, I know that already. After all, I’m me. But I feel like there has never been any space to say this. Here are the things that I’m scared will come in response:
Why? You have such an awesome life!
You are so lucky. You should be grateful!
Do you know how many starving people there are in the world?
At least you didn’t have to go through a divorce/miscarriage.
Nobody forced you to quit your job. No one asked you to write for a living.
You are so angsty. You complain too much. You whine too much.
You know the odd thing? I’ve rarely said ‘I’m not happy’ and yet I carry that sentence as well as all these above ones that weren’t given a chance to be said, inside my mind. And the weight of them is crushing me.
I don’t even know why I’m unhappy. Not yet, anyway. Though, I can think about it and hazard a guess.
I’m still so tired from the effort of rising from a relationship gone sour, a failed engagement. I’m still hurting from the judgement. I’m scarred by the things that went wrong.
I’m suffocating under the pressure of labels like ‘feminist’, ‘strong woman’, ‘role model’, ‘committed’ and ‘responsible’. A label looks harmless — light, papery and fluttering in the wind. The ink scrawls on it seem deceptively ordinary. But they stick to the skin and to the identity and the force of peeling them away, takes away a part of yourself. It does.
And I am tired of cruelty. Wanton, random cruelty. Unwarranted spite. Needless meanness. Unjust ‘but you promised you’d never hurt me’ heartbreak. So cruel, so much.
I don’t want to go to war with the world. This is not about how badly the world has treated me. This is about my losing my way, forgetting the only things that really matter, that make any of the other stuff worth doing.
This is about remembering to live. This is about remembering to choose living over suffering. It is a choice and this is about remembering that.
This is about remembering fun. What it looks, tastes, smells, feels like. It’s remembering what it feels like to have your eyes light up, what that feels like from inside you — the internal wiring that makes everything come on and send the charge to your eyes that the world can see.
This is about being okay. Shouting that you’re more than okay, is not being okay. It’s just being.
This song came up minutes before I walked into the clinic.
I’m not a teenager under relentless pressure to conform to someone else’s ideals. And yet, concentrated H2SO4 ne pura jeevan jala daala. I did that to myself, to appease the stern, cruel, goal-oriented, never satiated maniac in my own head.
The specialist said something that cheered me and warmed me from within. He said my disposition was one that instantly zooms in on the positive in situations and people, and sometimes forgets about the negative. And he told me that it had made me able to rise above a bad relationship more easily than some others. He was telling me one simple thing that I’d stopped telling myself for so long that I forgot it was true. He was saying,
“Ramya, you’re okay.”
I actually wrote this post on 11 Sep 2014. But true to the reality of this post, I either didn’t have the time to or I didn’t feel I was ready to publish it (perfectionist me). Today, six weeks later, I want to report that I’m feeling much better. The cough is gone. And the doctor says I’m healing. Accepting that all is well, is some way off though.
October opens with promise, delectable aromas and lots of windows open on my computer. What am I on?
My article titled ‘The Chef’s @’ appears in JetLite’s’ in-flight magazine through this month. It is a go-to primer for the culinary-challenged (like me) who nevertheless have appetites and luckily for them, an internet connection. If the kitchen scares you, don’t worry. The Internet is benevolent and bountiful and will teach you how to cater to this most basic of needs, in an easy, efficient and tasty manner.
If you’re flying this month, please do read the story and send me your thoughts. Bon voyage and bon appetit!
‘The Chef’s @’ by Ramya Pandyan
The kitchen has never been my favorite room in the house. But the hunger pangs come knocking every few hours, reminding me of the mealtime that looms up ahead. For most urban dwellers, the daily preparation of food can be a real problem. At the end of an demanding day full of gargantuan commitments of work, bills, children and household management, who has the time or energy to devote to several hours of preparing something, that will be gone in a few minutes? Like several other chores, this too could be sourced out to external help but finding a person whose skills (let alone temperament and salary demands) match one’s needs could be problematic. You are not a super chef but you don’t always want to order in or reheat packaged food or live off cup noodles. So what do you do? I decided to check online. Google was the solution to many of my needs so I figured, why not ask about the most basic one?
Mail Today/ South Delhi Plus (I saw the online version on Mail Today but a friend told me he saw it in South Delhi Plus) did a story on Internet addiction yesterday. I’ve been quoted in the main piece and there’s a separate mini-piece with my views.
(Click to see full pages)
(Photograph courtesy Sumit Jagdale)
My muscle aches some months ago, leading to false alarms of arthritis and spondilitis, came as a wake-up call about my posture, lack of exercise and most importantly, my unhealthy computer use. Ten years ago, I quit television and found it opened up a lot of time for me. Now all this while later, I find I’ve just progressed to another kind of screen. Odd it is when I think my favorite tee-shirt shows the evolution of man with the last figure crouched low over a computer screen and a caption that reads,
Something somewhere went terribly wrong!
Over and above the physical repercussions of excessive computer usage, I’m more concerned (and intrigued) with what it is doing to our minds. The Internet isn’t the idiot box but perhaps its effects are deeper. It has changed the way we do everything, from work, to managing our daily chores, to keeping in touch, to amusement, keeping informed, to building and sustaining relationships.
The last is particularly interesting to me. It is ironical that this article should have come at this time because this is the theme that’s big on my mind these days. My entry for NovelRace has to do with modern-day relationships, in the wake of technology and its effects on the social fabric, behaviour patterns and our expectations of each other. I didn’t want to talk about it, this early but perhaps I should, considering that the Internet is a social medium and writing about it should automatically include other people. So yes, it’s quite possible that I’m thinking of you when I’m creating my characters and making things happen to them.
I’m going to end by saying perhaps it wasn’t such a bad thing, being a netoholic after all. Call it research for the book. 😉
While everyone in the accounts departments sits heavy on numbers and does a stock-taking quarter-by-quarter of the year that was, it occurs to me to do the same with my life. Except this is a three-quarterly review. Of my 29th year.
I’ll be 30 this July and it’s an odd thing but instead of feeling 29, I’ve been feeling ‘one away from 30’. It’s like the way numbers are counted in Hindi where 19, 29 and so on are one less than the nearest 10-multiple. Okay forget that, yes, it is the big Three-O looming up ahead. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a big deal (yes, even if I know theoretically it shouldn’t be, life begins at 30 yada yada…). I’m human after all and there’s so much swirling in my head, I’m not waiting till July to write about it. And thus begins the 30 diaries – a special set of features on the experience of hitting 30.
So what has been happening these last three quarters of my one-away-from-30 year? Plenty.
Travel: I visited two new countries. My first visit to Europe (well I’ve been to London but that was on work and I had no sight-seeing or fun) and my first time on a cruise as well. I didn’t write enough of about it. Frown.
Career: I changed jobs. Well, technically I’m still with the same company but in a completely different role, practically a 180 degree turn. Do I like it? I’m still trying to figure it out. I don’t hate it. Yet.
Media: I got featured in the press a few times. Only once accurately. These journos, what to tell ya… 😀
Death: I’ve attended two funerals, both within a fortnight of each other. One, my best friend’s father who succumbed after a long and difficult struggle. The other, a wonderful and dear colleague whom I still miss.
Last night I dreamt that I went on stage to sing. That was after facing numerous hurdles like the compere scheduling me without telling me, a new compere not letting me on stage, the orchestra packing up (wherein I begged and begged the restaurant musicians to back me up and they did), another guy sabotaging my audience by paying them off, a semi-drunk wandering up on stage and ruining my song by singing off-key. Oddly I ended the song with my back to the audience but they gave me a loud encore. Wherin I woke up. So another reminder. I used to sing too. And I used to sing well, not just in the bathroom. Ah, the lives that we let go of with the choices we make!
Health: Twice in seven months, I had major health scares – arthritis and spondilitis. Both of them turned out to be indicative of calcium deficiency caused by a Vitamin D deficit. I didn’t know whether to laugh or frown when the final prognosis was,
Worry less and get out in the sun more often!
Ironic that very morning I remarked that,
I’ve turned into one of those horrible people who feels guilty about taking a day off from work, even if it is sick leave.
Ironic turns to miraculous when I remember that a decade ago I dropped a year from college, without remorse or second thought. When did I turn into super-efficient whizkid? This isn’t me, this so isn’t who I am.
Ideasmith, age 6
Dear Santa Claus,
Will you bring me a present too? I am not a Christian. But I say prayers in English in school and I know about Jesus Christ and Moses. I read about them in the Bible stories book. When I go home, I pray in Hindi or Tamil or Sanskrit and I also know about Murugan and Shiva and Rama. I read in Amar Chitra Katha.
Please bring me more books. Please make mummy like comics so she will let me read them.
Ideasmith, age 13
Sometimes I think I must be mad. But you will take care of me if I am, won’t you?
I know I’ll never be pretty but I wish at least one person would think I was.
Ideasmith, age 16
You are my best friend…my only real friend. Thank you for holding on for so long. This too shall pass and you will come out of it stronger. Just keep the faith.
Still I wish someone understood.
Ideasmith, age 21
Won’t you re-consider? Remember our old times? Please remember…because I’ll die if you don’t. I don’t want to think of a life without you.
I never wanted anyone or anything as much as I want us.
Ideasmith, age 24
Once and for all, there will be no more mistakes. Never again, never EVER again will a man hurt you. This is the last of it.
He will pay.
There’s no hurry. Life is long enough for paybacks.
I want justice.
Ideasmith, aged 26
This year I want to:
Take dancing lessons
Start the novel
Twenty years is a long enough time. From asking other people to make my dreams comes true to fulfilling my own wishes. There is a difference, though.
It is the difference between faith and confidence.