We all have our own perception of what being fit means. To some, it is about having an active lifestyle. For some, it means getting up at four thirty to go on a walk so that one is charged for the day (one’s mother has set some very high self-care standards). Then there are those who look at fitness more as a state of mind than body. Different people, different perceptions and distinct ways to achieve that desired state of fitness.
However, one of the most common perceptions of fitness, thanks to a certain Bollywood diva, is to be able to fit in a size zero dress. But are all women after that elusive formula which will not only bless them with a size zero figure but help them sustain it for a lifetime, through, youth, marriage, motherhood and ageing? Or is this just a misconception that women’s fitness goals are solely based on achieving physical perfection, or whatever idea of physical perfection the society upholds?
We spoke to five women from different walks of life about what their fitness goals were. While most women did mention things like health, happiness and rejuvenation, curiously size zero was nowhere to be found.
Overall well being
Who better to start this conversation than a fitness blogger? Which is why we spoke to Protima Tiwary on what fitness means to her? Says she, “Fitness to me is an overall sense of well-being, it isn’t as much as it is about losing weight or staying a certain size than it is about enjoying each day because you are mentally and emotionally strong to deal with life. To me, fitness is a 360-degree concept that involves great physical health (which isn’t only aesthetics, I mean strength when I say physical fitness) great mental health and great emotional health.”
“I learnt how important it was to be stress-free, and in today’s day and age when we’re always trying to do so many things we tend to forget to take care of ourselves, and if you’re not happy, you cannot be fit!” : Protima Tiwary
Tiwary further adds that a fitness routine teaches you a lot more than just caring for your body. “I genuinely feel there is so much to learn from this fit lifestyle. I personally learnt focus, patience, the importance of discipline, time management, staying humble, and being empathetic. I learnt how important it was to be stress-free, and in today’s day and age when we’re always trying to do so many things we tend to forget to take care of ourselves, and if you’re not happy, you cannot be fit! This helped me in my professional and personal life too. It all comes together; it isn’t just about working on your body to make it look a certain way.”
It makes you happy
A lot of women experience deep dissatisfaction with how pregnancy and maternity alter their bodies, often permanently. It isn’t easy to get back into shape, but then, should it be just about getting back into your old pair of jeans?
Prerna Sinha, a mother of two kids and founder, Maa of all Blogs, is also a fitness enthusiast. While she started exercising with the aim to lose weight, it soon dawned on her that working out made her happy. She says, “Fitness goals for me currently mean to have a really strong core so that I can run, lift, practice yogasanas with ease. I used to equate a flat ab to a strong core and a lot of us misunderstand this. Flat ab means getting rid of excess flab but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a strong core. So, a size zero is a huge mistake to aim for because you would be low on immunity and strength at that weight. Rather eat well, exercise well and aim for doing those pull-ups, the handstands, the long runs that need stamina. And do not forget to give your body time to recover and heal after a strenuous workout and replenish the necessary salts and protein in the body.
“Fitness goals for me currently mean to have a really strong core so that I can run, lift, practice yogasanas with ease. I used to equate a flat ab to a strong core and a lot of us misunderstand this. Flat ab means getting rid of excess flab but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a strong core.” : Prerna Sinha
I have long ago adopted a healthy lifestyle. While it started with the motivation to lose weight, but once I got used to working out, I realised that it kept me happy and energetic throughout the day. It’s addictive and each time I achieve a particular pose or lift a certain weight or run a particular distance, I set another goal for myself. It gives a sense of achievement and fulfillment and keeps you going. You have to match the same with a good diet especially after hitting the 30 plus mark to avoid long term health issues.”
All about harmony
When it comes to fitness, we often restrict it to physical exercise, completely neglecting emotional and mental well-being. In our stress-filled lives, isn’t it essential to be mentally fit as well?
Author and SheThePeople.TV Books Editor Archana Pai Kulkarni believes in just that. She says, “My fitness goals would involve physical fitness, mental peace and emotional tranquillity. It means having a constant flow of vital energy that is harmonious. It means being able to get up in the morning all geared up to face the day with enthusiasm, to be flexible both in body and mind. It’s important to have an empowered feeling within, that leaves me free to discover my potential. To think good, feel good, and consequently, look good. To enjoy life and people and be able to deal with challenges with equanimity. To be fit is to be happy.
To enjoy the simple pleasures of life
For Dolly Singh, plus-sized yoga practitioner and body positivity advocate, fitness is all about being able to live her life to the fullest. She says, “I want to look the way I look for the next twenty years and also because I think that your body is going to take you through everything, good or bad, and thus one should keep it adapt and strong. For me, fitness is a strong reflection of strength in the body, getting physically exhausted takes away a lot of pleasure from life. If you get exhausted climbing thirty steps, you may not be able to see that beautiful sunrise, or if I have to play with a child and I get exhausted, then I won’t be able to play well, for me it is as simple as that. So the motivation of staying fit is as simple as just being able to do things that I like to do and never feel physically bound by the fact that ‘oh I can’t run this distance,’ or ‘oh I can’t go for a long walk because my knees are hurting’.”
“I want to look the way I look for the next twenty years and also because I think that your body is going to take you through everything, good or bad, and thus one should keep it adapt and strong. For me, fitness is a strong reflection of strength in the body.” : Dolly Singh
Of all the fitness routines, why is it that she chose only yoga? To this she responds, “I have tried a lot of fitness routines, and I thought there was a strong element of aggression in them, while yoga in some way is really not aggressive. It is physically challenging, but it is very calm, and I love that about it. I also love the fact that I can squeeze myself into any shape or size. It is exciting that our four different limbs can be rolled into four different directions. Also, I am constantly-on-the-move kind of person; I can’t sit in one place, or just for the lack of a better word, very restless. But when I’m on the mat, I am never restless. Yoga is a lot about concentration, and concentration is calming. I want to live with this sense of calm all my life.”
Mansi Zaveri, Founder of Kidsstoppress sees workout as a time she allots just to herself. “I am somebody who works out every single day and am quite passionate about it. The reason behind it is that it gives me a lot of me-time, as I get to be by myself. I think it helps tremendously in clarity of thoughts as an entrepreneur. I believe that when you have a healthy mind, you are able to think better. Given the kind of lifestyle that we all are leading today, the one thing you should be definitely investing in is your health, there is no taking away from that. So Fitness to me is part of my lifestyle, it is not a fad. For me, it is also a time away from any sort of screen. All of us are facing so much of screen fatigue these days. Which is why I just love to swim, and what I love the most about it is that I am not remotely near a screen and it helps with that screen fatigue.
“I do pilates, yoga, I also run times or swim. Basically, I keep changing my workout routine on the basis of the season and how I am feeling that morning.” : Mansi Zaveri
Zaveri also advocates practicing yoga, like Singh, saying, “Yoga, according to me is the only workout that works according to seasons. You have a different routine for summers, winters and monsoons, and you can customise it as per your individual requirements and even constraints. For example, if you have a knee problem, migraine or low blood pressure, or if you are pregnant, then your workout completely varies.”