This World Heart Day, most newspapers and journals filled their pages with health tips. There was no dearth of awareness campaigns on how we should get up early every morning, do exercise regularly, keep weight in control, eat plenty of salad, avoid fatty, oily stuff, avoid excess salt and sugar, reduce alcohol intake, give up tobacco and the list goes on and on. Then there are the home-based remedies of controlling weight suggested by our urban, upwardly mobile uncles and aunts like drinking lukewarm water with drops of lemon juice every morning and shunning bananas and mangoes as they are high calorie fruits. Their advice is endless — eat less, drink eight glasses of water everyday, drink bottle gourd juice without sugar or salt and so on and so forth.
A common sight in city parks these days are men and women, boys and girls walking and sometimes running so vigorously that their red faces and thumping chests seem to be on the verge of explosion. It appears as if in one day they plan to lose all the extra calories they have accumulated over years. I wonder if all these rules, regulations, restrictions and hard work can actually give someone a good life worth living or the objective is just healthy existence.
Out of all the health concerns, the trendiest is weight management. No doubt, maintaining a decent weight is an important part of the overall well-being, but at what cost? I personally know many people who have permanently damaged their knees by running crazily on the treadmills. Many cases of heart attacks are reported among people during morning walks. Excess diet control, if not managed properly, causes gastric ulcer among many people. What is often forgotten is that various factors are responsible for one's weight. If only 30 minutes of jogging and drinking lukewarm water in the mornings could make everyone slim, then there would be countless John Abrahams and Deepika Padukones on the street. That doesn't mean one should not work out. It only means that the expectations should be realistically set.
There are many who dread attending parties and family get-togethers when they are not in good shape as most people in our upwardly mobile middle classes are often ready with questions: ‘Oh! You have put on a lot of weight, why don't you try this Kellogg's K cornflakes?', ‘Oh my God, I couldn't recognise you, haven't you struck the gym yet?', ‘Have you tried the new sugar-free?' or ‘Why don't you cut down on your sugar and salt?' To fend off such questions, some avoid get-togethers while some start a mad workout and a saintly diet regime. To all those victims of the mindless questions, I just say: “Weight is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.”
The unsolicited advice is often put forth in a way as if following it could help us escape death and not following it would kill us today. I am not an authorised person to comment on such advice as I am neither a doctor nor a gym instructor nor a nutrition expert. But as a layman, I believe that the beauty of reality is that it is grey and never absolutely black or white. Neither a saintly restricted life can make us immortal, nor will a carefree life kill us today. These would only add to or subtract a few years from our lives. Therefore, what is most desirable to me is a balanced life with a little salt, a little sugar, a little spice, a little oil, some nutritious food, some exercise, good sleep and loads of fun. After all, how many of us would prefer a long disciplined existence of 90 + years to a fun-filled, happy life of 60.
(The writer's email id is: firstname.lastname@example.org)