Inside view Fitness

Flabbergasted by the flab

Illustration: Sreejith R.Kumar   | Photo Credit: sreejith r.kumar

‘Can you lose weight selectively?’ I asked a friend who is a doctor. ‘I mean, just the weight around your stomach?’ ‘Flab, you mean,’ she said.

‘Er, yes, you can say that.’ I responded, the image of a shapeless whale filling my mind immediately. For some odd reason, I link the word flab with blub or blubber and by association, the robust whale.

‘No, you can’t.’ She continued to be brutally frank. ‘Even if you lose weight overall, you could still end up with a tummy. But,’ she added, by way of consolation, ‘even Marilyn Monroe had a tummy. Everyone has a tummy. It’s unnatural not to have flab around the stomach.’

‘Then what about all those gorgeous models with stomachs that resemble flat boards?’ I asked. ‘They are actually holding their breath,’ she replied. Oh, really? Superhuman creatures. Where can you learn to hold your breath like that?

At the gym, of course. Or at yoga classes. I remembered an acquaintance describing how she learnt to hold her breath for short periods at the gym while lifting weights and for longer periods at her yoga classes. ‘Still walking?’ she had scoffed, strolling towards her car. ‘Outdated. Not to mention lonely, boring and risky. Gym or yoga, these are the only options.’

The gym thing became the in thing while practically everyone went gaga over yoga. All the hype and the hoopla about lifestyle diseases and the need for active exercise sent people looking to these for succour. Sedentary women who had lived a car-to-carpet lifestyle struggled to their feet in shock when every newspaper supplement they ran their lazy eyes over urged them to lead energetic, healthy lives or else...

The doomsday prophesy sent them shuffling to enrol themselves in the best gym. Distance was no problem. Cars would take them there and lifts would deposit them on the right floors. Yoga and meditation, gym and workouts became the mantra of every health freak.

I too fell under the spell and began to toy with the idea of trying a yoga position on my own. I love the yoga lotus pose and quite fancied myself seated cross-legged, hands on my knees, a serene expression on my face as I breathed in and out deeply. But my first concern was what to wear - a woman’s eternal problem. I checked up and was amazed. Apparently snug, scientifically engineered compression garments are a must for yoga, gym or even a walk. To think that all these years I had been walking wearing the wrong stuff!

My head reeled when I read about how the right fitness clothes ‘apply a balanced pressure on different parts of the body, which in turn accelerates blood flow and helps our muscles work.’ Next I read, ‘tight clothes enhance performance.’ Wow! I took a closer look and found to my disappointment, it was right clothes, not tight and by performance they only meant exercise. I was also urged to go in for all-season friendly, anti-bacterial material to help avoid body odour, and to wear the right shoes, of course.

Why, I had discovered a short cut to good health - just wearing these clothes would do the trick. But I checked the price, tottered and decided to stick to the good old all-season, all-purpose sweaty salwar kameez.

I tried to sit cross-legged with my feet on the opposing knees and fell backwards. I tried again and got cramps on my legs and a shooting back pain. My breath coming in gasps, my face contorted with pain, I stumbled to the bed to lie in a supine position till the cramps disappeared. But the back pain lingered.

No more lotus positions for me. I was going in for a workout – stretching, aerobics, strength training to improve my quality of life. It would reduce BP, stress, lower heart rate, anxiety and insomnia, keep my bones strong and render me fit and flexible. After my failed yoga experiment at home, I decided going to the gym would be safer. From my friend I learnt that the sessions were at 5 in the morning. What? That was enough to raise my heart rate and my BP, give me stress, anxiety and insomnia. A heavy price to pay, especially when I learnt from my friend, who was now wearing a collar for spondylosis, that workouts can be harmful too.

I'm back to walking. When I next met my doctor friend, she looked critically at me and exclaimed, ‘Why, you don’t have much flab!’

I couldn't reply; I was holding my breath.


(A fortnightly column by the city-based writer, academic and author of the Butterfingers series)

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Printable version | Apr 29, 2021 10:26:32 PM |

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