Last year around this time I met a man who rocked my life. Turned it upside down. Or inside out, whichever you prefer. My husband had no objections to my regular rendezvous. Even my mother approved although she hasn’t yet met him. In fact, knowing him improved my relationship with both of them.
No please, I’m not the Art of Living sort. I would never be an accessory to an orange robe. But let me start at the beginning.
Unlike most urban Indian girl children today, I had an active childhood. My parents allowed me to pick athletics over dance. My father was kind enough to wake up at 5.30am every day to ferry me to athletics training. I travelled for state and regional competitions. I drank raw eggs in milk, courtesy my hero Rocky. My runners’ legs are a legacy of those days.
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But after the athletics phase wore off, exercise became more about weight management than endorphins or excellence. I went to aerobics classes with women who were always obsessing about what they wore when they exercised and how little they ate before and after they exercised. After a while I got bored of gyms and classes. I was active and I didn’t really gain weight. I didn’t need to exercise, I reasoned. Besides, who had the time, I was too busy in my hotshot career.
When people asked me how I managed to “stay so slim”, I responded with a standard one-liner: No idea, I only exercise when I’m having sex and when I’m balancing above public loos to avoid contact with the toilet seat.
I liked to think of myself as a conscious vegetarian. Soon I could tell my amaranth from my ragi and believed seeds (sesame, flaxseed, methi) would keep me healthy. I avoided white bread and ate minimal sweets. And swore by nutritionists who asked you to stay away from cooked food before noon and who believed in the theory that grown women didn’t need dairy. Yes, I hated milk. Until last year, I had never eaten yogurt too, but I knew the names of all non-dairy foods that contained calcium.
But that life is over.
Now I exercise at least four times a week. I eat a minimum of three fruits a day and lots of almonds. In fact, I eat double the amount of food I used to in my past life. I begin every day with 400g of yogurt. And end it with a glass of milk. I eat paneer three times a week. In the last one year I’ve gained 6 kilos. These days I often buy a size medium, not small.
I’m consuming so much dairy I’m going to turn into a cow, I tell the man who changed my life. But how do you feel, he always replies.
Let’s see. My skin glows, my hair rarely feels like straw. I no longer feel exhausted all the time. My mother nags me much less and my husband’s happy with my new, more active self. I walk straighter and I am definitely stronger. I am now firmly on the Punjabi side of the milk debate. I think every Indian woman who thinks staying thin is staying healthy should listen carefully to her protesting bones and make friends with an orthopaedic surgeon like I did one year ago. It’s a relationship that’s guaranteed to change her life.
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