“So, don’t you want to be able to play with your grandchildren?” asked the doctor, looking quizzically at my husband, S.
For the past three years, my husband who is in his late thirties, had been packing the pounds, had work stress-induced high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and fat that had accumulated majorly around his abdomen. He had gone to the doctor after experiencing heart palpitations, but even then, it was a shock to hear this plain talk.
“Let me put it another way for you,” the doctor went on, “when your sons are older and urge you to join them for an outdoor game of catch or a jog around the park, do you just want to wave them off and sit in your armchair or do you want to be able to join them?” My husband considered this. After all, hadn’t his own father done just that; sat in his comfortable sofa in front of the TV? Why, he had never even considered asking him to join in their game of cricket!
But, S, my husband, was not that dad. He was the dad with whom his kids had fighting games and he wanted to continue, and he also wanted to play the same with his grand kids. It was such a wake-up call, that day, a year ago, when we both decided that we were not ready yet to become ‘old’!
Sure, I wasn’t as overweight as he was, and I had pretty much a good control over my diet, unlike S who, being an Andhraite, found it difficult to subsist without his gongura pickle and a ton of rice. Nevertheless, I also did not have any stamina, and was experiencing a steady weight gain as I felt my metabolism slow down as I headed towards the dreaded forty-O! And, of course, neither of us is regular with exercise!
Living in California though, it’s hard not to see role models around us. It’s not that there are no large people here, but there is hardly any time in the day where you don’t see joggers on the road, flashing their hefty leg muscles, or cyclists speeding by on the sloping roads. We may have initially felt that we probably could stop making the effort, having almost reached the classical ‘middle age’, but each time we saw a woman clearly in her fifties looking elegant in a short dress, or a white-bearded man sailing by on his bike, we would blush and wonder why we, being so much younger, couldn’t also do the same!
Why were we accepting a pot-belly and flabby thighs? Why were we accepting loose, over-sized T-shirts in a vain attempt to hide the love handles? Why was I giving up on wearing that cute dress I saw on a mannequin at the store? Wasn’t age just a number? And, more to the point and leaving aside these vanity points, why were we not interested in staying healthy enough for the next generations, and also for ourselves?!
It’s been a year since the change, and so much has improved above and beyond the number of the scale! We feel so much energy and confidence. We feel alert and also much calmer. S’s blood pressure is completely normal and he will be talking to his doctor about slowly decreasing his cholesterol medicine too. Apart from that, my frequent bouts of forgetfulness that I used to attribute to ‘old age’ has gone; it turns out imbalance in hormonal levels often contribute to this, which can be rectified with exercise.
My husband, who loves Carnatic Classical music lost the power in his voice three years back; as it happens, it was because of inflammation, and now, with good eating habits and exercise, he has regained his singing voice! It is now such a pleasure to hear him joyously belt out a song in a far corner of the house! My sons are awed and delighted to see their dad lift weights and have excitedly extracted a promise from him that he will get a six-pack! And, in one of his essays for school, my son described me as someone ‘who loves doing yoga’!
I guess we realised that though we would love to retain our old ways and eating habits because it was convenient, it was delicious, and it was comfortable, it was not something that was sustainable for people like us. We have so much left to do in life; it often feels like we haven’t even started! Finally, it is up to us to be role models to our boys to demonstrate what a healthy lifestyle can do for you! Oh, and the jog in the park, dear boys? Well, don’t take so long to tie your shoelaces!
Roshni was born and brought up in Calcutta and is now living in California. She blogs about juggling her Indian upbringing with an American lifestyle, and about her two rambunctious boys at Indian American Mom (http://www.indianamericanmom.