India has changed. I know that is nothing new, but I see a completely different change. Every locality has a gym coming up with all people—I mean all people, in all sizes and shapes—taking it upon themselves to achieve that perfect shape that probably none has achieved. What is it with this rush to the gyms? Why has everyone suddenly become so conscious of his appearance? Simple. We live in a world of make-believe. The card-towers of our lives are shattered with a whiff of the wind. And how did we get here? Simple again. Not only do we live in a world of make-believe, but we are also gullible enough to believe anything that we are made to!
That idiot box called TV and that increasingly essential human part called the mobile phone have whipped out a solution to practically all our problems. Or have they? Are you suffering from obesity? Here is your magic pill, just pop it and your weight will pop its way out! So comforting! It is a pity no one tells us about the life-endangering side-effects of that pill. Though there are advertisements, which are mostly staged, of people, who have miraculously shed dozens of kilograms in amazingly short time. No one is telling about the numerous people, who are suffering various ailments because of the weight-reduction drugs. So, should we not be conscious of our body-weight and fitness? We should be, by all means, yes! However, the present-day problem is that we are overdoing it.
Being fit does not mean one has to be obsessed with calories that one consumes through every piece of food. Being fit does not mean that one cannot eat some foods, oily, spicy, or sweet, on occasions of celebration or for having a good time. Being fit does not mean that one has to appoint a trainer or go to a gym. Being fit is all about understanding the bio-rhythm of the body. It is about understanding the small signs, alerts, and alarms that the body gives us when something needs attention. The regularity of food and rest times, a regular amount of exercise, and immediately heeding to body alarms are the main things that would lead to good health.
Most people who take to crash programmes of weight reduction forget that it needs an equal, if not more, time to reduce weight as the time to put it on in the first place. No shortcuts are going to help us there. And there is no one perfect body shape. It is alright to have different bodies, and it is pathological to hate one’s own body. Our bodies are the reflection of our thoughts and actions, and if we need to change our bodies, the change has to begin with our minds and actions. Mere dressing up the body or reducing flab would be just an eyewash. Enough fluid intakes, sufficient rest, enough leisure, and good company of loved ones can do more good to the body than a horde of doctors or diet plans ever can.
One should avoid eating for stupid excuses like bad moods. One should avoid over-fixation with specific foods. And the most important of all, one should avoid skipping meals. Skipping meals is one of the causes of weight increase, as is lack of sleep, and insufficiency of water in the body. If, however, you sometimes botch it up and are unable to maintain this list of things to avoid, it is alright. The world has not ended for you, and nothing serious will happen.
(The writer is a monk of the Ramakrishna Mission and is currently the editor of Prabuddha Bharata)