Posts Tagged ‘fast-paced’

A Healthy Self-Image: Keep it Simple

In the olden times, the human race was hardworking, patient and tolerant. Whenever and wherever, whatever they did, they allowed the activity to run its full natural course, without looking for shortcuts. They did not rush through things hastily. They did not seem to be eager for results. The results came automatically. They were usually positive— an outcome of seemingly lengthy, natural processes. Those processes look cumbersome in today’s times, but they were not perceived to be so by those people. They were satisfied with their working. They enjoyed life as it was. It was fulfilling enough for them.

In the present ‘progressive’ world, that sort of lifestyle is obsolete and redundant. Life is fast these days. Technology has made us automated and daily routines have much more to offer. Outcomes are a focus. ‘Efficiency’ seems to be a key requirement.  We feel that we do not need to take weeks or months to do what can be done in a few days. The quality does not seem to be a big consideration.  Quantity and speed are the things that count the most. We are full of ideas and plans, and try to materialize them through modern means at the fastest speed. Technology has made it seem like everything is possible, rational and logical. Sometimes we do not know whether we have actually gained or lost on our way to ‘fulfilment’, but nevertheless, we do not question the process.

A growing wish these days, especially among youth, is to look attractive. The readymade answer to this wish initially comes in the form of clothing, cosmetics, and accessories, to name a few. People try to look impressive by showing off the things they have, for instance, fancy-looking electronic devices.

After trying these things, they often realize that something is still missing. They feel their goal of impressing others has not been fully achieved. So, they start focussing on their bodies. Boys decide to show off some muscles and the girls concentrate on losing weight to look prettier. Some youth even resort to artificial, chemical means of achieving this. However, those who consider themselves more aware and health-conscious opt for exercising. Lots of gymnasiums and health centres have cropped up as a result of an increasing trend to ‘look fit’.These centres have grown like mushrooms within the last ten years.

The tendency of the individuals going to these gyms is, as described earlier, to get the maximum results in a minimum amount of time. They are left with no other option but to exert themselves more than what is necessary to be healthy. If they come across someone who appears to be more attractive than they are, they push themselves further than what their capacity allows.

Unfortunately, they do this in the name of inspiration, encouragement and motivation. It is good to be influenced by someone or something in a positive way, but at the same time, it is also important to remember one’s own strengths, limitations and uniqueness. Being inspired is not the same thing as ‘comparing’. The deeprooted tendency of comparison in our society leads to the desire to be ‘like others’ or even ‘better than others’.

The gyms continue to promote the mentality of fast results through weighing machines and measuring tapes. Expected result-lists and trainers are available, promoting the spirit of achieving goals fast. Most of us who adopt this practice do not even care that we are experimenting with our bodies and are putting ourselves in vulnerable situations. Each and every one of us has different physical capabilities and limitations. Comparison with others and using the same criteria for everyone is not logical.

The over-exertion during workouts usually does more harm than good. Most people I know— including myself— have been  either to a physiotherapist or to an orthopaedic doctor at least once in their lifetime due to gym-related injuries — sprains, tendonitis, ligament ruptures, tennis elbow, hernia and many more. The desire for fast results leads to problems that can leave a person severely uncomfortable for a long period of time, and sometimes even permanently.

Around eight years back, I went to visit and stay at an aashram for an isolated spiritual retreat. I was slightly overweight those days and one of my goals during my two-month stay at that place was to lose some weight. On reaching there, the first question I asked the inmates was whether there was any type of fitness centre in the aashram. With a smile, they shook their heads and told me that the use of gyms was restricted, just like the use of televisions, newspapers, cellphones and even mirrors. I was disappointed at first, but then I decided to do what the others did— take a long walk in the morning, a run in the evening, some light exercises twice a day, food that had been carefully selected and healthily prepared, a relaxed and a focussed mind. I left my goals and plans aside and stuck to the routine dedicatedly, as naturally as possible.

After two months, when I returned home, my family members could not believe my transformation. Unkowingly, I had achieved my goal. Everyone I met wanted to know the magic behind losing the extra weight and looking well-nourished and refreshed. The mirror revealed my new look to me, and I realized that my overall self-image had taken a healthy bend. I understood then that a normal, healthy lifestyle is the answer to most of our plans and wishes. Using modern-day ‘efficient’ means, we mar the fulfilment of those wishes. We feel that we need to take control of every situation, forgetting that nature’s control is the most supreme. Following the natural course, albeit with dedication, one can live a better life without tiring or hurting oneself. I, for instance, not only just looked good, but I also felt good. My purpose was not to show off to others that I had outdone them and therefore my health-results were stress-free.

As far as fitness goes, I believe it is important to remember that the purpose is to be disease-free, strong and positive— both physically and mentally. Having a calm disposition is as important as having a healthy body. Both these things reside in a healthy lifestyle. A life that is lived for speed and outcomes does not lead to fulfilment. We feel that this ‘haste’ is working for others, and so we decide to join their bandwagon, not realizing that a life lived with a simple approach brings the best results. Our self-image is just one of the things that thrives well on this simplicity.

— Prashant Shori


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