How do you find calm in a world gone mad? How do we stay sane amid border closures, flight cancellations, total lockdown, panic buying, and an invisible enemy that’s ruthlessly and indiscriminately claiming lives, breaking down healthcare systems, and bringing the world economy to its knees? I took the photo above in a town by the coast last week, day 2 of what was supposed to be a two-week holiday that had to be cut short that very same day. How blissfully unaware that little boy was to the chaos and madness fast unfolding in the wider world. Must be nice, I thought. The tense atmosphere and drastic disruptive changes to daily life brought about by the Covid-19 global pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have been rude awakenings. I cried the first two days upon our return from that long-anticipated trip that ended almost as soon as it started. The wave of emotion felt like an all-encompassing, overwhelming force that I couldn’t quite break down into comprehensible pieces. That’s the most difficult part of this pandemic …
In case you’ve been living under a rock, the World Health Organisation declared the global COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. In our new recent reality, coronavirus stories abound — from panic buying of toilet paper to entire countries going on lockdown. But the most heartbreaking stories come from the men and women on the frontline of this fight: doctors, nurses, medics, medical volunteers and other health professionals risking their own safety and that of their families to put others’ lives and safety first. The men and women who, in the worst affected places, are put in the horrible position of having to decide essentially who gets to live and who dies. Let’s take a moment to remember that this has been the daily reality of doctors in war-torn places like Syria for years, or simply a fact of life for doctors practicing in extremely poor countries with very limited resources. Since news of the virus broke, I’ve been constantly discussing the science, the news, virology, epidemiology, people’s reaction (both overreaction and brash dismissals) with several doctor …
Recently, I’ve had several conversations about motivation and intention—why some women aim to look a certain way, get really lean, strong or, some would say, “look like men”; post fitness progress pictures on Instagram; or pursue physical activity to an extent some would consider a little too much. Why yoga? Why crossfit? Why running? Why this or that?
Is it a hype or does it work?
The first time a good friend of mine mentioned bulletproof coffee or BPC, I visibly flinched. How can coffee, butter and coconut oil be good, let alone drinkable?! I soon discovered its cult-like following on social media, and numerous fitness influencers who swear by its effects. Of course, I have also come across articles warning me of my potential ignorance should I “fall” for the BPC craze. So far though, it seems supporters outnumber detractors, at least in my ‘algorithmically’ manipulated social media networks.
The experience has taught me many things, one of which is this: there is no right answer to what success is. Because happiness is subjective, it isn’t rational to have a one-size-fits-all measuring stick for life. We get to decide how we measure the quality of the lives we live. Forget everyone else’s notion of success, happiness and fulfilment. The most accurate life compass you can rely on lies in your heart and the depths of your gut.
In the last 10 to 15 years, yoga hit the mainstream and to a large extent, became a trend, a fashion statement, a social signature, or worse, something rich skinny girls did. I cringed at anything that seemed to be a result of ‘sheep mentality’ in order to prove one’s belonging to a social group, and that’s what I felt about yoga. I couldn’t understand the hype around it or the sometimes faux spirituality people had when talking about it. I was a kick-boxing, body-pumping, high-intensity exercise type of girl. Yoga was too slow, unchallenging, and was for those who wanted to “exercise” without putting in too much effort.
Well, if you’re a yogi, you might have been shaking your head from the first sentence. Clearly, I was so very wrong.
Why work out at home? It’s free. Convenient. Time-saving. Excuse-proof. Comfortable. And you can wear whatever you want. A gym rat for decades, I’ve recently discovered the joy of doing my workouts at home. My love affair with working out began when I was a teenager and I’ve a gym membership for as long as I can remember. That is, until a hectic and erratic work schedule meant no more gym and I started dabbling in home workouts.
There’s a lot of passionate debate online over what body positivity means, but I’d like to focus on one part of the discussion: your view of your body. There will always be judgment coming from all directions, but that’s just noise. The most important ‘judgment’ is the one you make on yourself. In fact, it’s not judgment you need, but acceptance.
Having said that…
Yes, you have to love and accept your body just the way it is. BUT loving your body entails taking care of it by keeping it healthy and active.
Dieting in the form of restricting food intake or over-exercising has been part of the lives of many people, especially women, since adolescence. After decades of trying, I wondered if achieving that svelte, toned physique was even possible. But now almost two years into my own fitness journey, I’ve found that what seems counterintuitive to what we’ve programmed ourselves to think all these years is what actually works.