Arvind Ashok: Fitness & Nutrition Simplified

Fit Enough To Hurt

The begin­ning

I work with quite a few folks, as per­sonal clients and at The Quad, who are pretty out of shape to begin with. Some vari­a­tion of the usual story is what it always is — fit and active when they were younger, and then college/marriage/work/life hap­pens, and they find them­selves here — look­ing like their younger version’s much older uncle/aunt —  a few years later. And I don’t say this in any blasé fash­ion — this is what hap­pened to me, and this is what hap­pens to a lot of folks. It takes guts and hard work to get out of this sit­u­a­tion. Get­ting into a fit­ness rou­tine, chang­ing the way they are eat­ing — it is a lot of change to deal with.

They start train­ing, and it is a bit slow to begin with, and they real­ize how out of shape they are. They stick to the basics, don’t do too much and slowly start see­ing progress and results. Their clothes are a wee bit loose, they are sleep­ing bet­ter, and things are going good. This process usu­ally takes a few weeks to 3 months.

And I think this might be where a dis­con­nect first happens.

The dis­con­nect

I think I am going to take up Zumba as well, 7 days a week

Yep, am ready to run a full marathon

Walk­ing 100kms seems like a good idea (Yes! True story)

Now that I can squat X kgs, I think I should aim for 3X in 2 weeks

STOP. Breathe. Take a minute to think. Something’s work­ing, why do you want to tin­ker with it? At this junc­ture, you need to con­tinue doing what you’ve been doing. Pro­gres­sion is always built into train­ing plans, and so you will con­tinue to get stronger and more endurant — all you have to do is stick to it. But years of being seden­tary, of see­ing peo­ple around them do things (5K, 10K, and marathons for exam­ple) makes you do not-so-smart things. You are about to do some­thing 100% detri­men­tal to you, to the work you’ve put in, and a big road­block to future progress.


Trust me, I get it. I get not being able to do some­thing you want to do, coz you are not able to. And I know you are excited, and things that weren’t pos­si­ble sud­denly seem like they might be. Just because you can do some­thing doesn’t mean you should. To quote Mark Rip­petoe,

You can­not jump off a build­ing for reps

You want some grat­i­fi­ca­tion. You want some form of expres­sion. You want to see if you can do some­thing that wasn’t pos­si­ble a cou­ple of months ago. You sud­denly feel all grown up and in con­trol. But wait, you need to hear this

Stop act­ing like a child

You just needed some­one to say it, that’s all.

Stop being so anx­ious about it. Because the truth is, you are get­ting grat­i­fi­ca­tion every­day! You are look­ing bet­ter, you are feel­ing bet­ter, you are stronger, you can run longer — so many good things are hap­pen­ing. So, just relax, and let the good things con­tinue to hap­pen. No, I dont mean you can sit back and relax, and say “job done”. Con­tinue doing what you’ve been doing, and keep at it.

One year

Keep Calm and Train Hard

Here’s what I rec­om­mend. Train reg­u­larly, train hard for one year. You don’t have any­thing to prove to any­one else, except you. Prove to your­self that you have got the dis­ci­pline to do this con­sis­tently. And then, off you go to do climb Mt Everest.

I am def­i­nitely not say­ing you can­not go beyond your train­ing plan and try some­thing adven­tur­ous. What’s the point of get­ting fit­ter if you can­not find a way to express it?

Don’t get “fit enough”. Instead, get fit!

If you are look­ing only for “fit enough” to do some activ­ity you’ve been mean­ing to, chances are you will end up back in square 1.

P.S — I am assum­ing you are on a train­ing plan, and not just doing ran­dom things like run­ning some days, doing aer­o­bics some days etc. On a train­ing plan, you will be pro­gress­ing on all key aspects like strength, speed, endurance, mobil­ity. That’s key!

  • Pavithra

    I really needed to hear this Arvind. Thanks

  • Sasi

    Awe­some post!

  • Guru

    Eas­ier said than done… :( I guess that’s human nature to push our­self and fail. Hw many of us can get up and start again.. That’s wat counts is my thought…