Starting Trouble

A lot of what we are today is shaped by what we did as kids. The good, we build on. The bad, we try and realise and sort it out.

While I did not grow up learning martial arts or gymnastics, two great foundational schools for physical fitness, I did play a lot of sports. I was decent at some and average at some. I just loved playing, but I also had to deal with not having enough stamina or strength. I did not think or know those could be fixed.

Image courtesy: rarehistoricalphotos.com

Plus, I was tiny. Eating did not interest me at all, and all I wanted to do was just play. Obviously did not eat much vegetables. No fault of my mom's, who I realised was a great cook only after I started college. I went from no strength or stamina to overweight over the span of 4 years. Not too slowly. Very steadily.

How? Simple. The sports became near zero. The diet became sambar rice, fried potato, vadam and appalam (chips but better), and onion raita. And curd rice, of course.


Some of you might have had a better foundation growing up, for fitness and nutrition. Maybe you went to karate for a decade, and maybe you just liked vegetables, you weirdo.

Some of you might have had a worse one. Maybe you didn't enjoy sports much or you ate a lot of chips. Doesn't matter. It is.

Depending on where you fall on this continuum of having a solid physical education as a child to none at all, that's your starting trouble quotient.

Shot during 34th international Elite athletics meeting in Montgeron-Essonne (France), Sunday, May 13th, 2018
Photo by Nicolas Hoizey / Unsplash

Our starting trouble quotient further deteriorates on by how long we have been physically inactive, and how long it has been since we ate vegetables regularly. Desk job, haven't played sport in X years, haven't done physical activity in Y years, don't like vegetables that much. You get the idea.

I didn't start eating (much) vegetables until I was 2005. Until then I ate a lot of vadam and chips and bakshanam, instead of vegetables. Coz they taste better. Honestly, now that I know what eat like an adult means, I'd say 2008 is probably when I started eating like an adult.

I took a break from physical activity between 2000-2007. I played sport, mostly cricket, as a kid. So, on the left side of this continuum, I'd say. But not zero, not at all.


From "I was just able to run a marathon with 1 month's training", via "I could run one with 9 months of training, and I stopped at the 500 metre mark the first day", to "WHAT?!?! Think about running 26 miles?!?" - you will fall somewhere there.

We've coached people who can goblet squat 32kgs in their first session to people who cannot squat without support at all.

While I could be a lot fitter and healthier today if I had a better systemic education and liked vegetables, so what. It didn't happen. Plus, looking back at my journey, it is a huge part to why I am here today. It is what it is. You just have to start.

All of us fall somewhere on this continuum, and all of us have a quotient. For some of us, it is small. For some of us it is not small.


Larger and larger

It is only gonna get larger and larger, the longer you delay. This hill to get over to start the ball rolling. You will have to climb for longer, be more patient.

You know what eating like an adult is. It is not 1 or 0. It is simply eat more vegetables, eat less crap. The how much is it depends, and you can take your time with it.

You know exercise is good for you. So, make the time to get some. Walking beats doing nothing. Maybe it helps if you know how good it actually is for you (it is really good!).

It is only gonna get larger and larger.

Start small. Start today. Do it daily.


Some ideas for what start small can be

  1. eat 0.5 (more) cup of vegetables
  2. eat 1 less chocolate or ice-cream scoop a week.
  3. eat an egg (or) some paneer (or) greek yogurt to introduce more protein into your day.
  4. drink more water
  5. walk for 5 minutes.

You can start by doing 1 of these for 1 week, and then adding 1 per every few weeks. The key is to do it every day.

Small. Daily. Repeat for a few months and then a few years.

Where you will go, how long it will take you - it all depends. Amongst many things, on your starting trouble quotient. Only thing you can do about it is to start doing something. If complaining could fix it, I would've fixed my issues at 13.

It is a journey, and there's not really a destination. There's no rush to get there. Remember the tortoise and the hare story? Seems appropriate. Except it is not a race. So, maybe not that appropriate a story too.

Journey, not destination. Small. Daily. Long-term.

That covers it.

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