Family health is the most crucial aspect of our lives in many ways.
We did not take it so seriously in those days. We never cared about why is health important? I started my health routine with gymnastics when I was 14. I tried a somersault from above a vaulting horse. My physical education teacher was trying to help me do it. Initially, he was thrilled with my persistence and said, “See everybody should be like Anil. He is not able to do it but has not said no even after 21 tries”. Everyone started counting then. After trying 56 times, my teacher said, “Other boys will lose interest” so I left gymnastics for my active tribe at that time and let them do it now. My gymnastics dream ended then and there.
Next was running while I was in 10th standard. After school hours, all athletes used to practice. One day I too went there. I ran for about two hours. I never knew the Horlicks that Mom gave me every morning was so effective, or I had that kind of stamina. Next day my whole body was sore and aching. Dad said, “You better try all this after 10th board exams”. So running dream also ended.
Then came Kho-Kho, volleyball, basketball, football, badminton, table tennis etc. I didn't qualify for any game, any team outside my school. But something positive had already happened. I became a part of every team of every game within the school.
Then I lost interest in all these kid's games. I liked the bigger games now—games like smoking, drinking, drugs, night outs. I started drinking like all kids stealing from Dads XXX Rum. Family health was not in focus. I used to add Roohafza to my rum to sweeten it. When the college seniors came to rag me, I was sitting outside the college, smoking a king-size cigarette costing 0.35p then. They asked me if I had seen any junior there and went back when I said no. During my job also fun and I always walked hand in hand.
I smoked and drank enough for about 18 years until 1998. Then I got bored with both and left these. My friends & colleagues till date ask me how I left both overnight. But seriously, I am not sure how I could leave both.
Then the fitness bug bit me in 2004. I used to try crazy tasks like drinking 2 litres of water every morning. It continued for about six months. But it was too frustrating. I had to drive in bumper to bumper traffic to my office 21 km away after drinking so much water. And my bladder felt like bursting every day. My dad used to ask me, “Do you have to drink so much whatever you drink?” So I decreased it to one litre. Till this day I drink a litre of warm water every morning immediately after I get up. That has become my first principle of Health Focus.
In 2007 July I listened to Baba Ramdev on TV and started doing Kapalbhati sitting alone in a hotel room. I didn't tell anyone at home. I felt they would laugh at me. But eventually, I started liking Pranayama and added Yoga to my routine. I feel these Pranayamas are more effective than any exercise, be it HIIT, Pilates, Tabata or whatever. It does have some part in keeping a person calm and positive. I also started eating almonds and protein supplements. Though later, I stopped the supplements and increased wholesome foods in my diet. Now I emphasize as much on a diet as on workouts.
Till now I never thought about what is home health or what is family health? Now family health was also becoming a priority for me. I proudly announced at home one day that I have started Yoga and Pranayama and invited all to join me in the morning. Though others didn't wake up I continued my Yoga. During my tours to Bihar, I made some visits to the Bihar School of Yoga then. That is the best yoga school in India. The atmosphere there is so calm and serene it leaves you mesmerised.
In 2013 in Mumbai, I used to go to a garden to do my Yoga along with my father. I used to do Yoga and Pranayama there for about an hour. There I met this group which was into running. They had called their main coach on a Sunday. I asked them if I could join and was welcomed. This coach is so passionate about running it is difficult to stop him once he starts even talking about it. He told us so much about running that day. How, When, Why, Where to run and what to wear, what not to wear. He is like a walking, I should rather say running encyclopedia.
I was influenced and I started running and then realized how much I loved it. Within a month I decided I will be running the main marathon that year. I felt as if I was born to run. Then one day someone in the group asked him what will we do during rains. His simple reply was “Run”. I loved running alone in the rain all by myself. Guys this is bliss I realised for the first time in life. Running in the rain is pure bliss. The ultimate pleasure.
During the days when I used to smoke, I read somewhere a quote by Oscar Wilde, “Smoking is the best kind of best pleasure.” Though I am not sure, he wrote it or not, I agreed with the sentence. I disagree now. Yes running in the rain can be termed as the best kind of best pleasure.
My running craze increased and I started taking part in various running events. Did a fair amount of half marathons during the last 7 years. Now I do workout/running three days a week and Yoga on balance three days. Sundays are for long runs. I go to the beach for my run on Sundays.
Family Health Care Network
But one point that always pinches me is that while I am running my marathons and getting fitter with every passing day what about my family's health. Friends and lots of other runners keep saying that I am an inspiration. But whom do I inspire? Those friends and runners who are already doing some workout? A person who has already come out of his home for the run doesn't need any more inspiration. He will eventually run.
What about those left at home? What is the benefit of me getting fitter if my better half has high blood pressure or daughter is getting obese? How can I influence them to start doing some workout with me or on their own? There are no family health care networks in our society. Whatever they want to do, they will have to form their own network and start or maybe start on their own or with me.
Whatever they want to do can be their prerogative but they should be doing some physical activity which improves their fitness levels. Also, that morning time a person spends with himself is indispensable. With some morning routine for self, a person has the best start for the day.
I asked my fellow runners about their family's health and the situation is almost the same in most of the households. In not more than 5% of the families husband & wife both participate in some physical activity regularly. In less than 1% of families, all members do some kind of workout. Parents if staying with their grown-up children are left alone to pursue their own plans which is seldom a workout. Some of them do go for a morning walk. So I have started encouraging and motivating my own family and my friends and well wisher's families to start a morning routine of some physical activity.
Family Health and Wellness
I am now forming a society-wide opinion that your wife doing a workout is more important than you getting your next marathon medal. Your fit family is more important than any marathon medal. The next target shouldn’t by my Personal Best timing in the coming marathon. It should rather be
- 50% cut in my family medicines in a year
- 50% cut in Doctor’s fees in a year(Health checks not included)
- 50% increase in fruit consumption in a year
- 50% increase in dry fruit consumption in a year
- All members having optimum body weight
We as a family of four have lost 16 kg weight during the lockdown of which my contribution is nil.
Evergreen Family Health – A Mission
Before the lockdown, most of the regular runners used to apply for at least one marathon a month on an average. The cost of applying for any marathon is more than one kg of almonds which can be consumed by the whole family. I know people can afford both the marathon as well as the almonds. But can you afford your husbands Diabetes? Or your mother’s blood pressure?
So I have decided to make it my mission to promote family and elders health from now on instead of running alone
I welcome all to come and help me achieve this. Do give me some of your inputs as to how to achieve this. To begin with, I only want whole family workouts, be it walks, runs, yoga, pilates or any other form of exercise. I request you to share, how you are trying to achieve the same.
Healthy family, Happy family