I was never physically buff, or a very athletic person. I was never fat either. Until I was 26 years old, I had always looked at bodybuilders with frowning eyes and a critical mind. I made the worst stereotype any gym-goer can imagine: that they lack brains. I thought of a simple logic: since they are working on developing physical muscles, their brain is not getting enough nutrition. So they are just working out to show off their body and look attractive. How shameful. What a waste of energy.
I was wrong.
Like, real f-ing wrong. But how did I discover that I was the dumbest intellectual when came to judging physical exercise?
Table Of Contents
It Came to Me on A Foreign Land
Once again, I have to take you back to my days in London. Ever since I came out of Heathrow International Airport, I felt the cold pierce through my bone and could not stop shaking (even though the weather wasn’t that cold, it was the end of September). But say that to the then me. And in one of the busiest cities of the world, I felt like a tiny man among the huge Europeans and people from other countries. Most people seemed to be bigger in size than me. And here I was, 5’11’ in height and 75 KG in weight, a big enough person in Bangladesh feeling for the first time what it feels like to feel physically small compared to most people around you.
It wasn’t pleasant. It was humbling and embarrassing at the same time. I mean there were times when I would find three women (or more) back to back in the street who looked like they could choke slam me on the pavement. It was something that I could not get off my mind. Not the image of getting choke slammed by ladies, the question of why are we on the South East side of the world not as buff or fit as these people?
Not the image of getting choke slammed by ladies, the question of why are we on the South East side of the world not as buff or fit as these people?
How Come They Are Bigger Than Us?
Soon enough, I discovered some vital reasons for the variance in physical size between people there and those in Bangladesh (besides the obvious better food and nutrition available to the Londoners). In the cold countries, you can not stay lazy. It will eat up your body, your youth and your mind. Not only will you feel lethargic to work, you will also develop a form of sadness in you. So you learn to keep yourself busy. At the same time, physical sports are more popular and children spend more time outdoors. Besides this, the children have to contribute to household chores which keeps them active.
Except boys (and girls) like this one, of course:
Sorry Richie, but you were one lucky SOB. [Moment of distracting-yet-cannot-be-ignored-thought: What are the odds Richie Rich would have turned into a cocaine/meth addict by the time he was 22? I kid, I kid, I used to love this show. So let’s imagine a positive future- where Richie grows up to be a humanitarian and has invested most of his money for education of African children and protecting the environment.]
Ok, back to discovering the importance of working out. I remembered that I had worked out during my university days, doing free hand exercises and crunches lasting between an hour or two. I did that for three months and went to the slimmest state of my life. But I did it more like a project, not like a continuous thing. Now in London, working out seemed more valuable.
Even after discovering the importance of exercise and signing up in a local gym in Ealing Broadway named ‘The Gym’ (the founders were very creative I imagined); I did not continue after a mere three days. I will admit it, watching ladies wearing gym clothes walking on treadmills as you worked out on your biceps was a tempting thing to do. But, not as tempting to me back then as sitting home and watching a movie with a big bag of
crisps chips was. Plus, I am not exactly a ‘Tharki’. So watching ladies working out in the gym was really not my thing.
Back to Roots
Fast forward to another 8 months later. I’m back in Bangladesh, I have lost all hope of life and I feel depressed at least 15.7 hours out of 24 each day. And during the rest of the hours I am either sleeping or eating. So one day, my father asked me to join him on his morning walk. I went with him and it felt very good. I remembered as a child and as a teenager I had occasionally joined him. Sometimes we would go together as a family. It brought back many happy memories. I slept better that day. I felt positive. From that day I started going on morning walks.
I, once again, did not feel the ‘inner calling of working out’- an urge that sets you through miles of sprinting like a tiger is chasing you, lifting up weight like you’re lifting the future of your generation or crunching abs like you want to crunch a pack of Oreos in your mouth- don’t stop till you have nothing left.
Then a close friend asked me to join him in the gym where he went to. I enjoyed it very much. I got to meet a few more gym going person and discovered that my stereotypes were just stupid. Still, after a month I didn’t continue as it was a high-end gym. It just didn’t feel right to spend all that money for lifting weights. They did have a pool though, which was a plus, and it even had warm water during winter season (a double plus) but I did not have enough money to spend around $200 a month (a big minus).
Even though my stereotypical observations were abolished to smithereens, I, once again, did not feel the ‘inner calling of working out’- an urge that sets you through miles of sprinting like a tiger is chasing you, lifting up weight like you’re lifting the future of your generation or crunching abs like you want to crunch a pack of Oreos in your mouth- don’t stop till you have nothing left.
Working Out: Still Ain’t Feelin’ It
No, I did not feel it. Fast forward a year. I’ve recovered from depression, joined IBA and now doing my MBA. I had just finished the fabulously funny, witty and good-for-a-geek-any day-of-the-week book The Rosie Project, and felt a strong need to organize my life. A thought popped up in my head. I’m 27 years old now. At this age, J. K. Rowlings was writing the first Harry Potter book, Barack Obama had joined a law school and Jay-Z had set up his first record label. I discovered that I’m old enough to not be too emotional and not be too logical. Now I understand the value of harmony in life. I thought, “I should try live the most scientifically sound life”.
And I immediately thought of eating a balanced diet, sleeping at 11 PM and waking up at 4:30, but what about regular physical exercise? Should I include it? I finally asked myself some questions, and tried to answer them with my experience.
The 6 Questions That Made Me Feel Silly
- Did I feel happier during the days I worked out vs on the days I did not? Ans. Of course, on days when I worked out.
- Was it a pleasant feeling to feel fit? Ans. Hell yeah!
- Did working out regularly increase my appetite and allow me to enjoy my food? Ans. Damned sure it did.
- Did it give me a sense of growth? Ans. It did.
- Did I enjoy looking fit? Ans. Of course I did.
- Do successful people have a history of doing physical exercise? Ans. Most of them do.
That was it. I actually felt dumb and stupid for not working out before, for taking 27 years to figure out that I want to do this regularly for the rest of my life.
Since then, apart from a few over-indulgent weeks, I have worked out regularly. More than a year has passed since, and I am much more convinced that this is something I want to do everyday. It can be just 5 minutes of push ups or pull up, or a full hour at the gym. But I must do it daily. As I had started learning more about exercise, I discovered many reasons of why I should do it (and you should too).
But that’s a story for another blog post.