It all started in April 2014! I had just taken up retirement from my most sought after job as a Television Producer job after a 17 year stint. Working hard and thriving in a work environment where women were groomed to taken on large responsibilities, I had grown leaps and bounds each year and had the good fortune to produce award winning documentaries and prime time shows. The core team I worked with comprised of some of finest individuals that the Indian Television industry could boast of. It would be safe to say that I was quite content with my busy professional shenanigans. However change is inevitable and there was a phase where I knew I wanted to go solo. Having taken stock of our family’s mortgage, we were seemingly comfortable when it came to savings. I too was quite content with my life’s trajectory, professionally, at this point in life. My life could easily be the envy of any middle class girl of my generation in India. Yes, I had powered through and achieved a lot and thrived in an environment of opportunity at life and at work. I knew now, I wanted nothing else other than pursue my passion, Sugarcraft, as a business. This soft retirement and the glamour of being my own boss in a new business propelled me toward every right step that needed to be taken to start my own business. This was also a time when my husband and myself were still navigating through the chaotic world that all new parents deal with, working couple with a toddler in tow.
As I spent the next few months finishing a Diploma in Cakes and Confectionary(my dream) I was all set to lead the life, once again, that many could have only can dream of, especially if you knew my peer group. An early retirement from the corporate work culture and pursuing a business which is one’s passion, Wedding cakes, I was on a roll with not much to complain about. I spent the subsequent months working on the promotion of my business and taking on small orders from friends and family. Also during this time, all my culinary stars seemed to align in my favour and somehow all my favourite and top notch Cake artists seemed to travelling through New Delhi teaching their Craft. Yes, stuff like this happens. Only if you wish it as much as I did. Considering myself the luckiest girl in the world I signed up for all of these international pastry and sugar craft certifications even while my small business continued to thrive side by side. I was finally working on handcrafted Sugar wedding cakes and (my forte) gravity defying show-stopping Chandelier cakes. My social media accounts were buzzing with queries and my peers in my cake decorating work were connecting with me for collaborations. This time was my “Say yes to everything” time and I managed to make a small niche for myself as an aspiring new cake decorator in New Delhi ready to work on showstopper cake orders
As time went I started taking on bigger and more challenging cake orders. Gravity defying beach cake, 100000 customer number cake, even a three tier chandelier cake as a promotion for my alumni culinary institute to name a few. It was during this time that for a 30kg 6 piece cake structure delivery I realised that maybe I had pushed myself too much physically. The mental and physical stress of the cake order and the logistics took its toll. I delivered the order and headed home know that this pain I felt was not just fatigue and that something was majorly amiss. Even while the client was msging me ecstatic about the spectacular cake and how much it was loved, I was fast heading to my orthopaedic specialist. I had a similar incident many years ago a years in 2006 after another such stressful day at work. The Delhi Chief Ministers interview after my 8 hour morning shift in the studio. I remember so clearly that day because of lack of resources my camera person and myself were left to our own accord to haul the lighting equipment for the shoot back and forth. That strain of incident had put me flat on my back for straight 2 weeks with acute L4 L5 pain and I was out of action for over a month. The last time it took every ounce of mental energy to get back to normal life and live a pain free work life. We as humans never learn I guess. This time the doctors visit showed that my previous condition had worsened with the birth of my child and I had transitioned into the early stages of osteoporosis called Oestpenia. This time again I was flat on my back for two weeks and was on calcium and haemoglobin supplements for 6 months. My workaholism, bad eating habits and lack of exercise had finally taken a toll on my now 42 year old body. A wakeup call that I can have high power job and big dreams but unless I have my health I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed, let alone accomplish anything in life. The doctor had suggested to me to take supplements to replenish my system and mildly suggested I get active. I used to think that being busy meant being active and fit, clearly a mistake on my part. Did I ever think life would be like this for me. Not even in my wildest dreams. It was supposed to be smooth sailing and follow the usual trajectory after all I studied well, worked hard , acquired assets and had a lovely family. Life of course doesn’t always sync with one’s plan, I guess , at least for most of us.
As I headed back home from the doctor that day I remember seeing a new board of a CULT workout centre coming soon right opposite our place of residence. My husband suggested we both join the next week and try it out, our two bits as a family to stay active and fit. I was very apprehensive initially and usually felt totally out of place at this workout centre during the sessions. In two weeks somehow the first few classes gave me much relief and I started regularly reaching for the 6am class. The endorphins release helped me stay regular.
The daily routine was a mix of strength exercises with stretching and mobility and occasional lifting weights. I was feeling healthier that ever before. The 6ams continued for 3 months and I was already 4 kgs lighter and pain free. I even had a small gang of likeminded people who would workout with me at the class at 6am daily. In the fourth month of my continuous workouts my health checkup showed my calcium and haemoglobin parameters as normal and soon I became medicine free. I had lost a good 6 kgs in 6 months and felt fit as a horse. This time also saw me taking on new work responsibility and I joined with a culinary institute as a Chef Trainer where I continued for almost a year. Mentally I was buzzing ideas and super alert.
Soon I joined a group of runners. This was a popular, self supported group of runners called Dwarka Xpress runners(DXR) with two amazing Delhi cops at the helm. My run journey soon turned out to be the most fun roller coaster ride of my life. Regular running and every Sunday participating in marathons of various distances. When one starts investing in ones fitness and health then invariably we also meet like minded people who steer us closer towards our goals. Its when I joined the group I realised that we all shared the same passion to workout for minimum 1 hour daily and maintain a disease free life. I continued running as it helped me build my endurance level even more then just strength exercises at Cult. What followed was a routine workout schedule which looked like this, I used to run with my group of runners Dwarka Xpress runners at 5am and then head for a group strength class at 6am at Cult and then be home at 7am to send my daughter to school and by 9am I used to be on the Delhi metro at 9am , heading towards work as a Chef Trainer at my culinary institute. By the end of year of running with group regularly I had lost 12 kgs and was the fittest I had been my entire life at age 42
From not knowing how to do two pushups I am now running longer distances in marathons every month across the nation. It is a stark realisation that If I don’t challenge myself I won’t get stronger! People seem to be perplexed why I run so much and why I am so particular about my workouts. They don’t know what I know now, that my next day of healthy living depends on it! Literally this routine has saved me life. Now I have added so much value to the life I am living as I have health on my side.
I never have looked back and I try and never miss more than two days of exercise unless there is an an emergency. This was a new lease on life that I had received at age 42 and its my super power now.. Knowing how to take care of my health. I haven’t in 3 years visited the kind doctor who asked me to get active that doctor for an illness related visit( though I did bake an awesome showstopper cake for his daughter later). I know I may not have a such smooth sailing in another 10 years when my medical condition does catch up with me but till then I know there is no reason to live my best life yet.
Yes, there will be many times our well meaning plans would be waylaid and our life trajectory gets a little out of place. I too experienced a turning point with an unprecedented change of city with the family just before the pandemic hit in March 2020. In a new city and on an unclear lockdown, we as family continued coping with each crisis as it came our way. For me it was very clear, I will continue the one thing that has always worked for me, my workouts and running. I signed up for many marathon virtual events to keep myself fit and consistent. I became my own motivation, a solo runner. As the situation settled down, I continued this streak and started seeking out likeminded individuals in my city and people passionate about being fit, come what may. The result of this pursuit was the formation of a new fitness group in my new city in our very own own community. A few of us have embraced the daily 5ams and finish our run workouts well before our day even starts. The whole group meets regularly every weekend for group runs and dance workout sessions. Sometimes it just might be a family visit run /walk to a nearby lake or a city landmark but the key ideology of the group is to be continuously on the move. Some members call me their “superstar mentor” and “guru maa” but I know as a fact that formation of the group too works in accordance with own my goal to keep my future fit and healthy. This new role of paying it forward is maybe my own indirect way of showing gratitude to the running group where I was groomed to embrace running regularly as a lifestyle.. Call it what you may, It is hugely gratifying and is a big tick on my life’s mission.
Yes I am wiser now in the sense that I can see clearly the things that are out of my control and yes I accept those but I still wanna continue living my life with this optimistic mantra that I can really create a life where I can thrive and grow stronger, that I still have something in my control , my health. ‘Health is wealth’ is no longer just a cliche for me. I am a living proof of it. I have changed my life’s trajectory from hospital visits to now running marathons by making the biggest investment of all, Investing in myself and my health. Trust me when I say this! The only important question you need to ask ourself as you get older is , How are you going to invest in yourself in this coming year.?