Thoughts on “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck”

After my father passed away all of a sudden I felt like I had found myself in an alternative timeline by running too fast like the Flash. The world felt completely different and surreal. It was all too much for me and my family. I experienced all kinds of things in the last 4 months. I do not want to go through something like this again unprepared and neither do I want someone else to go through something like this unprepared.

I have always avoided the Self-Help genre and been skeptical of these books. It just never worked for me because I was never in need of any such advice and I was never the right audience for these kind of books. I have found new appreciation for this genre after all that I had been through and a new kind of respect for these books. I still think most are garbage and generic. But there are a few that stand out as being very practical and ones that make you go “huh, that’s pretty doable, why didn’t I think of that”. I think that if a book makes you think that way, it’s pretty solid in its content. This is what Mark Manson’s “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” did to me. It broke many of my notions and made me rethink my approaches. Of course, its easier said than done. It doesn’t change life overnight the moment you finish the last chapter. You will have to work on it and let it simmer till its a habit.

This book has so many quotable paragraphs that I just stopped bothering about marking important ones. There are a few that really stand out but the entire book is worth reading once. Some of the advice might seem really harsh but truth is harsh and so is life. I think this book is for everyone, age, gender, race doesn’t matte because Disappointment Panda affects everyone anyway.

My favorite chapters would be the last 3. Especially the last one on Death. It was very relatable to me in light of whatever happened to us. I think i will read this book every year just to remind myself over and over again that these are the things I need to focus on continuously. It is not a feel good self help book. Its a practical, rude awakening for everyone who reads it. I highly recommend this book, especially the last 3-4 chapters.

 

 

How i overcome lethargy & lack of interest to exercise.

Today, like many many other days i felt like not going to the gym. There was no valid reason for this feeling. It just happens. The whole day i would be looking forward to going, pumping myself up throughout the day and playing scenarios in my head about what i would be doing today and how i am going to have loads of fun. When the time comes near, i start reconsidering and start thinking twice.

Some of the thoughts that come in my head during this time are –

  • “What if i skipped today?”
  • “I’ll not go and make up for it later”
  • “Just too tired”
  • “i give up, i want the day to end now”
  • “I dont have any energy or capacity to go tonight”
  • “I am too bored to go”

My gym is right next door. I have to walk 20 steps to reach there. Despite that i play up these things in my head and skip many times. I dont know why i do it but i do. Today was just like those days. I took out my gym wear, packed up and then my thoughts went astray and i started unpacking, My mind fights my heart and ultimately the mind wins. I say the above things in my head to justify myself and feel better.

Today though, i did not let this happen. Even though i unpacked, i sat and took 2 minutes and took out my weighing scale and weighed myself. Not much difference in my weight from 2 days ago but it was a reminder as to WHY i need to go. The numbers on the scale pushed the block away from my head and i went.

Not only did i go to the gym but i ran the most i have on a treadmill in my entire life. I ran and i ran and pushed myself. I went from “I am not going to gym today” to “running the most i have ever in my life”. All it took was a grim reminder – the numbers on the weighing scale.

I don’t know if this struggle will ever go away. It happens everyday. But each time i push myself and go, is a day i conquered my mind. Terry Crews in a Reddit AMA gave some really good advice to overcome this lack of motivation and lack of interest and honestly, i have used this many times and it has worked. I don’t think i will ever come across anything so simple and effective –

This is a constant battle. I hope a day will come when i don’t have these thoughts in my head anymore. Till then Terry Crew’s advice and my weighing scale should be enough to push me to go.

If – By Rudyard Kipling

Poetry is something i have always liked since i was a child. Especially one’s that inspire and one’s that make you think and feel good after reading. Poetry, according to me, should make an impact on you, whether it makes you laugh or think, as long as it has an impact, you will want to read it over and over again. I’ve read many poems that make no sense at all or are vague in nature and never bothered with them ever again.

One of the most beautiful poems I have read is “If” by Rudyard Kipling. Its simple to understand and has such a powerful message – that a man must be humble, patient, rational, truthful, dependable, and hard working.

If – by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

One Year Later

I completed one year at my gym this month and it is an overwhelming feeling to be honest. I had no hope that i would make it this far, let alone anybody else. It has been one excruciatingly painful and happy journey. Painful & Happy? Yes. Its that pain that you endure to overcome something troubling you. That pain feels good. It’s the same happy pain you feel when you beat the odds and the doubters. It feels good. 

Summer 2012 was a turning point for me. I kept falling sick, i kept having mood swings and temper problems and frequent stomach upsets and backaches. I have had sinusitis since i was a kid and it is always a bitch when it acts up. I don’t know how being overweight affects sinusitis but it acted up a lot that summer resulting in frequent fevers, ear pain and blocked nostrils. All this, all summer. I had had enough of this. It was time for change. And don’t even get me started on the sweating. I was a heavy sweater. Was.

A family physician is your best friend during such times. Two are even better. I consulted them on putting an end to this unfit lifestyle and getting healthy. It was the starting point of this transformation. Along with their help, i read and searched articles and inspiring ‘fat to fit’ stories of real people. Arm yourself with knowledge about weight loss and do not believe anything that sounds too good to be true. Explore all sides of anything you read. There is no magic pill, so don’t bother looking for one. Instead, learn about your own body, its likes, dislikes and also learn about your food. What works for you and what doesn’t. Set realistic goals instead of stupid ones. Real ones were 3 kilos a month. Stupid ones were 10 kilos in 2 months. I learnt my lessons. 

Then i joined the nearest gym. This is important. If you have a gym near you, go there. A gym near to where i live was the biggest motivation for me to go EVERYDAY. There are at least 5-6 gyms in and around the place i live. They are absolute best, top of the line gyms. But i decided to go to the nearest one. Its nothing compared to the biggies but you get what you pay for. It would have been no use to me to come home from work in the evening, get ready, travel/walk far to the best gym, workout, then travel/walk back home. That did not look good at all. Especially when the nearest gym was 5 steps away. I cannot emphasize this more: GO TO THE NEAREST GYM POSSIBLE.  

The first 2-3 months were nothing but experiments on my body conducted by me.  At the gym i did what my trainer told me to do and nothing else. At home i ate only and only healthy food. Salads, no ghee/oil, no fried foods, no sugary drinks, no white bread, no overeating, no heavy foods, no eating when not hungry, more water, more greens, more fresh and raw food, more fruit. Oatmeal became my best friend. Whenever i was hungry, a bowl of flavored oatmeal was enough. An Apple instead of biscuits, Water or lemonade instead of soda or other other sugary drinks,  I walked more. I would walk wherever possible instead of taking the taxi or bus. I discovered i can walk atleast 2 – 3 kilometers without breaking a sweat and quickly too. This was such a money saver too! 

I stopped having unhealthy fast food. Everytime i found myself in a situation where i was in a restaurant or coffee shop with friends or colleagues or at family functions, etc. I would fill myself up with a lot of Water first. Then would proceed to order to eat the healthiest looking options. Not eating what makes you happy or what you like, just because you are trying to get fit is a BAD IDEA in my opinion. It does not hurt to eat what you like every once in a while. For me every 7 to 10 days i’d eat what i like. Although in a limited quantity. But i did. I never restricted my diet to such an extent that it would begin to feel like a punishment. Its important to do this to keep yourself motivated. Food is the biggest change you will make when wanting to get fit and healthy. It is the BIGGEST deciding factor whether you succeed or not. Do not give up on anything, instead be smart and eat smart and do not suppress temptation.  

Meanwhile, at the gym, i pushed myself to breaking points in the first month. Anyone new to gyming will probably go through this. You give it all instead of pacing yourself. I gave it all everyday and it hurt like hell the next day. Sometimes it hurt so much that i could not go to work. My legs, stomach, abdomen, hips, back, arms, hands, shoulders, biceps, everything hurt. Sometimes everything hurt together and sometimes in pairs. If it hurts, you are doing fine and it will stop hurting later. Do not give up because of pain. Your body is undergoing changes and hence it takes time to adjust. I’d take a day or two off in a month but not more than that. Because in the beginning each day you miss, it hurts more the next.

I measured my weight (113 Kgs.) at the beginning. I was so grossed out i wanted to break the machine. Just to be accurate, i measured it on 2 machines, one at the gym and one at home. Do not rely on one machine alone as these things can be wonky especially if they are old. After the first 2 weeks, i measured again and had lost a kilo. Somehow i found this very humorous. That’s it? That’s all it took? 2 weeks to lose a kilo? WTF!  This was what drove me more and more. After 3 months, Slowly, i was reducing. I saw the change in front of the mirror. Then come your first compliments from friends and family. Then the jeans and pants and shorts were starting to get loose. Yeah. I was getting there. 

Transformation of the self is not easy. It cannot be done overnight. I knew i had to change my mental self along with my physical self too. I needed some mental peace which i had very less of in the past. I was always worried about something or the other. It was easy to piss me off. I needed to change all of this along with my physical self. I know it sounds easy and unbelievable but i did this by changing small things about my daily life. First, i stopped reading and watching the news. I read only 2 tabloids instead of 6 (4+2 tabloids) newspapers. I stopped watching ALL Indian News Channels. These things are a cancer to the mind. I knew if the news was important, it would reach me somehow and that i need not know everything. I need not keep watching this shit-fest everyday on TV. The result was immediate. A week later i was already less stressed. Secondly, i accepted myself, who i was, how i was and made peace with that. I am what i am and i can only change the bad things about me and replace them with something good (for egs the physical change i was undertaking). This reduced my anger quite a bit. I did not get angry on anyone and instead thought from their perspective and that helped not only me but the person i was angry on too. Peace became my mantra. I stopped arguing with cab and rickshaw drivers and paid them extra if they agreed on the first go. If i could not pay extra i knew i could atleast thank them. Small gestures. Small changes. Big difference. But sometimes i still tend to stress alot, worry alot and have a temper. But its lesser than ever before. Anger is rare now. No one is more glad about it than me. Mental transformation was faster and it boosted my morale. 

I had a few hiccups and hurdles along the way. But after a year and losing 15 kilos, i am hovering in the late 90s. According to my BMI i should be around late 80s. Which is roughly 10 kilos more. As of today, i want to reach that target before the end of the year. It will take time. But i will get there. I know what works and what doesn’t now. So this next phase will be more easier and less painful. My trainer is smart and knows when to push me and when not to.

 I celebrated the occasion with 2 bowls of Masala Oatmeal Khichdi for dinner and a small square of dairy milk chocolate. It was all what i needed to celebrate the occasion.