Good health is something that was in my control, so I set about achieving that. I even created a hashtag for the milestone birthday #HalfLifeFit (which somewhat arrogantly supposes I will live to be a 100. I heard several collective groans of dismay I am sure.)
The hashtag was less of a social media thing than a positivity thing. The cheeky allusion to radioactive half life and decay, was a tribute to the long forgotten physics degree I am supposed to have graduated with.
But the fit healthy part was a tribute to my parents.
I think I have mentioned this in one of my previous articles about how I told my mother one day “Ma, I am thinking of getting a bit more muscular by the time I hit fifty what do you think?” Her response was “Do it, why not?”
I said “I was just wondering what about my face becoming haggard” the term I used was “dokku vizhundhudumo?” In a response that was typical of her quick silver logic, she said “At fifty who cares how your face looks?” said in tamil it was even more droll cos she used the term “yevan kandukka poraan”
I started chuckling and as she realized what she had said (Amma sometimes said things without thinking and then later realized the import of what she had just said) she joined me as well.
Another was a conversation- no – a bet- I had with Appa. That I would beat diabetes until I was fifty. I have been working for twenty years now, to win this bet. So far, I am winning.
I started off on the focused fitness journey a year ago. And I added a measurable metric – At fifty, I should be able to do one pull up.
But with the lockdown, my hopes of training for a pull up were lost as we all hunkered down at home, doing our best to keep our morale up and tried to deal with our inevitable anxiety and worry. When you are faced with larger problems, not being able to do a pull up fades somewhat into insignificance.
But I worked out every single day and built my strength to significantly higher levels. It wasn’t easy. Some days I pushed too hard and my injured knees gave up. I would then be forced to take a break and then rebuild. And on some days, my back would grumble and again I would have to respect it. It was a tricky balance of mind over body and respecting the body.
Additionally, I blithely shared glimpses of the workouts I was doing and the challenges I was facing with my usual self deprecating humour in the hope that it would motivate others to ditch stereotypes. That when you as a woman hit fifty, you give up on fitness and just mollycoddle your way to your old age. That at fifty your life is over. And that at fifty, you don’t do weight training.
I am not sure if I achieved that …but judging from the comments on social media, I did get some thirty somethings to start working out! (..good job Anu Aunty! 😊 )
The day I did a particularly insane workout which involved tuck jumps and split jumps, I knew I had reached the kind of fitness levels I wanted. And that was a good ten days before my birthday. My first wish was sorted. Amma and Appa must surely be smiling
As my birthday approached, I had made plans – big ones that involved eating chips on the terrace while I read a book on my ipad, making some thank you cards in watercolour for my favourite doctors and so on.
What I didn’t expect was to be surprised on a zoom call by over 35 of my BITSian friends who had all – every single one of them- sung a line from “That’s what Friends are for” and put together a video with proper music and mixing – the works. It was the best gift I could have hoped for a fiftieth birthday.
My friends from UK were up at 3 30 am, some from Canada staying up late at 11 pm and those from both the east and west coast and central US, and of course my friends from India were there as well. They were all there to wish me a happy birthday.
I was totally overwhelmed and as I watched the song on screen share, I couldn’t help but tear up. I sniffled my way through the entire song, laughing and crying at the same time at this incredibly loving gift.
Apparently, they had worked on this for the past four weeks. And let me tell you while I appreciate that it was professional grade in its execution, it is the love and warmth that stood out and that is what I will treasure for the rest of my life. I think I can safely say I had just gotten my second wish.
And, that I think, despite the lockdown, is a great way to usher in a fiftieth birthday. With good health and the love of people who care. And I wish that for every one of you especially during these difficult times.
P.s. My loving friends also recorded my sniffly reactions to the song and shared that as the next video, titling it “Anu reaction” After all, Sharing is caring 😊
P.P.S. about the pull up – the statement was “At fifty, I should be able to do one pull up” – I think I have a year to do that. Or I can be a lady and refuse to tell my age 😊 😊