'My husband and I feel almost guilty to eat 'normal' food'
Ruby Banerjea’s diary of a reluctantly exercising mom. Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
As I lay sprawled out on my recliner, nursing a bag of ice on my knee, I had just one question to myself: What was I thinking? It all started at the doctor’s office. My physician had subtly suggested losing a few pounds would be the best for all my issues.
“I do exercise… at home...” I had tried to protest.
“Well, I’m sure you do, Mrs Banerjea, but why not step it up a little? Join a gym, do whatever you enjoy. You will be amazed at the difference it makes.”
She was looking straight into my eyes and was clearly not joking.
She got me thinking. What would I really like to do?
My daughters had the answer right away.
“Join the gym. Mom, they have a ton of things which you could do. There’s a new Crunch right around the corner.”
I looked at her to see if she was joking. But she was never more serious.
I decided to check it out. I dragged my husband with me to Crunch.
But before we knew it we were roped in.
My enthusiasm was whetted when our guide showed us all the classes held that I could join. There was Zumba! It is a kind of dancercise and it was fun. I had always loved to dance. I was hooked!
We both left the gym, proud members for the first time in our lives… I had no idea what I was getting into.
I could hardly wait to reach the gym for my first Zumba routine. I was confident of my capabilities and was waiting outside the door much before the scheduled time. As the members gathered inside, I took my spot right in the front so I could see the instructor as she taught us.
I couldn’t have been more surprised! It was nothing as I had known or expected.
As she dimmed the lights and turned up the volume of the music, it was as if everything was happening in fast-forward. All I could see was a frenzy of arms and legs flailing every which way. And the instructor bending and twirling in ways I did not know any human could!
Worst of all, everybody knew what they were doing. I was the only one straining my neck to keep track of the instructor, to see what she was doing next, so I could follow, or make a very poor attempt at it. I was failing miserably.
I have to say that I had no clue that people could move so fast! The only idea I had of Zumba lessons was that it was a very leisured class. I had been to one a few times, where most of the students were seniors. Since it was a class for the elderly, the pace was much more doable. I was a good fit there. So I was naive enough to think that’s how all Zumba classes would be.
After an hour, this over-exuberant class was over and as quickly as the gym had filled, it emptied, before I could blink.
God these ladies were fit I thought!
I huffed and puffed over to the instructor, who was thankfully still there.
“Excuse me, is there any class for beginners?” I was still trying to catch my breath.
All it took was one look at my red-faced, wheezing state, for her to know I was one.
She broke into a smile and very kindly told me to relax. She explained to me how I did not have to do it as she or everybody else does it. “You can do it at your own pace. Don’t worry today’s class was a little fast-paced. Next time I will space it out with fast and slow numbers.”
Her assurance kept me from quitting. Needless to say the pace did not slow down.
Instead, in spite of that requirement for an ice pack, at home after the first class, as the days went by I started to getting used to it and to even look forward to my favourite classes.
My daughters noticed my change in attitude. From at first: “I was crazy to join.” And later to: “Oh! I have to run, it’s my favourite instructor today.” They would exchange looks and spur me on.
But I can never match my daughters’ enthusiasm – or I will rephrase, crazy dedication — to exercise and keep fit! They make it a point to go every single day, and sometimes twice a day, if there are some interesting new classes going on.
The biggest problem with the fitness frenzy is that I have to watch what I eat. I thought exercise was the answer to all my problems. But if my daughters are with me they will strictly follow their no-carb-after-sundown diet and make my life way more difficult than I did imagine!
My elder one will look at the food I serve and quickly get to her smart phone and enter the name of the dish and calculate the calories and, much to my annoyance, lecture me on its importance. They are so serious about healthy food that my husband and I feel almost guilty to eat ‘normal’ food!
We did sneak in some pizzas and French fries when the girls weren’t there. The pleasure of doing that was like playing truant!
Even though I groan and moan every time I come back from the gym, I was so glad that I had taken the first step and started.
I know I am a long way from a no-carb diet or a no junk food policy, but baby steps count too!
Next time I go to the doctors I pray that the scales tip in my favour.
I will be lying if I don’t say that I kind of love Zumba!
Ruby, mother of Sreoshy, 26, and Urvashi, 20, lives in New Jersey.
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh