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Embracing a Journey of Self-Love and Growth - Aditi Datta

As a child, I was a passionate athlete, winning numerous awards in school and relishing every moment spent outdoors. In the 90s, opportunities for sports and training were limited, and societal pressures nudged me towards the familiar path of achieving qualifications, securing a decent job, and eventually getting married.

Throughout my life, I experienced both successes and setbacks in my pursuit of health and fitness. Each time I faltered; I embarked on a journey of self-reflection to understand why. One of my early attempts involved joining a gym out of curiosity and peer influence. At first, it seemed like an exclusive and exciting endeavor, but I soon lost interest, leading to weight gain due to an unhealthy lifestyle revolving around partying and consuming junk food.

Post-marriage life in the city of Mumbai followed a predictable routine. Hours were taken up by long commutes to work and managing household chores, leaving little time for personal well-being. The toll of this lifestyle was visible in my emotional and physical health, and I grew unhappy with the person I saw in the mirror. As I grappled with body shaming, I found solace in food, which became my emotional support, regardless of whether I truly had an appetite or not.

Seeking a new path to fitness, I joined a running group and discovered the joy of participating in marathons. It wasn't a smooth ride; during many races, I found myself questioning why I had put myself through such an ordeal. However, the sense of fulfilment and thrill I experienced upon crossing each finish line drove my determination to keep going.

Running proved to be a transformative experience, helping me overcome insecurities, anxiety, and overthinking. With each completed marathon, my self-belief soared, and I realized I had the resilience to navigate any challenges life threw my way. My days became action-packed, starting at 5 am and ending at 10 pm, and my social media posts drew appreciation and admiration, turning me into an inspiration for many.

Yet, amidst the praise and recognition, I felt a growing pressure to perform even better in marathons. It was reminiscent of the anxiety I experienced during school exam result days. Running, which had once been my refuge for my mental peace, now became a source of additional stress. As a result, I withdrew from registering for marathons, and my motivation to work out waned rapidly. The situation was further intensified by minor accidents and health issues, which compelled me to take a break from physical activities.

And then, the world was gripped by the COVID-19. Suddenly, the hustle and bustle of daily life came to a standstill, and I found myself working from home, with days no longer confined to rigid schedules. At first, I embraced the newfound slow-paced life and enjoying the family life I always dreamt of. However, it also brought unintended consequences, including weight gain and even hospitalization due to stress. It was puzzling how a slower-paced life could lead to such negative outcomes.

This wake-up call made me realize that if I were to begin my fitness journey again, I needed to align my mind with the right motivations. It was crucial that I aimed for a lasting lifestyle change and not be driven solely by societal standards of beauty or personal insecurities. My priority became learning to love and accept myself and be happy with my choices before charting a path towards better health.

So, as I move forward, I am committed to embracing fitness for all the right reasons. It's no longer about meeting the world's expectations or seeking validation from others. Instead, it's about nurturing a sense of self-love and empowerment, using fitness as a tool to enhance my overall well-being and happiness. I know that this journey may not always be easy, but I will be compassionate towards myself and be acceptable of the results I achieve.

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