"Have you put on weight?"
Having indulged in tons of sweets and snacks through the festival period, for many of us, this question becomes the dreaded one. We know we have been a little too indulgent and not particularly aware or conscious at the time, even having told us that it is okay to take a little holiday from Intermittent Fasting, or the Spin classes, or the thrice a week swimming lessons in a refurbished swimming pool that offers warm water and aqua aerobics, or whatever else we were doing to try and keep ourselves fit. It takes a certain kind of soul strength to have stayed fully committed to one’s health goals and the regimen required to maintain it through the festival periods when everything feels so special and “once in a year” occasion.
The question is: Is it easier to stay on those goals if one were single, or if one is in a relationship? Do relationships strengthen resolve or do they weaken it into a kind of settled feeling where one doesn’t really feel the need to be quite so careful? Relationships are meant to make individuals better for the most part. We want to feel more secure, more connected, more loved and cherished in a relationship. Sometimes, it feels like this very same secure loving connection that we so cherish, acts against our self-interest. It is quite the common story to hear of these hot, fit 20-somethings who get into a relationship that is the envy of their tribe, only to quite swiftly balloon out into these unkempt, unfit and slovenly sloths in their thirties, happy to wallow in their togetherness, snug as bugs in a rug, while their more single tribespeople are still slogging out in the gym and doing everything else to stay fit.
The “Have you put on weight?” question is rarely asked between the people in the relationship. They tend to be complicit in the putting on of the weight, and the shared guilt of it keeps them in silence over it. It often takes a health scare or some other such event to reverse the trend. An ominous declaration of the doctor that one or more people in the relationship is ‘pre-diabetic’ might do the trick. Maybe it would be a child who laughs at one’s inability to touch one’s toes. Or a friend who collapsed with a cardiac episode in the middle of watching yet another season of Bigg Boss in their family couch.
Then, the relationship might huddle together for fitness sake. It can then morph from the weighty questions to lighter ones, the surprise gifts change from special pastries to fitbits and joint yoga sessions. We ask each other whether they got our 8,000 steps, and try to motivate each other, setting up a cycle of positive returns. Relationships can set us off into vicious, unhealthy cycles or great virtuous, healthy spirals of growth. Whether we can be conscious of it is really the weighty question.
As written for the New Indian Express
The calm before the NY Storm
We are in the little interim period after Dussehra and Deepavali where for a few weeks, there are not many festivals or holidays to speak of, before the end of year holiday madness starts. It is a little lull time as if you give everyone a chance to scramble and finish all that one set out to do in the year, before calling it a day. It is a chance to get a look back at the goals one longingly set for oneself, the relationships one is in, work and all other aspects of one’s life and squeeze in as much or all of it, just to be able to look back with relief and say to oneself that the year has been good
In relationships especially, this is a key time where one or the other person is looking at what they had hoped to achieve or experience and try to squeeze it in. “We never did that international holiday we wanted to go on”, “Just eight weeks left for the year to end. Can’t we do at least a short holiday to Vietnam or even Sri Lanka?” or talk of other big longings that had been in the wishlist, perhaps having family to stay over, or household appliances, the upgrade on the mobile, a road trip, a pilgrimage or even as simple as having planned to read five books in the year or watch 10 international films, but not having done any of it.For many, this remembering of unfinished relationship tasks for the year comes with undercurrents of blame, coloured with just the touch of resentment and spiced with that little tone of complaint.
It is like a little harmless-looking worm wriggling on the surface of a calm lake, but if you take the bait, it could quickly blow up into a fight nobody wanted. It is so easy to start off with, “I wanted to go in June to Turkey. Remember? It was just after Trump started his trade war with them and their currency crashed? I said we could afford it, but you wanted to stay back because your cousin’s in-laws had invited for a house warming?” or such other defensive statements, and soon there is blame being thrown around so much, like boxes of soan papdi that are still left over a week after Deepavali that nobody really wants to see for a month at least.
The goals might be very much shared goals and ones that everyone really wishes they could have enjoyed in the year, and life has a way of getting between things. Other things feel like a priority, and things get postponed. It happens.
If we are able to recount and share the missed things on the wishlist without the hidden stings of blame and resentment, it might actually be moments of shared longing, perhaps affirmations of having those desires met, and maybe even a last minute joyful dash that might make it even more memorable.
We just have to watch the blaming.
AS written for the New Indian Express
Ajanta, Mahesh and other InnerSight counsellors and guest contributors are happy to share their thoughts here.