I have a monthly calendar, which hangs in my kitchen, next to my fridge. It’s one of those common calendars that hang in any Indian households, called Kalnirnay. I look at it 8-10 times a day, from the morning, when I’m waiting for my coffee to brew to the multiple times I open my fridge door and glance at the calendar in passing.
Why am I telling you about this? Well, it’s because this seemingly ordinary kitchen item has a powerful impact on me and my health. Since I recently moved it from its usual place, I’ve noticed that I’ve stopped exercising with the diligence and discipline otherwise followed.
The link between my calendar and my exercise regimen, you see, is that my calendar is where I mark the days that I’ve exercised. I’ve been doing this for several years now, and I never tire of marking that “X” on a date triumphantly after a workout. It is deeply satisfying. Even more is the sense of achievement from seeing the number of “X”s every week, telling me I’ve hit my fitness routine four times a week, like I know I should. And when I look at the total number of crossed out weeks, week upon week, I catch a glimpse of the bigger picture of my fitness. Ultimately, that’s what counts because many of the health benefits of exercise arise over a period of time. When I see all this, I feel good about myself.
On the flip side, seeing a blank week has played the role of creating a reminder, a pressure of sorts, to get in a workout. It has kept me on track where my mind wanted to play mischief, luring me into thinking I still had many days ahead to allow for procrastination today. Clean days, ie without crossmarks over the dates, fill me with guilt and dissatisfaction. Chagrined, I shake my head and resolve to rectify the situation the same day or the very next.
When I moved my calendar, I no longer saw the “X”s or the blank weeks. Even though I didn’t move it completely out of sight, it has proven detrimental that it did go out of my line of sight.
Soon enough, I found myself struggling to keep up with my weekly routine. Workouts started piling up towards the end of the week because I hadn’t realised how many days had passed by since the last one. I was now relying on my mental calendar, which proved quite treacherous. No alarm bells ringing in time, no inspirational past “X”s to push me onward. I’ve been floundering, truth be told, these past several weeks. Needless to say, the feelings of guilt, discontent and self-reproach have been on the rise.
I’m amazed at how much my lowly calendar has proven to be my coach and cheerleader when it comes to my fitness. Sitting quietly on the wall, occasionally fluttering if the slamming fridge door created a clap of wind, it has nudged me, every time I looked at it, showing me the days I had conquered and the ones ahead to still conquer. It has reminded me of the commitment I had made to myself. Those black “X”s did not let me forget.
All the glory usually goes to a hard-core, blood-pumping workout – it’s seen as the real test, the measure of grit and pushing of boundaries. I’ve come to think that the real hero, the one that makes all the difference in whether I’m fit or not, is my humble calendar. I don’t need a fitbit or any fancy fitness tracking app; I’ve already got what I need in my kitchen.