COVER STORY

Exercising away the blues

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About two years ago, Ranjana Thakur, 35, was under acute depression. Managing her daughters—Peehu, then four, and three-month-old Paakhi—all by herself “took a toll”. Added to that was the stress of relocating every two years, as her husband, Deepak, is second-in-command with the Border Security Force (he is currently posted in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal). “I was all by myself, and was exhausted to the point that I just couldn't take it anymore. I was frustrated, and motherhood really did not seem to be that fanciful a feeling at that time.” She went to a psychiatrist, only to be told that it was “all in the mind” and that she had to indulge in things she enjoyed. But it was a tough time, a time when even her daughters' milestones couldn't cheer her up. “I was in such a miserable condition that I wished I didn't have children at all, and once even contemplated about outsourcing their upbringing to someone more competent,” she says, laughing.

Also, Ranjana had gained excess weight, which, too, affected her confidence. Ranjana, who weighed 54kg and would accompany her husband on morning jogs and religiously follow a strict fitness and diet routine before pregnancy, had put on more than 30kg in a year. Motivated by a group of like-minded mothers on WhatsApp, Ranjana began her weight loss journey last year. She took to yoga, downloading online yoga lessons, and began brisk walking every morning. “I knew that early mornings would be the only time I would get for myself, and I had to use it judiciously,” she says. Ranjana also took to strength training for one and a half hours daily for five days a week and also joined the SQUATS community on Facebook.

“I drastically cut down on all the junk food, and with a lot of effort kept myself away from cakes and ice creams even as the kids would binge on them and force me to join in,” says Ranjana, who follows a low to moderate carb diet and completely avoids refined flour products. Slowly and steadily, she began seeing improvements in the way she felt. “I feel awesome and can indulge in hours of play with both my daughters without feeling drained out,” she says, beaming.

But, in any form of fitness regimen, the most important thing is to maintain consistency so that one doesn't go back to square one, says Mumbai-based physiotherapist Dr Nilesh Makwana. And, to ensure that she doesn't fall off the wagon, Ranjana keeps measuring herself every other day, and the lost inches and kilos further motivate her to stay on track. “Also, another reason for me to remain on the course is to be able to spend quality active time with my daughters,” she says. “I don't want them to see their mother as boring, tired and drained out all the time.”

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