Self-Help and the Importance of Fitness: Tips From Experience

When the safety procedures are being demonstrated before a plane takes off, the crew will instruct you that in case of an emergency, oxygen masks will be available. They however, insist that if you are travelling with infants or children, you should first put on your masks and only then help your children. The reason for this is that you have to be fully equipped before you can help others. This is so true with self-help too. You need to have a mind, body and soul which are totally fit in order to help yourself improve. The best illustration is the story of my own life.

More than ten years ago, while I was still in my early 30s, I was diagnosed with a blocked artery in my heart. There was a 90% block and I had an angioplasty done and a stent implanted. Whilst the news came as a shock to me and the family, it actually got me thinking. I was a self-help enthusiast to the core. Never missed attending motivational seminars, spent a fortune of self-help books, CDs and other material and I was also religiously implementing all that I was learning and was in fact, seeing benefits both in my personal and professional life. However, with the busy work and family schedule and my other commitments (I was doing my MBA too!!); I had actually neglected my own health.

The heart problem acted as a wakeup call for me. My cardiologist put me through a 3-month program at the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center. This was essentially a gym which was being monitored by qualified nurses and physicians. It was here that I experienced the actual benefits of regular exercising. I could feel that my energy level was increasing. The exercises were done first thing in the morning, for 3 days in a week and it helped give me the ‘feel-good factor’. Besides, the feeling that I was a ‘sick’ person started going off, since I felt positive that if I could work out in a gym (though under supervision) for 3 months right after an angioplasty, I wasn’t that sick after all!! This was a big motivational factor. In fact, exercise helps to keep you motivated.

After the 3-month program, I continued the exercise schedule by going for regular walks. Honestly, this was more from fear rather than anything else. However, the benefits seemed to be only increasing. I was a regular at the park near my home and I started making new friends who were also regulars. Gradually, the walks became an integral part of my life. It induced a kind of ‘positivity’ in me. The walks also kept me really alert and observant, as I was always looking out for the regulars at the park while trying to see if there were new exercisers on the park.

So, in reality, just walking three days a week helped me feel more energetic, kept me motivated, made me more positive and helped make me more alert and observant. These are just a few benefits of keeping fit. This, in my opinion is the first step to self-help and self improvement.

Few tips that have helped me stick to a regular exercise routine:

  • Firstly, don’t set your goals too high. Start small (really small) and slowly increase the intensity of your exercise. Tell yourself you will walk or exercise only once a week, but keep to it.
  • Regularity is the keyword. Even if you exercise only once a week, make sure that you do not skip it any week.
  • Set a time for exercise and fitness. If you think you will exercise when you find the time, you will never be able to do it. Make it part of your daily chores.
  • Try and finish off your exercise first thing in the morning. I find that this really works for me.
  • If for some reason, you had to take a long break, try to start all over. So, if you were used to walking for 45 minutes a day, thrice a week and you had to break off from this routine, don’t try to walk for 45 minutes when you restart. Start off with a 20 min walk and then slowly build it up. This again, is something that works from my own experience.

And remember – like the instructions given by the airline crew, your fitness is of utmost importance not only to you, but to keep your family, friends and all others close to you fit and happy too.