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Fitness Discover Yourself

Be number one with yourself Today, television screens dish up sports bacon sizzling hot. Speed merchants zip across on winged feet. Tennis tycoons serve aces with pungent power. Swimmers splice and explode through water like turbo­powered fish at an Olympic meet.

It's not just sport, but life out there, as superhumans battle for records and recognition. Medels hang around athletic necks trumpeting the triumphant Number One note. The message in those medals is for every one of us. Fitness is round the corner, just a few calories away. Fitness echoes its muscular melody from the pulse of our wrists.

It's time to grab at the medals of health and stand firm and strong on the pedestal of life. There is as much satisfaction in being Number One with oneself. We are all born with our quota of fat cells. They are the constant factor that keep us from being honed down to our skeletal skin-and-bone selves.

In times of famine, they provide energy. But, on the other hand, we needn't act like famine is eternally dogging our heels. There's no need for that surplus fat to be stored. if you're into a sedentary lifestyle, change it.

Here's what happens when you don't exercise. Since you are not burning off enough calories, those ever accommodating cells spread and store the excess fat. But unlike a tanked-up ship that sails the sea to use its fuel, you don't. On the other hand, a grounded ship would rust and if you continue to fill its tank with fuel, it will overflow. That's exactly what happens to an overeating, non ­exercising human.

The overflow is the unseemly bulge. The rust is seen in different ways - tiredness, not looking forward to the day, low spirits, poor health. But then, aren't fat people jolly folk always laughing at everything including themselves? Except for a few, most get into the ha-ha sphere because that's the only way they can cope. Group therapies have shown that almost all fat people admit to putting on a facade. What they are doing, in essence, is switching on a self-defence mechanism. By laughing at themselves, they pre-empt the jokes against them by others.

Their laughter is their fortress. Psychologists have discovered that many overweight people are so due to various insecurities plaguing them. They eat to satisfy a certain gnawing emptiness inside.

The feeling of emptiness could be due to some vaguely perceived, but not entirely understood, unfulfilled desires. It could be for larger things - like identity, or creative satisfaction, power, for a meaningful role in society, or for recognition. In Attitudes, a television programme, two fat women admitted that they deliberately put on weight to get attention. One said, "Every time I overeat and gain inches, my husband buys me a new dress." In short, the hunger is not for food.

It may sound like a peculiar reason to remain fat, but insecurity is the biggest plague of modern times. Sometimes such people go in for crash diets, with, predictably, no or very little effect. They find themselves getting increasingly snappish and moody. They feel deprived and let down. They even feel that they were happier when they were fat. So it's back to food and more food to put the laughter back in their lives.

Or so they feel. What fat people need is fire in their minds. A strong, powerful self-image that grips them and makes them lay less emphasis on food and appearance. It's when the self-image takes over insecurity that they will find the motivation to get into fitness. The best way to break this vicious cycle is to start exercising.

This feeds the fire in the mind and makes them eat less, starting a more fulfilling cycle. As they burn more calories than what they take in, witness what happens in the body: The nervous, endocrine and circulatory systems function smoothly together as a team and release fat for energy. The nervous system jets out fat from the cells, the circulatory system picks it up and carries it to the liver. The liver converts it into energy which in turn is used by the muscles. The result: loss of weight. Simultaneously, muscles get strengthened and the person feels tauter and healthier.

This way, the self-image gets a boost. And as the Number One feeling grows, the world seems a brighter, more secure place. The message is complete. For, a healthy life itself is a medal.

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