The quote in the title is from Sasha DiGiulian, a 23-yr-old world-champion professional climber and a soon-to-be Columbia lion. I learned about her recently. Her quote rang with me and is stuck in my head now. Human being’s most primal and universal enemy is fear. When you read about Sasha, at once you’ll think she’s crazy climbing trails like the Murder Wall. But, you’ll learn that managing fear is another skill she acquired with her climbing technique. She does this by shifting her thoughts away from what-ifs and directing them instead toward next steps. Eventually, her fear crystallizes into focus, leading her to the summit.
If I fear or am nervous about doing something, I cannot sustain without actually going through it. Whether it is giving a talk to a crowd of three hundred or walking up to converse with a pretty lady with an on-the-fly icebreaker I come up with, I just can’t go to sleep with the fact that I didn’t confront myself to do it. And, as Sasha’s quote nails it, I attest that such actions certainly yield life’s greatest rewards!
I cannot survive and progress without thriving on challenges and competition. I owe my academic achievements in college and professional successes at work to them. That wasn’t the case, though, in my fitness routine. For the longest time, since I started going to the gym regularly (sometime in 2007), I was primarily using the treadmill, elliptical, and bike for cardiovascular exercises. When it got terribly mundane, esp. with the stationary machines, I switched to running outdoors on the side roads. Last year, I completely stopped cardiovascular workout at the gym and started running on the beach instead. Running on the beach provides with three major benefits:
- The (scenic) environment is away from the city’s vehicular and industrial pollution.
- The beach surface is soft on your knees than a paved cement road or the treadmill belt.
- Running on the soft beach surface—both wet and dry—is more challenging as you dig out your feet every step of the run. As a result, running on a flat surface feels a lot easier after.
But, since the time I started, I was running on relatively flat and semi-wet sand. And that, too, got monotonous. I wanted further change and more challenge. I observed that the uneven mounds on the beach; and the soft, dry, & unevenly dug-up sand were the surfaces to try next. Personally, I love anything off-terrain, whether it’s off-road driving or trekking. After I switched to the uneven and soft sand, my running has become so much more challenging, exciting, and exhaustive. Every time my feet slip or get stuck, it provides me a teasing challenge to pull myself out and continue running. In the process, I also develop my stabilizer muscles—the muscles around the periphery of your major muscles in the legs—as you turn and twist for traction control. I sweat more, burn more, and feel satisfied more after finishing the run.
Take fear like a challenge. Repeated failures progressively irk me to keep retrying until the achievable goal is attained. After experiencing many failures, the few academic and professional successes I have had, have solidified my mental strength to just not give up. Even if I’m fighting my battles alone, I realize that I’m alive… to (change my approach, if needed, and) keep trying. And, like they say, what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.
Till date, I blogged once a year. But after getting into the Social Media business, I committed myself to do so on a rather frequent basis. One another reason was the motivation that I got from a gentleman I met recently – Sree Sreenivasan. I told him I have acquired immense knowledge over years, and need a public channel to share it on. “Start with a Blog first”, was his answer. You can find out more about the digital/social media guru on WNBC-TV for which he is a Tech Reporter. He’s also the Dean of Columbia University’s School of Journalism for over 18 years now!
It has been a few days that I arrived in Mumbai to meet with family and I can’t tell you how I just cannot function without going to a fitness center. So I decided to join one and went for a trial work out on a rainy Monday morning – the city had been lashed by rains for over a week now. I was all pumped up so started off with the chin dip machine to hone my latissimus dorsi and upper back muscles, followed by some bicep curls, and sit-ups for the abdominal muscles. Having finished ~30 minutes of this overly intense workout, I stepped over to the cardio section for the stairmaster. All of a sudden I felt frail and thirsty, and thus, decided to fetch some water just to realize there are no disposable cups and only used plastic bottles. Gee, I couldn’t drink in those! By now I had started to feel dizzy, tired and surprised as to what was happening to me. “Am I losing control?”, I asked myself. Luckily, I found a chair nearby to sit in. Slowly, everything was getting darker and eventually everything in front of my eyes blacked out! Although, my brain was awake and watching this happen, there was no way for it to either control my body or obey my commands but to observe that I am ‘shutting down’! It seemed like the end of the world to me – I was dead.
Minutes later, I woke up to realize I was dragged by trainers through the stairs to an open area in the fitness center and was laid on a bed surrounded by ten people. They gave me some Glucose, and a Dairy Milk chocolate. Yes, I had fainted. When one of the trainers asked, I told him that I slept at 4am after studying, didn’t eat a thing in the morning except for a cup of milk with BiPro protein, and decided to pump in the gym at 10am! He was angered and exclaimed that if I were in such great shape, how could I miss out on the nutritional aspect. This experience thought me a lesson to regulate my activities, whether be it for the body or for the mind.
Friends and family call me by this name and surprisingly the fitness center also happens to go by the same – Powerhouse.