The decision was made. But, but, but…. Would the group be comfortable to take a 72-year old person on such a trip? After all, it is a 2-month long trip with lots of potential for things to go wrong. Each participant’s fitness is key to the success of the trip.
I realised the importance of this particularly when I organised the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra in 2010. There were at least 4 people (out of 98) who had difficulty in adjusting to the high altitude. Emergency arrangements were required and two of them had to make an early exit. The other two took an additional day to acclimatise. But again separate arrangements had to be made for them to join the group.
When travelling in groups, transparency on health issues is extremely important. In the same trip, one of the participants was shy and did not mention his discomfort (health-related). This proved fatal. We lost him forever.
My co-travellers ought to know my age from the outset. I was determined that if people from the group had reservations about my age, I would organize the trip for the two of us, myself. My contingency plan was ready.
I called Tushar and Sanjay to tell them about my driving trip to Iceland last year and about the trekking expeditions I had made after 60 years of age. They appreciated my enthusiasm and said that I didn’t even sound like a senior citizen. They were happy to have me!
It is the spirit and fitness that matter and not age!
While both Pushpa and I have been lucky to enjoy good health, we do take special efforts to stay fit. Often fitness is a topic of conversation in many social and even business meetings. Every one has their own “funda” to maintain fitness. This includes diet, regular walks, playing proper sports, etc.
Normally 6 to 8 in the morning I keep busy with my yoga meditation. I don’t even take phone calls during these two hours. Art of Living needs special mention here in maintaining my health and boosting my spirits. Sri Sri Ravishankarji’s Sudarshan Kriya has been a part of my daily, morning routine for the last 9 years. Similarly, Pushpa does her own yoga and kriya routine.
As far as diet is concerned, we come across the popular quote, “”Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper!” However I have been following for the last few 40-50 years, “Apple a day for breakfast, two chapattis for lunch and a full for dinner. For any reason if I am awake till midnight, a midnight snack is not uncommon! This works for me!” Pushpa, on the other hand, has her own diet regime which includes fasts and carb-free days.
Never sleep immediately after lunch is the normal advise. I somehow got accustomed to a regular nap or relaxation of 10 to 15 minutes immediately after lunch. This keeps me fresh and fit the entire day.
Considering my lower back spondylitis, cervical and knee joint problems, 15 years ago, doctors advised me to discontinue playing sports that involve any sudden jerks. I got back home and sobed. I couldn’t imagine life without my regular dose of squash. After a week or two, I begun to feel sick. I restarted playing squash and recovered. Of course, I restricted it to 2 or 3 times a week.
Pushpa’s knees took a heavier toll so she had to stop trekking. However, she is extremely disciplined about her therapy exercises and does whatever walking/other yoga her knees permit.
That aside, both of us love our 2 to 6 km a day walk. This has gone a long way in keeping us fit.
We’ve maintained this routine for the last 40+ years, that it doesn’t feel special any more. We listen to all fitness advice and pick what we think suits us best. But whatever we did, we maintained regularity.
The main factor though I think is I try to follow timeliness as sincerely as is possible, be it is food, exercise, sleep or wake up time. This consistency is the secret to good health, according to me. Further, we give more importance to listening to our own bodies compared to external advice. We follow what suited us the best even if it meant exactly contradictory to norm. Stubborn as it may sound, it works!