Life 101: Ironman training

With each mile, I learn. With each mile, I become a better and a higher version of myself. Being a girl, in India, people can make it really hard to train outdoors, but if your heart’s in it, you innovate and redirect, cause its ultimately about you, and not them.

Training for Ironman is tough, its a certain level of discipline that most people don’t understand, its also very repetitive, and yet one day is never exactly the same as another.

You may think that it gets easier after a certain level of training. I’m starting to realize that that’s not the whole truth. Yes, your stamina might get better, you might get more comfortable with distance, and you might even build tremendous endurance as a result of your training. But what they don’t tell you at the start is, that each day is actually a fresh start- doesn’t matter how many miles you clocked in yesterday or day before, you’ve to show up, and do it all over again, each and every day. To those who think that that’s easy, I’d like you to compare it with the Law of Diminishing Returns. Yes, of course you start with excitement & commitment, but once the mind knows that it has to keep doing the same thing again and again- it takes a lot of mental strength to keep going. It’s the same thing again and again- till one day, you actually reach the finish line, and then it all in hindsight makes incredible sense. How much of it is mental vs physical? Personally for me, it’s 80-20. If I’m feeling good, thinking right, feeding off energy from good thoughts, I normally am able to complete my session even if physically I’m sore, hurt or tired. However, if my body is ready, and my mind isn’t up to it, I’m not able to do anything, literally. Call it mental fatigue, some days you’re just going to feel burnt out, which is worse than anything else I’ve experienced. When it comes to it though, training is where I realized the real value of the term ‘mindfullness’, for you need to present in each moment, each breath, each mile, each ‘now’, otherwise you risk everything. If you think of the future (how much you have to do), it can weigh you down, and if you think of the past (how much you’ve done), your body will beg you to stop as a natural response.

Although after a few episodes of mental fatigue, you start putting things in perspective, and you stop beating yourself down. You start realizing that a failed session isn’t a failed effort in its entirety, but just one failed session (in a way, an opportunity)- the next one doesn’t have to be, and probably won’t be cause now you know you’ve to work harder. This has probably been the most refreshing insight that I’ve lived through. Why? Cause now I know that a bad day or a particular setback, is so temporary in nature, that it can’t hurt me if I don’t allow my mind to dwell there. New day, fresh start- almost like you’re rebooting and restarting every day, and its yours to own. This feeling is really empowering, cause after this realization, not much can affect you, not the petty stuff anyway.

Another aspect of this sport is how personal and introspective it is. Each journey is unique for each athlete and in the challenging moments you tend to find and discover yourself, your grit, your willpower and your own reasons. You’re constantly redefining your limits, challenging what you’re made of and striving to excel- on the risk of sounding cliched, you’re unraveling truths of your life. Having tasted this drug of individualism, it becomes kind of hard to settle for mediocre ways of life- cause this habit of striving to excel transcends to everything you do, every role you play.

Lastly, we aren’t in it for external recognition or laurels, but conquering and winning inner battles is what fuels us. Most endurance athletes will tell you, that although its nice to be acknowledged, we are in the game because we have something to prove to ourselves and have raging, chaotic storms inside our heads, that we try and tame. For me, Ironman is the ultimate test of psychological and emotional strength, its where I get to develop, idealize and philosophize life, to reflect, introspect, and grow. This is my mode of serving this beautiful gift of life, by delivering my very best, exceeding my current expectations and living a meaningful, high quality life.

To end with, one of my favourite essays of all time by Ralph Waldo Emerson called ‘Self Reliance’ (read it here), has the following lines:

There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. Not for nothing one face, one character, one fact, makes much impression on him, and another none. This sculpture in the memory is not without pre-established harmony. The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray. We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents. It may be safely trusted as proportionate and of good issues, so it be faithfully imparted, but God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace. It is a deliverance which does not deliver. In the attempt his genius deserts him; no muse befriends; no invention, no hope.

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What a wonderful life!

Thank God, I have a vision to make my life grand. Most people I’ve encountered just exist, that’s all, but I? I live. It is all about designing the kind of life you want to live. Imagine yourself as a creator, where nothing is impossible and everything accessible with dreams that extend or match the magnificence of this Universe itself.

It is indeed beautiful and humbling to realize that we are made up of a million atoms. Those tiny particles vibrating at high speeds just make our physical existence bundles of energies and vibrations. It is so important to find or be in sync with the soul and not ever overlook the fact that we have tremendous power within us.

People must realize that the emotions, the feelings and everything they live through, can all be controlled. This soul of ours (our inner self) controls all the happenings in our life. So choose, choose beauty, choose love, choose prosperity and you shall receive it.

As we are just bundles of energy, we choose what we attract to our lives. Our thoughts become things, as a result of their influence on our everyday actions (No, not specifically because of The Secret but because of our own power to control our actions). Through proper meditation skills, it is possible to monitor and observe your thoughts. Once you start channeling your thoughts to see the good, you start receiving the good- because you start creating the good.

Must remember, that we control our inner universe. Other than that, all external influences and circumstances are temporary. Train your inner being to be happy, energetic, intelligent and generous- and strive to create a wonderful life for yourself.

I am full of gratitude for my life, the people in it and the everything that I’ve been blessed with. So far, it has been my upbringing and expereinces that controlled my life’s happenings but now I’m fully aware and in charge. Through meditation and journaling every morning, I’m ready to re-design my own life to ‘glory’. Let’s make this time on Earth truly valuable and beautiful.

Nothing can match the power of someone who has decided to conquer its own self- for the Universe, the answers, the battles- all lie within you.

You are SO beautiful, you are SO powerful- be it, act like it.

 

Lessons I learnt from Coco Chanel

 

Gabrielle Chanel was raised by nuns in an orphanage after her mother died, and father abandoned her. At 18, she decided, that it was time to leave and explore the world. She started working as a seamstress, where she had an encounter with a charming army man, you swept her off her feet and asked her to come away with him to his countryhouse. The thing with him though was, that he needed women for pleasure, and as soon as Chanel realised that he would never marry her, she just knew she had to leave him. During her time at his countryhouse, however, she met his best friend Boy Capel; who found her irresistible, and wanted her in every way. However, Chanel by now, betrayed by two men who should’ve loved her, was more focused on her business (at that time- making hats) and did not want to dependent on anyone. As time passed, her business grew, she secured more and more customers, Capel and Chanel fell in love. Their love story was so touching, he gave her the world, and couldn’t be without her but then the war happened and he had to serve his nation. He came back though, but, his father insisted that he marry a sophisticated woman, who also was his god-daughter. Capel, under much pressure, had to leave Chanel, but it wasn’t long before he realised that he had made the greatest mistake of his life. He called her, told her, that he was coming back for her; but died in a car accident on the way. Chanel was broken, he was the love of her life, but she channelled all that energy into work. 

This story to me, speaks volumes, about a woman who was dealt the worst possible hands in life, but she endured it all. With much elegance, and grace, she realised early that she must not be dependant on others, and focused on classics rather than the fashion at that time.

“My life didn’t please me, so I created my life.”

It is so empowering to realise that YOU control your life, and the things that happen in it. The moment you stop feeling like you’re the victim of everything, and take charge, and be at the choosing end rather than receiving, you start owning your life.

“Men always remember a woman who caused them concern and uneasiness.”

Women who lack ambition and drive, are easy to deal with, because they can be told what to do, what to wear, and how to follow. You can tell them anything, they’ll bear, endure and survive. But I respect women, who have that spark, who want to swim upstream, and strive to be achievers. Such women, men find it challenging to deal with, because they are used to the society telling them how things should be. Only a strong, confident man, can handle a bold woman. I’m so over men who treat women as their inferiors, and think that the kitchen is where they belong; because it is women who the men use as pillows to hide at night. Chanel said it herself, “As long as you know men are like children, you know everything!”

“Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.”

I believe it is not luxury that defines your style, but your style defines the luxury that you own. Most people now, buy things, because it makes them feel associated with a brand, and thus, the people who use it too. For me, it doesn’t matter where you buy things from, but what you buy that defines you. If you have style, you won’t treat brands, as brands, because they won’t matter. The brands need to enhance YOU/ your personal brand, rather than blind people from afar.

“How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone.”

Stop treating your life as insignificant. Stop trying to be things to people, be a person that people would want to be associated with.

“Those who create are rare; those who cannot are numerous. Therefore, the latter are stronger.”

Don’t let the voice that is stronger just because of the numbers, drown that voice inside you. You can be anything you want, a creator, a designer, a celebrity, anything- just choose to be it, and never look back- but be prepared, you won’t feel like you ‘fit in’ anymore (and that’s a good thing!).

“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”

Be different, be unique, be your own brand. 

Leadership 101

“The only way to sustain energies, individual or collective, is to turn our gaze up toward the far horizon of hope.”

A leader must empower his team. He cannot do the work for them, they must do it for themselves. I work with the Managing Directors of a conglomerate and I see different styles of leadership. I see how experience makes them act under pressure, while making decisions and during their everyday routine. You see, they have this thing about them: they are strong, bold and fearless; or at least they seem to be, everyday.

The boss’ mood sets everything in motion at the office. They walk in energetic, ready to take on challenges and get through the day. I could not have seen it any better; but their mood affects the morale of everyone around. They do have their moments of exhaustion, like every human, but they mask all of that, and just do what they do best, lead. The two people I work for, have the power to control the lives of many people and their families, and it is unbelievable how strengthening/ toughening it is just to be around them. Sure, they aren’t always right, but they accept their mistakes, apologise, encourage discussion and conversation and even if with trial and error, mostly get it right.

It is in the leader’s job description to strive for the goal and keep the team motivated to do the same. For no political, social or moral advancement and achievement is without formidable obstacles.

“Groups have an emotional temperature. As individuals they can be happy or sad, agitated or calm, fearful or confident. But when they come together as a group, a process of attunement – “emotional contagion” – takes place, and they begin to share the same feeling. Scientists have shown experimentally how, within fifteen minutes of starting a conversation, two people begin to converge in the physiological markers of mood, such as pulse rate. “When three strangers sit facing each other in silence for a minute or two, the one who is most emotionally expressive transmits his or her mood to the other two – without speaking a single word.”

 I aspire to be a good leader, they make me want to. I see them negotiating, signing deals, enabling people’s career, controlling assets and making a difference in thousands of lives; that is glamour for me, that is power for me.

My pursuit of excellence has only begun, but as I’m learning more, I’m experiencing more- let’s hope I’m able to make ‘the difference’ I wish to make.

Credits to Rabbi Sacks.