Since childhood, I was into sports. I was a national-level squash player- captained my school and college teams, clenching an all-India ranking of number 6 in the junior category.
My time in Madhya Pradesh's Daly College and Karnataka's ITC WelcomGroup graduate school meant that I lived away from home for a total of 11 years. During my training and internships at various hotel brands such as Oberoi, Taj, Marriott and ITC, I underwent a rigorous work regimen to say the least. An 18 hour-long work day, as well as coping with the rapid speed of metropolitan living prepared me well to administer my family heritage hotel back at home in Bera. A radical shift in my lifestyle as a result of hosting and entertaining guests at Castle Bera caused me to indulge heavily in cocktails, as well as rich cuisines. Lost in my euphoria during these three years as living my dream life as a host to a plethora of multicultural guests, I tended to evade any responsibility vis-a-vis my health and lifestyle. Exercise had been suspended gradually, and then completely from my daily routine, and I frequently ended up overeating. This constant rut of entertaining and being entertained as a hotelier unfurled an unhealthy lifestyle that was intrinsically damaging of my health.
In addition, I launched Bera Jackets, a new business enterprise that demanded my deep involvement. My professional ventures kept me complacent about my increasing tendency to be lazy, and my overweight appearance did not initially hamper my self confidence. Social courtesy shielded me from receiving personal comments regarding my weight and appearance, until a few of my cousins straightforwardly pointed at my plump physique and advised me to get back in shape.
Soon after, the national lockdown to counter COVID-19 was implemented and like most other people, I was confined to my home premises. In the greater amount of time that I had to myself, I began to realise that I really had put on a lot of weight, and thus, I made up my mind to
set up a fitness challenge that I would attain while being quarantined.
I hail from Bera, a village that is proximate to jungles and the leopard hills of Jawai. The picturesque Jawai dam is close by, and I would enjoy my privilege to be one with nature by taking a jog towards it, or climbing the beautiful rock hills. As I commenced running more seriously I realised that the surrounding area of Jawai was thoroughly contaminated with plastic and glass litter. This came as a shock to me, especially since we locals have been doing our best to conserve the ecosphere of our homeland despite the ignorance of frequenting tourists. I was deeply concerned about the consequences that these pollutants would bear on the wildlife of Jawai and hence, began to collect some of this litter on a weekly basis along with my staff.
Formally, I termed this clean-up drive as I-Clean Jawai, which encouraged the region's hotels to deploy a jeepful of their staff persons every week to clean specific areas around the dam. The increase of hotels in the Jawai bandh area meant that there were more hands that we could join and collectively make a large impact. The sight of local hoteliers uniting for this cause was truly heartwarming to me, especially because I am sensitive about the wellbeing of the local fauna that I have grown up venerating. As my humble initiative progresses, I am confident about fortifying the future of a clean and environmentally sound Jawai. I-Clean Jawai also provided me the additional motivation of collecting litter while jogging on a daily basis.
Apart from jogging outdoors, I am fortunate to have access to a gymnasium at home, which my laziness had led me to neglect uptil now. My father would repeatedly insist on me using the facility to my advantage, but due to a general lack of motivation, I would make excuses of requiring a personal trainer and on and so forth. Reading a book called The Magic Weight Loss Pill by Anushka Shetty and Luke Coutinho further motivated my fitness drive, and I began following the training protocol from my squash days in school. The renewed combination of cardio and high intensity workouts as challenging on a mental as well as physical level, and despite my unpreparedness for this intensity of training, I chose to follow my mind over matter.
Being a sportsman previously, I adapted to the challenging workouts in no time and would ensure a daily exercise regimen for 2 hours. During these 2 hours, I run for thirty minutes and then immediately take to the skipping rope for ten minutes. Then, I perform 400 steps on the stepper, multiple ab crunches, push-ups, weight training and finally, boxing for 20 minutes with intervals. My diet of home-cooked food was regulated as per an intermittent fasting schedule, wherein I allowed myself an 8-hour window for food consumption. Indulging in alcohol and junk food is limited to Saturdays only, such that a moderation of this kind would prevent the development of any unhealthy cravings.
Thus far, I have managed to lose 10 kilograms, and have also encouraged my parents to join me in my intermitted fasting and a lighter exercise program. My mother, who is aged 64 has shed 8 kilograms and my father, at 65 years is lighter by 10 kilograms. Hence, it isn't just me but my family as well that has made the most of this lockdown to inculcate a healthier lifestyle, which we intend on making our new normal. I hope for my journey to inspire many others who, like me wish to be their fittest selves by adopting crucial changes in lifestyle while being confined to their homes.
Below: Yaduveer Singh Bera: Before (left) and after (right)