Getting moving in the morning has made a big difference during this COVID-19 period

After I received news last year and the year before that several of my classmates had fallen prey to strokes and other life-threatening conditions, I realised that my health was something that I could not ignore.

With the general predispositions of people in my racial group (I am of Indian descent) to diabetes, hypertension and other life-challenging conditions, I understood that I was responsible for my health and well-being in the long run.

After all, I was likely to be working well into my 60s and perhaps even my 70s, so a healthy lifestyle and body condition was only in my favour and to nobody’s disadvantage.

So around March last year, I began intermittent fasting, and cut my meals to one main meal a day. I also began working out at least once a week at a nearby gym and started swimming on weekends.

I found this hard to handle at first – the hunger pangs were hard to beat at first but my body soon adapted to the new lifestyle and it was not long before I was enjoying the smaller meals and looking forward to the workout sessions. In fact, I felt odd whenever I was unable to make a gym appointment due to various reasons and would do all I could to head to the gym come what may!

After consulting with my brother-in-law, I slowly but surely made the next step – removing sugar from my drinks and taking them sugar-free and often milk- and creamer-free too.

The changes were not apparent at first. But soon I realised that my clothes were more loose and I actually dropped a size – from large to medium.

My weight also dropped to a comfortable and manageable level and I had better sleep, increased concentration at work and more mental clarity during meetings and discussions.

When Lent came around this year, I decided to go for broke and take a vegetarian diet during the season. I was afraid that I could not last (I love my mutton and chicken briyani and fish is a dish I particularly love). At first, it was hard to adapt to the varieties of cooked pumpkin, carrots, and okra – but soon, I found myself liking each meal. So much so that I continued my vegetarian diet even after Lent ended.

I had no idea how important this lifestyle would be this year. When COVID-19 hit Singapore and the Circuit Breaker measures were implemented, working from home (WFH) became a necessity and the isolation was initially hard to bear.

But the morning walks have become my daily essential life staple – a way for me to think through issues, meditate and talk to God (while wearing my mandatory face mask), and get my daily sweatout. My vegetarian diet and sugar-free drink regimen has also helped keep me healthy in body and mind.

During the day, Zoom sessions help keep me in touch with church mates, and other friends and colleagues so I know that I am not alone, and this keeps the communication channels alive in ways that WhatsApp and Google Hangouts cannot do.

As I write this, the Circuit Breaker measures are being slowly lifted in Singapore. I do not know when we will get the COVID-19 all clear but I am glad for the routine that was set in place all those months ago and that has helped ground me and keep my well-being and sanity intact.