Fitness is a lifelong journey: Sandeep Mall
Each one of us experience certain seminal moments that change our life forever. For fitness expert and wildlife photographer Sandeep Mall, one such moment came in 2009, when he met with an accident and he found himself trapped in a 10-car pile-up. Mall was severely injured; and his recovery and consequent rehabilitation was extremely challenging, painful and long. Hurt but not defeated, the man who was 43 back then took stock of his life and came to the conclusion that he had devoted much of his life to little else, other than running his business. He decided that it was time to change and give expression to his creative pursuits.
Thus, on one of his trips to Ranthambore Wildlife Sanctuary, he realised that wildlife photography was not just a hobby but therapy that would alleviate the pain that plagued him ever since the car crash, and the consequent disc replacement surgery. While on his road to recovery, he also unearthed the true value of fitness and how it has the potential to change every aspect of your life - body, mind, attitude, relationships and business in a positive way. He says, “ My doctors were prepared to prescribe me and put me on lifelong regimen of medicines. But I wanted a way out and thus began my journey in the world of staying physically and mentally agile,” says the 55 year young man who is a doting granddad to a 8-month old baby girl.
He started training under Rajiv Godara, a boxer who happened to be his neighbour. “He was a friend of my son’s and encouraged me to exercise. Whether it was a gym or the park, he made me push my limits. I started to see differences in my physical appearance as the fat accumulated around my neck started to recede. My sleeping patterns became healthier and I started thinking positive.”
Mall started sharing his journey on Twitter, thus inspiring thousands in the process. “I was amazed to read transformation stories with words of gratitude for inspiring them to get fitter. My story motivated so many people to eat right and get fit! Thus, the desire to influence more people to take up a healthier lifestyle grew.”
Mall announced two month-long health challenges in January and February and surprisingly, many non-believers also took to exercising regularly, being part of #GettingFitterwithSandeep. Encouraged by the response, Mall launched another challenge. “To break the monotony of exercising, I announced a multi-activity, 100 Day Health Challenge, that started from April 1, with a mission to have 100 participants join in on this journey.” To his surprise, 580 people signed up. And a mass fitness drive rose out of Twitter interactions, supported by fitness and health experts, entrepreneurs and individuals from varied walks of life.
The challenge was unique in its format as people could do varied activities and not limit themselves to just a few exercises. It encouraged fitness enthusiasts to continue following their routine or change their activities depending on mood and interest to avoid monotony from setting in. “Netizens indulged in all kinds of physical activities, from Zumba to aerobics. We encouraged people to take up activities of their choice thus making the challenge more flavoursome and wholesome.”
Getting back to his own journey, Mall says, “It’s true, it takes about 21 days to form a new habit, and I chose the habit of fitness. In my journey that began in 2009, I have experienced a myriad of benefits ranging from being less susceptible to anger to getting rid of all lifestyle ailments.”
Mall believes that anger is counterproductive. “Anger hurts not just us but many other people as well. Always look at the bigger picture. Replace anger with love, gratitude and purpose. You will be a winner. You will build a solid foundation to reboot your life,” he says.
Mall’s goal is to motivate people to live a healthy life, and he believes in sharing as much information as he can to try and encourage others. “As you start leading a healthier lifestyle, your vision towards food changes too. I ensure I have freshly cooked meals. It’s advisable to avoid all packaged food. Hydration is equally important and consuming 3 litres of water is a must,” he says.
Mall never restricts himself from having sweets and specially ice creams, “I just had some,” he laughs. He feels it’s futile to restrict ourselves all the time, and one can have what one likes in moderation, as health is not a short-term goal, it’s a lifelong practice.
The entrepreneur feels it’s important to be grateful and writes in his diary every day at night, thanking God for small things and experiences. “The power of gratitude is like a magic potion that would make you happier, healthier, more optimistic and more productive, and that potion would cost nothing, and will require very little effort to use,” he believes.