For Visha, physically fit means emotionally fit

It was a dark day in the winter of 2009 when Visha Suchde had what most people call the quintessential wake up call. Months and years of being careless with her body, not paying attention to what was going in, how she was treating it and what it was all doing to her had finally caught up. After a particularly emotionally rough night, she woke up, looked at herself and could no longer recognize the woman in the mirror.

Visha describes herself as someone who used to be incredibly self-aware, present, centred and very sure of herself. But the face in the mirror that day told a different tale. “I had lost my sense of self. And I decided at that point, to reclaim myself, and do whatever it takes to go back to being the person I used to be. Someone who knew who she was, stood for something, was emotionally aware, and physically fit too. More than my body, it was about recovering emotional too”

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The new year (2010) began with a daily swim. “Initially, it was my excuse to go away to a place where I could just be with myself. Swimming became my solace, a space of privacy to deal with the anxiety and pain I was dealing with,” she says. Since she wasn’t exercising to lose weight, it wasn’t until people began to notice the visible weight loss that she decided to start recording it for herself. And thus began Visha’s journey towards reclaiming herself – mind, body and soul.

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To date, Visha has lost a whopping 36 kilos in total. But it’s what she’s gained in the bargain that she holds dear. “Part of reclaiming myself was about rediscovering sides of me that I seemed to have forgotten. So I wanted to start travelling, exploring the world, and I realized there were many things my body would need to cooperate with.”

Visha also deals with a Prolapse Inverted Disc issue that caused considerable pain. Within 2-3 years she was swimming a steady 3 kilometres a day but she realized she had hit a plateau and that she needed something more in order to not just get fit, but get strong too.

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“I wanted to reach a state where my body wouldn’t stop me from doing what I wanted to do,” she says, rattling off a wishlist that included everything from skydiving to scuba diving. A combination of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), under the guidance of a physiotherapist combined with a focus on eating right, with inputs from a nutritionist set her on the right path to achieving her goal – to be fit at 40. Visha is well on her way to it.“When I began HIIT, I felt so inadequate, so we had to start really slow, but today I do workouts my trainer cannot keep up with!”

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“I don’t have an ideal weight. But neither do I believe that looks don’t matter. I feel like we need to concentrate on both together, because the way we look and feel is closely linked. You don’t need to aspire to be skinny, but you need to love yourself in order to feel healthy in your mind and body,” she says, succinctly summarizing what she also calls her mind-body battle.

One of the biggest gains from Visha’s fitness story has been the importance of a strong core. With a robust centre of strength, both mental and physical, it enabled her to strike off many things from her wishlist like skydiving (which puts tremendous pressure on the back) and scuba diving (which requires lifting of heavy tanks on the back).

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When asked what the road ahead looks like, Visha is strong and clear, “Every time I feel I have reached a milestone, there is scope to do more. I push the threshold every single day. I have my limits, but I try and overcome them everyday. We did 100 burpees the other day, and my back protested, but I am more aware and I know how to pacify it,” she says confidently.

Ultimately, like all stories of incredible change and transformation, this one is about creating a movement in the long run. Making it last is always the harder part, but also the part that is immensely satisfying. “Making this a lifestyle change or choice is my way of upping the ante. Whether its emotionally, my food habits or my capacity to work out, I’m feeling much stronger today,” she says aptly summing up her fitness journey as one that helped her lose weight, but gain so much more in the bargain.
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