Let me be ME

Archive for the ‘loveforself’ Category

A Podium Mother- Smithaa Kajale

Smitha Kajale

A civil engineer by profession, winner of several cycling races, 3rd rank holder at Kolhapur triathlon 2019, 2nd rank holder at Nagpur Triathlon 2020, National qualifier at Nashik association championship 2020, a struggler in all the races due to her menopause stage, yet a winner at many, married at 18 and first child at 19 years of age, here is 45 years old Smitha Kajale from Thane.

Air force background and marriage at 18

I was born in Kolkata, and my father was in the Indian Air Force. My father had his last posting at Nashik, and he took a retirement there and joined HAL. I got into Chemical Engineering when my parents decided to get me married as they did not want to let go a suitable and desirable match. 

I got married at 18 and had my first child at 19. 

I continued with my education and completed my bachelor’s in civil engineering.

My second child was born when I was 26 years old. I never walked leave aside, exercising. Being young and occupied with children and work, I never felt the need for any physical workout. 

After my second child, I started with short walks. Even walking a kilometer was a colossal task. My husband and I decided to start with regular morning brisk walks. It was refreshing to walk and talk amidst all the duties and busy schedules.

The casual fitness journey

Going fast forward, when my elder son turned 19, he started going to a nearby gym, and I followed his footsteps. I got into a habit of regular workout and weight training. 

My younger son winning a Gold at time-trial, Guwahati

When my younger son turned 17, he started outdoor cycling and gradually cycling became his passion. His passion did not remain confined to casual cycling, but he started participating in the races. He did MTB Nashik, thane cycling championship, and in December 2017, he won the gold medal at the national time trial.

He then suggested me to start riding. He was sure that I would enjoy riding. 

I was getting bored with the gym. I get bored by the mundane routine; hence I bought a basic cycle and started cycling in December 2018.

In February 2019, I won the First Prize at Navi Mumbai maha cyclothon and a 10k cash prize

In March 2019, I won the 3rd Prize in the open category at Pedal cyclothon

In April 2019, I won the 3rd Prize in the open category at Borivili Cycling association Time Trial

I started loving my finishes and the joy of winning.

It is said that a child gives birth to a mother, and truly my children gave birth to a new me.

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.”

-Anonymous

How Triathlon?

Someone in the cycling group suggested about Triathlon. Triathlon was attractive, and the excitement to do three sports was gripping, but the issue was- I had never run until now!

I then thought and considered the upcoming episodes when my elder was already working in the U.S., and the younger one would leave soon, I would be free from their day to day responsibility.

Our life revolves around our children in motherhood, and they become our first and topmost priority. I was no different. The empty nest syndrome was daunting, and I needed to distract myself.

I decided to take the plunge and try out this new breed of excitement in my life-Triathlon.

3rd Position at Kolhapur Tri

Under the guidance of Viv Menon for triathlon plans and Nimesh for swimming, I participated in the Kolhapur triathlon (Olympic distance) and stood 3rd.

My first experience of open water swim at Kolhapur, and I was kicked, smashed, punched all over due to the massive number of participants.

After Kolhapur, I thought enough of Triathlon, let me now go back to cycling.

Meanwhile, someone mentioned about Tigerman Tri, Nagpur in Feb 2020. My previous doubts vanished, and I registered for the event.

“Sometimes we have one chance, to ride that wave, one opportunity to jump on, take a deep breath and feel the rush of adrenaline. . . don’t miss your chance.”

― Heidi Reagan

A week before the Tigerman event, I came across the Nashik Tri association championship. The championship was attractive, and with a discussion with my coach Viv, I registered for the event.

In February, I knew that Nashik would be cold, and I didn’t have the wetsuit for the race. Hence I started going for early morning swims and bathing in cold water to acclimatize my body.

The race mentioned that the swim would be in the pool, and I took a sigh of relief.

When I collected my bib, I was informed that the swim would take place in a dam(water reservoir). I couldn’t sleep for the entire night.

The race morning was horrifying than the revelation of the previous eve.

To my amazement, there were no ropes, buoys, or any emergency evacuation.

4th position in Nashik district triathlon

Upon questioning, the officials made it clear that the race was a time trial for the national qualifier and is a self-supported race.

I took a while to register this fact. My throat went dry. In already cold weather, I stood there, shivering in a swimsuit.

I prayed and chanted what I could remember and asked my husband to wait for me until I completed my swim and jumped in the water.

2nd position in Tigerman Triathlon

I finished 1500 meters of swim course in 35 mins. After completing the bike course, which was an undulating path and run that happened in scoring heat, I stood 4th

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

–Dale Carnegie

A week after I participated in Tigerman Triathlon, Nagpur and stood  2nd.

Menopause and training

For the event in November, I started training in June 2019. At the same time, I had to travel to Pennysylvania to my elder son. There the issue of menopause started. I was continuously bleeding heavily for week-10 days and changing menstrual cups every hour. Without a country-specific prescription, I could not take any medications in the U.S. hence. I continued in the same state until I returned to India.

I felt weak and lacked stamina. I consulted my physician as the race was nearing, and I had to get into vigorous training.

My blood test reports were not at all satisfying. My hemoglobin was at 8. My physician strictly advised me not to attempt any race, which was just two months away.

“Do not attempt doesn’t fit in my psyche” hence I asked for a solution. He advised for an Intravenous blood transfusion. I readily agreed and went to his clinic after work and got the I.V.

Races during my menopause phase

It is common to get a fever after the I.V., and I got it too.

My husband was concerned for me; he was always intrigued by this training idea and kept asking me,” Kyun Kar Rahi ho?”(why are you doing?)

I recovered the hemoglobin level, but my bleeding didn’t stop.

Thankfully just ten days before the race day, God showed mercy on me, and I wasn’t bleeding any more.

I could say one thing,”der aae durust aae”

Nashik and Tigerman, two consecutive races

On the eve of the Kolahour tri, I went for the bike route recce with my husband, exhausted in just 2-3 kms. I was anxious about the race the next day.

I believe that the mind conspires what you start thinking, I had made up my mind to finish the race, and I did.

From my menopause episode I can only conclude that,

“Leaders bleed, period.”

― Silvia Young, My FemTruth: Scandalous Survival Stories

The family bond

My boys are my pillars of strength. There has been no race when my husband has not been there to cheer, support, and encourage me. My two boys were my initial coach, guides, and mentor. I followed their footsteps in my workout/fitness journey as well as cycling.

What’s next?

I enrolled for Ironman 70.3 in Boulder, USA, but due to COVID, all the races got canceled. I will attempt the race whenever the racing season opens.

I aim to continue on my fitness journey and emerge as a more vital human being mentally and physically.

“A woman’s health is her capital.”

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Sutli bomb: Dr. Nandita Paranjape Joshi

This petite looking, a small structured girl is the right synonym of the Sutli Bomb(Jute twine bomb).

Nandita Pranajape Joshi

She is a powerhouse of endurance and strength.

Once a patient of sciatica, backache, irritable bowel syndrome , permanent asthma, several health issues, poor lifestyle-induced diseases to an Ironman Podium Finisher.

Here is the story of Dr. Nandita Paranjape Joshi, a 36 years old, mother of a five-year-old girl, Kolhapur based Gynaecologist and infertility specialist.

As Nandita shares her story,

National level lawn tennis player 

I had a beautiful childhood. There was a strict rule in my house that we siblings need to learn one art and one sport. I chose badminton but shifted to lawn tennis soon.

With the winner’s trophy for Lawn Tennis

I was pretty good at it (collars up) 

I represented Maharashtra thrice and played till nationals. 

Back then, participation in tournaments was a simple affair with non-branded clothing or shoes. I am from Sangli, Maharashtra, a small laid back town, and sports were all about strict training under my father’s supervision. Our relationship during the training was not like father and daughter but as a coach and a trainee, hence there was no mercy.

 Marriage, children and hectic work hours 

Children will always do the opposite of what their parents will tell them, and I was no exception. I did my medicine even when my parents asked me not to. Both my parents are doctors, and they knew the long working hours in the profession. 

I completed my MBBS from Aurangabad and DGO too.

I got married in 2010, and my daughter Nabha was born in 2015.

Nabha was eight months old when I joined back to work. 

Due to stressful work hours, an infant at home, and erratic work schedule, I developed a lot of lifestyle-related diseases. As the medical facility was easily accessible to me, I would do MRIs even for a minute symptom at the drop of a hat. I was in a persistent unhealthy phase. A childhood sports enthusiast was now under medicines and constant fatigue.

The push

All thanks to my brother, who pushed and pursed me to get back on track. With a lot of reluctance, I joined lawn tennis again, my lost love. But lost love doesn’t find existence in the present; hence I shifted to running.

I could not even finish 400 meters in 35 minutes or so. I was huffing and panting all the time. 

My brother made me do a 10K in some event, which I finished in 1.40 hours and slept off for two days. I cursed him with all my heart.

Being a doctor myself, I sensed my alarming physical state. I had to take charge and got into systematic training.

Races and training

A structured training plan helped me get back to my earlier fit and good form quickly. I took great care of my diet, as well. In 2016 I did my first Kolahpur half marathon. 

Things were going fine until I met with an accident. 

I traveled to Spain for a conference where I had a terrible fall. MRI showed ligament tear, and I was completely bedridden.

All my hard work came to a standstill. I had to start from scratch now.

At this point, a friend who was not allowed to travel on her own for the event registered me to the Belgaum Triathlon (sprint distance- 750 m swim,20 km cycle, 5 km Run).

I had no idea about triathlon, I followed the racecourse, and to my surprise stood 3rd! I was utterly clueless.

By now, I had started loving the entire endurance training and registered for Kolhapur Triathlon, Olympic distance(1.5 km Swim,40 km Cycle,10 km Run), and stood 2nd. 

Then came Goa Ironman, first-ever Ironman 70.3 (1.9 km Swim,90 km Cycle,21.1 km Run)event in India, and I enthusiastically registered for it.

I had never cycled 90 km ever before the race, and I seriously doubted my capability.

Podium finisher at Goa Ironman 70.3

Swimming is my strongest point as I have learned swimming in the river, but it was a tough course to tackle even then.

I was utterly exhausted in the last lap when I heard my husband and daughter cheering me, “why are you walking? Run! You are in the second position. Go run to the finish line”.

I was pumped up immediately and finished 2nd in my age category.

Training in a small town and Maharashtra flood hero

It is a challenging affair. I have to be very careful on the route, the hour of the day, and the company during my training. I was advised to dress up like a boy to avoid eve-teasing.

My training gear is either half or full-sleeves t-shirt and long tights.

There is always a lot of questions from the society and even peer group regarding my training. 

At one point, I started doubting myself on my competency to manage my family, especially my child, and focussing more on the training. 

I shared my concern with my husband, and he assured me of going by what I think is right.

As a woman, you have to prove your worth always, and it is pressurising. 

During the Kolhapur floods in 2019, I promptly took charge to rescue the trapped people and saved 50 lives. My name flashed in all newspapers, and since then, there are no questions raised on my training or races.

Personal growth

Endurance sports require strict discipline, hard work, and a tough mind. It sharpens your thought process and decision-making ability. 

After strenuous training and long work hours, I used to get irritated and vent out my anger on Nabha. With a systematic approach towards the training, I could manage my mood swings as well and developed self-awareness.

The field of Embryology and fertility requires precision, accuracy, empathy, attention to detail, emotional strength, and patience, and endurance training enabled me to acquire all these traits.

says, Nandita

I can tackle stereotyping with much grace and confidence. These things don’t bother me anymore.

Want to represent India at the Global Platform

Does hunger continue?

Of course! It will. It has just begun. I aim to work for better stamina and much better timing in all my races.

India lacks pro-athletes in international tournaments; I wish to represent India at the global platform.

Be fearless and independent. Nabha wants me to be the next Lucy Charles, and I’ll put all my efforts into being the best one from India.

Note to my daughter, nabha
Nandita and Nabha

Note to all the mothers.

Extract one hour for yourself for your mental and physical well-being. Each one of us is unique and fighting a battle of their own.Comparison is the worst enemy for growth. Do not compare yourself to anyone, it spills a beautiful relationship called friendship.

If you are happy, you’ll keep your family happy.

P.S: Nandita is also a great cook and a sculptor. She’s been making eco-friendly Ganpati idol for the last eight years at her home.

Women- Pack your bags!

Travel, the word is quite a buzz these days.
And it comes in various forms.
Adventure, luxury, experience, exploration name it the way you want.
Nowadays, everyone loves to travel as can be seen in the status updates!
Each one has their way of traveling and exploring places.

But, I am precisely writing this piece to target women moreover moms.
I want to suggest, recommend, and tell each mom to pack their bags and move out.
Ok, now I’ll surely get lots of bashing from all categories here,
Men– “why just women?”
Husband: “bigad do hamari biwi ko”
Parents– “hum toh kabhie nahin gae”
Neighbors– “Look at her!”
Others– “Batao, Kaise Chali jaati hai” (this BATAO variety is amazing-humor intended)
Well! Whatever anyone says, I would still firmly say to pack your bags!

Why am I adamant on mommies to travel?

I feel motherhood is a very tedious job, and a mom is automatically the worst person in the house.
Mom is a creature who is checking, correcting, scolding, getting hyper on even small issues, and is found screaming most of the time. We are never good leave aside perfect in anything.
For instance,
Kids,
got bad grades
getting complaints from the school
fighting with other children
health being bad
not learning new hobbies
-Is always mommy’s fault.
With all this, we go on the guilt trip quickly.


Thus, to overcome all these I-am-not-at-all-worthy feeling, pack your bags.
Planning a trip for yourself will help you in lot many ways.

Let’s see how?

Know yourself more

You will explore the options for travel and will conclude on one which is closest to your liking. Here you will get a chance to know your liking as an individual and not a collective as a family.

Better decision-maker

You will choose a trip and then convince yourself that you are going to make it. You will also convince your family about your decision. Making a decision and then executing it makes you a great decision-maker. When you are on your own then taking quick decision during the trip also helps you building your skill as a decision maker.

While in Goa we had quite a few changes to make in our plan and we were able to do it without any hitch

Efficient manager

You will ensure that everything runs in the house the same way even when you are away. You would instruct your maids not to take any off, inform the grocery guy to deliver things whenever asked and many more such things. Like, I write down every single thing right from the menu to essential phone numbers for easy accessibility. My maids do not take any off when I am away, and children have a set of instructions to follow.

Financial planner

Working or not working, each woman has to manage her finances very well. When you travel on your own, you will use either a part of your salary or your pocket money, in either way you have to manage funds very well.
Like, I go frugal whenever I am planning a trip. I am a back-to-work-mom and unable to get to the mainstream. Hence my income is every restricted. I have to manage both my athletics training and travel expenses efficiently. Much before my travel dates, I stop my coffee at Starbucks, cut down majorly on eating out, look for Zomato discount options, and opt for early hours to watch a movie. I have not bought a new dress for months now(which is like Arghhhhh…) not even a single piece of new jewellery(BATAO!!!) I even have to cut down on my beauty parlour visits. Sound crazy? But I have to prioritise things-can’t help.

Making family members responsible

Each member of the family must have their share of responsibilities. Children and other family members often take us for granted when we are always around .Let the children learn to get up on their own for school, put their tiffin boxes in their bag, serve food from the kitchen than maid or mom giving them and many more.
Let them learn to manage things on their own and take small decisions too.

A better version of you

Once you are out and on your own, you learn a lot of things about yourself which in general you miss observing. For instance, in all my travels, I have realized that I love walking far and wide to explore. I also don’t like going to all world famous places instead I like walking in the countryside or not so known places. The famous places we have already seen either in books or on social media; hence, it doesn’t feel,” Wow! I am seeing this for the first time.”

At the leaning Tower of Pisa. No sooner I reached I saw myself moving out of the rush

Builds up confidence

Planning and executing everything by yourself immensely builds up confidence, which withers away in many women after a while. I have observed this mainly in homemakers, where dependency for each and everything is too high, and they keep seeking “time” from their partner which generally doesn’t happen thereby making them low on confidence and left out.

Dear mommies, imagine your smile when you’ll enter back home after your trip and with a head held high that you managed every minute planning for the journey on your own and not even airport or station pick and drop.

Lookup for destinations, book your tickets, apply for the Visa, pack your bag, book uber, wear the widest smile and off you go!

Need not be far and wide but GO


Adios Amigos !!!

LifeCycle of “Like”

I met somebody a few days back, supposedly the one who can look right inside you. It’s scary because the layers that you managed to keep for long are now exposed, you feel naked. But we terminated our conversation with a thought of “What I want .”
Ok, so you are asking a woman what she wants. The most learned people have failed to answer this question what will my tiny brain do? He was triggering the most intricate, unpredictable and complicated thing – a woman’s brain.
Before I could think, “what I want,” my mind wandered and thought hard for “What I like ”
Again, a tricky business. My likes have changed so much since childhood that if I start thinking what I like I’ll need a century to figure that out. I like many things. Yes, materialistic too. Oh! Common I am a woman, and I love dresses, that lovely liner, new matte finish lipstick. I’ll surely try to squeeze myself in a short dress and then blame my trainer for all wrong workout.
I am a woman, and I have full right to blame another person for my folly. I am blessed with this power.
Coming back to what I like.
Let me narrate the lifecycle of my likes.
I have always studied in all-girls school and then all-girls college. Somehow I managed to do my post graduation in a co-ed. Thank god, that’s where I met my boyfriend now my husband else I would have never explored my female sexual side.
In my school, I always liked army girls. I was in a convent school which was in a cantonment area, and we had a lot of girls from the army. I used to find it very royal when they came to school in that truck cum bus. That big huge truck, with stairs at the end, driver, and conductor in army uniform, Wow! I instantly disliked my father. I was always a specy girl and always wore huge, plastic frame glasses which used to cover almost half of my face. I never knew life without glasses. So, I liked the girls with big eyes. They had so much drama around their eye movements.
We had Miss.Braganza type of a teacher named as Mrs. D’Costa, oh man! I was in total awe of that lady. Her short skirts, matching lipstick, hairstyle, speaking English with attitude. Wow!
She used to check us; girls don’t’ walk like this, girls don’t talk like that. Wear your skirts four fingers above the knee. You need a bra ask your mom to get one for you. I liked girls who wore a bra when others were just blossoming.
I liked other girls
As I have grown up in a township and you can’t mess around if you are in this kind of a small setup. One naughty business and parents get to know within no-time. In government townships, everything is rank and caste based. Things might have changed now, but back then an official of a general category was respected more than an official with the much higher rank of a SC ST category. We had our own circle based on the unsaid rules. I chose to like girls who used to wear night suits. Why? Because I used to wear nighty. That long tent, which you keep pulling down even while sleeping because mom said, girls should be all covered. I still wonder how did I obey this?
I also liked girls who used to wear jeans/denim. Why ? because I never did. I got my first pair of jeans in my graduation. I used to love the way legs moved in that pair of my dream dress, the curve of the bottom ( covered mostly). I used to look up to girls who wore tight denim in public gatherings. They were real divas for me, and I used to flutter around them just to have a closer look.
I liked other girls.
Then came college. Well ! what new? Girls again. Ah ! I have seen it all there. Lesbians, girls having a crush on me, someone madly in love with me, flirting with only bald head sir (lucky chap, I must say), girls claiming to my elder sister or mother or some platonic connect or just you, and I types to assure the connect. By this time I was like that child who demanded one ice cream when his /her parents were in a bad mood, and they offered a cup of ice cream with multiple scoops. Same was with me. Just too many scoops in my cup, I inevitably burst. I turned a rebellion. The tomboy in me was now up in full swing. But, what I did? Remember I am still at an all-girls college. With so many girls around a tomboy will stand out, and it did. I didn’t like any girl now and not even the boys. Well ! Poor me, where were the boys?

I didn’t like girls.
Finally, during my post graduation, I had boys in my class. I went to the college with a thought that I’ll see all types of superbikes, macho boys, those punches, boys looking at me and I’ll be like that pond’s girl who would enter the class, and everyone turns their head towards me. I even bought the best smelling Ponds talc and Liril soap. I should not miss any fragrance to allure others .
But , what a crash ! Nothing happened. Just nothing.
Why ? I was still a tomboy. Laughing loudly, riding a geared bike, wearing shoes always even with salwar kameez, very short hair. No upper lip or threading done.
I envied girls who wore terrific dresses, had a long mane, had their lips colored with beautiful pink, had shapely eyebrows, nail paints.
Again, I liked other girls.
After the placement, it was a culture shock for me. From a small town to Mumbai. It happened too fast. I was amazed at the pace of this city. Confident girls, moving out even when it was dark, how they snapped at autowalas, managed their way in the train, wore jeans (my dream pair of legs) with a short top (at times cleavage showing too- cheeky isn’t it ) It was overwhelming. I loved every girl in this city.
I liked other girls.
I finally got married to a guy hence was able to prove my fertility and had two kids. Now, I was overweight, sagged skin, unshaped better to say shapeless body, what was once north found the way southwards.
I loved women who got down of the car in their best looks, smelling good, hair in place, clothes ironed, lovely sandals, designer bag dangling on one arm and a mobile phone in the other.The maid was carrying the child and the baby bag behind. How much I dreamt of walking like that with a high head.
I liked other girls.
God I feel is too smart. He might have heard my mumblings and offered me an all-boys family even my dog. Fooling him is silly. My focus shifted to all-boys stuff. Geared motorbikes to geared cycles, all rough and risk-taking activities. I now focus on my biceps than my lipstick shade. I am cool if I have not waxed myself and I have to wear a short or sleeveless dress. I give a damn to “log kya kahenge” (what will people say ). I aim to get super toned abs for my birthday (my mom doesn’t like this ! )I am comfortable in my skin. Those beautiful girls, wearing stilettoes and walking like stilt walker don’t attract me anymore. I love looking at myself and blow a kiss in the mirror. Too-much-self, if you may call. Then please do, who cares.

What I want will take a while to answer but what I like? I like me.
I like myself. Period.

girls

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