“Son, May I Borrow Your Skinny Jeans?”


“Son, May I Borrow Your Skinny Jeans?”

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Afew things on this Earth are certainties. The sun will rise, the rain will fall, and people who exercise will make an announcement to everybody they know, in person and on social media. It’s almost as if describing your workout in excruciating, annoying detail can soothe sore muscles caused by said workout. It’s a trend I’ve spotted everywhere, from my own friend circle to the world of celebrities and star kids – if their fitness level doesn’t make others look unfit by comparison, what is the point of exercising at all?

I don’t know why this happens, but happen it does. I was just as guilty of these fitness humblebrags back when I used to exercise regularly, and now that I don’t, I have to find a way to tune out the boasts of others. When someone begins an elaborate narration of their latest 30-day ab challenge, my preferred comeback is, “The last time I regularly worked out, Manmohan Singh was our PM.” This has the dual benefit of distracting the speaker with a joke while also letting them know I have five years of experience in not giving a fuck about my expanding waistline, so they don’t waste their time explaining how their core feels made of steel, bro.

Whereas with friends I use humour, with celebrities, I start to rationalise. The reason Ranveer Singh has an eight pack and I don’t, is because I don’t have access to the best trainers, gyms, and equipment in Mumbai; not to mention I don’t get paid to look good. Sure, Tiger Shroff can do a triple-flip in mid-air, but so could I, if I didn’t spend hours on the phone with the gas company trying to wrangle a new cylinder for the kitchen. Adulting can be hard, and as long as I don’t end the month in debt to a loan shark, I chalk it up as a win, beer belly be damned. While my body type might be closer to dad bod than Greek god, my self-acceptance levels are at an all-time high. Compared to myself from five years ago, present-me is like those packets of chips that come boldly labelled “Now with 15% Extra!” And I was totally fine with that, or so I thought.

This year, my chalta-hai attitude toward fitness and exercise received a wake-up call. My 55-year-old dad, who is 27 years older than I am, decided to keep the same New Year’s Resolution that countless people give up on in the first three weeks of January – losing weight and getting fit. Almost before I realised, six months had flown past and we were in June. A visit home gave me a shock. I rang the doorbell, and my dad opened the door, wearing a T-shirt I had lost all hope of fitting into months ago! What sorcery was this? This man was literally twice my age, but making me look out of shape.

Whereas with friends I use humour, with celebrities, I start to rationalise.

I’ve always found it easy to ignore what the media is telling you to look like. Normal folk shouldn’t be held to the standards of celebrities. Even when it comes to my peers, I can point to any one of my work obligations or personal hobbies as a reason why I’m not in shape. But how was I to sweep my dad’s embarrassing one-upmanship under the carpet? He works harder than I ever do at office; I’m just a writer with his head in the clouds, while he is an entrepreneur hustling to get his start-up business on the map. Age isn’t on my side either, and I can’t even use natural predisposition as an argument since we are flesh and blood.

In the three months since I first began noticing the changes in my dad’s physique, they started to get more pronounced. His waistline shrank, his muscles became more defined, and he managed to also pilfer my old skinny jeans and a few more T-shirts that seemed destined for charity. Now, he tells me he feels younger than his age, and weighs roughly the same as he did when he was in college, in the ’80s. Conversely, I’m just hoping to get my weight down to the eighties so that I don’t fall into the obese category on the BMI chart. It may sound like envy, but actually I think my dad is an inspiration.

The last three months have seen this veteran couch potato (yours truly) get off his ass and begin trying to shed the pounds. It’s not been easy, but the thought of my “old man” making me look like an old man has been a great motivator. He has done what endless #MondayMotivation and #Fitspo posts by ripped influencers never could, and getting my butt off the sofa might be the heaviest weight he has ever lifted.