Guess how long the arguably fittest man in India works out for every day? “Twenty minutes,” says Milind Soman. And not even in a single stretch, at that! A typical day begins with five to six minutes of planks and a minute of push-ups, followed by one set of pull-ups during the day, and something short in the evening. “That is enough,” he says.
Minute by minute
This is why Milind finds it so easy to convince people to exercise. “I tell people to start with one minute. That’s all,” he says. “There’s no need to buy fancy equipment or clothes, or go to a gym or get a trainer. Just start with yourself, because it’s about you learning about your body and mind. And that has to be an internal exercise. If you do 10 push-ups regularly, you will soon get to 11 and then 20. As you do that, you will become enamoured by your capability. And then you will keep doing it because achievement is the biggest motivation. You have to be self-motivated. And we can get self-motivated by setting small goals for ourselves, achieving those goals, feeling good about them and then doing more.”
The 56-year-old actor and model has just finished the 10-day ‘Green Ride—Ek Pehal Swachh Hawa ki Aur’ initiative by Veeba’s Earthmade Organix, during which he cycled, ran and drove an eco-friendly vehicle while traversing north India.
‘I’ve looked up to Milind for so many years, ever since the shoot he did wearing nothing but a snake. Now that I’m working with him, it’s a dream come true,” says Viraj Bahl, founder of Veeba.
The association between Milind and the Green Ride came about due to Milind’s belief that people can help save the environment, but that the change isn’t quick enough.
“I want people to understand that our health and the health of the environment are closely linked. If each of us did what we could for ourselves, we wouldn’t really have to do anything for the environment. We are part of the environment. So, when we save ourselves, we save the environment as well,” he points out.
Since he loves trees (which you’d know if you read his bio on his Instagram profile), he also planted a tree wherever the ride stopped.
“I sincerely believe people should start moving back to villages again, have a small piece of land and grow their own food as much as they can. I do it. There’s a lot of satisfaction in it,” Milind says.
You do you!
Personal satisfaction has a lot to do with how you choose to stay or become healthy, says Milind. His go-to is running, simply because he loves it. “I don’t run for any particular purpose. I don’t run to lose weight or to win the Olympics. It’s something I do for myself,” he says, pointing out that doing things you love simply because you love them is crucial for a healthy and happy life.
“You do a lot of work for people or situations outside of yourself, like your job, career, kids, family. But you aren’t doing anything for yourself, really. You think doing things for your family makes you happy, but again, not really. That is not you. You are doing that because it’s a responsibility and seeing the people you love happy makes you happy. But that’s not your happiness. It’s their happiness. So, when you do something that you enjoy personally, not letting go of that is very important,” he explains.
This is why when he meets people who look back nostalgically on the activities they had enjoyed in school or college, he tells them they should start those activities again.
“Do it for five minutes a day. Even if, say, you love to sing but are bad at it or love to play an instrument, but play it horribly. Only things that give you joy will help you learn about yourself. And learning about yourself is the key to being healthy,” he adds.
Lead by example
Running, for Milind, is like meditation. It’s when thoughts flow by and he holds on to nothing. “It clears my mind of things I don’t need to think about,” he says.
The man who gives fitness FOMO to everyone believes that physical well-being is deeply rooted in mental health. Today, he says, a lot of people only discover what gives them joy long after they hit 30. “In my 20s I was offered the job of a model when I didn’t even know that modelling was a profession. I worked in a hotel, different companies, and was studying to be an engineer which I didn’t want to do, but did because my parents, society, friends told me I should do it,” he confesses. The only thing that could bring about a substantial change is if parents start becoming good examples for their children.
“This used to be the case earlier, but today, human beings are the one species on the planet that don’t teach their young ones by example. We are so involved in the outside world that we don’t do anything that’s good for our kids, except send them to school to learn from somebody else,” he says.
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From HT Brunch, January 2, 2022
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