Monthly Archives: March 2010

Light Moods

This one made my day (from the InterWebs!):

It is said that once Russi Mody was on an official trip to (the then) Bombay. Even though it was a Sunday morning, Russi had to visit Bombay House, the Corporate Head Quarters of the Tata Group.

Russi was driving a Mercedes himself as it was a Sunday and there was very little traffic and also it was the chauffeur’s day off. Russi was wearing simple shorts and a T shirt.

Knowing that he would take just a few minutes to finish his work in Bombay House and that it was a non-working day in the business district with very low traffic, he decided to take liberties to park his Merc in an other-wise no parking zone.

A conscientious traffic cop noticed all this and he immediately rushed to Russi who had started sauntering towards the Bombay House entrance.

In a gruff voice the Pandu Havaldar asked Russi.

“Kyun bhidu, baap kaa sadak samajh kay gaadi rakha hai kya?”

Russi very non-chalantly replied: “Haan kuchh aisa hi hai.” “Aapko English padhna aata hai kya?”

Then he gently held the Pandu’s arm and walked him to the kerbside and pointed to the metal signage of the road.

He asked the cop “Kya Likha Hai?”

The cop said “Sir Homi Mody Street”.

A mischievously smiling Russi discloses: “Woh Mera Baap Tha”.

Russi was allowed to leave his car parked in the “No Parking” Zone that Sunday morning.

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Of Marginal Returns

Some history (feel free to skip the first para as it isn’t really relevant): As a kid, I don’t think I ever took exercise seriously. I don’t think I was too much of an outdoorsy person either. Not many sports, except swimming, but that was largely confined to summer vacations and company in the form of cousins. During my early teens, I put on weight and was forced to join the gym, if nothing else. I don’t remember taking that too seriously either. A bout of  typhoid killed all the extra fat, and as I passed out of school, I actually was as “healthy” as I could get. And then during graduation, I decided to join the gym seriously.

So after the first day in the gym, muscles that I never knew existed made their presence felt. I suffered intense pain. These set of muscles were probably never flexed before, and the first week was unbearable. No wonder the instructor asked me to skip a day before repeating my sets; we had to let the muscles recover. But over time, the pain subsided. And I had to do increasingly larger number of sets, or use heavier weights to, um, “exercise”. I really don’t think anything helped me as much as the very first week – the muscles probably were more exercised in that first week than ever later.

I didn’t continue gym for very long – commitments, lack of time, boredom, lack of motivation – excuses galore! So the muscles returned back to their original state, possibly following exactly the same path as they took on their way up – they must have regressed the most in the later phases, than if I had skipped the gym for a day or two.

So, what’s the point I’m trying to make, and why now? I’ll answer the later part first: I restarted “basic exercises” many times between that time and now, the most recent being two weeks back. And the first few days are exactly the same – aching muscles. I wonder if this is indeed a case of marginal returns. Is it really true that the first “painful” days are the best stimulants for the muscles, and if so, why continue? Of course, my premise could be completely flawed: Pain may not necessarily equate to gain, and this stopping and starting is probably more damaging than anything else.

I will admit, that the “kick” one derives from the first few days of exercising after a prolonged break far surpassed the felling one derives from continual exercise. One actually feels bubbly and chirpy. Maybe some hormonal reaction / response to the exercise – but that’s a fact. In a sense, this is similar to alcohol – casual drinkers tend to get the “kick” faster than routine drinkers, who must also consumer ever-increasing quantities to get “high”.

So, is it habit? Is it moderation? “Stop-and-go”? If this is really a case of marginal returns, then how do we ensure optimality? What is your take?