I am not an expert and so I wouldnt like to define fitness. But I think for a professional sportsman, it is necessary to maintain a fitness level while protecting the body from injuries. Often, we are required to maintain a higher level of fitness so that we can perform to the best of our abilities.
The most important aspect of fitness is attitude. If you think following a rigorous routine regularly for a while and eating or avoiding certain kinds of food is enough, you are wrong. To be fit, you need to concentrate on both the physical and mental. A habitually lazy person can hardly be fit, if he or she is not determined enough. Again, there are those who are hardworking and fit at the same time. So, it depends on ones attitude.
I have always enjoyed playing games and never suffered from problems such as lack of appetite or extreme food fads. I started playing football and cricket while in school and the normal practice schedule when in the school team kept me fit and fine. Before leaving school, I became a professional cricketer, or, I should say, I took up cricket as my career.
Like all other professional cricketers, I too have to follow two different fitness regimes ' in season and off-season. During the season, there are playing days and days of practice. When I play, I have to work very hard and dont need to follow any routine as such. I just try to concentrate and remain focused, take light and measured food, stretch a bit, warm up and so on.
But on other days, even after the normal practice session, I have to be in the gym and follow specific guidelines. It varies depending on the matches I am to play thereafter. When I am in Ranchi, my hometown, I prefer going to the Indian Airlines gym as its well equipped. Following expert advice, I train with weights and do cardio abs and concentrate on specific muscles. In the mornings, I go to the stadium inside our Mecon colony.
Its important to be hardworking and not miss out on any opportunity to play outdoor games. You can always enjoy your food but burn the extra calories by sweating, running or walking more and, as fast as you can!
It isnt advisable to take badly-prepared food or too much of anything at a time. Oil and spices are necessary ' but you should avoid too much of them. Also, you shouldnt take advice from anyone but a proper fitness expert.
But the bottom line is: if you arent happy within, it wont show. So dont cheat or hurt others. Be happy, only then can you be fit.
Practice makes perfect
Ever since I have been in the national A team and now that I am a member of the senior team, I have had to attend camps. These are usually held in Bangalore. Such camps help us understand our fitness requirements better. These days, I have to follow a week-by-week schedule tailormade for me and report accordingly. Depending on my performance and needs, the schedule is altered or revised.
Early in the morning, say, by 6:30, I am in the field. This session lasts for about three hours. In the afternoon, I practise for another three to four hours. In the off-season, I practise only in the mornings and visit the gym two to three times a week, if not asked to do otherwise.
Milk, the elixir
The fiesty wicketkeeper prefers a heavy breakfast and a light supper: I love food. So far, I havent had to give up on any particular dish for my cricketing career. Anybody who works out can take good food. But I try to avoid oily and spicy items and deep-fried stuff. Breakfast consists of milk and cornflakes or toast with butter or alu paratha and some seasonal fruits. But milk is a must. It nourishes my body and I drink about one litre of milk in three doses. In the afternoons, I love to drink milk shakes. I love fruit shakes, especially mango shakes which I drink after my afternoon practice session. My lunch consists of rice, dal and vegetables and chicken or mutton curry cooked in a little oil, with the usual spices. When outdoors, I have burgers for lunch.
I usually have a heavy breakfast and a wholesome meal for lunch but a light supper. I dont like to have rice at night. I prefer hand-rolled hot bread with a little chicken or mutton and some milk. I love ice-creams and chocolates and can never refuse them! These are very refreshing