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Health(ier) Standards

Returning to the gym after 18 months of lockdown

Akshay Gajria
The Coffeelicious
Published in
4 min readAug 20, 2021


My father runs a chain of gyms here in Mumbai. As a child, I grew up in them and around machines meant to pump iron. I met bodybuilders with bulging muscles who kept comparing their diets (“Only six eggs? I eat at least eighteen.”). As I grew older, I aspired to have big muscles — if only to get my father’s nod of approval.

Before the pandemic hit, I was a regular gym rat. My work as a writer made my life sedentary. But at the gym, I could move. And sweat. When the lockdowns hit and the gyms shut, I had a hard time dealing with it. Without a regular dose of workout, my muscles shrunk. My t-shirts started to get loose around my arms and my pants grew tighter around my waist. I found loving my body difficult. I did work out at home, but it was nowhere near what I could accomplish in the gym with equipment and weights and a trainer pushing me.

Ever since the gyms have reopened, I’ve gone back to my old habits. Cycle to the gym. Work out hard. Protein shakes. And innumerable eggs. For the first few days, I thought everything is the same (I’m back baby!). Like slipping into old habits. This is easy. But is it?

During the lockdowns, I spent much time learning how to cook. I’ve always said, “I can’t cook to save my life,” and used it as a mantra to get out of any kitchen related chore. My writing mentor had once told me, “You should at least know how to cook the basic things. It helps a lot in life.” I’d dismissed this piece of advice back then. But it came back to me while staying safe at home. I decided to learn and start with the easiest of things: Eggs.

During what we call the normal days, before the lockdowns, I used to eat anywhere between eight to fifteen eggs a day. So it made sense that I’d start with eggs. They are not only the best source of protein but also the best way to retain what normalcy was left. Right?

I did learn how to make various egg dishes. I make a mean omelette, and I’ve found I love adding a little cheese to my eggs, something I’d avoided most of my life thinking it’ll make me fat. I also found how much I love bread, and I now know the right level of toastiness that I require. Figuring these things out about myself and creating a diet that not only suited my…