You know those people, who constantly obsess with their health? Can’t eat this, won’t touch that, slow on carbs, high on salad, air fryer! preservatives! is this eggless mayonnaise? We’ll this story isn’t about them. It’s about another kind of obsession. And how it made me rather healthy. Sort of.

O.C.D. or obsessive-compulsive-disorder is a strange problem. Problem. Pro-ba-lam. It makes you want to say things and touch things and count things and repeat things, in a certain manner and meter, with no real objective or purpose in mind. Just a slight trigger and you can’t stop till the feeling subsides. I don’t really know what ‘the feeling’ is, but it’s there. That’s why it’s an obsession. And probably why it’s a disorder.

It-this-thing, has been bugging me since pretty young. I remember turning book pages in a certain order and velocity, writing P.T.O. furiously on every sheet – bottom right corner of course, touching bare walls in college and jumping steps, for no particular reason at all. Ask my imaginary friends and they’ll confirm. Kidding. But things were on the edge. There were doorknobs and door locks and sweaters before exams and the gas. One must always check the gas. In case it’s. Now see what you’ve done.

(An unavoidable break)

As you can guess, O.C.D. has not been a source of much inspiration in my life. And over the years, I’ve worked quite hard to curb its enthusiasm. Lost some nerves. Lost some hair. Lost some love. But things are better now. I don’t knock thrice anymore. And my shoelaces aren’t always balanced. The only issue that remains is numbers. My Achilles heel. I just don’t like some numbers. Like 3 and 9 and every prime till 79. And 13 and 15 and anything with 6 in between. And odd numbers and squares and even numbers that come in pairs. And square roots with commas and sequences with points and zeroes that are conjoint. Yuck.

But I see them everywhere. At work, on spreadsheets, on menus, license plates, my watch, at the gym.

I like to exercise. I burn calories and heavy thoughts and it helps me expend this excess, unnecessary energy accumulated through the day. But these numbers – damn them.

Let’s take the treadmill. Enter the speed of your run. 5 is no good, I’m hardly even walking. And it’s a prime. Which is the devil. 6 is fine, but it’s not sweat worthy. Plus 6+2 is 8 and that’s the cube root of 2 and I just don’t like cubes. They’re not even even. Everything should be even. Like 10 or 12 or 14. But 14 is in the 7 tables. So 14.2. I’m going to run at 14.2 speed and burn some calories. 123 calories. No. 125. Can’t. 127. Won’t. 128. Bah. 138. Stop!

2.74 kilometers at 14.2 speed with 138 calories in 2.5 minutes. Wait 2.5? Aargh.

Next up are some friendly push-ups. 15 reps, sets of three, says the instructor. I can’t do 15 reps, three times. 15 x 3 is 45 and my pin code is 40005 and it just doesn’t sound right. Twelve I tell him sets of two (24 is when I found love so). 13 he insists. 14 I beg (28 is when I found drugs so.) 11 and sets of four he pushes. Ok, if I can leave the last one at 10 because 10 fours are 40 and that’s one less than 41, and my bus number was Z1 and it just feels right. Go get your freak on, he says. Hah. If he only knew.

Weights. Today is triceps. 5 kg set one. 7.5kg set two. End with 10kg set three. First the left tricep. Then the right one. Then both together. But that’s three sets for triceps sir? And three ways of doing triceps? And they’re called ‘tri’ ceps. I just hate triangles. I’ll do four sets of everything and then one bicep? Like a square with a big diagonal. Ok? My head hurts.

This would be a typical day at the gym. And I’m not even starting on the days for abs, where the numbers go into hundreds and the mind is free to imagine while resting in an upside down position, the blood pumping bullshit into my brain on repeat. Yikes.

You might think that going to the gym has clearly backfired. It was supposed to temper my obsessive handicap. That hasn’t happened. I’m still counting numbers. I’m still smelling gas. O.C.D. is a part of me now. Like a bad metabolism or a mole on the left palm. I might not love it, but it’s probably just a matter of perspective.

So here’s my idea. I’ve decided to befriend my disorder. I don’t fight it. I milk it. I exercise the fuck out of it. Unleash it at the gym you know. I might lose my mind, but heck, at least I’ll get ripped as hell. 5.7 pack anyone? Sure. Have the calf for a half marathon? You betcha. Uh tricep? More like I-can-make-you-wanna-cry-cep.

So suck you GQ. Eat this Men’s health. Brothers of the world: take my friendly advice – drop those damn protein shakes. Go grab you inner chi and try my special O.C.D.*

(*Satisfaction not guaranteed)