Tell us about yourself, your background and what you do currently
I come from an Army background, where I spent every two years shifting towns and schools. That was an exciting part of life as I saw it as new opportunities to meet new people. Life was simple, we lived in simple towns. Jammu, Poonch, Jalandhar. It was me, mum and dad for the first 6 and a half years. I would have trouble waking up, my father would scold me for not waking up on time (army households 😀 ) He’d push me to take up sports in school, he tried getting me to swim, play basket ball, run. My mother would push me to do well (which somehow came effortlessly to me, thank goodness ).
I have a younger sister who inspires me to getout of my comfort zone every single day. In fact back when we were younger it was only when my baby sister started showing interest in activities that I thought, hey, so you have company, you’re in this together, it can’t be that bad, and I’d do something- that’s how I learnt how to swim, that’s how we tried new things. Till date she’s the one I have to run all my decisions through. I joke saying she knows me so well, she needs to be my manager some day.
My folks are doctors, so you can imagine the kind of pressure on me to do well in school. Mum kept a check on my studies till it was time to pay attention to my younger sibling, my father would ensure I was getting enough physical activity. I had trouble adjusting in the civil life, I liked the warm, familiar feeling that the army families gave. It was 2000 when we were posted to Pune and I realised how much I missed Army schools and simple homes and fancy holidays to places all civilians would only maybe dream of.
The value of doing well in academics, and the spirit of healthy competition were things I learnt from my parents. It is because of this, and the fact that I was still getting used to the change of moving from Jalandhar to Pune, that I kept academics as my first priority. I was focused on the bigger picture, and worked towards doing well, even when others were exploring college life with group vacations and parties. I was that boring kid, yeah 😀
I had to take up both math and bio in 12th (folks being doctors believed in science, they didn’t understand the vague life of arts) I gave up maths in 11th (after somehow managing to pass with a 39/100) and fell in love with bio in 12th. But physics and chem weren’t my strong points, and I really didn’t see myself doing something in this field. I opted for Bcom after a lot of arguments, my folks gave me an ultimatum to do well , get an MBA and a job immediately. I got into an MBA college and got a job, and they relaxed a bit. Then I took up freelancing. They’ve been so supportive; I couldn’t have continued this if they didn’t have any confidence in me.
An MBA in Marketing, I did what everyone asked me to do: I got a “stable job” in Mumbai. I did not enjoy it much,but it was how they had said it would be. After a series of unfortunate events I was back in Pune, trying to figure out how to land myself a job next. I applied to agencies, and got a call back from the biggest one here in Pune. After that there was no looking back. I learnt a lot about the digital world, leadership, team building and of course, how to navigate my way through the corporate world. I left after 18 months, because I needed a break. That’s when I started writing, and it wasn’t even 2 weeks into it that I got my first freelancing gig. I decided to take it up, and started working as a freelancer and part-time social media manager simultaneously. The social media job was to ensure a minimum stable income every month. A year later I took up freelancing completely, confident about my clients and of course, my ability to handle work. It’s been 4 years- I freelance and consult with an agency.
I took this decision (which almost everyone else called a risk) because I wanted to write- I loved writing, it was strangely therapeutic. I started off being a food blogger, but it was writing that attracted me. I wanted to write about whatever I could. Hence the decision to be a freelance writer, as it gave me my creative space, plus I was not bound by any rules. I hated working with rules. Not that I disregard them, nope. I just can’t function creatively under so much pressure. I love the challenge of writing- it’s not simply about putting information out there. It’s about connecting with people, sharing stories, positively affecting lives. I love writing. On days when I don’t have anything to write, I am a cranky, sad, annoyed little child. Just like those days when I miss a workout 😀 Today, I am a freelance writer with many international and national brands. I am also a blogger at Dumbbells and Drama where I focus on living the fit life.
Tell us about any current projects or initiatives you wish to promote
I really wish I could be a little more aggressive with spreading the idea of the fit life. It’snot only about “hey, stop being lazy please work out!” No! There’s so much more to that! There are so many misconceptions, so much of wrong information floating around, so many people to misguide you; even though I have no certifications in this field, I’ve studied these carefully for a long time, experimented with my routines, and realised how things work. I want to be able to share this with more people. So I keep sharing organic content on my blog as and when I can.
Another initiative I am extremely passionate about is controlling online bullying and trolling. As you rise to fame, you get attention, both good and bad. So while I’ve got used to some trolls (2 instances till date) it does not mean it is something I need to get used to. This is not just about me, so many face this on a daily basis and you don’t know if it’s breaking them or are they really as cool headed as they appear to be. Online trolls are sick, and need to be dealt with.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
The greatest challenge is being able to maintain a steady inflow of projects. Being an influencer in today’s digital world has become easy when you’re looking at “numbers”- number of followers, likes, comments, shares. But in India I believe we are very far behind when it comes to putting quality over quantity. Easy access to fame makes it difficult to pursue blogging as a full-time career with content as focus.
Plus there’s always someone available to do something for a lesser amount, and this is not just limited to the field of blogging.
Also, keeping a track of payments and trying to get new projects is quite a task, you need to be prepared to hustle. I am a control freak and I’m trying to get over this, which is why I am still handling this by myself and not employing a team 😀
This industry functions on the principle of “out of sight, out of mind” You need to stay relevant, you need to be seen and heard. It gets overwhelming at times, but then I guess it’s all a part of the job
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
Five years ago I wouldn’t have ever dreamt of being in the public eye. I don’t think I’m still used to that. I have my moments when I withdraw into my shell, thinking is this for real?! So I’d say every little thing has been an achievement, and I cannot really rank them. I never thought I’d lead a fitness revolution, and it’s happening, it surprises me every day. I never thought I’d be published in some of the biggest publications in the world, and when it happens I get a little teary eyed before I share the news with my followers on social media.
The fact that today I am at a position to influence people, at a place where people know my value to their brand/business, is the biggest achievement. When your dream brand comes to you saying “we love your blog, we want to work with you” it takes a lot of mental strength to not burst out in tears saying OMG THIS IS HAPPENING!
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t blogging about fitness, if I wasn’t telling stories through brands, I’dseriously hope there would be a job that would pay me for working out all day.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My folks. My sister. And everyone, a little bit. I think everyone has something good to share if you really, really look closer. Some people have great confidence, some have great energy, some have the ability to face hardships in such a smooth manner, you cannot help but say “Hey, I wish I could be like you” All you need to do Is observe and stay humble; everyone has something to teach us.
What does the future hold for you?
Hopefully a lot of good things! I want to be a storyteller for the rest of my life, so I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to quit freelancing and just be a fitness blogger. While the freelancing gig is growing, as a blogger I have a few brands in mind, and I’m going to work towards working with them. These brands and initiatives matter because they help me spread my message of the fit life to a wider audience.
An Army kid in pursuit of culinary nirvana, Protima Tiwary is a freelance content writer by day and Dumbbells and Drama, a fitness blogger by night. High on love, life and sugar, she is mildly obsessed about cupcakes and to-do lists, and loves her long runs like a fat kid loves cake. While she fumbles towards fame as a writer, she believes living life with a little bit of flair and exaggeration makes things interesting.