When I joined the Geeta discourses last year, it was akin to jumping in a river without knowing where the waters would lead me to. Little did I expect that the waters would immerse in every aspect of being…and least of all, my new found passion of health and physical fitness.
But this would probably remain reticient, if my friend had not posed me the question, ”What are three fundamental things one should do, to get healthier and fitter?”
I would have short changed myself and given her a clichéd response like “eat right, move more, and sleep tight”! And while that would not have been wrong advice, it didn’t seem it would help her much…It seemed like giving her an end without the means…an effect without the cause!
And thats when the penny dropped.
I found that the real answer lay in the most fundamental of Geeta teachings…
Jitendriyam – Control (of senses)
At the root of it, all major deterrents to a healthier way of living are some way related to us giving into our sensory organs — taste, vision, touch, smell, and sound. i.e. our unmindful acts to please these organs, whether it be binge-eating, uncontrolled drinking, cravings, addictions (not just of substance but of actions and inactions), forgoing sleep for pleasure! Now the only way to rise above this is to let your intellect rule over your sense organs i.e. getting to a state of doing every action with heightened awareness – concepts deeply talked about in many shlokas of Geeta…whereby one develops the sense of forgoing (or moderating) your lower level sensual desires to achieve one’s higher purpose or goal in life-(i.e. a sustained healthy lifestyle over constant succumb to sensory pleasures).
Abhyasam – Constancy (of effort)
Well, In order to get healthier, you have to eat right, you have to exercise and you have to get the right amount of rest! – but what is missing from that statement is that you have to do this consistently. Just like the river cuts through the rocks not by its power, but by its persistance..constancy of practice is the probably the only muscle you need to exercise higher level of physical fitness. Thus, the concept of Abhyasam described in Geeta as the constancy of efforts with dispassion (i.e. without attachment to your likes/dislikes or outcome)-remains another key aspect in your goal of a healthier and fitter lifestyle.
Shraddha – Conviction (in the Coach/Ultimate Guru)!
And finally, Conviction or Faith! When you are new to any journey (be it physical fitness or a spiritual one), it is helpful to have the right guide along your side. Just like how Arjuna had Krishna during Mahabharata. And to surrender to Him with full faith. When all queries are surrendered, answers are found!
Even in the quest of a healthier lifestyle, it is important to seek out and get guidance from the right coach. Now the right coach could be a friend, a guru, a nutritionist, a yoga instructor or even a philosophy- but someone or something worthy of your trust and one you can follow with full faith. Because in every journey, you are bound to hit roadblocks. The right guru (and your Faith in Him) becomes instrumental in steering your path in the face of these roadblocks. Until the time, you can get to the state of being your own Guru and let your consciousness guide you.
And just like every journey is taken one step at a time, my Geeta Guru suggests the way to get to any destination is zhanay zhanay…a moment at a time! i.e. The way to get to a healthier state of being is also by evolving every day, moment by moment – using Control, Constancy, and Conviction!
ps. This post is dedicated to Garima ji (my Geeta Guru), and to all those Gurus in my life, who were instrumental in steering me in my personal journey of physical and spiritual health! And to Bhagwad Geeta itself, the ultimate Guru!
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I was the official “@loser” of the trek. Well, my fellow trekkers awarded me with this hashtag because I had lost a glove, a cap, and almost my trekking pole and phone in a matter of four days. But I felt like a “loser” for a different reason:
Sights of such surreal beauty bubbled my amateurish romanticism!
There is a trend amongst urbanites (like me) to do Himalayan trekking to cross off an item from their bucketlist.Well, that may be so…but let me assure you there’s much more to it than just the lure of filling up that bucket of list and of picture-perfect Himalayan landscapes.
Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit lies the answer to the mystery why we climb – Greg Child
The Beas Kund (a glacial lake at 12866 ft from ground level) may be a moderate difficulty trek but the Seven Sisters (the mountain range that encircles it) always has something up their sleeves to make it push your mental limits. For us, it was the fresh snowfall which followed by the sudden rainstorm (enough to cause spindrift avalanches) made our waterbed trails full of gushing waters and the icy patches of the trail that much more slippery to trek on.
Well, if that doesn’t rock your mental boat, try negotiating the steepest, almost verticle parts of the summit climb with a vertigo or a sprained ankle! And for some, braving extreme exhaustion, nausea and fever to make it to the top. Numb hands whenever bared and teeth chills whenever a gulp of water get sipped!
But as our trek leader who kept reminding us, “it’s all in the mind!”…Once we conquer our minds, the mountains, the climb and the rest…all becomes easier to conquer! Eventually, the realization comes that courage is not the absence of fear but the strength to keep going.
This just doesn’t apply to the physical baggage you carry, but more the mental one. An alpine climbing trip can be a crash course in letting go of your inhibitions…whether they be around using the open squatting pit toilets (which btw have a singular focus of testing your already aching glute and hamstring strength!) , or drinking the stream water which at times may smell of cow urine – (but hey, didn’t they claim gaumutra was good for health?!) or wearing the same pants for the nth day since every other pair is wet or surviving the claustrophobia of sleeping in the 6X2 sleeping bags (over pokey rocky surfaces within the 6X6 camping tents along with 2 other trekkies and 3 sets of gear!).Or my personal favorite…stepping over mountain lizards and mules that want to eat from your plate! Due respect to those Decathlon hiking shoes for withstanding muddy slush, slippery waterbeds, icy slopes, verticle heights, and sometimes wriggly beings without complains!
But the brighter side is, you quickly learn to accept reality as it is! – saving you the trouble of spending 10 days meditating in Vipassanna to imbibe this very Buddhist doctrine. 🙂
The sense of liberation you get from embracing your fears/inhibitions seemed akin to the nirvana that Rishi-munis aspire for atop these peaks! 🙂
All the clichéd quotes about self discovery in the mountains are, perhaps true. Let me start with a self-afflicting realization wrt timeliness (a virtue that has somehow eluded my personal value system!). But you quickly realize how important it is, to keep time by your side, when you are faced with the vagaries of the mountain weather. In fact, the same applies to your own energy. “Go at your own pace; take a break when you feel tired.” – Isn’t this basic rule of climbing quite relevant for our non-terrained lifestyle?!, I wondered.But a more spiritually-laced one dawned on me into my third day of heavy backpacked-laden climbing- its about the distinction between our wants and needs (Blame our lifestyles to have created such a blurred line between the two!) It became quite apparent to discern between the two now than ever before…
You can go further, only if you carry what you need!
Btw the mountain corollary to that is…what you need, is what you have to keep dear. (Remember, no power or “backup” on the mountains!)
Also, be assured that there will times you will come face to face with yourself through some of the solo stretches of the trek. It was one such beautiful moment, charged by the hazy-hued zigzagged morning horizon,when I realized that I can be in perfect bliss in solitude as much as I can be, in the company of people and materialistic comforts.
The most endearing part of the trek is that it can turn total strangers (of varying lengths, backgrounds and ages) into close comrades. Something to do with the fact that you connect with your fellow trekkers in a visceral way, no pretense, no distractions(read internet), and one common goal. The realization that we either climb as a team or don’t climb at all, makes us go the extra mile to look out for each other: whether it be sharing lunch when someone forgot to carry theirs, intuitively lending a hand at tricky crevices, reminding each other of the quintessential water breaks, or giving away your own cap or trekking pole because someone needs it more than you. And of course, the endless banter, some soul-seeking conversations, singing old favorites, the snowfights, to keep away the mountain blues.
In a reflective mode, I conclude that humaneness is as uplifting a nature’s creation as the Himalayas itself.
Of all the things you experience, gratitude is the one that sticks. Gratitude for many things – this beautiful life, loved ones, but even more primally, this human form- for its ability to experience this in full glory and emotions, and your own body to have endured through the hardships so that you can enjoy the view from the top.
To have the mountains challenge you in many ways, push you to the breaking point and put you back into one piece. A piece more at peace, more uplifted, more spirited than before. The gratitude to be alive and to have lived each moment of this ethereal journey.
And now for the…..
May this serve as a motivation for all of you to keep fit! 🙂
ps. Yoga and meditation to keep the spirits high on the highlands! 🙂
In a much worth-mentioning addendum, I want to point out about some very interesting self-sustaining, green initiatives by our trekking company #IndiaHikes. They wholeheartedly believe in leaving the mountains in a better shape than they found it. And as a way to ensure that: 1. They require each trekker to bring their own cutlery and lunchware so as to reduce the waste up in the mountains. 2. All the trekkers carry an ecobag in which they are supposed to collect any trash (plastic, wrappers, etc) that they find on their way. At the end of the day, it all gets segregated and brought back down to be properly disposed off. 3. No wipes, no processed food packed in packages allowed during their trekking trips. They compensate by making the yummiest food at the alpine heights. Kudos to #IndiaHikes for taking care of our precious, most beautiful natural wonder.
Yeah, sure…some may call it a #booyah moment! But for me, its very hard to describe that jolt through the senses when the body gets thrusted into an icy cold pool filled with 15 tonnes of ice! And to my surprise, the brief moments getting out of the icy pool to the finish line were equally ineffable. I couldn’t believe I had conquered my deepest fear! For me, the most warm blooded woman on this part of the world…I had most dreaded the final obstacle, aptly called the Brain Freeze!And btw the only way to get to this, is if you have completed the first 14 obstacles of equally grueling proportions sprawled over the 5 km running track.And now you may imagine why they call it the Devil’s circuit…it is indeed the meanest, baddest, craziest obstacle running race in India…aka Fear Factor without the reptiles.
And to think of it, It all started with my weakness of eves-dropping in the gym. Ruchika, the uber-cool fitness trainer, was talking to someone about a crazy obstacle race she had participated in. Intrigued by the thought and falsified by my own bravado, I mustered up my courage and asked her to sign me up too.
But all fantasies of getting an obstacle race under my belt got shaken up, when I saw the video of a past run. It was nothing I had done before…in fact, not even dreamt of! But the bib was bought and the date was set. The only thing I could do now, was to prepare and pray!
Thank God for the training session with the parkour maestros, Deepu and Delson (checkout their uber cool parkouring video :)) of ChaosFaktory. Sure, their grueling sessions gave us bruises and sore muscles but also taught us some useful tips and tricks to handle the obstacles we were going to face.
Never deny yourself the wisdom of others. While its wise to learn from experience, it is wiser to learn from the experience of others.
Day of the D-Day
The most deceiving part of the race is the warm-up routine…with the most electric, foot-stomping music and gyrating zumba dancing of the crushers (the given name to the eye candy zumba cheerleaders on the stage) Its unfair to get one so pumped up…I forgot I had to reserve my energy for the race to come!
I also realized that most of the people around me were half my age. But then again, age is just a number. I bet my dance moves outdid most of theirs in sheer exuberance. 🙂
Don’t lose your youth to a number on the calendar!
But all that faded into oblivion, once the whistle went off. The few hundred participants of the non-competitive wave all huddled to get to the first obstacle. The first obstacle was about a 8 feet wall with a 10 feet rod extension that you have to climb without support and jump from the other end. It is one of those hurdles that seem easy enough but when you get to it, needs a lot of skill, grit and well, err adrenaline.
Then the circus starts…the hopping onto slanted planks, traversing concurrent verticle poles, scurrying across convexical monkey bars, challenged the muscles and the mind equally…but for the first time, I felt in the flow. Nothing else mattered. It was me and the obstacles.
By the 6th hurdle, the palms are blistered (from under the duct tape you were smart enough to put), the knees are bruised, the muscles are sore, but I never had this much fun while putting the body through this much grind.
ps. For all those folks who’ve cringed at running marathons, but still want to put their fitness to test…go obstacle racing! 🙂
What marathons are to endurance, obstacle races are to full-body fitness!
Then comes the touted toughest obstacle of the race…the 14-feet parabolical wall that you have to jump through the muddy runaway and climb using your naked hands. A few attempts and you realize there are times in your life where you have to let go…the parabolic wall obstacle was one of them!
But failure can prove to be a motivator.A keen observation, the ingenious self-taught foot gripping technique but most of all, a revamp of the mindset made me pull through the angled rope pull-up (touted to be of the same difficulty level as the parabolical wall) with much gusto and to the cheers of the crowd in the first attempt.
And there, in the middle of the race, realization dawned upon me. I realized that none of us are perfect…even the seemingly perfect ones! The smart ones just know how to compensate for their weaknesses…some by using their creativity, some using their mental strength, while others using the strength of others.
Needless to say, this new found wisdom made me go through the rest of the obstacles: the free jump into the muddy waters, hoop through the rotating floater pyramids, crawl through the dark alleys and barbed wires, rush through the onslaught of swinging tyres with a sense of ease and calm.
But when I think about it… what made the experience truly unbeatable was not the thrill of achievement (or the memorable afterstories or facebook pictures) but the fact that we were doing this together as a team…i.e it was not me vs. you situation like the other races. It was all of us together, under barbed wires and over icy waters.So three cheers to my buddies in sweat and shivers: Ruchika, Amar and Chanakya.
We slayed the Devil (together)!
In fitness and in life, you need a challenge(obstacle) to jump to the next level!
Life is an obstacle race!(From the philosophical ranter in me!)
Obstacle runs may not be everyone’s cup of Gatorade…But come to think of it, our life is an obstacle race in itself! And just like the Devil’s Circuit, each of life’s obstacles are different. Some are daunting, some less so, some may seem easy but get tough on you, while others may be hard but get easy as you go through them. You have to decide whether you will let these overwhelm you or see them in the eye and turn them into opportunities for you to learn and grow.
And the good news is, there is no one right way to overcome each obstacle. So you have to just trust your gut-feeling and rely on your innate power and handle them the way you see fit.
After all, life is about seizing those #booyah moments!
“Travel is a sure shot way to gain kilos.”That’s a pet peeve I hear from friends. (This despite my earlier blog on How to travel right? :)) One of whom refrains from long vacations just to maintain her figure. So unfair to the myriad beautiful destinations waiting to be explored, I say! So this time, I had the perfect opportunity to put that theory to test.
To everyone’s surprise including mine, I came back fitter and definitely leaner(by a kilo) from my 3 week vacation across Europe.
I do realize Europe makes for a skewed destination for such an experiment. Nonetheless, it made for some great observations and learnings.
So here’s my harder look at why French (well, err..generalize it to European) women (or men, for that matter) never get fat…(besides their sworn allegiance to fit into French designer coutour!) and what can we learn from them!
1. The world, your gym!
What do you notice as soon as you step outside your hotel in Prague or Paris? Well, what I noticed even before the medieval marvels that these cities have to offer, was the fact that the entire city is on its feet, literally! On close consideration, I figured that the cities are actually designed such (with its picture-perfect town squares, beautiful bridges, and cobblestone streets) that they inspire everyone to walk. And so everyone does! In fact, most of the working population in Europe commute via public transportation, which again involves significant walking or biking.
In many cities esp. Paris and Copenhagen , they have fancy open gyms alongside river banks, parks, and just about every open space. Come evening, the young and the adult, locals and many non-locals, are all seen bench-pressing, squatting, pulling and pushing-up together, pumping each other up.
Iceland has taken it to another level…with an average of 2 public free-for-all swimming pools for every 500 residents(which to my surprise, were full even on rainy days)!
Btw, in Europe even grocery buying can add to one’s fitness quotient! Instead of the weekly supermarket trip, grocery buying in Europe involves daily rounds to local in- or outdoor market, bakery, or butcher, scouting for and picking up fresh ingredients for the next meal. This ritual, followed by one and many, invariably lends to significant walking carrying bagful of heavy groceries home everyday. Quite a synonymous equivalent to the weights and walkers in the gym, I gather!
Well, and even as a tourist, you are not spared from your daily dose of exercise..i.e. if you haven’t averaged between 5-10 kms of walking and climbing everyday, you cannot do justice to the centuries-old architecture, medieval facades and hidden alleyways, so quintessentially European.
In short, even if you are not exercising in a fancy, fully-equipped gym everyday, you are getting fitter with the European way of life.
Indulge in the European way of life ! Be active and start walking!
2. Little goes a long way!
Moderation begins with portion sizes in Europe. Just like their clothing and shoes, their food and beverage portions are also a size smaller.A point in case is the European version of a coke can available on British Airways. This can is 150 ml, 32% smaller than the U.S. Coke Mini and 58% smaller than the standard U.S. can.
The miniature frenzy does not end there. During the course of the trip, I encountered miniature versions of Magnum ice-creams, Lindt chocolates and even gourmet burgers! In fact, I found out that the average portion size in general is 25% lesser than in the USA.
Even the size of their fridges is smaller! No wonder there is little chance of storing and preparing food in big quantities! No wonder, they make less and they eat less.But in somewhat strange contrast, you do notice those quaint lil street-side cafes always full of people enjoying a bite, anytime of the day! So what gives?
That is when I figured out that little goes a long way in Europe. I believe they compensate for their small portion sizes by eating slower! While the Americans are getting excited about super-sizing their fast foods and gulping it down even faster, the europeans seem to savor their diet-sized servings with cleansing swirls of vino, overlooking the beautiful rivers and vistas, in the company of their loved ones! Beyond the health benefits of the food itself, the ritual of eating is a source of pleasure and an important social experience. This leads to more mindful eating practices, and is better for the overall digestive system.
Cook little, Make fresh, Eat slow! And with good company!
3. Eat like a European
Europeans, like Indians, have a knack of drawing on the best of what is in season to produce regional delicacies. Thanks to the abundance of local markets offering everything fresh and seasonal one can think of!
Well, and they seem quite religious about their regional diets…Take for example, the Italians, Greeks and Spanish who live off their Mediterranean diet and in turn enjoy long healthy lives…Their diet includes mostly locally available foods such as tomatoes, avocados, olive oil, nuts, fruits, vegetables, fresh fish and even pasta.
Even though some seasonal/locally available foods may not always seem the most nutrient-dense option…in effect, can still prove to be more beneficial. First, they typically contain what we require at that time of the year and environment. But more importantly, they are part of one’s food heritage making these foods closely attuned to one’s genetic predisposition.
Their diets also include comparatively more raw and unprocessed foods. I couldn’t help but notice the well-stocked aisles of colorful salads, mueslis, fruit pots, cold-cut sandwiches, cold-pressed raw juices at the pret-a-manger store at the Heathrow airport. The fact that it was the most crowded hangouts at the airport say a lot about the locals’ affinity towards natural and unprocessed food choices. In fact, I found this trend across European airports…Each one had many options, whether it be a salad or a sushi bar, fresh sandwich delis or even organic raw presseries. Needless to say, I indulged in these locally available, fresh food options where ever I could lay my hands on them.
You cannot go wrong with local, seasonal or fresh foods.
4. Eurosize the breakfast
In Iceland, the staple breakfast is skyr(local greek yogurt with fruits) and rye bread.
In Prague, the hotel served us hot porridge, salads(yupe…with tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce), and eggs as the main breakfast items.
Well, interesting deviation from the plateful of pancakes, bowlful of sugary cereals, or platter of processed meats, the hotels in the other parts of the world serves as breakfast! For lot of Europeans (esp. the French), breakfast is nothing but a slice of freshly baked bread/croissant, some fruit with tea or coffee. The Spaniards will usually have tomatoes and olive-oil on bread for breakfast. And the English seem to love their porridge in the morning. Now this may seem small and boring but seems to do the trick for them.
Don’t treat breakfast as dessert. A basic breakfast (Think bananas, eggs, porridge, or any locally available fresh breakfast option) can serve you better!
5. Indulge in some Vegan Vibes!
Europeans seems to be leading a covert vegan revolution. In the most popular of town squares in Prague, I found a farmer’s market selling vegan stuff…local fruits(helps that they are a “fruits heaven”), berries, vegetables, desserts, and even vegan black ice-cream.
Eating vegan has never been easier in Europe, with its top cities boasting of variety of top Tripadvisor recommended vegan eateries. Berlin even has a Vegan Avenue which is lined with vegan restaurants, bars and cafes, alongside the world’s largest vegan grocery store.
They have mastered the art of making meat-substitute products such as sausages and chicken nuggets out of plant proteins such as soy, wheat or tofu…Their cashewnut gravies, pumpkin curries, quinoa meatballs all boast of how beautifully they have adapted the vegan principles to regional cooking. The proof of the pudding was that not once did we have to resort to Indian food in our three week travel! In fact, the options at the vegan restaurants spoilt us for choice.And the vegan meals turned out to be some of our fanciest and most enjoyable meals.
Potato and rosemary scramble with caramelized tofu
Exotic greens, sprouts salad with rasberry coulis
Platter of vegan starter, hummus, cucumber chickpeas rolls, and grilled veggies
Try being vegan for a change. You will surely discover new food options that are healthier, tastier, and more importantly, environmentally friendly.
Actually, travel is what you make out of it. It is not the place, it is how you look at the place that makes a difference. In my case, I allowed myself to look at Europe (or my trip) through my “fitness and well-being” glasses, and that is what it offered me.
But I’m not saying that if you are going with all your health-consciousness, you shouldn’t be indulging in the local dessert (like the delicious trednik) or a locally brewed beer during your travel…(in fact, we did it too) but let your gut drive you! Its a very self-regulating system if you give it a chance.
ps. Still, who would have thought that a trip to Europe could also offer in(sights) of personal well-being?! But now I know why…Europe is always a good idea! 🙂
Madhurjya is the most loved and respected swimming instructor in our part of town.
But to the world, he is popular as the Indian 70.3 Ironman triathlon champion.He has represented India in multiple international triathlon events. And at 37, just a few weeks ago, he secured another podium finish at the Vietnam 70.3 Ironman triathlon.
Very coincidentally, I first met him during my son’s swimming lessons.The one thing that is hard to ignore about him is his ripped body. Seems straight out of a sculpting mold. 🙂 A budding fitness enthusiast myself, I got curious to find out what it takes to build a body like that.
He gave me his secret sauce over our occasional chats (not a very talkative fellow, I must say :)) I have mulled over that for weeks and presenting you his insights in a manner that can be consumed as 3 simple nuggets of body-building (and fat loss).
Being an international athlete, he does train very regularly. But attributes most of his body-building success to his diet.
“Well, you can exercise, but you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet…You eventually are what you eat..”
1. How much are you eating?
Its very important to balance your calories if you want to lose fat and build muscle. Your ideal calorie intake depends on your height and weight, your activity level, your age, and your goal.
Being a high performance athlete, Madhurjya maintains a diet of about 2500-3000 calories per day sustaining his BMI level between 15-18%.
But if you are looking to lose weight/build muscle, you must create a caloric deficit.Now there are lot of sophisticated apps (namely My FitnessPal and HealthifyMe (Indian diet specific)) that will help you to count your optimal calorie intake based on your goals. There are diehard fans of such apps but my personal experience says it is a bit too much work to fill in each meal, snack, and nibble everytime unless you havea professional mindset like Madhurjya. Of course, there are nutritionists who can help you at a premium. But if you are looking for simple hacks on how to control calories, here are some of mine:
Eat till you are satiated, not full This is a very time-tested principle followed by Okinawans(world’s highest centenarian population)in Japan: the hara hachi bu principle which is to eat until you are 80% full.
What it translates to is eat meals, until you have space left for a snack.
If you normally eat 3 rotis/flatbread, take two first. See how full you feel…often times you may actually feel satisfied with just two. The signal to stop eating is when you feel satisfied: no longer feel hungry, but not full.
“How do you even know it is hunger?” This is one of the transformative questions my husband’s nutritionist asked him. Often times, we mistake cravings, social settings, or stress eating for hunger. Listeningto your body for real hunger cues can help you reduce your calorie intake. Real hunger means that you will eat anything thats put in front of you, even if its that lauki sabzi (bottlegourd curry) that you’d normally hate to touch.
It doesn’t have to be eaten just because its served. When food is in the plate or in front of us, we get tempted to finish it. And that invariably leads to overeating. But I always remember my friend Sapna Chawla’s favorite quote: “Waste it or waist it”. Remember this, when you are stuffing that extra helping of rice down the gullet just so that your fridge won’t have to bear the load.
2. What are you eating?
Food we consume is primarily a balance of three macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fat. The tricky thing about macronutrients is that the amount each of us should be eating can vary from person to person. Generally, for adults, the macronutrient breakdown recommendation is 45-65% calories from carbohydrates, 10-35% from protein, and 20-35% from fat. Fo example, Madhurjya tries to maintain a macronutrient ratio of 50-35-15. MyMacros+ app is a good start to calculate your daily macronutrients ratio. It will also give suggestions on what foods to eat to maintain the macronutrients balance as well as the micronutrients needed.
Love Food that love you back!
Btw, a big myth that Madhurjya busts is that you need supplements to get a six pack or to win medals. Madhurjya does not take any supplements, pills or protein drinks.Just real food. His diet includes lot of eggs, vegetables, fruits, cereals, legumes, rice, chicken, fish, and nuts/seeds.
On a typical day, this is what he eats:
Early morning : Custom pre-workout fruits and vegetable drink*/one fruit, steel cut oats with dry fruits/seeds and honey, 1-2 eggs, black coffee
After workout: 2-3 egg whites and banana
Morning snack: cereal bar or rava idli
Lunch: rice, dal and vegetables
Afternoon Snack: boiled egg, bananas with nuts/seeds or cereal bar
Pre-work Snack (Evening): curd with fruits, nuts and honey or a pre-workout vegetable juice
Post-work out Snack: Drumstick mushroom soup or boiled seasoned legumes/beans
Dinner: Grilled chicken or fish with salad or quinoa
After-dinner snacks (if needed): dry fruits and yogurt
And lots of water, in-between.
*Instead of whey proteins, he creates his own pre/post-work drink out of fruits and vegetables. He also creates his own dinner salads which are a visual delight. And since you have all been kind enough to read till here, I will share his secret recipes at the end. 🙂 Btw, If you are looking to get creative with fruit and vegetable drinks, please check out this book “Juicing For Healthier Families” authored by a dear friend, Parul Agarwal.
According to him, Indian diets invariably lack in protein…A simple tactic is to ask yourself “where’s the protein?” with each meal. And believe me, Its not hard to compensate the shortage of protein (if there is)…You can easily add a bowl of (greek) yogurt, some tofu/eggs/chicken, or even handful of nuts or hummus to any meal. Madhurjya packs boiled eggs in a tiffin wherever he goes. He will pop one in, whenever he feels hungry.
But if all that seems complicated to follow and you still want to achieve results, here’s my take:Instead of focussing on what to eat, start first with what not to eat.
No Processed foods No added Sugars No Saturated/Trans Fatty foods
3. When are you eating?
Nutrient timing may be important for elite eaters like Madhurjya but frankly not so much for most other folks.
Madhurjya eat lots of small meals/snacks each day (i.e. every few hours). But frankly, there are only a couple of important considerations when it comes to nutrient timing.
The most important thing according to Madhurjya is eating after exercise (or during your most active part of the day), especially within the first 30-45 minutes since our bodies are greedy for nutrients around that time. He typically eats most of his protein and carbs during this time.
If you are lean and simply want to maintain your existing body composition, consuming more carbohydrates throughout the day will likely be fine.
But If you want to lose body fat, you have to aim to consume a majority of carb dense foods during and after exercise sessions (for about 3 hours after). Outside of the 3 hour window you should be consuming primarily protein and fat, while consuming fewer carb dense foods (25% or less of the meals).
And avoid mid-night snacking if you are looking to lose weight. If you are really hungry, a warm glass of milk or green tea or even yogurt is a better choice.
But my take, if this is too complicated, follow this simple principle:
Eat when you are most active and less when you are not.
Madhurjya’s final advice to all is: If you want your diet to work for you, add discipline to it. That is the most important ingredient!
As promised, here is Madhurjya’s custom pre-workout drink recipe:
*According to him, the beetroot juice is a god-send for athletes/body-builders. It helps you run faster, pedal harder, and workout longer.
And as a bonus, some of his favorite dinner salad recipes:
And finally my take on body-building: If you strive for progress, perfection will follow! 🙂
“I get bloated and gassy at night, Mom. Trust me, I have tried everything out there…nothing works!”, I complain, irritated with the irritable bowel syndrome I may be going through.
Being bloated is no fun. So contrary to my gut reaction, I try what Mom suggests. First Night. ok, Not Bad. But it could just be serendipity, right?! 2nd, 3rd, and 4th night also!!! Well, hmm.. who would have thought chewing two cardamoms and drinking warm water afterwards can get rid of the sticky digestive issues plaguing my middle-aged metabolism!
And more importantly, how did Mom figure out what the entire internet could not?!
Well, the only explanation can be that I have the same sensitive stomach she does. So, whatever has worked on her, works for me.
Happy at my obedience, she also prescribed roasted ajwain(carrom seeds), jeera(cumin seeds), and flax seeds powder with warm water. Before meals. And voila, between these two nuskas (home remedies), my gut is sorted.
“Sometimes, the best remedies are just a mom’s call away!”
Growing up, the rebel in me used to scoff at any such old wives’ tales and momveda (ayurveda by mom) gyaan she tried to enforce upon me.But how the tables have turned!
A classic case in point is turmeric milk. This bitter tasting concoction (a cup of warm milk with a teaspoon of turmeric in it) was never a preferred choice of drink. The first sound of cough and I knew Mom would be serving this golden milk as a post-dinner dessert. But I have to admit, it has served me right through my bouts of nasty colds all these years- working like a magic potion every single time.
In fact, it has become the go-to drink in my household for pretty much any of the modern day ailments…be it allergies, cough, cold, insomnia, inflammation or indigestion.
Btw, from the yucky yellow paste to the best tan remover in town, mumma’s besan ubtaan(chickpeas flour face mask) has also come a long way.Mom used to apply this on her face and insisted that I do the same.But very recently, when my summer tan was no longer cool, I decided to give it a try. Well, haven’t stopped gloating at that glow! I couldn’t have asked for a better exfoliator cum tan remover cum moisterizer. So much so, that it has almost ended my long-term relationship with the regular soaps and showering gels. And except for the fact that I smell like kadhi on most days now, there have been no other side effects!
besan ubtaan chickpeas flour face mask
Mom also tried to inculcate the habit of weekly fasting in me. (The Monday fast (somvar ka vrat) was particularly dear to her since it was done for the longevity of husbands!). Well, of course, I couldn’t be bothered with such onslaught on my hunger, that too on the pretext of some age-old blind faith!
But how I stand corrected!Modern science has endorsed fasting and how! Fasting has deemed to be a great way to detox as well as to self-heal your body. Fasting is also an easy way to lose weight. In fact, mom’s beloved vrats have been reincarnated as a global health trend esp. in its new avatar called intermittent fasting. (Well, fasting as it has been proven, can only extend your own longevity…I guess our old wives may have just put an altruistic spin to it to make it more popular! ;))
Well this, and mom’s myriad other tips such as – try and eat the “first steam” food (and by that she means, food thats right off the stove!) , eat mostly seasonal and local produce, always listen to your gut when it comes to how much and what to eat.
All these years, my over-read, over-informed brain may have dismissed the notion of “Mom knows best”. But everything she has said so far proves that she does. At least for me. Part of the answer may well be in our genes. Our body constitution, just like our genes must match, even if partially. How else can her self-engineered momveda work to balance my doshas so well?! Well, Thank God for heredity! 🙂 But more importantly, thank God for the exclusive access to her way of living, her nuskas, and above all, her unconditional love. Mom has clearly been the “Chief Wellness Officer” of my life!
So when you don’t feel alright, try calling your mom…before you call the doctor or scavenge the internet. Chances are she would have already gone through something similar and figured out a nuska!Something that has a much higher chance of working for you! Even if not, the combination of maternal instincts, experience, and ability to truly care and heal is too sweet to pass up.
ps. Would be really nice to know some of your mom’s home remedies too…Do share them as comments.
Doing yoga in the lap of mother nature always had its allure. This, combined with the company of friends and fellow yogis felt like a great birthday gift to myself. Thus, I signed up for my first yoga retreat.
Now I have practiced yoga for flexibility, balance and strength. But mix it up with a little spirituality, dance, comradery, and philosophy… and it turned into a truly “yogasmic” experience.
The Root Chakra.
This chakra is associated with survival and safety.
When you pack a bus with 28 yogis of different genders, ideologies, and ability to handle 28 of the nastiest hairpin bends of the Shevaroys range in Tamil Nadu, you expect nothing short of chaos! 🙂 But man, was I proven wrong! Thanks to the collective wisdom, yogic patience, and the ability to lighten things up that made us survive everything – from the excruciatingly slow interstate toll-booths, to the scorching heat, to motion sickness, and the 7 hour bus ride to our destination, Yercaud. In fact, the journey felt more like flying with a non-stop entertainment channel barring the occasional bad weather warnings.
The third eye chakra. This chakra is associated with our intuitive wisdom and ability to relax and focus at the same time.
Our resort, with scattered lotus ponds and hilly terrain full of wild flowers, and lined with native tall trees, provided a perfect setting for our yoga session.
Yoga is not about touching your toes; it is what you learn on the way down – One of which is the realization that yoga is a practise that cannot be easily perfected (somewhat like life itself.) You have to always be open to receiving and grasping the wisdom around you…whether it is a new asana or an old one with a new style.
But you have to be kind to yourself too. Go with your own pace and style. Albeit, enjoy your own pace and style.
What I realized was, no one is perfect in all the poses but each one of us is perfect in some (even if it is the savasana :)). If each one of us learns something from the other, as a whole we all seem perfect. The partner stretches we did, stressed this fact ever so convincingly.
Don’t just accept others as they are; seek out the greatness in each one.
Even though we were like 28 different energy forces, we all felt in sync that evening, not just with one another, with nature, with the melodious voice of our guru, with the chirping of the birds, with the smell of the grass beneath us, with the filtered shade of the tall trees above us, and above all, with ourselves.
There were lot of such moments where we inhaled in this bliss while exhaling out the toxicity within; relaxing and focusing at the same time…
The Sacral Chakra.
This chakra is associated with pleasure and harmonious exchange.
That evening saw us practicing a different asana. The asana of letting go…While some did it through engaging in some “satvik” drinking, the others let loose with some bollywood dance moves. But the real letting go happened by the camp-fire when we shared personal incidents that we have been embarrassed or guilty about. Well, I’m not sure how many grams of body mass got shed that day, but I’m certain that we shed loads of prejudices and inhibitions that night. Certainly, a tougher load to offload!
The crown chakra.
This chakra is associated with liberation and higher consciousness.
The next morning was all about awakening our spiritual self as we started our practice with pranayama and ended with meditation. The “so hum” meditation and the chanting intertwined our energy forces with the gentle morning breeze in a beautiful harmony, leaving us in a state of higher consciousness and calm. That falling drop of tear was quite reflective to our liberated state…Ah, and the sublime after-glow on our faces…I doubt if the effect of the fanciest of creams and lotions could match up to it!
The Solar Plexus Chakra.
This chakra is associated with self-discipline and taking responsibility.
Most surprisingly, the effects of our yogic capability seem to have manifested in our time consciousness and self-awareness during the trip. Even with the jam-packed itinerary and just a few hours of sleep, all our major events from leaving in the morning to getting back on time were completely self-monitored and dot on the schedule (barring the unavoidable circumstancial delays). So proud that as a group, we completely busted the Indian Standard Time perception. Much in the same way we follow traffic rules on foreign roads! 🙂
The heart chakra.
This chakra is associated with love and compassion.
When your heart is full of bliss, it will eminate love.
The random acts of kindness and compassion that we witnessed were the most endearing part of the trip. Like one of us bending over backwards (literally) to help her partner regain her confidence in doing the seemingly impossible yoga poses.
Like the surprise birthday cake and the heartfelt personal notes from friends.
Like one of us convincing the whole group to forgo the sight-seeing to get back in time to attend to a fellow yogi’s sick child.
Like some of us, getting their hands dirty with the bus driver to get us back in time after the bus breakdown.
It is great to live a healthy life..But I realized it is more fulfilling to live a humane life.
The throat chakra.
This chakra is associated with self-expression and communication.
The ride back saw all of us being extra expressive. (something to do with the realization that all good things have to come to an end!) The bus was abuzz with our healthy banter (we could have given tough competition to any punjabi baraat that day. :)) Interestingly though, we were able to squeeze in some insightful discourses on the philosophy of yoga and of life and on all things in-between. This chakra definately got awakened amongst each of us. 🙂
Needless to say, the yoga retreat offered ample opportunities to awaken all our kundalini chakras, to experience yoga more profoundly and to be a little more wiser in the process.
I’m sure lot of you do yoga as a routine practice…but try changing the context once in a while.
Even if you cannot go to a retreat, you can go to a nearby park or do it with friends or do it with a new guru.
And if you can, make it an annual ritual. Go away on a retreat (yoga or otherwise) that is dedicated to rejuvenating your mind, body and soul.
ps. A special mention to our yoga guru…LD (as we like to call her), the force behind the whole effort.
She is an unique combination of an accomplished yogi, a disciplined guru, and a well-rounded human being. She teaches yoga in our community but spreads her knowledge via her Facebook page.
Once in a blue moon, when I land up in the gym at an insanely early hour, I find him running on the treadmill at godly speeds with ungodly grunts…
Well, you may expect that out of a seasoned marathoner.But what I did not expect was the news he broke to me: that he had recently finished an international sprint triathlon at 14th place. And he is only 44! But his age was not my only cause for concern! 🙂 Not very long ago, I had seen him starting to learn swimming! From swim lessons to completing an open sea 500 mts stretch at the triathlon on an abnormally windy day… now that got me awestruck!
Amit Gupta, the man in question, is the CEO of Asianet News Network. He is a gifted vocalist, a weekend chef, a mountain-trekker, a self-proclaimed workoholic, besides being a father of two equally talented teenagers. He is also fit as a fiddle.
The great thing about blogging is that I get to uncover stories of real-life heroes like Amit.More than fitness, his tale is about his personal transformation and personal learnings. I decided to pick out some pearls of wisdom around his passion of racing, marathon running, fitness, and more.
A boss can make you run…(literally!)
His journey of running started in childhood with him trying to outrun the last couple of runners in his school running competition. 🙂 But took a sharp turn when he entered the workforce.Well, we all know that a boss can make you or break you. In his case, his boss made him run.A decade ago, the motivation for running got rekindled when his boss (a marathon runner himself) pushed him to try it. He has never stopped running since.
As you can expect, there have been lots of ups and downs in his run.
“Darr ke aage jeet hai”…There is victory beyond your fears.
At the 18th kilometer into his first marathon, his knees started cramping. He somehow managed to finish but if he wanted to run again, he would have to go through an arduous knee surgery. (it was not due to the running per say, but due to a prior untreated injury.) He had almost succumbed to the fact that his running would have to be stopped before it could even start. But thanks to his wife, Shivali, who couldn’t see his dreams go unfulfilled and made sure he went through the surgery.He went on to run 11 marathons after that. But the incident made him very diligent in listening to his body.
Don’t stop when the pain starts….Stop when the pain gives up.
At another marathon, many moons later, he got severe stomach cramps and threw up at the 16th km. But he pep talked his way into finishing the race, even though he was completely dehydrated and overdosed on salt.He surely learnt the importance of electrolyte balance that day. 🙂
It’s not about winning; it’s about finishing the race!
There was also the life-threatening feat at the recently participated triathlon. Having never swam in open sea before, he almost lost his sense of direction during the race. The drift of the wind was not in his favor either. He had gulped too much water and was almost hallucinating directionless. But something in him did not let him give up.Not only did he manage to complete the swim, he finished the race at 14th place.
Now, you’d think he’d slow down after the last episode?! But he tells me that he is already training for the Olympic distance triathlon next. Clearly, his passion of running/racing goes beyond fitness and goals.
“My passion for fitness/running has by far been my best personal teacher!”
According to him, It has made him a better person overall…more organized, more time-conscious, empathetic, and much more open to new experiences and learnings. But most importantly, it has taught him a great deal about failure…
“I have realized that failure is just a self derived definition of your outcomes being a tad short of the expectation. So now, I focus on the cause and not the consequence.”
To me, Amit’s account signifies that fitness, above all, is a state of mind. Your own drive and commitment is the most important gear in your journey towards fitness. And whatever your marathon…(and no, it doesn’t have to be of the running kind, it can be of a body-building kind, or the yoga kind or any other fitness activity that you entail) shed your inhibitions; drop your fears; run that extra mile and see where it leads you.
If his story has inspired you to try running, here are few tips and advices from him to get you started:
Firstly, can anyone do it?
He quotes from his favorite book,‘Every Human is “Born to Run”’ by Christopher McDougall.
So…absolutely (as long as you don’t get sweaty palms or palpitations while running).
What are the basic requirements to start training for a marathon?
First and foremost, you have to commit to drinking lots of water, maintaining a good enough BMI and taking care of your legs (he is gungho on ghee and oils his knees like a bicycle chain every Sunday :)) .
He suggests to start running at least 3-5 times a week to test yourself. This is also the time you need to train your brain. Positive affirmations, self-talk, visualization, music, running buddies….you can try any or all of these to prevent the cliched motivation fades. Once you get comfortable, you should try longer runs (more than 10K)once every week. If you are consistent in this approach, you should be ready for a half-marathon in about 12-15 weeks.
Any diet restrictions?
Absolutely none.According to him, dieting is criminal when you are burning up so many calories. Over the recent past though, he follows the V-figure when it come to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And of course, minimal junk and processed foods.
Some of the biggest myths about marathon running?
That running is bad for knees! You need overall fitness, not strong knees to race. You need to focus on your running style, muscle strength, and endurance if you want an injury-free run. The secret to happiness is right at your feet, once the overall body runs in sync.
What kind of shoes would you need to invest in?
The general rule of thumb is that your shoes should match your current fitness level and your future aspirations. You should ideally get a shoe expert to help you with the right fit…basically they should nicely hug the entire feet while leaving some headroom to move your fingers up down and sideways. Nike Vomero, Adidas Ultra boost and Barefoot Vibram are all good choices.
How do you weave this into your already busy lifestyle?
You have to act like a petty time thief i.e. steal a few minutes from each of your daily routine: getting up, getting ready, breakfast, etc. Plan, Plan, Plan! Every aspect needs to be planned in advance, from taking work calls during your commute to planning your workout the nite before. His biggest time-savers come from a very minimalist and disciplined approach to social media usage and devices. If you let go of your FOMO (fear of missing out), you will be gain back your MOJO 🙂
Any parting advice for non-marathoners and wannabe marathoners?
Before every run, is a race between your mind and an excuse. Your motto should be to make your mind win. Your body will follow.
And he signs off with one of his personal favorite quotes:
Everything in life is a marathon of different time, distances and tracks; don’t dash it. Run it per your abilities while improvising it in style and form constantly.
Yesterday, in the gym, a friendly gym instructor couldnt resist asking me, “Is everything alright, Mam?”.
“You look healthy and fit, what happened?”.
“Oh, this…”, I inquired, “yeah..I got my blood test done”, realizing he is referring to the white dot (the blood draw bandage) on my elbow crease. “Thats why I ask!”, he repeated, still concerned.Which made me realize that he’s probably in the category of folks who think a blood test is not something you would do unless you are sick or suffering from some mysterious illness.And based on what I found out, there are many more who think that way.
In fact, I recently did a survey on Facebook to find out about how many people get a regular blood test done?
Well, a good 76% of my friends do it. (Good stuff, folks! Just means I have sensible, health-conscious friends :))
But for the remaining 24%, here are my 2 cents:
When it comes to health, ignorance is not bliss….it can be deadly.
If this sounds like paranoia, just remember what Andy Grove said: Only the paranoids survive!
Tell me, is it just me being overtly inclined towards grave news, or is your grapevine also abuzz with news about seemingly normal and fit folks dropping dead or catching chronic ailments at early ages?! (And no, I’m not even talking about the Sridevi episode).
Being in great physical shape is not necessarily an indicator of one’s health.
The truth is…We live in precarious life”styles”.
At work, we are stressed out. Enroute to work, we are smogged out.And to escape it all,we socialize…invariably involving shots and samosas! Add to that, the toxins we ingest in the name of food these days!
So, there you go! This is why I do annual blood tests. And you should too! Regular blood work is your first line of defense towards these deadly chronic lifestyle diseases. A baseline to see where you stand and a roadmap for you to navigate through future health risks.
If you don’t measure it, how can you manage it?
Of course, your blood test report looks all latin and greek when you first see it. After a good amount of talking to my doctor/nutritionist friends, and researching through pubmed articles,here’s my attempt at a dummies guide to the most important tests and what they mean, very broadly speaking. (But if you are smart, you’d let your primary care physician aka family doctor decipher them for you-making sure they have a complete record of your family history.)
The Blueprint – Complete Blood Count: CBC tells you what your blood is made up of: how many red (oxygen-carrying) blood cells, white (infection-fighting) blood cells, platelets (clotting particles), etc. Too many or too few of these indicate you have a problem…like anemia, infections, certain types of cancer, and so on. The hemoglobin count is especially important as it is usually indicative of iron-deficiency anemia, a common condition with Indian women. Note: And no, pumping iron does not increase the iron levels in the body (This one, tried and tested. :()
Ah, The sweet taste test of blood: The blood sugar test measures your sugar level typically after a 12 hour fast. A higher than normal rating typically means your body is unable to handle the carbohydrates in your diet.This is usually combined with the HbA1C test. It is an assessment of your glucose levels over the past 60–90 days and indicates your risk of being a pre-diabetic or diabetic.
How good, bad and ugly is your Cholesterol?: Its not so much about the total cholesterol, as it is about the good, bad and ugly cholesterol in your blood. The complete lipid profile measures the HDL (aka good cholesterol), LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides (the “ugly” fat cells in our blood).All these, including your blood pressure level should be in optimal range if you are looking to avoid clogging of your arteries (aka heart diseases).
Vitamin D Test: Despite being in the land of sunshine, our suburban lifestyles lend us short of this sunshine vitamin. All sorts of strange ailments (cancer, heart disease, fractures and falls, autoimmune diseases, type-2 diabetes, and depression) are linked to vit-D deficiency. The only way you can track it accurately is via the 25(OH)D test.
Clearly, your blood has all the answers (well, the questions too).
And the way I look at it – Your periodic blood test can either reassure you that you’ve been on the right (health) track. Or it can empower you to make changes to get back on the right track.
I realize when there are thousands things trying to compete for your time, I’m asking you to add one more. (And yes, the long lines at the labs are not particularly inviting, unless of course thats your only time to watch Prime Video on your high-speed data plan!)
Well then, how about getting it done with just a few taps and a prick?! I recently discovered these time-saving diagnostic mobile apps…Thyrocare, DoctorC, and Dr. Lal Pathlabs in particular. These folks collect blood sample from your home and deliver the test results in your inbox!
Ever since, I have found no excuse to miss out on this annual appraisal of my health.
“You write about eating right, but I travel for work for most part of the month. I’m in a different country every few days. This is my life. Now, how do I eat right while living it?”
Well, eating healthy shouldn’t mean you have to stop living your life. You just have to find some hacks around it.So here are 10 hacks for you, Amitabh! I think they will be equally useful to everyone else.
Eat breakfast like a king…
Always book hotels that offer a good breakfast buffet spread. And by good, I mean the ones where you can see lots of colors and a live egg station. Load up on your macro-nutrients during breakfast and you can be less guilty of those less balanced lunches or dinners.
This is my typical “travel” breakfast:
2 servings of fruits
1-2 eggs (I would replace eggs with plain yogurt, If I feel like going vegetarian)
1 piece of multigrain bread
1 serving of oatmeal with some nuts, dates or seeds (if traveling in India, I would probably replace it with a idli or poha or upma)
And lastly, some warm tea (with a tinge of milk)
I’ve found this breakfast doable in India as well as while traveling abroad.
As they say, well begun is half done.
Drink (right) before you eat (right or wrong)!
My friend, Kaushal Dalal, MD of FireEye India, a frequent work and leisure traveller himself, can be seen sipping water every half hour.His mantra is to drink water before meals, esp. when he is traveling. (If you cannot eat a healthy meal, well, just eat less of it!) Water does make you feel full, so you automatically eat lesser.
My personal hack to that is to drink hot water. (It seems to be China’s go-to beverage and I have yet to come across an out-of-shape Chinese! :)) Hot water stimulates digestion and flushes out toxins, amongst myriad other health benefits.
So, next time before you ask for the menu, ask the waiter for hot water. Don’t worry…the waiter will not look at you weird, unless you are in the US of A!
“Healthy Snacks” does not have to be an Oxymoron
Another friend, Deepak Balakrishna, Founder/CEO of Adya and a bodybuilder by passion, swears by yoga bars as an anytime snack. He carries them to office, to his business trips, to family outings..basically everywhere. These pocket-sized packs offer a nutritionally balanced snack option.
Or try roasted peanuts, chana or makhanas (lotus seeds)!Thanks to the nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar, these old-time classics are back in vogue. And rightfully so!Hmm..but what if you are allergic to nuts? Well, nothing like a cup of yogurt with local fruits or dried fruits.Btw, some dark chocolate now and then, never hurt anyone.
Plan your food (like your itinerary)
Abhishek Goyal and Neha Singh, co-founders of Tracxn Technologies, tell me that they shamelessly carry a 12X12 dabba(lunchbox) to office everyday. It caters to every whim and fancy of their taste buds and nutritional needs throughout the day. Yes, this does need planning and flawless management. (Given how successfully they manage their start-up, I’m guessing it is in their DNA!)
But what about the rest of us, the not-so-meticulous planners?! Deepak recently started ordering his office lunches from a food service called cure.fit. He prefers their athletic lunches which has the right quantity of proteins, carbs and fats, suited for his needs. So even if he misses lunch from home, he doesnt have to miss out on the right lunch!
While you can’t carry your dabba when traveling overseas, you can always follow the Fafat! By that, I mean my cousin, Priya Fafat, who makes digital notes of nearby grocery stores and restaurants (based on type of cuisines, food options(organic, veg-friendly),menu choices) as part of her travel itinerary. The point is…you cannot go hungry or not eat according to your needs, if you travel like her.
When in doubt, fine-dine!
Not just because you want to spend your per-diem in style! 🙂
There are health benefits to eating your dinners at fine-dining restaurants.
For starters, they are more open to custom orders and special requests. You can ask them to go easy on the oil/cream, replace white rice with brown or even create a new dish per your dietary needs.
A fine-dining experience inherently involves eating slower and having gaps between your courses. A great way to digest your food!
And God willing, you should land up in a French restaurant, they take extra care of your health by presenting you with the smallest of portion sizes (Even their menu-pricing is prohibitive to you over-eating!)
And finally, the setting does add to the joy of dining…releasing your “happy” hormones.
ps. If you can’t fine-dine, go local. Krishna, Kaushal’s wife, insists on eating local cuisine during trips.It invariably lends to a fresher meal; you experiencing different food groups, and opening up your mind to newer tastes…all good for your overall well-being!
Don’t drink empty calories
Any beverage pre-packaged in a bottle or a can (except water) is generally not a healthy drinking choice. Instead try and stick to green teas, black coffee, coconut water or freshly squeezed juices.
But what about those adult drinks? Well, IMO, the above rule of thumb should still apply. But if your business rituals revolve around alcohol, here are some dos and donts:
Don’t drink on an empty stomach. (There’s a reason why they hand out nuts and olives before your beers! )
Show a little compassion to your liver…Don’t mix junk food and drinks.
If you cannot do anything of this, please drink water between your drinks.
Finally, don’t treat the corporate card as a license to binge drink! (This will serve good for your professional and personal life! :))
Out-Exercise your dinner
According to the Calories in, Calories out (CICO) principle, balance your calories by offsetting your big meals by an equally burly exercise routine. Check out this exercise routine from Ruchika Choudhary, the fitness trainer and nutritionist in our apartment complex. It has been specially designed for busy professionals who may not have access to a gym or lot of time on their hand, during their travels.
Note: Do 5 of these sets in 15 minutes and you should be home free for the rest of the day.
Pack your Vitamins
All said and done, its difficult to always get nutritionally balanced meal when you step outside.I always pack my multi-vitamins when I travel. VitaminB12, Vitamin D3 and Omega 3 supplements are my staples. (alongwith pudinhara for when the meals get too out of balance! ) BTW, “if you are a gym junkie or a serious athlete, make sure you carry your protein powder along with your trainers,” recommends Ruchika.
The secret to “staying” fit: Location, Location, Location
IMO, the best location for a hotel is within walking distance to a grocery store and a jogging track. 🙂
The best place for a longer stay is at an airbnb home or at a friend’s pad.Basically, where ever you can have access to a kitchen.
Btw, If you frequent the same city, you should try and stay at the same hotel every time. There are covert benefits to making yourself familiar with the hotel staff. For one, they can get you off-menu items!
Also, it helps to be savvy about local food-tech!Instead of constraining yourself to hotel room service, you can usually order a healthier meal from a freshmenu or a swiggy or even a bigbasket equivalent.
Finally, go easy on yourself!
If you stress too much about eating right all the time, even the right foods will not serve you right. So, enjoy your food and eat in moderation, and it will all work out (with some workout! :)).
A parting note: I wouldn’t have been able to compile this without the tips from my friends. So thank you Kaushal, Krishna, Deepak, Abhishek, Neha, Priya and Ruchika. It seems each one of us has figured out some hack to healthy eating…while traveling or otherwise. So next time, you are having a business dinner, why not use the topic as a conversation starter?! I’m sure it will be a win-win discussion.