Thursday, October 12, 2017

What the health! - Part 1

Life is beautiful when healthy -


Having a good lifestyle helps you to get thinner, feel energetic and healthy (emotionally, physically and mentally). So I decided to write my experiences and battle with health, fitness, exercise and diet but the post was turning out to be too long so breaking it up into parts.
Beware: This post has strong opinions (facts ;-)) and a rant on fitness, obviously you are not mandated to read it ;-).


The Jargon - These days there is a jargon - don't fat shame people - and no I am not going to fat shame anyone. All I want to say is - IT IS NOT OKAY TO BE FAT! And it is not okay to live a junk lifestyle.


Just to clarify - I said the same thing when I weighed 180 pounds and saying the same thing today when I weigh 135 pounds that is 10+ pounds overweight for my height.
[There are some rare health conditions where weight gain happens, and it can also be a side effect of certain medications and I am not talking about these scenarios here - however shifting to a healthier lifestyle helps with most medical conditions].


How do we get fat?
It is really not rocket science to figure out why we get fat, we all know the reasons!
We eat junk food, live a junk lifestyle, are engrossed in a sedentary behavior and we do not exercise. There is so much variety of food available these days, one doesn't know how to control.


There was a time when I treated my gut and health with complete ignorance or shall I say disrespect, I ate out at restaurants every other day with colleagues, friends, family and sometimes alone - I ate pasta, pizza, cupcakes, burgers, ice-creams, anything and everything. To add to that I consumed medicines, painkillers, antacids every other day, I didn't have time and the luxury to be sick.


No need to say that one day everything came back to me like a boomerang. When the downfall of health starts it takes a long time to recover (if recovery happens!).  I will spare you the details of health troubles I went through for almost four consecutive years, all's well that ends well. During those years I caught some ailment one after the other, with no breather at all. I did not have the interest or energy to enjoy anything happening around me. Health affects everything that we do, career, relationships, personal interests and whatnot. Life is beautiful… yes… but more so when one is healthy. So I say... it is not okay to be fat, it is not okay to live a junk lifestyle, period.


If today I have lost weight and feeling light and right - it is not because of luck- it is because I changed my entire lifestyle and obviously I had to put in efforts to do so. Tomorrow if I weigh 180 pounds again or feel sick all the time then I know it will be because of my own stupidity, lack of control, lack of discipline and messed up priorities.


By being fat we are inviting diseases like heart ailments, diabetes, arthritis, GERD, sleep apnea, some cancers, gallbladder disease and many more - which is okay if you want to live with one, but trust me (or ask anyone who is suffering or has suffered because of bad lifestyle choices) that it isn't fun to live with one...


Here is why I respect fit people - irrespective of my overweight or fat status -


“Because fit people with a physique is much more than how good they look. A well-built physique is a status symbol.
It reflects you work hard for it, no money can buy it. You cannot inherit it you cannot steal it you cannot borrow it you cannot hold on to it without constant work.
It shows dedication, it shows discipline it shows self respect. It shows dignity. It shows patience work ethic, passion. That is why it's attractive to me.”


Here are some common (and lame!) excuses that we use for not doing what is right -


  1. I am too busy.
You have work deadlines, sick kids and you eat what is handy, you can barely bring home takeout, and you have time for nothing else.
Our body is the only thing that we have from the time we are born till the time we die and if you are too busy to spend time to take care of it then, well, you should not be spending any time reading this post.


Everyone gets 24 hours a day, no more, no less. We all live busy lives, no one is gifted with more time!  Being busy does not imply that you are being productive - you might very well be spending time on social media and calling it being busy. I have always said this - it is never about time, it is always about priority. As they say where there is a will there is a way.


Hone your planning, prioritization and organization skills. I have seen CEOs, VPs and directors of companies working out every single day, because living a healthy lifestyle is a priority for them. I am a proud employee of one such company.


Sticking to healthy behaviors like making time for meals and squeezing in exercise throughout the day, even when your life feels like it's going 100 miles a minute, is actually the key to long-term health. When the downfall of health starts it takes a long time to recover, your body is constantly giving you signals if there is something wrong, don’t wait for your body to give up, start a healthy lifestyle today. Don't be one of those who lose their health gaining wealth and then spend their wealth to gain health.
  1. I have kids
Even more of a good reason to start working out... ever since I remember - I have exercised. I don't really remember the time when I didn't. You know why? because I saw my parents working out every single day... till today.  So I did not know any other lifestyle, I thought this is what people do... they exercise everyday like they brush their teeth everyday. Set a good example for your kids. Better yet, workout as a family - ask them to join you in biking, hiking, swimming, dance, rock climbing and whatnot.


You can not tell kids 'go and exercise' because... they are watching you! Are my parents engrossed in binge watching TV shows all day long? or are they living an active lifestyle? As they say 'Raise yourself before you raise your kids'.
  1. I don't have time to cook.
But you have time to commute to a restaurant - order food - get the food on your table - or even food pick up from a restaurant takes at least 20 to 30 minutes of your time, isn't it? It hardly takes any time to cook if you plan well.


I have allocated a fixed amount of time that I spend on cooking each day - so even if I have a leftover from last night I still spend that allocated time on food preparation for the next day - like kneading dough, cutting vegetables or just make some supplements like soup, koshimbir, snack items and whatnot.


Just to clarify I hate to cook but I do not use it as an excuse, there are many things one might hate but has to take care of - that is what growing up and living a healthier lifestyle is all about.
One more option is get cooking help - whichever part of the world you live in you will be able to find cooking/cleaning help. Plan your finances accordingly - for example spend less money on shopping material things and instead spend it on a cook/help and essentially on your own body!
Studies show that people who cook meals at home tend to eat more healthfully and weigh less than those who don't.


  1. I don't have money for gym or personal trainer
:-)
I have seen people spending loads of money on material things, brands, jewelry, 100 shoes/purses and whatnot but when it comes to taking care of their own body they say 'it costs too much'.
Here is a blunt advice - I had suggest stop buying jewelry - it won't make you look or feel good as much as a fit body would - spend the money on joining a gym. There are so many free options to workout too - go hiking, biking, there are innumerable exercise videos online, play music and dance your heart out, don't forget yoga - you can do it anywhere and anytime.
  1. I love food a lot, in general
Great. Who doesn't? But you don't have to eat it all in one meal, do you? People eat in such quantities as if they are coming straight out of a famine and are not going to get next meal on their plate, remember there is always the next time, also remember that food stays in your mouth only for a few seconds and inside your stomach for very long, don’t give in for momentary pleasures, the high of having a fit body is way too long lasting.


Do not eat according to the health of your wallet! Wealthier that the wallets get unhealthier the food habits become. If I may say so - eat a poor man's diet and by that I don't mean American poor man's diet - I mean Indian poor man's diet - it is simple and easy to digest.
  1. My weight problems are genetic
No they are not, and I am not saying this - scientific research is. It is just too convenient to blame it on genetics.


  1. Diets make me hungry.
If your diet is making you hungry, it's not a good diet or even sustainable in the long term. Don't go for any fancy (or trending) diet plans, fancier the name of the diet the crappier that it is - our body needs everything - carbs, proteins and whatnot - all in moderation, don't cut back on anything. Do watch your portion size and eat healthy, simple food - healthy does NOT mean just organic or raw food.
  1. Exercise makes me too tired.
No kidding! That is why they call it a workout! Jokes aside, exercise generates energy. The more energy you have, the more you will get done every day.


I generally workout in the morning but if for some reason I don't, and have to workout in the evening, that is after a long day at work - then I do not feel like moving even a limb. But I still put on my shoes and do what I am supposed to, 5 minutes through the workout I start feeling charged.
You recharge your body through food, sleep, and exercise. Movement creates energy. It gets your heart pumping, blood pumping, cleans out toxins, and gets your engine started. Exercise helps you lose weight, makes your skin glow and gets confidence levels up so you feel better about yourself.
  1. I always gain back the weight.
When I decided to lose weight and make changes to my lifestyle there were months in a row I didn't lose even a single pound and there were some months when I put on weight instead of losing. Losing weight isn't a crash course, if you don't see instant results then don't give up, there needs to be patience and most of all continuity (for life).


I told someone to try yoga, she came back to me and said ‘I tried it for 3 whole weeks and didn’t lose even a pound’. Isn’t 3 weeks too less? considering you have taken years to ruin your body?… give it time… Rome wasn't built in one day ... it would be a long journey but it would be worth it. Don't do it to be thin, do it for a better quality of life.


One needs to change their lifestyle for good to lose weight otherwise if you resume unhealthy ways once losing weight then obviously you will be putting on the weight again.


  1. I can't live without junk food
There is this waterfall in Jasper, Canada and there is a board put up everywhere around it - it says don’t step on the rocks near the waterfall, they are very slippery and people have died here. People still cross the fence and walk on the rocks to take selfies. That means they accept the risk of dying a bad and untimely death out of their own stupidity.


Anyway coming back to the point if you can not live without junk food then no one can help you there. You have to make a choice. If you can't live without the junk food then make peace with living in a junk-body.
  1. I don't like gyms
Do you like parks? mountains? lakes? anything? Find a place you like and incorporate that activity as your workout. Running, Skiing, Tennis, Badminton, Dancing ...? There must be something. And if you don't know what you like yet, then try them all and I am sure one would click.
I do something different everyday - yoga, hiking, biking, kickboxing, dance, pilates, tennis, badminton, weight training and whatnot (whether I like it or not!).
  1. I am too old
Seriously, you are not. Meet Fauja Singh and Ernestine Shepherd. If you still think you are old then shame on you!
  1. I hate working out alone
Join a group class, a running group, ask a friend to join you ... there are a lot of options. If not hiking/ biking or doing yoga at home then I prefer to workout at group classes, that motivates me the most.
  1. It is boring
That is because you haven't explored all your options. Find something you enjoy. (and honestly do it anyways.)


  1. It hurts my body
If you have never worked out then yes, it would hurt for the first few days. But go past that and then you would get addicted to that 'good' pain. Stretch before and after a workout, get a massage once in a while, soak in warm water with Epsom salt.
  1. Exercise make me more hungry
Yes! That happens. The best solution to that is have a protein shake right after your workout and have a lot of healthy snacks - fruits, salads, nuts. Munch on them every 2 hours even if you are NOT hungry.
  1. I don't know where to start
That's fine. Just start with walking for 30 mins, do yoga at home, what helps the most is joining classes - you pay for it so you show up and then it is easier to work out in a group of people...the atmosphere keeps you motivated.
  1. I am already skinny (thin)
A lot of people are skinny on the outside and have unhealthy fat reserves inside, some are skinny and have no energy to do anything, you can be thin but chances are you are not fit … so exercise and eat healthy home cooked food!
I hope this helps and gives you a kick in the butt... exercise today if you haven’t already.


Coming up in the next post - Reasons why you are not losing weight...

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

My grandmother asked me to tell you she is sorry

1. Where had you go, Bernadette- Maria Semple

I do not want to spend any time on writing about this book, I already spent enough reading it ;-). Boring!

2. My grandmother asked me to tell you she is sorry - Fredrick Backman

Frustrating. This one just didn't work for me, although it has good reviews and ratings if you want to give it a try.


Friday, August 04, 2017

Truly Madly Guilty


1. Cider house rules 2. A prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
Irving is a very well reputed writer, most of his books have 4.5+ starts on Goodreads, some consider his books as the literary triumph. But sadly I just didn't get what the hoopla is all about, did not like the stories or the story telling, it is just way too lengthy and I found it uninteresting.


3. Truly Madly Guilty - Liane Moriarty
Slowness, lack of pull and the sheer dullness of characters - that sums it up. 1/5*

Friday, July 28, 2017

Wonderstruck

1. Wonderstruck - Brian Selznick
This is a story about two characters - Ben and Rose
Ben's story is told solely through writing, while Rose's is told through Selznick's gorgeous illustrations. Ben's story in words, Rose's in pictures, come together in deafness. And I loved how the author made their intertwining histories flow so smoothly. Good for ages 5+ (my guess). My rating is 4/5*.

2. The theory of everything: the origin and fate of the universe - Stephen Hawking
Have you read Brief history of time? I thought it was too difficult to understand. The theory of everything is easy to understand, although there are better books by other authors on the subject of universe. I give it 3/5*.

3. Rozabal Line - Ashwin Sanghi
I liked Chanakya's chant and The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi. 'Rozabel Line' made me resolve never to buy a novel just because you liked another one from the author (for example from the one time wonder Chetan Bhagat). A pretty confusing book...there are a couple of new characters being introduced on every page...it's a struggle to remember the names and characters. 1/5*

Friday, July 07, 2017

The author at work


1. The author at work: the art of writing fiction - Jenna Blum
Very insightful and inspiring, for everyone who aims to be a writer. 5/5*

2. A brief history of time - Stephen Hawking
Honestly I did not understand it, also read briefer history of time which is a bit easier to comprehend.

3. The Girl in the spider's web
This is the next book in the series of Stieg Larsson's 'the girl with the dragon tattoo'. Lizbeth Salander being my most favorite fictional characters of all times, okay may be after Dagny Taggart from Atlas Shrugged, I had to read this book. Since Stieg Larsson is no more this is written by another writer and is a complete disappointment. 1/5*

Friday, June 02, 2017

Me before you


1. 7 habits of highly effective people - Stephen R. Covey
The first time I read it I was probably 18, I loved it then and loved it now. 5/5*


2. 8th habit - Stephen R. Covey
It is not as good as 7 habits, probably just written to cash on the success of 7 habits. 2/5*

3. Me before you - Jojo Moyes
Reading this book was a mistake because I hate these kind of books where a girl meets a boy who happens to be a billionaire and he helps her get out of her comfort zones, acquire skills, be fearless and towards the end make her rich. If you want money - here is the message - earn it yourself, why do you need a 'man' to fix you?... Pathetic and just a cry baby story. 0/5, not sure why it has 4.5 rating on goodreads!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The war of art

1. The war of art - Steven Pressfield
I love to create, make things - be it cook a dish, create a painting or write. I dream to be a published writer one day and it takes a lot of work. The main enemy that a creator has to fight with everyday is resistance, these kind of books provide a kick in the butt. Good book overall 4/5*

2. Grit - Angela Duckworth
People who start smart do not necessarily end up smart. There are so many people I know who went to low rated schools, colleges, got some mediocre degrees but at the end were more successful than people who started smart, came first in the class or went to good schools/colleges. The x-factor needed for success is called Grit. Liked the book- 4/5*.

3. The elements of style - William Strunk Jr.
This is a must read book for anyone and everyone who has to write in English - even if it is an email - you have to read this book. When I am done reading any book I either sell it at half price books or donate it but this one will always remain on my book shelf - to be read over and over again. 5/5*.

Monday, May 22, 2017

13 Reasons Why

[** names changed in this post, mostly]
[** I am going out of my comfort zone to share these details ... just trying to make a point]

Humiliation - When I was in junior college one day there appeared huge drawings of nude girls on the walls of my classroom. All walls were covered with them and more drawings were added each day.


Underneath each drawing it was written 'Rasika Mahabal'....


No need to tell you that this came as a shock for me, I felt extremely sad. At 17-18 years of age kids are generally very innocent (of course not the ones involved in such activities), they are just going about their business - happy to be over with school life and be a part of college. Cheap things like these are humiliating and terrifying, more so for the innocent minds.


Every time I entered the classroom many of the girls looked at me as if somehow I had called for it and deserved it. If boys are assholes, girls are no less. Many teachers took notice of the drawings - how come no one took an action on it I wondered.


At that time I didn't know what was happening is called Bullying. When it happens the victim feels depressed, humiliated and does not gather the strength to take action on it because they feel embarrassed, even though it is not their fault.


Rumor has it - a friend asked me if I was dating a boy named Aditya in college, my answer was no and then the friend said 'he is telling everyone that he is in a relationship with you'. I was shocked to hear this and thought what other lies is he telling about me? Not that I was against the idea of having a boyfriend but definitely had a problem with having a fake one! [I have never dated anyone by that name].


The guy was in my group, he was a quiet, shy soul, someone who didn't open his mouth unless spoken to. May be he was going through peer pressure and wanted to show off that he had a girlfriend. Whatever the reason - there is no justification for these kind of actions. Spreading rumors is also called Bullying, the victim does not get a chance to defend in such cases. (There is a difference between venting to a good friend and spreading rumors).


Gossip Girl - One of my good friend informed me that a girl called Prajakta is constantly saying bad things about me to everyone and gossips about why and how much she hates me. My first question was 'Who is Prajakta?'. Our class had more than 100 students and I had never interacted with anyone by that name. So even though I didn't know this person she was gossiping hateful things about me - this is also called bullying.


I agree that we all have tinges of jealousy - specially at that age. I almost always felt jealous when I saw good looking girls with great bodies (as superficial as it may sound) or when I saw someone dating handsome hunks. I too did not like some girls for whatever reasons - it does not mean I gossiped or went on saying hateful things about them, rather no one did that in my group at the time. I have a post on gossiping here - Gossip Girl.


The inappropriate touch - Touching anyone against their wish is also bullying. This happened a few times with me just like any other person commuting in Mumbai locals or Pune PMTs.


Cyber bullying -  With the advent of camera phones and social media I can only imagine the kind of bullying teenagers have to face today. When my emails were hacked (by someone I knew) I used to get nightmares that the person was in my room and was watching all my activities. I cut down all my ties with the person...you can find that post at - Guilty Pleasures.
People posting comments/blogs anonymously are the worst kind, they are the bullies with no balls - hiding behind the cloaks of anonymity.


Other aspects of bullying are :
name calling - you are the most X person I have met in my life
controlling
teasing
excluding a person from the group without reason
Betraying a good friend
Male chauvinist pigs are always bullies - they compare, define and make women do things based on gender roles.
belittling a person


There are many more incidences big and small that happened in junior college but I think you get the gist.


How did I deal with bullying?


I felt shocked, hurt, sad, depressed, lost my confidence every time I was bullied - the drawings incident was quite traumatic for me, I did not go to college for a couple of weeks after that, it was the last month of junior college and if it wasn't I would have somehow mustered the courage to sit in that classroom, now to think of it I shouldn't have missed college even a single day because by not showing up I let the bullies know that I had given them the power.


To be honest with you I went through a phase when I thought everybody hates me, but then I did not get stuck in that train of thoughts.. Few people hating you does not mean everyone does. I did not keep worrying/over thinking about what kind of image I had, it really doesn't matter what people think - a bunch of weirdos doing the drawings, spreading rumors or gossiping does not define our character but it defines their character for sure. Revenge or humiliating the person in return does not work (that is my opinion).


On a lighter note - I had rejected a few boys in college, threw away their roses, cards, letters, proposals - so my guess is that the drawings were a retaliation from one of the rejected entities, I am glad I rejected them whoever it was ;-). Grapes are sour to the fox who could not reach them.


One feels scared and sad when they hear about acid attacks as a result of rejection.


Whenever I was touched inappropriately I immediately took another seat in the bus or screamed on the road and many times hit the person hard with my elbow. I am sure even boys are subjected to inappropriate touches.


Having hobbies helps - it is something you can draw joy from, I looked forward to spending every new day with enthusiasm just to be able to read, write, sing, dance and paint. I also had a couple of good friends - not just in college. Meaning - I had a life outside of college.


The atmosphere in the educational institutes makes a huge difference, the next college I got an admission in is a very well reputed college - where I met some amazing progressive people and the entire atmosphere in the college matched my sensibilities. The professors were a lot more involved in the classrooms and students than in my previous college, they were also very approachable, so if anything had to happen students had someone to talk to.


13 reasons why - I recently watched a TV show '13 reasons why' based on teen suicides as a result of bullying. The show has become an instant hit on Netflix. A girl commits suicide and makes cassettes to let people know how she was bullied and how her suicide is justified. I thought the show is very well written and very well executed, it maintains the mystery-suspense aspect till the end, but here is the problem -


A girl committing suicide for being slut shamed and betrayed by friends...??? She thinks she is impure because she was touched inappropriately - in that sense every woman commuting in locals and PMT is impure? What is the show promoting? That a suicide is justifiable by blaming it on bunch of idiots? The girl never ever takes any action on the things happening to her, a cry baby, a drama queen with intense victim consciousness, people around her (including boys) are actually going through more troubles and are bullied more (and yet surviving and fighting) than what she was.


I understand that at that age kids are extremely sensitive and small things can affect them big time (experienced it first hand), but that does not mean anything is worth committing suicide for. The truth is bullying does not stop at junior college - it goes on in every phase of life - I remember being bullied during masters, at work (by extremely controlling bosses and team mates) and many more places. I bet each one of you reading this post has experienced bullying, also there is a chance that each one of us has hurt people in some way (even if bullying was unintentional on our part). One needs to have the fighting spirit just to be able to survive through it, no one is born with it but has to work to get there.


Hopefully when teenagers watch '13 reasons why' they will realize the stupidity of it and not be convinced that suicide is the answer to problems. Or may be the show is trying to convey the same thing that it is all about the mindset with which we confront life. Do not get me wrong - bullying is wrong and so is not fighting against it.


13 reasons why the girl committed suicide are the ones (more or less) why I find myself a strong rebellious person with fighting spirit today, I have a thick skin now compared to those days. I am sure most of you will think the same if you watch the show.


As they say survival is always of the fittest...


People with intense victim consciousness are hard to live with too as I say it in this post - Vampires.


For all the parents:


A boy went to his mother and said 'mom, x y z are teasing me and calling me these names', mom said 'that is okay, why don't you go to school tomorrow and call them by these names' and the mom provided him with the list of names that he could call them with. So she taught the child that it is okay to tease people, take revenge and be involved in name calling. The boy is all grown up now and turns out to be the biggest bully in their family, who has made even his mother cry. So it is important that one does not inculcate the environment that motivates bullying.


There is an amazing book I read last month called 'mindset', it describes what kind of people become bullies, what kind of people get bullied, go in depression and become vampires and then the ones who become fighters - it is all about the mindset. It is very essential for all parents to be aware that kids go through bullying and might be too weak hearted to take it. Ask them how is it going... notice their mood changes... I know it would have made a difference for me if I had felt comfortable with at least one family member to express my issues without feeling embarrassed about it. Also, I feel every school/college needs to have a counselor who is accessible and approachable for all students to pour their heart out, someone who provides guidance.
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Other related posts - w o r d s - http://rasikam.blogspot.com/2014/03/w-o-r-d-s.html

Monday, May 15, 2017

Genome

1. Genome: The autobiography of a species in 23 chapters - Matt Ridley
A really great introduction to genetics. The book is divided into 23 chapters, representing the 23 different sets of chromosomes in the human body.

For most people who don't have a background in genetics(like me), the amount of material is overwhelming. My best advice is to skim to get the general idea and continue on. The concepts are intricate, but Matt Ridley does a great job breaking things down into digestible portions.

Despite the title, each chapter does not go into a detailed account of the function of each set of chromosomes. Good thing, too, since each chromosome serves a variety of different functions.

The book, while informative and intellectually stimulating, encourages us to ask very difficult questions. Instead of the coldly yet carefully studied discourse on genetics it could have been, the book joins human life and genetics together in a compassionate way.

Definitely recommended. 4/5*.


2. The life changing magic of tidying up - Marie Kondo
I do like be in a clean surrounding and definitely a great fan of minimalism, I keep things only if they will be used - this includes books too. I do not read any book twice (there are very few exceptions to it), so once I am done reading I either sell the book or donate it - give it to someone who I know will enjoy reading it. Anyway, so the book title fascinated me. But here is my advice - clean up your house/ surroundings/ life and the first thing you should get rid of is this book (if you already own it) :-). There are better articles on minimalism and stuff like that on zenhabits.net. 1/5*

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Modern Romance

1. Modern Romance - Aziz Ansari
We already know all the stuff that the author talks about - rise of online dating or open relationships. I liked his unbiased approach to technology and everything in relationships- citing both positives and negatives.
Aziz has only looked into middle class and heterosexual relationships in detail which is a limited worldview. It was an okay read - nothing great about it 2/5*



2. Go set a watchman - Harper Lee
I read this book because it is written by Harper Lee - the writer of one of my favorite books 'To Kill A Mockingbird'. I often wondered why she didn't write another book? Was she scared of failure after experiencing so much success with the first book? Who knows... Go set a watchman was a complete disappointment. 1/5 * - but do read 'To Kill A Mockingbird' if you haven't already.

3. The Hidden Reality: parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos - Brian Greene
I read it because it is writen by Brian Green - the writer of a masterpiece 'The elegant universe', I did not like The Hidden Reality as much. I need to read his book 'the fabric of cosmos' - have heard good reviews on that. 3/5*