“Hey G, dunno why but a part of me doesn’t do even the things I know _I want_ to do”.

“I know am supposed to eat veggies. I even know that *I want* to do it – and I’ve always felt great whenever I’ve gotten into the habit of it for weeks on end. But then, I go into these phases when I become indifferent and bored and disinterested – for no good reason, and get myself out of habit. I can’t tell you just how frustrated I feel!”

My dear friend, if you’ve ever felt anything like this before, here’s a virtual hi-5! This is not just with eating vegetables and eating healthy, it can happen with anything!

I can remember feeling bored while writing an exam – let me just scribble something and be done with it, kinda feeling. I’ve had women tell me they just how bored they feel about dressing up – even when they have a closet full of beautiful sarees they have lovingly picked up, but they find themselves wearing same set of 4-5 sarees for no good reason. A lady recently shared with me how she has it in her to prep well for an exam she’s taking towards earning a promotion at work. But she finds herself so indifferent to her ambition and she observes herself wasting time commenting “lol” and “omg” on random facebook posts.

Let me share with you all that I’ve learnt from working on my own stuff and from listening to my own coaches about these situations. You want bad news first or good news?? Let me get the “bad news” out of the way first – this kinda situation never really goes away completely. It is a life long thing, only that, what kinda stuff you’re indifferent to keeps changing, that’s all!

And the good news is that, it is figureoutable. I’ll explain to you one of the most effectively used models in therapy to deal with a situation like this. All of us have multiple “parts” living inside of us that take responsibility for different roles. There’s a coach part, doer part, protector part and so on. Central to all these parts is what some people refer to as “the loving center”. It is the most sensible, loving, caring part of you that is also the best manager of all the parts. When this part is leading the other parts, you feel like you’re in flow – it is the best feeling of when you are functioning at your highest potential.

But sometimes, the doer part and the coach part get in logger heads with each other! Your loving center sees this going on, tries to intervene but fails to wedge in and sort things out. But the warring parts can be very loud and the loving center feels defeated. That’s when it will complain to you, saying that exact sentence you often come and share with me – “a part of me doesn’t do even the things I know I want to do”.

There’s more to say on this but I’ll pause here for a reason today and continue next week.

But now, please hit reply and tell me – if it were your situation, how would you get the warring parts to quiet down so that you can wedge in and establish order?

 

Creating Recipes For Play

The amount of self-judgment I’ve seen with myself in just writing these play-themed posts of this month has been a humbling experience. Initially I observed thoughts like “what nonsense are you wasting your time talking about” and just looked on with amusement about my own resistance to having fun. Since I bring this up with clients, and they’ve often felt bashful about not knowing what to do with themselves by way of play, I wanted to put myself to test. Damn, it _is_ hard!

So, in this post I’m going to break it down for you as to what counts as play. Let’s get started –

Playing is a self-directed activity. It must be a voluntary – not repetitive – thing you do. It must be a fun pleasurable activity for it’s own sake, not because you want to out-do someone or want some result for yourself at the end. Which means, two people can be involved in the same activity – say going to the gym or going for a run. The one doing for the sheer fun of it is playing while the other who’s doing it as a weight management step is not. So, your attitude matters more than the activity itself.

But then, what exact activity do you indulge in? This is something you must customize to your own personality and tastes. You’d not enjoy the same kinda activity as everyone and you may even have a preference about playing with self or play activity with others involved. Look back to your childhood for clues and just pick up whatever you’re most drawn to.

The biggest challenge is around making it happen – so, schedule it in your calendar. And when the time comes, just get started. It may seem very forced and artificial initially – it sure felt that way for me. And truth be told, it still feels like that way and it’s okay. I find myself chilling down as I keep at it.

What I’ve seen me help is this – the activity must be planned out. As in, if I have to come up with some fun idea at the spur of the moment, it doesn’t go all that well. Contrary to what you may think, planning ahead doesn’t spoil the surprise element – it only feeds the excitement and anticipation of what is to come.

To give you a glimpse into what my play sessions looked like this month – I’ve had two so far that went very well and am eagerly looking forward to the next one. The first one was a laugh out loud session with myself, seeing some hilarious snippets of sitcoms of yesteryear. Second one was particularly amazing when I went out for a drive and walk around town with my husband to see the cherry blossoms. For this upcoming one, I’ve picked up some lovely colorful origami paper for just a couple of dollars and borrowed an origami book from the library to enjoy some quiet paper folding time with myself, music playing in the background.

What’s going on in your head? I’d love for you to share some possible ideas that you’re likely to explore in the coming days.

Are You Playing Enough?

Sitting down to discus food regimens with women is a definite part of the work I do. By this point, the client and I would have interacted a fair bit and the relationship would be established between us. Because of the trust cultivated, we both bring our very vulnerable selves to the table. And the when reality of food regimen is about to become active in their routine, it almost brings them tears. It is as if the fun, creative, playful lightness that one associated with food and leisure is leaving the shores of one’s life. Forever. Never to come back again! What exactly are we fearing losing in this context? Is it really food? I’d like to talk about this.

One dominion factor comes to mind. Bollywood. Just how ubiquitous this bollywood stuff has become! From the clothes we wear and the songs we sing to the songs we sing to our kids and the dance moves they’re taught, the infinite number of programs that are created to entertain these babies, grannies and everybody in between – including Lord Ganesha himself, at our pandals – everything is something to do with bollywood. If not that, it’s still one of several ‘other-wood’-s!

Like bollywood and ‘other-wood’ related activities that seem take up time-space, food has come to define leisure to us humans. We reach for food to relax us, de-stress us, to uplift us, it is a main component of bonding experiences and more. Oh and, not to mention the dozens of food related programs and entire channels dedicated to everything food. A leading chocolate brand surveyed some years ago and declared with great pride, that a whopping 52% women preferred chocolate over sex. Without a doubt, we’re allowing food to the point of crowding out every other leisure activity we enjoyed as adults one time. So, in the context of discussing food regimen, it is no surprise that it feels so threatening. Why food is not suited for leisure or as play component is an important question you must ask yourself. But first let’s see why play is important to us as humans.

Author Diane Ackerman writes, ” for humans, play is a refuge from ordinary life, a sanctuary of the mind, where one is exempt from life’s customs, methods, and decrees.” Playing is the most instinctive, play for play’s sake kinda activity there is. Playing is beyond just fun, and definitely beyond gender and age. Scholars have not arrived at any one specific definition of play but they’ve agreed upon this – play is any solo or social activity that has elements of anticipation, surprise, pleasure, understanding, strength and poise. Given just how play-deprived that modern societies are becoming, there are Play Health experts nowadays. In a hospital and/or clinical setting, these specialists design appropriate play activities for clients. Like how we’ve come to painfully discover, opposite of play is NOT work. It’s often some manifestation of depression, suicidal tendencies and addictive behavior towards the screen or cyber-loafing as it’s called, food and substance addiction, and so on. And play is believed to be the serious missing factor that could heal these people.

There are many benefits to play and some of them are, developing
– a handle over one’s emotions
– perseverance
– resilience
– problem solving skills
– boost in creativity

At some point, for a variety of reasons ( sometimes related to play pathology like isolation, bullying etc) we take to substituting play with food. Given that food also shares some of the elements of play, such as pleasure and surprise – we resort to using food. This is alarming, to say the least. Food and eating as an activity that is steeped in purpose. But play is entirely for it’s own sake, food doesn’t lend itself to this type of treatment. But given that it is pleasurable is often misleading as a play activity.

We’ll continue this discussion in the coming posts. But for now, here’s what I’d like you to do – share below some of the leisure activities you’ve enjoyed so far in this month. If by any chance, were these activities involving food, say that too.

The Language Of Self-love

In the previous post I wrote, it was all about self-love, love being a verb and the actions of  love to express to yourself. Today, let’s focus on the language of self-love. This is by far the most important and useful thing you’ll ever learn in this process.

Kindness. That’s the language. You know, we’re taught from very early in life to say please and sorry. To others. But nobody teaches us to pay any attention to how we speak with ourselves. And by default we model how other adults speak to us and to themselves. It is invariably very self-critical, harsh and judgmental in nature. To give you an example, earlier I was listening to clients who said something like this –

” I’m so stupid G, that I left the house without eating. And without any food in my bag too! Sigh.”

” I came home and greedily ate up three samosas .. am shamelessly saying it also. Whatever. Who cares! I’m just going to be like this only I think!”

” It was my fault to have gone to lunch. They must be thinking what nakras she does. If I had just shut up and eaten my own lunch everything would have been fine!” 

(To give you some context, she had gone for lunch with her friends and ordered for a salad. They all called her Ms. Health Queen and made fun of her choices. She so wanted to fit in with her group, so she ate Fried Prawns and other things they ordered. Came home and felt miserable about herself. )

If you had to translate these sentences to this language I’m proposing – Kindness, they’d look like this –

“I left the house without eating and without carrying any food.”

Cut out the judgmental, unkind parts, they are not only useless but harmful too. No good ever comes of it. Also notice the voice and tone of your self-talk. And make sure it’s not sarcastic or condescending. It’s enough to just state them plainly, whether it is to yourself or to someone.

” I came home and ate three samosas. I feel helpless that I’m not changing my ways”

There’s one thing women misunderstand – they think being aware and refusing to give in to temptations is harsh. And calling themselves stupid and bashing themselves for non-compliance somehow counts as an okay thing to do. It is exactly the other way round!  Anything that feels like a verbal version of the 🙄 , know that there’s a kinder version. Seek that softer, gentler set of words that express the same thing.

“I’d like to remember that eating my own lunch is the best.”

In life, there are favorable outcomes and lessons. That’s it. Reframing your thinking to see faults as lessons is a hallmark of high achievers. Also, it is doesn’t matter what others think of you – when you run those mental horror movies about what or how others think of you, it will pull you down. And it is not a loving thing to do at all.

Like with learning any language, this one needs practice, too. Being around other people who speak the language fluently will give you a chance to improve your own skills with  speaking it confidently.

If Love Is A Verb … How Do You Express It To Yourself?

Many many great people have echoed the sentiment of how every relationship is a mirror of one relationship, the one we have with ourselves. In extension of this standpoint, our responsibility is towards learning to clearly express love in this all important relationship. This is of great importance, not just because of upcoming Valentine’s Day, it is owing to the fact that matters relating to wellness and self-care are a function of this.

In my one on one coaching sessions with women, I ask them how they’d express love or appreciation for themselves. They’ll say how they’ll buy themselves a gift – anything ranging from a book to saree to experience of some kind – like a spa treatment, eating out, travel etc. This is all okay, I’m not going to find fault with any of these choices. That said, it doesn’t convey love deeply enough to the person inside you.  These are more like toppings on an ice cream! What good are the toppings _without_ the ice cream?

What does self-love look and feel like?

It involves being in your own company showing a deep interest for all things about your inner person – her feelings, her needs, her fears, her shortcomings. Hand-holding her through her challenges patiently and lovingly. Not criticizing her or feeling exasperated for her errors and fall-downs. Learning about what she likes and dislikes and allowing for them by way of learning to speak up for her. Seeing her as deserving of good things in life. Joining hands with her to bring her dreams to fruition. This will very likely mean that you’ll have to let go of your leanings for comfort. You’ll have to develop an ease for doing newer and more complex tasks. And herein lies self-love – seeing your inner person and her desires as worthy of being pursued.

If you did not carve out time and space for this type of engagement with yourself, no amount of shopping for handbags, eating chocolates, drinking beer or buying sarees will satisfy your inner muse. This fact feels very awkward to deal with, for a lot of women – they say, they’re better giving/expressing love to others but with themselves, this is the only way they know to do it they say. Or they kinda feel lost.

So, here is a very personal post in that sense – am sharing notes from how I express love to my own inner muse. The promises I’ve made to myself, likes and dislikes that I’ve come to accept as important to me, rules that she’d like me to live by are all part of this. The only reason I share is, to motivate you to compile and curate your own list. And keep in mind, love is a verb. It is a promise of what you’ll do as an expression of self-love. So, write it like you mean it  – using action words, as if it is a to-do list.

with self:

  1. say it exactly like it is – ‘say the truth to yourself’ can sometimes feel heavy and hard. It can even make you defensive. where as ‘say it like it is’ is simple and easy to follow.
  2. comfort myself when I feel down – I’ve collected some of my fav songs, speeches, discourses and activity prompts so that I don’t have to think at that time.
  3. find myself opportunities to do what I do well.
  4. feel your feelings – pretending like they aren’t there, or like they don’t matter, or suppressing them is going to make them show up at odd times – better to just feel them as they come.
  5. own your power – it comes with immense responsibility and you can learn to be responsible. But girl, own your power! There’s no greatness in being a doormat.
  6. evaluate criticism wisely, Girija – don’t do things so as to stay in somebody’s good books – somebody else’s good books is not a good reference point.
  7. do the right thing – don’t overthink this – all day long, you live with you, so do what’s right by your standards.
  8. see clearly – see things for what they are, not what you’d like them to be.

with others:

  1. meet friends in person whenever you can – but don’t let this bother you when it’s not possible. Virtual meeting and connecting over phone is not all that bad either.
  2. share a hearty laugh whenever you can – I’ve learnt to honor my goofy side.
  3. learn to ask for and receive help gracefully.
  4. state your position on things – this will effectively sieve out those that may not vibe well with you.
  5. release the need to like and go along with everyone and for everyone to like you and go along with you.
  6. get-together with people can be over a walk or painting or a shared activity of some other kind.
  7. gift books – you don’t have to loan your books. As a younger person I’d love for a friend to read the books I read and it would pain me when they would lick their finger o turn pages, ugh!
  8. stop – do not compare your inner story with somebody else’s outer story

food related:

  1.  remember – if hunger is not my problem, then food is not my solution.
  2.  eat just enough.
  3. cook with love.
  4. stop – never ever force me to finish the food on the plate.
  5. don’t accept food if am not up for it.
  6. don’t accept enjlu or joota – I had an aversion for this even as a child and I’d sneak out at the time of cake cutting and birthday parties given how adults indiscriminately offered ten people a bite out from a same damn piece of cake.
  7. eat with joy, always.
  8. eat only plants! Period.

What A Peeing Dog And Its Wise Owner Taught Me About Self-Love

Do you feel you’re selfish sometimes? Have you been thought of as selfish anytime?

I was moping around all day, all of previous evening because someone very close to me at work had pointed out to me that I was selfish. It was someone’s birthday and they had offered me a piece (it was more like a slab) of cake with 2 inch-high pink and yellow icing.

First of all, I for one cannot stand even a millimeter of icing, let alone a pink and yellow mile-high icing! And secondly, when somebody brings a HUGE serving of something to eat, it throws me in a panic. Because, I am a terribly slow eater and usually find it very hard to throw away food! It’s comparatively easier for me not ever accept it. And I had just eaten a good lunch – my kind, and did not have room for anything. So, I wished her well and passed the cake.

And with that, three of my “friends” ganged up to say how that was very selfish on my part to refuse the cake, causing the birthday girl to feel “upset”. Whoa!! Well, that was a big blow to me given how in my head I thought of myself as more compassionate and giving and generous. Even more than Mother Teresa!

So, all evening I sat and sulked around until when my neighbor, lady J walked in with her little dog Snoop. The dog was a new addition to her family and I had taken a liking to the pup. J was already a great friend. So, I decided to check with J if I was selfish to say no to birthday cake. “Yes …! ” she said, looking me straight in the eye. Whaaat?? Just then Snoop started scratching at the door. A wet door mat was the last thing I wanted and so I hurriedly got up to let Snoop go out to relieve himself. And J continued ” … so is peeing!!” The way she said it … we both LAUGHED. In one simple sentence everything was put in perspective.

So ladies, always remember – many life sustaining processes are selfish – breathing, peeing, putting the O2 mask on yourself first, going to bed when your loved one wants to watch telly, choosing to eat healthy, saying no to your colleague’s birthday cake or even mom’s greasy plate of pakoras – many more! And that’s no reason to NOT do them.

So if you asked me today, if I’m selfish or if someone has thought of me as selfish – it’s yes and yes in my case. It keeps me alive and sane. When I speak of being selfish, I do not mean it in a petty way that I trample over other people’s rights. I mean it in a way that I honor my needs and my own judgement. I mean it in a way that I find it worthwhile to use my time and life to pursue what matters to me.

If you’re someone who’s looking to eat healthy, get enough sleep on a daily basis and exercise regularly, this is how it begins with this: you must d-e-e-p-l-y believe that learning and behaving in our own interest is desirable. Even if this is sometimes in conflict with what somebody else wants for you, you must believe that you have no obligation to live up to their expectations. Not only is self-interest desirable, it’s the only way to be.

So, if your friend says you’re being selfish about refusing to have a beer with her, remember to say to yourself – “Yes! So is peeing.” I’ll promise, it’ll put everything in perspective.

Did you enjoy reading this post? Then, you’ll likely enjoy the monthly summary post I put together exclusively for my newsletter readers. Consider signing up! You’ll get book recommendations, strategies to conquer your cravings, tips and tricks on how to stay on your healthy eating plan and so much more.
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Love – Theme For February Posts

Love. That’s the theme for this month of Feb, for all the blog posts here at Health Initiatives.

Yes, I’m still into being a food coach and I still enjoy helping Indian women around the world with weight loss and cravings.

So what’s love gotta do with it, did you say? One word A to your Q is – everything. Yes, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

We’re going to discuss about the only love relationship that there really is – the one you have with yourself. Since every other love relationship is only a reflection of this, we’ll discuss some facets of self-love. And I’m going to especially show you how, eating healthy and making the right food choices – in the face of your cravings – is a direct statement of love that you have for yourself.

You’ll see these posts posted here and on the health-initiatives.me website, on every Wednesday or Thursday-depending upon where in the world you are. You’ll get a lot of value in terms of precious actionable steps to take to deal with your food cravings, eat healthy and lose weight – so be sure to visit here or the website to read and engage with the posts.

However, if you want even MORE VALUE, you must absolutely sign up for my newsletter.

http://health-initiatives.me/febthemepost

And here’s why:

At the end of every month I do a summary post EXCLUSIVELY for women who are signed up for my email newsletters. They learn the strategies to cope with cravings, get book recommendations, tips and tricks to stay on a healthy eating plan, and so much more that I don’t share anywhere else. It’s COMPLETELY FOR FREE too. There’s no pressure for you to stay signed if you don’t find it useful – I’d also only want readers that are excited to read and apply the stuff I teach – so you can opt out anytime you want.

The Feb month blog is going to be slightly different in the sense, there will be no ‘Ask G’ type of posts! I’ll turn tables on myself and give you a peek into ‘How G learnt’ kinda situations 😁

Truth be said, there’s no place better than a hospital setting to learn some self-love. For years and years, I was in situations where I’d have 9-12 hour work days that gave us no time to eat! And by the time we got ourselves to the cafeteria samosas, ketchup and chai for the North Indian palate vada, chutney and coffee for the Southies was all there would be available! 🤔?? Yes, hospital cafeterias do see this as food fit for their staff and do sell it to anyone that wants to eat there. Including patients! And if I dared to leave the patients waiting and sneak out to eat, there was bakery 10 minutes away that had veggie puff (a savory pastry) and cakes!

Remember to sign up for the newsletter below, if you want the exclusive content!
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Milking Your Money And Health!

This starts pretty early in life.

Your grandma tells you – ghee is sacred, it is the gift of cows and food for Gods.

Then your ma tells you – want lustrous hair and skin? Chupchaap take some ghee!

Then your doctor tells you – for easy digestion make sure you get your share of dahi.

And then you will hear yourself thinking and saying things like – “I felt a little confused when some friends were saying such horrible things about having milk! Par kya hai na, I really go by my gut feeling about these things – I need dairy – milk and all products of milk – to be healthy”.

Whatever role we may be in – grandmother, teacher, vice president, CEO, teacher, mother, sister, banker, whatever – ability to think flawlessly is a great asset. We can all agree that it will come handy in every situation of life. This requires that we go meta, and that means thinking and examining the process of thinking itself.

I’ll share the most commonly seen blocks to sound thinking that I encounter in my line of work –  

a. accepting inaccurate information

b. making wrong inferences 

c. tailoring the information and inference to suit one’s bias 

d. Making unjustified assumptions

e. Not staying open to listening to reasons

d. Getting defensive and or resorting to indifference

And when it comes to this particular topic of dairy, it’s common to see ethnocentric type of mental blocks. For instance, we north Indians, or we south indians, we hindus and we brahmins so on.  

 

We protect and perpetuate our faulty thinking in many ways. Here are some common strategies we indulge in –

a. forming groups with others just like yourself – we the dairy lovers, we the coffee drinkers kinda thing. In a room full of alcoholics, the lone sober guy is the oddball after all!

b. staying passive and unquestioning in relationships – there are many payoffs to believing “my mother is my encyclopedia!” 

c. cut off or use excuses when critiqued – aloofness is one way of cutting off. ‘This is how  – I was raised /I am / it works for me – are some examples of excuses.

d. full blown acting out – having an emotional outburst disproportional to the context.

In clinical and hospital settings it is fairly common to see variations of these blocks and strategies unfold in real life situations. The intention of sharing it with you is to alert you to your own possible flaws of thinking that may come up in reading and processing the remainder of this post.   

There is absolutely NO pressure on you to change your behavior. It is entirely your choice IF and WHEN you want to address it. So, take a brief pause, relax and read further. Read slowly. Assimilate the meaning of each statement in your mind before you read the next one.

Ready?

Let’s start.

The fat and protein content of mammalian milk varies greatly among the species.

It is inversely proportional to the the rate of growth at which the baby animal doubles in size. This is to say that, an animal that is fastest to double itself in size, has the highest content of protein in its milk. And it also has a comparatively shorter span of life.

Rat’s milk has 11.8 gm of protein per 100 ml – doubles it’s size in 4 1/2 days – has an average life span of 2 years

Cat’s milk has 9.5 gm of protein per 100 ml – doubles it’s size in 7 days – has an average lifespan of 2-16 years

Dog’s milk has 7.1 gm of protein per 100 ml – doubles it’s size in 8 days – has an average lifespan of 10-13 years

Goat’s milk has 4.1 gm of protein per 100 ml – doubles it’s size in 19 days – has an average lifespan of 15-18 years

Cow’s milk has 3.3 gm of protein per 100 ml – doubles it’s size in 47 days – has an average lifespan of 18- 22 years

Horse’s milk has 2.4 gm of protein per 100 ml – doubles it’s size in 60 days – has an average lifespan of 25-30 years

Human milk has 1.2 gm of protein per 100 ml – doubles it’s size in 180 days – has an average lifespan of 79 years

This is to say that, a human baby receives a low-protein content food, such a human breast milk – exclusively, that too – at the time of the greatest growth spurt in it’s lifetime.

While we’re on this topic of milk let me say this – you may have observed that fat content of human breast milk is same as that of cow milk. I only discussed proteins so far. But yes, it is same or similar percentage of fat content, in the region of  3.7%.

And you may be thinking to yourself – ” dekha! main na kehti thi ..! ” Wait, am not finished yet.

The cow’s milk is dominantly saturated fat, whereas human breast milk is not.

So having similar numbers don’t mean anything because they are of different composition altogether. This is to say, you can successfully make paneer, junnu and basundhi out of cow’s milk. But nobody can make ever make paneer, junnu or basundhi out of human breast milk for this reason. Eewww!

Now, you may decide for yourself whether dairy consumption is right for you, or not right for you. And I sincerely hope your actions will be in alignment with what you think and feel to be right.

 

 

 

kahi pe nigahein kahi pe nishaana

D is one of the most vivacious people I’ve spoken with! She’s fun, quick-witted and was an antyakshari winner at her club. And besides 100 s of things she does, she likes to make wish lists in her head. Literally hundreds of them! She can’t remember or keep track.

D: Hi G, can you write me a diet chart? I have a long wish list and have a bad memory .. bad combo!

G: Really?! Tell me more about your list ..

D: Matlab, list is in my head. I don’t have a list – list .. I want to learn to cook nicely, I’d like to wear nice clothes – matlab, western and ghagra cholis and all that – my cousin is getting married, it is a very big event, okay! It’s like a double dhamaka – valentine’s day destination wedding and we’re all excited. Then, I’ll be taking cooking classes when we go to Kolkata. My s-i-l went to the same classes and she’s an amazing cook now.

G: So, how does the diet chart help you with any of this, D?

D: See, I need to lose weight to look good in western. And then the ghagra choli also, I can’t wear .. am embarrassed! And if you write some simple things I can eat, I’ll be able to manage fine. By the end of March, I’ll be trained to make at least 15-20 varieties of nice dishes indian and western desserts, both I’ll be learning. With all this, I’m in charge of all the songs and dances for the wedding, too!

G: My dear D, you reminded me of that Kajol and Shah Rukh movie ka sangeet scene .. Kahi pe nigahen kahi pe nishana! It’s like going to the airport to catch your Duronto Express.

Pause.

We often have enough wishes for the next three years. And that too, all in our head! Nothing on paper. And because it is all so nebulous, nothing ever gets seen and because there’s nowhere to see how its overflowing – more is continuously piled into the “list”. And often randomly! Just how in the world would you accommodate a goal for eating healthy and a goal for becoming a master halwai, without one cancelling the effect of the other?

Is your “list” in the head in screaming conflict with the activities you choose to do?  Like these – all examples of kahi pe nigahen kahi pe nishana?

no unnecessary spending and you would have gone visiting the Grand Shopping Festival
not eating sweets for 3 months and you sit watch Desserts Show on Netflix every evening
gotta wear my own wedding sarees to functions and you pick up a designer ghagra at a “deal price”

Let me make it easy for you!

Please write down what goals you have for yourself. At the time of taking action, get in the habit of checking if your all your actions are in alignment with your goals.

If your goal is to eat vegetables for breakfast, don’t go and stock up on breakfast cereal.

If you want to eat no sugar, stop trying out the dessert recipe videos your friend puts on her youtube channel.

If your intention is to order a soup and salad only, don’t read through that damn menu card at the restaurant.

Some of my clients are quick to intervene and say, no G I was only seeing the cake video that’s all!

Arre yaar, every unwanted saree purchase also started with seeing the pictures and asking a harmless “pp” only, no!

Stay on the alert to see if you’re sticking out temptation traps for your own self and undoing your own efforts mindlessly.

And for those of you wanting to take it to the next level, here’s a little homework for you: grab a notebook and pencil and set the timer for 30 minutes, turn off every distraction. Now answer the question – how do you identify yourself. What are your top 5 values? If you need any guidance to go deeper, I have a pdf here that you may download.  Many of us start off the answer with our roles – I am a mother, I am a daughter, sister, CEO and so on. These ones I just mentioned, they sit well with each other overall, though there may be transient periods of conflict.

But, if you identify yourself like so,

baker of cakes
maker of sweets
drinker of drinks
eater of desserts
try-er of every new restaurant in town
an everyday cook of exotic recipes out of vast library of cookbooks and cooking courses

… then, without a doubt working on your identity is the best starting point of getting past the kahi pe nigahen kahi pe nishana muddle. So, get curious … what tags do you have, to how you identify yourself?

What are your values?

If you need any guidance to go any deeper, I have a pdf here that you may download.

 

“G, I want to be happy this year .. that’s my goal for 2019”

Background – A was someone who worked very diligently, lost a lot of weight and maintained it effectively. Now, she’s worried that she’s not “naturally thin” and “happy”.. whatever that means! We tend to put pressure on ourselves to make resolutions and to be happy around this time of the year .. so sharing it with you at an opportune moment. Here we go!

G: Hey, A 🙂 Excited about our session ..! Can we start .. tell me what you need my support with?

A: Hi G! Me too 🙂 basically I want to be happy G. That is my goal really. I don’t know what all type of details you want, I have checked my weight just this morning, got some blood tests also recently .. if you ask specifically I will share.

G: Oh, for this goal we will need other things A. (looking seriously)

A: Yeah, yeah! I will make a list and have it ready for our next call. Tell me ..

G: All we’ll need is a smile. A b-i-g bright cheerful smile!
A: Aww so sweet! That I have now only G 🙂 but I want to be happy in a different way. I have a sister, G. She is just so beautiful, naturally thin .. not like me! Eats whatever she wants – cakes, chips, and nothing bad happens! I did double masters, I work, have good kids .. good husband .. lost weight too – everything is nice. Now I want to be happy.

G: A, did you know this thing Kannada people do .. I am from Karnataka and for Ugadi (new year), we people have a teeny bit of jaggery with a teeny bit of neem flowers, the first thing in the morning after bath. You know why?

A: Oh, I did not know .. tell me?

G: To remind ourselves that life is 50-50, like it is for your sister, for you and for every single one of us. That is the nature of life ..! It is really not about anything else – rich, poor, job or studies – none of that matters. Right?

A: yeah .. but some people eat anything at anytime in any amounts they like no, G?

Pause.

I was reading somewhere how the conversation that you have with your own self is the most important conversation there is!

Just like losing tens of kilos did not lead to happiness, so also eating cupcakes like there was no end, wouldn’t make you happy. It would make you have a stomach upset and throw up, that’s all. Going by other people’s external story gives ZERO clues about what their inner struggles are. Even if this other person happens to be your own sister!

Happiness is a decision you can make. And that’s all there is to it – your situation doesn’t have to change even by a dot for you to be happy!

And specifically to this context, we’re similar to our siblings in some ways and different in some other ways. Even when you have identical twins, genes aren’t entirely identical.

Do you want to be happy in 2019? Then, please give yourself permission to be so and decide that you will be happy no matter what.

This is what you have to do – think happy thoughts!

If you’re sad about your fat thighs – think a grateful thought like “wow, I have thighs!”

If you’re upset about eating junk food – think a gleeful thought like ” wow, I get to eat!”

A friend who lost her beloved dog thought “wow, I was fortunate to have had this dog” and felt grateful even in her grief.

To eat healthy, to go on a diet or to work towards a better body or wanting to improve in some other way, it is not required to criticize yourself and berate yourself.

Healthy eating for it’s own sake, weight loss for weight loss’s sake – that’s it.

Want another option?

You can choose to be whole, see the value in other side of ‘happy’ and allow for it!

You know what this would look like?

It’s like saying –

“hey skin, please hurt if I were to touch something hot – so, I’ll be more careful next time”

“hey eyes, please cry if some dust went in and is bothering you – so’ I’ll remember to protect you better “

“hey mind, please go guilty if I were to do Facebook 5 hours a day – so, I’ll be more mindful how I use time “

While hurt, cry and guilty are f-a-r from happy, they have a purpose and place.

So please, realize while you can be happy no matter what, recognize the usefulness of non-happy and embrace it.

I promise you it’s gonna make 2019 and every year thereafter a very meaningful one for you!

“G, should I do keto? Or Paleo?”

For most of women, this question is no different than asking ‘should I go for bandhani saree or ajrakh?’ For the slightly more seasoned ones it could be ‘keto – vegetarian or keto-pescetarian’ ..! Or how about ‘gluten free paleo’? Just like saying, bandhani saree with ajrakh palla! This is like ultimate sophistication .. at least inside our heads. I promise you, there isn’t a hint of sarcasm as I said that. I’m just holding a mirror to the conversations I’ve personally participated in, many many times.

My strong belief about clarity is this – quality of questions will determine the quality of answers. And this means examining those questions and upping the game around them becomes imperative. So what are some good questions you can ask around healthy eating as a topic? Giving you a peek into some insightful questions and answers to inform your own thinking.

Whether you decide to go keto or paleo or gluten free or some other combination, the greatest challenge is to be able to do it long term. And another dampener to most regimes is that persistent preoccupation about food and eating. Frankly, it’s just plain and unmistakable physical feeling of hunger! How to get past that?

A great question in this context would be to ask, how do I diet or eat healthy as if it’s a way of life. This is indeed a wonderful question to go after and I get asked all the time. Some variation of this would be how to eat a certain way like forever, like not even wanting to want those things that aren’t all that good for me?

Can you even diet .. and not feel hungry all the time? Is it possible to have diet and not hungry in the same sentence?

The answer is yes! It is indeed possible to diet and not feel miserably deprived and hungry. But for this, you must match your definition of diet and hunger to how your body thinks of diet and hunger.

Is there something like that, a human diet??

Of course!

Diet – by your body’s definition would mean, to eat in alignment with with natural history of human species.

So, what’s the diet that is natural to our species? Humans for the most part have survived by eating starchy tubers.

How do we know this? There are scientists that have taken an interdisciplinary approach to study paleontology, anthropology, genetics and evolutionary biology. And they have documented series of evidences that prove the human survival story to be essentially relying on starchy foods. The human body and its processes are also designed for precisely this feature.

Most women immediately say how the early humans were hunters and how it feels hard to reconcile with this idea that we may have survived eating mostly starchy tubers. Why would you accept everything you read or what you were handed down unquestioningly? My suggestion as always is, get curious. Sometimes a great question to ask in a situation would be about the view that you’re opposed to.

How do you support your argument that we humans have been starch eaters historically?

Human brain runs essentially on glucose, and glucose is a byproduct of eating predominantly starchy foods.

Human DNA, be it from the deep forests of Amazon or from the city dwellers of New Delhi, London or New York or any other place on earth – they all contain a gene called Amylase 1 – which is to say we’re genetically programmed to make amylase-rich saliva. The human saliva containing this enzyme called amylase, is key for breaking down the starch into glucose.

But you aren’t saying anything to say why we weren’t hunters, are you?

Like how a lion is designed for predation a human is designed in exactly the opposite way, for foraging – to eat something that doesn’t need to be chased after.

This is also why the lions have an enviable stride length and run at 50 plus km/h speed while humans are designed to have heavy pillar like legs to that is meant for endurance activity like foraging that involved walking across a large area

For the same reason, a human did not necessarily need the forward-deployed feature like pointy claws – we have flat and blunt nails. Neither do we need canine type teeth that is shaped to bite, rip and tear. Ours is a jaw and teeth structure optimized for side-to-side chewing.

A lion for example, goes hunting at night because that’s when it has the best advantage of preying on a weak or sick or sleeping animal because it makes for an easier catch. And herbivores – their prey, do sleep at night. All carnivore animals have a super acute hearing, fantastic night vision that is oriented to perceiving movement more than anything else. Their sense of smell is extraordinary too. This is how they can sense from very great distances if their prey is diseased, infected or infirm in some way.

How else do you think we are different ?

Humans on the other hand are innately drawn to the most luscious, colorful and healthy looking leaf or fruit or other plant part as we recognize this to be nutritious. We would forage during the daytime only which is when we could assess the quality of food best. We are the kind that need to eat small quantities several times in a day and are not built to hoard huge amounts of food inside our body. And by the way, only 95% of the hunts are successful. That is why these carnivore creatures are sedentary and sleep for most part of the day which helps them conserve energy during the long gaps between meals.

When a lion pounces on its prey, the front of the animal is protected – thick furry skin, shoulders are very heavily padded, the heart is deeply set inside the rib cage and the vulnerable body parts like the abdomen and gonads are way in the back. Gonads are another word to say sex organs. We humans have an exposed anatomy – abdomen which is not covered by bones is in the front, as are the gonads. We have relatively hairless skin laden with sweat glands so as to cool our big and heavy brain.

I’ve heard paleo and keto way of eating is very good for women, especially with regards to fertility, hormones and weight loss. What do you say?

You think your women ancestors would be able survive chasing after a prey and hunting for food? During pregnancy??

If you see the pregnant females of our species – which is again entirely front-focused, plus upper body strength is much lesser compared to carnivore females – predation is impractical. And nowhere in nature do you see the females of a species depending on the males of the species for food, for their survival.

The length of gestation is dramatically different for humans compared to carnivores. Carnivores have short gestation and very low birth weight babies – this means that a pregnant lion can go and absolutely would go hunting – with no fear of miscarrying or abortion or losing the baby in some way because of the physically stressful act of hunting.

A heavily pregnant human female is lot less mobile and she has long gestation period which is very typical of large herbivores, and give birth to a single baby – single births are the rule – and babies are born with eyes open at birth for herbivores and humans, alike. The eyes being open is a measure of the extent of brain development. Human embryology suggests that herbivore way of eating is a prerequisite for our brain development.

So, are we all plant eating herbivores then?

No, we are omnivores only. The scientific literature points out we do have a capacity for a wide range of foods, including meats. But this doesn’t mean we get to weave theories about our evolution and change historic facts to make us feel better about our choices. Neither should we be curating diet regimens to somehow include foods that we aren’t willing to let go and sell it as the best diet.

This concludes Part 1 of this post – this post happened thanks to some courageous women that were willing to ask uncomfortable questions and listen. I request you to carry on this spirit and help everyone of us learn better. After all, what you do for yourself, you’re doing for the entire humanity. Please tell us in the comments below, what was the most eye-opening part for you – how did this bring you clarity?

Blog Theme For Jan 2019: Clarity

As I take in the exquisiteness of this blank canvas of a brand new year ahead of me, it feels VERY exciting.

SO much to learn, SO much to give, SO much to do!

And I’m hearing a voice saying – ‘oh, you are just one person Girija’

Sigh! Yes. I’m not arguing .. it is true after all, isn’t it!

Just in time I remember the story of the humming bird in ‘Dirt! The Movie’. This a lovely story of a tiny humming bird who lived in a big forest. And the forest is caught in a big bad fire. All the animals are terribly overwhelmed and they don’t know what to do! Then this little humming bird steps up and says, I have an idea and soaks up the water from nearby and attempts to douse the fire. The other animals say to the humming bird, you are just one little bird and the fire is big as is the forest. So, the humming bird says – “I’ll do the best I can!”

This felt so persuasive to me that I got SO much done! As I was humming to myself and working, I went all the way back to the days of college .. physics lab to be precise. Those experiments to show how light is a particle and light is also a wave, remember? It is as if to say, light particle is a tiny part of the bigger whole and light as a wave is the whole. Think about it, so also is water.

We are no different really!

 

 

 

 

 

Each one of us is one small tiny human, and we’re each complete humanity too. Now, how powerful is this?

This means, whatever you do for your tiny self, you’re in essence doing for the entire humanity. Right?

Wow! Just. Wow.

I’m inspired to have a theme for each month going forward – both for myself personally and for Health Initiatives – and for Jan of 2019 it’s going to be ‘clarity’.

I offer you this for your contemplation practice, for the rest of this month:

“I am human and I am humanity too. So, what I do for myself, am doing for the entire humanity itself” Girija