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

“All was well .. until I went to that function and saw others eating sweets!”

“Hey G, I was eating so nicely according to plan. Until that function happened! It could not be missed and I went. People were eating such delicious sweets anywhere I saw. I lost it and how! Since then it’s all been downhill. Now tell me, how not to eat sweets?!”

This was R’s question couple of months ago. I know this is a very very common one too! I coached R and since then she hasn’t touched anything sugar – it’s about 8 weeks and counting! Read on if you too wanna kick your sugar habit for good.

Some background info: R is a big B fan and she loves cooking and baking. Sugary things were her only weakness.

And here’s the highlight of our coaching session.

G: I know just the mantra for you – ‘zafrani pulao mein cheeni nahi dalte!’

Each time you reach out to eat anything sugary, you must say this mantra aloud. And you will stop eating sugary things after this 🙂

R: Whaaat???

G: Have you watched cheeni kam? Remember big B firing that chef in the kitchen – that fellow who had his wife’s pic stuck over his utensil rack and he’d dip into identical jars of sugar and salt for the cooking and he had sugared Tabu’s order of zafrani pulao .. story line yaad hai?

R: Connection kya hai .. am still puzzled 🙂

G: When you’re baking or cooking something sweet – let’s say while you’re baking a cake – and you’ll see some luscious kashmiri mirch you picked up. Would you toss it in your recipe? It’s luscious! Soooo colorful too – why not??

Of course you will not! You will maintain the integrity of your ingredients to the recipe until the dish is created. Actually even after it is created! You wouldn’t serve that damn cake with some avakkai on the side .. hai ki nahi!

R: smilingly agreeing ..

G: Now imagine you are making a dish – savory dish – and it’s called Slimmer-me. There is NO sugar related ingredient in this dish – EVER!! Anytime you lose track of what you’re making, and start putting sugary things into Slimmer-me, you ARE ruining your dish!

All those other people you saw at the wedding, they’re busy making some other dish. It’s a dish called EatNowCryLater! Did you want that for yourself? Then you must start doing exactly what they’re doing. Your only focus must be on making Slimmer-me! Don’t wreck the process carelessly.

R: Oh my God!! Okay, here after am gonna say to myself ‘zafrani pulao mein cheeni nahi dalte’ each time I feel like planting my face in a sweet.

Some 10 -15 days ago R messaged – “damn it G! I am unable to eat a sweet after I say that mantra. I was at Ry’s parents house (Ry is her American husband) and when I reached for something sweet, Ry hissed at me – you don’t sugar your pilaf, do you! Bhaag gayi sab udhar hi chod ke!!”

You’ll feel angry sometimes and sad at other times as to how unfailingly this damn mantra works! The bottom line is, it works 🙂

Try pushing yourself past it, your sweet will not feel so pleasurable anymore!