Long Overdue: Progress and Reaffirmation

Long Overdue: Progress and Reaffirmation

Dear everyone,

My apologies. I know this is a very delayed post. In the last few weeks, I’ve been preparing for exams, had the most gruelling set of exams ever, been at home for a whirlwind four days, and then started a new internship. All of these changes were very difficult to manage regular blogging and calorie-counting with (though I have tried to eat mostly within the calorie limit everyday, and I think succeeded – if not all, then a majority of the days).

I think it’s easy for things to fall by the wayside in periods of change, especially when the habits aren’t well-ingrained. I’m sorry that happened to me – this is something I really need to avoid the next time a particular change happens. In the meantime, let me re-affirm some of the reasons why this blog exists (I think a few have changed a bit):

  • I want to be healthy and not suffer from blood pressure, diabetes, and the myriad other diseases that lurk in my family history.
  • I want to be able to run and jump and swim and enjoy myself in whatever situation I am in (especially when I go to Hong Kong next February!)
  • I want to show off a bit to my friends when we have a school reunion in December.
  • I want to look toned and muscular and fit.
  • I want to be able to manage my current auto-immune disease by being less stressed out, eating well, and taking all my medicines regularly.
  • I want my clothes to fit better.
  • I want to feel better about my body. (I know that this has more to do with my mindset than my weight, but I’ve found that something that works phenomenally well for this is exercising and learning that my body can do wonderful things … it definitely makes me love myself more).
  • I want to be happier and manage my anxiety and depression.

The best part is that I already know how to do all of this. It’s just a matter of developing good habits – and I think I’m on my way to doing that. Stay tuned.

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On cutting out food groups

On cutting out food groups

Today, a friend announced to me that she wasn’t eating sugar for the next two weeks, and it was so hard to find anything to eat because everything had sugar.

“I’m dreaming of cookies,” she said.

A few weeks ago, my mother told me that she was going to give up carbs.

“A lot of my friends have lost weight on it.” 

I don’t know why both of these things make me feel so uncomfortable. is it because I enjoy my morning carb-and-sugar-loaded muffin and I am loathe to give it up? Is it because I am weak?

I mean it’s probably at least partially because I am weak. I don’t think I’d be happy cutting out a food group from my life like that, calling it “bad” or “evil”. I don’t apologize for the way I eat. Though I try to get in vitamins, nutrients and protein, if there are days when I eat a lot of junk, I don’t beat myself up for it. If my carb and sugar filled muffin can get me through the day with the right amount of calories, I don’t sweat it.

I also fully appreciate that it might not be the best thing for my health. I would like to eat fancy healthy breakfasts with only egg and vegetables but they’re not in my means or control right now. (I’m restricted a bit by what the mess prepares and what is available around, and I don’t have the time or resources to cook at this point in my life). I know, however, that eating too many carbs and too much sugar and not enough protein, vitamins and minerals will not be good for my health in the long run. (Though, given the backtracking between “fat is evil” and “carbohydrates are evil” that the weight loss industry has done, I’m not sure any food groups are massively terrible for me in moderation).

But will restriction?

For a short point in college I struggled with the idea of restriction. The idea that if I ate only raw food, then everything would be fine, that my life would fall into place. Looking back on it I can imagine it being a sort of eating disorder. And it came with the “cheat days” – sundays where I would eat mountain loads of the crappy food I denied myself on every other day. In retrospect, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to deem those binges. That food became so coveted that it was very difficult to focus on anything else. The snacking on those days was mechanical, and I’m not even sure I enjoyed it much.

Nowadays, I eat a little snack every day. Whatever I’m feeling like. Chips. Chocolate. Noodles. Muffins. Juice. Coffee. I also eat fruits and rice, dal and raita, bhel and nuts. I’ll admit to you that I probably don’t eat very healthy, though not much unhealthier than most college students.  I track everything I eat and drink. I’ve found that a lot of things have lost their coveted status. I don’t want to eat chocolate, or chips. Especially not if that sets me back another 300 calories or something. I pick the lower calorie, smaller serving sizes. I don’t eat the whole thing. I make creative meals with crackers and cheese and milk. I eat a couple of squares of chocolate if I don’t want the whole thing. I eat the whole thing if I want the whole thing. I don’t order pizza just because there’s an offer because I know it’ll ruin my week and I’ve already gone above once this week.

There’s no all or nothing. There is tomorrow. There is plenty.

And I’m not living for the next cookie.

Am I right? I suppose only time will tell. But at least, thank god, I’m not constantly talking about it. (I never want to be one of those diet people. This blog is enough.)

Workout Video Review: Sexy Workouts

Workout Video Review: Sexy Workouts

So I haven’t been able to go swimming the past couple of days because I had the worst cold and a lot of work, so I’ve been working out in my room (mostly to be able to tell this blog I am! :D). Anyway, given how meh I was feeling with my cold and my work, I really wanted to do dance videos that would pep me up. So I trawled through my list and picked some “sexy” videos. Want to see how I liked them?

The Good: Sweating Sexy Dance Workout with Jennifer Galardi

I liked this video! Jennifer Galardi is up beat and fun, the video is really short (only 20 minutes) and its pretty low impact, so you don’t even need shoes. I hate wearing shoes when I’m working out in my room. Anyway, despite its short length, this video really makes you sweat – I was exhausted at the end of it and slightly sore in the hips and thighs when I woke up in the morning. However, my only complaints with the video were that it got very boring to keep starting from the start and I found some of the moves difficult to keep up with. Plus, I never really felt sexy. I felt sweaty and awkward and hulking which is fine with exercise videos but not for one that promises otherwise.

I think I would’ve been content and ready to do this one again. If I hadn’t, today, done the next workout …

The Great: Dance Off the Inches: Cardio Striptease Workout

I really loved this one. Okay, this one is longer (40 minutes). It also doesn’t require shoes. It didn’t make me feel (ever) like I was working as hard as the last one. So perhaps all in all Jennifer Galardi gives you the better workout? I don’t know. What I did like about this video was that the steps were very easy to follow. They were also quite fun to do and didn’t get repetitive because instead of trying to put all the steps into one big dance, she made three small dances that incorporated different steps. I really liked that. Plus this is the only video ever where I laughed out loud at minute 30 out of 40 and didn’t keep checking the time. (In fact, at ten minutes in I was like … woah? ALREADY? NO!). Plus, something about the moves and the way they’re taught made me feel sexy and happy. And since it got my heart-rate up and got me sweaty and tired in the end, this is a win for me.

The Meh: Absolute beginners cardio bellydance workout

I started doing this one one Wednesday (before the Jennifer Galardi video) and got really frustrated with it. The moves seemed easy enough – especially for the Indian “trained by thumkas at weddings” body, but it didn’t really feel like I was moving or getting a workout. At 10 minutes in I hadn’t sweated at all and I didn’t feel like my heart rate was up. Plus, I wasn’t feeling at all sexy. The quality of the video also put me off. So I decided to quit in and move to Jennifer Galardi. Definitely avoidable!

On an aside, all of these are really hard on the knees. So tomorrow (unless I go swimming) I’ll probably go with one which has no squats and all upper body exercises or something.

How to Stay Healthy When Life Goes Crazy

How to Stay Healthy When Life Goes Crazy

Hi everyone!

As mentioned in my last post, it was all set to be a crazy week. I had:

  • Wonderla.
  • A very important job interview.
  • Family get-together over three days (friday, saturday and sunday)
  • General deadlines in terms of work.

Obviously, all of these exciting events did damage my normal goals. So how did I do this week?

Exercise: 

Monday: Went to Wonderla.

Tuesday: No. 😦

Wednesday: Interview.

Thursday: Swimming for 30 minutes.

Friday: Swimming for 30 minutes.

Saturday: Swimming for 30 minutes. Also, loads of dancing in the evening for about 30 minutes.

Sunday: Walk with my parents (with a little running thrown in here and there) for about 30-40 minutes.

Honestly, this was as good as it could’ve gotten this week. I’m particularly proud of the end of the week.

Food: 

Monday: 2300 calories. Because Wonderla.

Tuesday: 1422 calories.

Wednesday: 1900 calories (this is because, feeling very happy about the interview, I went out for dinner with two fellow interviewees despite already having eaten pizza at the interview and eaten enough throughout the day).

Thursday: I have no idea! How could I not record it? However, given that I had about 575 calories left over for dinner, I am assuming I ate something reasonable and made it within the 1550 limit.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday: With my family, given the varied nature of the meals and the fact that there was a LOT of sharing, I was never sure how to calculate, and so I didn’t.

Lessons Learnt: 

So it hasn’t been a great week, food wise. I hope this blog will not become an “excuses” blog, so I won’t really make excuses, but I did learn how I could make some better choices this week:

Don’t snack between meals: I tried to avoid this as much as possible in my family celebration, because we were eating huge meals already and snacks tend to be super high calorie and nutritionally useless. I didn’t always succeed because, well, banana wafers and caramel popcorn and sakarapara and murukku were on offer, but I avoided it as much as I could. I also saw that the more nutritionally conscious members of the family were avoiding them strenuously.

If drinking, drink low calorie drinks: Think I succeeded in this. Peach snapps with soda, Bloody Mary, and Gin and Tonic over three days of family celebrations. Not crazy, calorie wise. Also yummy. I avoided all other drinks, though I did end up drinking a LOT of coffee and tea  that everyone else was drinking (but with very less sugar). Next time, would avoid or opt for plain milk.

Choose smaller portions of everything: Did, mostly. Went back for seconds only very rarely. Couldn’t resist the homemade Bhel on Saturday night. I especially took small portions of desserts or shared with people, which I’m proud of.

Don’t eat unless hungry: Again, mostly happy about this. Though I did go a little overboard on Sunday.

Stay active: Think I nailed it on this one! Swam laps in the pool on Friday and Saturday (my uncle’s house has a pool nearby). My brother said I’ve become boring in the pool but my parents definitely think my swimming has improved since they last saw it last June. Enjoyed dancing a lot with my cousins on Saturday night. Loved the walk with my parents on Sunday, had a lot of important conversations with them.

Have fun with family: Remember that life is about more than calories and that enjoying with your family (even if you only eat at maintenance and don’t lose any weight at all that week) is good for your mental health. And when your aunt says you look thinner and clothes fit better and you can walk and swim and run without getting winded … smile.

🙂

Looking forward to a great next week.

(Sorry for the long wait for this blog post. I’ll try to be more regular as well.)

Why be Healthy in Bangalore (or anywhere else)?

Why be Healthy in Bangalore (or anywhere else)?

I’ve always believed that resolutions work better when you work out the why not just the how of what you’re doing. I’ll write about the why of a lot of things at some point (why calorie counting, why exercise … ) but I think at first I think I’d like to explore why I want to be healthy at all.

For My Present Self

I want to be able to enjoy my college life. I don’t want to think twice about walking 7km just talking with a friend (happened recently) or running around trying to catch a metro on MG Road, or running up the steps to the newest quirky restaurant on Churchstreet. If I’m huffing and puffing, neither I nor any of my friends will be able to enjoy these experiences optimally, which would really suck.

For My Future Self

So I can race up the stairs to meetings, play with my future children, and go on exciting treks for vacations. I want to free myself from the tyranny of bad genes that put me at a high risk of diabetes, hypertension, and cardiac failure (among other things).I want any children I have to see and emulate a naturally healthy life rather than seeing a general state of malaise that is then punctured by random and unhealthy diets and exercise. I want to, if at all possible, give them the gift of a positive body image. Hell, I want to give myself that.  I know a lot of these things may not work out anyway. I may be hit by a bus. I may develop cancer. My kids may hate their bodies, or me, or everything. But I want to be able to give us all a chance.

Aesthetically 

I want to look toned. I have no great hopes of looking very slender, because I don’t think I’m built like that (and it isn’t my preferred aesthetic in any case), but I’d love to look curvy and muscular.

To look like Beyonce.
To look like Beyonce.

For the Ancillary Benefits

To walk into a clothing store and always find my size. To be able to not think so much about what I want to eat because the better choices have all been internalized. To be able to enjoy the career benefits of being fit. To be able to enjoy the romantic benefits of being fit. To be able to feel good about myself and therefore be more confident about everything I do. To be able to look into a mirror uncritically. (I know that losing weight alone won’t do any of these things … that’s why this blog is for physical and mental health).

Saturday morning musings.

Dear Heartbreaking Boy

Dear Heartbreaking Boy

Warning: If you’re going to be bored by my talking about heartbreak and moving on, please don’t read ahead.

love
Quote by Cheryl Strayed, who has taught me everything I care to know about love.

Dear A,

Today I tried to imagine meeting you after a few years. I would be awesome, obviously – successful, happy, and with someone else (duh). I’m patting myself on the back because even in my petty revenge day dream, you weren’t sad or heartbroken.

In my head, I never wanted you to be sad. I privileged your happiness in exclusion of my own – when you said something I found hurtful, I bit my tongue rather than lash out at you. When you never showed up, I made excuses for you to myself, to my parents, to my friends. When it was easy to leave, I chose (for once!) to be the girl who stayed.

So you left.

I don’t blame you. Of course you had to privilege your mental health over mine. I blame you (a little) because I never could. But I can’t forgive you. I can’t forgive you for the sake of that hopeful girl inside me who thought that this might work out. I can’t forgive you because you don’t feel the need to say hi to me and check on whether I’m okay but I do. I can’t forgive you for being the first to leave. I can’t forgive you for the panic attacks, for the feeling of hopelessness, like you were my last shot at happiness.

I know, of course, that this isn’t true. I’m 21. My future stretches forward like a sunny path, my imagination has no trouble making up a mystery person who will fill my life with love and happiness. Even without him, I have more than enough friends and family and work to not have the time or inclination to sit and cry about you. Enough has happened in the past month to wipe the taste of you from my mouth.

Still, on days like this I do wonder why I wasn’t enough. What did I do wrong? What is so unlovable about me? Should I have pushed less, should I have shaved my legs, lost some weight, been less cheesy?

On days like this I have to ask myself how I’d feel if my mother or my future daughter knew that I was thinking this. Would I want my future children to think this way? Of course I’d want them to learn from failed relationships (not just romantic) to be better, kinder, bigger people. But I also want to them to learn who they are. To know what core of themselves they will value more than love – even mine. And I’d want them to fight for that core – even against me. Fighting for personhood is a constant battle of attrition in this crazy world, and I can’t bear the thought of them losing it.

And therefore I can’t afford to lose it. Not even for you, my love. Especially not to love, which is supposed to make you more of a person, not less.

And yet, I feel the tinge of loneliness. The fear of never finding someone special, someone to be mine. (I don’t claim possession, just preemption.)

Be worthy love, and love will come.

I love this line from Good Wives. But for the longest time I thought being worthy meant to be more like someone else – more pretty, more thin, more intelligent, more vivacious, more helpful, more resourceful. Without any blame, I recognize that these are things I learnt from my parents. I’ve grown out of this. These days, I believe worthiness has to come from within – by being more secure, by being more happy, by having a life and hobbies of your own, by being you. 

This, too: that my partner will have to prove his or her willingness, ability and suitableness to love me as much as I will have to prove my willingness, ability and suitableness to be loved.

So dear A, perhaps I was not the right person to love you. Perhaps you were not the right person to love me. Perhaps we were the right people at the wrong time or the right people for a short fated duration of time. It doesn’t matter. I forgive you because I must forgive you in order to forgive myself. I have to forgive myself because I have a long life to live that cannot constantly be tinged by what ifs and maybe I should’ve. I have to forgive you because I have to be myself. 

I hope we do meet in a few years, A. I hope we’re both happy and successful and with other people who adore us and are right for us. I hope the music is loud and the food is good. I hope we don’t linger.