The Struggle is REAL.

“Don’t let your mind bully your body”

-June Tomaso Wood 

Me: Mom, I really do not like the way this makes me look

Mom: Whatever you wear, you still look beautiful!

Me : No! No! I don’t have anything that looks good on me!

Mom: I don’t think you see what I see. Everything you tried on looked fabulous, I leave it to you now.

anigif_enhanced-buzz-29033-1426247673-13.gif

Let’s be honest, how many of us have been here?

I somehow found it very calming to have uniforms in school. It meant I saved a ton of time I would have otherwise wasted on picking the “right outfit”. That doesn’t mean I  don’t enjoy getting all dolled up in that Little Black Dress for the perfect night out!

The problem is never actually what to wear, its ‘I do not like what I see in the mirror’

Why is it that we so easily find beauty in someone else, but cannot seem to appreciate our own bodies? Why is it that we are constantly trying to get the perfect figure of someone we have idealized to be way better than what we are? How is that even possible? There is only One YOU in this world, and only YOU can do him/her in the best way possible. There is no better or worse. There is just YOU.

Sexy beast.gif

It’s ironic, before I ever embarked on my fitness journey, before the injury, if anyone told me I need to lose a few pounds I never felt conscious of myself or how I looked. I always thought of it as someone who has no idea about me or my life and moved on. I am sure many of them were directed with good intentions – i.e. lead a healthy lifestyle, but there were some purely based on how I looked. But now that I have lost all that weight that people always commented about, I am extremely conscious. “Did they notice or not?” “Can they tell I have lost weight?” “Why didn’t they say something?”

Disappointing isn’t it, to work so hard on yourself, and then seek all that external validation?

Now this is where the real confusion starts – being fit and healthy has absolutely nothing to do with how you look. I could starve myself , and work out all the time, and I would still have my curves because that is how my body is. Its a part of who I am. I can either embrace it or hate it and the latter will only hamper my mental and physical being.

Curves

So here’s a few thing I have realized about body positivity:

   Note: You have probably already read some of these things about  body positivity, and I am repeating a few things here, but what I do want to point out is, it is something I struggle with very often myself, so I want you to know you are not alone and I hope that this helps you in some way ❤ 
  1. Stop being mean to your body, it is the only one you have 

  And “mean” includes verbal abuse as well as an unhealthy lifestyle. You have to treat it with kind words and nutritious food. If you can  shower someone else with love and tell them how great they look, you can do the same for yourself too!

Pro-You-learn-how-love-yourself-realize-youre-pretty-damn-great

2. A good lifestyle and body positivity go hand in hand: 

When I eat right and work out, I feel great – not because I think I will lose some more pounds, but simply because my body and mind feel good and are in sync.

3. Losing weight does not cure negative body image 

And this is the real struggle I face. I look at myself and think I need to lose some more weight so I look a certain way, but if you are trying to lose weight simply to look better, its all going to go in vain. I will be lying if I said I don’t do this often. I am extremely hard on myself at times, and I am working on it and so can you! But try and make it about the bigger picture – the best lifestyle that you can lead! 

4. It’s all in that little head of yours

All that overthinking, all that anxiety, its all in the mind. It just won’t agree with you. And you are letting it take over.

How I am trying to overcome this and focus on Body Positivity:

1. Meditation:

If only Meditation was a subject taught in school, this world would be a much better place. Try it – just ten minutes each day, it will do wonders for you! Its the best way to exhale all doubts.

2. Surrounding myself with people who are in sync with my journey:

I have mentioned this time and again: only attract people who understand what you are doing and uplift and encourage you every step of the way. They never doubted you before, and they don’t now. They truly and wholly believe in the beautiful being that you are.

3. Affirmations

Spend a few minutes in front of the mirror and appreciate yourself. Everything about you! How much you love that you can do what you do, and do it flawlessly! How awesome and astonishing you are! How much compassion and love you have to offer to this world. Cut out all the self – doubt, its getting you know where.

Im-kind-of-a-big-deal.gif

4. Gratitude

What if instead of saying “I don’t like the way my thighs look” you could say “I am so grateful I can walk, hike and do everything I love with these legs”

Like all of us, I am still figuring it all out – there is no sure shot way of doing something, its just what works best for you!

5. Absolutely, whole heartedly fall in love with yourself! 

Because you are Goddam Amazing!

love myself

So here’s to hoping that we all love and appreciate ourselves because we sure as hell deserve it!

You are immensely, ferociously and unconditionally loved! 

I would love to know if you have embarked on a journey of indulging in body positivity and share your story here!
Advertisements

HappyThankYouMorePlease

“Be Happy and a reason will come along”

Robert Brault 

KIA 7. I had been waiting for the Airport bus for over 40 minutes. Traveling by bus is the cheapest way to get to the Bangalore Airport. I had my mid-semester break and was traveling from Bangalore to Hyderabad. At the Shanthinagar Bus Station, there was an elderly person who got on and at that moment I wanted to get out of my seat, run to him and help him get his luggage on to the bus. Unfortunately the passenger next to me refused to move. Luckily enough though, the conductor helped the man. In my mind however, I had already decided that I would help him when we got off at the airport. The minute I picked his luggage up he was surprised and was already showering me with gratitude. To my delight, we started a conversation that has till date been one of my favorites. We spoke about where each of us was traveling (nothing extraordinary right?) and I also made sure I had enough time to drop off his luggage at the check in counter and proceed to complete mine. Turns out I did and he even made sure that I join him for a cup of chai after we both complete security check. After enquiring what I was doing, where I was headed, etc. he mentioned few times that I should give the Civic Services Examinations. I honestly had no idea why though. Guess what? Mr Girish Dhume, a retired officer of the Indian Foreign Service-who has served as India’s ambassador to Chile and Czech Republic.  Thats right. Before he boarded his flight I asked him what is the one advice he would give me, and he said “The friends you make now, keep them close, anyone who comes later will all be acquaintances.”

The October Heat has decided to come a month earlier in Hyderabad. And to deal with it I went out to get some Nariyal Pani from the vendor near my office. When I was stepping out I realized that the Security Guards who spend hours in the scorching heat as opposed to the luxurious Air Conditioning that I get to sit in needed the coconut water way more than I did. Their smile was the most satisfying thing I have witnessed in days !

Ramana
This is Ramana, one of the many superheroes who guard the place I work in. He is one of the most cheerful people I have ever come across. He has promised me a better picture when he is off duty.

“A great responsibility, to deliver a message, a dream that I held in my heart since childhood, I am not going to speak to you about something new and unheard of, yet at the same time, it has the ability, the energy and the power to transform the world, THE POWER OF KINDNESS, The MAGIC OF KINDNESS….”

-Orly Wabha 

You can watch the rest of the TED Talk  here.

Orly talks about spreading kindness through “Acts of Kindness cards”. Imagine the effect it would have if everyone made an effort to be a part of something like this. It would be the easiest and greatest contribution anyone can make to the world and to themselves.

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 4.36.25 PM

 

Think about it. Look back to a day which probably wasn’t going as well as you expected, but someone came along and said something nice and it really changed the way you tackled the rest of the day. So good right? Now imagine if you could be that person saying that nice thing to someone on a daily basis (Different people for higher ripple effects!)

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 4.40.51 PM.png

Kindness + Fitness = Happiness 

Before I started blogging, I had two clear goals in mind:

  1. Share my fitness journey with others in the hope that it might help someone embark on theirs
  2. Practice Kindness

The most beautiful realization has been that they are both deeply connected. Fitness is both physical and mental well being. Acts of Kindness address the latter one. Acts of Kindness should first begin with yourself. Be kind to yourself, acknowledge that your presence in this world matters and that you are here to make a difference. Once you start following this mantra you will be able to emit the highest frequency of kindness towards others and in turn receive it back three fold. The reason I began with the first two instances was because for weeks and months together the incidents had an impact on me. They made me happy, they made me believe that there is a lot of place for good in this world and this goodness can always make a difference in someone’s life.

Replace anger with Kindness. Replace negativity with Kindness. Lift someone up with Kindness, and you will truly start to feel that you are in a constant state of “Happy”.  If you look back, most bad days you have had have been made good because of what someone did for you. So why not be this someone? Why not call your parents today and tell them you love them? That you are grateful for all that they have done for you in your life. Or call an old friend and thank them for being a precious part of your life and that you hope to reconnect. Or just tell someone they are doing a great job and that you are proud of them. Kindness is the most effortless thing, then why is the world lacking it?

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 5.35.37 PM

Tiny acts of kindness that we can all work towards to make this world a better place:

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 10.52.12 AM

P.S. Kindness always finds it way back to you! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We just turned One!

“Follow Your Passion; it will lead you to your PURPOSE”

– Oprah Winfrey

My uncle started his apprenticeship when he was 17 to earn a living.  Before my cousin and I could understand the importance of this, he had already completed 25 years of service.  This is just one of the many sacrifices that my family went through. When I read my fathers blog – https://kaveripak.wordpress.com/ which follows the adventures of him and his brother, it makes me wonder what more they would have done if they had all the resources we have now combined with their passion.

The sacrifices made by our family back then has given us the greatest gift – the privilege to follow our ‘Passion.’ 

The first in our house (and our generation) to persistently follow his passion was my cousin Vijay. At 15, he knew that he belonged to the culinary world.

What a blessing it is to have him as a role model. I grew up watching him prove to us time and again that passion coupled with hard work results in nothing less than extraordinary.

Vijay-1
Chef Vijay (Left) – Mentor, Friend, Confidant, Coolest Brother
DSCN2378-1
A decade later, following his footsteps…..

Being the oldest among the cousins, Vijay has set such a high benchmark for the rest of us that it has triggered us to do better. He taught me that despite what society says or thinks, if you believe in it, if you see something big happening for yourself, just go for it! Its one thing to read about people who have chased their dreams, but to have someone show you everyday is a phenomena in itself.

In May, last year I was telling him about how I really wanted to become a host on Airbnb. Little did I know that it would take place within a month.

June 24th 2017 – marked a year of hosting on Airbnb! And like I said in my previous posts, its important to celebrate yourself.

IMG_6531

Being a host on Airbnb has been an absolute delight! The excitement that comes with opening your doors to fellow travelers is incredible. A happy guest is a testament that I am doing justice to my passion. I wish every time a guest entered the house, I could capture their very first reaction. Nevertheless, I wait for each of their calls like I would from my biggest critique.

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 12.42.07 PM
The very first booking from Aparna – I cannot begin to describe how it felt when I received her enquiry! Thank You Aparna, for believing in KMR Villa and helping kickstart my hosting! 
So whats the best part about hosting?

It is the joy of helping others create memories in a place that is so dear to you!

Kripa

Just like the picture depicts, Mr.Kripakaran (Property Manager) who helped buy the property, has been associated with KMR Villa right from the construction stage. Today, he looks after the everyday activities which go into keeping the bed and breakfast up and running.

IMG_0947
Sekar Anna… The Real Star behind KMR Villa

Sekar and his family were looking after the property much before the Villa was even built. His wife, Chandra is responsible for the tea leaves making its way to the tea factories.

Sekar, has a much bigger role to play. Sekar’s first activity every morning is to ensure that the entire town receives water. Thats right, he has to hike 2 km each way on a steep incline to open the water pump that connects the entire village. This is followed by getting breakfast for the guests, and finally putting his heart and soul into maintaining the house. When we initially started we felt that Sekar might find a hard time communicating with guests who do not know Tamil. What has come as a pleasant surprise is how often guests tell me Sekar was the highlight of the trip. The reason behind this being the love and passion he puts into looking after each guest.

And with the help of this wonderful team who turn my dream into reality each day, I am happy to share the one year completion of hosting on Airbnb.

On that note, I want to add that anyone who has received the privilege of following their passion – use it wisely.

Use it to spread a message that goes beyond your own purpose. Use it to help people who need it. It is a rare and expensive gift, and must not be taken for granted. Be Grateful and spread as much joy and kindness as you can. The world could definitely use more of it.

This post is dedicated to all those working hard on chasing their dreams. This is a shout out to everyone who stood up for themselves and chose to take the road not taken. Thank you for believing in yourself and for giving the world so much to look forward to!

Thathu
A tribute to my dear Grandpa, in the memory of whom we started hosting on Airbnb!

To book a holiday with KMR Villa, log on to Airbnb: https://goo.gl/2Mpf3k and use code https://www.airbnb.co.in/c/rachnar13 to sign up and earn travel credit on your very first booking!

Look forward to hosting you!

KMR Villa

Watch Out: Magic on the Way!

“What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be.”

– Ellen Burstyn

IMG_4526

Until I started living alone, I never really gave much thought to ‘its important to enjoy your own company.’ But when you are given the chance to live by yourself, whether you like it or not, you have to learn to accept yourself more than ever, and really celebrate who you are and I truly hope everyone gets to do this!

That is the only chance you will get to reflect on who you are. And as clichéd as that is, it is essential. How else will you discover all that you are capable of?

My day looked somewhat like this:

6:30 – Wake up (First rule is to eat something as soon as you wake up – I start my day with a fruit)

7:00 – 7:30 Prepare all my meals

7:30 – 8:30 Work out

8:30 – 9:30 Get ready for office, have breakfast and leave

After coming home around 6pm, a part of my evenings were always dedicated to my little munchkin next door; sometimes I took calls from Guests on Airbnb if required and on other days I would work on orders for Artista.

 

There were two big wins for Artista:

  1. An order for 100 cards
  2. Very first live stall (after I registered the company)

Remember how I had mentioned earlier that my first stall got a good response but wasn’t sold out? Well, this one was!

Hence, the first stall was way more significant than this one. Wait, but why?

Because that one taught me ‘not to give up’. That one taught me I still had a long way to go, I still had a lot to learn. Its important to celebrate failure as much as success. If we never failed, we would never strive to do better. We would be stuck at the standard which always “works”, but not reach for what blows peoples mind! I myself could see the difference in the cards I made then and the ones I make now. If I had succeeded the first time around, I would have never made room for more creativity, room for newer ideas because I would be satisfied with what I already had.

So if you ever feel like you aren’t doing too well on a test, or at work, remember that it is moulding you into the ultimate person you can and should be. If you always experienced only success, you would stop appreciating it.

So please, do fall, do stumble and above all, get up and join the race again.

I was doing perfectly fine as you can see, better than fine for that matter, until: this happened.

Physio
I wanted to take a picture now because I couldn’t during the surgery (I am disturbingly weird aren’t I?)

Don’t worry, its not as bad as it looks, or maybe it is! Have you been on the receiving end of Acupuncture?  Its oddly satisfying after a few seconds of pain once the needle is inserted. Anyway, I had to go into physiotherapy again because of how much my left leg (not surgical leg) was in unbearable pain. All I could think of was ‘please don’t let everything come to a stand still again.’

My office was extremely kind and understanding to give me some time off and allowed me to work from home. Have you ever felt guilty for yourself? Not sorry, but guilty. Guilty for not being able to do what you love. Once again, I was overcome with overwhelming emotions. I couldn’t differentiate between anger, sorrow and pain. How on earth did I get here? I could cry all I wanted, and my parents would come to my rescue. But that did not change anything. I would tell the doctor everyday, “Can you just please say I can dance again”, and he would smile and say “but right now you need the rest”.

The rest was only getting me more frustrated and agitated – but to anyone out there who is going through something similar – do not ignore it, the rest is more essential than you can even begin to imagine. Allow yourself to heal. The world does not need to be conquered by you overnight.

And a note for everyone out there, do what you can to protect and preserve your body. It deserves the utmost respect. Be kind to it and shower it with love, only then you can be the best possible version of YOU!

With that I would like to tell you all, that 4 months after my physiotherapy ended, I still do suffer from a lot of pain. Turns out I also had Vitamin D deficiency. The irony is that I had to once stay away from the sun because of facing severe sun burns.

Life can play tricks on all of us, but remember, you can always pick up where you left off and you are not competing against anyone. Do things that make you immensely happy, make mistakes, learn from them, cook yourself some yummy food and fall in love with yourself!

Like Kareena Kapoor says in the movie Jab We Met “Mein apni favorite hoon!”

Live Well, Laugh Often!

“And will you succeed? Yes you will indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)”

-Dr.Seuss

Before leaving for India, my parents got me the most thoughtful gift ever.

“500 ways to live in the moment” – Even if we all could just do one of them each day, we would start feeling the ripple effect of positivity in our lives.

16.08.16

First day in office.

I was off to a great start – Kala uncle being my neighbour , suggested we go together and I was looking forward to finally meeting everyone as my communication with all had been restricted to Skype over the past few months.

Also: I packed my Dabba(s)!

 

IMG_4548
Hopefully soon, I will get to a point where you are interested in my recipes! 😉

Isn’t it wonderful how the minute you are surrounded by some great people, good things follow ? I’m thanking my stars because I get to work with such great people everyday!

Whats amazing about working for a start up that’s run by incredible human beings who do everything to push their employees is the room they create for the growth of every individual. When you start working with them, you realize how far passion and hard work can take you.

Venkat sir, who currently resides in the US, believed in me and hired me based on a Skype call. Thanks to him, I rang in the new year (2016) with a job in hand! I had the chance of meeting him quite recently myself, and it’s an honor to work with someone who is the mind behind our application and so extremely down – to – earth.

A lot of us have the chance to witness a significant impact of a person in our lives, and they make you realize what your true potential is even when you are not aware of it yourself. Manmohan sir has come to be this person in my life. Its amazing how throughout his busy day, he always manages to find time to talk to me, listen to my chattering, and makes sure I leave the room only when I have learnt something new (its subtle, but impactful). A special thanks to him for believing in me and pushing me to do better each day!

An important message I want to convey from the above is ‘go out there and find this person.’ A lot of us move away from our homes to build something; to create an identity for ourselves. This journey can often be overwhelming and challenging, hence making it crucial to find people who can influence your life positively. Constantly seek for a mentor – someone who you can confide in and someone whose happiness comes from seeing you grow, someone who encourages and supports you, and most importantly guides you when you stumble.

IMG_8968
Just a gentle reminder…

The weeks that followed were equivalent to my ride on Formula Rossa. The days were going by too fast, and I wasn’t sure my pace of doing things were at par. But its essential to stop, breath and appreciate yourself once in a while. You are doing the best you can and you are only getting better at it.

Each day, I was making room for new learnings. Hyderabad was giving me so much to look forward to, I had a job I loved, I was a host on Airbnb, Artista was picking up its roots again. I even did a little something for my Munchkin’s first birthday! I cooked my own food, attended a wedding in Bangalore in the midst of it all, and really started to “Live in the Moment”

 

Until Of Course……

One Paper Roast Please….

“Food is memories.”

I wish I could recollect every moment that led me to fall in love with a particular dish. Luckily enough though, I know where the fondness for my top two favorite dishes originated.

  1. Pav Bhajji – In Pune there is a restaurant called Shiv Sagar which is a five minute walk from where we used to live. Celebration meant going to Shiv Sagar and relishing on their world class Pav Bhajji; this was during a much simpler time before westernization took over and our spending power was minimal. Last year, before moving to Abu Dhabi, I made a trip to Pune to eat Pav Bhajji from Shiv Sagar (its safe to say this might have been my only agenda) and even over a decade later, it still tasted the same. Over the years I have realized that no matter who makes the Pav Bhajji, it will never be the same as the one from there. This goes beyond the fact that they make it the best. Our entire family has created memories in that place. We have gone there as a family of 3 or a group of 20, and every single time we have ordered the Pav Bhajji!  No 5 – star hotel can replace the feeling of dining at Shiv Sagar and drowning your taste buds in this delicacy.

Pav Bhajji

2. Dosa 

Year 2005

Rachna: “Mohan Chittappa, inam evolo nerum? (how much more time?)” – anyone who has traveled with me, knows this is my most FAQ. 

Mohan Chittappa: “Don’t worry, I have a surprise for you on the way, you will enjoy it”*

*Of course I do not remember exactly how the conversation went, but it is to give you a better idea of what was about to unfold.

This was when I was traveling with my uncle from Kodaikanal to Coimbatore in an ambassador (the reason I was becoming Hangry) I read somewhere once that ‘be with the person who gives you the same feeling you get when your food arrives in the restaurant.’ But that day, satisfaction took over me the minute we got out of the car and rushed inside what was ‘Salaiyora unavagam’ (roadside eating).  It was actually a tiny hall packed with people enjoying their food (first indicator of it being a great place)

As my uncle and I settled down, we were approached by an elderly who would have easily been in his eighties. I think till date I haven’t seen anyone who is more active, enthusiastic and fast in serving people (second indicator) and I wish today more than anything that I had been thoughtful enough to take his picture. Anyway, since I never lived in Tamil Nadu, I obviously lacked some of the qualities that Tamilians possess – mainly – the slang for some dishes. So my uncle ordered “Paper Roast” for the both of us! I was so excited, I thought some exotic dish was going to turn up, and I was so overwhelmed that I was finally going to make my tummy happy that I did not even bother asking my uncle what it meant. To my disappointment, our food arrived and it was DOSA! Why Dosa? Couldn’t we have Wada? Or Puri ? We were on a holiday for God’s Sake!

I think I felt pretty betrayed, and that probably lasted for a whole of 5 seconds, because as soon as I took the first bite, I think I felt my mouth do a few somersaults in excitement of the flavors that had just entered. And that is the exact moment that I fell in love with Dosas. (I always liked them, but thats when I really started Loving them, so THANK YOU MOHAN CHITTAPPA!) But there was one more crucial moment that I was to leave with. Our bill after 3 dosas and one coffee was Rs.18. THAT.IS.IT.

Great food – check, Lighting Speed – Check , Light on the Pocket – Check

Inspired? – Check! Check! Check! 

Paper-Roast-dosa

Source: Google

I think my body might actually be 70% DOSA. And the fact that Rujuta Diwekar insists you eat Dosa, made me a very, very Happy person. So a major part of my diet consists of eating dosa.

IMG_5178
Duel Tawa = Increased Satisfaction

How is it best served?

With Milgai Podi, Coconut Chutney and Patti(grandma) and Amma(mom) ka Pyaar (love)!

So Dosa, where did you come from?

Even though Dosa is indigenous to South India, its exact origin is unknown. But according to food historia K.T. Achaya, dosa or dosai was already in use in ancient Tamil Nadu around the 1st century AD.

Making a Dosa –

Dosa batter is prepared with a mixture of rice and black grams (udad) that is soaked in water and allowed to ferment overnight. The proportion of rice to lentils is generally 4:1 or 5:1. Water is added to get the desired thickness. (I could just ask my grandmom, but I googled this)

Some of the best dosa recipes to try are Neer Dosa, Pesearattu , Ragi wheat Dosa, Onion Rava dosa, Mysore Masala Dosa or my Grandma’s Dosa! . The best part about dosa is that it can be eaten as breakfast, lunch or dinner and is a great source of carbohydrates yet low in calories!

Source: Google

The Magic Batter
If you are a fan of dosa, you would have tasted the different types, right from paper thin roast to the fluffy oothappam. But did you know that it all comes down to handling the batter? On the first day its usually bland, but when you store it for one more night it attains the properties needed to make a wafer thin dosa, on the third day you will notice it is best for making oothapam! So as the days go by, the dosa can take different forms. However, the pan – rather the “tawa or kalu (stone)” that is used to spread the batter and make the dosa is an essential tool in making the most delicious dosa! And you can truly do justice to your dosa only when you dip it in chutney and sambaar!

Alright, so to everyone who is worried about consuming those extra carbohydrates, Dosa should be your go to meal. And in case I haven’t mentioned earlier – eat what your Nani (grandmom) eats. Just remember to break your meal into portions, enjoy every bite and stop worrying about how many calories you are consuming – focus on the nutrients!

I also want to take the opportunity to talk about the importance of “Feeling Good“.

There is no set standard of how one is supposed to look. Every single one of us is beautiful in our own way and the key is to respect and listen to your body. Your body deserves immense love, so don’t deprive it by constantly being angry with what you see in the mirror. Take the time to tell yourself  “I love you, and I am proud of who you are”. Do not get caught up in  “I need to get that summer body”, No you do not! What you do need to do is feed yourself good wholesome food and start feeling the glow from within which in no time will start reflecting on your face. And you will see that you are carrying the most wonderful aura no matter where you go. (I do stumble too, I often forget these things, but the key is to remind yourself of how important you are; and if not – you can always come back here and I will tell you that you are and will always be incredible, just like a Dosa!)

P.S. I did want to pen down my diet chart here but I got too carried away by Dosas!

Until next time my lovelies!

IMG_8739
When in doubt, Dosa it out!

*If you wish to purchase dosa mix made of Millets, you can order it here.