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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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“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 !

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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.

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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!)

 

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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?

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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)!

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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When in doubt, Dosa it out!

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

A letter to my Father

Dearest Appa,

On this day, 52 years ago, you found yourself on a journey alone (when you were just 2), without realizing the chaos you were about to start back at home.

Its interesting; every year I like to hear Patti(grandma) tell me the story of how you ran away, and every single time I get goosebumps which is usually followed by me telling you “I now realize where all the traveling originated.”

Sometimes I think to myself, I wish you could have been there more often to see me grow up.

But today, to celebrate your return home 52 years back, I believe it is time to say “Thank You” and why my thoughts were all wrong.

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It has taken me years to realize that even though you might have enjoyed exploring new places and countries, it was one of the toughest things you had to do in your life; because at the end of the day all you really wanted to do was be home with Amma and me.

Amma often gets credited (and rightly so) for staying at home and looking after me. But little did I understand that the real sacrifice was actually made by you because you had to say goodbye when all you wanted to do was say hello. So thank you!

Remember the day you sat me down and made me listen to ‘Everything I do, I do it for you’ By Bryan Adams and stressed that I pay attention to that line? Thank you for showing me everyday what that means. Thank you for bringing me the world and not the other way round. And above all Thank You for being my everything.

Thank you Appa for all the times you had to give up on something so that I could have the life I do today. Thank you for giving me so much to dream about and supporting me every minute to achieve them.

Thank you for being patient with me when I do not understand a problem in Maths, Thank You for all those Barbie Dolls I did not deserve or require for that matter. Thank you for always putting some sense back into me when I lose track of where I am headed, Thank You for every single second you spend in dreaming with me about my future, Thank you for putting me above everything.

 THANK YOU for being my Appa!

P.S. Thank you for finding your way back home 52 years ago.

Love,

Always and Forever,

Thangam

Happily Desi

“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

– Meister Eckhart

Jugaad!”

The first time I heard this word was in 2006, when my father used it while traveling from Delhi to Uttrakhand. Our car had broken down in the middle of nowhere and with a few phone calls to someone in a completely different city, we were able to arrange another car.

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Pictured: Jugaad Technology

Jugaad (Hack) has crept into all our lives, and in India especially, we indulge in Jugaad on a daily basis (from fixing clothes with safety pins to carrying fuel in water bottles), Juggad  is a talent that you are born with if you are Indian.

Which is exactly why it is always good to be back in India! Its the people. No matter where you go, you always have someone to look out for you.

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Once again, it was time for a Goodbye…..

The minute I stepped on the desi land, I was reminded of the hospitality that comes with returning to your country (I know, I know, I wasn’t even gone that long!)

Every decision has a driving force, and one of mine was Mr.Kala Satyanarayana (I will refer to him as uncle from here on). I must have done something right in my past to deserve him as my mentor. He is the most patient, kind and passionate person I have met. He has dedicated his life to helping others grow; he has such a significant impact on anyone who works with him, and all you really want to do is make him proud. I am one of those lucky people who gets to be on the receiving end of his ideals and work ethics and learn something new each day for which I am beyond grateful.

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Seen in picture: Uncle, my closest friend Sushmitha and the lovely Malathi aunty

The first time I met them was in 2006 when we had moved into the same apartments. Sushmitha and I have been thick as thieves since. But little did I know that someday I would be working with her dad. My very first day back in India started with uncle and aunty, because being the extremely benevolent people that they are, they had come to pick me up at the airport, got me to my home sweet home, followed by a feast that aunty had prepared for me! (You can see why my parents were so confident to send me back)

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Change in View

The next day was Independence day, so I had enough time to settle in, unpack and get ready before starting work (which obviously had to be used for catching up with my friends instead)

And just as expected my friends were checking up on me, and ensuring that there was no such thing as “lonely” when living alone.

I am not sure what amount of gratitude will be enough for this next one, but I am going to try to do justice to it.

If F.R.I.E.N.D.S did a version with families, we would fit right into it. This incredible family had moved in about a month before we left for Abu Dhabi, so we hardly got the chance to spend time together; but I think within a week we had made up for it. Preethi, Mohit, Ajji and Mitakshi(my Munchkin) live right across from me.

Preethi is the reason I know what its like to have a sister. She is such a beautiful and positive soul that you can’t even go a day without seeing her! (To this also add: Amazing chef and baker; Goodbye Diet Plans!) Every morning at 8 am Preethi would be at the doorstep with breakfast – because she can never come to terms with why someone would take all the effort to cook only for oneself!  She is my confidant, my partner in crime and my fellow TV show binge watcher, but above all I am so blessed that I have someone who goes out of their way to look out for me, always!

Mohit and Ajji instantly welcomed me into the family. I have honestly attended more of their family events than my own. Ajji would check up on me every couple of hours and she continues to do it even now. The icing on the cake is our little ball of sunshine: Munchkin. I can go on for days about her, but to sum it up – she truly, in every way possible lights up all of our lives.

And just like that within seconds all of them completely made me forget that I was going to be staying alone.

It was time for a big reality check though: Was I going to be able to prepare all of my 6-8 meals everyday and work out and make it on time for work? Well, I sure as hell was about to find out!

This post is dedicated to every single person who has played a role in my journey so far, I thank you for changing my life just by being such a precious part of it. A special thanks to my parents who spend every minute of their day believing in me and doing everything in their capacity to make my dreams come true. 

 

 

Brave Up!

“We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.”

-Michelle Obama

England was good to me. Being back in Abu Dhabi meant it was time for a reality check and June and July turned out to be rather significant in evaluating my career and fitness goals.

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The Neighborhood

I was all geared to lose the English Breakfast and Nando’s feast that I had piled up on without any concern about the consequences; and like I said earlier – by all means go on a holiday but it can never be a holiday for healthy living. It is a permanent choice.

I felt like I had to start over, but this time I was more aware, more determined to achieve my goals. The key is to keep challenging yourself. If you can do 10 push-ups today, try 15 in the next couple of days. Remember: you are not competing with anyone but yourself. The entire journey should purely revolve around: YOU!  And since we are on it, make sure the target goes beyond just “Looking good”. We were all born extremely cute and we all grow up to be beautiful, pretty, handsome and all the uplifting adjectives. The focus should be on feeling fit and healthy, because then you feel great from within, and once that happens you automatically love everything about yourself. So I urge you to do things that make you happy and feel good (This wisdom did not come to me instantly, it took a lot of consoling from my parents and friends and understanding myself; so its ok to take that time, but trust me – it will be worth it once you realize the bigger picture of it)

Create your own happiness: 

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Make a vision board – or just anything with quotes that keep you motivated and help stay on track!
Run, Dance, sleep(as the T-shirt reads) or catch up with friends who support your journey

Or…. 

Eat some great wholesome food(I have my doubts about the last one)
 Just take your pick!

The Third Miracle:

I was in line with my goals, I did my work outs, I ate the right kind of food – the leg pain had reduced, but it did have its ways of showing up and when it did, it was the absolute worst. Whenever my leg was exposed to Air Conditioners it would aggravate. If you have ever visited UAE , you would know that the exposure to Sun is so minimal because right from your bathroom to the bus stand everything has centralized air conditioning. So all that artificial cold found its way to trouble my legs(torture would be more appropriate).

UK had been extremely cold too (for my standards) but I could layer up there and so did everyone else. To step out in 50 degrees Celsius, in Abu Dhabi with thermals on was not exactly pleasing. So I resorted to socks and shoes. Even at home, you would find me with leg warmers – all the time! (I wouldn’t deprive my parents of the AC obviously)

Finally, to an extent we had addressed my problem. And my left leg and right leg were competing  with each other to see who can hurt the most, so really there was only so much I could do (or so I thought to myself).

In times like these, its best to divert yourself to better and greater things. When we were in India, we had a vague plan of putting up our property on Airbnb. And  June 2016 saw the light of it. We managed to complete all the requirements of the travel portal and got a heads up to let out our home to travelers!

Being fond of traveling myself, it came as no surprise that getting the opportunity to host people and helping them create memories made me extremely happy.  I was in a way about to live my “tour guide” dream. And when I saw my phone screen flashing with a notification from Airbnb with the very first enquiry, I jumped (out of my bed, since I couldn’t actually jump) and rushed to tell my parents who joined in my burst of excitement.

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            kotagiri

“The Mountains are calling and I must go”

-John Muir

If you are planning a holiday and are looking for a place, I would love to be your host!

Just log on to: https://goo.gl/2Mpf3k (You can also use the following link to earn yourself some travel credit – https://www.airbnb.co.in/c/rachnar13)

My experience of being a host so far has been nothing short of extraordinary. To see a place so familiar through someone else’s eye has its own charm. I am filled with a lot of gratitude above everything, to be able to share this space with fellow travelers and create something that fills their life with magic.

Putting the property on Airbnb has a greater significance. My grandfather was a civil engineer and working on this property was his last project. He has left behind bits of his legacy in every corner of the house, and as a tribute to him, we only think its fair for everyone to get a chance to encounter the marvel that is the Nilgiris.

The Fourth Miracle:

Do you remember how I wanted to find a job once I got to Abu Dhabi? Well, I loved working for my current company so much, that thinking of working anywhere else made no sense to me. I am blessed to be working with some of the top minds in my field and there is just so much to learn each and every single day. Hence, I decided it was time to move back to India.

I will see you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

Mangrove Place – Where the Magic Began!

Set Yourself an Outrageous Goal Today. 

-Alastair Humphreys (Ten Lessons from the Road) 

The minute I landed in Abu Dhabi, I was hit with a rush of positivity. (The other city that gives me this feeling is Hyderabad). And I think when a new place gives you that feeling – you are already halfway to building something great!

There was also the advantage of living in an apartment like this(left)  with a view like that (right)

My dad had moved in December and to complete all the formalities for mom and me to move took 2 months. But during this time, my dad had sent so many pictures of the house and the view that envy and excitement could not differentiate from one other. I knew I was going to be there soon, but I was becoming rather impatient. And when I finally got to Mangrove place  – it was worth the wait. No amount of pictures can do justice to the view that you get, including the vibrance of the whole atmosphere. Mangrove Place has the most kind and hard working staff who are so welcoming that you will instantly fall in love with the place. Also, the apartment gives you the feeling of living in a hotel rather than a house (in a good way).

A few years ago, my father had introduced me to Alastair Humphreys’ book ‘Ten Lessons from the Road‘ Alastair set an outrageous goal for himself – he traveled 46,000 miles round the world (wait for it) On his CYCLE! He spent four years and achieved what was described by Sir Ranulph Fiennes as “the first great adventure of the new millennium”.

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It was time I set an outrageous goal for myself. I still had tremendous amount of pain in both my  legs, but it had to be done. What was my goal? What was my motivation?

  1. I need to be able to dance again.
  2. The pain should vanish from my legs forever

But how does one go about this? How does one lose weight when they cannot do jumping jacks or burpees or run on a treadmill. Where does one begin?

It was time for some homework. My instant thought was to take up the GM diet.

One week and I can shed 3-4 kilos just like that (So easy!). And then 2 months later I can do it again and lose some more weight and I would have achieved at least half of my goal.

But your body is smarter than you. It has ways of reacting to new habits that will completely throw you off track. I was 3 days into my GM diet and I could not stop throwing up all those fruits and mashed potatoes that I had consumed(sorry about that nasty visual).

So I wasted an entire month in being anxious about losing weight, how to go about it and the fear that with the condition of my leg I could never do it. But with little more research comes great discoveries. I started looking for cardio exercises that would be easy on my legs. And I cursed myself for not having done it earlier because it was like finding that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I found multiple videos for the same and the top results were by fitness trainer – Jessica Smith.  What I absolutely loved was how she conveys everything with so much passion and motivation. She makes working out – FUN! So I began to do seated cardio and seated strength.

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I used to work out in my Balcony – and this was my view. Batman would occasionally join me  (To maintain his body and what not)

This meant, I had the workout in place. But if I worked out for 60 mins and went and ate some yummy donut from Waitrose across my apartment – the entire purpose would be lost, right?

The Second Miracle: 

I don’t know what it was that took over me, but I decided that I needed to get the book

Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight by Rujuta Diwekar. I got the kindle edition, and before I even started reading I knew my life was going to change. I hope someday she stumbles upon this blog, because I have so much to thank her for!

Now I am someone who absolutely enjoys Indian food over anything else. So when I was previously reading about eating salads and kale and what not, I used to think I rather not eat at all. And it was like Rujuta knows exactly whats in your heart. She tells you to eat what your Nani(grandmom)  ate. I couldn’t have been more relieved.

I got to eat my poha, dosa, roti sabzi and everything I love! Even though I am a Tam Bhram, my parents spent a majority of their life in Maharashtra, which is why I got to enjoy the best of both worlds.

They tasted as good as they look(probably because mom – made)

Rujuta’s biggest rule is that you eat small portions but more frequently and as soon as you wake up eat something – this is my favorite part because for someone who always had breakfast and no coffee/tea, this rule was already implemented. And so I started eating 7-8 small meals everyday.

For more about the book, I urge you all to buy it, trust me it will transform your life! (Spend the 100 rupees here instead of that pizza you have been craving for ).

Remember how I mentioned earlier that at a later point in time, Ayurveda would make sense to me? That’s another thing I love about Rujuta’s book, it really goes into the roots of what was followed by our ancestors and teaches you to adopt Ayurveda as a lifestyle and not a last resort. No more was I carried away by the whatsapp messages on this fruit is bad or that vegetable can cause a disease. I had only one source for  all my needs: Rujuta!

And the Ayurveda project I was working on, was something I believed in and a way of living that the entire world deserves to know about.

What was the hardest part of my journey?

The hardest part is just before you start……. or is it?

Begin, Again

Time you Enjoy Wasting, Was not Wasted. 

– John Lenon 

Rachna Ramesh – BBA Honors Class of 2015 – Christ University, Bangalore.

I was a graduate! It was official. I had always considered myself to be someone who knew where she was headed. But for the first time in my life, I did not know what I was going to do.

We all often find ourselves wishing for a longer break, a longer holiday away from everything; but when this opportunity is really given to you, the monotony of it will break you. Once again, I was confined to my room, but since my physiotherapy was over, and I was able to move around and walk more comfortably, I started catching up with my friends  and often they would come home.

I also had a visit by my cute little sister – Vaishnavi. We went out (Walking Stick, Vaishnavi and me) and relished some good Mexican food. And much to my delight, following her visit was my best friend Prerana who was coming home from the US for the summer and the icing on the cake was when both my cousins – Adarsh and Vinay decided to surprise me!

By  June, I was allowed to travel, so I made trips with my family to Kotagiri and Coorg in June and July respectively.

P.S. If you are looking for a place to Holiday – the Villa on the left is an ideal destination – https://goo.gl/2Mpf3k (Sorry, the marketer in me couldn’t resist) 

Other significant happenings included – my Chaddi Buddy Sushmitha coming home from UK, attending a show by my favorite Stand Up comedian – Biswa Kalyan and Revamping my room!

Being back in Hyderabad meant facing reality. I was ready for it in full swing. My leg was much better, not fully recovered but I could move around a lot more now, so I decided to begin my Job hunt. It was a slow process and I had to be choosy to not take something that required a lot of traveling because of my leg. (And companies are choosy too, of course!) But having specialized in marketing, I had to beat the odds to find something that allowed me to sit at one place.

Finally, in September I got a job in a design automation company as a Marketing Executive.  I had to make cold calls, and generate leads. My time there was short – lived (something I am thankful about) but over the 5 months that I worked there I made three really great friends – Ankita, Naveen and Mani who were the reasons I would even turn up because every morning I would find an excuse to not go. (This wasn’t school, or college – this was a real job that paid – not in Monopoly money).

Now during this period my Thatha (aka my James Bond) unfortunately fell ill. My thatha  was a civil engineer and to me he was the epitome of Will Power and he could literally fix anything and everything! Everyday, after our lunch, he would cut a banana into two – one half for himself and the other for me – this was our thing, I used to be in awe of how much precision he followed even to cut a fruit.

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He would do anything for me – As you can see from the costume I forced him to put on! I miss him, deeply.

Thatha soon had to be admitted, and my entire family flew down and stayed with us for 2 months. These two months were the most life changing experience for every member of our family. My thatha was such an incredible human that even before his final days, he managed to bring us all to one place and helped us realize what “emotional support” every minute of the day can feel like. We lost him on 29th November 2015 and let me tell you my Patti (grandma) is the real Iron Lady of the house.

The year ended on a painful note, but in that too our family found the silver lining. We did not want to look back at it as bittersweet,  but instead wanted to celebrate the most wonderful and lively person in our lives, and that is what we did!

And as December came – dad took up a project in Abu Dhabi and thats where my real journey of transformation began. (Yes, finally I am going to talk about it! Or Maybe….)

 

The Road to Recovery – Part 2

“Fun is Good”

– Dr.Seuss

When I was about 10 years old, my father would tell me – “Go downstairs and play, go break some bones.” I took it too literally, sadly a decade later.

When you injure your hand (I have experienced this too, and that was pretty serious as well!) you can still move around and do things, but when its your leg – you are immobile, and you need help for every little thing. For someone, who needs to constantly move around, this got extremely frustrating. I was bound to my bed the entire day, and I absolutely resented the thought of putting my entire weight on one leg, to hop to the restroom  and to think that I used to love playing hop scotch at one point in time!

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Mobility Aid – My New Saathi (observe how I respected it by keeping the bubble wrap on) 

My physiotherapy started about 10 days later. Again, I was blessed with a wonderful doctor – Dr.Kiran. He would come home at 7 am and we would do strengthening exercises which I felt were more painful than  Jumping Jacks and pilates put together, why you ask? The aim was to get my New Leg to bend and I couldn’t move it – even a slight push would feel like someone was trying to dismantle my leg. And I had a big target already set in my mind.

When you get an ACL reconstruction – the doctors tell you – you need 9 – 12 months to get back to your prior activity levels. (No Dance, No basketball, No Adventure – SIGH!)

But, I had my convocation coming up on May 23rd 2015, and I had made it very clear that the doctors need to ensure I can go on stage to receive my degree without a walking stick. My father would tell me ‘why don’t you just go on stage with the stick? Set a style statement’, and trust me – I do wish I had listened – it would have made a better story!

I spent a month after college trying to walk again. It was like an infant trying to learn. I had to hold onto something , in this case it was my saathi. There was a particular way I had to do it, first I put the mobility aid down, then put most of the pressure on my left leg (this leg will play a greater role in the stories to follow) and then slowly try to move my operated leg.

Once I had learnt how to walk, my exercises were upgraded too! They got more intense, but I had a goal – No crutch on Convocation Day!

I remember making a list of movies and TV shows I wanted to watch and books I wanted to read to kill my time, but unfortunately I spent a major chunk of time overthinking and wondering how on earth would I ever get my previous life back. Everyone from my class was already working or on a job hunt, and here I was – bound to the four walls of my room.

My grandparents had also flown down to be with me because my parents were both working. Having them around was the biggest blessing and  that was when I got really close to my Thatha and Patti (grandparents).

The very first miracle:

My mom is an artist, she even has an art studio and conducts classes for over 50 students. So, I just got lucky to inherit some of her genes. In college I really wanted to open a personalized gift shop because I love making cards and making people happy!  In fact, my roommate and I had already decided the name and the B- Plan but never got around to it. But everything has its time – and so did Artista(My personalized gift store). So in the month of April the complex that I live in Hyderabad was hosting a Mela(fair) where the residents can put up stalls, and this was my golden opportunity. And my grandmother(Patti) had been a constant motivation for me. She would often ask me what was the latest craft I had made. So with my Brace and a special set up for my leg by my parents I sat and made 40 cards over two nights and put up a stall with my mom’s products as well. We were not sold out, but people seemed to enjoy what I had made and the appreciations received were a major boost that I had been craving for.

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Getting the art right with my Amma since 95
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First batch of Artista

To keep myself further occupied I made a 20 page scrapbook for my best friend Cynthia – because her birthday was coming up right before our convocation. I also got a surprise visit from my school friends in Hyderabad, which was just the thing I needed!

May 23rd was only a week away. I had gone from Mobility Aid and Brace to Walking Stick and Knee Band. But on that day it had to be ONLY Knee Band.

Dr. Kiran made it happen, did I play a role in it? Yes, I did the exercises diligently. Its human nature to work harder when there is a reward attached to it.

So, we decided to travel via road to Bangalore as this would also allow me to comfortably place my leg – however I wanted. Thankfully, I was able to get passes for my grandparents to attend the convocation as well.

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Can you see me beaming? I was for sure, at that moment just those few seconds, I completely forgot about my pain. Dr. Kiran had a very interesting way to teach climbing up and going down the stairs. He said while going down – you are going to hell – use your operated leg first, and while climbing up use your good leg because you are going to heaven. So before I got onto stage, I had help from my classmate Sanskriti and while getting off I had help from my classmate Nikita.

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(Left) My Appa’s Graduation – National University of Singapore (2007) and (Right) Rachna’s graduation – Christ University – 2015.

I was so exhausted by the end of it , that I just wanted a place to sit, and never get up again. I returned my robe to the college, meanwhile, my mom and dad were both trying to find me but on different floors. That day, I realized that when you are tired and worn out , anything can cloud your judgement of right and wrong. I hadn’t  got a picture with my dad, and if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have the coolest dad – daughter picture in the history of photographs. He insisted that I go back and get the robe(which required me to climb two floors), because only then we would have the above collage. And as always, my parents had saved the day and gave me another story to talk about.

After what felt like the longest and most overwhelming day of my life, I came home to a surprise (extended celebration) by my wonderful aunt, uncle and cousin! Since I couldn’t go anywhere, they brought the party home!

Start the day with a smile, and finish it with Champagne!