Progress is not always about the scale

I haven’t posted in a few months because there is really nothing sexy or interesting about the daily grind of a healthy cut.

You wake up every morning, eat the same foods even if you’re secretly dreaming about potato chips and hope that this habit thing will come around and make things easy soon enough.

I started in November and it’s been 4 months. Around 2 weeks ago, I had shrunk enough that people began to notice.

Now, usually, I’m good at taking my own advice and I don’t weigh myself too often/at all.

But with almost everyone declaring that I’ve lost “weight”, I got curious enough to want to see just how much. Which is when I realised that my advice to my members is as solid as ever.

The weighing scale is not the best judge of discipline or progress. Take a picture every month wearing the same clothes on the same day and measure your distance from the mirror.

Here’s my progress from that angle





MARCH 11th




If I’d allowed myself to get busy watching the scale I might have been discouraged. Because all I actually lost in this time was 1.2 kilos. I have more to go but that is the reality of trying to lose weight in your mid-thirtys. It takes time and patience and you have to keep your head down and do the work no matter how long it takes.

My diet is all in the previous post and it hasn’t changed one bit. And no, there’s no way around the sacrifice IF fat loss is your goal… It doesn’t have to be.

I’m doing this for myself. I felt better and had more pull-ups when I was lighter and that is important to me.

Find your reasons and use them to keep you going. Or eat chocolate and enjoy it. Your body is your right. You can fatten it, lighten it, take it up a mountain, give it cholesterol, have babies with it, or use it to explore the world. It’s yours for life and no one else has the right to tell you how it should be. So if you’re making a change don’t do it for anyone else. Do it for you.

If you’re considering eating less food, you’re already blessed in more ways than most.


Much love





Step 2: Willpower and Motivation are Overrated

When building a routine, a big mistake people make, is waiting for motivation to suddenly strike them. You hope that it’ll all be different on a Monday or on the 1st or the 15th or in the New year.

I’m sorry to break it to you, but things won’t change one bit, till you decide to do something about it. So the longer you’ve been scrolling Instagram for Motivation, the more time you’ve wasted not actually doing anything.

Willpower and Motivation are fickle. It’s great it if you have them, but don’t count on them to show up. Instead wake up and stick to your plan even on days you don’t feel like you can. Eventually your habits will build up a momentum and that will make everything easier.

With that said, here’s a closer look at my current daily food routine.


My first meal of the day is usually oats mixed with whey protein and any fruit I can be bothered to cut and freeze over the weekend. Why oats? Because I eat breakfast at 7 am and oats take only 90 seconds to make and store the night before. If you have the ability to wake up and make yourself something more elaborate, knock yourself out. I like that I can manage protein and carbs without too much effort and start my day with them.

Lunch is the Dal-rice from the weekend prep+ veggies from the weekend prep+ tuna,also from the weekend prep, thrown into a pressure cooker with some water and salt.

And dinner is 3 of the phulkas from the weekend prep with 2 eggs and some veggies.

Not pictured, is the whey protein shake I carry with me during my workout, the casein and peanut butter shake I drink at bedtime and the cup of skim milk and whey that serves as my snack.

This is not really a weight loss diet, yet.

Right now the focus is only on building the routine, but, I’d be lying if I said I have no idea what the macros are. Even without measuring, I have a fair idea what my meals constitute. But with the cortisol messing up my thyroid function, I know that now is not a good time to cut calories drastically. So I’m happy to just cruise along.

Do you need whey protein to be heathy? No.

But it does make the job of getting some protein at every meal far far easier. You can choose to do more cooking than I do and if you have the time I greatly recommend it.

But this routine amounts to 1.5 hours of cooking on Saturday + 10 minutes every day. This works well for me without putting too much pressure on my schedule.

I find it pointless to respond to a complicated situation or a large weight loss effort with a complicated solution. As Dan John says when life gets hard, simplify, simplify, simplify.

Much love




Step 1: Build a routine and keep it simple

And finally here I am at step 1. Most people start by making massive promises or waiting for a good time to begin making resolutions.

This is the absolute best way to set yourself up for failure. Instead start by investing your time into building a few good habits.

Make sure these habits are simple and extremely basic. Then, be stubborn about sticking to them.

There’s plenty of research to show that habits are extremely powerful tools that can change the way your brain works. The simplest example of a lifelong habit at work is the act of brushing your teeth. I’m guessing all of us get it done and don’t stop to think about it. We don’t question when we will do it or how anymore. We wake up and as if by magic, head straight to the bathroom.

But long long ago, this too would have needed a push. Your parents probably had to wake up earlier than you and force you to do it for months if not years before it stuck.

As an adult, no one else can push you, so your habits are your responsibility to create.

Step 1, therefore is just to get into a routine. For now, I’m not going to put myself under any pressure to see any results. I have my whole life in this body and I might as well invest my time in making it a good one.

Here’s what I plan to do  :

1) Meal Prep on Saturday/Sunday afternoons: The plan is to make 7 servings of dal rice,7servings of chapathis, 7 servings of tuna and cut up 7 servings of veggies(to freeze)

It’s simple and I have been doing this for 2 weeks now. It’s not all the food I need for the whole week, but there’s enough choices in the fridge that are healthy and it only takes me an hour on 1 day of the week.

If after all this I feel like eating out, then I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. For now.. as long as I cook it , store it and mostly eat it.. I’ll consider it a win.

2) Exercise every day: the time, the intensity, the equipment and the moves don’t matter. Just a little, but everyday.

3) Get to bed by 9 30 pm: This one was set up by my psychiatrist and it’s worked wonders. I don’t watch any shows past 8 pm and I don’t go out for dinners on any week days. Whether I’m sleepy or not, I get in bed and stay there after 9 30. 2 months ago, this sometimes meant I stayed in bed awake till it was time to get to class.

But, I’ve been off sleep meds for 2 weeks now and I’ve been doing ok… And this is possibly the most important thing I do all day. This is what keeps me sane enough to accomplish everything else.

Aaand that’s it. Small goals, no expectations except the habit itself and how many ever tries it takes me to set them up.

Remember, habits are really just a collection of things your brain is wired to do on auto pilot and they are built by you repeating an action over and over again.

So if you are constantly starting a diet every Monday only to then fail at it by Wednesday, that is also a habit and those can be hard to break.

It’s extremely important, therefore, to set manageable habits and make a habit of succeeding at them (have I used the word habit enough yet?)

All other goals can come next. Start here. Make a small but stubborn commitment and stay with it.

I’ll tell you how I managed in a week. Maybe you can tell me how you did?

Good luck

Much love




Sometimes it’s the body and sometimes, the mind

Wow. Thanks everyone. In the 24 hours since I worked up the nerve to admit I’m broken, I’ve gotten mails, WhatsApp messages, calls and comments that have been nothing but encouraging, kind and generous.

I’m not a sharer, I hate sharing personal emotions and it was quite a task to pen them down. I was hoping at best, for indifference and at worst for retorts on how stupid I was. I’m beyond overwhelmed by how amazing the people around me are and I’m not great with emotion, so when I say thank you, I’m including all the emotion and gratitude I feel but cannot adequately express. Thank you.

One message, however, caught my attention. I was asked which psychiatrist I went to and why I chose to speak about it.

Truthfully, I have never seen my body as being separate from my mind. During any exercise, 60% of movement is neural. Meaning, which muscles your brain decides to fire, in what order and how fast , makes up a greater percentage of your squat than what your muscles can do.

Beginners often see their biggest gains in the first 6 weeks of training because their brain adapts to the idea of movement and learns how to move and just with that, they can seem a lot stronger.

True muscle strength is much harder and rarer to come by.

Even without all this science, I’m sure all of you instinctively know this. You must have heard people explain their failures at sport/exercise/life with the phrase “my head wasn’t in the game”. I’ve personally had sub-par exercise days for exactly that reason long before my knee got hurt.

So I’m just as comfortable talking about my mind as I am about my body/knee.. which is to say, not at all.

But I’m here and I’m doing this anyway and I don’t see the need to discriminate or hold back information that might help.

I wish I had gotten control of my sleep on my own, because I’m not someone that enjoys asking for help. But that’s simply not what happened and once I realised it was beyond my ability to help myself, I reached out to a physician exactly like I had done for my knee. It really is that simple and we need to stop complicating it.

Sometimes it’s your body that’s broken and sometimes it’s your mind. In my case, one led to the other and they both needed attention.

The psychiatrist I chose was Dr Lakshmi Vijaykumar(santhome) and she’s amazing.

She listened to me explaining frantically how I hadn’t slept in almost 4 months, how I had abandoned the love of my life (exercise) during that time and had no interest in life and she calmly recommended a few tests.

The initial tests showed I had mild clinical depression(which happens when you express a distinct lack of interest in being alive) and high blood pressure, but here’s the part that made me think she’s awesome.

She didn’t just prescribe meds for my symptoms. She asked questions, listened to me and just gave me some melatonin to help me sleep.

“We’ll find out in 3 weeks if sleep is really all you need” is all she said.

3 weeks later, my blood pressure was down and I was no longer considered someone in need of therapy.

That’s how big a deal sleep can be. It can mess with your mind, take away the joy that an activity once brought you and render you incapable of good decisions.

If you’ve tried helping yourself and it hasn’t worked, find someone more qualified to do the job.

Sometimes, you’ll need meds for a cough or a fever and sometimes you’ll need meds to sleep/think clearly.

I don’t see anyone complaining that they have to take benadryl or being ashamed of it, so why the hypocrisy when it’s your mind that needs help?

Sometimes it’s your body, sometimes it’s your mind. It‘s all part of the same you and all of you needs a little help sometimes…  Which is perfectly ok.

Be kind to yourself.

Much love


Getting back on my feet.

The last 3 posts I wrote were about squatting pain free… well, 2 years and 9 physicians later.. I’m still not there. The latest diagnosis is that I very likely have an osteophyte in my knee that needs to be surgically removed.

To anyone reading this, the answer to “Have you tried Dr <insert name here> ?”, the answer is probably yes.

But thats not what this post is about.

10 months ago, I met with an Orthopedic Surgeon, who suggested that I try injecting my knee with Cortisol. In my desperation to finally be able to squat again, I agreed.

Within the month, I had gained 6 kilos. Over the next 2 months, another 2 injections were administered and another 6 kilos were gained.

If all this had led to a pain free squat, I might have happily accepted and allowed for another 10 kilos.. but, here I am, with as much pain as when I started, heavier than I’ve been in 18 years and possessing the least amount of health I’ve ever had, making it harder to fix this problem.

I’d be lying if i said it was just the hormone that got me here. Cortisol sent me on a downward spiral that I couldn’t get out of.

You see, the drug wouldn’t let me sleep. Without sleep, I did not have the energy to exercise,or the ability to make good decisions about food.

I spent all day trying to sleep, failing at it, somehow crawling to class and then running back home to attempt to sleep, again.

I finally had to get myself to a psychiatrist last month and get sleep meds(melatonin) to help me sleep again ( I tried every natural thing from meditation to Ashwagandha before doing this) and it took a week of sleep for me to feel in control of my life again.

Im finally at a point where Im exercising, not hating life and cooking healthful foods again. But at 36 and with a messed up thyroid(from the cortisol), this is bound to be a long, slow, painful journey.

So why am I blogging about it? Because till last about 2 weeks ago I was absolutely not in the mood to share how I fixed my life. But then, a member at The Unit was given the same advice for her bad knee(from years of dancing).. take cortisol.

That was the first time I spoke to someone about how it affected me, and it helped. She cleared her house of all junk food(willpower is truly overrated), lessened her work load in preparation for the exhaustion I warned her about, got herself to sleep and came to the gym even if she did not always feel like it.

That was my ‘Aha’ moment. I figured maybe someone else could use this information. Maybe your problems started differently but you’re now at the same point I am. Maybe you have the same long journey ahead of you for different reasons and would like to see how to begin.

Before the injury I was powerlifting, sprinting ,had hit all my strength goals and was making a list of new ones.

Now, Im back to square 1 and maybe you can learn from my mistakes or give me a few pointers or maybe you’re also at square one and you’d like some company.

I don’t know. Maybe I can help or maybe I cant. But here I go. Ill be detailing what I do every week and going through the How-many-ever-steps-it-takes plan for getting back on track when life derails beyond anything you ever planned for.

I hope it helps you. IF it does, maybe drop me a line and make my day?

Much Love


The long road to squatting pain free- Part 3



The much clearer picture on the left is because I had better lighting on that one. But the results are pretty clear. The pelvis is finally where it should be and its holding, after a month of rehab and 2 sessions of light squats, its still holding.

Does this mean I’m in the clear? Far from it.

Living with a shorter leg has caused my squat to shift in that direction, so now I have to train my neural system to shift back to squatting straight. Consciously shifting it won’t cut it on the higher weights. Im also not allowed to perform deadlifts and lunges or participate in any impact exercises for another month.

The good news is, this is the bit I can rehab on my own. We train a lot of people out of hip shifts anyway, and now I’m going to have to do that for myself.

This is an excellent video detailing how you can do that for yourself :

And that, along with other exercises and light squats should get me back into powerlifting in good time.

I had initially gone to Sagars’ to check if I’m ready for heavy lifting at competitions.

I had absolutely loved the one competition I had gone for and was getting better at it. My last squat PR was quite close to double bodyweight, and that was my goal for the next meet… a double bodyweight Squat.

Today my goals are very different. I no longer care if I can hit that PR. It is not a priority. I might still compete, but if I do, it will be for the love of lifting heavy and for the honour of competing alongside women who have chosen to try their hand at being the strongest in the state.

If I manage to even get close to my old PR and manage it pain free, thats all I want for christmas.

My body has carried me around and allowed me to experience life at its fullest. In the 25 years I’ve played, jumped, run, lifted, thrown myself around and tried every sport that I have come across, it has complained very little. For every goal I’ve set, it has rewarded me with two more.

It’s now, just a little bit hurt and it needs some TLC…. Its now my turn to respect my body and help it heal. And Im not complaining at all.

Here’s to a pain free 2016!


The long road to Squatting Pain-free – Part 2


What are my options? I asked Vidhyasagar, after clearly stating that a life without squats CANNOT be one of them.

So he gave me 2:

1) Wear a shoe on only one leg during squats and deadlifts (Which felt very unsteady).

2) Try traction, a slightly unconventional method that is based on the theory that if a large impact is what moved the pelvis up, a similar strong force applied in the opposite direction should set it right again.

Against better “google” judgement, I decided to put all my trust in Vidhyasagar and go with option 2.

For as long as I had 2 legs and could walk, I’ve enjoyed doing squats  and I just couldn’t imagine giving up without a fight.

And so I had my leg pulled, and pulled, and much to my dismay, it wouldn’t budge. Years of strength training my muscles + many injuries to my joints(playing sports) meant that dislodging my pelvis from my core muscles was harder than dislocating a connecting joint like my ankle or knee (or worse, tearing it).


So I was asked to go home and come back in 2 days, when, he assured me, he’d try another technique.

The other technique after many many attempts, worked only a tinge. A tiny 0.5 cms worth of traction had happened. I was happy it had even moved.

Again I was asked to rest 48 hours and come back for session 3. This session was productive, the other 2 cms was achieved and I went home elated. No squats, no jumps, no impact for now. I had to rest and only do some mild core strengthening, while allowing scar tissue to form and reset my hip in its new position.

I went home, head in the stars, dreaming of when I could squat again, did not see a tree branch on the road, tripped, fell hard and stabilised using my right leg.

The impact sent the pelvis right back to where it used to be. I was crushed. I doubled back to the Vidhyasagars clinic hoping for damage control, but was told that continuously manipulating the pelvis could cause joint laxity.

“Go home and exercise, do whatever you like for 2 weeks, let the muscles heal a little, we’ll try again in 2 weeks” he said.

So I did. I sprinted more than I usually do, Squatted till my knees hurt, did 2 workouts on some days.. all in preparation for a forced rest period that I knew was coming.

I binged on training the way some people binge on food when they gear up for a diet.

2 weeks later, I was ready, I put myself under a forced house arrest, refused to go out or climb stairs, got the other trainers to take class so that I wouldn’t accidentally demonstrate something or clear weights, and went for it.

Two sessions have gone by since and the corrections are in place and holding. Im doing the rehab exercises every hour and nothing else. There is still a .5 cm difference, but I’m told thats muscular, and will need lots of correctional exercise and stretches.

My whole life is currently about the fight to get my squat back.Every 2 hours, my alarm reminds to stretch one side of my body. Every 4 hours I have core work that needs to be done. Its painful. But as long as it works, it’ll be more than worth it.

Because when you’re blessed with 2 legs, why would you not want to squat/run/jump with them?

Why would you purposely choose to go your whole life without ever discovering the strength you have in you? Thats only a life half lived.

Next up, rehab to train my right leg into taking a load it has so far pushed on to my shorter, tighter left leg.

Bring it on!


The long road to Squatting Pain-free

If you know me, you know that I’ve been playing a sport since I was 9. Recreationally at first and then more seriously after I got into College.

When I could no longer play because of work, I bought every fitness DVD and book in town and continued moving/reading about movement.

I did 7 of my 12 certificates with no intention of ever using them. I just loved movement. I found freedom and peace within it and I did not discriminate between the many kinds of movement available to me. I’ve P90x’d, Zumba-d, Insanity-d, Spin-d, Circuit-trained, Yoga-d and even marathon-d.

Over time, Ive found what I love the most is strength training. There’s just something about lifting massive weights that brings out the best in me. I love training with weights, I love helping other people train with and fall in love with heavy weights. I even tear up a little every time I see a massive pile of barbells and plates.

Where am i going with all this? Well, last year, I decided to try my hand at powerlifting. (Squats, Bench Presses and Deadlifts for maximum weight)

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 11.28.13 AM
The very heavy squats and deadlifts made the muscles just above my knees feel tender. It wasn’t a large problem, and I only chanced upon it because I foam roll everyday. But, it was unexpected.

And so I consulted Physio number 1: I was told I had tight quads and weak hamstrings and a little stretching and strengthening would fix it all.

I did that, and the second I started squats, it came right back.

Physio No. 2: Said I had “knots” and I needed myofascial release. Plenty of blood-curdling screams and painful sessions later, I squatted and sure enough.. the problem came right back.

Physio No. 3: Noticed that when I stand “straight” I’m actually quite funnily tilted (she was right). “Do more Uni-lateral leg work”, she said. And I did. Oh boy did I ever. But…. NOTHING.

Chiropractor No. 1 and Physio No. 4: Noticed I have mild scoliosis and tried “correcting” it by cracking my spine in various places. Didn’t hurt. But did not really help either.

And so I found myself standing in front of Physio no. 5, Vidhyasagar, from Sagars Rehab.

He listened patiently to all my previous attempts at a pain free squat, asked me to squat without weight, agreed that technique wasn’t a problem and decided to take a video of me squatting heavy.

I loaded up the bar, and squatted, I was asked to squat till he was satisfied he had all the footage he needed. Around rep no. 10 (just as I was getting real tired) he noticed a little blip in my technique. He replayed the video several times till he realised that while squatting, my right leg opened out a touch more that my left.

“Squat again”, he said, and this time, purposely push your left knee out as far as it’ll go. I did, and it still wasn’t far enough.

Well, the only thing left to do was measure my leg length. As suspected, my left leg was shorter than my right by 2.5cms. X-rays confirmed that the problem originated at my pelvis which had moved upwards by the same length.

How did this happen? Honestly I don’t remember. I tried my hand at every sport that came my way from Cricket to Volleyball to basketball(which I played for 15 years) to (more recently) Ultimate frisbee. I’ve fallen in all kinds of odd angles every time.

Ive torn all ligaments on both ankles, one knee and hurt my right shoulder. I have no idea which of those falls was bad enough to send my pelvis flying upwards. But here I am. A tilted pelvis and a spine thats curved around to accommodate it.

15 years of weight training has given me enough strength to mask the problem during most activities. But powerlifting needed me to be better.

So what next? I’ll save that for my next post.


Diabetes and the Eastern Diet

In India Diabetes has become an acceptable part of the ageing process. So many of us have it, its no longer regarded as the dangerous, highly preventable lifestyle disease that it really is.

Type 2 Diabetes is a choice. A choice you make every day, every week, over many years till finally your body stops fighting you and gives in.

A study conducted by the Asian American Diabetics centre and the Harvard medical school, highlights the importance of a good diet when trying to manage/prevent diabetes.

50 participants were chosen at random(28 were Asian) and for the first eight-weeks, everyone consumed a traditional Asian diet. For the next eight weeks, the participants either ate the same diet or switched to a traditional Western diet.

Each diet was prepared for the participants, and included three meals and one snack daily. The number of calories was the same for each participant, no matter which diet they were on. The calorie count was enough to maintain their bodyweight.

Measurements for bodyweight, blood lipids, insulin resistance, and inflammation markers were taken before, during and after the study,to find out what the difference between the diets would be.

Of the fifty participants, 28 were East Asian Americans(That would be us or close enough to us). The remaining participants were Caucasian Americans. All of the participants were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The Asian diet consisted of 70:15:15 macronutrients from carbs, protein, and fat, respectively. It was also high in fiber. The protein in this diet came mostly from vegetables/beans.

The Western diet was 50:16:34 and was low to moderate in fiber content and protein in the Western protein was mostly animal-based.

Now here’s the fun bit:

The traditional Asian diet improved insulin sensitivity, caused a loss in body fat, and improved the lipid profiles of both Asians and Caucasians. It also reduced inflammation for the Asian subjects

And whats more interesting, when the caucasian population followed the Asian Diet, they all lost weight, even though the number of calories was the same or even a 100 calories higher. Researches figure this is because of the high fibre content.

 The Western diet, by contrast, increased body fat and worsened insulin resistance for the Asians, even when their bodyweight stayed the same. For the Caucasian subjects, the Western diet increased bodyweight and body fat, but didn’t increase insulin resistance as long as they maintained a normal BMI

In other words, when we tried to follow a diet that wasn’t natural to us, all our markers for health got worse, but caucasians who are used to the same diet, did not do as badly as long as they maintained their weight.

Conclusion: Eat what your grandmother used to. She knew what she was doing!

The Morning After a binge

Let me know if this sounds familiar:

You decided to start making healthy food choices(again) on Monday. Its Thursday(or wednesday, depending on the severity of the diet) and the motivation that was coursing through your veins just a few days ago, no longer exists.

You sneak in a few snacks after a lunch, a dessert after dinner, and before you know it, its sunday and you’re bingeing away at food you’re not even all that hungry for, because you’ve promised yourself you can start again on Monday.

Come Monday, you break out the soups and salads and teas(again) to pay for what you consider the sins of the weekend.

Except, if you did do that, I can promise you one thing for sure.. you WILL fail before the week is out.

The average diet lasts 72 hours… just long enough for your body to realise that a famine is upon you, slow down your metabolism, throw out some muscle, and send out hunger signals.

All of this will ensure that the next time you eat, you will store more than you burn. For every diet you try and fail at, you will be heavier.

If you think willpower is your problem.. you’re wrong. Diets are your problem.

Making unrealistic promises to yourself is your problem. Promising yourself perfection in a life thats entirely human and wonderfully imperfect, is your problem.

So the next time your eating goes wrong. This is what you can, instead, try and do:

1) Get back to where you left off as soon as you can. Not on Monday. Not tomorrow but ASAP. The very next meal.

2) Don’t try to compensate for the past. The future will take care of itself. In the long run, one bad meal will change nothing, week after week of binge eating followed by starvation will.

3) Food and exercise are not reward and punishment. Eat because you’re hungry. Exercise because you need the strength. Throw out the guilt that everyone has convinced you, you need.

4) At every meal eat some protein, carbs and veggies. Irrespective of what your last meal looked like.

Think of it this way. If you decide to run a  marathon.. but also decided that you will only complete it if you do not stumble/fall through the entire distance, and will, additionally go back to the starting line every time you fall… would you ever get around to finishing the race?


Get up, dust yourself off and pick up where you left off. Thats really all it takes.