Monthly Archives: July 2011

Eating on the road Part 1

90% of my meals are unfortunately not home cooked. A job hazard, but not something that has to be an excuse to not eating well.

I posted a list of eating plans that were recommended to me in the past. During that time and since then, I have learned through Rashi, Rujuta and the internet the best wa yto  get around the days when those options for dinner or lunch are just not available…or not appetizing for whatever reason.  Let’s take some common restaurants first and look at the menus and the options that were recommended for me by my two nutritionists:

1. Chinese/Stirfry: Looking at the nutrition plans, a lot of the ones I posted had veggie stirfry or tofu stirfry as the dinner option. It is low on carbs and high on protein and healthy fat, if cooked the right way. One example restaurant I frequented was a place called Wok to Walk. Awesome place, great food. One day, I looked at the nutrition calculator on the website and fell off my chair. 400 calories for a veggie stirfry! But Rashi calmed me down and said “don’t think about this. It is 400 calories but think of the Vitamins you are getting from the broccoli, bamboo shoots, cabbage, onions, green and red peppers, etc. You are getting a good protein source from the tofu. So chill.”  Ideally, if I made a stirfry at home, I would only add oil, garlic, some hot sauce and pepper and skip the sodium rich soy sauce. In a restaurant, you may not have the option. You can, however, ask for the sauce on the side. This way you only add in a small amount. So the wok to Walk Menu looks like this:

What did I usually choose? I usually ate this for dinner, so my choices were:

-The veggie dish+ Broccoli and Tofu+ Garlic and Black Pepper Sauce

If I had chosen the lunch option, I would have added in the rice or whole wheat noodles to the veggies.

Most Asian restaurants have similar options right off the menu like P.F. Changs, Flatop Grill, etc.

So, for example P.F Changs:

I would choose

-a soup to start

-Coconut Curry veggies or Steamed version of Buddha’s Feast for dinner.

OR the lettuce wraps with tofu


For lunch, i would choose

-Steamed dumplings to start

-Same main as above, but add some rice or small portion of noodles

This is just the recommendations I have had in the past for ME. And I have never felt like those recommendations were misleading.

2. Mexican–my favorite type of food. YUMMMMMMMM. Well, some dishes as Mexican restaurants are –well–BAD for more than an occasional indulgence. So, if I go to somewhere like On the Border, I don’t always feast on burritos and enchiladas. Sure, sometimes i do. But more than likely, I will choose something just as fulfilling in taste but on the healthier side for my arteries!

For Dinner:

–Soup to start

–Veggie fajitas -I make sure to eat the veggies+ Guac for healthy fat, bit of sour cream and black beans (I would skip the tortillas or have one)

For lunch:

–Veggie soft tacos with cheese

-small salad or soup

If you are going to somewhere like Moes, Qdoba or Chipotle, it is even easier! I love these places because you know what you are getting and its fresh. At chipotle, I usually get the Veggie Fajita Bowl or Veggie soft tacos with:

–Rice (sometimes i get this, sometimes I leave it out)

— Black Beans


-Corn (for lunch I get this, for dinner I skip)

-Guac or cheese



At Qdoba, they even have a tortilla soup so sometimes I add that in because it is YUMMMMYYY and eat half the bowl or have 1-2 tacos (small ones). Some restaurants even have tomato soup or something along those lines and I add in black beans and it becomes a great mini meal.

OK, I am tired now..more to come on this topic tomorrow….if anyone is following along and is interested in a particular menu or type of cuisine being explored, please email me:

Remember these are just from what I learned! I am not the expert…just someone who has experienced some good results with great advice!

Bikram Yoga 101 –What is it?

So I have been referring to my new addiction–Bikram Yoga for a while now. I had not really cared too much for Bikram or any kind of yoga until I ruptured a disc in my back last year. Sure, I had dabbled a bit here and there, but for me, it was something boring and not my cup of tea. I found myself laid up in bed unable to move and the effects of that still trouble me. The specialist I saw told me I should cut out extreme exercises (i.e running) if I wanted to live a pain-free life. He also told me I needed to take physical therapy. Physical therapy? forget it. I didn’t have time for that as I was running back and forth at the time from England to the US every 2-3 weeks. 

Then came a trip to Chennai. And there I found Vinod. Vinod was the guy who taught me how to be almost pain-free from Artistic Yoga (also called Power Yoga by Bharat Thakur). More on that later.  Coming back to the US, I didn’t have Vinod to help me out. Thinking of going to regular yoga seemed painful for me…..painful in my mind. Boring! I had done a bunch of hot yoga classes with a fabulous yoga teacher at home– Rebecca. Now that I was on the road, Rebecca was not there either. No Vinod…No Rebecca. Now what? 

 After some research I decided to try this phenomenon called Bikram Yoga.

Bikram Yoga is a series of 26 Hatha Yoga poses put together in a deliberate order to give the health benefits to every part of your inner body. It is not the same as Hot Yoga.  Each pose is done two times. The first time, they make you hold it for about a minute. The second set is a shorter amount of time, but the encouragement is there to go beyond your limit and push yourself a tad more.  And the best part of it? It is done in a heated room of 105 degrees with 50%+ humidity for 90 min! Phew!

The classes are always the same 26 poses in the same order. However, what the instructor at the studio said my first day was absolutely right. You can take the class 100 times and you will have a different experience with the same poses in the same room with the same instructor every single time. It’s true. There are days when about 30 minutes in, I feel the entire concept is just suicidal and I vow never to do it again. Then, there are days when I get through the whole class without any issues. There are days when one pose is a piece of cake but the next day it is so hard I cannot imagine doing a second set.

The class is broken up into what I see as 3-4 parts. Within each part I see myself dividing it into subparts.

Part 1: Pranayama breathing and warm up (25 min). The rule here is no water for the first 25 minutes to warm the body up.

Part 2: Standing Series. This whole part is up on the feet and although the full body is worked here, I feel the concentration is on the lower body.

Part 2a. Balance poses

Part 2b. Forward bending compression poses

Part 2c: A cooldown of the standing series

Part 3: Laying down series

Part 3a. Spinal Series

Part 3b. Lower back bends, seated compressions, streching hamstrings and lower back related poses

Part 3c. Spinal Twists and Kapalbhatti

This is just how I break it up in my mind. I have to say there are so many health benefits we learn about as we are doing the poses. For example, there is a pose called the half tortoise that is great for people with hormonal imbalances. There are poses where you tuck your chin against your throat to “choke your throat” which helps in healing the thyroid gland. Other poses include helping the liver, spleen, kidneys, etc. It is amazing what goes on internally. Another benefit is after doing some of the poses, they make you  stay very still for 20-30 seconds. It allows for new blood to rush deep inside the body to refresh the body and heal muscles that sometimes are very dry of fresh blood. 

I have started feeling mentally..and physically light since I started this. The Bikram Yoga calculator claims one would burn about 500 -800 calories a session! Not sure about that..nor do I really care. I sleep like a baby those nights and my worries are left with me in the studio. I call it “therapy” because it really is!

The link below gives more info on what Bikram is and the poses that go along with it. Artistic Yoga is just as fun, it is just a different fun. More on that in an upcoming post! (clicking on each pose shows the health benefits of that pose!)

Take a class and try it out! I swear by it lately! Namaste!

When Life Gets in the Way…..

Well, the week didn’t go as planned. I was so excited to start my Monday off right..I had Bikram Yoga on the schedule for Monday..but it was a travel day…and an unexpected one. 8 hours and 3 cancelled flights later, I found myself in a hotel room in my sandals with nothing with me except the clothes I had on and a very tired body. I hadn’t slept well the night before and the sitting at the airport hopping from flight to flight isn’t the most relaxing of days. So, life got in the way of my schedule. Now what?

Well, just go with the flow. Sure, I need to rethink my workout schedule this week, but I scheduled one day off, I can always just flip flop my off Sunday with my Monday workout. I ate the healthiest I could at the airport and I just relaxed and watched tv yesterday night and got a good nights sleep. One of the top keys to losing fat is sleep. 7-8 hours is what the body needs and if you can manage that, great. I didn’t know this before. I used to think I could sleep 3-4 hours and still be a slim trim me. I quickly found out this was wrong.

Today, I was still tired. I went bang on with eating well, by having my hotel pack me a healthy breakfast which I took on the flight with me. After work,  I got in a 35 min run and 25 min upper body and ab toning routine. I pushed myself, but not to the point of exhaustion. I still have 5 days ahead of me so I need to conserve my energy.

Some of the secrets to how I felt better about skipping my workout and being at war in the airport with the flight delays:

1. I climbed as many escalators in the airport as I could as I hopped from terminal to terminal.

2. I tried to walk the distances in the airport as much as I could instead of using the airport tram or walk ways

3. I made sure I had snacks on hand to replenish myself every 2 hours. I try to keep peanuts and milk in my purse where ever I go.

4. Lots of water

5. Breathe Breathe Breathe. It wasn’t easy dealing with the crowds at the airport, but instead of getting upset, I used what I learned in yoga to calm myself down. It helped because not only did I get upgraded, I wasn’t as worked up as I would have gotten in the past (trust me, I used to be nutso at the airport!)

I was surprised at myself. My best friend told me today–you missed 3 flights, your bag got routed to the wrong airport, you got to work mid day after 1.5 days of are you still smiling and happy….lots of breathing and mini naps where I could get them in!

There are so many ways to get around life when you have too much going on to have a normal work out schedule. My 4 year old niece had it right on –she told me  her mommy walks her to school and back sometimes so she can get in her exercise. There you go, minutes right there. A friend of mine told me she puts her kid in the stroller and pushes her for an hour. The baby is happy and mommy is happy. If something happens where your workout gets thrown for a loop, just chill. There are ways to make it up..or just let it go that day. It’s not every day life throws you a curve ball.

Remember..when life gives you lemons..have some vodka..with a twist;-)

Menus and Choices

So, I did a few days on the diet chart posted last week. Now that I am bumping up my workouts (and its a Monday tomorrow), I have the next 15 days charted out on a diet that is for a strenous on the road schedule.  And will post some sample ones over the fews days. The best way to go is to choose one that is best for your needs and easy and just go with that for 15 days. Then after 15 days, start a new one.

Here are a few I like and I didn’t really follow at the time I had gotten them because a) I was sick probably b) I just didn’t! (sorry Rashi!). Becasue I did not follow them, my body didn’t realll know them which I can use them. Remember, change the meals starting with the first one at 10 min of rising, breakfats within one hour of rising and then every 2 hours.

Option 1:

Meal 1: any one fruit (within 10 min of rising)

2: Cereal with milk or jacket potato with cheese (B complex and multi vit)

3: Peanuts

4. 1 chapati+subzi+dal or cheese +vegetable sw

5: Fruit yoghurt (flax seed)

6 (pre workout): Banana

7 (post workout): Soy Milk

8 (Dinner): Soup+ 2-3 egg whites (or can sub tofu or paneer if don’t eat eggs) (Vit C and Vit E)

Option #2:

Meal 1: Any Fruit

Meal 2: 3 egg whites (boiled or omlette) OR Thick Fruit Smoothie (be careful on this, try the ones with higher protein and natural fruit or yogurt and fruit or soy milk and fruit)

Meal 3: 200 ml flavoured soy milk

Meal 4: Grilled veges / soup +salAd with light

Meal 5: Slice of bread  with cheese

Meal 6: 1 scoop protein shake (or soy milk)

Meal 7: Grilled paneer +dal /soup +veg stirfry/
1 bowl of rice +thai curry/dal (3/wk)

Option #3:(good for morning workout days or long days )

Meal 1: Any fruit

Post workout: Protein Shake and one banana

Meal 3:(breakfast so by 8-9am) 2 egg whites (or baked beans or paneer) with 1-2 slices bread

Meal 4: Salad with vinegar or yogurt dressing

meal 5: Cheese cube

meal 6: Veggie sandwich (lunch)

Meal 7: Fruit Yogurt

meal 8: Mixed Nuts

Meal 9: Tofu  or paneer stirfry or edemame +avocado sushi

Option 4:

meal 1: Any fruit

Meal 2: Oatmeal w/Milk

Meal 3: Mixed Nuts

Meal 4: Cheese sandwich with veggies

Meal 5: 2-3 pieces of dark choc (at least 70% coco)

Meal 6: Plain Yogurt

meal 7: Egg whites+ any veg soup

(courtsey Rashi Chowdhary for Reshma Radia)

Week 1 Blast the Fat Cardio Week

So, I need to do some cardio as my cardio sessions as of late have been pretty slim thanks to Bikram Yoga.  The general week 1 plan I am planning on doing is 4-5 cardio days and 2-3 yoga and toning days. I am going up on the cardio to start off to just kick-start my program.  Since I have been working out the last few weeks I will probably be doing more than beginners can. So, my workout routine may be tweaked for people just starting out. Cardio can be anything from walking outside at a reasonably good pace (3.5-4.0 mph) to elliptical, jogging, spinning class, swimming, zumba class, dance class, etc.You can also break up the cardio in the day and total at the end if you are crunched on a busy schedule. I sometimes do half in the morning and half in the evening.

So here it is, the first week!

Monday: Bikram Yoga and 20 min cardio optional

Tuesday: 30-60 min cardio session. Upper body and abs toning.

Wednesday: 30-60 min cardio session; Bikram Yoga class

Thursday: 30-60 min cardio session. Lower body and abs toning

Friday: 30-60 min cardio session. Bikram Yoga and abs toning

Saturday: 20-30 min cardio session

Sunday: Off

Abs toning (pick 2-3 a day)= 2 sets of 15-20 : bicycle crunches,seated weight twist 5 lbs,  stability ball crunch (pass ball back and forth between legs and hands), ab leg raises, double crunch with 5-8 lb ball weights, side bends with 5 lbs weights, Plank (1 min 2 times), Side planks


Looking forward to seeing some results!


From now to Monday–whats the plan?

So I started  the food plan from the previous post yesterday:

I didn’t starve at any point! But I did have a couple of slip ups. My mom knows best that I SUCK at taking Vitamins! So, of course I completely forgot all the supplements. To fix this issue, I created reminders daily for every supplement I need to take in my calendar. Even if I eat lunch,the thought NEVER crosses my mind that I need to take vitamins with it! So, just like a kid, I need to be coaxed to take my supplements; and instead of by Mom like when I was a kid, my grown up version is my blackberry.

The second slip up, if I want to call it that, is that I had promised to go out with a friend last night. Well, should I have avoided this? Probably. But the damage was done and it was premeditated. So I did some damage control before I even went out.

1. I went to Bikram Yoga for a 90 min session that almost felt suicidal yesterday (more on this topic in an upcoming post)

2. I ate dinner BEFORE i went out. This way, I made sure I did not binge on junk food after wards like me and many people who drink tend to do. I had my dinner meal (I chose the wheat pasta with Veggies) right after yoga around 8.

3. I realized I could take an extra 15 min and walk to meet my friend from my hotel. So, even in the humid heat, with an already draining Bikram Yoga class under my belt, I walked 13 blocks. Every little bit counts.

After I got back home, I made sure I drank enough water, didn’t even think of eating anything and went to bed. So, whilst I did some damage, I didn’t completely damage my entire day.  This morning, I had no feelings of remorse!

My third slip up was my diet log looked like this yesterday (compare it to the plan in the last post)

Meal 1: Soy milk (yay, good)

Meal 2: Museli (what are we missing? Milk!), Coffee

Meal 3(lunch time): Packaged 3 Bean Salad (good)

Meal 4: Blueberry Yogurt (YUM)

Meal 5: Kraft Singles Cheddar Cheese

Meal 6: Whole Wheat Pasta+ veggies

Well, i missed a meal due to my timings as you can see. And I should have added in Milk with my museli. Missing the meal was due to me waking up a bit later than usual yesterday and I decided not to do the peanuts 15 min before lunch and just had lunch right away. Well, lesson learned! This is why logging is good. You can learn what you need to work on!

So, we don’t have an exercise plan to start until Monday. That doesn’t mean I won’t exercise. It just means I don’t have anything regimented until Monday. For me, because my schedule, I like to take my travel days off, if I can. So today is a travel day, I gave my self a rest. yesterday, i did my 90 min. class.  Tomorrow, I am sure my mom will drag me to the gym and I will do some cardio…or take a walk in my neighborhood for an hour. Simple things. So get out (or if you are in the “Heat Dome” area, get inside) and do something fun! Go for a walk, do a fitness video, dance around the house, do something to get yourself warmed up. Look at it like this–doing 15-20 min is better than nothing. So, just get yourself in the habit until Monday, take Sunday off and let’s start some butt kicking workouts next week!

Today is a travel day for me and so I just had lunch…an interesting bean salad option for those of you who like Mexican. I went to Chipotle and got a veggie burrito bol with: Black Beans, Fajita Veggies, Hot Salsa, Corn, lettuce and tomatoes. Boy was it YUM and worth it. And guilt free! Since my flight is around dinner time, I am doing Veggies+slice of bread option. Whats the best veggies to eat in the boiling summer heat? You got it! Salad! So I will pack a veggie filled salad and a slice of bread for the flight and crunch and munch at 35,000 feet:)

Guys, one more tip–if you are going for salads, cut back on the dressings. I know no dressing salad is boring, so use something like a teaspoon or tablespoon of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.  I also like using hot sauce, but I am a freak when it comes to hot sauce. I should carry it in my purse as I put it on EVERYTHING.

If you find you are having a late night and are hungry after dinner (this may be my case today as it will be after midnight when i get home), have a glass of milk to curb the hunger.

Stay cool and drinks lots of water before you get thirsty! If you wait until you are thirsty, its too late, you body is already dehydrated. Ooops–time for my blueberry yogurt!

The First Step…..Eating!!

So I feel like before I start, I need to put a disclaimer in here–I am not a professional nutritionist or trainer so everything in here is just purely based off my experiences and knowledge.

Now I said in my intro post that I like starting fresh weeks on Mondays. I thought about this and I realized, why double shock my body? I workout now, I will probably up the cardio in my workouts next week, but let me change one thing at a time. I mean a shock to the body is sometimes what you need to battle those stubborn fat cells (like the pitter patter of your heart beat when you fall in love). But a heart attack is never good! So, change one thing at a time. I decided to start with getting myself on the right nutrient track first from Wednesday-Monday. We continue on that and add in religious workouts starting Monday.

Now anyone who has worked with a nutritionist knows the first thing they will ask is: can you please write down what you eat and give me a recall. Then they take what you eat, your likes/dislikes and put together a suitable plan. Based on how your body responds, they tweak the diets along the way.  Now I love pasta, I love fruits and my family has a history of low B12. I also travel a lot so I am prone to airline germs and hotel bacteria. Vitamin C!

When I first started with Rujuta, she gave me just a few “rules”:

1. Eat within the first 10 min of rising

2. Coffee should be after Meal 1 and limit two cups a day (same with tea)

3. Eat every 2-3 hours religiously

4. Try to have the last meal 2 hours before going to bed

5. Eat mind fully and slowly. Eat until you are 80% full, not 50%, not 100%. You get more to eat in 2 hours so you don’t need to stuff yourself.

6. Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate! 3-5L of water daily

7. Avoid fried food and desserts

She also emailed me and made me read an article  before I started:

 showing me that it was not necessary to pack loads of home cooked food with me. If I am at home, yes! eat home cooked food. But if I am on the road, take my vitamins, my diet chart and eat locally and fresh! And so here I go, sharing the plan I have picked from my library of diets to be MY first diet. Remember, you can follow along with me, but what works for me, may NOT work for you. You may need some tweaks. I work out a lot, I retain water easily, and it is HOT HOT HOT where I am right now, so this carb-rich diet should help me with all that. 

The goal is:

Meal 1 (on rising 7:45am): Protein Shake or soy milk

Meal 2 (830-9am): Museli+Milk (Multi Vitamin+ B12)

Meal 3 (11am) Handful of unsalted Peanuts

Meal 4 (1:30pm): Sprouts or Beans Salad (Flaxseed)

Meal 5 (3.30pm): Bowl of Plain or Fruit Yogurt

Meal 6 (530pm): Slice of Cheese

Meal 7 (730-8pm): Veggies+Slice of Whole wheat toast (3 times a week) OR Small portion of whole wheat pasta +
veggies (4 times a week) (Vit C)

Beadtime: Calcium Citrate (Courtesy Rujuta Diwekar for Reshma Radia 01/09)

Now maybe we think, how can I DO this???  OR are you kidding, are you really eating this much?? Yep!! I love food and I am not going to starve myself which is why this works for me!

 The good news is, you can and SHOULD have a “cheat meal” once a week. I like to do it on Saturdays or Sundays. This can be yummy things like Pizza, Cake, Doughnuts, Bagels, French Fries, Samosas, etc .

I am personally a vegetarian. But if you want to eat non veg, go ahead. Substitute grilled chicken in for Veggies for dinner.

But log what you eat somewhere and don’t worry the day you slip up! Just get right back on that saddle and keep on going!

Last thought: Our favorite…alchohol. Well, bad news? Ideally you cut that out completely. Good news? You don’t HAVE to. Try to cut it down to once or twice a week. Stick to drinks that are not too heavy and try not to binge drink.

Let’s see the results!

Rambling the First time

Its been years since I became a health fanatic. I can’t say its been consistent but the desire to be fit and fabulous has been there. At the end of the day, don’t we all want to look our wow-wow best? Don;t we all want to feel fabulous? Through the years and many fitness experts later, it all clicked in my head. It IS about how you look, but what’s more important is how we feel. Deep inside. Today, I can say some of my newly found habits have created an inner sense of calm. For people who know me, there have been days I could flip out on the fact it was raining outside. Today, i can walk down the street and appreciate a small flower growing, or the breeze in the air.

So whats the secret? Fitness and a wholesome healthy diet. Now these two things will not be identical for me and you. Both aspects are individualized based on things like metabolism, interests, schedule, body type, stress level, etc. But this is my journey and I am sure there are concepts important in this that would be beneficial to all.

So let’s start with Nutrition. This is the building block of inner health and peace. You are what you eat. I never believed in this concept until 2008. I had hit a rough patch personally, working out and eating healthy was the least of my problems. Insomnia was my enemy. Workouts? Blah, who wants to get out of bed?? I was traveling for work in Amsterdam, and being a vegetarian, french fries were my friend. I didn’t really gain too much weight but my pants became tight on me and I started worrying as any normal woman does.  So, there I start my search for some expert tips and I stumbled on an Indian nutritionist, whose methods and concepts were tried and tested for everyone to see with AMAZING results. Would it work for me? I decided to find out. So I contacted the lady herself, the size zero guru: Rujuta Diwaker. With her, the concept of wholesome mini meals that should have nothing to do with how many calories you eat but how many nutrients go into your body was learned by me. To my surprise, no one had to go on an all liquid diet to get the much envied bikini body by Hollywood and Bollywood personalities. Vegetarian diet plans customized for my body’s needs and the location I was at were given to me every 15 days.  I started losing weight but more importantly?  I surprised myself just one week after I started under her care of jogging 35 minutes outside! I had NEVER done this before. For me, running was something “I can’t do more than 5 min”. My energy levels, my skin and hair and attitude changed! Forget the weight loss, it was a new me!  I continued her care for another 1.5 year and moved onto train under Rashi Chowdhary who had worked with Rujuta and myself but had started her own program. The concept was the same, the diets, just a little different due to my location change and schedule. So, more on this in a while.

Fitness. So many different methods. I don;t want to go through everything I have tried, but in my journey, I will probably refer to the many fitness magazines and articles I read, some actually that have been used by me to get a different workout schedule. At the end, I realized, the best fitness routine is a mix of cardio, ab work and total body training. The way MY body works is: I don’t respond that great to too much pure protein, I bulk up. Weights? I bulk up. What I have found is plyometrics, body weight exercises, running, elliptical and my current FAVORITE Bikram Yoga and Bharat Thakur’s Artistic Yoga are all the best form of exercise for me. Everyone has a different reaction so always try different things out until you find out what works best for YOU.

So, having said all this, blah blah stuff, I decided how could I could combine my need for a small motivator (I work best on deadlines) and wanting to share my knowledge with the world? A fitness challenge to look fit and fabulous (read:bikini ready). Now this is not going to be an overnight change. But something that will give results over time. My first check point will be end of August. In this challenge, I want  tone up and brush up on my nutrition using the techniques I learned from my 2 favorite fitness experts (from above).  I have a lot of diet charts that I will use and change-up every 10-15 days. and my workout routine? Self designed for my goals, energy level, work travel schedule and the activities i LOVE the most. 

So, here I go! Come follow me through this journey! Ideally, I like starting my week on Mondays, but Wednesdays are ok too! Never put off what you can do today till tomorrow.  Coming up, the first of many diet plan #1 for myself. Let me go dig up some old emails!