21 June 2016

Self acceptance

Self acceptance - heavy words. You go to Emma Watson's Facebook page and look at all the compliments she gets. She is described as a triple threat - someone with intellect, compassion and physical beauty. Not to miss, successful. Not one person has to say a bad thing about her. It is quite amazing that men and women of almost every age adore her. She is compared to the Kardashians and how if every girl were to inculcate the values Watson has and advocates for, the world would truly be a better place. How must it feel to receive unbound appreciation and admiration? Then I think about myself. I just had a spat with a room mate because I think she is annoying and she thinks I'm anal, which I am. I hate where I live, go to grad school and badly need a job. Enough said. So not the best combination of things. Pretty much everything as far as I can see is not going my way and I know I'm not a pessimist. I'm not a complete optimist either. May be a realist? I try to think of all the things that could go wrong and mentally prepare for them, but don't let them dominate my thoughts. So coming back to the point about self acceptance. I know not everyone likes me and I'm sitting here thinking how must Emma Watson feel with such a loyal following. Does it make her strive to be an even better person every day? Does she feel insecure about all the appreciation and how suddenly one day it may all vanish? Does it make her question the validity of the positive feelings people have for her? Does it make her vain and arrogant in a secretive way that we wouldn't find out? Does it overwhelm her? Because that is what love, appreciation, kindness, care, affection and friendships do to you. They confuse you. The so called warmth that you feel when a friend hugs you is momentary. Lasts a day, a week perhaps. Then you're back to questioning if she really cares about you because she didn't wish you good luck for a job interview that you were so excited about. You question the genuineness of the people you work with because they seem to remember you only when they need your help. But you have had fun times with them. Then you can't help but think of all the people you prayed for including your best friend and family. And how almost none of them would have the time to say hello or even think about you. Now this is something I never understood. People being so busy that they never have time for anything. Well. Again, back to listing the ever changing feelings. I didn't want to sound bitter; I probably did. And I'm not advising against relationships. I'm just saying this is what life is made of mostly, if you observe closely. Ironies, dichotomies, polarities, confusions and uncertainties. It sucks. Mark my words. I hate that life is like this or rather my mind works this way. I hate that I feel like I don't know anything about anything. I hate that its all grey, not black and white. I don't have that one person/soul mate/BFF to go confide all intimate details in. Some people come close. But no one knows everything that's going on in my mind. Call it protection from vulnerability or self preservation or lack of effort or even laziness. But what I realize is that we need to be badass at self acceptance despite all this. What else would you or could you do? It may or may not be some golden rule for achieving true happiness or whatever, but the only way to inner peace. Any day, I'd choose inner peace.

15 May 2016

Searching, waiting, longing

It is quite possible that binge watching Sex and the City clips on YouTube made me do this - write a post after 3 long years. But I have been thinking about writing for some time now.

So here I am. Single, alone and anxious. Sitting at my desk in a mediocre one bedroom apartment, not actually having a productive Sunday. Thinking if I have bipolar disorder. Wondering why I can never seem to wake up early and go for a run or how I'm going to finish all the things I have to do to complete my thesis, whether I actually like it or am I just fooling myself that I can research, dreading the hour long wait at the laundry to wash my clothes because I ran out of clothes to wear, checking my email and Facebook far too often, thinking about the recent conversations I have been having with old and new friends, questioning the small and big decisions I made so far. Is this what I signed up for? I honestly did think it was going to be better than this waiting and longing. Waiting for week to start and throw all its unpleasantness and bad surprises at us so that we feel like warriors on a Friday evening, waiting for the weekend to start so that we can drink and sulk about the week that's literally an impending doom, waiting for that email from the company you interviewed at, waiting for a text, email or a phone call from that one person when the phone would go 'cling!', waiting for it to get very late in the afternoon so that it can actually motivate you to make lunch, the list just goes on.

How do some people actually live in the moment and truly enjoy the present? Is it even possible or are they in denial? Can we really change the way we look at things and process them after a certain age? If you're a realist, pragmatist or even a defeatist, can you even console a friend in pain that there is hope and everything is going to be ok? It is so strange that despite knowing that far too many things are out of our control, we still try to take control of things. Our work, health, relationships, money. I guess its the only way to move forward with 'forward' being a mere direction with respect to time and not quality of life. Self discovery is the ultimate work in progress.

01 September 2013

Gluten free and all...

Wow! I have signed into my blog after years. Feels great to be back. I don't know why but I decided to blog about the Gluten free stint we did last week, when there are so many other things I want to write about. 

Ok. So was the gluten free whatever successful? Yes & No. But wait, what is Gluten and why is gluten free a big deal? Gluten is a protein found in foods like wheat, barley, rye & semolina. When you ingest gluten, your blood sugar level increases rapidly. Unless you plan to expend this sugar derived energy quickly, your body will think of a way to remove this glucose from the bloodstream because it is corrosive to tissues. Enter Insulin. Insulin does what we actually don't like. It triggers the conversion of excess glucose to visceral fat which we fondly refer to as love handles and paunch. So moral of the story - gluten is not a good guy :-)

My Tennis adoring husband who I doubt has read almost all books written about/by Tennis players purchased Djokovic's Serve to Win: The 14-Day Gluten-Free Plan. We decided to try it for a week. Let me explain why I think for me, the diet worked and why it did not.

What didn't work:

1. Craving for Chai - There is no room for caffeine or dairy in this diet. Djokovic recommends tea, but if you are not from India, then you don't know what the hell you are talking about! Sorry herbal & green tea lovers. Tea with sugar and milk and ginger/masala - that's the only tea I care about.
I am not really a coffee person and after hearing all that crap about Starbucks (they used toilet water to make coffee somewhere in China and that their food is rife with chemicals), I can safely say I wont be going back. (touchwood!). Degree kaapi is delicious but making it everyday is a pain only. I sorely missed my tea. So much that on Day 4, I went ahead and had a cup.

2. Craving for spice - Now if you happen to grab a copy of the book, you'd be in tears by the time you finish it. The Spicy Soba noodles (a picture of which I posted on FB) may be the spiciest recipe in the book. And that 'spicy' is like when Mexican restaurants call their enchiladas spicy. By Day 2, I was craving for Melagu Rasam and Porial.

3. General sluggishness - I felt sluggish throughout the week. Not weak, only sluggish. It's true - when you focus your will power in one area, regression is most likely to occur in other areas. Since my diet was healthy, I felt it was alright to sleep after lunch and skip my evening runs. We did however go for long walks. 
Djokovic says his gluten free habits have increased his stamina and made him more flexible. I can't say if I had the same experience because I never put my running shoes on.

4. Disturbed fruit intake - This is kind of weird because the fruit basket was empty by Friday. LOL. Normally with my breakfast egg sandwich, I take an apple and a pear or munch on berries. I couldn't do that with this diet. The breakfast Power Muesli and the cooked Gluten free Oats are amazing and super filling. I was not able to accommodate fruits later on during the day. Same with water- I felt I could not keep an eye on how many glasses I was drinking. But I guess my sluggishness is to be blamed for this.

5. Hole in the pocket!!! - This diet, at least in the beginning is not pocket friendly at all. Everything is organic, no dairy, gluten free, low sodium - basically Go Nuts. But it does leave you satisfied that you did your best when it came to fundamental ingredients. The gluten free condiments that you buy will last for weeks, so you can subtract that cost the next time you shop.

6. What to do with the already purchased regular food? Tough call. The fate of these foods will depend on the outcome of your diet.

What worked:

1. Gluten free is tasty - I will never buy regular pasta or bread ever again, mainly because in gluten free the taste/flavor isn't compromised. In fact, only after I ate a slice of gluten free bread, I realized I was enduring the taste of the regular whole wheat/grain breads. With a slice of cheese and an omelette in between, they are ok, but I don't think I'd like them plain. Gluten free pasta cooks faster than regular pasta and tastes better. But take caution in eating these. They may be gluten free but they are still sugars.

EDITED TO ADD: My weight from before breakfast had increased by 1.5 pounds or less on the days I had gluten free food (no dairy, no caffeine). On Day 5, when I had regular pasta for lunch , my weight increased by 2 pounds.

2. The yummy nut butters - This was a revelation! They come in varieties - almond, peanut, cashew, macadamia, hazelnut etc. They are amazing on a toast and you can add a spoonful to your oats bowl. If you are not a big cheese fan, you can kiss all those skim milk cheese slices goodbye and use these butters (sparingly of course) on your breads.

3. Almond milk (unsweetened), Avocado and Dark chocolate - Unsweetened almond milk is amazing. It has a mild creamy texture and it must definitely be great in smoothies because of the nutty flavor (I haven't tried yet). I tried the sweetened version and almost threw up. Avocado - what can I say? I'm happy when I see this fruit. Avocado - you are creamy, greeny and buttery and you are great with my lentil soups and you have a lot of good fats in you. Dark chocolate - no explanation needed. Ok.

4. The recipes in the book are easy to prepare - Djokovic probably has a team of personal chefs that cook for him. Yet, his recipes take not more than 30 mins to prepare and the final product is pretty tasty. 
The only thing is where can we find more recipes like these? Recipes that are not cumbersome.Recipes that use the already purchased (& expensive) gluten free items.

5. Mindful Eating - This may be the biggest takeaway for us and it has changed the way we eat forever. 

We were one of those couples that used the dining table only as a work station and never used it for eating. Gobbling up morsels of food while watching a movie or a TV show was second nature to us. Most of us want this pleasure of getting entertained while eating to linger on for a few more minutes, so we decide to go for another serving, not realizing that we were satiated long ago. We eat more than we require, more than our body is able to process at that time. That 'full' feeling when your stomach walls have to expand a bit more to reconcile with the amount of food you've eaten - it's not the world's best feeling.

It need not be gluten free or vegan or vegetarian. Try to eat at least one meal a day with your spouse/family at the dining table or wherever it is you like to eat sans any distraction from TV or other electronics (can't read either, no cheating!). Focus on your food and chew slowly. You'll be surprised by how quickly you feel satiated and how light you feel even after feeling satiated. You may even discover that your spouse actually eats like Cookie Monster. Nothing like that in our home. Just saying.

I had the nerve to come up with a diagram to explain the benefits of mindful eating. Please see below.

So there you go -  that was my gluten free experience. Hope the diagram didn't scare you to an extent that you are considering 'unfriending' me now. It's just that I believe that our eating choices & habits decide not only our health and future, but also the wellness of everyone around us. If in my 50s, I don't have half a dozen pills to swallow with every meal and doctors aren't sticking needles and tubes into me, I'll know I have succeeded.