A Take On Beauty..

10 03 2008

This post is dedicated to Anita Roddick for she led my personal favorite campaign on Self Esteem called ‘The Ruby Campaign’. Ruby was a realistically and generously proportioned doll that tried to mock the all so perfect Barbie which hammered the young girl generation in to getting into that perfect shape at any cost and there by falling prey to eating disorders, bulimia etc. Being a part of the very cosmetics industry, Anita champions an ethical revolution by quoting, “It makes me angry, not only because it is a male-dominated industry built on creating needs that don’t exist, but because it seems to have decided that it needs to make women unhappy about their appearances. It plays on self-doubt and insecurity about image and ageing by projecting impossible ideals of youth and beauty.” Though am a self confessed prude, I cant resist posting the Ruby posters over here for the benefit of folks who are discovering Ruby right now.

Some facts that the Ruby Campaign highlights is

“# There are 3 billion women who don’t look like super models and only eight who do.
# Marilyn Monroe wore a size 14.
# If Barbie was a real woman, she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.
# The average woman weighs 144 lbs and wears between a 12-14.
# Scaled to life size, a Barbie doll would be 7’2″. She would have a 40″ bust, a 22″ waist and 36″ hips.
# One out of every four college-aged women has an eating disorder.
# A psychological study in 1995 found that three minutes spent looking at a fashion magazine caused 70 percent of women to feel depressed, guilty, and shameful.”

Ruby kind of explores in a deep way the notions of beauty, desirability and the society induced guilt which propagate unwholesome psychological needs of beauty. And now men are not left either in that pursuit of unreasonable Adonis. With all media going gaga about the chiseled muscle men, many of the guys are pumping their Testosterone in those high intensity workouts for that perfect V shape. Yesterday, in one of those engaging discussions with my pal, I had my first brush with this guilt in a guy. Though it gives a grim satisfaction if I consider those issues of equality in dark humor, I couldn’t digest my friends going through this phenomenon without an awareness of the baggage that they carry. If we are chiseling ourselves for being good enough and attractive to that illusionary partners, we are piling our subconscious under a mountain of guilt and inferiority complex. And tell me this. How can I expect to be loved for what I can be, if I don’t love myself for what I am? For love with oneself is expressed in the way we relate to humanity. Unless I am comfortable with myself and accept myself for what I am, I can never accept the other person for what he or she is. I would burden him or her with unreasonable expectations and may build pressure on them to live up to my love, almost expecting them to pay a price for a chance at a relationship with me.

Guess, I need to clarify here, as I have indeed suggested diet plans for a couple of my friends while advising them to keep their weight in check. I did so, as I experimented with myself with various diets and I indeed believe that holistic life includes being right sized for flexibility, health and activity. I do believe that a well balanced holistic lifestyle attuned to nature wouldn’t store excess fat or flab on body. Yet, we are the way we are based on the trade offs and the choices we made. I am comfortable with what I am and I won’t let some external entity alter my views on beauty, femininity or the acceptability or desirability of myself. To put it simply, I use or try things based on my interest or curiosity and not because ‘I am worth it’.

If I look at the entire process and concept of beautification, I feel that its an attempt by all of us to be loved and accepted a little more. Isn’t it? Yet, my appeal for all is to do it for oneself and internalize that idea of beauty that you have after keen reflection. I hate to see anyone being plagued by a concept called alienation: of being a part of the world you don’t want to be in and working for a goal that you can’t own in heart for societal or for ‘the significant other’s’ sake. We all try to change for those we love, yet do keep this in mind. Those who reciprocate wouldn’t care whether we are good enough and those who don’t doesn’t matter. Falling in love with oneself, and wearing that narcissistic hat once in a while is a great way to catch that conceptual perfect unicorn for yourself. Cherish all that is you, coz you are unique in our own special way just like everyone else is and noone can take that from you.

Here’s my favorite Darren Hayes’s “Good Enough” song for you all. I loved this song both for its lyrics and the music. 🙂

“If I woke up late
Couldn’t get out of bed
If I bought you a cafe latte instead
If I lied when I said
32 inches was the size of my waist
And can I admit
Every once in a while
Even though I dig alternative style
I can be caught dancin’ to Brittany
And can I confess
That art house doesn’t turn me on
But I like every single thing that Speilberg’s done

Could I be good enough
Could I be good enough
If the going got worse
And the worse got rough
The days became endless
And harder than tough
I’d be good enough
Better than best
Would be simply to be good enough
If everything I give
Doesn’t seem like a lot
If it’s all that I got
Baby tell that could be good enough “

My Observations with Dieting

23 02 2008

I have had my share of experimentation with all sorts of diets. Going through this GM Diet made me shed some years and revive some memories..


Guess my first brush with dieting came some ten years back, even before entering my Engineering College. I tried out the SSY programme in Rajamundry, as my mama was a fanatic that time and I had little choice. That’s a 14 day programme clubbing yoga, pranayama, meditation, raw vegetarian food, and community prayer which is followed by a 3 day external outing where you eat almost nothing, sleep not more than a couple of hours, take a mud bath, dance and play most of the time. Yet, that was a great experience at that time. I ate only raw vegetarian food, flavored with lemon, nuts and some masala for the whole of 14 days and guess it worked because of it being a community experience. I never knew that will power, and quality of life can draw strength from such little sustenence and yet leave you so energerised.

Yes, weight loss was noticeable, but then, it was not the goal of the programme. I became more peaceful, and could control short temper that was so typical of an adolescent kid.

What I liked about SSY

1) The Carefree atmostphere of the group, and the candid discussions
2) Interesting raw recipes which were easily edible. (Thats the first time in my life when I had raw greens)
3) I felt lighter and happier and I had my first lesson on restraint and patience.
4) My first and the only real meditation experience for an hour of their ‘So Ham’ meditation technique

What I hated about it

1) After 20 days of such diet, I couldn’t digest any cooked food at all. Even a little bit of it could fill my stomach. It took me 3 months to even taste or touch non vegetarian food as it used to feel so heavy!

Probably that was the reason why I left that lifestyle, as I forged my bond with Osmania University hostel for four years during which I had exposure to some real atrocious and lethal stuff cooked out of our mess. Yes, Hostel food really prepares you for the world!

Gymming and Exercise

This is a consistently inconsistent part of my life. Either I get my long walk of around 40 minutes on a daily basis or I head to the Gym for some chat, and exercise. But I can never combine gymming with dieting as that can lead to a fainting spell on a treadmill. (Speaking from experience). So far, I never had a noticeable change in weight due to exercise, gym or walk. They help me maintain my weight and make me feel fit. And yes. All those endorphines that spring to action due to physical activity make me happy.

Crash Dieting

I had to do it for one simple reason. Weight Loss. I became rotund and inactive and that did little to my ravenous appetite. Finally I ventured to discipline, when the things were getting out of hand, and my sedentary lifestyle did little to help it.

I started with an objective: To loose 8 kilos in the fastest way possible. One goal every day- to limit my daily calorie intake to 600 cal. One simple arithmetic. I pretty much counted everything I ate, did a lot of exercise and survived on lemon tea, water, curd and idly. And that helped big time. I lost around 7 kilos in a month and never regained them.

What I liked about it.

1) As it was self imposed, It was quite flexible. I could try a lot of variety of foods, like fruits, nuts, bread, tiffins etc. Since it was self designed, I allowed occasional binges, like a treat on weekend or a Chinese meal for dinner.
2) It had to do with a lot of mental training and will. Call it stubbornness or resolve, I felt no hunger pangs.
3) There was an instant gratification angle to it too. You can see a noticeable weight loss resulting in you due to the manipulations you do. Thats what I called experimenting with myself in true sense.

GM Diet

I tried it just for the sake of it. Mere curiosity. And probably the guilt of emotional eating and all that binging that I did during the past two months helped me hold on I guess.

What I liked about the GM Diet

1) I have become conscious of the water that I take, so much to the fact that I have started counting the no of glasses I drink.
2) Surprisingly there is no craving for sweets, namkeens or junk.
3) I feel lighter and smarter (*wink*)
4) I really learnt restraint. Resisting the temptation during the starting days was quite tough. 🙂

What I hated the most about it

1) The signs of weakness that I experienced during the process (Headache on Day One, Nerves Pain on Day 3 and 4.)
2) No Inclusion of Yogurt or Nuts at all in the diet.

Bottom line of GM Diet is that it works. Its a quick and dirty way of loosing a couple of kilos in a week. And guess its easy to follow as the plan is already laid out.

Living Through The GM Diet..

22 02 2008


It all started with a seemingly innocuous lunch conversation yesterday. A lot of guys expounded on the benefits of dieting, GM Diet, cleaning system, and what not. I sat there listening to all arguments and thought of having a first hand knowledge. So here I am, going through an unlikely experiment of GM Diet. Its kind of a tough resolution for an emotional eater like me, let me see how it goes. 🙂

Day ONE: (Only Fruits Except for Banana)

Had a couple of Strawberries in the morning and a fruit chat at 4 PM. My head is throbbing like hell in an hour and I resisted the temptation of the Cappuccino lingering around in the meeting. Had a china pear for dinner and that numbed my head ache. Like a true Andhrite, I promised myself a grand Hyderabadi Biryani, if I survived through this diet. See my gluttonous wishes haven’t changed much since college days. 😉

So far, it feels easy. My tough challenge would be wading through the weekend.

Day TWO: (Only Vegetable with a cooked potato for breakfast)

So today is a vegetables day with a potato for breakfast. I hunted the kitchen to discover a tiny potato and steamed it to heart’s content. Probably it must be the first time in my life when I relished a cooked potato sans seasonings. Indeed a lifetime experience. Then tried to play the rabbit by munching on to the carrots and peas. 🙂 I felt that headache returning to me by evening. Had a lemon soda and saw that ebbing away. Silently I added Chinese Hakka Noodles to the self promises, I I stick around this diet till Day Seven.

I checked my weight today – 58.7 Kg

Day THREE: Fruits and Vegetables (No Potato and No Banana)

I woke up at 7:00 AM as hunger pangs hit my stomach. Man, what a self imposed misery it was! Thankfully I found grapes in the kitchen and almost finished half a kilo of them in the early morning for breakfast. Who called this diet, anyways? 🙂 Steamed Ridge Gourd, Tomatos and Garlic together with some spices and had it for brunch. Sipped lemon juice (no sugar) while watching Jodhaa Akbar and ate amla and fruit salad for dinner.

I checked my weight today – 58.4 Kg – – No major change from yesterday

Day FOUR: Bananas and Milk

I can claim myself a milk allergic. 😦 So That leaves me with bananas. Am actually considering substituting Yogurt for milk. Lets see How it goes. Yesterday I shopped for the largest bananas ever found in the market and bought three of them. Had a nice cold badam flavored milk for dinner. I had a tough timing sleeping today, as I felt a tinge of nerve weakness. My entire lower body ached in minute ways and most of the sleep time went in discovering new postures for comfort. No Jokes, I hated this sign of weakness.

I checked my weight today – 57.1 Kg – Voila A Whopping change!

Day FIVE: Beef and Tomatoes.

I woke up early morning, with a gnawing hunger and looked at Tomatoes with revenge. Steamed five of them along with pepper and salt and had some real trouble eating them. Now that was a real proof for my culinary abilities. 🙂 I still haven’t figured out what can I substitute for Beef. I had around 50g of steamed chicken for lunch and by evening, my knees started aching. So I didn’t stick to rule book today. Had a couple of pieces of Guava fruit, one lemon soda, along with one phulka and 100 g of dal instead of the lean meat that was advised.

For those who are looking for vegetarian option, don’t plainly substitute rice for beef. Instead, to replace a 3 oz (85.05 g) serving of meat, use:

* 1 cup (236.59 mL) cooked dry beans, peas, or lentils.
* 3 oz (85.05 g) tofu (soybean paneer).
* 4 Tbsp (59.15 mL) peanut butter.

I checked my weight today – 56.9 Kg – No major change from yesterday

Day SIX: Beef and Vegetables

I experienced a fleeting sensation of fainting problem. Since Beef was out of question, I had a single phulka with steamed carrot in the morning. This time I am not going to miss my lunch at all. Had 10 oz. fried chicken for lunch. And I took a bowl of steamed and spiced carrots and peas for dinner. No Signs of weakness at all. I guess the worst is over by Day 5.

Day SEVEN: Brown rice, fruit juices and vegetables

Finally the last day and the easiest one too! 🙂 Had a bowl of vegetable rice cooked with Potato, Onion, Cauliflower for breakfast and lunch. Dinner saw me gulping two glasses of watermelon juice.

Finally I lived through the GM Diet schedule. Yes, there are slips in certain days, I do acknowledge humbly. But those slips did indeed make a positive difference. I lost around 5.5 pounds, but thats not all. My observations and cribs would call for another post as I don’t want to spoil the joy of this experience with analysis. 🙂

Update: Looking at the tremendous amount of attention this post has received from people scouting for information on GM Diet, I couldn’t help but recommend these posts here. Worth taking a look.

My Experimentation With Different Types of Dieting

Some Food For Thought here for those who are forced to do this.

Health And Fitness..

24 09 2007

I was comfortably numb in Chennai, having become a little cozy with the desk bound role and hectic weekend partying. I stopped the regular dose of exercise, went on a binge, loaded myself with Chinese, Moghalai and Punjabi fare, and became a mobile restaurant guide for friends. I bought myself a backache by the slouching couch potato posture in office. That phase lasted for over three months till an Aha moment nailed me in my head that I have become horizontally endowed. There started my bulge battle and I dieted perilously to loose almost eight kilos.

Since dieting worked for me, let me give you some insight into it. I tried gym for about three months to shed those additional pounds, but mostly I did weight training. So I managed my weight around 65, which is rather on the higher side. After hearing my mom complaining, I did my research and went on extreme dieting. I counted everything I ate, drove myself to the verge of starvation by surviving through out the day with lemon tea and a fruit, mentally trained myself to ignore hunger pangs and lost eight kilos over 40 days to reach my current weight of 58. But what I consciously sacrificed through that is stamina and that’s a big thing for me as I never planned to be a delicate swooning swan.

After coming to Bangalore, I have discovered to my delight that there is a Gym in the office campus. So the regular slapstick excuses like playing the busy woman didn’t work, as I can always find an hour with in 8 to 8 regime. I literally drove myself to gym as I could realize that my stamina has come down in a hard way with the careless experimentation that I did with myself. In spite of my prejudice towards treadmill, I started loving the regular routine of good exercise pepped up with groovy music and after a month, I can comfortably claim that I had reinstalled fitness regime as a regular habit. The first benefit of regular exercise is happy state of mind. It makes me feel active, fresh, energetic and alive. Thanks to endorphins, they leave me in a heady and happy state. And that adds a holistic purpose to life too. I feel and look fit and this post is for that little pat on my back and to confess all that mess up I did after I set it right!.:-)

Munching On..

12 07 2007

Yesterday, I was going out with a friend of mine.. She is a great chocofreak and chipmuncher.. As usual I am pretending to be my prudent self, trying my best to ignore the Lays temptation and was taken to a preaching mode..

Me: “Archu, What yaar.. Daily Potato Chips? Its an unhealthy diet..”
Archu: ” Yaar.. Tell me why do we work toiling hours and earn tons of money if not to eat what we please?”
Me: ” They say, eat to live not live to eat..”
Archu: ” Accha, Do Din Bina Khaye Rehke Dikhana..”

All I could give is a wicked giggle! By that time, I realized (rather lately) that I contributed more than my fair share in completing that Lays pack in record time! 🙂

Calorific Values of Indian Food Items

17 11 2006

Even the title brought a smile to my face! Am no confessed fitness freak and added to that my big fault is that am an emotional eater. Yet, I wanted to two pence on diet choices. Especially in the IT field, it’s a big temptation at least for me to pull the rug over face and miss the beautiful sunrise as I came back home a little late in the night. It’s even easier to forget everything and grab a pack of lays or samosa at tea time. What starts off as a little laziness goes a long way in taking me through the chores of the day in little sluggish manner! Exercise sure gives a good high, and brings freshness of mind and thought. I realized the importance of fitness during the Camp Corbett trip and I don’t want to be ill prepared for my favorite trekking activities.

For all those who think they can diet, or who are forced to diet, or who diet for the favor of their parents.. Guess this will be useful. I have hunted long to know what I eat or rather how much I eat. Not that I can follow a strict diet regime, but knowing it always helps! 🙂 Found this table from TataWorld.com. Now don’t say I didn’t tell u before u munch on your favorite samosa!

Details Food Item Quantity Weight Calories
BEVERAGES & RELATED ITEMS Sugar One Tea Spoon   20
Tea One cup   52
Tea without Sugar One cup   20
Coffee One cup   90
milk (cow) One cup   67
milk (buffalo) One cup   117
Cold Drink 200 ml   92
Bread One slice 16 gms 39
Biscuits (Glucose) One 7 gms 25
Egg One 45 gms 85
Omelet One 55 gms 145
Potato wada One 41 gms 100
Medu wada One 30 gms 100
Shev 1 plate 50 gms 130
Samosa one 65 gms 207
Upma 1-1/4 bowl 160 gms 260
Shira/Halwa 3/4 bowl 100 gms 322
Idli Two 100 gms 130
Sambar 1 bowl 160 gms 81
Khichadi 1 plate 50 gms 182
Masala Dosa One 100 gms 192
Paratha Two 100 gms 297
Phulka (Roti without oil) One 35 gms 85
Puri 3 75 gms 240
Rice 1 bowl 100 gms 111
Dal 1 bowl   100
Red Bengal Gram 1 bowl 135 gms 109
Potato Curry 3/4 bowl 110 gms 131
Brinjal Potato 1 bowl 130 gms 134
Ladies finger 1-1/2 bowl 140 gms 226
Cabbage 1 bowl 100 gms 131
Papad One   28
Curd 1 bowl   70
Beet   100 gms 43
Carrot   100 gms 48
Cucumber   100 gms 13
Raddish   100 gms 17
Tomato   100 gms 23
Pav Bhaji One plate   775
Pizza One   225
Cheese   100 gms 348
Almond   100 gms 655
Cashewnut   100 gms 596
Ground nut   100 gms 567
Dates dried   100 gms 317
Banana One 100 gms 116
Mango One 200 gms 160
Water Melon   100 gms 17
Chikoo One 50 gms 25
Grapes   100 gms 71
Pomegranate One 100 gms 65
Apple   100 gms 59
Guava   100 gms 51
Papaya   100 gms 32
Orange One 100 gms 48
Sweet lime One 100 gms 43
Chicken   100 gms 109
Meat   100 gms 194
Fish (fried) One piece 42 gms 109

Being Health Conscious..

5 12 2004

I believe that a person’s health depends on the environment, what he eats and how he lives. I have seen practically how the kind of food I take alters my behavior. During my intermediate days, I was on a raw food diet for two months, and it really made me much peaceful and energetic. It was an another issue that I had difficulty digesting cooked food later on. I stopped the diet as its simply unmanageable for a person in Osmania Hostel. Even the difference food makes can be felt when I consume non vegetarian diet. I feel heavy and tired to work which is not the case with light food. What I have to say is that one has to keep a watch on the kind of food which enters one’s system, to check if it’s going to make any positive difference or you are just tempted because of taste. This kind of check helped me in self-control. I hope it will make a difference to you too.