Intermittent Fasting

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In the last 15 days everything I knew about nutrition and food went out of the window.

Things that I would try to follow diligently:

  • Heavy breakfast, normal lunch and light food (salad) for dinner
  • Avoid rice as much as possible
  • Healthy snacking every 2-3 hours
  • Banana before every run
  • Milk every morning

This is what I had been trying to follow for the last few years.

And this what am doing right now :

  • No breakfast, normal lunch and normal dinner
  • Running on empty stomach. Except for very long runs (21km)
  • Little or no snacking
  • No food for 16 hours (from 9 pm to 1 pm)
  • No milk
  • Rice on most days

This is called Intermittent fasting, where you don’t eat anything for 16 hours and take all your calories in 8 hours. An IG handle started following me recently and since his posts are on fitness, I followed back. This guy who lives in Gurgaon talks about IF on IG stories and it got me interested. I had read this  article on IF years back.

During the same time, Arun Chahal (TRX master trainer in India, owner of Chefingo and a fitness trainer) put up a post on facebook about his 4 weeks meal plan.

The last time I tried a “diet” from a nutritionist 2-3 years back at Fitness First, I swore at that lady and the gym and decided never to try such gimmicks again. Despite telling the nutritionist that I needed carbs in my diet since I run half marathons and don’t want to crash diet, she gave me a plan where I had to eat vegetables for breakfast. I tried it for 1 day, started to feel woozy and had a hearty, unhealthy breakfast. I ended up gaining weight during the period.

My expectations from Arun’s plan were low. But it wasn’t costing me too much money so I decided to try it. I gave my workout and training details and he suggested IF. I felt ready to try IF because skipping meals was something I do on many days when I eat a heavy meal. Example, lunch is heavy so skip dinner. Or if I don’t have time to cook breakfast (rare days), I may end up skipping it altogether. Working out in a fasted state is something I have been doing on and off. My short runs are on an empty stomach and so are the morning weight training sessions.

Despite a hectic week with long meetings in Gurgaon, I started the IF meal plan. I had decided to stop the plan if I felt any loss of energy or it affected my workout sessions.

This is what happened in the 10 days that I was on IF:

  • I had to cook 1 meal less everyday. And conveniently, Arun’s meal has same food for lunch and dinner. I am perfectly ok with eating the same food everyday so this was very convenient. I had to cook ONLY 1 meal everyday and I was sorted.
  • There was minimal snacking making it very convenient. Organizing meals everyday became easier.
  • The plan had rice (white or brown) and veg gravy/chicken. No gimmicks. Simple food that is easy to cook or order in.
  • Skipping 1 meal means 300-500 calories reduction everyday. I was struggling to eat within my calories and it was impossible most days if I was eating every 3 hours.
  • My 1st short run was difficult and I felt out of energy but few days later the 15 km run in a fasted state was normal. The trick was to eat some carbs the day before or the night before
  • I didn’t fast the day before my Sunday 21 km run. I had dinner at 9 pm and a banana at 6.30 am before the run.

I lost more than 1 kg of fat in less than 15 days which is excellent. I have been struggling to shed the fat and eat right. Of course, I was careful about sticking to the plan and avoided sugar, junk, desserts etc. And though I was supposed to consume same calories in 8 hours or 2-3 meals, I found it impossible. Earlier, I was eating 500 calories each in 3 meals and 200 calories total 3 snacks; now I was consuming 500 calories each in 2 meals and 100 calories in 1 snack. It was impossible for me to consume more than 500 calories in a meal. I had worry about not eating enough on somedays. Not because of the meal plan but because am not used to snacking after dinner. I still can’t do it.

I am not recommending IF. You have to change your workouts and food every few months to shake up your body and IF is doing that for me right now. But I have realized that we eat so much more than we need to. The less you eat, the lesser clutter in life. I don’t have to worry about food anymore. It’s one less thing to organize.

If you want to try IF, try it slowly. Can you workout in a fasted state? Skip breakfast on a day and see how it feels. Doesn’t feel good? Don’t do it.

In terms of science, IF works well because your body starts using fat reserves for energy after 12 hours of no food. That can’t happen if you eat every 3 hours. Ditto for workouts in fasted state.

I have 2 more weeks on Arun’s plan and I may or may not continue further but IF will stay for the next few months. Will update on social media in another 2 weeks.

If you have any questions, drop me a line on facebook/Twitter/Instagram or comment on this post.

Worst trip ever

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I had been looking forward to my trip to Mt Abu. This is where I spent 7 years of my crucial school life. I had the best memories and only good things were associated with it.

Yesterday was a wake up call. KC and I rented an Activa and drove to school. I wanted to show KC as much of the school as I could and decided to take permission from the nun in charge so I don’t break any rules. I waited outside the room while a lady in a ghoonghat and lehenga and a man spoke to the nun. Strangely the nun was seated behind a desk but there were no chairs for other people to sit on while they speak to her.

I introduced myself and told her I was an ex student and wanted to see the school. Her first statement “Don’t you think you should dress more appropriately?” I was so shocked I thought I had misheard and made her repeat herself. After that she got a piece of my mind. I told her she had no authority to impose a dress code on those who aren’t students in school and my dress is none of her business.

Her : Are these the values we taught you in school?

Me : If these are the values you are teaching students, the school has gone downhill since I was here

I asked her name but she refused to tell me because I mentioned that this incident would be all over social media.

I realised the school wasn’t a great place at all. The nuns don’t have educational qualifications. They aren’t trained professionally. They don’t step out of the school for 9 months in a year and they don’t even interact among each other. I have never seen a nun laugh. I am serious. They don’t even laugh.

Nuns are the saddest group of people I have ever come across. They were rude to our parents and our middle class parents took it because they were intimidated by the English speaking stern looking women. Kindness, compassion, humanity etc aren’t words I would associate with any of the nuns I have interacted with. They can make any rules in school and nobody can question them. They wouldn’t give us holidays on Diwali and we couldn’t go home but the annual vacations were conveniently in the winters so the nuns could leave the city for X’mas.

I didn’t bother trying to meet any teachers because I didn’t want to be further disillusioned.

The entire town is sad with bad crowd. It doesn’t even feel like a hill station. Has it changed or was it always like this? What do I have fond memories of?

The past wasn’t as good as we think it is and the future isn’t going to be as great as we hope it to be. That’s the sad reality.

Being on the other side of the table

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I spent the day at a campus for recruitment of summer interns and well, it was quite an experience. I was hoping it would get cancelled so I could get some real work done but that didn’t happen.

Summer projects are a big deal these days. Crazy amount of stipend is paid for mediocre work and the competition to get into a good company is mind blowing. We were on campus to pick 1 trainee instead of 3-4 due to budget cuts. Guess the number of CVs we received? 50% of the batch applied. The batch has 700 students. Why? Because good candidates get PPI (Pre placement interview) which leads to a PPO (Pre placement offer) and that’s the only way a B school fresher can get a job with the organization. Stakes are higher than ever during summer internships.

How do you shortlist out of 350 CVs? There are many ways and while I don’t agree with what was done, I don’t have a say in it. Basis academic records, 36 candidates were shortlisted. We had to give a Pre placement talk to these 36 candidates, conduct group discussions and then interview 6-8 candidates. I kept asking the HR person “What am I supposed to say? How will I select people in GD? What will I ask them?”. I was as nervous as any of the candidates.

The volunteers kept us fed and nourished throughout. They would have made all our wishes come true, food wise. All we had was upma, poha, tea/coffee (twice), watermelon juice (twice), sandwich, dosa and then we turned down the offer for lunch. Somebody escorted us wherever we went. I was sure the female would come to the loo with me but was disappointed when she took my refusal seriously.

2 students had to drop out due to illness so the HR quickly shortlisted 2 others basis their previous work experience and ignored their academics. The students were divided into 4 groups and we split into 2 panels. Both the case studies were very lame but ours was better compared to the other panel.

Highlights from the GD:

  • People who start the GD, summarise the GD and try to act as mediators are just buying time without adding any value. They are very, very irritating. We rejected a candidate who made good points because he spoke too much. He wasn’t listening to others and wouldn’t let others speak.
  • If a student spoke well during the GD but couldn’t summarise well at the end when he/she was given a 1 minute to speak, we didn’t select him/her.
  • The girls outshone the boys. They were far better communicators.
  • My expectation from a GD is that the group comes together and discusses the topic instead of turning it into a competition. The person with more relevant views gets selected.
  • We rejected candidates who used management jargons. Words like leadership theory, Malsow’s hierarchy of needs, positive reinforcement, group dynamic and more such terms were liberally thrown around, making our job easier.

The person who came through in the interview was someone with mediocre academics but previous work experience. He didn’t speak much during the GD but made relevant points and summarised well.

The interviews were quite casual. Our expectation from the students was nil. They had just joined the course and nothing of relevance would have been taught. What do we question them about? Some common traits among all of them were :

  • None of them knew the difference between sales and marketing. After the 2-3 students, we stopped asking this question because it was obvious they were clueless.
  • None of them liked being in AC and looked forward to the 40 degree weather during their summer stint. Strange, considering how much their faculty apologised that the AC was not working since the basement of the campus is still flooded with water from the rains.
  • All of them like travelling on the Mumbai local trains and that gives them the right skill sets to work in FMCG sales.
  • All of them hate an office job. Sitting on a chair is so boring.
  • They are all skilled singers or dancers or theatre people. I wanted to burst their bubble and tell them to bid goodbye to the Sa re ga ma little champs singing competition, theatre groups, bharatnatyam etc.

The competition, desperation and the cluelessness in the room was discomforting. This is still the easiest way to get a job and the stakes are the lowest. These students don’t know that. I hate to be the one to guide them into the disillusionment with the corporate world. Why are people still pursuing MBA? In times of start ups and people following their dreams, why are people still choosing to conform?