Jan 14, 2021

The role of perception

 When two people with contrasting perceptions are put under the same roof, there is bound to be disturbance and alterations in the vibrations. I have been feeling the same in the past month. I have started to believe that everything happens for a reason. I'm now questioning how I can prevent myself from getting triggered in such situations. Do I have to raise my tolerance and patience levels? Do I have to be indifferent and turn my back without sharing my thoughts? Do I need to accept the situation wholeheartedly without trying to change it?

As I pondered more on these questions, I started receiving this answer - "It's all about how we perceive".

My perception of health might be different from someone else's. My perception of cleanliness might be different from someone else's.

I might find someone's ideologies on food to be extreme. Someone else might find my ideologies on food to be on the extreme.

My understanding of taking care of my health - eating more vegetables, regular Yoga, good sleep, etc. Someone else's understanding of taking care of their health - eating medicines on time, going for frequent health checkups, being on top of the health parameters, etc.

Perception isn't just a binary variable - where a certain belief is true or not for an individual. There are various levels of perception from which we choose to pick the ones that appeal most to our reasoning. Once we choose a certain level and adopt it as our perceived truth, it is hard to change ourselves, unless we voluntarily seek new information to prove ourselves wrong.

Our perceptions get formed through various channels - 

  • Conscious information seeking
  • Subconscious programming done by media/news/books/videos
  • Our own logical, evidence-based reasoning
  • Learnings or observations from people whom we respect/admire and society at large
  • Influence of childhood, environment and of course our parents

Blind acceptance of the situation doesn't come to me easily. I realized that I need to question myself and understand the reasoning before I accept a given situation. Once the reason is clear to me, I find it much easier to adapt to the given situation. 

As I gathered this understanding of perception (through self-introspection, random events, and conversations), I'd say I'm much more at peace now. This process of questioning, exploration, connecting the dots, and stumbling upon random insights seem to be so energizing and eye-opening.

Jan 12, 2021

Intention Verb - Progress and Plan

 As you might know, my intention verb for 2020 was MINIMIZE.

Here's a quick summary of how I executed this verb in 2020.

Brought down the number of pressure cookers I have from 5 to 3 (this is a BIG deal, I love pressure cookers!)
Minimized the number of books I bought (Bought only 2 Kindle books and 1 physical book in 2020)
Deactivated FB and Twitter
Minimized my online content consumption intentionally
Minimized my time spent on OTT platforms 
Minimized my dependency on Yoga class and brought the discipline to practice on my own.
Minimized my FOMO. I have now strongly come to believe that the information that is required for me will come to me.
Minimized my tendency to multitask (no Youtube while chopping veggies, no music/podcasts while walking)
Minimized the number of times I ate at a restaurant or ordered food delivery (I shouldn't take credit for this!)
Minimized the number of times I took Ola/Uber (again, not taking credit!)

The home decluttering and organizing didn't happen as I had intended. 
Instead of the plan to stock up less groceries, I have gone worse by stocking up even more in the past 10 months. 
Both of these are a big MISS that I plan to overcome this year.

Though I may not have executed all that was planned, having an intention verb like MINIMIZE helped me consciously become aware of my actions.

Continuing with the same practice, my intention verb for 2021 is BUILD. It might sound contrary or even opposing to last year's verb MINIMIZE. But allow me to explain.

Over the past few years, I believe I have laid a strong foundation in some aspects of my life. Consider these to be the Lego building blocks of different shapes and colours. Now it's time to build something concrete out of it.

A few ways that I plan to BUILD this year

BUILD self-awareness
BUILD my acceptance levels with people who have opposing beliefs
BUILD my patience
BUILD my stamina (physical and mental)
BUILD deeper knowledge on subjects that I have developed curiosity towards in the past few years
BUILD the disparate thoughts into a concrete framework
BUILD my creative occupation

Intention verb is a powerful tool, a route map if I may say so, that gives us a path to pursue and allows us to take key decisions. If you love this idea, think about your intention verb for 2021. 

Jan 11, 2021

Are non-communicable diseases really non-communicable?

 During these Covid times, we are taking all forms of precautions throughout the day - frequent hand washing, using hand sanitizers, wearing masks, drinking gallons of kabasura kudineer, using vegetable washes, etc. Why? Because we know Covid-19 is transferable (or communicable) from one person to another. 

But are we giving the same attention to non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc? Not really. Why? Because we know these are non-communicable. 

What if I told you that such lifestyle diseases are communicable in a family? No, I'm not referring to genetic influence.

Let's say, there are a couple A & B - both in their late 20s, working in sedentary jobs, stressful work environments, little attention towards food and nutrition, disturbed sleep cycles, etc. One of them, say A gets a wake-up call. It could be frequent acidity, heartburn, constipation, or weight gain. When A does a health checkup, the numbers are slightly off the recommended levels.

Now, if A chooses not to wake up and continue with the same old poor lifestyle, there are high chances that A is affected by one of the lifestyle disorders. Not just that, B follows A's path, and B's health also gets impacted, with a time gap of maybe 3-4 years.

Let's say, a child C growing up in the family of A&B also has high chances of getting caught by the trap of lifestyle diseases.

Now, let's come back to the initial question - Are non-communicable diseases really non-communicable?

In my opinion, lifestyle is communicable. When A starts making lifestyle changes, B will be influenced sooner or later. The beliefs of Child C get positively influenced while growing up in an environment where lifestyle is given priority. When C grows up, she would make the right choices for her health.

Working on our lifestyle NOT ONLY improves our health and well-being but it also improves the overall well-being of our family.

Take some time to reflect on your current lifestyle and how you can take the right steps to improve the same. All you need is awareness to take that FIRST step forward.

Veeba Tomato Ketchup Review

A few days back, I came across a full front page ad by Veeba on TOI. The product advertised was their tomato ketchup along with the tagline "No added preservatives" in big, bold letters. I had to find out more about this product. As I looked through the ingredients, yes, there are no added Class II preservatives. 

But isn't this a sufficient criterion to claim that this product is "made with quality ingredients"? 

The 3rd and 4th ingredients are Sugar and Liquid Glucose. As I compared the sugar values with that of other tomato ketchup brands, Veeba has the highest sugar content. Around 40% of this ketchup is nothing but SUGAR.

Iodised salt is the 5th ingredient but Sodium values are not mentioned in the nutrition facts table. 

If preservatives aren't used, how does the product sit on the retail shelves for 9 months? Something that brands need to explain to consumers.

Ketchup has become a staple commodity in our pantry these days. High amounts of sugar and salt, which are addictive and that we are ingesting without much awareness. Kids are being trained to eat their chapathis/parathas/dosas with ketchup. 

Let's question every product that enters our kitchen/fridge. Let's read through their labels carefully and not fall for the tall claims. If one harmful ingredient is removed, it doesn't mean the product is healthy.

Dec 30, 2020

2020 - Review

 Continuing my annual ritual of reflecting on the year gone by, I sat down this morning to think about my 2020.

Early in Jan, K had been on a business trip to the US. He bought a gift for D - a cooperative strategy board game that all of us can play together as a family. Little did we know that this game would become a reality for all of us on the planet in 2020. Yes, the board game is called Pandemic. In the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we played this game of Pandemic so many times, taking up roles of a Quarantine Specialist, Contingency planner, Medic, Researcher, etc.

Just like everyone else, I faced times of uncertainty and stress this year in various contexts, but as I look back, there are aspects that I'm extremely grateful for.

Similar to the previous years, let me start off the review with my reading list. Given the various other priorities and responsibilities, reading took a backseat this year. This reflects in the number of books I have read so far. As always, I have listed down only the books I have completed, not the books half-read or in progress.

  1. When coffee and kale compete by Alan Klement
  2. Ultimate grandmother hacks by Kavita Devgan
  3. Authentic content marketing by George Kao
  4. Authentic business by George Kao
  5. Inna naarpadhu iniyavai naarpadhu by Dr. Sivaraman
  6. Many lives, many masters by Brian Weiss
  7. Ayurveda - The Science of Self Healing by Dr. Vasant Lad

Except for a short weekend trip to Chikmagalur in early March, there weren't any travel/trips for the rest of the year. BUT we did a lot of imaginary vacations and trips, thanks to D. She turned our home into a new planet, forest, airport, cruise, a spaceship, and more.

One of the courses on Coursera that I enjoyed this year is "The Science of well-being". Well structured and lots of relevant takeaways. Again, this is the ONLY course that I managed to complete this year. There are other courses that I either stopped midway or in progress.

From a professional standpoint, 2020 started with me working as a product management consultant for a data analytics startup. It was an interesting experience defining the long term product strategy, but had to be cut short in May due to Covid. I was hoping that I would get deeper into machine learning this year but something even better happened. I went deeper into self-learning, reflection, questioning, and introspection. 

This shift happened thanks to OMW (Online Minimalism workshop). My intention verb for 2020 was MINIMIZE. Early in March, I just stumbled upon a post on Instagram from Durgesh Nandhini. I didn't know much about the scope of the workshop. Since MINIMIZE was my intention verb for the year, I just went with my intuition and signed up. The last 10 months have been an enriching learning experience on so many aspects of life. I may not agree or follow everything that's being discussed BUT what made a difference is that I started to question more and I kept an open mind to listen, understand and interpret different points of view.

Questioning helped me connect with the magic power of Universe when answers started coming to me from unexpected people and sources. Trusting the universe has been one of my major realisations of 2020.

This self-reflection and questioning mode also made me analyze and articulate on various topics related to wellness. It was a special year for my blog (and Instagram account) as I pivoted over to sharing my perspectives on holistic wellness (and not just food).

Speaking of my blog, 2020 is the year I have written the maximum number of posts in my blogging journey since 2004. Writing almost every morning has become a ritual these days and I so look forward to it. 

Here's a list of 5 posts that are my favorites. 


How to slow down? 

How to stop seeking external validation? 

5 step process to follow during do-nothing moments 

The biggest spy 

2020 is also the year when I started doing online workshops on a couple of topics related to food. It was an interesting exercise, putting together the content for the presentations, designing the ppt and poster. The 2-hour workshops are one of the channels when I'm in my flow and I talk non-stop on packaged foods and nutrition labels. At the end of those 2-hour sessions, I feel so energized. Though the registrations were few (<10 per session), I kept at it for 6 months. I'm not sure if I would continue these two workshops in 2021. I might try something else, no plans as yet.

From a self-development perspective, I started many new habits this year. 

Thanks to Corona, it was home-cooked food completely for 10 months. I invested a significant amount of time in cooking, with minimal use of available ingredients especially in the months from March to May. 

Without a house-help for 6 months, it was quite a task to manage other household chores such as washing dishes, sweeping, mopping, etc. But we somehow managed by sharing the workload.

Complete home-cooked food, along with the other positive habits helped me reduce 3 kgs and most importantly, lose those stubborn inches around the tummy.

This year also blessed me with a few new friends with similar wavelengths, with whom I could easily connect to and can converse for hours at a stretch. 

2020 is also the year when K started to cook. He made many innovative and complex dishes that I would normally hesitate to try - ice-cream, malai kofta, shahi paneer, pesto pasta to name a few.

With education shifting online this year, D's online classes began at the end of June. There were many challenges initially, but she has now settled into a routine. 

From Oct, elderly care also got added to our list of responsibilities. Appa had to undergo a medical procedure and he stayed with us for a couple of months. My in-laws are now staying with me and they also have some health issues to be addressed.

There were many challenges this year, but what kept me sane was the focus on improving my habits and routines - things that are under my control. I'm extremely grateful for the fact that 2020 helped me experience slowdown and focus on my priorities.

Here's wishing everyone a very happy, peaceful, and joyous New Year 2021!

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