Hi, I’m Sheetal! I am a Graphic Designer living in the New York Metro area.
I have a full-time job and this blog stems out of a passion for cooking and eating healthy food.
So here’s my story, I love food, always have. Only difference is the kind of food I love eating now is different from what I used to love. This change didn’t occur overnight but I am so glad it did. It transformed my life forever.
Growing up, I was surrounded by a family of food lovers. Everything revolved around food. There was no concept of healthy vs unhealthy, nutritious vs junk food. Almost everyone around me was obese or overweight, so being a little less fat than the others was okay. Its only until I went to college that it slowly started sinking in, I was FAT. I hated being that way, couldn’t wear the clothes I liked and hardly ever got any attention. So it was time to go on a self-made diet and lose weight. I ate food but it involved portion control, walked a lot, went to the gym and the usual.
It worked; I lost weight and felt happy.
In 2007 I moved to the United States for Grad School. Of course everything changed, it became all about grab and go foods in between school, work, assignments, cleaning, cooking and dealing with life away from home. It’s still unbelievable that I ate a giant chocolate chip cookie for breakfast sometimes.
I graduated, got a job and life moved on. It wasn’t until one day that I was looking for a dress to wear to a Christmas party that it hit me. I bought a size fourteen dress because that’s the only one that fit me.
It was time to change again; I was back to working out at the gym and eating right.
I lost weight and felt good but something else didn’t feel okay. There was a realization that keeping up with the weight loss meant accepting a change in lifestyle. I didn’t enjoy going to the gym or eating tasteless food and couldn’t imagine doing this forever to keep the weight in check. It wasn’t my thing, but then what really was my thing?
This wasn’t the easiest thing to figure out, it took me years but it had to be done.
I finally discovered CrossFit through a friend who swore by it. I wasn’t ever super physically active but decided to give it a shot anyway. I loved it, I had found my thing. I have spent almost 2 years doing CrossFit and enjoy my time at the box, I see changes in my body that I never thought were possible. I loosely adapted the Paleo Lifestyle in my everyday diet and felt amazing. This I could do for life.
Fitting into size four was my goal. I am almost there now but have new goals to work towards (my yet to come first pull-up!).
I am not a health coach or nutritionist but can only talk about what worked for me and hope this inspires people to make small lifestyle changes:
Find Your Thing
I can’t stress on how important this is. You cannot be on a diet for life to stay fit and healthy. Observe your body and follow what works for you instead of taking on every diet that’s out there. The best way is to discover a physical activity that you enjoy the most and make healthy food choices. I picked CrossFit and the Paleo way of eating (no dairy, grains, lentils, highly processed foods) and adapted these to my everyday life. Of course Indian food is an integral part of my diet and I found ways of cooking Indian paleo meals (yes; sans dairy, grains and lentils) such as paleo naan, cauliflower ‘rice’ chicken biryani. If you don’t enjoy this then it’s not something you can live with. You might struggle to figure this one out but when it does happen, it’s going to transform your life.
Make Small Changes
Take baby steps. I started off by making small changes, white rice to brown rice and then brown rice to cauliflower ‘rice’. Don’t completely give up on foods you enjoy but begin with substituting unhealthy ingredients with healthy ones. I have a sweet tooth and enjoy baking which made me attempt most paleo bread and cookie recipes out there. It wasn’t easy for me to give up grains, dairy and lentils, but now I have more food options than I could have ever imagined. Grains or dairy exist in my life in the form of weekend treats or cheat meals.
Trick Your Brain
I believe a lot of what we eat is because of how our brain is programmed. Indian food is structured such that rice or roti are primary foods and vegetables or meats are like sides. In the US, it’s the opposite. Rice and bread are treated as sides. By no means am I saying that people eat healthy in the US or rice and roti are bad for you. But I observed this and made small changes, ate two servings of vegetables/meats and probably half a serving of rice. By switching to cauliflower rice I tricked my brain to believe I was eating rice since it looked like rice.
You Are What You Eat
It doesn’t matter how much you exercise, you have to eat healthy. There’s no way out of this one. But trust me, when you get used to eating healthy the bad food really makes you feel terrible. I completed the Whole30 (www.whole30.com) earlier this year and it was the best thing I could have ever done for myself. Whole30 to me was an extension of Paleo with a lot more focus on foods that are not processed or sweetened. This took Paleo eating to a whole new level with a variety of foods to experiment with and extensive amounts of juicing. I attempted different cooking techniques such as, baking, steaming, grilling and stir frying; these brought out flavors in meats and vegetables that I didn’t know existed. Whole30 was tough but the last week felt so great, it made me realized how well I had treated my body.
There’s a wealth of information out there, books, blogs, magazines, food labels, etc. I follow several blogs and have learnt so much from them over the last few years.
Love Your Body
Learn to love and respect your body. This one has to come from within, be good to your body and you will see good returns both physically and emotionally.