LIFE IS A MANY-SPLENDOURED THING
I remember wishing that life should never be boring…today as an Excellence Coach and Weight Management Specialist, have to say it definitely hasn’t been!
You know the old adage; be careful what you wish for.
I started my career having specialized as a chef – food being one of my passions even today. I’ve had a long and chequered journey since graduating from IHM, Mumbai; one which travelled through food, dance, fitness, emotional wellness leading up to this point of me being a wellness entrepreneur. As a matter of fact, my journey to IHM was pretty interesting too.
Having passed my board exams with not-so-flying colours, my mom thought I should focus on a ‘career’, so she saw a ‘professional course’ as a good option. The choices available to me at the time were Office Management (I still don’t know what that is), Book Keeping (ewwww) and Food Preservation (Yay! Finally, a familiar word!).
I was always fond of food (more on that later) so I signed up. I didn’t register what preservation meant until I found out we had to report to college at 7am and make jam.
Yup – JAM.
All the while I was there, the girls in my batch continuously spoke about IHM Mumbai like it was the Holy Grail – they simply MUST get in.
They all applied, and because I was a bit clueless about my direction in life, so did I.
Ironically, none of them got through, and I did!
IHM, Mumbai or Catering College; or as we lovingly call it – CatCol – is a beast of a very different nature from any other college. We often quipped that it was like joining the army, but tougher. While my friends outside CatCol were bunking college and hanging out in the canteen, I was religiously attending everything. Though it seemed a bit unfair at the time, that training has gone a long way towards making me who I am today.
Many a times life has required that I start from scratch. It was my time at IHM that taught me that nothing beats humility and hard work. And being at the bottom is as much a thing of pride and importance as being the boss.
There is no ego in any task, and everything you do is an opportunity to learn.
It’s these experiences and teachings that helped me through struggles of being an entrepreneur, and even in my personal life.
Speaking of my love for food, I was always a bit overweight when I was a teenager; which made me very passionate (read obsessed) about my exercise and diet by the time I joined college. While learning to prepare amazing items from a traditional French menu, I was always wondering how to concoct lower calorie versions of the same dish. I still have those notebooks where I’d modified recipes –maybe that will be a cook- book someday!
Daily exercise was a must (especially surrounded by so much food) so I was always looking for the next fun workout. When I graduated, and Terence Lewis approached me about a dance fitness class, I jumped at the offer.
What started out being just a way to stay fit, ended up becoming my passion, and then my full-time career.
I have been a serial health entrepreneur, having started 2 fitness studios, one healthy snack line, and free-lanced in the mean time as a group – trainer and weight management specialist.
Of all the amazing experiences I’ve had, though; my most challenging was that of becoming a mother. I had a hard time conceiving and struggled with the thought that I would never be a mother.
When I discovered that I was pregnant, I saw light at the end of the tunnel – like a major hurdle had been crossed. In came a sense of fulfillment that I had never experienced in all my life.
When Nyah was born, however, instead of the bliss that motherhood promises; I went through a very difficult time.
I took time off from work to spend with her, career took a backseat, and along with that went my independence and freedom. I felt tied to the house and the baby, and having no knowledge of what postpartum depression actually was, I struggled alone to keep afloat.
Here I was, with a wonderful home, a gorgeous baby, a supportive husband. Everything was great, but try as I might, I could not feel happy.
I became so depressed I actually considered ending my life. That was my rock bottom, my wake-up call.
If I had not met my mentor Dr Meghana Dikshit then, I would’ve surely sunk. Mind sessions with her managed to drag me out of the funk I was living in for almost a year. Fortunately, the forced sabbatical also gave me a lot of time to introspect and re –examine what I was doing in terms of my life.
I spent a lot of time working out my issues – mostly emotional and related to past baggage – that had bogged me down for so many years. I moved to Canada for 9 months when my husband was transferred there for work– this gave me the time and space I needed to spend with my daughter and reconnect with myself.
I returned to Mumbai with a fresh perspective – where I decide that my motto will be – “Life is not about finding oneself; it’s about creating oneself”.
I started focusing on my own wellness companies, (De Mantraa & Sunburst both stood individually as one of the 50 best Global Wellness Brands) and approached my work in Emotional wellness with empathy and clarity.
Now all the awards and accolades I have been receiving are validation that my darkest phase had been a God-send.
Today I can proudly say that I have fought off a lot of my demons – those dark days now serve as a roadmap for me to guide anyone else going through a similar path. It’s a real blessing to be able to change someone’s life, literally – some of my clients start on a simple diet but see a sea-change spill over into all areas of their lives. The simple act of caring for oneself is the self worth boost that’s needed to take on almost everything. I’m proud to be a facilitator for that!
I became an avid student of mind and emotional therapy in physical wellness. Suddenly it was no longer about size zero, or a flat mid-section. It was about being FIT – Inside AND Out.
I decided to educate myself (again) and I studied emotional wellness, body-mind connect, NLP, and even some traditional chakra medicine. The body, you see, is not a separate entity – rather an animator for the mind. What you feel, you are.
My whole approach to wellness changed.
So many people get stuck on ‘discipline’, ‘will-power’, ‘time’ and ‘money’ as excuses not to be at their best physically.
The bottom-line is – if you change the way you feel, you will change the way you act. If you change the way you act, you will change the way you look.
My clients now have accountability journals, and workout plans and diet regimes just like any wellness guru would recommend. But before any of that, they need to transform their mindsets. I often tell them – replace ‘I can’t’ with ‘I presently struggle with’. This small change in syntax takes them from a disempowered state to an empowered one. That’s my passion, and that’s what I love to do.
Wellness is finally being recognized as an integral part of the Hospitality Industry, with spas and wellness tourism finally becoming an integral part of the setup, rather than a peripheral service or accessory.
There is also a greater awareness amongst industry insiders about the need for wellness amongst employees and management. As hospitality professionals, one spends so much time addressing the comfort of guests; that our own emotional and physical well-being is greatly compromised. Recognizing and addressing this would create a stronger, more resilient workforce, which would be able to contribute so much more.
I was fortunate enough to be one of the pioneer members of the health and wellness upswing in this country, and to also find my passion reflected in my career. In a career spanning 20 yrs now, I have seen that nothing is as valuable as one’s own physical and emotional health. It truly is the foundation on which everything else is built in our lives.
As T. Harv Eker says, ‘How you to anything is how you do everything’, and the way you treat your physical self will reflect in all areas of your life.
Through talks, articles, seminars, one to one coaching- I want to impact as many people as I can to reflect and re-examine how they approach their health, and truly fall in love with nurturing themselves.
Nutrition & Fitness Consultant
All India Co-Chair Fitness & Work-Life Balance