Size Does Matter – my talk at the BTM Humourous Speech Contest

ObesityYesterday, August 23, 2014 was the Humourous Speech Contest at Bombay Toastmasters. I participated despite wanting to chicken out (Thanks to fellow Toastmaster, Suneel for goading me on not giving up. He just said “Enjoy the experience”) So there I was as Contestant Number 5. Here is the speech transcript.

“Lose weight, ask me how.” These were the words on the badges of a lot of people near my Bangalore office. I wondered why? These people would rush towards me when they saw me walking on the way to office. I surely wasn’t a damsel in distress looking for my knight in shining armour so why were they coming to me? I then realised that they were visitors to some office nearby which sold products that SUPPOSEDLY made people lose weight. And I was a sitting duck for them to achieve their targets. Don’t blame them, they are doing their job.

Contest chair, fellow Toastmasters and guests – please understand what a precarious situation I am in.

Jadya, Jaadi Buddhi, Motu, Dharti ka boj anaaj ka dushman, Kis chakki ka aata khata hai? – these are phrases I have been used to right from school to date. I realised I was challenged at the girth when I came to the fifth grade. During the summer holidays I had a dog bite and had taken 14 injections around my navel. I used that as a crutch to explain my bloated stomach. In hindsight, I realise what a lame excuse it was but I also learnt that I had the knack of spinning yarns from that age! While I was spinning yarns on one hand, I was desperately trying to lose weight one way on the other. But like that famous dog in the TV commercial, it followed me everywhere. Finally I was forced to accept my weight as a congenital defect and decided to live with it.

Having lost my mind but not my weight, I want to share with you not just my yearnings for food but also my learnings.

Let me start off with something I LOVE – Food – You will find some people who eat to their hearts content and yet not a milligram of weight but me? I put on weight just by breathing. God, why me of all the people? Buffets are my weakness with sites like Groupon always visited for such deals. I always enjoy a meal for two, all by myself. On the other hand, I am no saint rather a super hypocrite. I actually write blog posts for my sister, a nutritionist and a weight loss specialist. One of my posts is about what one should do at an all you can eat buffet. I just had to write exactly opposite of what I was actually doing – pigging out.

Then come clothes – It is always hard to find readymade shirts that fit me. Pants have to be custom made as my body is custom built. I started with size 40 and graduated to 46 slowly but visibly. The most embarrassing moment is when you walk into a shirt shop and ask for a 46 shirt, they say, sorry the largest we have is 44. The world is so cruel.

Finally physical activity – I took to swimming at age 44 and all began asking me – is there any water left in the pool after you get in? But I persisted and learnt. Before I could get anywhere near Michael Phelps, my ear infection took charge and so had to stop. Started BKS Iyengar Yoga and have been doing it for over 5 years. Even after such a long duration, I can barely bend and hold my shin bone while others put their palms on the floor. My instructor blames it on my belly which she refers to as an over inflated truck tire. I am always made to repeat a pose just for others to see and learn how not to do yoga! For Shirsasana, I need to be lifted from the thighs. Why? They do not permit cranes inside the building!! So maybe my next sport – Sumo wrestling.

Friends, the next time you receive an SMS on weight loss, smile and remember it was intended for me but somehow made it to you. Also if you see a dietitian, think of the hypocrite me ghost writing:-) Never ask a woman’s age or a man’s wage so goes the adage. For me please don’t ask me my tonnage. It embarrasses both the weighing scale and me both so we parted ways a long time ago.

And guess what? I was the first runner up!! My first time in a Humourous Speech Contest. Thanks BTM for giving me this opportunity.


No more swimming for me….


For someone like me who learnt swimming at the young age of 44, it is painful indeed to say that I will be going off the pool. My ear is infected yet again and this is due to the water / my being a diabetic / whatever. So happened that 10 days ago, I went swimming on 2 days back to back. I use ear plugs but somehow the water did get in. I was experiencing some irritation so decided to cycle and stay dry. A couple of days ago, I felt something oozing out so despite having kept my hands off ear buds, I inserted one with the cream prescribed. Lo and behold, the infection has now multiplied no end. Yesterday was in office but consumed pain killers. Last night had the pain killers before sleeping at 11 pm and as the effect wore off, I was up at 0345! In terrible pain and unable to focus on anything. I am working from home but the pain sure is killing. It is better to cycle and stay dry than to swim and get back this pain. Will of course have to visit the ENT today and as ever he is going to give me a sermon on not using ear buds etc. But then I have decided No more swimming it is for me:-(

Excuses for not exercising


For someone who is challenged, when it comes to the girth, excuses come most easily for not exercising.

Every Wednesday and Saturday morning, I go for Iyengar yoga and my teacher will vouch for me being most regularly irregular. Why? Sometimes I am travelling so can’t avoid that (but that shouldn’t stop me from doing yoga there … well that is another story). Sometimes I arrive by the late night flight on Friday and can’t sleep so waking up on Saturday morning is a challenge. Sometimes, I am lazy. I don’t feel like waking up or then since I usually rise early, I am working on my lap top and get carried away not realising that I am missing class.

Cycling – Much as I love to do that, I always have a google search of why I should not go cycling. The wheel has a flat (only once) or the pressure is less (I have a hand pump at home mind you) It has rained so roads would be wet and what if I fell? Forget the enlarged crater on the road, what would happen to my bones? I am always alone cycling (now there are tons of groups that I am a member of on Facebook but have never taken part in any of the rides – don’t know if I will match up to their high speeds, yet another excuse)…. A laundry list ready to flow….

Swimming – The idea of this post struck me when I was in the pool in this morning working away my arms and legs. Most often, I swim on week days when Kavya has school so have a hard stop at 0815 to get out of the pool, then shower and get home. So post 0730 I am always thinking “Oh God I am so late now. no point in swimming….” Now why would I let the clock go past 0730? I am working on mails, reading the newspaper in the morning, watching the early morning news or all of these put together. All in all I am again being lazy and no more.

Yesterday went for yoga and then decided that come what may today I would swim. This morning I was reading See you at the Top by the great Zig Ziglar, heard some motivational talk by Robin Sharma and Suneel Agarwal which would ensure that I am not skipping exercises. Yes I did work on mails but then I did swim for 45 minutes. Tomorrow is another day but I will do something instead of coming up with innovative excuses and if at all I do have something of that kind, I will put it up here.

Pain in the ear… yet again.

Here I am battling serious ear infection with the pain making me feel that it is even worse than probably the pain experienced by women during childbirth (due apologies women). And who is to blame? Me, myself and I. Shameless that I am. What are my problems with the ear?

swimmers_ear1Due to swimming I often contract some or the other ear infection and this is prevalent in the summer times when the rush at Matunga Gymkhana increases exponentially (my earlier post). Even though the image says swimmer’s ear, I seriously doubt it is as serious as that from what I have read. Water gets into my ears and you need to shake it out. Have used silicone ear plugs (thanks to Yogesh) but not of much use and then even got Mack’s ear seals from the US (thanks to Bunty). A couple of weeks back, I had the same problem and went to Dr. Karnik, one of the best doctors I have come across. (Incidentally his Dad used to treat my Dad too so kind of our khandaani ENT you can say.) I showed him the Mack’s ear seals and he recommended that I instead use Ear Band It which happened to arrive only today.

ear budNow why this long story? Disclosure: I am a diabetic so prone to infection. Despite the umpteen warnings given by Dr. Karnik, I used the ubiquitous ear bud to clean my ears after swimming. Dr. Karnik is very candid that this is something that I should never be doing. What happens is that we tend to push the buds right in and in the process scratch maybe the inner ear or such which leads to inflammation and pain. Being a diabetic, it magnifies in cases like mine. Lesson learnt yet again today and from now on no more ear buds. Better be safe than sorry.

earphonesNow swimming is something I have been off for atleast 10 days since I was travelling and then the after effects of the infection. So this time the wise man in me decides to watch a movie on the flight back home from Delhi to Mumbai on Wednesday evening. So far so good. Friday morning I was off to Lonavala for a weekend break and started popping Crocin 500 tablets (2 at a time thrice a day) to keep the pain in check. Friday and Saturday were so far so good. Yesterday things went from bad to worse. The pain was throbbing and I was completely lost. Began losing temper (frayed nerves) thanks to the pain. I popped in about 10 Crocin 500s in a span of 24 hours but the pain was nowhere in control. Could not sleep all night and must have slept for 90 minutes in two tranches honestly. There was some pus like fluid oozing out of the ears all night. Drove back somehow this morning but before embarking on the drive, I called up the clinic and was told all appointments full. No problem I said, I would come and wait there. Finally went at 4.35 pm today evening and was taken in immediately (Thank God). First thing I admitted that I watched a movie on Wednesday night using the earphones which went in the ear and did insert a ear bud a couple of times to soak the puss out. He looked at it and said it was a bad case of inflammation and pus  He put me on antibiotics galore so as to bring the inflammation down and has asked me to come again on Wednesday evening for a clean up. He again said no to in ear phones. He said the slightest abrasion when inserting the earphone is enough to start something like in this case. Use over the ear ones but now I have decided no earphones at all for me. And no ear buds either.

So folks please please please learn from my mistakes. No ear buds ever and no in ear phones ever. You don’t know how humiliating now I feel as in pain I have flown off the handle today on my wife, daughter and God knows who else. Sorry folks but honestly the pain is unbearable and I am the only one to blame 100%. And BTW I am off swimming for a month now. Cycling it is for me once things stabilise.

Cycling – A week past – Findings


I am enthused by my new-found love for cycling. For the past week I have been using it off and on and let me tell you every ride has memories of one form or the other.

Day 1, Saturday March 30, 2013 I went to Hanumanji Temple in Wadala and 5 gardens. A trip to 5 gardens always brings back my educational years – first to pass is Ruia College where I did my XI and XII. Then comes my school, DPYA where I spent my formative years right from Nursery to X. Then further down is VJTI where I did my Engineering so nostalgia is all around.

Day 2, Sunday March 31, 2013 I went to Siddhivinayak Temple which was the farthest I had travelled on my maroon BSA SLR bicycle and from there went to Mahim, passed by the office building and came back home.

Day 3, Friday April 5, 2013 Started from home not knowing where to go so got on to the main road at 0645 and rode on. Reached the Byculla zoo and then turned back. Must admit I was impressed by myself. Wrote on Facebook and was enthused by the Likes and messages from one and all.

Day 4, Saturday April 6, 2013 This was probably a hectic day. Morning 90 minutes of yoga. After that was all set to cycle to office as everyone wanted proof of my having cycled. Went in shorts but admit the traffic was bad. Return journey started at 1400 and it was terrible as the sun was shining mercilessly and the humidity was phenomenal. 1500 to 1600 Swimming coaching (Still don’t know free-style but am learning in all earnestness). Came home and went to meet an ailing school friend at Bhandup. Post dinner at 2215 went for a walk with my better half to Dadar. Came home and slept like a baby:-)

Day 5, Sunday April 7, 2013 After yesterday I was banking on a friend to accompany me for early morning cycling today but he dropped out at 11 pm last night so woke up at 0630 only. Left at 0745 and decided to drive to Priyadarshini building along the Eastern Express Highway and then via Bhakti Park, came home. On the way went up St. Joseph’s slope which during school days was always a challenge.

Takeaways from all these escapades – Please do not avoid a helmet at any cost. Traffic sucks. Early morning the number of cars maybe less but at that time no one pays heed to traffic signals or traffic rules of any sort. “Cycle to the left of the road” – This is what Mrs. Pereira had taught us in Standard III but look at the left of the road and you realise that is the most unkept side of the road. Even the smallest stone makes your bottom go up in the air and thud you come crashing back down on the seat. With a bottom like mine, IT HURTS! Watch out. Don’t expect any car, bus or truck driver to show any respect for you. They are ruthless. While crossing major roads, I have walked across. Can’t take on these mighty vehicles. So better to be safe than sorry. Eyes – Please protect your eyes with some form of glasses. I forgot my spectacles today and went on without them (I have a miniscule number so doesn’t matter) but when going down a slope you need to be extremely careful. Hydrate yourselves – I have been advised by all my cycling friends (rather gurus) to keep myself well hydrated. My 31-year-old habit of 1.2 litres of water first thing in the morning helps me there as I have enough supply of water in my body but will sooner or later need to carry a bottle as the temperatures rise.

Every road taken has brought me memories of one form or another so while I cycle my mind is wandering into the past. Enjoy the ride.

Free style swimming finally:-)

A journey that began a year and a half ago…. And finally I can say that I have got the hang of free style swimming. This is considered the simplest of strokes I am told but for me it has been one of the most difficult tasks. Breast stroke was a cake walk but this called for some struggle for sure. Then came a spate of breaks (Who would like to wake up at 2.40 pm on a lazy Sunday afternoon and go into the pool at 3 pm?) Kavya would mock at me “Papa you STILL don’t know free style” That did it and I decided I am going to give it my best shot. She comes in the batch after me at Matunga Gymkhana and so today the coach vouched for me and told Kavya that yes your Papa knows freestyle now. Now he wants me take up backstroke next but that is after I have mastered the breathing which is still some what out of sync at times. Hum honge kaamyab ek din:-)

Can’t keep weight off….

I am rotund and obese and I have no qualms about admitting that (not that if I don’t it will make me any thinner unless if the other person is completely blind). Have not really tried any weight loss tricks (despite being a practising dietitian and weight loss expert’s brother). Thanks to my sister who keeps lecturing me for hours from the other side of the world and my doctor, I exercise daily. Walking is what I do these days since it is cold (Yes we in Mumbai have cold weather too by our standards) and also do Iyengar yoga twice a week but Yoga is not for weight loss so let us set that aside. Once the weather warms up a bit, I will get back to swimming. I normally swim one kilometer every day in 45 to 48 minutes (breast stroke and not free style. My doctor is fine with any stroke so long as I swim on a regular basis). What do I do the rest of the time?  I lead a sedentary life style and indulge in my passion – FOOD. Yes I love binging on all the possible wrong things under the blue sky. Result no weight loss / decelerated rate of weight gain:-) That is me – shameless.

This morning I read an interesting blog from Anjali Mukherjee who is a celebrity in the weight loss field in India atleast. No I am not going there or any such thing but this blog which I am verbatim reproducing below, makes a lot of sense. Do read it. I have not yet deployed any of these things. (Come on I read it only 15 minutes ago and I am still on my chair in the same position so how do you expect me to get moving so quick?). Do share your experiences too (maybe my dear friend Hiten, my cousin Kashyap and me will start a support group for each other for losing weight, not for binging)

The link to the blog is

 You have dieted, exercised and slogged your way to the new you.

  • You look better, feel better and glow as the compliments come your way.
  • But your joy is short-lived.
  • Within a few months, you see some of the weight slowly creeping back.
  • You panic, feel frustrated and immediately put yourself on a crash diet.

Sounds familiar?

It’s a pattern numerous dieters readily identify with- to lose weight on a diet and then put it straight back on as soon as they return to their regular eating habits. Infact, many vouch that losing weight is not as difficult as keeping it off.

The key to maintaining your weight loss is to focus on permanent and realistic lifestyle changes. True, dieting may have helped you lose weight but you cannot follow a restrictive diet forever. It’s equally important that you do not resume the diet and lifestyle you had before your weight loss. For successful weight maintenance, you need to permanently embrace the principles that helped you lose weight – proper eating and regular exercising. For instance, when you were dieting, if you snacked on fruits when hungry, why have a bhelpuri now? Similarly, if you took the staircase to reach your home, don’t take the elevator now. Also, don’t ignore food portions, calorie counting etc once you stop dieting. But this does not mean that you have to deprive yourself of the foods you love-just make sure you have them in moderation. Remember, a realistic and flexible eating plan makes weight maintenance easier.

  • The method that you have used for losing weight plays a major role in helping you maintain the lost weight. If you have corrected your metabolism by detoxification and subsequently nourished your body with vitamins, minerals, anti oxidants with the help of a health promoting food plan & exercise – you are more likely to maintain your lost weight as you have corrected your metabolism. However if you have crash dieted and eaten less you have more chances of putting weight back on.
  • Your diet should include lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein such as chicken and fish. Also, fibre-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, fruits, beans, bran and whole grains fill you up and keep your digestive system healthy. Minimize intake of red meat.
  • Start your day with a healthy breakfast comprising foods such as high-fibre cereals, whole grain breads, eggs, vegetables juices.
  • Minimize fat intake – it helps to keep your weight stable and reduces your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Opt for low-fat dairy products such as skimmed milk, low-fat yoghurt etc.
  • Avoid fried, processed, and fast foods. Instead, bake, grill or steam food. Replace sugary and salty snacks with fruits or whole grain crackers etc. Avoid or limit alcohol and colas-both add unwanted calories.
  • Marriages, parties etc. could tempt you to indulge. A good idea would be to eat a small, healthy meal before you reach the function and opt for the low-fat dips, toppings etc., once there. For dessert you could have fruit salad but without ice-cream.
  • Exercise regularly. People who exercise find it easier to maintain their weight loss as compared to those who do not exercise. Being physically active helps you not only to burn calories, it also boosts your resting metabolic rate, which means your body is working even when you actually aren’t. Your level of activity also determines how many calories you need everyday-the more physically active you are, the more calories you need to maintain your body weight. Find an activity you enjoy so you will be more regular.