Stop All Way

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post, and I suppose I owe an explanation on why. I moved back to my university after my internship got over. So I’m back to Iowa and life has been very different ever since I landed here.

Towards the end of my internship, I started experiencing, what one could call, a mid-PhD crisis. When you start questioning the goodness and value of your PhD. Before I had come here, I had set a few goals for myself and I was quite successful in accomplishing them. Which meant that I, for once, had run out of my only motivation for trying so hard. I didn’t feel like a loser any more. I couldn’t feed on my insecurities any more.

Let me tell you what 25 years of feeling like a loser, followed by 25 weeks of not feeling like one, feels like; it’s definitely more complicated than what this sentence sounds like, for starters.

At first, I felt that I was capable of accomplishing whatever I wanted. That I could get whatever I wanted. But after I got most of what I had wanted, I just felt empty. Now what? I needed to set new goals for myself, sure. But honestly, so far, I have just about done what the society has asked me to do; mainly what my parents expected of me and what my advisor advised me to.

Then, I started feeling that my life lacks direction. I felt a void. The way I chose to fill the void was to do things that I had held back from doing. For instance, I bought a TV. I bought a couch. I decorated my new apartment. Didn’t work. I went out, tried to distract myself. Drank, smoked up for the first time, went to different cities and met up with people I hadn’t spoken to for ages. Still didn’t work. These activities were distracting enough, in the moment, but I kept feeling lost. I took up smaller challenges, and I accomplished them as well. I was feeling bad about being overweight, so I restricted my diet and worked out. I’m almost near the goal weight that I had set for myself now. One more insecurity down. Now what?

I made myself self-sufficient, so that I don’t need to rely on anyone. Which again, put me in a fix. Do I even need anyone in my life? Maybe I could just get on with seeing people, once in a while, hanging out with friends whenever I felt like. No pressures, no responsibilities of maintaining anything.

I met a lot of interesting people during my internship. I knew that those connections wouldn’t last beyond the three months we would spend together in a closely confined space. And I was able to connect with people in-the-moment. Have no-strings-attached kind of friendships. I was surprised by my own ability to connect and disconnect with people in such short spans of time. That’s so unlike me!

I’ve been the person who has always tried to hold on to the people around me. I’ve been that person that has been scared of being alone. But now, I don’t feel so any more. I think I can forge equations, friendships and relationships of different kinds whenever I feel like. Without having to care about long-term consequences. I am not quite sure what brought me to this phase, but I don’t feel insecure about things any more. There are always interesting people I can meet. Feeling alone, is more of a state of mind. People are intrinsically good. And if you can make a real connection, no one really wants to abandon you. And everyone wants to make a connection. No one likes being alone all the time. People just have varying requirements of this so-called alone time. 

So, I have to admit, I was very narrow-minded so far. I had razor sharp focus. But the whole world seems like an open playing field now. I brought myself to the champions’ league, and now, no matter how I perform, I will be valued. Things will look up for me. Is that over-confidence? Maybe. Most probably. 

After I faced a series of failures, I set out to make sure I’m in a position where very few people would actually like to say no to me. And the sad part is, I’m aware that I am in that position now. I think I can have whatever I want. The caveat? I honestly don’t even know what I want any more. It’s as if I have a billion dollars, but I just can’t figure out what I want to spend on!

I need to set myself on a new path to discover my new self. But before I can choose which way I want to go, I need to slow down. Cause I’ve just reached an all-way stop sign.

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To be or not to be Chill

.. you can start by deciding whether you want to unnecessarily convert Nouns to Verbs, Adjectives to Adverbs. Or just mix up different parts of speech, really! Or basically not care for rules of any kind!

But more seriously, this blog is about my observations of the cool nerdy kids.

The intersection of cool and nerdy kids looks somewhat like this emoji Venn diagram.

It’s mostly creepy and makes no sense. (Also credits to Instagram for making editing so fantastically painless. Honestly.)

So if you find yourself in that tiny intersection, that automatically takes you to the big league, where you can possess the unparalleled knack of have long winded intellectual conversations with nerds and engage in superficial meaningless vivid discussions with the cool kids about what popular culture dictates. Yes that also means non-cool non-nerdy people are essentially non-existent. (Not really, but I wouldn’t know what to write about them anyway!)

So, the question really is, to be or not to be a cool nerd.

I’m nearing the end of my internship, and I have happened to find myself in the company of these rather cool PhD nerds. They are brainy people with loads of papers and awesome internships. But they also like to … chill … and watch lots of movies, Netflix, go on hikes, bike trails, drinking, sky diving and what not. I’ve honestly never been surrounded by so many extroverted nerds before, so this puts me into an existential crisis.

Let me narrate a few anecdotes. I had gone out for this baseball game, and I was out with a bunch of interns for the same. But after the game, which was on a Thursday, ended (or rather we got too tired of watching or … caring), people wanted to grab drinks and have food. So 3 hours of watching a game followed by 2 hours of drinks, food and merrymaking. Not what I had planned for a weekday night.

So of course, I started feeling antsy about the whole plan of eating out (I wasn’t even that hungry, and I really wanted to go home). But … everyone else wanted to eat and hang out. And my limited social skills suggested that it would be unwise to back out at this minute.

Now I don’t know about others, but when I’m annoyed, it shows on my face. I just cannot randomly appear cool. If I’m anxious, you’ll know it. If I feel lost, you’ll know it, from my blank expression. If I’m angry, you’ll definitely know it, I’ll make sure you do!

So I was annoyed with the whole dilly-dallying on which sports bar we needed to go to. Cause watching sports in real life wasn’t enough, we (collectively!) now wanted to watch a zoomed up version on a flat screen while eating and drinking and getting wasted on a Thursday night. Apparently.

So this “cool” intern walks up to me and says “why do you look so annoyed?”. And I say “nah, I was just looking for someone”. Yeah, cause those expressions are very similar.

Defense level: Boston Red Sox during the baseball game. (They lost.)

But that was just the start of it. So we finally made this decision to go to a particular sports bar and I did, what I usually do when I resign to the fact that I necessarily have to be social. Brought out my absurd sense of observational humor and made unnecessarily complicated commentaries.

Social game level : LinkedIn premium member.

The annoying thing about big groups is that there are so many parallel conversations going in different directions, so most of the times I just randomly cue in and pass comments, which may not even be relevant to the given conversation. But I spoke about how this one member of the group was known to be the weed dealer for other interns and the “cool” intern again felt the need to point out and say “look at her, she’s judging him through her eyes right now”.

Okay, whatever. I mean, I probably was judging, but no need to point out, “cool” intern. Also, I was judging “cool” intern way more than the weed dealer intern.

But the point is, I just couldn’t shrug it off!

What is this concept of playing it cool?

I’ll tell you what I find to be cool. There’s this guy that I see in the bus every day. Long beard. Hair tied into a bun. Usually wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts. Sling bag. Headphones on. Glasses. That guy exudes the chilled out vibe.

Meanwhile, I can never pull off that vibe, because I’m just not a cool girl at heart. So the only reason you’d find me wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts with a long beard and hair tied into a bun along with a sling bag would be if I was robbed while vacationing at Hawaii and had to camouflage myself by using a fake beard, and a headphone… for … survival reasons. Cause no one in their right mind would ever suspect that to be me!

I guess some people are just more laid-back than others. And if my blog is any indication, you’d know by now, that I’m far from chill.

But you know what, chilled out people are way too relaxed to write awesome blog posts. Or to spend enough time to even put random thoughts together on a piece of paper. So, being “conventionally cool” may not be your cup of tea, but you can just make your own cup of tea any way and whip up a storm of ideas!

If cool means disobeying conventional rules and wisdom, then the ultimate cool is defying the definition of cool itself!

Contradictions of the dazed mind

As a kid, I was always told to be passionate, to put my heart and soul into things. To show unwavering kindness to people. To be accommodating of people. To work hard, be successful enough to set myself apart from everyone else. To not be mediocre. To not get lost in the crowd. And to fight for my dreams every single minute, because nothing was to come easy. I’d have to earn my independence, just as I’d need to earn respect. Independence was a good virtue. And I was told, to never show my weaknesses.

For the most part, I didn’t question it. Today, I try to rationalize everything. But certain things are so hard to rationalize. For instance, anything related to this idea called Love. Not immediately easy to make sense of. This whole concept of independence… again, highly contestable.

I used to think of myself as fiercely independent woman. In fact, in this day and age, I was told … not relying on men was a good thing. I should take charge of my life, earn my own money, not rely on a man for anything. To an extent, it’s empowering. But when I try to proclaim this independence for everything, it’s insufferable. When I claim to be self-sufficient to the point that I claim to not need anyone, I’m downright stupid. Everyone needs a support system. We humans are built that way. For the sake of our sanity, we need people around us. Friends, family, loved ones. I was wrong in thinking I didn’t need anyone. I needed people. The society somehow tells me it’s wrong to show that need. But everything is need based. It’s not always materialistic or exploiting in nature. A feeling of bonding, a human touch, a connection, it’s all necessary.

It’s for that reason that I find it hard to detach from people. When I can sense that someone is feeling alone, it’s just hard for me to let that go. I’ve been alone and I’ve enjoyed it. And I’ve been lonely and hated it just as much. And I’d hate to know that someone else is going through the same.

I used to think that helping people out was good. And I think it is, as long as you’re not emotionally attached to them. Selfless good deeds are great. But more often than not, you start expecting things in return. And that brings with itself an infinitely heavy burden.

I used to think that mediocrity was bad. That I needed to stand apart. But the more I stood apart, the fewer people I could relate to. I found fewer and fewer people to share similar experiences with. And I felt that my set of problems were so different, that people dissimilar to me would never understand them. So I started pulling away, and my distrust in people around me kept increasing. In trying to stand apart, I wound up walking far, very far, from the people standing near me.

I was told to be passionate, but I never understood where that would lead me. Why is passion such a great attribute? What if I just invest a lot and get nothing in return? I understood that certain things are great to be passionate about. But the one thing people never told me was, most times, that passion won’t pay off. And what no one ever told me was, it would hurt real bad, when things wouldn’t work out. I never thought passion could hurt, but it did.

I was told to not show my weaknesses. To always have everything figured out. To be perfect. Throughout my life, I kept chasing perfection. And the problem with perfection is that you’ll always fall short of it. So I’ve spent most of my life feeling inadequate. What’s worse is, inadequacy is deemed a weakness. And weaknesses are not to be shown to people. So I kept hiding myself, scared that people would judge me and my every move. And some people do judge, but it’s only because they are too frustrated with their own lives to appreciate that someone else might be different. Most people, don’t really care.

And lastly, and this is somewhat more recent. I have been told to not care as much. That my actions are inconsequential in the grand scheme of things anyway. That I shouldn’t give too much importance to people and deterministic goals. Are they right?

I still think I should care. Caring keeps me in touch with my human side. I feel that the more rational I become, the less sensitive I am to my surroundings. In fact, being sensitive is in fact an aspect of rationality that I haven’t been able to understand. I’ve always seen rationality and being emotional, as two orthogonal things. Maybe they go hand in hand, and I just haven’t figured out the right balance.

The midway (Coffee Break Conversations)

So I happened to go to the office pantry yesterday to grab myself a pick-me-up for the hour.

And because it’s still “summer” and there are so many interns here, I always bump into some fellow philosophers (to give you perspective, all of us are doing PhDs… Doctorates in Philosophy).

Speaking with a fellow PhD student can be so different from a normal conversation, because there’s a fair amount of insight, contemplation, critique and sometimes even creativity that goes into the conversations. So I thought it would be perfect to write about these mini discussions.

The first one I’ve decided to write about is a conversation that I had yesterday.

There’s a coffee machine (a fancy Keurig) in the pantry, and there happen to be 8-9 odd choices for coffee. Now I’m very sensitive to caffeine. Tea works fine, but the coffee in America is really strong for me. So I get cranky if I consume too much/ have it too strong.

Which meant that I had to make an important decision. Light roast, medium roast or dark roast? Luckily I had another PhD intern in the vicinity whose brain I could pick.

“Go for the dark roast then”, he said. “The higher the roast, the lesser the caffeine”.

Whaaaaat? Really? I’ve spent two years here and I don’t know this already?

Hold on. Google to the rescue.

“It’s not that I don’t trust you, but I need to check this on the internet”.

“Clearly you don’t trust me enough!”, he said.

I just don’t trust people in general. I need enough samples to ensure that what’s being told to me is not an mere opinion or hypothesis. So my thumb rule is, never trust a person in the first go. For…. scientific reasons.

“I trust you to the extent that whatever you’ve said has created enough suspicion in my mind to actually bother cross checking it online.”

Defense strategy level: Nailing it.

Okay, so Google said, for the same volume, Dark roast has less caffeine. For the same mass, Light roast has less caffeine. It’s basically a different in density.

Okay, great but I don’t know the concentration in those Keurig pods. They’re both the same volume, but do they have the same volume of water? I’ll never know.

So I decided to go with Dark roast…. you know, because of my newly built…. trust. And then Keurig has this additional complexity. It asks you for cup size. 4oz, 6oz, 8oz, 12oz.

Now does it maintain the concentration or vary it according to cup size? Fortunately I had Googled this before, so apparently, choosing a bigger cup size waters down your coffee more.

Great. I go for 6oz.

And at this point, I basically tell my patient friend why I just choose to go for the midway option, because that way I’m cutting my losses. You know, like a minimax problem. You go with the option that minimizes the maximum loss that you could incur.

And he did, what any other intellectual would at that point of time. He made a counter argument.

Okay, bring it on, I’m good with counter-counter-arguments. I’m good with arguments of all sorts, tbh.

“That’s not the best strategy. For example if you go to a store and buy a Cola bottle, they non-linearly increase the price, so it’s more economical to buy bigger sizes. There’s a higher payoff if you go on extreme ends.”

Sure, but those two optimization problems are not equivalent.

Though that’s not the correct argument…

“Okay, but so many times, I end up buying the bigger packet of chips, for best price/pound. But… More often than not, I also cannot finish the packet. So I end up wasting most of it.”

“Okay, so you save it for later and finish it later”, he said.

“Yeah, but I sometimes can’t even finish it over a month, and the quality of crispiness declines with time, so I’m not exactly getting my money’s worth. Instead if I pick the medium priced option, I get a bang for my buck w.r.t. the smallest option, but I also finish it all, and am effectively paying lesser than I would have for what I’ve actually consumed.”

At this point someone else came by and started talking about something else, thank you for the diversion, stranger, and saving my friend from further embarrassment.

But that discussion was definitely, some food for thought!

Rules of communication : internet edition

If you’re a 90s kid like me, who was exposed to the chatting world in the 2000s, Gtalk was your go-to chat client.

It was a simple yet clever design. One could put a status message that could be easily seen. You could also set your availability to “available” or “busy” and with some tweak, to “idle”. And needless to say “idle” was the best. You could “hide” from the vultures of the online community, but at the same time, chat freely with your friends. You also needed to pre-approve each other’s email addresses before chatting. So it was less likely that you’d add a stranger to your chatting list. And one would most usually use it on a laptop or computer, not on phone. It was perfect. Clutter free. And not unnecessarily intrusive.

But today, it’s far more complicated to just chat with someone. Messenger and Whatsapp are what I most popularly use, that too on my phone, and they happen to have a lot of added functionalities, like gifs and vanishing statuses and separate call logs. It’s just too complicated!

There’s way too much customization going on, and so many added “features” or modes of communication. In today’s age, here’s what an average millennial does to express (him/her)self:

  1. Put the right filters on photo
  2. Correct for any bad angles, bad lighting, bad framing
  3. Come up with a clever caption
  4. Come up with highly descriptive phrases that usually portray a false sense of perfection.
  5. Search for the right hashtags
  6. Insert appropriate emoticons
  7. Insert appropriate slang adjectives like “yaaas” and “triggered” and “vibes”
  8. Tag the right people
  9. Decide if the message goes as a post or a broadcast or a DM or a status message
  10. Decide how many other forums one may want to replicate the post at

And I’m sure other aspects that I’m completely forgetting.

I fancy writing but I don’t think I want to be that eloquent. It’s great that people have so much more power to express themselves, to be heard. It’s great in a way, because pretty much anyone and everyone has an equal chance to be heard. Or at least has the potential to get that chance. But I really don’t understand the whole point of it.

Broadcasting is a way of communication, but in older days, was only limited to spreading “important” information. Information of relevance to a large group of people.

But how and why is someone’s outing with their friends, relevant to people who didn’t tag along in that outing? Sure, there are other friends and family that one would like to share their experiences with, but is the cardinality of that set 500 odd people?

Also, with platforms like WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram, comes a high level of accessibility. And an assumed responsibility of being accessible. So, because most people are so easily accessible, one assumes that all people are and should be accessible, which isn’t entirely correct. Perhaps I would like to use a platform to be accessible to some people, not all.

For example, Whatsapp makes me accessible to anyone who has my number. Turns out, my current number used to belong to some German dude (Kristian, I’m calling you out). So I consistently keep getting added to German family groups and get random texts from people I don’t know! And the only option for me is to block these!

Facebook for me is a lost case. There’s just so much chaos going on there that I try my best to avoid Facebook and/or Messenger. The accessibility level is extremely high on there, plus they combine functionalities like Marketplace and Groups, that further makes it easy for random people to get to you.

Then there’s Instagram, which for the most part, is pretty. It’s the tamer of these platforms, and to an extent, I see the point of posting pretty pictures for everyone to see. People like viewing interesting pictures. That’s the whole point of magazines and commercialized cinema. It’s for visual effect. And I like that it pretty much stays to the theme of sharing pictures. Not too many added functionalities ruining overall experience. But there’s still an incessant need to appear picture perfect.

I honestly love Twitter the best (and perhaps, to the same extent, Reddit). Posting status updates as tweets is an option, but most people share intellectual opinions or informative tidbits and that’s fun to participate in. And, because of its sheer nature, not many people actively use it (not that I know of), which means, way less chaos and more of a streamlined bunch of opinions and wisecracks that are mostly intellectually stimulating.

Which brings me back to Gtalk (and not its evolved version Hangouts). I wish communication were more streamlined and less of a thing we’re addicted to. In today’s day and age, most communication originates from pure boredom. Or a need for attention, a desire to not feel lonely.

Boundaries are unclear. The volume of communication is somewhat excessive. But, at the same time, there’s a fear of missing out. If you do not participate in the chaos, people dissociate from you. You’re not “fun” enough. You’re “too stuck up”. “Too moody”. “Too buried in work”. You’re someone who needs to “get a life”.

But I’m one of those people who has a desire to be both left alone and be around people sometimes. At varying proportions. And I also want to get some work done. And the time dedicated to these three things cannot overlap! It’s such a difficult optimization problem!

So I wish I could go back to a simpler time, when communication was not so chaotic, because now, I don’t know the rules I need to play with.

What’s the worst that can happen?

If you’ve been an anxious kid like me, right through childhood, well into adulthood, you’ll know what this is about.

Most people feel anxious about big life events. Like getting into the right college or moving to a new city or getting married or finding out if you’re pregnant or not. And those are perfectly valid scenarios to feel anxious about. But I’m not talking about big events.

I don’t know how abnormal this is, but I feel anxious about pretty much everything under the sun. And if I’m PMSing, those fears get amplified more than the intrigue about Kylie Jenner during her pregnancy or the Indian population in the last decade or the sugar in a double chocolate peanut butter smores milkshake. Or my calorie intake during said PMS.

Here are a few things that I have genuinely felt anxious or stressed about:

  • Bike seat not staying up, during my bike ride.
  • Not having the right food to eat.
  • People not replying to my texts, thereby implying that they hate me.
  • Speaking too much and feeling like people are judging me for speaking too much and too stupidly.
  • Gaining weight.
  • Spending too much money.
  • Forgetting my keys, charger, wallet, water bottle, to pee, to check the kitchen burners, to brush my teeth before sleeping.
  • Sucking at sports or games in front of other people.
  • Not working enough, not studying enough, not being smart enough, not having enough fun, not being interesting enough.
  • Unclean bathrooms and kitchen areas.
  • Mondays.
  • Sundays leading up to Mondays.
  • Having no one to talk to.
  • Being too uptight and anxious all the time – yeah, I have anxiety about having too much anxiety.

I think my problem is that I pay way too much attention to detail. So when there are too many things going on, my mind tries to micro-analyze every problem in hand, however small or big, and all at the same time. Like some parallel computing wizard working at full efficiency. I truly don’t give my brain enough credit!

And also, I always assume worst case scenarios and feel scared. Like how the world would end if there is any alteration to the perfect order and sequence of events that need to transpire according to my disproportionally sized prefrontal cortex!

Now, a sane thing to do at this point would be to ask oneself – “what’s the worst that can happen?”. So that would be something like… gaining a pound give or take. Or having an uncomfortable 4 mile bike ride. Or not being able to unlock my door when I reach home. Or having to block my credit cards ASAP. Or not having finished work before deadlines.

You get the drill.

And although, they’re not end-of-the-world level horrifying, but for some reason, they all seem like horrible scenarios to me. Just, different levels of horrible.

So maybe “what’s the worst that can happen?” isn’t the right question for me. Because all of those worst case-scenarios are unacceptable to me. And I’ll hope against every shred in the universe that even though non-zero probabilistic, those scenarios never dawn upon me. And I’ll go to any length to avoid them. So first, there’s anxiety and then there’s just sheer stress.

But a better question is, “so what if the worst has already happened?”. That leaves me with no choice but to accept the state of affairs the way they are. And then there’s no uncertainty! Then I’ll obviously not move a bone to change anything, because… what’s the point? And that’s so much less stressful!

So, okay, I’ll gain a pound give or take. As long as I don’t gain more, it shouldn’t be tough losing that one pound. Or, okay, I’m going to have an uncomfortable 4 mile bike ride, but might as well enjoy the scenery. Or, I’m just a boring stupid person, but I do still have a few people who like me. Or, even if no one likes me, let me make myself likeable, there are always new people I can meet.

So now the question is, do I need to worry so much about avoiding worst-case-scenario at all? And is it actually so bad? And so what if it actually does happen? Quite sure I’ll be able to deal with it. But yeah, then I’m basically giving up a chunk of control over the actual outcome.

I think my main problem is… I’ve actually, on most occasions got what I’ve wanted. Maybe not immediately. Yes, I’ve had my fair share of struggle, but in the end, ended up with what I’ve wanted. If people told me that I’d have to earn it, I’d bust my ass off to earn it. So yeah, I’ve had a degree of control.

Very few people have actually said a definitive no to me, which is why it’s hard to take as an answer. I always assume that I can have things my way at least 50% of the time (to be fair, because of course things can’t go the way I want every time). But that assumption is itself flawed. Why should I have things even 50% of the time? I’m not exactly entitled to them anyway. In fact I’ve been incredibly lucky to have had so many things go my way.

So maybe, I just need to be more grateful. And not try to control every single element of my life.

“But hey, anxiety makes me prevent bad scenarios. Should I be carefree and let bad things happen to me?”  proclaims the annoying counter-argumentative side of my head.

To think about it, I shouldn’t need anxiety to tell me what to do and what not to. That’s just wisdom. Keeping things clean and orderly. Not taking on more responsibilities than one can perform. Understanding that people have priorities in life. Or that every person reacts differently. Things that should naturally occur to me, not stemming out of fear or insecurity or preconceived notions.

Yeah, I really need to reprogram my brain for this one!

A student’s guide to losing weight

I’ve had a lot of issues maintaining a healthy weight, which has to mainly do with my heavy dependence on food for happiness. Eating is a coping mechanism for me and I binge eat during periods of high stress, which essentially leads to only one outcome – gaining weight.

This is followed by periods of diet restrictions and exercise. And I do end up losing weight, only to gain it back later, as and when I stop exercising and start binge eating again.

So in the past 3 years, I have gone from a healthy 140 pounds by the end of college, to 160 pounds, back to 140 pounds after exercise, and then back to 160 after a stressful spell during my PhD applications, ultimately leading me to exercise and bring it down to 150 pounds during the spring of my first year of PhD, but after that I just let myself go and reached 160 again. Another short spell of exercise, I went down to 155 pounds. But then last semester, which was supposed to be the “fun” semester, wrecked havoc on my health and I went straight up to 165 pounds, my heaviest ever.

My weight graph is literally a zigzag:Capture

with my most current weight being close to 150 pounds. So I lost about 15 pounds in about 7 weeks and I plan to lose at least 15 more pounds to reach my ideal goal weight of 135 pounds. Efforts still in progress!

But this time, I really want to make it stick, and not put the weight back on again, which essentially means making core lifestyle changes. So for the first time ever, I decided to educate myself on what I’m doing to my body! Which meant hours and hours of binge watching videos on nutrition, health, weight loss, processed foods, metabolism boosting foods, fast foods, junk foods, fasting, dieting, you name it, I’ve watched it!

What I did this time was a combination of all the wisdom that I could gather. And through my discovery of these techniques, I finally realized why so many of my guy friends are so thin! So I’m enlisting some of the highlights of my findings.

  1. Intermittent fasting. Apparently this technique has grown extremely popular in the last one year or so. You’re supposed to be in a fasted state for 16 hours and can eat whatever you want in an 8 hour window (that’s the version that I tried at least).  So simply put, I just learnt to skip breakfast, which is what most of the skinny guys I know do inadvertently!
  2. Upping physical activity. Now this actually accompanied the fact that I’ve been spending far fewer hours working than I used to before. I’ve been trying to walk as much as I can, and I have taken up biking as well. I bike 8-9 miles on an average day, for my internship commute and it serves me well. Which is another cue from my skinny guy friends. They sure keep themselves active!
  3. Metabolism boosters. I tried quite a few new additions to my daily diet including Apple cider vinegar, green tea, Vitamin B complex, nuts, probiotics, coconut water and basically lots and lots more water.
  4. Bye bye bread and sugar. I gave up on most sweet foods, except for sweet tea and granola. I also completely cut out bread. No pizza, no pasta. No chocolates. No chips.
  5. Eating out less. This was relatively easy. Because I love cooking and I consume fewer meals than before, I end up packing myself a good lunch and a light dinner. In fact, move over breakfast, lunch has become my new favorite meal.
  6. Food logging. I did this obsessively for a month so that I could train my mind to understand what my daily intake should ideally look like. I gave it up because – it’s boring and annoying. But it did help me get a better idea of how much I should be eating.
  7. The weighing scale. I must admit, having a scale in my room helped me keep a better eye on my weight fluctuations. Seeing a declining number feels great.
  8. Portion control. This was quite easy. Basically you stop eating before you “feel full”, because it takes your brain some time to register that you’re actually full.
  9. Replacing snacking with water and nuts. I realized that I had a tendency to snack when I’m working and/or stressed. So I ended up consuming chips and chocolates and cookies which are all horrible for health. So I just replaced that by drinking water instead. If I feel too hungry, I have nuts or granola bars (okay, I know these aren’t that healthy but better than other junk).
  10. I stopped drinking calories. So no to fruit juices and soda and Venti Pumpkin Spice lattes (seriously what was I thinking before!). Oh I also stopped having coffee, because I realized the caffeine made me extremely neurotic. So I only consume teas, which are way milder. And oh, I absolutely cut out alcohol. That’s the worst!
  11. I inadvertently ended up consuming way less eggs, dairy and gluten, but I’m unsure if this directly affected my weight loss.
  12. Trusting Indian cooking. So I watched this documentary on how Indian cooking evolved over thousands of years to incorporate principles of Ayurveda and is actually well balanced, nutritionally. The mix of spices are actually medicinal. So basically I made myself lots of spicy Indian food. Really can’t tolerate bland salads.
  13. Watching loads of videos on how fast food companies are out to get you and how more than half of the country I currently live in is Obese and/or overweight. Apparently this is the first generation in the existence of humankind where the kids are expected to have shorter lifespans than their parents, thanks to the problems weight gain can bring to us. Scare tactics work!

These were just at the top of my head, but I just felt like jotting these down for future reference. Hopefully this helps a future me and maybe few others!