Health & Wellness: The Bad, The Ugly & How To Make It Better!

Suppers. Tipples. Laughs. Glasses clinking. And a lot of work thrown in between. While we all try to make the most of life in each passing moment, we often end up being oblivious to the fact that life might just be passing by us. As we push ourselves to optimise each minute of the day, our minds and bodies sometimes scream for entire days off for them to rejuvenate and replenish. We, at DSSC live to help you unwind over our secret suppers, and this once we decided to up the ante of that burst of wellness by talking about holistic living, and making health & wellness an everyday practice rather than a two-days-in-six-months-retreat ritual that most of us follow.

We got some of the top guns in the Health & Wellness craft to spill the beans on eating healthy and staying fit despite our chock-a-bloc schedules, striving for a healthy environment to live in and not just healthy bodies, and how to keep calm and carry on, i.e., maintain peace of mind even in the face of stressful situations. Though all of us believe we keep up with all things health and fitness, listening to these industry insiders was akin to a veil being lifted from our eyes, and realising that ‘Dr. Google’ as Rashi Kapoor (Leading Psychotherapist) calls it, is not always to the rescue. That even when we partake in activities thinking those do good to our mind, body, and soul, in reality are lifestyle blunders working against us-like Jai Dhar Gupta (Founder, Nirvana Being) said, “We’re used to opening windows in the mornings for “fresh air”, and have done so for years without realising that early mornings bring with them the most polluted air-the colder the part of the day, the higher the level of air pollution!”

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Sharing the dreadful details of Delhi’s air he informs us, “We’re consuming 12,000 litres of air everyday, which is absolutely toxic. While countries like Bosnia and Tehran declared a  state of emergency at an air quality level of 180, we had a level of 320 today, and on Diwali it will go up over 500. Over the last two years we’ve had less than seven safe air quality days according to government standards, and as per the current quality levels we’re smoking 20-25 cigarettes a day simply by breathing.” The prime role in turning around this situation is that of the government, however, as individuals we can help by becoming more aware ourselves and making those around us more aware too. “Download the air quality app,” says Jai, “The day I see everyone (in the room) raising his/her hand when asked if they have the app, only then will we begin to see a change.”

Not just on the outside, environmental hazards work to damage our health from the inside too, speaking on the foods that we consume today, Aakanksha Kapoor (Head of Marketing, I Say Organic) attests to the fact that as a result of soil pollution, “We unknowingly end up eating over 70 types of chemicals each day, which act as carcinogens, affect the nervous system, are linked to autism in children, and more.” Appalling as it is, she says the only way to counter this is to keep a tab on the kind of produce we eat, making a conscious decision to choose organic and natural products is non-negotiable in that respect.

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Talking about healthy eating, most of cringe from it because healthy does not equal sumptuous, enter Nadia Bahl & Carol Singh (Co-Founders, Antidote), the sister duo whose belief that, “Just because something is good for you doesn’t mean it can’t taste good” led to Antidote presenting us with options of cold pressed juices, superfood shots and almond milks-tasty doses of health packed into bottles! “All of us don’t have balanced diets all the time, some of us don’t have the inclination, and sometimes a busy schedule just doesn’t permit focus on health. That’s when you can replenish your diet with nourishing liquids like Antidote to balance out the ill effects of an erratic diet.”

Eating right is one pillar of fitness, the other being exercise. With lifestyle disorders swarming in and causing bodily disruptions, coupled with body image issues caused by social media invasion and scrutiny of the picture-perfect bodies displayed in mainstream media, “Body disorders are now extremely prevalent, starting at ages as young as 11 years. People, specially women, striving for becoming thin over being fit is one of the major causes of taking away focus from their overall wellness. Problems such as stress magnify diseases like PCOD, and the only way to tackle these is exercise and regulated eating schedule-staying physically active helps keep insulin levels in check, which when increases are a major contributor to the disease,” says Sumaya Dalmia (Founder, SUMAYA). Making Lean meats, egg whites, fruits with less sugar, pesticide-free foods, superfoods like flax seeds and avocados a part of your diet is what she suggests for keeping ‘em diseases at bay.

No stranger to the lifestyle disease PCOD herself, Aakanksha shared with us her fight against the disorder and how she managed to reverse it, “I’ve known I have PCOD since I was about 13 years old. Being a state level athlete throughout school meant I didn’t face its symptoms, but once I started with college and left regular exercise behind, I could see more acne and weight gain-that’s when I realised I need to get back to my fitness regime and get the disorder under control. Since then I’ve made exercise and organic eating a habit, and have been PCOD free for two years now!”

Image: MegaVogue
Image: MegaVogue

Taking cue from Sumaya’s insight on people focussing on being thin rather than fit, we asked Kabir Uppal (Co-Founder, FitNut) whether the new body trends cropping up each year add or take away from the pursuit of becoming fit; “These trends are pretty dangerous. Everybody’s body is different and may not necessarily be able to achieve the ‘thigh gap’ or the ‘ab crack’. These things may work really well for some serious social media traction but beyond that, it takes away from the pursuit of staying fit. People who are new to working towards a healthier lifestyle get swayed into setting unrealistic (and honestly, unnecessary) fitness goals. Not to take anything away from the people that work hard on achieving them, to each their own as they say.”

While we’re always on the lookout for physical fitness, it’s our mental well-being that usually takes a backseat. With stress being as common as common cold these days, we asked Rashi if there are any tell tale signs of panic attacks or other stress related issues that can help us identify whether we, or those near us are in need of support. She tells us, “While there’s no sure shot way of ascertaining that one is undergoing mental stress, what we can do for sure is create an environment where people feel comfortable opening up about such issues.” She adds that, “The concept of ‘strength’ and coping with issues without seeking help is nothing but a myth, it in fact leads a person further away from the solution, leaving a larger distance to be covered in order to solve the problem.”

With that heavy dose of lifestyle problems sneaking up on our healths and ways in which we can battle them away, we rounded up the revealing talk by asking them for tips to stay fit during this festive and wedding season, “Try to eat at home as much as you can,” says Aakanksha. Seconding her, Sumaya adds, “An hour of exercise each day takes care of a lot of aspects of physical as well as mental wellness.” Giving us some quick hacks is Carol, “A diluted apple cider vinegar shot works wonders for a hangover. Quinoa, seeds, milk or nut milk are great for replenishing your body post the party season.” Kabir adds to that, “Staying fit means being consistent. You may as well enjoy the celebrations instead of feeling guilty about it. But make sure you hit that workout twice as hard to stay on path and not let the season ruin all your progress.” For Rashi, nothing beats having a regular sleep cycle-something she’s yet to master herself! With that new found wisdom about our health and wellness, we’re off to creating healthier lifestyles and living it up this season the healthy way, and you all are welcome to hop onto the wagon!

Our sister organisation hosted The Start Up Diaries: Health & Wellness Edition last month. To get in on the secret to our next stellar event check out www.secretscholarsclub.com.