Radha A.

Radha A.

Alumni

Hello guys

Ive been in hiding for two reasons - the first is linked to the second, that a series of illnesses in the family took the mickey out of me and the second, that I have been unable to keep up with the daily routine and Ive been both too caught up, and now too embarrassed, to write sooner. But here I am, and I can at least still say that I am trying. I find the technical runs harder to sustain for the durations needed, and am working on those. Strength training is marginally better, and the free runs are as always the nicest bit for me. I am going wrong on the diet a wee bit, in terms of regularity. And most of all, Im going wrong on the sleep, so key to this whole return to a higher level of fitness. So this is a litany of woes kind of blog, each of which I am responsible for. Going to get my act together and come back with a more respectable status a few days on.

India's happiest festival - Diwali, the festival of light that promises both abundance and happiness - is this Sunday. The very best wishes to you all for a year of only good things.


Unlearning to learn

Been enjoying the runs and struggling, as I always do, with the strength exercises. I know the latter is key from a the point of view of overall fitness, toning the body and building muscle mass for the longer runs. I have such a weak core however that I suck at strength training (and clearly haven't had the will to change myself), and so get through the sets with relative misery. Need to change that! Any inputs are welcome...

On the running, the big 'unlearning' is to run to a moderate level of effort, without focusing on pace. In years of sporadic running, I've always paced myself to my husband, whom I like to run with :-) and he's a half marathoner and long distance cyclist. He runs about 40% faster than me so I've somehow always tried to keep a faster cadence, running 5K in about 30 minutes in the past (now down to way slower at about 37 minutes!). NOW, however, my aim is to stay at levels between 4-6 on the effort meter - and I use the 'keep up an easy conversation with myself' check - which means that I must walk parts of the run to ensure I can always talk through it. My concern is that if Matt says crank it up to 6-8 on the effort meter, I must be able to do it, and this slightly unrhythmic style that I'm now at in trying to stay in the effort meter range feels incorrect somehow. I just need to run slower but through the whole run rather than this 'run, then slow down, then run' silliness and I'm not able to get there!

So there's a lot of unlearning to be done. And a whole stack of learning. I'd love to get inputs on how I can improve the running cadence to a lower intensity, more steady rhythm, and any encouragement on the strength training is deeply valued!

I can see so many of the pack doing so well, and you're running in lovely environments. Take care and stay strong.

Today is Dussehra, or Vijayadashmi, as it is called in the south of India - a beautiful festival in India, which technically celebrates the triumph of good over evil :-) Happy, happy dussehra to you all!


Commitment

Been nine days and I'm disappointed in myself. Strength exercises are at an all time low and without those, any amount of cardio - which I can do easy - doesnt work. I HAVE to prioritise this above work and family, because it means prioritising myself. Guys, any inputs welcome... I had a great start and just weak days thereafter. Feel terribly tired, which is strange because when I did PCP, energy was at an all time high. Travel and rehabilitating a disabled pup we brought home a few weeks ago eats into time more than usual though I'm up at the crack of dawn everyday. Im sleeping less than I should and exercising less than I should. Both criminal in our Kenzai lexicon. Going to fix it.


Back to Life!

A year ago, when I completed the 90-day Kenzai, I wrote to my Pegasus team mates that we should touch base in a year and see how we are doing on our respective journeys to better health, higher levels of fitness. Almost on cue, the End of the Year challenge is here and I'm loving it! Got the skipping in both days - easy 25 minutes, but the upper-body strength exercises KILL me, as they always have. So THAT's what I need to beat in these 40-days (and my penchant for SWEETS!!!). I'm really looking forward to crossing paths again with my Pegs buddies, some of whom I hope are also taking the challenge, but also to meeting my new team mates. Always lots to learn from everyone, and as we know, there is comfort in shared pain, but even more, in shared achievement! So here's to us! In India, our biggest festival - Diwali - the festival of lights - akin to Christmas - is this week. So happy, happy Diwali to everyone from this neck of the woods.


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The Triumph of Self 

This is our last blog, meant to record our sense of achievement after 90 days of regimented exercise and diet, but that’s perhaps the wrong way to look at it. It’s been 90 days of discipline and of self-awareness. Of learning once again, almost like when we were kids, of how much the human body, and the human mind, is capable of. Of how little we actually use our potential, because we choose to limit ourselves within that which makes us comfortable. 


All our lives are busy – how can one possibly get in exercise every day, without fail, building up carefully as guided, day after day after day? Few of us have the time to manage a diet, and many of us find comfort in food, in meals, after long hard days, or grab what’s available – burgers for example – when we’re on the go. And then you realise – as any of us who signs up for PCP (now Kenzai) does, that we can do both, manage the right diet and regular exercise, AND come out stronger and better physically - and more aware of our own strength of willpower, then we have ever been.


Our ‘gurus’ teach you many things, our peers and team-mates equally so. You learn expertise and wisdom from the first group, and commitment and ideas from the other. You can’t do without either on this intense journey. But as I have said before, Kenzai is what you make of it. You are shown a path, you are ‘in the limelight’ with everyone else, making it hard to ‘bunk’ it. But we have to walk it ourselves as individuals – and those that will come after us will do so too. So, for anyone doing the Kenzai Body programme now, the onus is on you – as it was on us in Pegasus between July and September of 2013 – as I said, as individuals, and as a team – to get to where we committed ourselves to reaching.

 

For those that commit fully – I would direct you to my friend Yasmeen’s blog – to see the possibility of true physical transformation. For those who need help when it becomes really tough, read carefully the lessons the Kenzai team puts up, and I would ask you to visit my teammate Scott Burns’ blog of September 24 –pearls of wisdom there, that we all nodded our heads in agreement to. And then, I would ask you to visit anyone’s ‘Complete’ blog in Pegasus – I’ve never noted anyone not benefitting from this great programme – how much, however, depends on you – very much like life, only that luck plays a part in life, but not in Kenzai :-). As I have said earlier, I couldn’t commit fully, to my own loss, but what I have gained is tough to describe – in inches and weight, sure, but that’s a smaller story. It’s my own sense of finding time for ‘me’, of feeling real freedom in exercise, and of choosing this as a way of life. Which is why I cannot, for the life of me, say I have completed PCP or completed the Kenzai programme. What I will say, is that I am now ‘in the PCP mode’, Kenzai for me will be how I will choose to live, and it would not have come to this without these three months.

 

So all you newbies in Pearl, and everyone who will come after Pegasus, we have been there, and you will be here. It’s as easy as that, step by step by step. Just stay the course. It’s the RHYTHM that is key, that’s what our body needs. ‘Getting into the groove’ has acquired new meaning. This Sheila certainly got her groove back :-).

 

In a nutshell, I’m pleased as punch with me now. And I’m pleased as rum punch with where Pegasus as a whole is. What a journey – and my dear Pegs – PLEASE let’s touch base on the count of our individual fitness goals, say, a year from now, tougher, stronger, better! To Patrick, Sarah, and Ward, a BIG thank you – not just for Kenzai Body, but for your humility and patience with so many of us. I hope you will always keep this spirit – you are living the dream, with Sarah back in Re-peak, though I hardly think she needs it (11 minute plank!!!!), and with Patrick defining exactly how much in your own control your body can be – when he started, all the training videos show him so fit but muscled – and you can see in later videos how he would have made the shift, whenever he decided to – to being fit and muscled AND lean. It’s a sense of purpose, of control, I can only hope to emulate. Thank you both, and thank you Ward, for the very kind occasional post and query responses. And Navi, this wouldnt have happened if it wasnt for you taking the lead, for believing that fitness is the ONLY way, and for bringing PCP into our lives. Thanks hubbs!


Till we meet again, Adios amigos, with two fat hugs each.

A long PS for whatever it's worth, from the uniqueness of my own circumstances (each of us will have unique contexts and I'm feeling good enough to spout some for those yet to get into/complete Kenzai!): First, if you’re vegetarian, as I am, - AND you dont drink, as I dont - not much will change in your diet, you will eat more than you normally do, and not much will be taken away from the table (unlike for those who eat red meat or enjoy their wine).  So you might wonder what could possibly bring dramatic change? Well, the trick there is in the portion sizes, but even more, in the REGULARITY of food intake. You don’t know how valuable that is till you see that despite so much food, tone and definition comes up, and weight comes down, relentlessly, happily so. As I said, rhythm.

 

Second, for those of you who run busier lives than most (we all do, just that some have a wider set of commitments willy nilly in certain phases in our lives – like me at the moment) - when you pick Kenzai, try to make time for it by emptying out the rest of your schedule before you sign up. If you can’t, as I couldn’t, then know that it will be very hard to stay the course and you need to be prepared to work double hard, to inconvenience yourself seriously, to make it. Don’t expect it to be a breeze, you will need 1.5 hours for exercise by the time you are in your last month, and you will feel totally exhausted on certain days. So be prepared so you dont make excuses to yourself.

 

Third, if you have any physical ailment – like I have a weak back – the worst thing you can do is feel like you can move mountains (because you will feel like that after 2-3 weeks), and become careless with the exercises. Concentrate as you exercise, and ‘listen’ to your body. Write in to the trainers, they know their stuff and will tell you what to do, if something isn’t feeling right. Don’t ignore it. I lost 10 days as a result of trying to be smart.


Kenzai-ed!!!
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90! Done!!! May the Pegasus soar!


Musings...

End of Day 85 and my apologies to everyone for not writing for so many days. Have logged in and written on my Pegs team mates' blogs but not posted something myself, because all I have been able to do is to just hang in there with incessant travel (I'm off again tomorrow till Sat, 4 cities) and the pressure of work that just keeps building up. So if I get ANY time at all, I exercise or I sleep.

Basically that means that I am adhering to the PCP/Kenzai mantra, because it is now a way of life. So I think exercise, I think strength and I think healthy. For me, the greatest takeout from the past 85 days has been this change of mindset, it has re-affirmed some beliefs, and totally changed so many others. Just as I think it has everyone else's - thats why we died with excitement for the 1st indulgence - and no one said much about the 2nd - and said - and probably did nothing about the 3rd. Exactly as the lessons said.

How have I done? Well, to be honest, from a PCP discipline standpoint, average. A busted back muscle took out more than 10 days, and the last 14 days have been so idiotically full of travel commitments that clubbed with a still-sore back, I have not managed the workout each day. I miss it, I feel SO good when its done, but some days, I simply havent been able to - opting for 6 hours sleep instead of 4.5 hours and a workout.

You get out of PCP what you give to it, so I will end the official 90-days of PCP not ripped, but I will end it, as I said, with pride, and with deep affection for each of the other six of you - enthusiastic, determined Yas, our funny, funny man who keeps everyone feeling positive - Scott, quiet Tom with the lovely gentle demeanour, quieter Dhruv with razor blade focus, and brave, affectionate Miki. Last but certainly not least, Payal, our baby in the group - who fell ill with Typhoid! - I have only just learnt yesterday that it was not just the flu, and shes kept such a brave front. I will do this again with you whenever you want Payal, just to keep you company. Promise. And then, how can we forget - Sarah - the one person whom I've been as worried about as I am about clients when I am behind on a study or paper - because I havent blogged and I know I would have disappointed her on that count, and on not keeping up with the game as she would have wished. Its great to see how you discipline when you must, and ease up when you relax that all your fledglings are doing okay Sarah. Thank you for your effort on our behalf and I will say it again when we conclude, or whenever I think of you.

What did I learn? One, that consistent effort is better than flashes in the pan. Two, that there are always things you can improve on - your own approach to life included. Three, that at 41, you can still feel like you're 30, and that you've only just begun.

I started out on PCP not because I wanted a va-va-voom body, but because I have run into a medical challenge that only muscle strength can counter as I get older and it scared me enough to try it at the busiest time in my annual calendar. Result? I now know that I can push that body clock back because I have seen my limbs strengthen, my abs muscles take on much more than they have ever been able to do after a serious surgery 3 years ago and my persistent knee ache go away (a bothersome embedded cyst). I intend to continue this way of being - and I would request everyone that come after Pegasus and after Niccolo - to do the same - and watch myself hopefully emerge even stronger a few months on. Again, can one have done better? OF COURSE. Am I sorry that I didn't? A bit. But I honestly feel so much pride in others in our group who have that for some funny reason it makes up (doesnt get me off the hook with Sarah I know - bow). I ran my usual 5K after more than 4 months on Sunday after the 24-minute skipping. And I ran it lighter and more purposefully. Despite a break from that form of cardio, I managed a 5.3 minute per km at mid-day - still WAY below Navjit's 4.3 minutes per km but I know that if I keep up the PCP way of life, I will beat him - and I'd like to try that :-)

Do I look better? Dont know, but I FEEL better. I've dropped about 1.5 kgs, and an inch each off my waist and hips (the girls will get that) - having a 26-inch waist once again was totally unexpected, its been many moons with the waist band consistently measuring between 27 and 28 inches! Do I need to do more - YES, YES, YES. I am nowhere on strength right now compared to where one needs to be, and I hope to continue to try. I would like to come back to Kenzai Body at some point.

I know we will all say farewell officially in a few days but I will put on record right now, how fabulously I think the Pegs have done. Payal, you know you cannot have helped dropping out at Day 65 and the change till then has been really great. My promise and offer stands. Me - I have been average, but as I said, you get back what you put in. Yas, what can we say? I salute you. Scott, equally. My father saw your photograph and promptly said, its not the same man is it? Miki, it was probably the hardest for you and you have been just as good as Yas and Scott, all things considered, in my view. It cannot have been easy to get into this kind of exercise and to have dropped 12 kgs in just this time span, and despite the tragedy in your family. Dhruv and Tom, BIG change in the both of you, which again, cannot have been easy as you were both concentrating also on getting weight down, not just strengthening the body - and you did a fantastic job - your pictures are living proof. Altogether, the change in the Pegs is a living embodiment of the extent of change possible. Its a team I'm proud to make the rearguard up on, and one I would team up with anytime.

My intent to meet everyone remains - with enough advance notice this time Tom :-)

So thats that. I've written enough for each of the last 12 days that I didnt write so if you've dozed off, pardon me! Many hugs all around guys - 4 more days, and a lifetime after that.


Kenzai. Amen.

Heard the video on the new company name just now guys - Kenzai - Kenzai Body - the meaning fits perfectly I think so thats great. A sense of loyalty will see me saying PCP for a while I must confess though, but thats because oldies like me take time to change! What is also wonderful is how the PCP/Kenzai team is continuing to evolve, new programmes are coming up in the new year I hear. So it could remain a small group, specialising and doing the same thing over and over, or it could continue to metamorphose, get better and better and impact the way people approach wellness in ever widening circles. Every good wish to Patrick, Sarah and the team that's helping us all as you transition into this phase - continuity with the past and yet onwards to newer and better. Good luck and God bless.

Ive had a bad week with PCP. The back is sore, the travel is non-stop - Im in my seventh city in nine days and it wont stop through until mid-Sep. Im managing the diet but feeling very weak so cannot manage all the workouts. Down and out. I skipped early morning today, am closing up now to go get the strength workout done before a mad day in Bombay descends on me.

I hope everyone's well. Sorry to have been offline for a few days. Will catch up soon.



The toughest thing about rolling pins on me is the impact on the side pelvic bones - whatever they are called - I have a dark maroon welt on the left side thats painful when I roll. I guess the positive way of looking at this is that the fat covering the bone is less?! (or Im doing it wrong??) 

Another week, another set of exercises. I'm a bit tired now, not getting enough sleep i feel though im a dead man once in bed...I love the skipping, still HATE the tricep stuff, and feel like a breaking down pendulum when I do the side captain's chair! As they say, onwards soldier...

Guys, you're all an inspiration. Scott and Yas set the benchmark on getting to fitness, beyond just weight loss, Dhruv, Miki and Tom, just LOOK at your week 1 and 9 snaps - its dramatic. I was looking at dhriv's and saying to his week 1 photo - he cannot have been there! The change is super. And Payal, you're our hot pink glamour quotient - svelte is moving in! Keep it up gang, last stretch, let's please not flag in the home stretch....


Sarah's post for week 9 said it all - we are in good condition but not what we signed up for. So lets make this week, and the three that will follow, really count guys. A number of people in Mica before us have done an astounding job - and you can see the Opal team struggle a bit in their first month, as many of us did. We are now top dogs by default - LET'S MAKE IT COUNT :-)

I enjoyed Sarah's link for grocery shopping in 12 different countries - 12 different ways of living, with food at the centre as it has been for so many of us. At the 'grand country' level - the difference in living standards across the world, between the under-developed, developing and developed world is so clearly reflected through that mosaic of 12 pictures. Also reflected through the spends indicated is the differential in currencies and the consequent cost of living in each country - our currency is at a particularly miserable level of 65 to the USD - unprecedented, unforeseen, and with potentially horrible consequences for India unless we fix it in the next 2-3 months. Fingers crossed. How far each country is up the food value chain is equally reflected - meat, eggs, poultry reflect so much more in the wealthier nations, and more grains etc in the not so wealthy. 

At a PCP level, you can see MEGA processed foods in the developed countries - chips and chocolates, even home delivery pizza - a mind boggling array of packaged foods! And you see simpler, but healthier choices in the not so wealthy nations. So in a nutshell, depending on which lens you're looking through, you will identify the winning way - for us, its certainly NOT the pictures full of boxes of salty, processed, preservative loaded stuff! By the way, I quite liked the Indian pic - a nice mix of VEGES, my favourite, and just a tad of processed to show buying power. AND the man of the house sitting erect with his hands gripping the chair arms like the patriarch he must be, or wants to be! :-)

Hugs all, LETS GO FOR IT!!!!! Miki, back to Tokyo, back to PCP. Yas, back to health, back to PCP. Dhruv, Payal, Tom - you're the steady lot, stay there! Scott - need more pics to make us grin!


Starting over

Hello all. I pulled the muscle in my back on August 6, and got back to exercising on August 15 - almost 10 days, with half baked exercise attempts in the middle and barely any skipping. I am therefore starting over, with many lessons learnt. If injured, dont push beyond what your body is instinctively telling you is its current limit. Trying to be a hero backfires - I got super excited that I was better last weekend, determined to 'make up', overdid both skipping and strength and bang, down again. Second, be careful during this  time - look after yourself and try to ensure full concentration when exercising, because we have only three months together, why risk it? I have a weak back and there is a chance I ignored warning twinges because I wasnt concentrating on the muscles I was working to realise that perhaps I am erring. We have twelve weeks, and I have ended up wasting over a week. Third, we are NOT where we have to be - we are getting there - and a slowdown like this can take away a lot of the gains made - I was beginning to get clear definition in the tummy area - swoosh, its gone. Yeeagh. So, as I said, I am starting over. Five days of full training behind me and I am back on the track towards our individual and collective goal.

The best lesson however is that this needs to become a way of life. I thought beyond September as I waited with frustration for the pain and lock in the back to reduce, and was reminded of my intent at the start of the programme - to BE stronger, physically and by corollary, to be so mentally. I'd like to believe that I have strong will power, but not when it comes to helping myself. That is what I want to change, and now, with five weeks to go - as Sarah said, more behind us than in front of us - I hope to display that with PCP. The flowers in my lovely Moraiya tree have fallen - its a two-day phenomenon every season. So the tree is starting over, and so am I!


Independence
Tree

Today is the 15th August. I have no fitness stories with my back where it is, just sorry ones of not keeping pace.

But today is special. Today, 66 years ago, India became an independent country - an independence hard fought, with sacrifice and commitment, and the pain of partition that all of our families in the north of India feel personally to the day. And it has dawned glorious and beautiful - the breeze is rustling through the trees, its quiet everywhere and I can only hear birds, multiple chirps and calls, including from two red vented robins right outside the bedroom window energetically strengthening their nest in the bamboo. I have a tree in the bedroom terrace that flowers only for two days four times a year. It flowered yesterday, and is in full bloom today - the fragrance is heady.

It is a day to celebrate India, and the idea of India, for its permanence, its resoluteness - its ability to sustain, sometimes despite us. To salute those that came before us - as the saying goes, for our tomorrow, they gave their today. Some of us Pegs are Indian, the others are not, but I wanted to write to you all on this day, because we all know the value of freedom, of self respect and pride, of doing our best, of being the best that we can be. In some ways perhaps, PCP is a manifestation of that itself, and therefore this swell of positive energy always within our little PCP gang.

God bless. Jai Hind.


We shall overcome

Everyone in my generation in urban India learnt a patriotic song (one of many!) - we shall overcome. Goofy tune, low modulated voices like a hymn and our little chests would fluff up with pride and determination when singing it. I found myself humming it to myself - after like three decades, as I got ready for my evening shot at strength exercises.

And I did overcome the pain. Skipped again because the morning saw two batches because of the pain. Then did today's strength exercises very carefully paying attention to the back. And managed them all without shrieking pain. I may pay for it tomorrow but right now ive got a cold pack planned, which will help and tomorrow will just have to be a better day.

Navjit, my husband is off for his cycling trip to stunning Ladakh for two weeks this coming week. I am very worried, it's high altitude, arduous and no decent medical help - and he has a dislocated collar bone. But he's raring to go and I'm staying positive that all will go as planned. God bless him. With that spirit, the least I can do is get off my butt and test what I can do. So I'm trying.

Have a great weekend guys - and to everyone but especially to Yasmeen, the very best wishes for Eid today. May the days ahead be good for you in every way. God bless.


Disaster.

I pulled a back muscle in Bombay day before - unable to run any of the back, arm or abs exercises. This morning, skipping sent shooting pains so stopped. Saw a doc, took an x-ray, all clear. Its a weak spine per se, so muscles try to over-compensate and sometimes get twanked out of shape. Resultantly, no strength exercises for two days and no skipping today. I am feeling better today, head back on the red-eye after a meeting tonight and will aim to go for it in the comfort of home. Miserable and anxious.

All you guys compensate for me and get there alright! I will catch up.


Skipping in the rain!

Guys, I havent blogged I know, but I am reading all yours, and writing in to you. I do however owe an apology to Sarah and PCP - I need to write my own blog in addition to enjoying reading everyone else's and responding to them!

The Indian monsoon is in full swing - its a glorious day of rain today - and I skipped in it! As a child I loved getting soaked in the rain, and still do when the chance allows. So this morning, I picked up the skipping rope, opened the back door and the heavens opened up, slowly at first and then faster, through the bamboo that encloses our little Zen garden at the back. So I stood there, wondering what to do and then I said WHAT THE HECK!! I enjoyed myself thoroughly and would strongly recommend it! (and yes, I was careful about not slipping)!

So, in week 6, what can I nail, and what is still HORRIBLY difficult? In ascending order of difficulty: Skipping - easy. Pistol squats, lunges, squats, creep - can do fairly easily. Side sit ups, Pretzel lift, sit-ups - also can do. Curls, Da Vinci, Lawn Mower, Seated Pull down etc - tough, but do-able. Floor jumps - my age screams out at me!!! Plank - YEEAGH. Sarah's pic will swim in front of my eyes now to make sure I get there. Tricep dips, or anything related to the darn triceps - I'm a quivering mess of determination but quivering! Pull ups, even negative - c'est impossible!

Food - am okay. I have 28 sweet teeth as you may remember, so going out and foregoing dessert (or my piece of dark chocolate in bed) is a killer! For the rest of the food, Im actually eating more than I ever have so Im good and I dont find any of it boring. I think I could be a lot tougher when it comes to salt intake etc and that's my next goal, will tell you when I get there.

My travels start again, had a few days of peace at home and now Im a travelling circus through until the end of PCP with a few major conferences also thrown in. So my little lifeline of buoyancy - the six other pegs, please keep writing, please keep getting stronger! 

My little pledge is to meet Sarah and the Pegs outside India at some point in life, to say hello and thank you for sharing this short but intense journey. As they say, the journey is sometimes the destination, and I'm good with that too!


Oct 21st, 2014

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