Sustainable foodie: An Icebreaker speech

Foodie at heart

Some people eat to live, while others live to eat. I definitely belong to the latter category. What about you?

Good morning fellow toastmasters and guests!!

I work as an Engineer/PM at an Insurtech startup Nirvana Insurance. I am in love with the startup ecosystem, have done a failed stint at entrepreneurship and am always searching for interesting ideas to venture out again.

However coming back, I am a big foodie. Growing up in Jaipur, eating delicious Rajasthani food loaded with ghee was a routine thing. This love for food is in no way limited to home food. I have the custom to do a foodie trip and stop by the famous eateries in all the new places I visit. Folks from Mumbai, do you remember having the sandwich ice cream of Rustomjee or Buttery pav bhaji at Sardar’s? These were my go-to places. But, excess of anything is harmful. So, being a foodie also had its side effects. I was chubby weighing north of 120 kgs, just 5 years back. If you are wondering how I am visible on this small screen, I am only 2/3rd of that now. For reference, please check out my before and after pic. I would love to take you through this transformation journey.

Before: May 2014, After pic: Dec 2017

I guess being a foodie is in my blood. My family has roots in Ajmer, which has the staple breakfast of Kadhi Kachori, yes spicy and fried puff first thing in the morning. One morning, my uncle in Ajmer, who was strictly advised to not have anything oily, returned home from the bus stand. My aunt checked if he had anything unhealthy outside and he was like “How can I? Doctors have advised me not to”. The very next day, his pic, where he is seen eating Kadi Kachori at a stall near the bus stand, appears in the city newspaper with the heading “Chaat ke Chatore”, i.e… “Lover of spicy food”. Now you can imagine the drama that ensued. And this is just one of the many incidents in my family. So yes, foodieness does run in the blood, but so do diabetes and obesity.

The biggest problem with being a foodie and not having a good metabolism is that you just get bigger by the day. That’s what brought me to 120 kgs. It was all fine till I went to college. I was not able to keep up with my friends in physical activities or for that matter even day-to-day activities like walking to the lectures. My health also started getting affected. I started having breathing issues. That’s when I decided enough is enough. Something needed to change as it wasn’t a sustainable lifestyle.

I tried to run, gym, but all were discontinued. I ended up doing what I really liked from childhood, that was cycling every day. I started surviving mostly on salads and fruits. I did have my cheat days once in a while. But, I trained my mind to keep a calorie counter and not waste calories in mediocre unhealthy food like canteens Maggi and conserve the amount for my favourite dishes like the Rustomjee’s Icecream. It was very difficult to leave Samosas, Chocolates, but I said to myself “Karan, be intrepid, it’s all about 21 days” and the habits materialized. Drops of water constitute the ocean, similarly, those daily efforts compounded and my weight reduced to 80. Thankfully, I have been able to maintain it for the past 4 years by having a fruit-only day for every dominos I order. I guess I have earned the right to call myself a sustainable foodie.

To conclude, I would like to cite a quote from one of my favourite books Atomic Habits by James Clear, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” I wanted to be fit for a long time, but it never materialized. It was the system of daily exercise and the mindset to conserve calories that helped me achieve my goal. This journey made me realize that goals just give you a direction to work on and any goal is achievable if one commits to it every day. Fellow toastmasters and guests, next time, while thinking of an audacious goal, think of the habits you need to inculcate.

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