THE OFFICIAL BLOG OF RAHUL HARSH RAJE

Sharing nuggets of knowledge and ideas accumulated on health, strength and fitness based experiences. While here, feel free to hit the comments section and share your invaluable feedback about the blog's betterment. Have fun.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Universe Is Conspiring Against You


I can't call myself a Shahrukh Khan fan by any chance(Here, I just offended a very big bunch of female friends of mine). However. being a movie buff, I can't deny the Pulsar of emotions which got sent across when he said the following, a la 'Om Shanti Om'

The dialogue that became the fave go to phrase of flirtations across the streets
Loosely translated, it means, that If we set ourselves to attain something with full vigor, the Universe conspires to make it available for us. While an artistic expression well worth its weight in gold, something worth our notice crossed my mind the other day when I heard this phrase being said by my Old Buddy Ranveer to the good looking office mate of hers in hopes to fetch her to a dinner later in the night and maybe for some fun following it.

Now those of us in pursuit of our fitness and physical transformation goals may very well understand how we continuously live in an ecosystem where we keep seeing things, people and their dogs doing things and making us do stuff which goes right into the face of developing a five-star physique. Even those of us in pursuit of a decent level of health and wellness may often find themselves in a deep rut of tasks, duties and responsibilities that might allow us to do anything but consume that meal we had so meticulously planned to consume during the 4:00 PM work-break in office. Sounds familiar? Then possibly the following list of bombs that get dropped on most of us folks on a daily basis might make you jump from your chair and exclaim in agreement:




1. Driving for hours at length through a devastating traffic jam to the office, elevating your stress levels to a point higher than Burj Khalifa, Dubai

2.  Answering multiple phone calls/texts/whatsapp messages en route office.

3. Hitting the Tata Nano ahead of you in traffic while trying to decide whether you're too close or too far from it. Even worse, getting hit from the back by a Land Cruiser who couldn't figure out whether he was too close or too far from you.

4. Finally reaching that dreaded place you have been having nightmares about the entire night, the office, only to find out that you have forgotten your ID card along with the TV remote last night when you jumped right on the couch turning the TV on on entering the house. WTF, now let's just drag ourselves to the security gate and get a pass made: another 15 minutes wasted(which we shall soon see may prove fatal during the later part of the day).

5. A pile of million emails waiting to crush us under their weight and anxiety. Most of them have been someone somewhere in our office team cursing us for that particular block of code we didn't do according to what's stated.

6. By this time you have mentally estimated the time by which you will be free in the evening so that you can hit the gym to lift some heavy stuff. But wait...oh no.. what did you just miss in the list of emails: a meeting invite by 7:00 PM... GOOD HEAVENS... it should at least take an hour to complete. Ok, so the fight just gets tougher today.


7. It's lunch time and you reach the office cafeteria to select the most physique friendly food option(your spouse and you both probably did not have any time left in the morning to prepare the macro-nutrient planned lunch since he/she had a critical client meeting to organize today) only to find a four item menu consisting of some sandwiches, chhole bhature, paranthas, Biryanis and other similar lard-tastic delicacies. So much for your clean eating intentions. You suck it up and order the least destructive looking one out of them.


8. If your office is like mine, the crux of the work accumulates by the afternoon, the time your body's circadian rhythms are asking for that revered afternoon power nap. Work though has different intentions and you are forced to focus at your peak at a time your CNS is feeling the most grilled from the previous training session in the gym. It's a tug of war between your body's recovery abilities and the ever-increasing pile of office deliverables  in which seemingly, office work tends to somehow always win. After all, it's what we deliver in the office that gives us our paycheck; even though we may set records doing the heaviest deadlifts around in our gym, it may fetch us not merit in the eyes of the Boss, whatsoever.

My face when Boss undermines my 400 Pound deadlift and instead calls me to office on a weekend.
9. Oh, and did I just mention all this time you will be seated in continuous lumbar and cervical flexion on your office chair, which may probably stretch to hours on end while you are so fixated to that issue resolution which needs to be delivered before evening. And before we know it, this horse riding on the back of our work has stealthily turned us into a slouched back mess continuously sliding in the trap of dysfunction rendering our immobile joints more and more unready for the strength training session we are so desperately planning to have later.

Prolonged sedentary work tends to place our spines in a compromised position such as the excessive Lumbar flexion shown here

Imagine placing a sheer stress of 100 Kilograms on a spine as deformed as a continuously seated individual's while doing an axially loaded movement such as Barbell Back squats or its likes and you can get an idea how the office lifestyle is making us more and more contraindicated for strength training.


Her squats are relatively easier on her spine since she probably did not spend hours sitting on he office chair

10. It's 9:00 PM and you somehow were able to save your soul from that dreaded meeting where multiple bosses conducted a psychological torture upon you critiquing your hard work(BTW, such practices become inevitable in an office space set up and it get tough to figure out whom to blame for this). Your mind is amidst a constant vendetta where a part of it says you need to rush to the grocery store to buy supplies for the upcoming days and the list of consumables which wify has painstakingly listed and suggested, The other part is still faithful to the idea of hitting the gym. You seem to have become that guy torn between two worlds, only to succumb to the bigger and more important world that you are a part of and will continue to be in for the times to come. Off you rush to the nearest departmental store/mall for doing the remaining chores of the day. Off goes your physique enhancement plans  out of the window. Another day wasted.

What's more frightening is how the effect of missed training and misplaced clean eating days accumulate and turn into an avalanche of consistent unfit lifestyle and before we know it, we end up being slaves to our altered lifestyles and one fine morning wake up to realize how out of shape we have grown all this while. My, what went wrong.. How the hell am I going to reverse all this shit now? All this months of dysfunction?

And by the way, we aren't yet even talking about the amount of travel, flying, documenting, meetings, late night working, inconvenient shifts, prolonged telephone calls, war room dramas, standing in rows to get a lackluster meal, pulling our hair apart during an impossible traffic jam on the way back home and practically almost majority of what we are doing almost on a daiy basis nowadays. Which one of these do you feel looks conducive to helping you improve your lifts and performance in the gym? Where can you possibly fit a single possible activity that helps groove your target of a visible six pack? Did I hear you say...





"My Goodness.. I'm So Scared.. Please tell me there's a way out. Please...."

Okay so fortunately for us all dragging our as**s through office chores everyday and going through lifestyle changes that are so contradictory to our fitness ambitions, there IS a way out. Though this asserts the importance of proactively keeping our fitness pursuit alive in the background during whatever we are really ding throughout the day, the situation dies demand for some active steps to be immediately taken to reverse all teh damage that is being constantly done to our bodies and mind everyday.


Here's a very concise list of what can be done everyday and made a habit:

1. Apply the 20-20 principle I learnt  several moons ago. Every 20 minutes, get up form your chair and stand, walk and elongate your spine for at least 20 seconds. You may even make it even longer by taking a break altogether. Frequent breaks from work have been time and again shown to improve your focus, attention and productivity at the work at hand. Definiely reap its benefits.
2. Plan your weeks' groceries ahead. Weekly planning as compared to daily can make available unbelievable time at your disposal during the work week which can very viably be utilized for a 45 minute gym session. What's more, you can even plan your own designed meal using the ingredients you wish rather than cutting the corners later on in absence of time.
3. Become a morning guy. I was committing the same mistake for several months after starting consulting for my recent firm. The distance of my office from home made me think that training in the evenings in between work or after it might actually be a sane idea. Well, EPIC FAIL ensued as all my plans ultimately ended up sabotaged and I had to get involved in work with multiple teams sitting across different locations. Until one day, one colleague suggested me with these golden words:
"Why don't you start training in the gym in the morning"
And the rest is history. Training in the morning takes it out of the way for the rest of the day and we can fearlessly storm through all the work. A word to the wise though: Morning sessions require more attentive planning and preparation beforehand which may require you to pack your bags and meals before you sleep at night. A small detail though which can help you with a million dollar convenience.

4. Start using the office gym: I am very lucky to be working in an office which has a state of the art gym with access to any amount of iron I can fantasize about. If your office too does have one, wait no further in getting enrolled for it and save the hours of traveling to some other gym. In alternative scenarios, choose the gyms closest to your office so you can still save a good dividend on the driving. You may even end up saving considerable fuel and logistics cost.

5. Start hydrating more and more at work. Don't let the long duration office call dehydrate you. Keep going over to the water cooler and consuming water. Apart from the mobility which results from frequently walking, hydrating more results in tremendous improvements in the quality of your training sessions. Your appearance improves and your health experiences a boatload of wellness benefits. Sound like a great deal to me. Keep reminding yourselves of the water breaks.

Don't miss on this free of cost bounty provided by mom nature.
 6. Start doing work in chunks: Rather than utilizing the all-in-one-go mindset, shift to a installment-based push approach where you dedicate a quota of time to a particular deliverable before switching your attention and resources to the second one, before doing that to their third one, before eventually revisiting the first one.
This modus operandi serves well in cases where a theme arises when you are being swarmed by workload coming from multiple bosses. Such a work scheme may also enable you to re-articulate your mind without getting too hooked on to an activity. While some individuals may have reservations about multitasking, a parallel approach like this will still do justice to multiple tasks which are having an inhuman toll on your management capabilities and may eventually help you end your work day on time, in more ideal conditions. Definitely worth a try this Monday.


7. Keep Hitting the refresh switch. Take mini-sabbaticals whenever possible. That adage that you are not your work should be well adhered to when you find yourselves neck deep in work only to realize that you are in a fatal pedestal in your career where the minds is simply unable to free itself for any kind of decision making. Taking a mini break ranging from a fortnight to a month may help you reset your mind and body and help you do some much needed soul searching about things that my be going wrong with the current set up. Often, such breaks may not even involve you having any form of strenuous physical exercise and may still deliver benefits by the amount of tranquility it may render to your thoughts. You may return invigorated and hit the work hard.


8. Go for a walk around the campus especially when you are required to stay late nights in the office for a particular deployment.. Office spaces might often appear as an altogether different and more calm and enjoyable place during the serene night hours with lesser people and more greens to company you, especially if you work in an office as lush and green in its surroundings as mine:

Dude got a nice office

9. Meditate: Now, you do not need to get transformed into a Buddhist zen when it comes to integrating some meditation time into your schedule. Start simple by practicing easy five minutes resets employing fundamental breathing techniques. Here's a bunch of cool takeaways from Greatist




If The Universe is conspiring, develop your own counter-assault plan and hit it out with full throttle

Eventually, the world keeps changing and even the most dedicated and driven fitness enthusiasts having a job may face serious havoc confronting them and standing between them and their coveted body. While this list isn't complete, it does attempt to draw the reader's attention towards how the world around us is no longer the one which was conducive to help us reach a better state of health and wellness, in fact it might just be the very contrary. The world is turning into a very convenient place which is turning every individual succumbing to the idea into a couch potato or chronically deactivated one. Thankfully the power to reverse these effects lies within our own minds and bodies. The difference lies only in mindfully making a choice and sticking to the cards, no matter what.