Nikhil loves to coach people to a healthier lifestyle as a hobby, he’s a tech engineer, and loves meditation like a drug. He is the 2nd pop up interview here and was awesome to answer a couple questions for me as we were at a mutual friend’s birthday party. These are unplanned, while I’m out, and walk-up-to-a-random-stranger interviews. I have some questions ready to ask people and am constantly on the look-out. It has become an awesome way to talk to people I might never have talked to before.
I was so impressed by Nikhil’s dedication. He really believes in everyone’s ability to be strong mentally and physically if they are willing to put in the effort. Listening to the way he researched healthy living before diving in made me want to sign up to be one of his students. Thank you for taking the time for me, Nikhil. I think it’s so inspiring that you’ve been able to help others on their journey too. Serious props.
Nikhil is Dynamo #18. Dynamo is the name I give people as I interview them. Nikhil is Dynamo because he’s dedicated, driven, knows what balance he needs, and is helping people along the way. His story inspires others and I’m grateful I get to share it here on Carrot Bowl. When we share our stories they empower us and others, they break down walls, they build up communities, and they bring more kindness to our hearts. I really really believe that. I’m grateful for the chance I have to daily be influenced by amazing people. You.
I heard you’ve coached several people to healthier lifestyles?
They have seen me doing this and they always see me eating healthy meals and working out and counting my calories. So the thing that I know, and I think I know a little bit, more than an average guy.
The biggest challenge for me is I’m from India. Fitness and eating and living healthy is probably at the bottom of their priority list. Most of these people are from India. There was just one guy that was caucasian. So most of these other guys are Indian and it’s difficult because they have so many restrictions. I learned a lot, a lot.
This all started about 4 years ago. My wife is an excellent cook. That’s a lot of calories! And if you work and Intel and you’re in grad school, you get busy doing your research, you don’t get time to workout or exercise. I had put on a lot of weight and I didn’t realize it. I was 185 lbs with very little muscle, all fat. I told myself that I need to change this.
So I started doing some research, read a lot of books, a lot of articles on the internet, research papers too about what works and what doesn’t work, what’s good for you and what’s not. And then what I did was I prepared a plan. The goal was to lose fat first, because that’s easy, and then gaining muscle. That’s the hard part, it will take some time. So what I did was I cut down my calories, I was very careful about what I was eating.
It started with very clean carbs, no processed foods, just greens and protein. Clean carbs are oats, brown rice, quinoa, some other grains, and sweet potatoes. For greens it’s broccoli, spinach, kale, brussel sprouts, spring mixed greens. For protein it’s mostly lean, chicken, fish, and turkey. And that’s it.
I was at like 1800 calories per day. I wasn’t working out at that time. I ate 120 g protein per day. I didn’t want to lose my muscle, I only had a little bit of muscle then. I wanted to keep that. I started losing weight, it just melted off. In 7 weeks I had lost 35 lbs. I felt great. I had to buy new pants, so I did that. The 2nd part of this journey was to put on some muscle. I started working out. I did all sorts of things: P90x, P90x2, the traditional weight training things like squats, bench presses, all that. In 2 years I put on 18-20 lbs of muscle. I’m very happy about that. But I had to increase my calorie intake otherwise I won’t be able to do anything at the gym…it affects you.
I’m at a happy place right now. I ate a lot during winters, that was my bulk up stage, and now I’m cutting down. This is my week number 3 and in about another 7-8 weeks I plan to lose 10 lbs so I can see my abs again. I’ve done that 2 times so I know I can do it again. (laughs)
How many people have you been able to help so far?
How long is the time frame to help them?
They come to me, they tell me what their goals are, for guys it’s mostly 6-pack. For girls, they just want a toned body, not put on a lot of muscle. Then I need to know about their eating habits, if they’re vegetarian, vegan, all that and if they are going to workout, it is going to be strictly cardio. Then accordingly I tailor their meal plans and give them some kind of template for workouts and all that. My only condition is that they have to stick to this. And if they don’t, I can’t help them. For at least 5 weeks. They have to stick with this plan it will work.
99% of the bodies are designed a certain way and if you do this it will work. But you have to stick to the plan no matter what. You have to follow it religiously. I did that. I think most of the people saw things in like 3 months and they were very happy. It’s mostly for good looks, for most of them. It always starts like that, “oh, I’ll look good if I lose 40 lbs.” But then after a while you say, “no, it’s more than that.” It’s how you feel when you wake up in the morning. You feel fresh, you have lot of energy. The fact is after 30 your body doesn’t grow anymore. So you have to push it a little bit, you have to do something different, something physical. You have to confuse the body and the body responds by growing.
What does healthy living mean to you?
There needs to be a work/life balance. You need some time with your family. It’s an important thing. I know a lot of people who after a while realize they had spent more time with their family, nobody says, “oh, I wish I had worked more.” I think this is essential.
Just be careful about what you put into your body. Don’t abuse your body. If you abuse the body, your body won’t help you when you grow old.
You definitely need to do some kind of physical activity. It could be a hobby. It doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym. You can do strength training, lift weights, do crossfit, cycling, hiking. Anything like that. It has to be something. You have to do something to get that mind/body coordination going.
I believe in meditation. It helps you clear your mind. I’ve tried it for 2 years and it really helps. You can block everything out and just focus on the thing you want to think about.
How much do you meditate a day?
I try to meditate 30 minutes per day in one sitting. It was very difficult initially! Facebook, all this, uhhg. I didn’t have my phone with me and I was in a room and 30 minutes just trying to block all these thoughts it was very challenging. Now it’s awesome! It’s like…I don’t know how to describe it…but it’s like a drug! You just have so much control over your mind it’s incredible. One can get to this state, it’s not difficult.
What types of fitness do you enjoy?
These days it’s strength training. I’m 35 now and I really need to build on my strength. That’s one area I’m currently lacking in, so that’s my area of focus right now. I’m lifting heavy, not a lot of repetitions, maybe 5 or 6. With good form. It’s very important. I always have someone spotting me just in case I don’t do it right. I plan to do more cardio in summer. I’m going to do interval training.
What piece of advice do you like to share?
Just do what you’re doing. Eat some pizza, but make sure you eat healthy stuff too.
Physical activity. Do something. Persue some hobby physical activity. Swimming is fun. Just do something, don’t sit indoors and watch Netflix. Do something and things will happen for you.
How do you think your journey has made you who you are?
When I first joined Intel 6 years ago I was in terrible shape. Both physically and mentally. It was just work, work, and work. I was not stable, meaning I wasn’t confident about my physical and mental health. Then I had some more time to think about life and I was able to see what good things I was not able to do, what I missed out on, and how can I improve that. I think right now I’m in much better shape physically and mentally. That reflects on the work I do and I think it’s good, just because I feel good. My eating habits are healthy and my living. Whatever I do I think it’s much healthier than what I used to do.
What do you want to be remembered for?
Other than the good work I do at my company, I’m an amazing husband I feel, a good father, I love my friends and I think they love me too. I just want to be remembered as a good person.