Do the ‘become slim’ demons come in your dreams when you eat the burgers dripping with mayonnaise and cheese, double burst cheese pizza, Pav Bhaji with melting butter all over it? We have the solution to drive away those demons the healthy way. At your Adda this week, we have Prashant and Sasha of HealthylivingIndia.org. These guys made us believe and will make you believe that living an healthy life is not as difficult as one makes it to be. Presenting to you an interview which will be the first step in your quest for a healthy life. Read on…
Q: When and why did you start blogging?
A: We started in March 2009 because we couldn’t find the kind of information we were looking for. In India, the concept of “Healthy Living” meant leading a hermit-like existence where you don’t even look in the direction of “bad for you foods”; it meant following what celebrities did and trying to be like them; it meant buying pills and supplements. Every health website is just a marketing tool for selling celebrity diets, selling miracle weight loss diets or selling supplements – there was no independent source of healthy living information.
We didn’t agree with any of this and so decided to start writing about what we did, what we were learning, and what worked for us. As the blog grew and evolved, we started adding new sections, widening the scope from personal to include more researched information and began forming it all into an online guide to Healthy Living in India.
Q: What topics do you generally blog about?
A: Everything that comes under the umbrella of healthy living – That includes information on cooking right, working out right, healthy and controlled fat loss and weight gain, eating and drinking moderately and correctly… Everything that you would need to change your lifestyle to a healthy one so that you get to enjoy everything you like for a lot longer.
Q: Do you ever get stuck when writing an entry? What do you do then?
A: It hasn’t happened so far simply because there is so much news and information out there that we haven’t covered yet. We’re not writing poetry so there’s no scope for “writer’s block”. With new studies coming out, new information and tips coming out every day, we don’t see us ever really getting stuck.
Q: Do you promote your blog? What promotional techniques work best for you and why?
Q: Have you both delegated different sections of your blog between yourselves? What are Prashant & Sasha’s individual likes when it comes to writing on the blog?
A: We’ve tried not to actually. We wanted both of us to be equally involved with all sections so we make sure we’re both writing for all sections and not picking favourites. We have noticed that Prashant likes posts that involve a lot of research (like Bombay’s air is equal to 100 cigarettes a day) and Sasha enjoys the exercise, workout program and nutrition posts.
Q: There are many food joints in India which claim to have healthy food. What is your take on such joints? Do you feel there are less number of actual healthy food joints?
A: Quite a few people have asked us to write about healthy restaurants and review healthy “eating out options”. The reason we haven’t done it so far is because we didn’t want it to be restricted to Bombay. We want to get enough information for at least 5-10 of the big cities in India before we start that section. Also, we do believe that you can get a healthy meal in just about any restaurant. Every menu has at least two to three meals that won’t sabotage any healthy diet routine. It’s just a matter of being aware about your body’s needs, etc.
Q: Would you like to own a restaurant in future or probably a write a book on healthy living and food? If yes, how different would either of it be from the existing ones? We would like to know which is Prashant & Sasha’s favorite healthy hang-out joint and why?
A: No, we would not like to own a restaurant – we know nothing about running a restaurant and we would definitely NOT want to write a book on healthy living. There are enough “experts” writing new books every day – our audience and readers are online and that’s where we’re staying.
Nor do we have a “favourite healthy hang-out joint”. Healthy living doesn’t mean starvation and deprivation and we practice that. So we always pick a restaurant based on what food we crave, and never because of how healthy the menu is. If you have healthy eating habits, you can eat just about anywhere without damaging your daily eating routine.
Q: Your #bigloser initiative is indeed commendable. Can you share more details about it & how is it shaping up? Do share with us what you have planned for future.
A: Just to be clear, the #BigLoser idea was @b50’s. HealthyLivingIndia.org supplies the #BigLoser initiative with content for healthy weight loss, with 50 tips for BigLoser – on the podcast, and soon to come bigloser.in weight loss guides, tips, etc. We’re still finalising plans so we can’t divulge much right now. We can say that it’s going to be informative and very interesting for everyone taking part. So just wait and watch…
Q: Not only do you provide low calorie food recipes but also inform the readers about various cocktails and their calorie count. Choose your 3 best recipes which are also the quickest to make and a cocktail suggestion for our readers from Healthy Living India’s counter!
Q: Who are your 5 favorite health enthusiasts and why?
A: We don’t really have any favourites, but our families play a huge role in keeping us motivated to live healthy. Both our families are quite health conscious and encourage us to stick to all the lifestyle changes we’ve made over the years. We used to take this for granted until we realised not all families live healthy when we recently heard someone refer to his mother’s cooking as delicious, but greasy. So perhaps our parents are our favourite health enthusiasts.
Q: It is rather different for a health blog to have a burger as their logo. Is it a healthy burger made by you? How did you go about choosing a burger as your logo?
A: We chose a burger because we figured everyone would expect a dry salad made of grass because “healthy living” is about eating gross and tasteless food and depriving yourself of anything fun in the world! The burger signifies our belief – the exact opposite – that if you change your lifestyle in a permanent and long-term fashion and that involves working out regularly and eating and drinking moderately, you won’t have to ever give up anything that you love but is considered unhealthy – not even a good cheeseburger.
Q: Lately you’ve posted around 18-20 times a month! We would like to get informed more about your time management skills. Readers would also love to know what things keep Prashant & Sasha excited other than Healthy Living India. Do you have a job/business in the health industry itself?
A: We post about 26 posts a month, and want to double our output so, clearly we need to work on our time management skills! No, we don’t have jobs in the health industry and that’s why we’re able to keep our information honest and unbiased. Our agenda is to educate and share and not to sell protein supplements or miracle diets.
Q: What are the 5 basic essentials for being fit? Also, we would like to know some secret health tips/ingredients from your kitchen.
A: There are no secret health tips or ingredients because we share everything we know and learn. We’re not writing a book remember so we don’t have to save our “secret ingredients” for it. The five basic essentials are: Eating right, moderation, a regular exercise program, dedication to your goal and most importantly, understanding that healthy living is a life-long process not something you accomplish after 2 months.
Q: We would love to know the health enthusiasts, Prashant and Sasha’s diet and fitness regime. How do you manage to religiously follow it?
A: We follow the mini-meals diet (5-6 small meals through the day). For exercise, we alternate between strength training and a kickboxing-based workout program. And we’re very dedicated to our food and fitness routine. We have a list of holiday workouts that we pick from when we travel, as per facilities available and time constraints. Our kitchen is always stocked with healthy snacks, home-cooked meals and lots of fruits, nuts and dry fruits. For desserts we indulge in real food cakes, muffins and cupcakes. Above all, we keep our exercise routine fresh, so the minute we start getting bored with something we spice it up with new programmes, heavier or lighter weights, and varying cardio routines. We’re lucky to have access to some great fitness trainers, and both our mothers for great healthy eating and fitness advice.
Q: What tips would you give to a person who realises that he wants to start living a healthy lifestyle? How can one start with it?
A: The advice is simple – start reading Healthy Living India. Share our ups and downs and new learnings.. and keep things real. Drastic steps toward lifestyle changes always fall flat. Start with small steps, tweak what you can, and beyond that just improve in steady, timely doses. No body is ever built in one day.
Q: How important is it for the blogger to interact with their readers? Do you respond to all the comments that you receive?
A: Do we reply to the spam and the trolls – no we don’t! We don’t believe that freedom of speech applies to people who hide behind fake accounts and only disrupt otherwise amicable discussions. Other than it’s definitely important for bloggers to interact with their readers, and especially in a space as personal as healthy living.
Q: What do you find to be the most gratifying aspect of blogging?
A: The immediacy is a great benefit, since you can reach your readers within seconds of posting anything. But the most gratifying aspect of blogging for us is learning and growing through and with the blog. When we first started Healthy Living India, we had certain set beliefs about health. When we started writing about our workouts, recipes, ideas, and research, we realised that there were several aspects of health we didn’t know. And in the first six months we went from personal experience posts to researched posts. A few months later we moved from researched posts to comparisons, challenging old myths, creating new beliefs etc. We love the aspect of organic growth and that our blog keeps us healthy and motivated too.
Q: How, in general, would you rate the quality of Indian blogs? Share your favourite five blogs.
A: Blogging is still seen as a personal diary or a collection of poetry rather than news and features on a subject – it’s changing but very slowly. Amongst Indian blogs, the ones that are right up there and where we want to be in terms of reach and consistency are:
Internationally, we also recommend:
Q: What is your advice to someone who wants to start a blog?
A: Find a niche – serve a need that hasn’t been served already. Is this niche something you will be able to write about? Nobody cares if you are an “expert” but will you be dedicated to the space? Start blogging only if you can answer yes to these questions.
Q: Do you earn revenue through your blog? How does one go about it?
A: Not yet – right now we’re focused on building our reader base and creating value for them. In terms of how does one go about it, when we find out, we’ll let you know!
Q: Let’s conclude off with a few favorites.
Sasha: Red (also yellow, orange, green, blue, anything bright)
Prashant: Blue (no, Nike didn’t pay me for that)
Prashant: The Simpsons
Time of Day:
Sasha: When I’m exercising
Prashant: Sleep time
Your Zodiac Sign:
Thank you Prashant and Sasha for this wonderful interview. It is time now to start living healthy. Off we go to grab a cheeseburger without feeling guilty. In the meantime, readers you can ask Prashant and Sasha anything you want to know about Healthy living and if you are interested participate in #bigloser.