Ariel Schwartz:

Gum’s turn in the spotlight may be ending, however. In a report, Nicholas Fereday, executive director and senior analyst of food and consumer trends for Rabobank, has surveyed the state of the gum market and discovered some surprising data: The $4 billion gum industry has gone into freefall, with sales down 11% and volume down 20% in the past five years. No type of gum is immune—everything from sugar-free gum to bubble gum is experiencing the drop in sales. What’s going on?

Insert “Bubble” joke here. Also, this is really odd. I used to chew gum all the time. I never do anymore. Not really sure why. I just stopped. But I didn’t think everyone else did too.


Five real joys of entrepreneurship

No one said it’s easy to be an entrepreneur. Everyone will give you advice on what you ought to do. You knock many doors and few of them may open. You work when everyone has holidays. You live month to month not knowing where next month’s money will come from. A client not paying in time can mean foregoing your salary for a month. An unexpected expense (like a broken down washing machine) can mean petitioning your parents for help - not the easiest thing to do after years of financial independence. Why would anyone be an entrepreneur?

Here is my list:

1) I do it for the complete accountability that it brings in my life. Because at the end of the day, there is no interference, no politics, no finger pointing and no diktat from above. The buck stops with me. What I achieve, and what I do not achieve, are both in my hands. That is scary. It’s also empowering. 

2) I do it because it teaches me humility and gratitude, daily. At the end of each project, each month, when a check lands in my hands (which my partner or I proudly deposit ourselves), I utter a quiet thank you to the client who paid it. When we get a call from a new client who is ready to entrust a project to us, I utter a quiet thank you. I’m grateful for repeat business. I no longer take these things for granted. Every bit counts.

3) I do it because it has increased my capacity over time. In every sense. I can do more, faster and better, and I can earn more than when I started out. And these are real gains. I can pack in much more into a day (it helps that I have no meetings to attend from other departments any more!)

4) I do it because I have learnt what is my real, absolute value - which is not measurable purely by external factors such as designation or salary. It’s not even what I charge per project (that can vary, and it does). Value to me no longer means market value, though it is still a useful measure. Value is my absolute conviction of what I can offer to a client or a project and this clarity is extremely important. I have come to realise, that if you have a sense of your value, money follows automatically

5) If you are an entrepreneur, you quickly learn the meaning of the word flexibility. It can be scary because you may be asked to do things you have never done before. It can also be painful - you will be asked to do things that you would have refused if you were the hypothetical Vice President/ HOD of XXXX that you hypothetically would have been, with X years of experience. I do things willingly. I believe  that over time, by doing what comes to you well, you will be offered better things. I am no longer afraid that flexibility is a compromise. This conviction has helped me to master many new skills - from being admin of a Facebook page, to a content writer! 

What is your source of joy from being an entrepreneur?


After many weeks - my experiments with protein shakes

I won’t say sorry - it’s been a LONG time since I wrote about protein shakes :) But that’s not to say I have not been consuming them regularly. One scoop a day has become a standard now. I always have it first thing in the morning - with water on the days I do cardio, and with milk on the day I do resistance training.

It’s also been enough time for me to gauge that they have helped my weight loss efforts - after a long time, my weight dropped by 1 kg and I am able to sustain it. 

I am going to continue till this tub gets over. Next, I will probably try Sunwarrior Rice Protein - and I will post the results back again.


Day 5 : My experiments with Protein Shake

First off, I am sorry for the one-day delay in posting this. Today was an uneventful day vis-a-vis protein shake. I have figured that it is a fabulous pre-workout drink for me - I mix half a scoop with milk if I have strength training (which requires more intensity) and with water on days I do cardio. This dosage is ideal for me in terms of getting me through a workout.

However, this is the Catch 22. To get the full benefit of the thing, you have to eat at least 1 scoop. If you eat more than that, it is probably even more effective.

In the previous few days, when I had at least a scoop a day (even if it was half in the morning, half in the evening), I saw the results. Today, and a day previously, I had just half a scoop a day, and the old snacking pattern and sweet tooth made a re-appearance.

On the days I was eating a full scoop, I felt that I was losing some flab (probably a reduced water retention). And I can also report now that my weight has shown a slight dip. Importantly, this reduction is happening after a long plateau. Since I already work out at full intensity, it is very clear to me that further weight loss will come only through changing the diet.

Some more thoughts. I wish that marketers would sample this in smaller containers (250 gms). One of the things that put me off for a long time was the price of a tub. It’s Rs.2500 + for  1 kg, on an average. It would definitely generate more trial. The first brand to do this will definitely attract users beyond the hard core weight lifting crowd.

The second thing that occurred to me, is that the category does not seem to signal that women can use it too. Marketing propoganda is full of muscle bound hunks. Everyone can have protein, and muscle fiber is muscle fiber (men just have more of it than women). Men want  muscle gain, women want weight and inch loss. And whey can do both jobs. Why not a woman’s friendly brand? 

Food for thought :) Stay tuned for tomorrow’s update!


Day 4 : My experiments with protein shakes

So, today was my legitimate cheat day. Then, why do I feel like a cheat? Cheat day = white rice for lunch + leftovers for dinner + vada pav as a snack. Sadly, there was no evidence of the ability of protein supplement to restrain my appetite. Equally sadly, there was a reminder of its working, in the form of a persistent constipation which has now reached its third day. Clearly, the oats are not able to overcome the power of whey to induce it.

6.00 am - to begin at the beginning, I had resistance training at 7.00 am, and for that I need to eat something substantial which is always a struggle in the morning. Today it was half a scoop of protein shake with milk. It was not heavy, or filling, and it certainly went down easier than the oats and other things I force myself to eat at the unearthly hour of 6 am. And it took me smoothly through a gruelling workout routine. I am reiterating that this is a fantastic pre workout supplement which gives you the required energy and nutrition AND saves calories. Where it scores over a pure protein supplement for sure.

For the rest of the day, as I mentioned above, I cheated on both protein and regular diet. Still, I could not help observing that I ate a little less than I usually did, felt little or no urge for snacking between meals and though the sweet tooth made an appearance today, it was easily placated with a couple of squares of chocolate. Whether or not protein supplements will help me to lose weight, I must admit that this aspect of protein is what will probably get me hooked. Like many unsuccessful dieters, I am disciplined about my main meals, but it is the constant snacking through the day that I find hard to check. And it’s a headache to plan to have the right foods for snacking, and if I do not have them, I reach for the wrong one. Protein does seem to solve that problem.

Also note to myself : I need to increase my intake of fresh vegetables, fruits and water dramatically to counteract the constipative effect of protein. Wonder why the oats are not helping? 

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s notes!


Day 3 : My experiments with protein shakes

6.00 am : After the digestive disasters of the last two days, my enthusiasm for my (expensive) protein supplement has waned. I even considered selling it off cheaply on Quikr. It’s OK to make a mistake, and try to recover what you can!

I reluctantly started my day with a quarter scoop of the stuff, mixed only in water. It tasted more like Proteinex than ever, but without the bitterness that Proteinex has. I am sure some more effort has gone into making this palatable. Anyway, this modest dosage had no effect on me at all. Today was cardio (spinning class). My performance was upto the mark. I congratulated myself that the protein shake saved me at least 100 calories in place of my usual bowl of muesli with milk and sugar. Tomorrow I have resistance training, so I will be able to tell you if it works well as a pre-workout meal before that.

To bring you upto speed - my protein supplement is ON 100% Oats and Whey. It has the requisite 24 gms of protein but the scoop size is a massive 50 gm. It’s more of a meal replacement than a pure protein but I chose it on purpose as 1) It’s the only product available here without artificial sweeteners 2) The balance of protein and carb is important to me.

11.00 am  This is one of the times I get peckish so I took a second dose of protein (1/4th scoop in water). Immediately my appetite settled down like a tamed lion. I am thinking, the fibre in the oats must be doing this, more than the protein? I had a hectic morning and afternoon and it was 2.00 pm before I could eat lunch. But I could last out without getting hunger pangs. And this has been my big observation in the last 3 days. Snacking between meals is a habit I have always had, and it has JUST STOPPED. The other thing, since I started this, I have not craved or eaten anything sweet. That’s unnatural for me. Definitely these two shifts in behaviour have saved me at least 400 calories per day.

After lunch I had meetings in the second half. I took the Metro instead of my car, and did a fair amount of walking. Again, no hunger pangs. Returned home at 7 pm. Normally I eat dinner at 6.30 pm because my monstrous appetite cannot be contained. Today it’s 8 pm, dinner is cooking, and I am peacefully typing this. No binging happened. That is a good thing :) I am looking forward to a good dinner after this post is done.

Conclusions : The supplement is doing a genuine job of controlling my appetite and sugar cravings. In the process, it is saving me lots of calories. So I can see this working for weight loss. Secondly, it definitely goes down lighter and gentler on my system when its mixed only with water. It does nothing for the taste but IMO you cannot do anything much for the taste. This was endorsed by users as  one of the best tasting protein shakes but I promise you that even the most synthetic milk shake in a tetra pack tastes better. This is a do-good and not a taste good product no matter how much they position it like a milk shake. And whey is stinky stuff. Even if you like milk :)

Some of you asked if there was any impact on weight. I will answer that in a few days, as I want to make sure that the weight loss is real and not just a daily fluctuation.

Tomorrow I will try a bigger dose. Come back to read about Day 4. Thanks for following!


Day 2 : My experiments with Protein Shake

6.00 am - I got up to prepare for my morning strength training workout at 7 am. I normally do not have an appetite at this time, but with the protein shake sitting like a stone in my stomach, I did not even anticipate the cup of coffee that I always look forward to when I wake up. As it’s a disaster to train on an empty stomach I forced myself to have a few spoonfuls of muesli and milk before I left. I expected the lack of food to take its toll on me and it did but in a strange way. My endurance (lasting out for a set) was good but I did not have the energy to lift as heavy as I do when I am properly fuelled. 

9.00 am - Back from my workout, I am generally sensitive of the need to eat soon, even though I don’t feel very hungry. But I look forward to a hot breakfast - oats or daliya upma, moong dall chillas - these are some of my favorites. This time, there was no hunger at all. Just a persistent heaviness. And an aversion to all things with milk (including my second cup of coffee for the morning). And the biggest aversion was to opening that whey tub again :) Is whey protein making me lactose intolerant?? And I am the original milk loving vegetarian…

11.00 am - a good friend of mine has observed (unfairly in my opinion) that I eat every hour on days I work out. While it may not be true, I have a voracious appetite especially on days like today when I have strength training - and for me, that is a mark of health. Today it’s 11 am and I am lying around like a beached whale. I feel a disinclination to move, and I feel there are stones in my stomach. I call a knowledgeable friend who is a bio-technologist to moan about my plight. She tells me that I have given her her first laughs for the day. More importantly, she suggests that being a vegetarian and first time whey protein user, I should start with 1/4 the dosage (a scoop of ON is 50 gms and it’s HUGE). I agree to do this. She also reassures me that I am NOT having a bad reaction to whey - and the oats must also be sitting in my stomach right now. I feel a little more at ease

2.00 pm - I am still not hungry. Lunchtime has come and gone. By now I am a little alarmed. I think this is going to work for weight loss but I am not at all sure that I want to live feeling so miserable and missing meals. I heat some leftovers and reluctantly pick at them. Still no desire for coffee but much to my relief I enjoy a cup of sour curd. 

6.00 pm - Finally the stones in my stomach have made room for some food. I have just finished cooking dinner and I think I will be ready to eat early. Throughout the day I have force fed myself, but there is no craving and no over eating. No desire for sweets!!! Which is normal. It has been a drastic impact. And it has taken 24 hours for the effect of the first protein dose to wear off. Needless to say, I am not consuming any more today. Tomorrow is a new day. I will take 1/4 scoop and report back on what happens.


Day 1 : My experiments with Protein Shake

So, I got my first taste of protein shake at 6.00 pm. I ordered ON 100% Natural Oats and Whey from the Neulife helpline in Mumbai. I must say that they were both prompt and professional. I ordered in the second half of the day and by evening, the protein supplement was at my doorstep, sourced from their Bhiwandi warehouse.As I was over eager, and it was anyways time for my evening snack, I decided to try a scoop right away. I opened the jar and my first response was that this smells like an expensive version of Proteinex. I mixed it with tetrapack milk and knocked it back. The whey has a noticeably unpleasant smell, slightly medicinal - if you have smelt Proteinex you know what it is. And the product I ordered is a ‘natural’ version without added flavors or colors so I suppose there was nothing to mask the taste. The moment I finished the shake I felt really really full. My hunger just disappeared. I had to go out to dinner with a friend but I can say that I just picked at my food. By now, I was beginning to feel uncomfortably heavy. I came home and slept, hoping that I would wake up fine the next day


Prologue - my experiments with protein shake

I have created this Tumblr to share my first-time experience with drinking a protein shake. I know many other women out there who are reluctant or plain resistant to the idea of chugging a lot of muscle building chemicals. Hey, I was one of them until recently. I am going to post a daily log of what the protein did for me. 

So, here are some facts. I am vegetarian, I have been working out 6 days a week since 7 months with considerable fat/inch loss, but zero weight loss. According to my scales, I can comfortably lose another 5 kg to reach my so-called ‘ideal body weight’. 

I am a little put off by chemicals and artificial sweeteners but I have limited choice here in India. So after lots of research, I selected ON 100% Natural Oats and Whey. It gives me a blend of protein and carbs to make a good post workout shake. And more importantly, it has no artificial sweetener. You may tell me sugar is pure poison, but it has failed to kill me till now.