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Sharon Lobo

IWB Blogger

Ritu Srivastava Of Obino App Reveals How To Create A Positive Aura For Losing Weight

  • IWB Post
  •  September 13, 2017

Health has been a topic of rising interest among the millennials for quite some time now. Everywhere I turn, someone is either speaking about joining the gym or controlling carb intake while I’m sitting here watching series after series of Dexter and stuffing chocolate waffles. The waffles eloquently ‘crunch’ that I assume is an order of the day, to hop on the topic of health and fitness more seriously.

Ritu Srivastava started a weight loss journey post pregnancy that led her to become the founder of Obino, an app to lose weight, get healthier and fitter. Her journey has a story – from a sales person to an RJ to a startup founder. With such a varied work experience she has a lot to offer, and I make sure to hold onto every word she says. This interview, I must say, has broken a lot of health myths in my mind.

Tell us about your weight loss journey.

Before my pregnancy, I used to be around 45-50 kgs, but after I had a baby, I went to 75kgs. You always think you will lose weight later, but once the baby comes, you are so busy getting your life back, that any health-related initiative takes a backseat. It was only after a year that I started looking around for options to lose weight, and I also tried to do it by myself for a year but failed miserably. I then joined a dietician, but I had doubts if it would work out. Much to my surprise, three months later with her, I had lost close to about 7 kilos, and that was a shocker for me.

What I didn’t like about the process is the business perspective. I had to keep coming back to her because she was not ready to educate me. It seems I was missing on lots of health information, and at some level, that didn’t feel right. People need to teach you to take care of your body and not hold you captive for ransom. So, I dropped out of the program and saw all the things I had done in the past three months and made a plan for myself which resulted in the loss of about 12 kgs more. That’s when I realized it’s not that hard and decide to start Obino.

Did people around you try to give you tips on how to lose weight? That can be irritating.

I didn’t share it with anyone that I had been trying to lose weight. There is always this fear that if you tell someone and you don’t lose weight they will laugh at you.

You have a loving relationship with your father. What influence has he had on you and your perception of success?

My dad has always been a very high achiever, and that has carried over in my work ethic. He taught me to do something genuinely and sincerely, not because someone is watching over you. I encourage that in my team, as well. Don’t do it just because you are supposed to, but do it to the best of your ability. The satisfaction of doing something in a kickass manner makes a difference.

From being a radio jockey to an entrepreneur, it sounds like a different story.  

I get bored really quickly. I used to be a sales person with Wipro, then I quit the job to become an RJ. I launched a couple of radio stations. I joined Airtel and launched a couple of products. I discovered this about myself, I am more of a building person whether it’s a team or a business or a product. I always enjoy the launch process, once it gets routine, I jump to something else.

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Is Body Shaming a new form of bullying? What’s your thought?

Everybody today has an opinion of what your body should look like, and it has nothing to do with your health and everything to do with a promoted media image.

What is your idea of a healthy body?

Personally, I believe, a healthy body does not fall ill and does all the work without aches and pains. Nobody is talking about immunity and energy levels. Your healthy body is not what size you fit in but one that should make you get up in the morning, work with full concentration and go back with the energy to do your household chores. A healthy body is a healthy mind too. You may have the energy but are you willing to do it? Are you at peace? Nobody is looking at the concept holistically.

So, health does come in different sizes.

Of course, it does! It’s biologically proven that weight alone does not prove how healthy you are. Weight is just one of the parameters.

Obino App counts Calories for over 8,000+ Indian foods. Counting calories during the weight loss is quite a frustrating experience at times.

I’m sure it is. However, if you monitor your weight by yourself, that’s what you will have to learn to deal with. Calorie counting is a basic guideline to keep your food under check. If you see the application, in its free model, Obino helps you determine what type of calories you should be consuming. That’s pretty much all we can do without human interaction currently. If you decide to upgrade, our specialists will recommend the balanced medically approved diet.

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How does one take the step from calorie counting to mindful, healthy eating?

It’s a bit of a slippery slope. Each one of us falls somewhere along the journey and depending on where you stumble along that way, your next steps are determined. For example, some 7 years ago, I didn’t have medical issues, but I was overweight then, my next step was my ideal weight, and now that I have achieved it, my next step is being fit.

Give us an idea of what a healthy meal looks like.

I think a lot of people confuse food with something that is labeled as healthy food. Any food that is natural, whole and your body can digest easily is the right food for you. For instance, people say raw scallops are good, but some are not able to digest it that results into bloating. My mom had diabetes, so I am potentially at risk of getting it at this age, so I have to stay away from sugar. It’s wrong to say what is healthy for me is healthy for you. It’s a very personalized journey. It also takes into account food pleasure. You live to eat. Just because it’s not healthy, you don’t stop eating what you absolutely love, you eat it in moderation. For us, life should be about enjoying yourself but not hurting yourself.

What is your favorite binge food?  

I love chips. I can eat that in any form, manner and time. But I do try and keep a check on it. Earlier I finished big buddy packs, now I try not to do that.

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Do you suggest eating three meals or smaller six meals?

My dietician always recommended eating small meals throughout the day, but I think you should do what works for you. I am a mom with an eight-year-old daughter running a company and my husband’s traveling most of the time, so I have to single-handily manage my house. What works for me is 3-4 meals a day. I don’t eat every two hours, but I make sure to eat something before and after my workouts, and I try to not remain hungry for a long period of time because then I’ll stuff myself at the next meal.

Being healthy is a constant balance, and you do as much as you can. Any absolutes in my mind are a big no-no. Even my product construct is very different, we have a customized real-time response system because of the insight that your life is lived minute by minute not according to plans. We have made the program flexible enough to work with you rather than forcing you to work with it.

Do you plan your meals at home?

I am a bit of an OCD person, so I have a detailed monthly menu stuck on my fridge. I am working most of the time. I don’t like leaving things to chance. I also have a lot of rotating staff, so everyone’s work list is pinned up. I don’t deal with the hassle of answering questions then, they come, look at the list and start working.

Isn’t someone else cooking for you a fearful thought considering they might not take into account healthy food habits?

I feel a lot of this is overhyped. People become obsessive about health and too picky. It’s all about maintaining a balance. If you look at your food and you have a layer of oil as thick as 2 mm, then you have a problem.

The weight loss process is so negative, how does one build a positive aura around it?

Right, everything is a no-no. One thing that really works for me is picking an activity that I really enjoy. For instance, I used to try and go to the gym and use the treadmill. There is nothing in the world more boring than that. Instead, I chose strength training, and I started enjoying it because it’s very involving. It served as a stress buster. Once I started enjoying it, I linked it to my food, so it made me very mindful of everything I ate because then I had to go to the gym and burn that many calories. It’s a cycle of positive reinforcement.

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Food that we will not find in your fridge?

You will find everything. I eat pastries, salami, chips. Being healthy is not about starving yourself or depriving yourself of food you enjoy. The journey is about having your favorite sizzler then balancing it in your next meal. It’s almost like a Buddhist philosophy, nothing is bad, it’s all about moderation.

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