The Fitbit Challenge

It has been just about two weeks since I started wearing a Fitbit Alta device on my wrist in my quest to measure my walking performance.

I have seen an amazing change in my otherwise staid walking behaviour. For the record, I walk for about 2.1 KMs every morning (Fitbit measures this distance and also says that I walk for around 3,000 steps) of the working week, and almost 5 to 6 KMs for the weekend morning. So, I approximately walk around 21 to 22 KMs every week.

My challenge has been on setting a target for the number of steps. Initially, I set 7,500 then increased it to 8,500. I realized one day that this figure is not good enough as the American Heart Association says the average number of steps a person needs to walk everyday should be around 10,000 steps. I kept looking at that message from Fitbit for a few days, and then decided to increase the target to 10,000 steps.

It was easy to achieve between 6,000 and 7,000 steps during the period from waking up till returning home in the evening from office. However, I found that I am not that great a walker in the evenings, and could barely ratchet up another 1,000 to 1,500 steps in the evenings. This resulted in couple of behavioural changes.

I started walking within the office more than I usually do. I started walking more often to get a glass of water, for example. That might add some 300 steps. I also started pacing around a large room or meeting area or pantry when I got a call, or I had to make a call to someone. I found that this added a substantial amount of steps, sometimes in excess of 2,000 steps – instead of sitting and taking calls or making calls, I started walking every time. Together with the water trips in the office, I was easily able to add a minimum of 3,000 steps a day, which took my average walking measure close to 9,000 / 9,500 steps.

The balance was easy to make up by walking around the house in the evenings, pacing while taking calls in the evenings, etc., So, I started doing above 11,000 steps a day. I saw this kind of improvement in just about couple of weeks after starting to wear Fitbit.

The other important and somewhat compelling reason for wearing Fitbit was the comparative measurement of other folks who are connected to oneself and using Fitbit. I was able to see how I was doing compared to a few of my friends and colleagues. As it happened, several of my friends and colleagues were veterans of Fitbits, and have collected many badges on the way. They were clearly above 80,000 steps during any preceding week, while I was barely making it to 70,000 steps. This gave additional push to my behavioural change, and I have just started thinking of adding more steps to my daily rigamarole.

My estimate is that 85,000 steps in any one week is a very good figure to achieve for most folks (average of 12,000 steps a day). During the weekend day, I am also trying to ensure that I walk for over 6 KMs at the minimum. There is enough motivation to do so, given the nature trails in Singapore. I get into issues only when I travel, as I have to replicate the steps measure over a treadmill in a gym which is not exactly equivalent to open air brisk walking.

Overall, Fitbit is a good gadget addition to the list of gadgets we all end up with. May be I should go in for the latest device which also has heartbeat. I noticed that the Health app in my iPhone is not exactly producing the same as the Fitbit figures (the app produces far lower numbers as compared to Fitbit numbers). I am going to check out the latest Fitbit device or any other device which can give me more parameters.

Walking makes one feel good (I am sure running also does that). Walk more and eat less is my new motto.


Vijay Srinivasan

23rd October 2016



Healthy Eating for Oneself

Even if I eat a little food, I feel full in the stomach. Such is the situation for several years now. I did food analysis, consulted doctors, talked to friends, researched on the internet, and what not. No use. The moment I complete even a small meal, I felt like bloated. This was lousy feeling to say the least.

However, I noticed one thing. If I just eat cooked vegetables (without rice), I felt good and not so full. Increasingly, I went for baby kai lan, greens, bean sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, some potato, bitter gourd, etc., with some little rice topped with chicken gravy. It resulted in good feeling after the meal. I strongly believe that “good feeling” is a critical ingredient for success in everything one does, so I shifted my food habits.

In case I went to an Indian restaurant (as against the Chinese food described above), I prefer to eat dosas – such as plain dosas or masala dosas. The lunch should never consist of heavy Indian meal with rice and a variety of other stuff. If I went to an Italian restaurant, I take some penne pasta with chicken (since there is not much choice for an anti-carb person).

In between meals, I take some nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios) and tea. The tea is a good anti-oxidant. Plant nuts are excellent for general good health. Sometimes, I take yoghurt with fruits on top of it (like grapes, blueberries, et al). Again, this is a wonderful component in one’s food composition.

In all of the above, I tried to eliminate white rice as much as possible. The past couple of weeks of “no rice” has produced excellent body response to my dietary changes. I have been challenged many a time by folks at home as to my antipathy towards taking rice, and it has been difficult to explain matters of health to regular family folks who do not subscribe to dietary restrictions or changes which they think are weird to start with.

However, if you overcome these challenges and adopt a “no rice” food regimen, I guarantee that you would see the improvement in just a few days. You would feel “light”, energetic, active, and cheerful. I am not joking, just try it for a week and then tell me if I am correct. I know for sure that Indians cannot stay away from rice for too long. But, I am determined to carry on with my new food regimen for as long as possible despite objections from family members who think I am crazy.

At the end of the day, I feel good with myself, and that, I believe is very important. I don’t wish to feel bloated and heavy. I want to feel good. I wish to feel active and energetic all the time. I don’t want to fade out however, so I watch my movements carefully and keep myself hydrated and ingested with some nuts or fruits most of the time.

I am observing the results, and will wait for a month before declaring success.

Worth trying out for all of us, I guess.


Vijay Srinivasan

9th October 2016

Hygiene and Health

I debated about how I should name this blog post. Should it have been “Toilets, Hygiene and Health”? Or, should it just be “The Indian Toilet Situation”?

There was a recent case in South India (Tamil Nadu State) when a girl child aged 9 years died due to kidney troubles caused by holding off nature’s call for whole days at school. The school spared only 10 minutes for recess between classes and they had just 10 toilets for some 400 students. Girls are disadvantaged when there is not enough time to cater to nature’s call (as do boys but at least they have urinals though no one knows their situation). When the concerned girl complained of pains, doctors diagnosed problems with her kidneys.

Such situations are not uncommon in India where public toilets are in very short supply. The most disheartening thing is that young boys and girls in schools who are the future generation, suffer in a most humiliating manner when they cannot even get access or time to fulfil their most pressing need from a physiological point of view. Government and school administrations should be embarrassed.

Despite the call of the current Indian Prime Minister to build more toilets, there has been no perceptible improvement on the ground. India operates on a federal structure which means that it is not necessary that a State Government should heed the call of the Central Government. The only way is persuasion or defeating the ruling party at the next hustings.

It is time for the people who pay taxes to demand proper hygiene and toilet infrastructure services from the government and public schools and public office buildings. It is the government which has to serve the needs of the people, rather than the other way around. The argument that there are not enough receipts against needed expenses won’t fly as the budgeting process is flawed if it cannot cater to the fundamental needs of the citizens.

According to Centre for Water Resources & Management, India, only 47% of India’s population have access to toilet facilities. And only 36% of these toilets have septic tanks. Given that there are a number of toilet innovations from a variety of private companies in India, it is imperative for the government to buy and install these toilet facilities according to a set formula for population access in both rural and urban areas. While the government now collects a cess related to this program, it is difficult to see the results.

Enter the private corporations of India. Even if the top 50 listed companies of India direct 50% of their CSR budgets towards toilet building (which the government can match Rupee for Rupee), India’s toilet problem can be solved in flat 12 months. Eco and Bio toilets are available today at prices ranging from INR 18,000 to INR 30,000 and the prices will come down if demand is established.

I do not know what we are waiting for. But I do know that children, their personal hygiene and health are getting affected every day in schools, and we have to do something very urgently on a war-footing to solve this problem. Many of us have some discretionary monies available for charity, why don’t we contribute to this magnanimous purpose instead of other kinds of donations? It is proven that if the donor can see and feel the result of his/her donation, he or she will contribute more and continuously.

Time to change the toilet situation in India. Let us follow Prime Minister Modi’s vision but not the slow-moving government machinery. Let us leverage India’s phenomenal private enterprise to solve this problem.


Vijay Srinivasan

28th August 2016

Walking Every Day

It is difficult to convince people close to you to go for a walk every day, especially if you push them to walk early in the day. Folks are tired, want to get up late, or just do not feel like having the energy to get up and go for a walk.

I keep emphasizing the huge health benefits of going for a walk consistently every day, even if it is just for 30 minutes every morning. The best time to go for a walk is during the early hours of the day – say even before 5 AM. Keep doing this regularly – may be take off for just a day from the schedule in between – and you will get to know why doctors and health professionals keep insisting on the benefits of walking. This means you go for a 30-minutes walk at least for 5 out of 7 days of the week, preferably on all days if possible.

You can sense the positivity and general feeling of good sense that encompasses you when you do this day and day out. You are energetic, you are focused, you are positive – these are the characteristics that you need for success in whichever endeavour that you undertake in life.

I go for a walk very early in the morning (this means I go for my night sleep early as well) – there is no gain without some kind of sacrifice ! Consistently and steadfastly following the same schedule helps a lot – it drives discipline and commitment. I never felt lazy getting up early, except when it is raining – I usually tend to thank the rains and catch up another 30 minutes of sleep ! But on most other days, I do kick myself out of the bed and go for my usual walk.

During weekends, I do at least one hour of walking. The brisk walking makes me sweat, sometimes profusely as the weather in Singapore is humid even at 6 AM. I try to get back by 7 AM, it helps to unwind and have a cup of steaming hot coffee while looking at the news. After an hour of cooling down, I go for the shower and feel very refreshed to tackle the challenges of the day. Rarely do I go to the gym, except for some weightlifting. I no longer run on the treadmill, after having read about the injuries it can cause.

I would suggest to all my friends and my blog readers to go for regular, daily walk (or running) every day of the week, and then go for longer walks during the weekends. This would help resolve most of the health problems that one faes. Especially during old age, it becomes an issue – no one to help if something happens during your walk, your inability to cope with knee pain or ankle pain, the strain that you feels after a few hundred metres of breathless walk, and so on and so forth.

However, if one attends to the problem of old age issues by walking rigorously during the thirties and forties, he or she will find that life after sixties becomes far easier to contend with. Of course, one has to drink warm water – lots of it. And, not cold water. People differ on this aspect. Just half hour before going to sleep, drink one cup of warm water – see the magic after a few weeks. You will feel fresh right throught the day.

In a nutshell, walking is the best exercise a man can do. More brisk walking will help. But it is not necessary to go for a very long walk. Just 30 minutes of walk will help a lot. Just be consistent. Try not to change your routine. Follow your heart here, not the brain only.

Enjoy your walk, every day ! You will see the results very soon !!

Best Regards

Vijay Srinivasan


Walk Improvement

New research indicates that brisk walking for just 20 minutes will do the trick for improving one’s cardiovascular health. I am not able to cite that research here, but am sure you would be able to find that in a couple of minutes on the web.

The same research says that during that brisk walk, race your heart for some 30 seconds are so and then keep walking. I thought this meant that I have to run for some 30 seconds every couple of hundred metres of brisk walking. I have started doing this regularly in the morning, and the result has been good.

So, it works this way – I warm up the muscles for some 3 minutes or so, then start walking briskly early morning time; after 200 metres or so of such brisk walking, I start running (not very fast) for 30 seconds or so (need not be accurate – don’t look at your watch or phone !), and then stop and start walking briskly again. I repeat this over 2,000 metres and 30 minutes every morning.

This has made me feel better than the usual walk, and I believe that the research may be correct, though I do not have quantitative data to support the research. Periodic racing of the heart for a very short duration is considered to be good exercise for the heart and nothing more is needed, as per the research. There are many articles on the web which talk in detail about the benefits of brisk walking as compared to intense running. It is apparent that brisk walkers enjoy the same, if not better benefits as compared to the runners. What the heart needs is just an intense, short duration workout every day, and give that to the heart !

I am sure now that this is what the doctor ordered, and I am following this workout most of the days during the week. During weekends, I take a more leisurely beach walk, since that is devoted to discussing worldly affairs with my partner. Nevertheless, even such an “aerobic” walk is helpful for both physical and mental health.

Do something folks, get up and walk !


Vijay Srinivasan

1st March 2015

Fruits Shopping

Since I take mostly fruits every morning, I spend quite some time once every fortnight shopping for a variety of fruits. It is a personal pleasure, and adds to the de-stressing effects of fruits.

You may ask why. Fruits provide a kind of pleasure other types of foods do not provide. They provide a multi-sensory experience, including colour, fragrance, taste and fulfillment; apart from very less calories and high level of nutrients.

But the most important part of the fruits experience is two-fold: one is the experience of shopping and the other is the cutting of fruits. I enjoy shopping around with an exclusive focus: just fruits ! It is unlike other shopping trips. A single-minded focus to investigate the different varieties of fruits available, try almost every one of them, and spend time in the whole process. It takes me close to 45 minutes or sometimes even more, to complete my fruits shopping.

The more interesting part, however, is the cutting of fruits (which I have mentioned in one of my earlier posts on de-stressing). It is quite an art, involves concentration, and a selection of fruits which would fill a plate with differing impact. I cut slowly, to ensure I get the right kind of pieces (of apples, pears, kiwis, strawberries, guavas, plums, nectarines, apricots, et al), and once I am satisfied with the look and the fullness of the plate of fruits, I sprinkle cinnamon powder on it, and add some nuts such as almonds, pistachios and walnuts. I further add some sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Overall, it usually looks good and “full” for the morning breakfast (almost every day except when I travel). This cutting and dressing exercise takes some 20 – 25 minutes and is an excellent way to de-stress without thinking of anything else. Just the fruits.

I believe this fruits breakfast is healthy and wholesome though many folks disagree that there are no real carbohydrates. I realize that and sometimes I take half the quantity of fruits and supplement the same with a toast of multi-grain brown bread (toasted in olive oil). I guess this combination is good for almost everyone.

So, overall, the fruits shopping and cutting combine together to give an excellent de-stressing experience to me. And, I have been following this process wherever I lived and it has worked well for me. I suggest this to some of my friends but they usually laugh it off as a fad, and continue with their rather heavy breakfast (in Singapore, that usually includes rice in the morning).

Well, no gain without pain. Some work is required to achieve less stress and a better breakfast !


Vijay Srinivasan
30th August 2014

Walk along ECP

This morning I went for a long walk with my wife along the East Coast Parkway. We have done this a few times, and I have always enjoyed these walks. Apart from the serenity of the place, its cleanliness and discipline of the cyclists and joggers have always impressed me.

Of course, the long walk also gives an opportunity to talk things over with your partner !

The East Coast Park is probably 20 KMs long, and you can choose whichever section works for you. Some sections are straight and monotonous, some are curving and touching water bodies, etc.,

The issue is always the weather. Even at 6 AM, the humidity is rather high, and one wonders if his/her physical effort or the humidity which is causing the sweat in the first instance. At 7 AM it is quite warm, and it is better to get back home after that. I don’t understand how people are jogging during mid-morning times, when the temperatures cross 32 deg Celsius.

Nevertheless, long walks are always a good thing to do, and I would prefer these to the treadmill walks which put stress on your knees. Natural gait and walk are always the best thing to do, and I do that five times a week. The minimum distance that I walk is 3 KMs – while that is less than what I do on the treadmill, I find that to be healthier and engrossing as I tend to absorb the surroundings while walking. On the treadmill, one keeps looking at the numbers flashing on the display, and trying to keep up all the while to ensure that the numbers are ever increasing while the heart beat is either constant or decreasing.

Well, natural walk in a brisk manner, covering at least 1 to 1.2 KMs every 10 minutes or so (or faster), is one of the best ways to keep your body in good mood for the rest of the day. I have learnt it after a long while, but it has been working for me for the past few years.

I encourage everyone to do it, but many folks don’t wish to get up early and do this stuff. Morning is the best time for brisk walk, not after a tiring day in the evening time.

These are my thoughts and actions, and hope the approach will help you, Mr. Reader of this blog post.


Vijay Srinivasan
25th May 2014

Continuing the Exercise Pattern

I believe that the most important parameter of a healthy feeling is to maintain consistency in whatever we do on a daily, routine basis.

There should not be radical changes in one’s life pattern.

And that principle applies to exercise.

Whether be it gym, jogging, walking, home exercises, or yoga, one has to practice the same consistently and daily.

That is the secret to obtaining the best results from the time invested into such exercises.

While I try to maintain consistency, I could reach only between 80 to 90% of maintaining a routine regular schedule due to my travels, during which I find it is rather difficult to go to the hotel gym in the morning, and evenings are occupied by client dinners.

I think that % is a good enough achievement, as I know of many people who struggle to hit even 50% consistency.

Of course, achieving it 100% is the best investment as then the body expects and receives the treatment it deserves, and then delivers the health that we all so badly need to run a happy life.

I hope I am making sense here.

I recently recalibrated my work-out sessions.

At the gym (which I go to only on Saturdays and Sundays), I do the treadmill and light weights for 50 minutes, and I have maintained the drill without much change. On the treadmill, I do 3.5 KMs and expend around 180+ calories, with average heart rate around 115.

While I go walking around my place on weekday mornings, I do approximately 3.0 KMs in 30 minutes.

This pattern has continued for long, and nowadays I feel a bit down if I do not carry out this exercise. If I exercise in the same pattern, then I feel “good”.

So, I continue my exercise pattern, and I hope you do too.

Nothing replaces exercise for achieving good health – not medicines, not reading, not chatting. One got to exercise. And, exercise daily.


Vijay Srinivasan
5th April 2014

Persimmons – better than Apples

I have always loved to eat the persimmon fruit. Not available in India, but has been available in Singapore for as long as I can recall. Initially, I used to see persimmons from China, and of late more persimmons from the Sharon valley of Israel.

Persimmons are a great and healthy fruit, the only downside being that their availability is limited to the period December to March (at least that is the case in Singapore). A box of 9 persimmons from Sharon valley costs a little less than USD 3 in Singapore. I am sure it is going to be cheaper in Israel !

I have tried both the China persimmons and the Sharon valley persimmons. Though the fruit originated in China, my vote goes to the sweeter and fleshier persimmons from Sharon.

Let us look at the health benefits of persimmons. While there are many, a quick summary as follows (as adopted from “Nutrition and You”):

1. Rich source of Dietary Fiber (more than that of apple)
2. Low in calories
3. Contains anti-oxidants and anti-tumour compounds
4. Good source of Vitamin C and many B-Complex Vitamins
5. Contains minerals such as manganese, phosphorous, copper, and potassium, all beneficial to our health

Without going too much into the biological and chemical terms, the above list summarizes the benefits of persimmons. It is a fabulous fruit with a fantastic sweet taste, but somehow I could not convince my kids to go for it. We should all try this fruit, and my only regret is that it is not available right through the year.

Try it soon ! Before it is gone for the year !!


Vijay Srinivasan
2nd February 2014

Fruits, Nuts, and a Little………

You thought it is “a Little Exercise………..”, right ?


Of course, exercise is very important and I exercise 5 to 6 days a week, as I have blogged in my “gymmatics” series of posts over the past couple of years.

Here, I meant “alcohol” – a moderate amount of alcohol is better than not having it at all, or having a lot of it !

Recent studies have shown that moderate amount of alcohol, in the form of beer or some red wine, is not a bad thing at all.

I am not going to quote the recently published studies in the U.K., as that is for the medical fraternity to decipher.

I focus heavily on Fruits, Plant Nuts, Exercise and some Alcohol (in the form of wine only 90% of the time !).

I have all kinds of fruits, though some of them have a high sugar content. My favourite ones are:

1. Pear
2. Apple
3. Grapes (red)
4. Persimmon
5. Cherries
6. Blueberries
7. Plums
8. Kiwi
9. Dragon Fruit (occasionally)

Plant Nuts:

1. Almonds
2. Peanuts
3. Pistachios
4. Cashew
5. Walnuts


Red or White Wine – 1 to 2 glasses, 3 times a week
Occasional Beer


40 minutes on the treadmill
Very moderate weights

With the above combination on a regular, consistent manner, you would find a great difference in your health parameters. It takes time, but it works all the time !


Vijay Srinivasan
14th December 2013