Diabetes had always threatened to hover around me due to genetics. My first warning sign came with gestational diabetes, but even then, I wasn’t very well prepared when I finally heard the ‘D’ word. I spent my initial days in denial and later in anxiety.
It wasn’t long after I learned for the very first time that I might be on my way to becoming a full-blown diabetic, that I heard my phone ring on a sultry February afternoon. I heard a young male introduce himself as the co-founder of a health and wellness consulting firm. I wasn’t a stranger to such calls and was all prepared to hang up-but I caught a rare kind of honesty in his voice that made me stop and listen.
The caller was Varun Sai, the co-founder of HealthOnWay– a health consulting company. At a time when health is associated with medication and pills, what he said took me by surprise. His goal was to help people get off pills and medicines.
A deeper conversation led to some interesting revelations about the origins of HealthOnWay. The name itself is a nice twist to a previous venture the founder-duo, Varun Sai and Aniket Bora had founded and grown: MedsOnWay. MedsOnWay worked on a simple model: they would door-deliver medicines to people in need of medicines. Very quickly, over a period of 4 years, they built a steady base of customers who needed medicines on a regular basis.
All the meal recommendations only required ingredients from our own common kitchens, nothing that required going beyond what was already familiar to the patient.
During the months of steady growth for the company, they noticed one particular customer whose monthly orders of medicine were steadily dwindling. Within a few months, the customer went from purchasing medicines worth INR 5000 to INR 500 per month only. While the team had previously assumed that the gentleman had begun purchasing medicines from another source, they actually found, to their astonishment, that the customer, who was well above 65 was actually weaning off medicines only by adopting a new lifestyle. Intrigued by this development, Varun fixed up an appointment with the customer, met him at his house to get a deeper understanding of the lifestyle adjustments that brought such a drastic difference in his life. Varun noted a pleasant thing: the adjustments were not drastic at all – only the net effect was huge!
All of those meal recommendations only required ingredients from our own common kitchens, nothing that required going beyond what was already familiar to the patient.
It was a moment of epiphany for them when they realized that they would have to shut down their current business to stay true to their purpose of helping people regain their health naturally. MedsOnWay became HealthOnWay- and over the last two and half years, this tight-knit 6-member team has helped about 300 people find their way to health by getting off the bandwagon of medicines.
So when Varun said, “Would I like to try it?”- I said ‘yes’- mostly because I was curious to know how they would manage to keep their promise, especially with online consultations and no medicines.
The only request from Varun was that I put down an honest review of my experience at the end of 90 days. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I wanted to find out.
Here’s what HealthOnWay’s Health Consulting Team did over the next 90 days:
1. Met me where I was
The very next, a young nutritionist on their team, Dr. Shalvi called me for a detailed understanding of my current lifestyle. Over the next couple of days, she prepared a meal plan for me based on my eating preferences, my existing mealtimes, and daily routines. I was heartbroken to see coffee struck off my list of can-haves, and the meal plan came down hard on my carbohydrate intake.
2. Delivered a customized workout plan
Over the next couple of days, I received a call from Dr. Monali Bora, the physiotherapist on the team, who again met me where I was with my fitness goals. Her thorough but gentle prodding led me to reveal my recent hip injury and my subsequent fear of intense workouts. She also enquired about my primary goals from my workout plan. Dr. Monali came back to me with a custom plan that didn’t make me feel like I was going to pass out after every workout.
3. Focused fiercely on Habit formation
My first conversation with the team revealed a strategy for an effective lifestyle change- It was important to focus on new habit formation rather than going after numbers. So, in the initial days of our 90-day consultation package, I received a call every second day from my assigned nutrition fitness coaches, making sure I received the support to stay on track. My caffeine deprivation caused me severe headaches, but Dr. Shalvi refused to yield and kept suggesting alternatives- black coffee, black tea, green tea- to satisfy my caffeine cravings.
I must mention that I would find a way to somehow sneak in a coffee in a meal plan- but I was always met with a gentle, but firm, “ Please follow the plan.” from Dr. Shalvi.
In the first month, I was successful in making the following new habits:
- Skip morning coffee.
- Substitute with warm water.
- Incorporate a 30-minutes pranayama and meditation practice.
- Consume green smoothie as the first mini-meal of the day.
- Maintain intermittent fasting of 16 hours on 3-4 days of the week.
- Skip evening tea altogether.
- Replace white rice with brown rice.
4. Fine-tuned my plan periodically
Apart from calling me every 2 days to make sure I was comfortable with my plan, the team checked in with me at the end of 30 days with a specific goal: 1) to check if my body was responding to the changes appropriately 2) If I needed a modification in my plan based on my comfort. At this point, except for my coffee cravings(my headaches had ceased), everything on my meal plan felt very doable. My plan from the first month was yielding good results, so we stuck to the same plan.
Habits I had developed in my second month:
- Switched to millet-based meals.
- Walked 4 Km per day.
- Went off-sugar completely.
However, I was still unable to maintain regular sleep timings, because our Annual Virtual Summit on Early Childhood Development was scheduled to come up in March. I was sleeping late and at random times. My sugar levels were still not stabilizing and I was building up frustration. Here again, Shalvi pointed out that getting regular sleep was key to stabilizing and maintaining healthy sugar levels in the body.
5. Delved Into Mindset Management
Two months into the plan, the team called me again for consultation on mindset management. Varun himself called again to set up a discussion on the coping mechanisms I had adopted for stress management and time management. I had already adopted a meditation practice that was helping me greatly, so our discussion steered toward building micro habits for the practices I had still not built into my life yet. Varun succeeded in conveying the message that often our expectation for perfection is the enemy for progress.
6. Built confidence in me
We are almost at 90 days now, and my fasting sugar has dropped by a whopping 60 points on average. I must mention that I haven’t followed all of the advice to the T. I had my cheat days, I built some better habits, let a few old ones be. Not all days were easy- some days I hated the green smoothies, on other days I would be just plain lazy to make them. But, there is no denying that a gentle voice nudging me had made a world of difference in the way I approached my health.
There was no single thing that helped me change the course of my health and my body. This great team helped me figure out my combination of many small things to help me cross the chasm – diet, fitness, lifestyle changes, and mindset.
If you are looking for some gentle hand-holding that doesn’t feel like breathing down your neck or scorching a hole through your pocket, I encourage you to try this great health consulting service.
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