Janki Rana is a dietician, certified nutritionist, and fitness enthusiast. She is known for her approach towards mindful eating and reducing food-anxiety. As an Anti-Starvation Coach, she advocates that dieting does not necessarily mean starving.
Janki was recently featured on the fitness column of Times Of India, where she documented her weight loss of 20kgs. She recently spoke to Storiyaan about her goals, her ideologies, and her approach towards a healthy lifestyle.
Questions and answers
Your website reads: "It has worked significantly in shaping a confident relationship between food and health alongside fitness." Can you elaborate on what that relationship is and how important is it?
Whenever I come across clients for consultation, the first thing they say is that I have been on the XYZ diet, and I tried cutting off food such as rice, potatoes, etc. So that’s when a negative relationship with food builds. If that person goes out to get – together, lunch or dinners, and they say I can’t eat this, I’m on a diet, that negative relationship with food builds and grows. Even when they eat food like rice and potatoes when you’re out, they have a guilt trip and feel that this is something very wrong that they have done. That’s when I help them understand that food is not your enemy, and your body is not your enemy. I try to build up a healthy relationship with them with food and their body. So that’s when a good relation with your diet and body can take you a long way in fitness.
How do your scientifically backed methods and ideologies differ from other fitness gurus on the internet?
When I talk of scientifically backed up plans, let’s say Keto diet. If Keto works for someone, there is no guarantee that it’s going to work for you. If you go to a tailor, the tailor will stitch a cloth that will fit you and suit your body. So that’s when scientifically backed up plans come. Your body is science; your food is science. And I tailor that scientifically for a person’s body according to their lifestyle, routine, eating choices, and food choices. So every food and everybody is somewhere connected to science. And I make sure it suits you scientifically. So that’s when a scientifically backed up plan comes into action. Not just any diet: eat two spoons of oats or eat ten pieces of almonds or have a katora of kurmura, that’s not going to help you. So that is when I customize it scientifically for them.
Can you tell us what a balanced diet looks like, according to you? And what are the misconceptions out there that need to be straightened out?
A balanced diet is where each food has a respectable amount of macros in it. It has proteins, carbohydrates, fats because you need all of these in proper proportions for your health. Fitness is not just looking lean or being in the best shape but also feeling proper, digestion wise. Your sleep pattern gets better, your hair gets better, and your skin gets better. I think a balanced diet is something proportionate to all the food. It should have all the food sources. A balanced diet is where you have everything in proper proportions and enjoy the meal. The biggest myth I come across in my journey is “diet means starving”. Diet is not a starving yourself of what you eat regularly, but it’s also something you feel good about.
You were awarded student of the year in 2018 at your MET Farewell. You must have worked hard for it. What did you do to cope while studying when it got too exhausting?
To be honest I have always been a good student. I love studying; You can tag me Sharma Ji ki beti, who’s still with her books. Therefore education was nothing to be stressed about. But you have to work hard to be in a particular position and achieve something in life. So, of course, I used to workout even during my college days. I made sure I woke up in the morning at 4-5, finished my workout, and planned things. Planning is essential whenever you want to achieve something or want to get into a particular place or want to move ahead in your life. So I used to plan out things. The regular day to day work can make you stressed, so that is when planning and scheduling are of utmost importance.
You were recently featured in the health column of The Times Of India that covered your fitness journey. How did it feel to see that kind of validation towards your approach?
It was an out of the world feeling. You always need to be happy while doing something. If you want to achieve a goal, if you’re going to have a healthy body, you don’t need to punish yourself. Through every blog, article, and social media post, I try to convey a single message, “love your body and love your food” . That’s the only place you are going to live. So love yourself, don’t hate it, don’t hate the process; make sure you’re happy while doing it. So yes, I was pretty much able to convey my message through that article. And even in this interview, I’m trying to convey the same.
According to you, what is the relationship between mental and physical health, especially when there are several diseases affecting youngsters in both aspects?
Mental health and physical health are affected when someone tries to cut off food like carbohydrates from their food. That’s going to change their mood and temperament. If someone around you is in that extreme diet, that person will always be angry because he’s low on energy. When you’re low on energy, you’re going to be grumpy; you’re going to fight with others. Your hormones start fluctuating when you cut off fats, like when you say ghee butter nahi khana hai. So your hormonal level varies a lot. And that’s again when you feel low on energy, you feel dizzy and depressed. It is your food that affects your physical fitness, even your mental state. Everything, in the end, is going to be related to your health with your food choices, daily lifestyles, and daily activities.
Your blog contains some recipes that seem healthy yet pleasing to the tongue. Do you believe that a healthy lifestyle doesn't necessarily need to sacrifice all the tastebud's temptations?
Not at all. We have five senses. Would you like it if you hear something boisterous or appealing to your hearing senses, or would you love if something pricks you or sees something that is not appealing to your eyes? Then why would you like to eat something which is not appealing to your taste senses, right? If you’re going to have something that’s not appealing to your taste buds, you cannot follow it for a long time.
Make sure that your diet is tasty; otherwise, you might tend not to follow the plan. You’ll get back to square one, and you continue hogging more and might overeat. Always make sure that you eat well but also eat tastily.
One of our favorite blogs to read was about working out during the menstrual cycle. Can you talk a little more about that for our audience, and why is it important?
My personal experience and science say that when you work out, your body releases a chemical called endorphin. They act similar to morphine. So morphine acts as a painkiller. Endorphins work as a painkiller in your body, so when you work out, your body starts releasing endorphins, so you don’t feel the pain of the cramps. So it’s essential for your workout. At least work around one-two- days before your menstrual cycle, or even during the menstrual cycle, you can exercise. If not heavy weightlifting or something, you can go for a walk or do light low-intensity workout. So that works. I have been telling my female clients as well, and they agree to it. I have seen tremendous results when they say that I do not get cramps and mood swings. So a workout during menstruation does help you.
You recently celebrated two years of your fitness journey with your brand, Janki Rana Fitness. What do you take from it, two years down, when you look back?
Like I had all the knowledge in the world being a geek, I did not know how to do marketing, how to go ahead with the brand, or build a website or promote the brand. But the most significant support have been my family and my clients. I have coached clients all over the world. It feels fantastic to be a part of someone’s health journey. So it’s pretty much thrilling. And I’m looking forward to each day to wake up with my clients’ updates. It’s been a roller coaster journey with lots of ups and downs, but yes, eventually, hard work is worth it.
Do you remember the first time you realized that fitness was your "jam"? And that you wanted to help people achieve their fitness goals too?
As a kid, I always wanted to do something in science. I always wanted to be a doctor or scientist, but I did not know what a dietician meant. I had done my honors in biochemistry. That’s when I realized that, you know, I wanted to be something in the food, in the health industry, or something. And then I ended up doing my PG in dietetics, and I was working. I was hired by another brand for working as a coach, and that’s when I realized this is something, this is my passion. This is something where I can help people to be good at their health. I’m also a licensed pharmacist. I could either give medicines or help people with their food choices and all so you don’t have to take drugs. So I ended up taking dietetics, and yes, I think I was destined to be here. So I pretty much feel happy about it.
We noticed that you also use various characters as examples while explaining something, which is unique. We do not usually see nutritionists utilizing that approach. How did you come up with it?
I don’t want to make health confusing, and I want to convey the message as easily as possible. I don’t want those people to just leave halfway after listening to substantial scientific terms. I want the majority of the people from 10 years to maybe 80 years of age to understand that this is what you need; this is what your health needs. You don’t have to go on extreme levels to do anything. So I try to make it as simple as possible, so everyone understands it. That’s where I use the characters so people can relate, like how we relate in the movies that this is the character, and you start referring to it. So I want people to connect that this is something even I can do, this is very easy. So, to make it easy for everyone.
One of the most notable things on your Instagram is that you highlight the importance of fresh fruits against dried fruits or any other sweets, preferably. Why is it important to educate people about it?
Every food has different chemical composition; no food is unhealthy, or no food is something you should restrict yourself to, but it shouldn’t also be like you just keep on eating. Dried fruits are loaded with sugar. They are coated with sugar. They go through a process where sugar is added for preservation. Eating one fresh fruit vs. one dried fruit that will have more calories, you’ll not feel fuller. Fresh fruits give you fewer calories, and you’ll feel fuller, you’ll get water content, and you’ll get the fiber from everything, but here you’re going to get more sugar. They’re exhausted from the nutrients. So that’s when people need to know when they say I’m eating a healthy diet. So that’s when I try to educate people about the different varieties of food, and that’s when they need to realize that everything you consider healthy is not always healthy or that unhealthy is not always unhealthy.
What motivates you to get up and go and work out every day?
You’re asking this to the laziest person. The only discipline I have is for my clients. If I want to do something on my own, I am lazy at times, but I plan my day. I know this is to be done, and if I don’t do it, I’ll regret it. I’m someone who wouldn’t live with the regret of not doing something. So I plan it this way, at least three workouts a week or a maximum of 6 workouts. I plan out things ahead like I plan everything the entire week.
I know it doesn’t always go as planned, but then you’re still somewhere in the middle. So always plan your day ahead or even your week ahead. And if you want to achieve something like this is my goal to run maybe a 10km marathon or 40 km marathon or 42 km marathon then that you have to work for, you have to motivate yourself. You’re not going to stay motivated 24*7. Motivation doesn’t always work. It’s just that you have to make up your mind forever. The motive is still initial. Like you know, if you have to brush your teeth, you’re not going to need the motivation to do that as it becomes ingrained as a part of your life. So even workout and good food should be a part of your life, just like brushing your teeth.
What is the best feedback you've gotten from any of your clients that made you realize the fantastic job you're doing?
This is very confusing as I don’t have one. I have many. But the best one I had got was one and a half years back approximately. A client of mine had two miscarriages, and she had some hormonal issues as well, and she was on my plan, five months later, she messaged me saying, “my health has improved,” and she was going to conceive and she was expecting. So that’s one of the best compliments ever. That’s when I realized that I’m doing some good work in my life. I don’t have to stress a lot about it. This is what I want. Like you know, you have that moment, “this is what I want” moment. That’s something that stays in your head. So that is a moment that will always remain in my head, and even if I feel like going off-track someday, I’ll still get back because of it.
1. Favorite cheat meal— Pani puri and pizza
2. Fat-shaming— don’t
3. Fasting or Dieting— None, just eat well.
4. Favorite Fitness Influencer— Brooke Wells- she’s an athlete.
5. Steroids and Supplements— Steroids-no. Supplement only when required.