Nutrova founder says mental health & physical well-being inextricably intertwined, impossible to have one without other

All Mumbai-based Akshay Pai, Founder, Nutrova needs is a kettlebell and says his soul is truly at peace after a balanced day.

Fitness mantra: Fitness to me encompasses a healthy, functional body and mind, and along with nutrition and sleep. To me, that is the foundation of a balanced, happy life. Whether it’s attempting a new sport, running with a heavy bag to catch a flight or binging with friends, maintaining a basic level of fitness ensures that my body is never the limiting factor in anything I want to (or need to) do. Having the ability to do things without worrying about how your body will handle it is what I like most about trying to keep fit.

Lockdown routine: During the lockdown, I’ve realised that I don’t need much more than a reasonably heavy kettlebell and a pull up bar to get in decent workouts. Pre-lockdown, my routine included two days of Krav Maga, three days of strength training, with a 5km run occasionally. Post lockdown, that’s changed to a mix of basic kettlebell and bodyweight exercises a few times a week, with the occasional run thrown in. I definitely prefer working out first thing in the morning, but if that isn’t possible, late evening is a close second.

Boxing day: I’ve really been into Krav Maga for the past 6 years and I absolutely love the classes, which unfortunately haven’t been possible during the lockdown. I’ve been fascinated by boxing and trained for a few months pre-lockdown and can’t wait to try it out again.

Match up: If I could pick any sportsperson to play against, it would have to be light sparring with Canadian mixed martial artist George St. Pierre – emphasis on the light. There would be literally no chance of me landing a single shot, but he seems like he would be a great teacher through the process.

Diet dos: I try to follow a simple rule: half of every meal should be vegetables and should contain a quality source of protein. This is incredibly flexible, easy to follow consistently and really difficult to mess up. My diet hasn’t changed much during the lockdown, except for the fact that second helpings were much more accessible while working from home.

Sharp shooter: When it comes to eating to keep my mind sharp, I feel that limiting certain foods has a more direct impact than anything else. Starchy and greasy foods tend to slow me down a bit and I generally avoid them till later in the day, so there’s no afternoon slump at work.

Mind matters: In my opinion, the single largest influence on how your mind functions is the quality of your sleep. The biggest personal change during the lockdown has been trying to improve the duration and quality of my sleep and the impact of these changes on mental acuity is almost immediate. I would strongly recommend reading Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker (another lockdown discovery) to fully appreciate how much sleep matters.

Mental health: Mental health and physical well-being are inextricably intertwined and, in my opinion, I’ve come to believe that it’s practically impossible to have one without the other. Exercise, good sleep, a balanced diet and good digestive health all have a direct impact on mental wellbeing. Mental health is something we should all pay more attention to, both as a fundamental health objective and an indicator of overall wellbeing.

Soul searching: When it comes to keeping my soul at peace, alone time with no screens, phones or interaction really helps me recharge. Music, reading a good book or even a good book goes a long way. Every now and then there’s a perfect day – productive time at work with a few significant wins, quality time with friends and family and a great workout somewhere in-between. At the end of a day like that – that’s my perception of being truly at peace.


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