For Your Kids

“Just as in a start-up, there is never a boring day, in motherhood, there is never a day like the last,” Pooja Duggal

“1 in 20 searches on Google today are on health! 61% of the total deaths in our country are due to lifestyle diseases.”

Despite being among the top 5 women in the diamond industry globally and reigning in her domain, Pooja Duggal felt something amiss. She found herself gravitating towards health and wellness and was driven by the desire to make an impact in the world. What followed was a wonderful journey and the birth of Healthhunt that coincided with the arrival of her bundle of joy. Here, the full-time mother and entrepreneur talks about the similarities between having a baby and start-up, yoga, fitness, motherhood, a wholesome living and more!

Could you tell us about your initiative Health Hunt and what lead you towards it?

After 15 years in the cut-throat diamond industry, as the managing director of Rapaport India and as one of the top 5 women in the industry globally, I realised that anyone else in my place would have started to feel the burn. It was my dedication to yoga and healthy eating that had kept me going. So, while diamonds remained my first love, I found my interest secretly gravitating towards health and wellness. As clichéd as it may sound, I wanted to make an impact on the world around me and salvage lives the way mine had been salvaged by my practices. Having a sedentary lifestyle can have a huge negative impact on your health. 1 in 20 searches on Google today are on health! 61% of the total deaths in our country are due to lifestyle diseases, which means that they are preventable if people realise in time and begin making healthy choices.

“Most people consider motherhood to be synonymous with sacrifice and compromise, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth!”

Therefore, I decided to take the matter in my own hands by digging deeper into nutrition, fitness, mental well-being, and organic beauty, which then brought me to the eureka moment when I decided to scale this to millions of people. Thus, Healthhunt was born! It aims to disrupt the understanding of daily wellbeing. In India alone, 25% of the population may die at the age of 70, on account of an unhealthy lifestyle. Daily well-being, mindfulness, and self-care should begin at a very early age in life, and not when diseases and lifestyle issues kick in. Healthhunt is Asia’s first fully integrated mind-body wellness platform. Being a content-led marketplace, with a wide listing of health and wellness experts, as well as service providers, makes us a one-stop shop. We are fully committed to generating awareness through holistic, verified and actionable content, which is very easy to apply to your day-to-day life.

Taking into account each person’s holistic needs, we are committed to aiding you organically through this process. We believe that the human body is most perfectly designed by nature. If well maintained, it is capable of miraculous expressions. Therefore, a healthy, disease-free life is your natural right. We have been successful in making millions of people join our wellness revolution.

“I never let stereotypes stop me then, and I still continue to battle them every day.”

Were there any struggles to get where you are today? If so, how did you overcome them?

I’ve faced a singular challenge since the beginning of my career – gender stereotypes. For several years, my ‘well-wishers’ told me that the diamond business was cut-throat and, therefore, no place for the fairer gender. When I openly condemned the influx of blood diamonds into India, I was again advised to back off from such ‘bold’ actions since ‘it wasn’t my place’. I never let stereotypes stop me then, and I still continue to battle them every day. Today, as a full-time mother and entrepreneur, people often ask me how I’m managing the “impossible task” of juggling healthhunt, my start-up, and my little one, Aramnaya. A career isn’t a woman’s nemesis; in fact, I believe that motherhood and an active career can beautifully complement each other….provided we purge ourselves of the stereotypical notions pertaining to the roles each gender is supposed to play.

“I always joke about how I have two start-ups: My son, Aramnaya, and Healthhunt!”

Being a mom, how do you balance work and life?

For years, I put an obscene amount of pressure on myself. I may have looked like I had cracked the code and found the perfect balance, but emotionally and physically I was burnt out. Early last year, I not only launched Healthhunt, but also became a mother for the very first time. Talk about a death-defying magician’s trick! When people find out you’re expecting, they have a thousand and five different ways to tell you what you should (and should not) be doing. One day, I had had enough and wrote down all the things that I wanted to be doing and how I wanted to achieve my goals. For me, I found my focus and balance in pursuing my true love and my passion for holistic wellness. You must think that the pressure must’ve multiplied, but it didn’t. I believe in this concept called ‘scheduled fun’.

The 20 minutes a day I spend meditating, doing yoga (versus checking social media) and focusing on all the things I “should” be doing really have made it all the easier for me to achieve that balance. I’ve created a space where there is no ‘on’ or ‘off’ switch with pleasure and work but found ways to mix pleasure with everything I’m doing. My biggest advice for all the #MomBosses out also is to stop comparing yourself to other people! You are you and have your unique strengths and goals. Asking yourself, “How does she do it?” will only get you the answer that works for her. Ask yourself, “How can I do it?” and set realistic expectations for yourself. Trust me, the last thing any of us need while doing it all is to stress about being stressed.

How has the arrival of your little one changed your life?

I always joke about how I have two start-ups: My son, Aramnaya, and Healthhunt! I love him, I’m passionate about his wellbeing, and he keeps me up most nights. If that doesn’t sound like a start-up story to you, I don’t know what would! People think twice before they embark on the start-up journey, and here I am with two. As a mother, I believe that our brain just develops new neural pathways with time. Personally, I find myself to be more compassionate, more attuned to any opportunity that enables me to create well-being for children. I’m even more passionate about children’s nutrition and have become active in many ways across schools and colleges to ensure that our future – which is our children – are protected from the mass threat of undernutrition on account of wrong lifestyle choices that parents and children make unknowingly every day.

“A career isn’t a woman’s nemesis; in fact, I believe that motherhood and an active career can beautifully complement each other.”

You are a wellness expert yourself and have mastered the art of yoga. How did you ensure your fitness during and after pregnancy? What advice would you give moms to be and new moms out there?

Oh, my fitness secret is no secret at all! It’s yoga. Even in my ninth month, I was practising Vakrasana, Utkatasana, Bhadrasana, and Kapabhati Pranayama each and every day. Yoga kept me focussed and energised, helped greatly with nausea and leg cramps, and ensured an easy labour without any complications.

You have studied nutrition at Integrative Nutrition, the world’s largest school for nutrition. Could you share with us your diet and exercise routine before and after?

Like I said, I’d always lived a pretty balanced, healthy life. What Integrative Nutrition meant for me was more conscious living and mindful eating. We live with so many myths around us. Everyone seems to be a remedy king or a fad diet queen! People, unfortunately, fall for so many misleading advertisements with false promises these days and they cannot be blamed; these messages are everywhere! My key learning at the Integrative Nutrition was that at the end of the day, you must listen to your body and only your body. If you do that, you don’t really need any special rituals to ensure a healthy, happy life.

What are the biggest challenges of motherhood?

The biggest challenge of motherhood is keeping it together- managing to be ruthlessly efficient while juggling umpteen things at the same time. As a mother, you are always switched-on regardless of the hour or situation. The key is to learn to be in a meditative state. For that, I’m thankful for the years of practice and dedication to yoga, mindfulness, and meditation. With the assimilation of meditation into daily life, a higher state of consciousness is born within us. This consciousness helps me maintain a good balance and keeps me sane with so much going on at the same time in my life.

Are there any tips and tricks that you can share with us when it comes to motherhood?

Just as in a start-up, there is never a boring day, in motherhood, there is never a day like the last. Each day is new and brings with it, new challenges and learning. In my experience so far, what I’ve realised most is the power of teamwork. This applies to both a start-up and motherhood. Never dismiss someone’s ideas. The best ideas and hacks with child rearing come from the most unexpected places, so keep your mind open.

Secondly, follow your passion; don’t let it go. Most people consider motherhood to be synonymous with sacrifice and compromise, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth! Exciting things come your way when you do what you love. So, love your baby, sure, but also love yourself enough to find time for things that make you happy.

How has motherhood changed you as a person?

I always joke about how I have two start-ups: My son, Aramnaya, and Healthhunt! I love him, I’m passionate about his wellbeing, and he keeps me up most nights. If that doesn’t sound like a start-up story to you, I don’t know what would! People think twice before they embark on the start-up journey, and here I am with two. As a mother, I believe that our brain just develops new neural pathways with time. Personally, I find myself to be more compassionate, more attuned to any opportunity that enables me to create well-being for children. I’m even more passionate about children’s nutrition and have become active in many ways across schools and colleges to ensure that our future – which is our children – are protected from the mass threat of undernutrition on account of wrong lifestyle choices that parents and children make unknowingly every day.

What about being a mother did you learn from your mother?

I give 100% credits to my mother for the clean eating habits that were instilled in me since a very young age – a habit that is now a raging trend in wellness. I mastered the art of yoga as a 14-year-old – well before it was ‘fashionable’ – in the time when it was highly unusual for a teenager to take it up, at least willingly. My mother supported and encouraged me through it all. These things seemed insignificant then, but it is these little stepping stones that constituted the beginning of my foray into health and wellness. So, the biggest tip to all mothers out there is: Good habits start young, so make sure you set a good example. If you want your child to love broccoli, give them broccoli from a young age and most importantly, eat it yourself!

“We, mothers, can be so devout sometimes that we forget the basic rule of motherhood: A healthy mother means a healthy child.”

Are there any core beliefs that you would like to impart to your child?

There is one core belief that I’m instilling in Aramnaya (yes, it starts young!) – Compassion. He’s 17 months old and my prime aim is always to provide a loving, nurturing childhood to him, so he treats everyone the same way. I truly believe that compassion has the power to heal.

“Let our hearts and hands be stretched out in compassion toward others, for each is walking a difficult path.”

What are the greatest joys of motherhood?

The greatest joy of motherhood is understanding and experiencing, first hand, the highest most unconditional form of love in the universe.

What surprised you the most about being a mother?

It’ll be facile to claim that motherhood is simply a mother giving birth to a baby. To be honest, it’s the other way around. It is the baby who gives birth to the mother within you. It baffled me to realise this!

Anything else you would like to share about health and motherhood?

We, mothers, can be so devout sometimes that we forget the basic rule of motherhood: A healthy mother means a healthy child. As doting as you may be, you MUST find time for yourself – for yoga, kickboxing, tap dancing, healthy eating, meditating, slam poetry or whatever it is that keeps you going. Don’t be unrealistic and aim too high. Tailor your fitness regimen to suit your lifestyle, so it is easier for you to stick to it. The goal here is to live a long, happy, healthy life with your little ones!

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