Munmun Ganeriwal, Nutritionist & Fitness Consultant, Founder – “Yuktahaar”
Born in a business family in India that practised holistic living as a way of life, Munmun Ganeriwal developed a passion for both food and entrepreneurship and she believes that it is a part of her genetic makeup in her DNA. She holds a Master’s degree in Nutrition Science which was widely based on the western syllabus. She found a striking contrast between what she was taught and what she had imbibed from her family.
Her knowledge and practice in yoga reinforced her belief in the age old Indian food wisdom and from then she started to blend her knowledge of modern nutritional science with the wisdom of yoga. This is how ‘Yuktahaar’ (‘Yukt’ – right &‘Ahaar’ – food) was born, a diet, exercise and lifestyle intervention program that promotes a holistic approach towards sensible and sustainable weight loss and improved health.
Munmun believes that nutrition and exercise science both are two sides of the same coin. She had an ambition to excel in these sciences and today she is the only professional in India who has acquired both a Master’s Degree in Nutrition Science and International Certification of Health Fitness Instructor from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world.
Through the years, she has also been certified as Specialist in Advance Nutrition and Dietetics by Progressive Fitness, U.S.A, and Specialist in pre- and post-natal exercise (Moms In Motion) by SCW Fitness Education, U.S.A, the largest Continuing Education Provider in the world and Certified Personal Trainer from Exercise Science Academy, Mumbai, the partners with the elite ACSM.
Here are some more insights from her journey, shared with team ABT.
Who is your greatest inspiration, why?
I believe in finding inspiration in my daily life. The city of dreams, Mumbai offers abundant opportunities to see and meet people from all walks of life, who are constantly working as drivers of change to make a meaningful difference in this world in their most humble way.
From the rickshaw driver I met in Bandra (Mumbai), who ferried passengers for free during demonetisation last year to dabbawallas of Mumbai with a business structure so efficient & flawless. I am fortunate enough, I should say, to be a part of this great working culture.
And if I have to mention one prominent personality I would say J. K. Rowling, a single mom who fought her way out of an abusive marriage only to make her mark as an award winning author.
What led you to choose Fitness& Nutrition as a profession?
Choosing Nutrition & Fitness as my profession, I would say, has been an extension of my belief that once you decide to follow your heart, things do fall into place on its own. Back in 2000-2002, Nutrition and/ or Fitness was not popular as a mainstream course or industry compared to the present time.
I was studying to be an Engineer at MIT, Pune and in my second year, I discovered a local fitness club that was hiring young students as part time fitness trainers. Having a strong affinity towards exercise, fitness and everything that revolved around it, I applied and landed myself a job as a Fitness Trainer. It didn’t take me much to realize and decide that this is what I saw myself doing for the rest of my life, almost like I found my true calling.
What followed next was pretty natural. I switched from MIT, from a “highly coveted” course to a “not so well known” course to study Nutrition and Fitness and continued working & training clients after college hours. And thus, my professional journey started, all at the age of 20.
Tell us about your professional journey in brief.
I started as a part time Fitness Trainer at Endurance, Pune in 2002 while I was still studying Nutrition. And since then, there’s been no looking back. My professional journey spanning 13 years and more has been very fulfilling as I got to work with a diverse set of clients from all walks of life.
Having already worked as Nutritionist & Fitness Consultant with Gold’s Gym and Institute of Human Reproduction (IHR), I went ahead to pursue a stint as a Nutritionist with celebrity Nutritionist, Rujuta Diwekar in Mumbai. I then chose to leave from there only to take the unbeaten path of paving my own way by setting up a unique practice of my own, by the name “Yuktahaar”.
Connected health & Tech enabled solutions are latest buzz words in the industry today. How do you see yourself aligned to these trends?
Well, we are pretty much aligned and using technology to reach out to a greater population globally. Our online consultations are designed in a manner that anyone from any part of the world could sign up with us. ‘Yuktahaar’ is a diet, exercise and lifestyle intervention program that promotes a holistic approach towards sensible and sustainable weight loss and improved health. Various mobile friendly tools have been developed by us, which our clients use to track their diet & exercise progress and then share with us for feedback.
Other than this much personalized service, we are making our presence on all digital platforms and consistently post meaningful content on health/ nutrition/ wellness. We are also contemplating on taking our business to an app model where by people can input live feed and get customized consultation on the go.
Could you recall any proud moment in your life? Tell us more
For the nature of my work, I feel fortunate to say that there are so many moments I can be proud of. For instance, every time a woman client feels liberated from holding herself to ransom with the weighing scale learns to eat sensibly and embraces her body structure, it’s a proud moment for me. When a client works towards improving his lifestyle, is gradually able to bring down the dosage of his medicines and eventually give them up entirely, it’s a proud moment for me again.
Did you face any challenges? How did you overcome them?
Confucius has said “The Superior Man understands what is right; the Inferior Man understands what will sell”. Fear for food sells and the weight loss industry along with the pharma and medical industry know that well. It’s easy to sell someone that he or she is not good enough, that there’s something wrong and there’s this single product/ pill/ procedure that is going to make him or her look perfect and feel on top of the world.
My biggest challenge has been to make my clients lose weight by replacing this fear with gratitude for food; from body shaming to developing an unconditional love towards self, from leaning on any “procedure” or “pill” to giving lifestyle a fair chance and consistently work towards improving it. I am happy to say that once I start educating them on the basics of eating right and exercising, they are able to differentiate right from wrong. I believe that honesty, transparency and authenticity are the main pillars that helps me march ahead on this journey and people sooner or later do realize that weight loss should be both sensible and sustainable.
If you were to do one thing differently, what would that be?
Honestly there’s nothing that I would like to go back and change or do in a different way. I believe in taking ownership of all my choices and decisions so far and feel it’s an important part of my learning curve. I never ever judge any of my choices as right or wrong. If it did turn out to be good, it left me with moments to cherish. If bad, it left behind lessons.
What would you like to achieve in the coming years?
We want to establish ourselves as a brand that stands for delivering unadulterated, authentic (not industry-funded) information on food, fitness and everything in between and be recognized for the same at the global level. Through our consultancy programs and events, we would like to promote the culture of local food, global spirit and do our bit to support local economy and global ecology.
As a business, we would also like to venture into premium food industry in future so as to make traditional Indian food and ingredients of highest quality available in its purest form to consumers who are looking out to holistically improve their health and lifestyle. By premium we mean great products along with full transparency about how it’s made, why it’s made and the values of the people who are making it.