Rohan Arora of GainingTactics: “Meditation and Mindfulness”

Meditation and Mindfulness: I have come to realize that the most important part of my day is the meditation session which I do right after waking up. It kind of sets the tone for the rest of the day. This is the time where I practice gratitude, reflect on the day before, and spend some […]

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Meditation and Mindfulness: I have come to realize that the most important part of my day is the meditation session which I do right after waking up. It kind of sets the tone for the rest of the day. This is the time where I practice gratitude, reflect on the day before, and spend some time in a quiet environment to connect with my inner self. It’s wonderful how just setting aside 30 minutes a day to maintain stillness can clear your mind for the entire day and lead to optimum mental health.

Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?

As a part of our series about “How We Can Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rohan Arora.

Rohan Arora is a certified personal trainer, and the Founder and CEO of GainingTactics, a website aimed at helping people build muscle, lose weight, and lead a healthy lifestyle. With over 6 years of experience in fitness, workout, and nutrition, Rohan now leads a team of fitness specialists and personal trainers who help people around the globe with personalized workout and nutrition plans, while also providing accurate information on sports and nutritional supplements.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Thank you so much for interviewing me for this series. I come from New Delhi, India, a city rich in food and culture. I’ve always been the quintessential ‘average’ kid- average in sports, average in academics, and average at work. It wasn’t until I stepped into a gym for the first time, that I realized remaining average was not an option anymore. One’s environment really does play such a huge role, doesn’t it?

As a kid, I was surrounded by my rather health-conscious family who valued having a strong body, and fitness in general. So, I always had the inclination towards fitness- you could say it was almost hardwired into me.

But the problem was my ectomorph body type, which prevented me from putting on weight and muscle, leaving me with a skinny and weak build. Add to that a weak immune system, which left me frail from within. This is a common problem for people with my body type. Overall, I was left sorely in the ‘average’ bracket, if not below, and I had a lot of deep-seated insecurities rooted in my physical appearance and health.

It’s probably this dichotomy which pushed me to learn more about health and fitness, as I resolved to conquer the limitations of my body. Ever since, my goal has been to attain and maintain optimum health and fitness, both mental and physical.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

Arnold Schwarznegger. I know, it’s a very common answer, and every other fitness enthusiast is obsessed with this person, but Schwarznegger goes beyond just being a fitness-goal for me. Yes, of course, his level of fitness is legendarily aspirational and his workouts are incredibly motivating. But what inspired me the most was his journey and perseverance.

I kept reading and hearing about his incredible journey, and how he triumphed over every tough situation thrown his way. From making the tough choice of becoming a bodybuilder in his teens, to becoming a mainstream actor despite people looking down on his accent, and of course transitioning into and acing his lucrative career in politics.

For me, Arnold Schwarznegger epitomizes Perseverance, and he is living proof that hard work and dedication always pays off in the end.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

Controversial opinion… I do not believe in the concept of a self-made man.

You see, it may seem like a person’s success and achievements are just them, but if you look into their backstory you’ll realize that it is the people around who have contributed significantly, and often silently, to craft them into who they are. Sometimes, it’s not even a tangible contribution, but it still makes an impact in the long run. There are always people supporting, helping, watching over, to help the apparently self-made person move forward in life.

Throughout my life, I have had a number of people who have helped me reach where I am today.

While I’m nowhere close to being a case study on ‘success’, I am doing what I want to and love to do everyday, and this is what inspires me to get up everyday. I consider life to be a journey, and not a destination- and I am indebted to those around me for supporting me throughout.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Certainly not the funniest, but a recurring mistake that I have lived with through most of my life is the habit of waiting for things to happen. I would often wait for an opportunity, wait for someone to start something before I can replicate, wait for people to take chances to know what works and what doesn’t. While this creates a safety net, I have now realized that it also takes away the element of thrill and fun from life.

It wasn’t until I realized that I needed to be active and create opportunities for myself, instead of waiting indefinitely, that I saw great opportunities automatically coming my way.

What I learned is that in order to be true to myself, I need to create instead of replicate- create opportunities, create conversations, create my art, and so on. It is only after these fearless decisions that you start seeing the miracles of life.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

There’s this book titled “The Power of Now” which has helped me tremendously. It’s about how we’re often tied up in the constant thought of what the future may hold, and fail to truly experience our present.

The author also talks about something called a “pain body”, where he says our body is dependent on pain, negative thoughts, and negative self-talk, and that it feeds and grows on it.

This book has a really meditative quality to it. It helps you realize that all those plans and ambitions for your future need to be backed up with work, work which has to be done in the present. Which makes how we are living our present of paramount importance. The book explains how most of us are constantly thinking about escaping the present moment in favor of the future, to an extent where we do not even realize we are doing it.

I have actually had the same problem for years, where no matter where I was, I would always think about being somewhere else, doing something else. I also spent most of my time worrying and stressing over situations that may not even actually happen in the future. The book really gave me a lot of perspective.

My advice for all the people who are constantly preoccupied with the future is to give this book a read. While this may not change your life overnight, it’s definitely a step towards freedom from negative thoughts tie you down.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

This is a little generic, but the quote that has stuck with me the longest is, “Believe you can and you’re halfway there”.

I believe there are only two steps to achieving anything in life- believing and accepting. Some people do not dare to believe they can do what they want to. Perhaps it is fear, feeling of lack of control, or simply based on past experiences.

Others believe, but are resistant to accepting. They believe in their vision, but are not malleable when it comes to taking changes in their stride, especially when something doesn’t go their way. They simply give up. I believe, at this point we should accept our lot and push ahead nonetheless. Else, you’re inadvertently blocking the universe from giving them what you want.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

The most exciting project I’m working on right now, has to be creating AppetiteMax, a nutritional supplement aimed at underweight people. Yes, this is a supplement to help gain weight.

There’s always been this obsession with losing weight. Obesity has been vilified, and understandably so, given its many ill-effects on the body. But what people often forget is that being underweight is equally bad, especially from a health perspective. Being underweight has been associated with innumerable health complications, including vitamin deficiencies, osteoporosis, getting fatigued easily, and fertility issues. It also leaves you with a compromised immune system which leaves you susceptible to diseases.

Having been underweight back in the day, I have experienced these problems first hand. I was tired of feeling weak and fatigued, and falling sick at the drop of a hat due to my weak immune response. To combat these, I started to take care of my body; consciously monitoring what I eat, carefully planning my workout schedule, and trying to get enough rest. Soon enough, fitness became an integral part of my life.

I took it up as a mission to spread awareness about being underweight, and how one can resolve the problems associated with it. I am currently based in Toronto and also work as a digital marketer, but I mainly manage a website which aims to help underweight people gain weight. I struggled a lot through my weight gain journey, trying to find enough reliable information and resources to guide me. This blog is an attempt to fill up this gap and help as many people as I can.

Recently, I launched AppetiteMax which is a supplement that helps gain weight by optimizing digestion and appetite.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In this interview series we’d like to discuss cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives: Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

I believe mental wellness is inherently tied with physical, emotional, and even spiritual wellness. You can’t have one without the others, at least not optimally.

Based on my experience and research, these are the three habits I would recommend to obtain optimum mental wellness:

  1. Meditation and Mindfulness: I have come to realize that the most important part of my day is the meditation session which I do right after waking up. It kind of sets the tone for the rest of the day. This is the time where I practice gratitude, reflect on the day before, and spend some time in a quiet environment to connect with my inner self. It’s wonderful how just setting aside 30 minutes a day to maintain stillness can clear your mind for the entire day and lead to optimum mental health.
  2. Being in the NOW: As much as I like thinking about my past experiences and manifesting what I want to do in the future, I tend to spend most of my time doing what needs to be done in the present moment. It’s quite natural for your mind to wander, and I have to often consciously bring my mind back to the present moment. It actually takes some practice and will to keep yourself in the present, but once you are able to achieve that, you will find comfort and a sense of peace in every moment, since you are only thinking about giving your best in that very moment.
  3. Exercise and Eat Well: This is a no brainer. Doing these two activities consistently for sometime can automatically train your mind to be stronger and better, along with your muscles. Make sure to get in at least 30 minutes of physical activity in a day, and keep a check on what you are putting inside your body. A healthy body definitely contributes to a healthy mind (and I mean this both for the brain itself, and your mind frame). Eating well and exercising should definitely show you tangible improvements in your mental wellness.

Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.

I’ve tried a lot of different methods to practice meditation, but the one that works the best for me is to do a session of guided meditation first and last thing in the morning. Studies suggest that these are the two ideal times to harness the most benefit from meditation and induce positivity into your subconscious mind.

My favorite meditation program is Deepak Chopra’s 21 Day Abundance Program, where you are provided with 1 audio clip and 1 task per day. The program gives perspective on how abundant life really is, and how we can make use of simple methods to practice positivity and manifest abundance in our daily life.

For beginners who are trying out meditation for the first time, maintaining stillness is a common struggle. Deepak Chopra’s meditation program definitely helps tackle this. Initially, it was difficult for me to commit to the program every morning because of my work schedule which often came in the way. I suggest, if anyone has a similar issue, to try what I did- do it at any time of the day that works for you, but ensure you don’t skip a day.

After every meditation session of the day, I’d feel more confident about achieving my goals and appreciate the beauty of life. It helped me accept that all my needs and wants are completely perfect as is, and that I do not need to force things to make them fall into place.

I have also successfully managed to shift to an Abundance Mindset, rather than a Scarcity Mindset. This has helped me grab some great opportunities in life and helped me grow, both personally and professionally.

Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Monitor what you eat: The first habit I would recommend you inculcate is to be mindful and monitor what you put into your body and let into your mind. If you are aiming for optimum health and performance, you cannot be eating anything and everything your body and mind desires. We live in the age of information, and it’s easier than ever to find out what’s good and what’s not for the body. I suggest all my clients do some research on this, and make conscious decisions about what they want to eat, and what they should avoid. This not just helps you get a healthy body, but also gives a sense of control over your actions and builds discipline.

Remember that this is not just true for the body, but also for the mind. Just like you eat food for your body to function properly, you need to have the right thoughts for your mind to maintain optimum functioning. Instead of constantly feeding negative thoughts and fear, try taking out time to practice gratefulness, positive thinking, and mindfulness. A healthy mind needs a healthy body, and vice versa.

Through this, you can inculcate better focus, a positive mindset, discipline, self-control, and have your body and mind be better connected.

Hydration: Yes, you’ve probably heard this a million times, but keeping yourself hydrated is absolutely essential. Unfortunately, while it sounds easy, we often grossly overlook it. Keeping your body hydrated is crucial for multiple reasons, including the optimum function of your organs and for your cells to receive the nutrients they require. But most of us don’t drink nearly as much water as we need to, for our body to be able to function and perform at its optimum.

“Drink an ounce of water for every pound you weigh” is a very popular saying that does the rounds in the fitness community, but that may be a little unrealistic to put into practice. Regardless, try to gradually increase your water intake, and you will see very visible improvements in your energy levels, and skin health, and attain better health and lifestyle in general.

Be Consistent: And finally, I would suggest that you build the habit of consistency. In the long run, consistency always pays off better than intensity. Instead of doing intense workouts twice a week and spending the remaining days eating junk, be consistent and show up for your workouts everyday- even if you do not feel like doing intense workouts on some days. The only ‘bad workout’ is the one that you do not do. Over time, it will be these small consistent days of working out and eating healthy that will actually contribute towards your overall good health.

Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

I feel healthy eating and maintaining a nutritious diet is a lifestyle choice for the long term, and not a 3 or 6 months’ game. Many people trying to adhere to a diet make the mistake of committing to eat certain food they absolutely loathe, in order to lose or gain a few pounds. Yes, sure, it’s feasible for the short term, but there is no way you can actually stick to this- and as we established, consistency is the key to success. In no time, you will fall off the wagon and go back to a binging phase, and that is going to wreck your motivation and self-esteem both.

So, what’s the solution? I typically spend a lot of time with the clients before they get on a diet, to understand where they come from, and their eating habits. A good way to approach this is to check in with what they like eating, what their idea of healthy eating is, and then gradually include compatible and healthy items in the diet. And of course, it is important to find the sweet spot between eating healthy and also enjoying what you eat!

Another interesting way to rewire your brain to subscribe to a healthier eating pattern, is to relate what and how you eat with the ‘big picture’ of your life. Instead of asking yourself ,“what could happen today if I eat this pizza?”, a better question would be- “How will eating this pizza affect my long term goal of living a healthy life and feeling confident about myself?

The idea is to somehow connect your decisions with bigger things in life, and consciously make decisions about improving your lifestyle through little changes everyday.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Emotional wellness is very important to be a well-rounded individual. We focus on attaining physical wellness, and sometimes mental wellness- but we forget the impact of emotional wellness on the success of either of these endeavors. If you’re on shaky grounds emotionally, it is very likely that your mental wellness will go for a toss, and that often spirals into your physical health being compromised. Here are three tried and tested good habits you can try to inculcate for better emotional health:

  1. Be Accountable: The best way to be emotionally strong is to be only accountable for and to yourself. First, this will take away the hours of worrying you constantly do for other people. Second, it gives you a sense of control over your own life, since you know you are responsible for achieving the life you deserve. You would only notice a shift in your emotional health, when you are less concerned and worried about things around you and more satisfied and positive about what’s within you.
  2. Take Time out to Relax: No matter how successful you want to become, if you keep pushing your body and mind beyond reason, you will eventually burn out. My advice is to take things a little slower, and take breaks in between. Enjoying every moment is key to success and negating the possibility of burnouts.
  3. Stay in Touch with your Friends and Family: No matter what stage you are at in life, it’s always important to stay in touch with your loved ones. I’ve personally seen significant changes in my mood when I reach out to old friends. If you are going through something, reach out and open up to people, instead of trying to tackle everything yourself. Having a support system, and actually relying on them, is a wholesome way ahead, and you’ll find yourself at a much better place emotionally.

Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.

Not just smiling, but I’ve personally seen a significant improvement in my mood when I practice gratefulness, positivity, and focus on happiness. I believe happiness is more contagious than anything else in the world, and the energy that transfers from a person who is happy and at peace with who they are, is unparalleled.

Physics says, energy always flows from a higher threshold to the lower one to attain equilibrium. Happiness is a sort of ‘energy’ too, if you think about it. When you are happy, you make those around you happy. If you are around happy people, you absorb positivity and elevate your own mood.

When you smile or try to be ‘happy’, even when things aren’t necessarily at their best, you subliminally train your mind to be more optimistic. This in turn, will allow you to tackle the adversity.

Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

I began my journey of spiritual wellness back in 2017, and have never looked back ever since. We tend to grow old and spend our lives doing innumerable things, yet never realizing who we truly are and what we actually want. This is a situation that being in-tune with spirituality can help resolve. In fact, as we attach more and more value to materialism in today’s age, it is all the more important to reconnect with your ’self’ and recalibrate your bearings. That’s the idea behind spiritual wellness.

Here are some great ways you can start out on your journey of attaining optimum spiritual wellness:

  1. Self-Reflection: Whenever you have time during the weekends, or between juggling work and personal life, spend some time alone to reflect on the past week or month, and try to understand how your body felt during that time. The problem is, with social media platforms and video-streaming applications taking over, we hardly spend time alone with our own thoughts. The idea is to take just 20 minutes out of the week, and reflect on your past actions, feelings and thoughts, analyzing whether they align with who you are as a person. Another helpful technique is to write these thoughts (and your inference after analyzing them) down. I have recently made a habit of writing down how I feel when I can tell that negative thoughts are taking over. I have noticed an immediate change when I do this. When we pen down our emotions, there’s only a specific speed at which we can possibly write. This forces our mind to slow down and actually comprehend a situation in its entirety. This has a calming effect, and definitely gives perspective on troubling situations.
  2. Meditation: If you are trying to introspect, or perhaps spend a few tranquil moments without the constant clamor of thoughts and worries, then you should definitely try out meditation. We already discussed my take on meditation and how I think even beginners can benefit from it, but I’d like to reiterate that meditation is your ticket to “a place of inner quiet, where we experience a connection to the higher self,” as Deepak Chopra puts it. Definitely give it a try if you are trying to ground your feelings and emotions which may have been all over the place. I’ve found these tranquil ‘time-outs’ from the world around have definitely given me some much needed clarity and perspective, and have helped mold my present sense of self.
  3. I now start and end my day with guided meditations, and right when I’m done, I feel an absolute silence in my mind and feel calm. All my thoughts either disappear for a while, or align in a way that they are not no longer affect my day ahead or the quality of my sleep.
  4. Practicing Gratitude: At any point in life, if you look close enough, I believe you will find that most of your prayers and wishes have already been answered in some form.

Do you take a minute out of your day to thank the universe for answering those prayers? I only recently realized the importance of being grateful for what I already have, and it has brought me tremendous results.

Practicing gratitude automatically forces me to become more positive about the future, gives me a sense of satisfaction in what I am doing, and makes me believe there is a higher power out there answering all my questions.

Just spend the first 5 minutes of your day being grateful for whatever you have around you. You will notice how your mood instantly changes for the better, and you can start your day with a positive mindset.

Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?

I have always been an outdoor person and try to stay close to nature whenever possible. Even though my work doesn’t allow me to travel that often, I tend to go out for a hike every now and then. Coming from New Delhi, I was fortunate enough to be just hours away from the mountains- the place where I feel most alive. I’ve also had the opportunity to trek some of the highest mountains around India, and meet people who’re in the same journey of finding themselves as I do.

I’ve also spent a month in Bhutan, a country that measures it’s economy based on Gross Domestic Happiness, and also got the chance to see Mount Everest during my flight there.

Being around nature is definitely something that everyone should be doing as often as possible. It doesn’t have to be a week-long trip. It could just be a short walk to the nearby lake or trail. It makes me realize how simple and basic life is, and how everything around us is so perfect. Immersing myself in nature also reconfigures my mind to realize that no matter how much I force or worry, things automatically have a way of working out for the good.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

While I aim to champion several causes going forward, the one that I’m currently working on and am most excited about is spreading awareness about being underweight. I try to use my experience and understanding, combined with science, to help underweight people gain weight. Honestly, if I could ever inspire a movement, I hope this could be it, and have more and more people join in and expand the community. Right now, I’m doing all I can to help as many people as possible.

I’ve collaborated with several fitness professionals, life coaches, doctors and dieticians in the past and continue to do so, to provide all the information and resources needed for people struggling with a weak immune system and nutrient deficiency to gain healthy weight and lead a healthy life.

At the same time, I not only empower my current clients with the right diet and lifestyle information, but also aim to educate them about the benefits of having a strong emotional system, something that is often overlooked.

The final goal is to somehow help every person who’s willing to change, and provide everything they need in their spiritual, physical or emotional journey to lead a healthy life and enjoy their life at their maximum potential.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Arnold Schwarzenegger would still be someone who I look up to, and would always love to hear him tell his story.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

While I spend most of my time strategizing and working on ways to reach more people, a chunk of my work can be found on my website: GainingTactics (link: This is where our team of fitness professionals educate on the complications of being underweight, how to gain weight, and finally how to lead a healthy life.

As I mentioned a while back, I’m also concurrently working on the weight gain product: AppetiteMax, a supplement formulated to help improve digestion, increase appetite, and promote healthy weight gain. You can learn more about it at

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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