Diksha: Diet & Dance

This is a health and fitness interview with Diksha Mohapatra, a current 3rd year podiatry student from California School of Podiatric Medicine. For further information visit their channel @thepodiatryjourney on YouTube. Interview by Roberto De Los Santos.


Q1. What kind of diet regime are you on? What motivated you to do this?

I take my nutrition very seriously. I follow my macros to eat a plant-based diet. I am vegan, so I avoid dairy, meat/seafood, and highly processed (packaged, not fresh) foods. I began aiming for my macros back in the fall of 2019, because, even though I was vegetarian, I wanted to do the best I could do for my health, all of the living, and the planet. And, in order to be a walking example of the benefits, I grew interested in bodybuilding and counting macros. When I began, I had trouble with eating out sometimes, because everything I felt that was worth purchasing (that I couldn’t prepare myself) was fried food or had a high sodium content.

I struggled with my sugar cravings, but adding in fruits helped. And I also had no idea what to eat for the right amount of food for my macros, but gradually, I became accustomed to using an app to plug in the daily macros in meal form (Fat Secret). The biggest issue is when I visit family for an extended period of time and don’t want them to have to make me any special meals but also realize people eat carb-heavy foods if they are not accustomed to macros (way more carbs than I can handle for my goals). My friend, Yona, is a huge driving factor for me learning how to strictly navigate the bodybuilding world (lifting, nutrition, sleep, hydration).

Q2. What type of exercise plan do you follow? how often do you exercise and for how long?

I lift everyday with one day of a break during the week. I try to keep my workout sessions to 30-45 minutes. I lift a specific amount about 4 sets for two parts of my upper body every other day and do the same for my lower body on alternate days. I have an Apple Watch which I use to help me walk 10,000 steps a day as my cardio. I like to stack books up to study while walking in place. After the gyms closed down, I wanted to stay active and love to dance. I like to teach dance classes, and if I don’t, then I do 30-minute dance workouts I find on YouTube. In all honesty, when I am originally returning back into the flow of things, it helps me to have a gym partner who also likes to lift.

…I wanted to stay active and love to dance

Q3. How important is meal prepping, or choosing what you eat?

My favorite non-macro-compliant food (for me) is sushi. Otherwise, I enjoy playing with vital wheat gluten (breakfast protein breads, protein nuggets, protein patties, etc.). Meal prepping is incredibly important to me, because I am less likely to eat outside of my given macros nor do I have to think about cooking with the limited time I have with studying and clinic.

Q4. What personal health plan do you have for 2021?

I want to return to strictly following everything I listed previously so that I can build a stronger, bulkier body and lose the fat. I am finally prioritizing staying hydrated In fact, I believe mental health goes hand-in-hand with physical health for me, so I hope to continue my daily practice of gratitude, meditation day and night, journaling, and affirmations.

Q5. How do you cope with stress from school?

I meditate, focus on positive affirmations, watch comedy shows, exercise, and talk to loved ones on my walks. Being outside is critical for my mental health, so I ensure that I spend at least 20 minutes outside getting my Vitamin D.

Q6. What advice do you have for a 1st year managing school, health, and stress?

Have a self-care schedule set, no matter what it is that you need. Schedule your studying around that. That was one of my most important lessons I learned. Do whatever it takes maintain your equanimity during school, and practice not comparing yourself to others around you. This is your unique journey. Study a bit everyday, even if it means scanning over a lecture for 10 minutes, because even that little amount can help you when you have to review later down the road. That will minimize stress in those situations in which everything seems to be due or occur at once.

I know students who went through difficult times due to their health deteriorating, so remember, as future physicians, we have to learn not to pour from empty cups. It’s a constant process, but you will grow accustomed to all of this with practice. I am certainly still learning myself.

Interview with Diksha Mohapatra, California School of Podiatric Medicine

By Roberto De Los Santos.