Category Archives: Ushasri’s Wit

In a walking slump? Don’t give up!


Sometimes despite our best intentions, we find that we have lost our motivation to walk.  It honestly happens to everyone.  We have to stop for a week when we go on vacation or someone has fallen sick. We have visitors who have come from out of town  or there is too much work to do. The list is endless as to why we suddenly don’t have the time to walk. Once we stop walking,  it like our engine has been turned off.  No matter how many times we turn the key, and start a walk, it just doesn’t seem to ignite our walking engine.  We might do one walk here or there, but we can’t seem to get ourselves moving on a regular basis.  Then the guilt starts and every single day that we see others walking we think about why we aren’t walking.

If you are like me and feeling the guilt pile up day after day, take a deep breath.  The first thought might be to just give up.  After all it is easy for all of us to just drop out of the club, since we don’t pay any monthly membership dues.  But would that stop the guilt?  Would that actually help your health? The obvious answer is no.  So the next question to ask yourself is how to pull yourself out of the walking slump.

The answer is the Happy Feet game of tag! One of the unique things that has started in our club recently is our tagging system.  By tagging people to just walk only 200 steps or 10 minutes, the time and dedication needed for a longer walk is alleviated.  Everyone can participate.  If someone tags you, don’t ignore it.  Don’t put it off until “later”, because if you are in a slump then “later” never happens! 200 steps takes as little as 5 minutes depending on how fast you walk.  Even if you are on a conference call or making dinner, you can walk 200 steps easily.

The second step to becoming motivated is going to the Saturday walks.  These walks are an essential part of our club.  They give us all a chance to not just walk but to become re-energized by our friends. Let your fellow club members give you the motivation to start walking again.  Make a Happy Feet Friend close to your neighborhood and set a specific time that you will meet for a weekly walk.  Start with just one walk a week and build up from there.

The next steps is collages.  You might feel that the collages are a waste of time, but think of it as record of your effort, your time, and meeting your own goals.  There are of course weekly challenges to help make the collages even more interesting, but the core of the collage is saying that YOU are important enough to set aside time for YOURSELF.   We often hesitate to take a selfie – but why should we? It doesn’t matter how you look or what you wear, YOU are beautiful !

So the next time you find yourself in a walking slump, follow these steps and I promise that you will be back to walking everyday and feeling great. Remember your Happy Feet Friends will be happy to help you every “step” of the way!

Where has the time gone? Happy Feet One Year Anniversary!


Happy Feet Walkers Club – June 21, 2016 – One Year Anniversary


Can you believe it has already been one year since Happy Feet started?  I myself am amazed when I think of it! It seems only yesterday that Lakshmy and Namitha were asking me to join a small group of just a few ladies to walk and get healthy.  Honestly the first week it started, Lakshmy actually made collages for everyone since we didn’t even know how to make them 🙂 Sounds so silly now doesn’t it? Today we are all such pros at making collages, taking awesome selfies and walking miles on end.

The group itself has grown so much, that there are over 100 ladies all encouraging each other. Rather than just a few messages per day, sometimes there are 100 messages per hour!  New members are encouraged by veterans and I am so impressed to see newbie collages with 3-4 miles after their first few weeks of walking.  Challenges have ranged from best vacations to  most miles walked to Holi colors. Our Saturday walks have keep us all motivated with fun themed walks including sari walks, reindeer walks, Diwali walks, and even a 5K challenge.

imageOn the club anniversary,  Mayor Steve Chirico,  honored Happy Feet with a proclamation celebrating not only the accomplishment of the club but stating the June is Naperville’s Women’s Outdoor Walking month.  This is a wonderful honor not only for the club but for each and every single one of us.  Think back to your first day with the club, whether it was a year ago or only a few days ago, what have you accomplished since you started? Let us celebrate each accomplishment and make each and every walk count.  Walk faster,  walk farther, push yourself a little bit more every day to surpass your limits.  Every single walk is a chance to improve your health.

Thanks to Namitha and Lakshmy, our awe-inspiriting leaders, who have encouraged us all to be healthy and lead better lives.IMG_4476

Congratulations Happy Feet on our one year anniversary! Congratulations to each and every single club member for every accomplishment, whether it is small or big! Let’s walk every day, and every where and embody the spirit of the club!


Happy Feet Valentine’s Day Ball


The hall shimmered with the colors of red and black, glitter, lights, and excitement as the attendees of the First Happy Feet Valentine’s Day Ball slowly entered for an unforgettable night.  As families walked into the hall, they were checked in and men were handed a red rose to be given to their ladies with words of love.  Ladies, gentlemen, and kids were dressed in elegant colors of pink, blue, black and red.  Ties, long dresses, glimmering jewels, and perfectly set hair helped set the mood for the evening.  Photographer Rajesh Nayak, took professional Valentine’s themed pictures for all the attendees, who eagerly stood in line so they could get one of a kind pictures.

Queens Namitha and Lakshmy reined over the evening, as appetizers of freshly made chat from Chataka Masti were enjoyed by everyone.  Kids then watched an exciting magic show, while adults chatted and took pictures. Selfies were rampant as the Happy Feet ladies took pictures galore so that they wouldn’t forget the memorable evening.

Then everyone sat down to watch the unbelievable  Happy Feet models walk the red carpet runway.  Archana, Vimi, Ritu, Garima, Radhika, Shweta, Sree, Rupa, Neelam, Ushasri, Jyothi, and Ramya all strutted down the runway to music of their choice in pairs and by themselves.  Beautiful videos showing the ladies’ collages and transformations played in the background.  Then the Nayak boys, Yash and Joesh introduced their mom, Namitha Nayak and the Ganesh boys, Vedanth and Advaith, introduced their mother, Lakshmy Ganesh.  All the boys gave heartfelt speeches that were full of pride for their mothers’ accomplishments.  Then Namitha and Lakshmy walked the runway accompanied by their supportive husbands, Rajesh Nayak and Balaji Ganesh.

After a delightful dinner of pav bhaji, palav and gulab jamuns, the DJ started the music and the Happy Feet ladies hit the floor. Swaying to the music and energizing each other, the ladies and their families enjoyed the night.  Daddy – daughter dances and mother – son dances, both brought sentimental feelings in everyone.  Then the Charged  and Ready group and the Up and Coming groups had a dance off,  with members coming out to dance and the crowds cheering for the winners.  Finally free dancing, with glow in the dark bracelets, fortune cookies, and surprise candy packs were handed out to everyone.  The evening winded down, and families slowly headed back home with feelings of joy,  love, and friendship.

Fun, Friendship, and Fitness was theme of the evening.   Happy Feet and  the Valentine’s Ball will stay in everyone’s memories for years to come!


Valentine’s Day Ball – Love is in the Air


As the first Happy Feet Valentine’s Ball approaches, the air is crackling with anticipation and excitement as ladies are buying dresses, discussing shoes, and figuring out hair styles.  How fitting that the first major family event for the Happy Feet Club is for Valentine’s Day, the holiday of love! Happy Feet  is all about love – loving ourselves, and loving our friends.

As many of you have noticed ,the unique atmosphere and philosophy of Happy Feet has been to love and support each other and never push each other down.  You will only see positive feedback on groups. During Saturday walks there are only smiles and encouragement given to other walkers.  The Valentine’s Ball has been no exception, with the sharing of pictures of dresses , ideas for jewelry and even places to buy undergarments!

Loving oneself is an ongoing journey for most of us.  On a day to day basis we all show our love for our families and friends, but we forget to love ourselves, regardless of our shape and size.  We get caught up in losing weight, and looking a certain way.  Happy Feet has reminded us to love our inner beauty and most importantly to respect our health.

The love and encouragement from our Happy Feet friends has allowed all of us to love ourselves even more and by loving ourselves more, we can show our love to our friends. It is a wonderful circle of love!

It is not chocolate and roses from loved ones that we are all looking forward to this year but the chance to show everyone that


One Single Step

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” Edith Lovejoy Pierce

As 2016 starts let us remember that today is a blank page and we have the power to write amazing things each and every day.  Many times I have heard from ladies in our club that they didn’t submit a collage because they didn’t have enough steps.  But what they don’t realize is that every single day is an opportunity for us to improve.  If yesterday you only walked 1000 steps, then make sure today you walk 1001 steps.  Yes even that single step is an improvement over yesterday! One single step – that is all it takes.  Make a collage share it with your friends in your group, the encouragement from your team leaders and other walkers will propel you to take one more step the next day.  Then the day after take one more step, and the day after take one more step.  If every single day, we improve from the day before, just imagine where you will be by next year!  I never thought I would have walked 420 miles in 6 months! There were days where I only had 5000 steps and other days I had 12000 steps.  It doesn’t matter if you are a Goal Pusher or  Mellow Fellow – we all have bad days.  Days where we are just lazy, or kids are sick, or we have too much work….But  remember that the next day, we can do better by just adding one single step!

If you find yourself discouraged by not meeting your step goal one day – submit a collage at the end of the day anyway – let us inspire you to do more tomorrow.  Isn’t that why you joined Happy Feet? To be surrounded by positive encouragement and to know that we all have bad days and good days.

This year I encourage you all of you to have a goal of submitting a collage every day, whether you meet your personal step goal or not, and remember that every single day is an opportunity to improve from the day before.  Happy New Year! Let’s start walking!

My obsession with Happy Feet and Walking

Most people go on vacation to just relax, enjoy the scenery and spend time with their families.  But this past September as my family and I went on vacation to London, I was all about the steps and walking.  Happy Feet had become so ingrained in me that I did not want to miss the opportunity to not only get my steps in but to faithfully compete on challenges.  So I made sure my Fitbit was charged and as I woke up to leave for the airport I was ready.

I faithfully wore my Fitbit every single day, took pictures and through the magic of WiFi even uploaded collages at night.  Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the Crown Jewels, the London Museum of Art, Madam Tussards, and the London Eye- all of these were places where you needed to walk in order to see them.  The walking never stopped!  Even at night as my feet ached, I found myself taking an evening stroll by myself through Trafalgar Square, just to get in more steps. We travelled to Scotland and my family wanted to relax in hotel  after walking all day in Edinburgh but I offered to walk down and get snacks for everyone.

It was crazy!  I was obsessed with Happy Feet!  But for once my obsession was healthy.  Happy Feet is not just about steps and challenges it is about making permanent changes in your daily habits to include walking.  Once the walking becomes a daily habit – you just feel like doing more and more because you start to feel healthier. It is cycle of improving health, vitality and happiness.

So as the holidays roll closer and you consider taking a vacation ,  I hope that you can also say that while you enjoyed the sights and experience, you found out that you too were obsessed about Happy Feet and walking!


The London Bridge from the outside with the bridge road opened to let a magnificent sailing ship through.  Then we walked on the bridge across the top – Check out my floating feet and the road below! I can’t guarantee that all Happy Feet adventures will lead to flying but they might 🙂


Friendship + Saturday Morning Walks = Healthy Women

There is a reason why Happy Feet has grown so quickly from just a handful of members to 75 women just in 3 months and that reason is simply Friendship.  Friendship and support is the glue that holds all of us together.  Actually studies have shown that women need friends to be healthy! “Scientists now suspect that hanging out with our friends can actually counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis. A landmark UCLA study suggests that women respond to stress with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women.”

While all of us enjoy walking alone and with our families, I think the biggest boost in energy and spirit comes from our weekly Saturday morning walks.  These Saturday morning walks are a chance for us all to come together and simply enjoy each other’s company.  The laughter and joy that can be heard on Saturday mornings is not only loud but contagious! We need each other to keep the momentum going.  The next time you feel like skipping the Saturday morning walk – just remember that you are actually doing yourself a disservice.  While all of us would like to sleep, the benefits of walking with friends, far outweighs the negative aspects of waking up at 5:30am. This Saturday put on your shoes, your red Happy Feet shirt and head out of the door – your friends are waiting!



Walk while doing everyday tasks and see the miles add up!

Have you been thinking that there are not enough hours in the day for all the tasks that need to get done AND to walk?  We are all multi-tasking ladies, so I have been thinking about how to add walking to my daily tasks.  Consider for example how much “walking” is done in the grocery store. The other day I started the mapmywalk app to track how much I walked while I was grocery shopping and I was surprised to see that I walked over a mile. It made me think of all the walking I did just performing regular tasks and how I could magnify my results.   Here are a few small changes that you can make that will add more walking to your daily life.

1) Parking farther from the door – easier now than in winter, but just think of the extra calories burned in winter, since you body is additionally working to keep you warm.

2) Walk while your children are in a class or playing a sport.  Most of us just sit on the sidelines and chat, but you could easily walk during that time.  I keep my hat, sunglasses, and water bottle with me just for this reason. Inspire other moms to walk with you – and have them join Happy Feet!

3) While you are chatting on the phone, walk and talk in your house! I have walked at least half a mile or more during phone calls. The closer the friend, the longer the conversion and the more walking you can do !!!

4) Think of all the walking you do while you are cleaning your house.  As you pick up toys, papers, and clean the mess, try to do an extra two or three rounds around the room.  Just adding these extra steps can add  0.5 miles in 30 minutes of cleaning.

5) When you go shopping at the mall, after you pick up what you need, just take a walk of the whole mall, before you walk to your car.

If you have more ideas about how to add walking to daily tasks – share them in the comments.

Moonlight and Stars

Cool breezes caress your face, while the peaceful moonlight gives you a soft glow as you walk down a quiet street.  The harsh heat and bright light of the morning sun always sends me running inside, but the nighttime moonlight calls to my soul.  As the sun sets,  I find myself moving towards the door.  It is a chance to be outside with my family for an evening walk once dinner is done.  Quiet discussions, giggles and thoughts are shared as we hold hands and walk down the street.  Walking while I sweat in the afternoon sun makes me feel like I am exercising, but walking under the bright stars feels like a pleasurable treat.

I love bike riding at night by myself even more.  The rush of biking in the darkness, with wind encouraging me to go faster and faster…. It feels like I can bike forever.  The roads are empty,  the houses are dark, the stars are shining and the moon is my only companion. Worries and stress melt into the darkness, and I only think of the joy of the ride.


The Lazy Monster

I am lazy! There I said it.  The Lazy Monster that lives within all of us is quite strong within me.  I used to be more active but after moving to Chicago 5 years ago and quitting my job so that I could focus on my family, I simply let the Lazy Monster grow even bigger. (He really is quite ugly if you want to know!)  When we first moved to Naperville, I joined a gym and was quite determined to be healthy, but as the days passed and that Lazy Monster started to roar, I felt like I would take a small, itsy-bitsy break.  Surely after a week of rest I would go back to the gym – right? Wrong! The Lazy Monster got even stronger and I grew lazier. I quit my gym membership, full of promises that it would be easier to squeeze in exercise at home with exercise videos and Youtube……But I never did.  The Lazy Monster had officially taken over my life.  For those of you who have never seen this fellow (I think my friend Namitha may not have:) ) let me describe him for you – he is Big, LOUD, Persuasive, and constantly fills me with Self- Doubt.

When this group started, I have to say that I initially didn’t leap into it, of course that darn lazy monster was roaring in my ear with reasons as to why I would not succeed.  But my friend Lakshmy actually took the time to call me and ask me why I still hadn’t agreed to join.  I had no good excuse.  Still I didn’t walk – I saw that the other girls were already walking so much – The Lazy Monster roared, “How will you keep up?”  Finally after a week of watching the collages pile up, and people cheering each other on, I decided I would not make time to walk, but just walk when I was waiting for my kids to finish a class.  So when my daughter had volleyball class, I took a walk with my son – only 1.5 miles.  It felt AMAZING!  AWESOME! I had given my Lazy Monster a swift kick in the butt.

The Happy Feet encouragement I got from my first walk was enough to keep me going.  I walked again the next time I was sitting around waiting for my kids to finish a class.  I went farther than before.  Then  I walked again the next day.  I was kicking and punching my Lazy monster in the face and it felt GREAT! The next day I got out my beloved bike and went biking for a few miles – something I had not really done all summer.  From that I time I have been walking or biking at least 4 to 5 times a week. Sometimes more but definitely not less.

My lazy monster has not left of course, but he is smaller, grumpier, and green with jealousy over all I have done.  Most days I can’t hear him as I put on my walking shoes or pull out my bike because the voices of my fellow Happy Feet Ladies are so loud and strong.

If anyone else has let The Lazy Monster take over their life – join us and together we can help give it a swift punch in the gut and help you on the path to a happier, healthier YOU!