Jasneet Kaur

People often ask me why I moved to the hills and became a Mindful Eating Coach, when my 13-year long corporate career was going really well

Well, I fully bade goodbye to the corporate world in 2016, but the seeds were sown way earlier – in 2007.

In 2003, I joined SBI Cards as a Management Trainee, where I worked for a decade.

In Feb 2007, my parents met with a car accident. I lost my father and grandfather in the car crash and my mother received severe head injuries. Overnight, my beautiful, active mother metamorphosed into a Traumatic Brain Injury patient for the next decade, losing most of her memory, eyesight and the ability to walk.

Ironically, the accident happened a month before my scheduled wedding to Sandeep Singh Sandhar. We had our wedding with a tiny gathering of loved ones, while my mother was in the ICU.

That car accident changed my view on life and its fickleness.

Over the next decade of witnessing and caring for my mother in her ill-health, my husband and I no longer believed that “Work until 60 and enjoy retirement life after that” was really a thing. My parents had worked all their lives to give their three daughters the best education and foundation in life. Just when they were ready to enjoy life and travel the world, the accident snatched everything away.

When I rejoined my job after the accident, I remember wearing a familiar set of shirt and trousers to work. I was minus all the heavily embroidered clothes and jewellery that newly married women wear to the office. From then on, I kept working hard and rising up the corporate ladder. But deep down, corporate life began to lose its charm for me. 

I craved to experience life outside the concrete offices. I wanted to be near nature, craved to see more sunsets, craved slowness. The daily 2.5 hours spent in traffic started seeming extremely pointless. 

And Delhi started getting really polluted. 

In Dec 2016, my mother breathed her last. I feel honored that I was holding her hand when she breathed her last – something I wasn’t able to do with my Dad. While devastated at having lost both my parents, ironically, with her passing, I also became free to travel.

In 2018, we were on a holiday in Dehradun. My husband had taken a short sabbatical from his office. I was on maternity leave. One evening, as we watched a brilliant sunset we thought – “how awesome would it be to enjoy this everyday?” That night, we created a new excel sheet and started calculating how long we could survive on our liquid savings if we were to quit our jobs right away. 18 months. That was enough. 

From the holiday homestay, my husband sent in his resignation letter. We applied for a transfer certificate at our daughter’s Delhi school. 

We decided to keep life simple. My husband, with his startup experience, laid the mantra – “fail fast”, which we applied to our Dehradun experiment. We searched and found a basic furnished apartment on rent, in a sleepy, hilly part of Dehradun. If it worked after 18 months, we would move our furniture here. If it failed, we’d simply move back to Delhi and start looking for jobs. We didn’t expect the same level of conveniences we had access to in Delhi. We were excited, but were also prepared to fail. This way, there wasn’t an incredible amount of pressure to “like the slow Dehradun life”.

My first plan was to teach Yoga. I was already a certified Yoga Teacher. But I learnt that teaching Yoga required a commute to different parts of the city or setting up my own operations. Not aligning with my goals of a slower life I started looking at alternatives.

While caring for my mother, I had started studying nutritional interventions to help with her recovery. This helped me develop a keen interest in Nutrition. So now, I turned to Nutrition Coaching. I threw myself back to books and took various exams. By 2019, I had certified as a Nutrition Coach and by 2021, as a Master Health Coach in Nutrition and Change Psychology. I first applied whatever I learnt on myself – I lost my pregnancy weight without following any diets and then added strength training to my routine. In 2021, I was also offered the opportunity to help manage a professional online community of 50,000 Nutrition Coaches around the world. That stint gave me a deeper insight into client situations across geographies and cultures. 

In my coaching practice which is called “Habits over Diets”, I care deeply about helping women ditch the dieting culture and step into their best physical health through mindful eating, deeper habit changes and self-compassion.

I started working with clients and then discovered that I loved coaching women in long-term group containers. I doubled down on that. This year, I’m launching my 6th group coaching program, with women clients who are corporate professionals, entrepreneurs, etc.

I’ve also found that our older careers are always helping us. While the field of health Coaching may be new for me, all those years of managing large teams, holding difficult conversations, managing new programs and products – every single one of them has been helpful in my coaching and entrepreneurial journey. 

Sandeep, meanwhile, ventured into his passion of Meditation & Mindfulness and started teaching individuals and conducting workshops for corporates.

Covid and the transition to WFH helped, as Zoom classes and coaching had become the norm.

Our life in Dehradun is simpler and slower. The air is clean. People are calmer.

When we’d socialise in Delhi, we used to choose restaurants. In Dehradun when we meet friends, we discuss trek names and which one to do together. Do we go towards Shikhar Falls or Jhadipani or Maldevta?. Instead of discussing new stores or malls, we discuss which birds or animals we spotted on our walks. 

Our kids go to good schools and their school environments are kind and close-knit. Their birthday parties are simpler and the general show-off is lesser. My in-laws, who also moved with us, find this life simpler and easy-going.

Oh, and we did move all our stuff here and we bought a piece of land to build a house in the hills. 

I must admit that sometimes, I miss having colleagues and an office environment. Those days, I sit and work out of a busy cafe. I also miss the central heating of corporate offices 😉  But those are smaller inconveniences.

People often say that we sacrificed a lot to live this life. In all humility, they don’t get what this life close to nature is all about. The “sacrifices” are worth it, and more so.