Gaz Choudhry, the British Wheelchair Basketball player, vegan and Buddhist gives us 60 seconds of wisdom on mindset, meditation and motivation
I can’t start the day without:
Usually I get up between 6 and 6.30am. I prefer to have more time in the morning and not to rush the start of the day. I meditate every morning but coffee is definitely a staple for me. Either an espresso or an Americano, and a big glass of water.
The meal I eat most often is:
Probably dahl. I try and make it like my mum, but I struggle. I have a pretty varied diet and don’t tend to eat the same thing all the time. Dahl is my comfort food.
I drink this much water a day … because…
3 to 4 litres a day. I drink a litre and a half during training and I have a refillable bottle that I’m constantly drinking from. I don’t really notice if I don’t get the full amount, it’s just become habitual now.
What’s your daily calorie intake on training days and then pre match?
I don’t watch my calories. I should start to as I’m getting older but I tend to have a light breakfast like fruit, but other than that I don’t count calories.
What was the reason you went vegan?
It’s an ethical thing. The question is: ‘Can you thrive doing as little harm as possible?’ And the second I saw that it was possible not only to survive but thrive being vegan, I couldn’t justify the death of animals. I’ve been vegan for four years and I was a massive meat eater before that.
I noticed that I had to adjust my portion sizes, increasing the amount I ate. I just had to educate myself on other sources of protein and supplemented my B12. My go-to protein now is chickpeas.
Do you know your average daily phone screen time?
It really depends but when I’m away with the team it increases. Because of the downtime you’ve got, you’re just filling your day until the next team commitment. In my daily life it’s way less. I don’t try and limit it but every month I do at least 24hrs with no tech whatsoever. It forces you to pay attention to paying attention.
How much exercise do you do a day/ a week?
We do two practices a day on court, three days a week. Then core and gym sessions that are between an hour to 2 and 1/2 hours.
Does it affect your mood if you don’t do enough exercise?
The big thing I learned is that when I don’t lift, that affects my mood. I don’t feel as good physically. Even though I may not notice the difference, I feel it.
Tell us the one exercise you could do all day, and one you really hate.
I like candlesticks. Well, I hate them but I’m pretty good at them so it’s a go-to. You lie on your back and raise your legs up above your head.
I hate doing dips now, but that’s mostly because I’m so old and my wrists are knackered.
Hard work and suffering or rest and relaxation?
Rest and relaxation might be what I’d choose but that won’t give you the kind of wellbeing you desire. I think there’s hard work and pain, and rest and relaxation. While pain may not be optional, suffering definitely is. As long as you have a goal that’s big enough, pain is easily managed.
Do you meditate?
My meditation practice is essentially attention meditation, or Vipasana. You use your breath as an anchor to explore whatever arises in your mind. It’s absolutely critical for me that I do it. I can sometimes get lost in my own BS, so to speak. If you don’t have a practice where you can look at the things you think about, it’s very easy to become neurotic.
How much sleep do you need? How much do you actually get?
I probably need over 6 hours. Between 6 and 8 hours is optimum. I never used to be a napper but living in Spain I’ve started to siesta and I don’t think it helps me. I’m terrible at getting up in 10 minutes, I hate it. But I’m very lucky that I’ve never had a problem going to sleep.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to improve:
If you mean improve it from an ethical perspective, you need to be really considerate of what you eat. From a health perspective, it’s so hard with all the science and pseudo-science out there to know what to eat. But things you can eat in their natural state will always be better for you.
This is something I’ve struggled with. What i’ve learned is that goal setting, especially small ones, is really important. Consistently set yourself goals, ways to achieve them in a fun way, and you’ll find joy within the process.
It would be two things. One: pay attention to the miles that your food travels. The second is the impact of eating meat in terms of the industrial implications.
One would be to actually love the sport before you commit to it, and that’s not just with basketball, that’s with everything. I mean, that and throw the ball in the hole…