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Dentology Podcast with Sonayna Chadran


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Transcript – Dentology Podcast with Sonayna Chadran

Episode Release Date – Monday 1 April 2024

Andy & Chris (00:00.598)
What another wonderful day. It is another Dentology podcast. Don’t you love them? I do. And it’s funny because when we started this and it kind of heads under the banner of the business of dentistry, it’s amazing how when you take clinical things off the table, how much is still left on the table? Well, I think it’s the business of dentistry and it’s a business and there’s lots of stuff that you need to be thinking about, which needs to be talked about nicely.

people and lifestyle and wellbeing and all that stuff. So we are fortunate, today we have a guest. We have Dr. Suneena Chandran, who’s a dentist and also a lifestyle and body coach, which is interesting. And there’s a very interesting story about how that segue happened in your career. So welcome, how you doing?

Sonayna Chandran (00:47.248)
Hi Andy, hi Grace, I’m very well thank you. Thank you for having me on your podcast.

Andy & Chris (00:52.406)
Looking forward to it. Should be fun. Should be fun. It will be great fun because you’ve got a really good story. I think dentists… Nothing like a bit of pressure right at the beginning. No, no, I think dentists will relate to it because you are a dentist. But the other things that you’re doing as well. And we know that health and well-being in dentistry is something that’s so important. And in another world, we value and sell dental practices. So we see lots of dentists who…

Sonayna Chandran (00:54.032)
Thank you.

Sonayna Chandran (01:01.384)
I’m sorry.

Andy & Chris (01:17.418)
in some cases, cut their career short, just because of back and neck issues and no longer able to work. So anything that we can do collectively to make sure that dentists stay in good shape, not just physically, but also mentally, it means I can have a full-fledged career. That’s gonna be good. The more you talk about it, the more acceptable it becomes. Exactly, exactly. But before we get to that, I believe there’s clues as to who we become from our childhood. So was there a time you can look back on your childhood and say, ah, yeah, that was the…

Sonayna Chandran (01:33.448)

Andy & Chris (01:46.198)
That was a key moment or perhaps what was your childhood like? Yeah, what was it like?

Sonayna Chandran (01:50.696)
childhood, growing up, I live with my mum and dad, have a younger brother and come from an Indian background, Indian family. And so this might be quite typical to say, but I guess from a very young age, it was very instilled with me that education was important, education was quite key. So I think I can remember like, you know.

Andy & Chris (01:52.59)

Sonayna Chandran (02:19.256)
exams and studying and I remember.

Andy & Chris (02:22.389)
We have heard it before. We have heard the Indian parents often say you can be an accountant, a lawyer, a dentist or a failure. It’s your choice.

Sonayna Chandran (02:29.528)
That’s pretty much summarises everything. That’s kind of what I remember. So I think like, I think I had, I would say in terms of like my childhood, I had very supportive parents. My parents were very involved in my education, in my choices, in terms of kind of work. So I was always just kind of in a place where I was trying to better myself and study, but at the same time like…

Andy & Chris (02:56.651)

Sonayna Chandran (02:58.22)
My parents were great in terms of they would take us on holidays regularly, like we’d always go on holidays once or twice a year, so we’d get our kind of break time. Sports, I’m quite tall, so five foot nine and a half. My husband doesn’t like me saying the half because, yeah. He doesn’t allow me to wear slippers in the house, that’s the main thing, because it adds that extra.

Andy & Chris (03:07.868)
to any sport.

Andy & Chris (03:16.17)
Oh, he’s quite tall. He’s not five foot nine, is he?

Sonayna Chandran (03:29.653)
No, he’s going to hate me for saying this but no. So, yeah, I know. I mean I never really get to wear heels that much and I get to kind of wear my trainers and flip-flops and it’s easy life, easy life. So yeah, so in terms of sports…

Andy & Chris (03:32.365)
We’ve all got our issues. Yeah, yeah, well. As you go out for a night out and you’re in bare feet.

Andy & Chris (03:46.393)

Sonayna Chandran (03:51.916)
I enjoyed netball, played that at school. I’m not going to say I was a pro when I played for teams and stuff, but it was things that I enjoyed at school. Yeah. Yeah, gold attack, gold shooter. And they always would kind of on sports day put me to do high jump and long jump because of like the long legs and everything. Yeah, basically. They’re like, oh, you’ll go right here. And then outside of that, again, my parents encouraged me to do karate lessons.

Andy & Chris (03:53.467)
So, it’ll be…

Andy & Chris (03:59.146)
Yeah, goal attack or whatever it is, goal defence or something.

Andy & Chris (04:10.702)
I wish you too. Ha ha ha.

Andy & Chris (04:21.934)
Oh, yeah, I’m glad this is on a podcast. Yeah.

Sonayna Chandran (04:23.035)
So yeah, watch out.

Sonayna Chandran (04:29.452)
So it was some karate and kind of worked through that and again that was just, I don’t remember me saying that’s something that I definitely wanted to do but it was like a thing that my parents said oh why don’t you kind of get into that so I did that for a couple of years and then from there I think it was more just wanting to get into some sort of exercise, my parents were always into a bit of exercise, quite healthy.

Andy & Chris (04:45.438)

Sonayna Chandran (04:58.542)
So I was brought up in a kind of healthy environment I’d say, an environment all about education and then holidays.

Andy & Chris (05:02.475)
Alright, bye.

Andy & Chris (05:08.359)
When did you want to become a dentist?

Sonayna Chandran (05:10.972)
Good question. And it’s not probably the most exciting answer because I think, you know, when you’re around like 17, 18 years old, for me personally, I don’t think I had life figured out. I don’t think I knew exactly what I wanted to do, what I was good at. I don’t think many people do. It is true.

Andy & Chris (05:37.774)
No, it’s too early to ask people. I think it’s a really tough time for people because actually, I think it goes back a step as well, because you need to start making big decisions around your GCSEs to give you access to the right A-levels, to get you to the right uni, and you’re in your mid-teens. And like you say, you’re 17, 18, I don’t really know what I want to do. There’s people in their 30s, 40s, who still have never really found the thing that they could be doing. I keep hoping. Yeah.

Sonayna Chandran (05:49.383)

Yeah, absolutely.

Sonayna Chandran (06:00.349)
Yeah. Exactly.

Sonayna Chandran (06:04.216)
Yeah and it’s a big life decision because I don’t think you realise at the time how big a life decision it is because you’re like hmm I might end up committing the next four to five years of my life of going to a university studying and then kind of going into that career so yeah again like I said I think most of my life up to the age of 23 24 I was going through life with the support of my parents so around 17 to 18 I kind of I was like

Andy & Chris (06:08.493)

Sonayna Chandran (06:33.032)
So yeah, I don’t know what to do. I know that I’m quite academic. I know that I was good at school and getting good grades. And so again, as you said at the beginning of the podcast, parents kind of like said, you know, you’ve got accountancy, you’ve got law, you’ve got op-tom, medicine, dentistry, take your pick kind of thing. Yeah, yeah. And I think as well, I thought like, I guess I didn’t know any other career. So I thought, well,

Andy & Chris (06:35.583)

Andy & Chris (06:51.202)
Yeah. As long as it’s a pick of those. Yeah.

Sonayna Chandran (07:01.5)
this must be, one of those has to be for me, what else is there? So I did work experience in all those kind of areas and I remember, sorry, yeah, I mean when I say yeah, it wasn’t like weeks and weeks, it was like I kind of just like maybe went there for a day or two, did some shadowing and I think I learnt what wasn’t for me, like I wasn’t a person who wanted to do loads of

Andy & Chris (07:04.45)

Andy & Chris (07:10.814)
What are you? All of them? In all of them? So you didn’t just choose… yeah. Wow.

Andy & Chris (07:21.346)

Andy & Chris (07:25.602)

Sonayna Chandran (07:30.6)
public speaking and presentations in front of people. Wasn’t a person who was just gonna sit at a desk all day on a computer. And finances and you know, that all wasn’t really kind of ticking any boxes for me. And then I think I did go to a dental practice and I really liked the very personalized one-on-one contact the dentist had with the patient. Like

Andy & Chris (07:47.156)

Sonayna Chandran (07:59.376)
You don’t have to speak to many loads of people at once. You’re with that person. It’s very, I don’t want to say intimate, but personal, and it’s someone talking, listening, almost coaching a patient on how to look after themselves. And I remember one lady come in, and she was, you know, the typical in pain. She needed an extraction, and she came in pain, and she left out.

Andy & Chris (08:01.9)

Andy & Chris (08:07.639)
Yeah, I know.

Andy & Chris (08:14.441)

Sonayna Chandran (08:25.236)
with her to that and really, really happy. And it was like that immediate gratification. So with dentistry, I think I realized that like in that moment, in that half an hour, you could feel really kind of, you could do something great and feel really good about it as well. And I think like, you know, that was it. I spent a little bit more time with him and I was like, it seems like a hands-on profession. It seems you get to kind of speak to patients and build a good relationship and potentially you get to make someone happy.

Andy & Chris (08:29.632)

Andy & Chris (08:39.686)

Andy & Chris (08:51.779)

Sonayna Chandran (08:54.544)
at the end of it as well, so that was nice.

Andy & Chris (08:55.902)
Yeah, absolutely. Which dental school did you go to? Leeds. What’s the rationale behind that?

Sonayna Chandran (08:58.816)
Leeds, Leeds Dental Institute, yeah.

Sonayna Chandran (09:04.836)
Well, I think it was either between Bristol or Leeds and I think like, I can’t quite remember, it may have come down to, hmm Leeds might be good for some nightlife. I was like, Leeds is the place to be, even though it’s like, I’m in London and it’s like, I think I was really nervous about that, it was about four hours away from home and again you know how I said I’m very close to my family and in terms of how involved they are.

Andy & Chris (09:18.526)
Yeah. Fair enough.

Andy & Chris (09:25.226)
Yeah. Mm.

Andy & Chris (09:30.883)

Sonayna Chandran (09:33.)
decision to kind of go that far was really tough and but yeah somehow I chose Leeds because I thought I was going to get the best of like the lectures and the academics and like party time as well.

Andy & Chris (09:36.31)

Andy & Chris (09:44.994)
party time. Right, yeah. And I think having that gap probably did help you get some separation and kind of, you know, grow up in your own world. Your mum and dad can’t keep coming to see you every weekend, can they? Exactly. So what was your uni experience like?

Sonayna Chandran (09:50.3)

Sonayna Chandran (09:54.041)
Yeah, exactly.

Sonayna Chandran (09:59.772)
Definitely I would say it was like a shock to the system in terms of like at school like I was a lot of the time towards the top of the class, good grades and everything like that and then you get to dental school and everyone’s good and everyone’s top of the class and I think I felt a little bit out of my element in terms of like just kind of where I was and I struggled, I struggled quite a bit in terms of

Andy & Chris (10:15.092)

Sonayna Chandran (10:27.824)
exams and practicals and really realising what have I let myself into, like this is now my career. So I think in my first year I remember, I think I may have failed one exam but I retook it and I was fine. I remember, I did, I felt like I still studied as much as I could, like I don’t think I slacked but I felt like…

Andy & Chris (10:33.85)

Andy & Chris (10:44.438)
Did you party?

Sonayna Chandran (10:55.648)
even just the amount of information that you have to learn all by yourself kind of thing was quite tough and then maybe yeah found that hard to balance around you know fitting in, making new friends, being in a new place as well as trying to you know revise and nail all of your exams. I think that all of that once was quite a shock.

Andy & Chris (10:59.767)

Andy & Chris (11:14.466)
There’s a lot of new things, isn’t there? A new location, new people, and a new way of learning in a way, especially if you were sort of feeling not quite as smart as you felt maybe you were before. So, Nainu, in terms of how it affected you, did you go into your shell, or did it give you kind of the impetus to grow and kind of find out more about yourself and be comfortable in that situation?

Sonayna Chandran (11:19.109)

Sonayna Chandran (11:25.032)
to quit.

Sonayna Chandran (11:43.629)
I think I still felt determined because I must have carried on because I was determined not to fail, either not to let myself down but to let my parents down. They’d put so much effort into supporting me. I do remember in third year I got to a point I was like in a

Andy & Chris (11:57.612)

Andy & Chris (12:02.36)

Sonayna Chandran (12:06.988)
with Crown Prep Practical and I was like there till 6, 7pm and everyone had gone and you know still finishing off my prep and then I went to my personal tutor and I just kind of said I don’t think this is for me, I don’t think I can do this anymore and I remember she you know was very supportive, she was like I completely understand and she gave me options about like why don’t we try and reassess how you’re feeling you know in a month or two.

and if not, these are your options. And I even spoke to my mum about it and how I felt and she was very supportive. And I think that, I think something in me was just like not really determined to fail, I’m just gonna keep going kind of thing. It’s very weird, I never knew that I, I only thought I had that mentality now with like my coaching business and everything, but I realized like, if I felt like this during dental school, I clearly had that mentality then I clearly was.

Andy & Chris (12:37.556)

Andy & Chris (12:45.825)
Ahem. Mm-hmm.

Andy & Chris (13:00.635)

Sonayna Chandran (13:01.452)
more resilient than I thought and I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about that until now.

Andy & Chris (13:06.542)
And I think tenacity and resilience, it is one of those things. You can’t read books about it. You can’t talk to friends about it. It really has to be a first-hand experience. And perhaps for you, yeah, it sounds like your childhood was amazing and your parents were incredibly supportive and you had holiday. It might have been that resilience and tenacity wasn’t needed in your childhood years, because you had a great childhood. Your time at uni might have been that thing that kind of kicked in, which now you have your own business

many dimensions to your life. It’s actually served you also in a weird way. The lesson you learned at dental school wasn’t just how to do crown preps, it was how to be resilient and how to have tenacity, which from a life school point of view were great things to learn, although they were probably hard at the time. So you qualify, where’d you go and do your FD training?

Sonayna Chandran (13:47.178)

Sonayna Chandran (13:52.777)
Definitely, I completely agree.

Sonayna Chandran (14:00.848)
Yeah, so I went to a practice in Aldershop, which I’d never heard of, I’ve kind of got this kind of like name, Aldershop, right, how far away is that from my house? It was about like an hour and a half away and I lived out near there with them. There was two of us, two VTs in that practice and it was actually, I’m very, you know, grateful for the practice I was in. It was actually on the outside, it was a church. It was a church converted into a dental practice. It was very quirky.

Andy & Chris (14:05.506)
Ha ha

Andy & Chris (14:26.556)
Oh wow, amazing.

Sonayna Chandran (14:29.672)
And I was very lucky enough that within that dental practice, I think there were like three VT trainers So each trainer had trained the other trainer. That’s kind of like so there was so much experience in there So that was good and I was with another colleague another VT dentist Who was there so we could kind of support each other. So yeah, that was a year of Kind of starting out and into the real world, I guess

Andy & Chris (14:39.731)

Andy & Chris (14:55.822)
Hmm. Yeah. Do you remember your first unsupervised patient? Do you remember the first time that you in the room with nobody looking over your shoulder?

Sonayna Chandran (15:06.776)
remember the one at dental school if that’s what you yeah the one at dental school was a it was perio clinic and I asked him how many times a day how many times do you brush your teeth and he said if that once a week and I was like oh my god is this what I let myself in for kind of thing but yeah so that was a bit of a shock to be like my first patient is once a week and like this is

Andy & Chris (15:09.61)

Andy & Chris (15:36.042)
been funny how can you get by in life brushing your teeth once a week? You can’t have a partner or many friends. No, or you just wear a mask all the time when you talk like this. Terrible. Yeah, whew wee. Oh dearie me.

Sonayna Chandran (15:36.348)

I don’t know. I mean, yeah, I know. So I was like, okay.

I’m sorry.

Sonayna Chandran (15:49.176)
Yeah, I definitely had to double mask up on that day and try to not get put off for what was to come for the rest of my life. But no, that was interesting. We had really good, I think we had really good early exposure in Leeds. I think it was after first year, from second year, we were seeing patients. And then, you know, in VT, like first on supervised patient, I don’t, I honestly can’t remember, but I think I was nervous at the time, but then…

Andy & Chris (15:58.084)

Sonayna Chandran (16:19.228)
um a lot of yeah definitely but knowing that you had that support around you like if you needed it i think that was helpful

Andy & Chris (16:20.266)
Must be nerve-y, mustn’t it? Yeah. Yes. Which is good. It’s like the first time you learn to drive, and if you know, when you’ve done it when you’re driving, and then the instructor says, right, off you go, and then you’re like, oh, I’m now on my own in a car. I’m responsible. I could kill somebody if I get this wrong, or myself. It’s freaky. So then bring us up to just pre-COVID, because obviously that was an interesting period for you.

Sonayna Chandran (16:36.219)
I know.

Sonayna Chandran (16:41.633)
Oh god.

Andy & Chris (16:49.838)
Pre-COVID, what was your work pattern like? Kind of where were you working? How many days were you doing? You know, what was that period like?

Sonayna Chandran (16:54.126)

So it changed quite a bit. After VT, I found a job which was about an hour away from home in Oxfordshire, very busy mixed practice, corporate, UDAs, and it was five days a week, eight to five. So I think I was, it felt like I was kind of thrown in the deep end from seeing like, I don’t know, six patients a day during VT, and then you’re seeing 30, 40 from date one with this.

Andy & Chris (17:17.358)
Thanks for watching!


Sonayna Chandran (17:27.248)
and I think at the beginning it was exciting to be like oh I’m working hard and getting some money and this is very exciting and then I started to realise wow this is quite a lot um you know I was feeling I remember some days just coming home to my mum and just kind of just crying I guess or just it may be some sort of release of emotion because it felt so intense in the day the amount that you had to do um I remember at

Andy & Chris (17:31.428)

Andy & Chris (17:39.81)

Andy & Chris (17:49.092)
I won’t

Andy & Chris (17:52.695)

Sonayna Chandran (17:56.392)
one point I started to get a lot of back and neck pain and I even remember it got quite bad to the point where I was off work for two weeks lying on my floor because that was the only thing that was comfortable. So I think like the first couple of years I it was exciting at the beginning and then I realised like a bit of the reality of working in the NHS but when I realised how it was impacting my well-being I was very quick to be like

Andy & Chris (18:00.45)

Andy & Chris (18:07.254)

Andy & Chris (18:17.365)

Andy & Chris (18:23.852)

Sonayna Chandran (18:25.912)
okay I’m gonna drop a day down so I drop Wednesdays and I worked Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and over the last 10 years I’ve been a dentist I’ve gone from five days to four days to three days to two days and now I just do one day which I kind of balance with my business but I think like I gave myself like permission to be like it’s okay to drop one day yes you might earn a little bit less money or

Andy & Chris (18:27.84)

Andy & Chris (18:40.523)

Andy & Chris (18:49.069)
You don’t have to flog yourself.

Sonayna Chandran (18:54.34)
I think I was nervous today because all my friends around me were like pushing more in terms of their careers.

Andy & Chris (18:57.614)
Hmm. So you were swimming against the tide almost. Peer pressure’s powerful isn’t it? I wonder if there’s a stat, so this gets sort of a bit of an exciting, I wonder if taller dentists get more back aches.

Sonayna Chandran (19:09.733)
It has to be, it has to be. It’s launched.

Andy & Chris (19:11.434)
I mean, I would have thought so. It sounds like it. It feels like it. I’m just wondering, you know, you’re nearly 5’10 or something. I just wonder whether there’s more incidents of back injuries in…

men because they’re normally taller and taller women than there are in shorter people. I know many years ago we moved house and I went and registered with the local GP and he went and he said oh yeah everything looks great yeah I think you’re going to be fine and literally as I went to leave his surgery he said oh by the way he said um you’re quite a tall chap because I’m six foot three he said you’re quite a tall chap he says make sure that you kind of don’t put on too much weight try and stay in shape because that will help you in later life with back injuries

Sonayna Chandran (19:38.553)

Andy & Chris (19:51.176)
longer spine than some because I’m taller and yeah it wouldn’t surprise me. I was thinking because you’re tall I was thinking no that’s interesting I wonder if there must be a correlation because even though you can move the chair up and down you’re still you’ve only got a certain point you’re bending over. You were saying about you reduced the days because of how you felt.

Sonayna Chandran (20:02.597)


Andy & Chris (20:14.134)
I guess a slight shame in there is you have to feel there has to be kind of, you know, almost upset and a bit of trauma before you make that decision. And you were saying that kind of because lots of the people working around you were pushing harder and doing more. Do you think if you hadn’t got to that position, you would just carry on working and perhaps remained unhappy?

Sonayna Chandran (20:32.9)
Yeah, I definitely think so and that’s like why, like to this day I think that like, it’s that cliche saying that everything happens for a reason or every kind of negative experience you have, I think it always leads to a positive one or you need to find how it does actually bring you opportunity. Like there is out, like how the last ten years have been for me.

I would never change it because right now I feel amazing. I feel amazing in terms of how I can balance two careers. But I’d had to go through multiple very, very low points. One of those low points being last year and one of those low points being probably around that time where I had to make the decision. I mean, also at that time I was doing a diploma in restorative dentistry and I just, you know, invest a lot of money in that.

Andy & Chris (21:10.539)

Andy & Chris (21:25.162)
Right. Mmm.

Sonayna Chandran (21:27.108)
And again, I don’t really remember why I really chose to do it. I think again, everyone around me, maybe. Yeah, that’s and 17, 18 K on a course. Because this is supposed to be my path, I guess. And yeah, I didn’t actually end up completing that. I completed 70 to 80 percent of that passed all the exams. But when Covid hit.

Andy & Chris (21:33.824)
So you thought, need something, they’re doing it. Yeah, yeah.

Andy & Chris (21:48.803)

Sonayna Chandran (21:54.372)
I had an opportunity to continue with it or stop. And again, that was like my second time I had to make a decision for myself. Like the first one was like, okay, leave and drop down one day. And this was like, do I want to carry on with this? Is this what I want to do? Or am I happy to kind of say no and kind of quit? And I think it’s hard to quit. But I’ve learned now that quitting doesn’t mean failure. Sometimes you need

Andy & Chris (21:58.071)

Andy & Chris (22:11.747)

Andy & Chris (22:20.566)

Sonayna Chandran (22:20.988)
to stop something or quit something because it’s not the right thing for you. It doesn’t mean that you’ve failed but it’s taken me a lot of kind of time to really recognise that because at school I was only told that you need to pass, you need to pass, you need to finish, you need to finish.

Andy & Chris (22:26.039)

Andy & Chris (22:36.754)
Yeah. I think you’re right. I think sometimes the brave thing is to stop doing something, but when you’re surrounded by people who are all behaving in a particular way, that that’s not always easy. That’s very tricky. I was going to say, it takes a brave person to do that. So during the COVID period, you said that kind of you had a reset and you sort of spent a bit of time working on yourself and your personal development. And then you said that, you know, they kind of manifested itself in some sort of mental health issues with, you know, how you felt about yourself and your self confidence.

through that period you obviously got some help. What did that support look like during that period? Because it sounds like for you it was a tough perhaps a couple of years.

Sonayna Chandran (23:14.808)
Yeah, so during COVID obviously

Sonayna Chandran (23:21.6)
I think, so it was like the slight aftermath of COVID. So us working through COVID, it was a lot of, I was, we were, I was in the practice kind of on my own on some days and you know, we weren’t allowed to have two dentists in at once at one point because of fallow time and everything. And in that period of COVID, that’s not when I, like I realized that my mental health was deteriorating, but I think it wasn’t, I didn’t.

Andy & Chris (23:27.519)

Andy & Chris (23:38.426)

Fella time.

Sonayna Chandran (23:49.312)
seek the help then it’s only over the like maybe the last year or two where I started to get that more support. I think during that time it was very go at work that I didn’t think I even had that much time for myself. So I think the impact of how work was I was bringing that home to my home life and that’s not what you want. I remember coming home and I wanted like

Andy & Chris (24:00.248)

Andy & Chris (24:13.974)

Andy & Chris (24:18.402)
Were you married at this time?

Sonayna Chandran (24:19.952)
I was married and I remember like, you know, my husband’s always been so amazing and supportive but I would come home and I would be in a bit of a daze from just maybe a bit of shock and I wanted to go into my own room, I didn’t want to talk and then if I did talk, you know, it wasn’t fair, I would take it out on my husband and I was becoming like a person who I didn’t really want to become so I think it just was impacting on how I was feeling, how we were, we were also going through…

Andy & Chris (24:36.6)

Sonayna Chandran (24:49.252)
you know, some personal like fertility issues as well. And I think that probably impacted it. And I think I always remember on a Sunday night, I would be in bed and all I could think about was what, you know, who am I seeing the next day? What’s on my patient list? What did I do wrong the other day? And then I wasn’t able to be present and happier, you know, in home life. So everything was leaking. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (24:54.207)

Andy & Chris (25:04.009)

Andy & Chris (25:09.29)
Hmm. There’s a there’s a world outside the surgery isn’t there is a world outside the surgery saying that about being in the present And yeah being somewhere else

Sonayna Chandran (25:19.724)
Yeah, and then I would say over the, not this year, over 2023, I think that was another kind of down point for me and I think work got to a point where, you know, I was only doing two days at work so I felt almost quite embarrassed to feel how I was feeling. How can I feel stressed and burnt out at work when I’ve cut down from five to four to three days, two days, like I don’t

Andy & Chris (25:39.295)

Andy & Chris (25:47.042)

Sonayna Chandran (25:48.676)
I kept kind of feeling quite bad about how can I still be feeling like this. And early last year I got to a point where I even started to have panic attacks on the way to work, sometimes even at work. And I was like, I think that was my turning point, which is like, I need to stop, stop to take a career break in dentistry, figure out what’s wrong.

Andy & Chris (26:01.238)

Andy & Chris (26:12.918)
But isn’t it fascinating how we put ourselves under so much stress and pressure before we make the change? We don’t, from what you said, it sounds like you were aware of these changes. You know the impact it was having you, but it has to present itself as quite a serious, you know, physical reaction before you actually stop and then make a change. I think you say credit for actually doing it. Yes. You know, there’s so many people who, who probably would feel like you, but we’re just doing that, you know, we’ll just blunder on.

Sonayna Chandran (26:23.051)

Sonayna Chandran (26:30.205)
Mm. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (26:42.872)
keep going and then they do that for the next 30 years and they’re completely all burn out halfway through. You know that lady we spoke to? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, Christina, yeah.

Sonayna Chandran (26:48.154)
I don’t…

I have colleagues like that as well, I have friends who kind of, they’re not quite at my point or near my point but they maybe don’t see a way out but I want to tell them there is a way out because you have complete control of how you want to live your life if you’re not happy or if your body is not working the way it should be because of the amount of stress you’re putting on yourself then you know you can…

Andy & Chris (27:01.87)

Andy & Chris (27:15.047)
Mmm. I suppose.

Sonayna Chandran (27:17.988)
You can do something about it. You don’t have to be like that. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (27:19.746)
but I suppose there’s also financial motivation in there, isn’t there as well? You know, you go from five days where you’re earning, I know, a hundred thousand pounds one day, we’re earning 20,000 pounds. And it’s another factor that people, and I suppose if you’ve built your lifestyle around a hundred thousand, it’s an interesting one, isn’t it? You know, what a few people are gonna do. So then you drop yourself to one clinical day, but then you also start a lifestyle and health business, which…

Sonayna Chandran (27:39.715)

Andy & Chris (27:48.85)
I find fascinating because you said about your own confidence, how you feel about self-awareness and it’s a very bold step for somebody in your position, particularly having had perhaps a challenging couple of years running up to that. So a minor burnout to go and putter. I’m now going to put myself into a business and I wonder whether perhaps this was your true calling. You felt able to do it because you were so passionate about it, whereas dentistry was kind of a job.

Sonayna Chandran (28:14.584)
Yeah, yeah, no exactly. It was during COVID where the dental practices closed down for those two or three months and yeah, oh that was interesting and obviously we were doing our triage from home and it was just that point where in February I was working amongst two practices, two days in one and two days in the other and I had just…

Andy & Chris (28:22.698)
Mm-hmm. Yes. 23rd of March to the 8th of June.

Andy & Chris (28:42.195)

Sonayna Chandran (28:42.524)
handed in my resignation for one of them. So when March hit, COVID hit, I actually was like only now in one practice working two days a week. So I was just doing the triage for two days. And I thought, okay, like actually this could be that break that I need to slow down, reset. What do I wanna do? Cause I, you know, you’re just kind of churning, you know, work.

Andy & Chris (28:51.35)
But. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (29:09.554)
The hamster wheel, wasn’t it, as they say? It’s just a hamster wheel, yeah.

Sonayna Chandran (29:12.848)
And actually just for a period of time, for a few weeks, I felt a bit lost. I was like, oh my God, I’m at home. We’re not allowed to leave our house. What to do? And I remember my husband coming into the living room saying like, right, that’s it. Like I need to get you smiling. And he bought his A3 flip chart in and he said, like, just write down what you like, what you enjoy. Like we didn’t think of, I didn’t think that I was thinking of another career. I just wanted something to pass my time and do something that I enjoy.

Andy & Chris (29:28.893)
Ha ha

Andy & Chris (29:37.474)

Sonayna Chandran (29:40.952)
and I had been on my own health and fitness journey. I was working with a coach, so I’d got into, you know, at the time, really good shape and in terms of what I saw that eating healthy, exercising, you know, all of those amazing things, I could see it was having more than just a physical impact on me, it was having a mental impact. So when I was more…

Andy & Chris (29:43.755)

Andy & Chris (30:05.41)

Sonayna Chandran (30:10.076)
controlled around those things and incorporated them in my life more, I felt mentally stronger, better, happier and so I started like a little social media page just you know fitness tips, health and fitness tips and how to look after your body and mind and I would post my journey, I’d post me working out, I’d post workouts, I’d post healthy recipes and all that kind of stuff.

Andy & Chris (30:18.776)

Sonayna Chandran (30:37.208)
And at this time I was still working with my fitness coach because I had, you know, lots of strength goals I had. And he just kind of, you know, asked me one day, you know, would you actually consider being a coach? Like I’m having an opening with my coaching company. Would that be something that you’re interested in? And the moment that someone just has like that confidence in you, like I wouldn’t have never had that confidence in myself.

Andy & Chris (30:52.854)

Andy & Chris (31:01.154)

Sonayna Chandran (31:02.284)
yeah and I was like I’ve never even thought about that I didn’t even know that you’re allowed a second career you’re allowed to even think about that and so that’s kind of how it all started where he kind of put that confidence in me and I started kind of my own business, my own online business and my husband

Andy & Chris (31:08.443)
Wow. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (31:21.131)
Brilliant. What does your husband do?

Sonayna Chandran (31:24.2)
I have to get it right because he works for a firm called KPMG and he’s a management consultant and his niche is more with healthcare so he loves to work with… Yes, yes. Maybe he was sick and tired of his moaning. No, no, no. No, I still don’t see that.

Andy & Chris (31:36.948)
Okay. I just thought that was very thoughtful and as in quite inspirational really. And also I did wonder where’s you get an A3 flip chart from? It’s not something you normally have in your cupboard. Oh, hang on a minute. That’s brilliant. That is really good.

Sonayna Chandran (31:52.404)
he’s always been so supportive and I think the coach was the one that kind of nudged me into that direction but it was my husband, I can’t thank him enough for also him putting the confidence in me just to kind of put yourself out there, see where it goes. And that’s one thing I would say, I never started this business knowing that I was going to create a business or that I was going to create a second career out of it, I started it because I enjoyed it. I just started something that I enjoyed and from there…

Andy & Chris (32:02.377)

Andy & Chris (32:06.581)

Andy & Chris (32:16.739)

Sonayna Chandran (32:19.884)
it kind of built into this amazing thing.

Andy & Chris (32:22.818)
So what, in terms of health and lifestyle services for your clients, what is it? What do you do for them? What is your business? Oops.

Sonayna Chandran (32:29.56)
Yeah, so I guess my, I’m a body and lifestyle transformation coach. So I work predominantly with women who want to lose weight, feel great in themselves, feel confident about their bodies, who want to feel fitter, stronger, healthier. And a lot of women who come to me want those things for themselves, but they find it very hard to do that balancing, you know, work life. They’re like, you know, professionals.

home life kids, so they have these goals for themselves, but how do I do it? How do I fit it around my life? So I’m there as a coach, not only to give them, the guidance around their nutrition and exercise and give them their plans around that, but I coach them very personally, because everyone’s gonna live a different life, on how to navigate through life while still staying consistent with getting their exercise in and doing this. And again, it’s all about.

Andy & Chris (33:25.169)

Sonayna Chandran (33:28.424)
things like stress management and we work on sleep. So it’s a very holistic approach I take to help women get in the best shape that they want to, feel their best. And when people feel their best, like it almost feels like anything is possible, right? When I felt my best and when I got into really good shape, I mentally felt better and I started to get confidence.

Andy & Chris (33:31.298)

Andy & Chris (33:43.031)

Sonayna Chandran (33:50.62)
for things that I never thought I would ever be able to do. So I never thought, for example, as a woman, I would be able to go into the weights section of the gym with these big men staring at me. I was like the skinny Asian late girl, and I would always be on the cardio machines hiding in the women’s section. And then with my coach, I got the confidence to do deadlifts and pull-ups and all these amazing things. I was like, hang on a minute. That means when I thought I couldn’t do something,

Andy & Chris (33:52.99)
Mmm, that’s brilliant

Andy & Chris (34:14.648)

Sonayna Chandran (34:19.436)
I can do something and I wanted to work with people who kind of felt like the same and once I did that, more things in life felt possible. So getting into shape, looking after my body, feeling healthier, started to leak into other parts of my life in a positive way and that’s what I want to promote with my clients.

Andy & Chris (34:26.978)

Andy & Chris (34:32.297)

Andy & Chris (34:45.836)
Do you enjoy your one day of dentistry now?

Sonayna Chandran (34:49.164)
I do, I do. So I actually completely stopped for six months over the last year and I got to a point where I thought I was going to quit completely. And I thought I’d like I got to a point where like, I don’t think this is for me. I don’t think I’m good enough. I can’t do it. But when again, I decided just to give myself a reset and a break and I gained some support from others to kind of coach me into maybe what my challenges around dentistry.

Andy & Chris (35:15.667)

Sonayna Chandran (35:18.412)
I then again got the confidence to go back and now I do my one day and I feel so much more refreshed on that one day and I feel I can give so much more to my patients and in a way my dentistry helped with my coaching because with dentistry I guess you’re seeing patients and you’re building up really good relationships which I managed to do with my clients.

Andy & Chris (35:40.802)

Sonayna Chandran (35:43.164)
The one thing that is really important with my clients is they need someone to really listen to them. These are my presenting problems and how can you help me? And I think with the dentistry side of things, when I was so wrapped up with seeing 40, 50 patients a day go in and it was like, they’re telling me their problems, but I’m also like, okay, diet or hygiene, x-rays, tick, tick. So I was ticking boxes in that 10, 15 minutes I had.

Andy & Chris (36:05.123)

Sonayna Chandran (36:11.576)
rather than really listening to them sometimes. And I think coaching has then leaked in back into my dentistry and I’m like going in and I’m just so much, I have a better ear for my patients and I’ve seen how much better feedback that I’ve been receiving since I’ve been able to do that and it feels nicer to work with my patients now.

Andy & Chris (36:14.25)

Andy & Chris (36:23.031)

Andy & Chris (36:28.846)
Hmm. Yeah, that’s interesting. Do you think there’s a place in dentistry for the non-dental services that you offer? Do you think there’s other dentists out there that would benefit from this and would end up with a more fulfilling clinical career? Outside of the kind of the obvious health, diet, wellbeing, do you think it actually might? Because it sounds to me like this has kind of, you know, moved you on in terms of your enjoyment of clinical dentistry.

Sonayna Chandran (36:55.324)
Yeah, absolutely. I just think there’s not a lot out there because I think with dentistry people think that this is just… I think when you’re so… when you’re just a bit of a workaholic with it, it’s very hard to see outside of the box and realise that you can find little tips, you can do little things in your day just to look after yourself. What we don’t realise is…

Andy & Chris (37:12.398)

Andy & Chris (37:18.862)

Sonayna Chandran (37:23.932)
things that we do, small, small habits that we do every day, whether it’s like what I used to do, which was like bend over a little bit too more and just to get to that distal surface and like just, you know, hurt my neck a bit more. Even in that moment, it might not be causing you problems. Even for like the next couple of months, it won’t. But later down the line is how that’s gonna impact you. So what can we do in the days, in the weeks, just to make life feel a bit better for yourself long term.

Andy & Chris (37:35.075)

Andy & Chris (37:38.595)

Andy & Chris (37:45.897)

Andy & Chris (37:52.862)
Hmm. Yeah, no, absolutely. You, it sounds like you’ve changed quite a lot as a person through your life and the person who had your childhood when found uni quite tough and then COVID. Have you got to a place now where you’re comfortable feeling uncomfortable?

Sonayna Chandran (38:11.856)
Yep, definitely. Like even, you know, I mentioned to you before doing this podcast, I was a little bit nervous about doing it, even though I’d done one or two before. But I think I have realised, and this is again what I share with my clients, that if you want change for yourself, if you’re unhappy in your current position, the only thing that you can really do is step a little bit outside of your comfort zone, otherwise you’re not going to.

Andy & Chris (38:17.802)

Andy & Chris (38:37.122)
Hmm. You have to change something, don’t you? I don’t think.

Sonayna Chandran (38:40.876)
have to change something and it might be really tough like you might not feel confident to do something or you know you don’t even know your decision how that might and what it might look like um but yeah i think i’ve learned to get uncomfortable you have to get uncomfortable and you know what you don’t have to feel uncomfortable on your own if you’re going through that period of change get some support get some help through every stage of my life in

I’ve always had someone to help me. So for example, when I wanted to get into better shape or go to the gym and lift weights, I got a coach, I got support. When dentistry wasn’t going so well for me, I reached out to a mentor, he helped me. When mentally I wasn’t in a good place, but I wanted change for myself, I had a therapist, I’ve had therapy. Like so…

If it feels a bit scary to make changes on your own and do get out of your comfort zone on your own, you don’t have to do it on your own. You can reach out.

Andy & Chris (39:41.087)
Why as a species are we particularly bad at prioritizing our own well-being? We’re not good at it, are we? We always find a reason to just keep busy or push it to the side or I’ll be okay type thing. Why is that?

Sonayna Chandran (39:55.864)
I think it’s like sometimes our definition of like success, like just to keep going and powering through. And that’s how I felt, like I felt I would be a failure if I didn’t power through.

Andy & Chris (40:03.032)

Andy & Chris (40:11.798)
And I think some of this does get fed through social media. You know, if you’re not in the five o’clock in the morning club, you’re not having to buy it. If you don’t have four side hustles and you’re not doing 20 things at once, then you know, you’re just not worthy. That’s not helpful. Which aren’t unsustainable. Oh, it’s cobbless. It’s absolute cobbless. But sadly, there’s a lot of that getting pushed through different channels.

Sonayna Chandran (40:14.507)

Sonayna Chandran (40:18.492)

Sonayna Chandran (40:27.406)

Sonayna Chandran (40:31.596)
Yeah, definitely. And I think even as dentists, we find it hard to prioritize ourselves. Like I’ve worked with a lot of, I’ve worked with a couple of clients who are dentists and even myself, like, we put our patients first. That’s what we’re taught to do. We’re good people. And so we’d rather see an extra five patients in the day. We’d rather squeeze everyone in. We’d rather bend over a little bit more or spend more time at our desk. We’re, I think that’s another reason we kind of put others first before us.

Andy & Chris (40:49.922)

Andy & Chris (41:01.044)

Sonayna Chandran (41:01.488)
that’s kind of the type of profession that we’re in.

Andy & Chris (41:03.662)

caring profession. It is, it is, yeah and just to finish up I’d love some time management tips from you because you work clinically, you have your health and lifestyle business, you’re going through a major refurb of a house at the moment and you and your husband are expecting your first child which is which is wonderful news. How the heck do you manage the whole thing because that’s

Sonayna Chandran (41:07.416)
Yeah, there we go.

Sonayna Chandran (41:22.434)

Sonayna Chandran (41:26.664)
Yes, yes. Hehehehe.

Andy & Chris (41:35.612)
tips to kind of make sure that everything keeps happening.

Sonayna Chandran (41:38.696)
So again, this is where initially where I think that it’s so good to think about getting yourself into shape, even if it’s not from a physical point of view, from a mental discipline point of view. So like with clients when they’ve got lots going on, I think time blocking and scheduling is a very important thing for me. So planning ahead of time. So when I’m getting clients to fit in their workouts or…

do their meal prep and do their meal planning. They have to sit back and really think about their day and kind of get them to visualize their week. How is your week going Monday through to Friday? So I literally on a Sunday sit down and I write down exactly what’s happening Monday through to Friday. So like to the point where, what time am I starting work? What time am I finishing work?

and what time I want to go to bed, what time I want to wake up, and then you will find little areas of time where you can do that half an hour workout, where you can do that meal prep. I know we always say to ourselves we don’t have enough time or I can’t find enough time, but we’re up for like, I don’t know, 16 hours in the day. You’re probably working like, I don’t know, 8 hours, 9 hours, maybe more for some people.

Andy & Chris (42:51.736)

Sonayna Chandran (42:56.84)
There’s some other hours, the half an hour of Netflix, the one hour of Instagram scrolling. So yeah, it’s so time blocking and time scheduling and having a pre-plan because if you decide on the day, okay, tonight I’m probably going to try and get to the gym or just see how it goes. It’s probably not going to happen because your day gets ahead of you and mentally. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (43:01.438)
Yeah, the time’s there. It’s just what we do with it, isn’t it? Yeah.

Andy & Chris (43:20.419)
No, that doesn’t sound very committed, does it? You never get round to it. I might try and get to the gym. I’ll see how it goes. We all know how that ends up.

Sonayna Chandran (43:27.476)
Yeah, yeah, if you plan the day before you’re almost kind of like writing it in your brain, like tomorrow, if I start work at 8.30 then I need to kind of get up at 6.30 to be at the gym for 7, 7.45, come home and shower and go. Obviously everyone’s kind of…

Andy & Chris (43:36.302)

Andy & Chris (43:42.306)

Andy & Chris (43:45.63)
It’s making a contract with yourself, isn’t it? Because if we had a meeting with somebody else, we wouldn’t let them down. If we had an appointment with a coach or somebody, we wouldn’t let them down. Yet when we’re doing things for ourselves, we easily let ourselves down because we just don’t think that we’re that important. Whereas I think you’re right, I think if you write it down and make it as an appointment, even if nobody else is attending, it’s much more likely to happen, isn’t it? Or have an accountability partner that gives you hard time. Yeah.

Sonayna Chandran (44:07.17)

Yeah, absolutely. And if it feels important to you, like if you think, like, you know, make it a priority. Like you said, it’s that special meeting with yourself. Like, when I go to the gym, if a friend is calling me, like, as I’m there, you know, you can choose to answer your call at the gym and then just, you know, relax and your gym time is gone. Or you can just say, hey, I’ll call you back later. I’ll call you back in half an hour on my terms, in my time.

Andy & Chris (44:32.521)

Sonayna Chandran (44:37.06)
rather than let that interfere in your time. You’re not gonna take your friends cool, like you said, when you’re in a meeting. So this is also your personal meeting. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (44:37.533)

Andy & Chris (44:42.654)
Yeah. It’s no different. Yeah. Absolutely. It’s our coasters, isn’t it? That we’ve got on our desk. When we used to work for the bank, they had this whole thing about the fact of, um, that you never get round to it. You just, you know, unless you actually specify it, you never end up with time to do it. So they created these sort of like round coasters and they used to call them round to it and they’d write on it and say, this is your round to it. So as I’m going to remind you, you have to plan.

a thing because you think oh it’s around to it yeah because people looking at what you’re talking about it’s just a prompt yeah to remind me that I need to plan. Sinayna we get to a point in our episode with you where we have to ask you two questions because no one’s allowed to leave without answering them so our first question for you is if you could be the fly on a wall in a situation where would that be and who would be there?

Sonayna Chandran (45:20.817)

Sonayna Chandran (45:28.527)

Sonayna Chandran (45:37.356)
It would probably have to be with being a fly on my wall through my grandma, my dad’s mum, her journey from being an immigrant in India and coming over to England. So she always loves to share her stories with me and when we talk about mental resilience, like yes, I’ve gone through…

stress through my work and everything like that here. But she was in the place where she was nine or 10 years old in India when there was war going on where she would see every day people getting killed, houses around her being burnt down. She’s told me she’s seen knife incidents. She had seven days without food. So much going on. And she even said to me…

Andy & Chris (46:18.69)

Sonayna Chandran (46:26.64)
because of all this happening during the war, I wasn’t able to get schooling or education and I really like, I really wish I got to have that. So to know like what my grandma’s gone through, I almost want to be a fly on a wall to just to watch her resilience. How did you get through all of this? You know, how did you feel? It’s one thing her telling me, but to actually be there and watch all of this happening, and we’ve not experienced that kind of different type of danger here, right? So…

Andy & Chris (46:37.42)

Andy & Chris (46:47.182)

Andy & Chris (46:54.871)

Sonayna Chandran (46:56.52)
Yeah, that would be interesting.

Andy & Chris (46:58.302)
Oh, I think that was hugely interesting, hugely interesting. And if you could meet somebody, you could sit back in a nice comfy chair and have a chat with somebody. Who would you like to meet?

Sonayna Chandran (47:08.696)
I’d like to meet little Senena. Little Senena who was probably at school or you know a younger Senena where she didn’t think that she was good enough, she didn’t know what she wanted, she was very doubtful of herself and just tell little Senena like life planned out the way it should have planned out, life planned out well.

Andy & Chris (47:12.817)

Andy & Chris (47:36.001)

Sonayna Chandran (47:37.2)
and you don’t have to worry about anything. That’s probably what I’d say. A little bit deep.

Andy & Chris (47:42.686)
Mmm. Wow. That’s lovely.

Yeah, it is. A lot of people are just talking about Jürgen Klopp or something. Yeah. I bet those people are thinking, wow. I wish I’d have been deeper. Flip. So Nainu, it’s been lovely talking to you. Honestly, I think it’s great. I think the crossover for you being a dentist into your new business, I think will be fascinating for our listeners. And I think there’s a real lesson in there for everybody to make sure that they do look after themselves in whatever that looks like with better diet, better sleep, going to the gym, talking to friends, trying to unburden, not carry stress around, whatever.

that looks like for them. I think everybody can kind of get better as a result of this. And yeah, and good luck with your business, good luck with impending parenthood, house renovation, continuing to be a dentist. But no, it’s been a lovely time too. Your planning’s not so great. Ha ha ha. Exactly. No, brilliant. That’s been brilliant. Thank you very much. Look after yourself, keep well. Cheers. There we go.

Sonayna Chandran (48:26.645)
Thank you.

Sonayna Chandran (48:30.904)
Yeah, no. No, I know, I know. Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you.

Andy & Chris (48:44.322)
All done. Yes, that was good fun. You enjoy that.

Sonayna Chandran (48:45.713)
Oh, that was a great conversation. Yeah, thank you. It was really nice to talk to you.


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