I love physical activity, but the lifestyle did not always permit exclusive time for that. Setting aside time exclusively for exercising is not so much my thing, as is playing or running or cycling, things which have me outdoors, and breathing in fresh air. Last year when I began my quest for a fitter, healthier me, and also one, that could fit into clothes available in the market, a lot of things had to change, most importantly my attitude and mindset. I realise that, now, having come through almost a year since I started. I know a lot of people out there are working hard and desperately wanting a body to die for, mostly inspired by all that we see around us defined as beauty. Since coming to Melbourne, I am amazed to see new moms, flaunting modeling worthy waif like figures, and these are regular women I am talking about. In fact the other day, while walking down, I saw this gorgeous woman walking towards me on the side walk. She was a looker alright, with a really nice figure. After a while she turned to get into her car, and it was then that I saw her profile, and realised she was heavily pregnant. I was amazed at how these women manage to have pregnancies like Angelina Jolie, basically meaning, that there is only a baby bump and not a single ounce of weight added anywhere else on their body. Maybe its the genes, maybe its the lifestyle. But not everyone is that lucky, and a lot, or rather most Indian women do put on weight during pregnancy, and many don't have it just melting off their bodies, like the books say it would. For me nothing but sheer hard work worked.
Having reached halfway to where I need to be, I thought of sharing some tips, which have worked for me, and which I hope can aid, someone out there who needs to find a start.
- Diet and exercise and the corner-stones of health and fitness, anything else is a sham, and is likely to cause more harm to your body than help it.
- The goal should be to get fitter, healthier NOT just to lose weight or have specific measurements. THINK HEALTH, not weight, and you will get more than what you want.
- Only dieting or just exercising will not get you the that a combination of both would, and both are equally important when looking at health improvements. A strenuous workout followed by a bucket full of KFC will not end up giving you anything.
- Start small. Don't try a 2 hour workout routine on the first day, start by a simple 20-30 mins walk daily. Keep the walk focused on exercising your body, try and make it brisk, don't stroll. If you have not been actively exercising your body, warm it up, to get into a state where it can handle strenuous workouts, if you jump into something big, the chances of hurting stiff muscles or burning out is very high.
- Eat well, no need to starve, just eat healthy food, don't need a complete diet revamp, but think healthier. We all know the basic rules, like less fat, more vegetables, more raw foods. Keep that in mind while cooking or eating each meal. Pick the brown/wholegrain bread, reduce the oil you use to cook, mix up your grains, don't eat late at night, add fresh juices n salads to your meals. Its not easy to completely change your food-habits overnight, instead gradually introduce the healthier foods, and balance the quantity intake, of whats not quite that healthy and the only healthy way to eat is to balance. A certain amount fat is as needed by the body as are fresh fruits.
- Drink atleast 2-3 litres of water each day to get rid of all the toxins in your body.
- When eating, always think of the nutrition the food is giving your body. Even if it is chocolate, think of the cocoa in it, and how great it is for your body.
- Avoid processed food, no matter how low in fat it claims to be. Its not just about counting calories, its about eating things that make your body healthier and better, and enables it to be better at burning off calories. A low-fat pack of wafers is doing the body no good.
- Sleep is very very important. Especially once you start working out, which means your body is getting stressed and strained, going through wear and tear. It needs some extra hours of rest to recoup itself. 8 hours is what is called a good night's sleep, for a reason, let your body get that. If it does not get enough rest, the body gets fatigued and tiered, and that just reverses all the effects of your efforts.
- If you occasionally binge, or eat something, that makes you feel bad, don't let the feeling stay, walk it off. Just go for a walk, so that you burn off the calories, and get off the guilt. And if it is something that is unhealthy, balance it with a glass of fresh juice or a fruit or salad.
- There is loads of information on the Internet, read up, it helps you understand things and make better choices. Just saying, avoid sugar is no good, unless you know why. So read up and find out what you need to do, and why. That will also help you find alternatives for what you do, and keep you more flexible and the entire change easier to adapt to.
- Make exercising fun, not a chore, that will help you keep at it consistently. Pick up a sport, if gyms bore you, go to the gym for a change of pace sometimes, and also to find people to motivate you. Do what you have fun doing, not something that you need to do. And that is the only way you will see it making a long term difference.
- Whatever else you do, don't overwork or starve yourself, because it will hurt you more than help, develop your routine gradually, and by testing your strengths and weaknesses, so that you can make it a lifestyle change, rather than a short-term activity to attain a certain dimension or weight.
Personally I need to get back on top of my routine. Since I left Sharjah, I have been piling on the pounds, due to lack of exercise, and being nowhere close to the routine I had established. The diet has gone haywire too, with a lot of sweet chocolaty things making their way into my mouth. The stay in India could not have been without roadside Chinese, samosas and more. I think I ate up, upto 4 samosas at one go at times. Oh! I so crave those deep friend pieces of pure sin. And hence I am now paying the price of it all. I desperately need to get back into a healthy lifestyle again, and am working towards it, slipping off every other day, but trying alright. Hope these tips help you. And may I say I am no health/fitness/medical expert, and every bit in this post is based on my personal experience.