Monday, February 22, 2010

Tips For Better Health

Weight is something the entire world today is obsessed about, every woman wants to be a stick thin insect, and every man wants to have a body rippling with muscles. People pick their own ways to get there, and some don't pick a way at all, just keep wanting it, but don't do anything to proactively achieve that. I belonged to the latter category pretty much all my life. I belong to a family, which completely lives to eat, and when I say eat, I am referring to food that has our mouth watering, but the body would be a lot better off, starving instead. Food also was my comfort zone all my life, it was the one thing that made me happy, or feel comforted, or just generally at ease. Pretty much everything in my life was forever related to food, be it celebrations or anxiety, or distress, my answer to everything in life was, and to a certain extent, still is, food. I ate, when I had nothing to do, and I ate junk.

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.
Every body, and every person is different, and so no one can help you, better than yourself. And there can be no generalisations. Find out what works for you, keeping the basic rules in mind, and then keep at it. Natural news is a site I have personally found very useful in helping me understand dietary requirements of the body and how to work on it. Hop over for a read if you like.

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.


Pixie said...

You had me nodding along GM! :)
I do agree with what you have said and since I need to lose a few kgs here and there, I have made a note of your points.
I enjoy walking and so, that makes things slightly easier. I do need to get back to going to the gym regularly.
Thank you for the tips! :)
Am glad to know that all this has helped you lose weight! :)

Trish said...

OhhGM,this post couldn't have come at a better time.I stopped yoga since Aunt Flo arrived and the diet has been set aside,since the birthday weekend.
I promised myself,to start everything again starting tomorrow..and then I read this post..its like too good to be a coincidence!

Jules said...

As a man that is always aware on what is healthy and good on our body. I do agree on what was all written here on your post. ;D It doesn't mean that you want to get a fitter body is you don't need to eat. You just have to think on healthier lifestyle. ;D

The Brown Mestizo

Passionate Goof said...

Pixie - Go on girl, walk it all off.

Trish - Most welcome, if this has helped in any way.

Jules - I realised that over the last year. And thanks for the support.

Reflections said...

I'm hoping too to shape up this year but am not doing about it just yet.....wish I had company, u knw a neighbour or friend living closeby to do it together;-(.

Wishing u the very best in ur venture GM

MRC said...

Hi GM,

Coming back soon to read, just dropping by very quickly to tell you that you've been tagged here

Smitha said...

GM, All these are such sensible points. I think I need to take a print out of this to remind me :)

I do try to eat healthy - and I find that the days that I am super active -I eat no junk, it is the days when I am not as active that I end up eating junk. Have to keep active, I guess :)

up↑take said...

For health tips, my favorite is Shameem Akthar's Yoga Blog:
She's more Hindu than most Hindus.