Last year was quite transformational for me!
Up until last year, I had been leading a life of a normal, middle-aged, Indian working mom. Life revolved around my family, work, home and my passion for traveling, writing, and socializing. Personal health and fitness remained a nagging thought but never had the audacity to move from the 2nd to the 1st quadrant of my important-urgent decision matrix.
But how things change in a year! I’m 44 this year and feel like I’m in my best shape ever! I have dropped some weight; I have dropped two sizes and all my key body numbers (from BMI to cholesterol to glucose levels) are in the ideal range. Even the body composition monitor(fancy weighing machine) indicates my body age is 5 years younger than my actual age. It does feel like some Health Nirvana, that I never thought existed for an oldie like me!
So how did this happen?! – I see the question in the eyes of lot of my friends and family members who see me after a long time.
Therefore, as my 2018 resolution, I have decided to share some nuggets of wisdom around fitness, nutrition and general well-being that I have uncovered or received from some phenomenal folks that have been instrumental in this transformation. And hopefully, over the course of the year, I aspire to bring forth more of these, as I continue to learn new ways of keeping fit and healthy.
Be Lean and Mean, Eat Protein
Everyone seems to have their own theory around food and nutrition. But I will focus on the 80/20 rule that worked for me. I’ve always been a believer of a nutritionally balanced diet. But alas, our great Indian diet, as balanced as it seems, does fall short on protein. Shona Prabhu, a nutritionist that I met last year, introduced me to the concept of having protein in every single meal. You have to strive to get close to 1 gm of protein per every kg of your body weight. But how does a vegetarian like me fulfill this requirement? Though I eat eggs, which are a great and complete source of protein, Shona introduced some excellent vegetarian sources of proteins like tofu, greek yogurt, locally available millets(jowar, ragi, bajra), peanut butter, sprouts, seeds like chia seeds, amaranth, pumpkin seeds and some interesting supplements like spirulina to my diet. Even my favorite Rajma-chawal* and chhole-chawal* has made to the list, so I get to enjoy them guilt-free! FYI, here’s an useful chart I found on the net for vegan protein sources:
Btw, I’m not a big fan of milk or milk products for my daily protein requirement, esp. after what you hear about milk adulteration. But that’s just me. 🙂
The only bad workout is the one that you didn’t do!
I started going to the gym as a curious bystander(getting inspired by my gymmer friends, Rahul Agarwal and Manisha Agarwal) and now it have become an addiction. Yes, this is proof you can get addicted to good things! But I know workouts can get boring over time! My trick is to finish them in the mornings before my brain starts to make excuses. Nonetheless, I envy folks who can get their exercise through fun things like dancing, sports, kick-boxing, heck.. bike riding. Whatever you do, the key is consistency and to keep it challenging and fun. That’s when you see results! Group classes or buddying up are great ways to overcome exercise inertia. Trust me, peer pressure just doesn’t work in offices! Btw, if you are looking to lose those kilos or get to a size closer to zero, I find yoga with short-interval, high-intensity, strength-training to be the most effective.
The first step towards change is awareness!
Being mindful of what you eat, how you eat, what you think, how you react to situations… is a crucial step in transforming your health. It’s a difficult art to master and I’m still figuring it out. But here are some mindfulness hacks I consciously try to practice.
Long before the movie actor, Mahadevan popularized “Drink your food and chew your drink”, my Dad had been an expert at that art. Dad’s painfully slow, silent and focused food chewing sessions (a.k.a. lunch) were a bemusement to me growing up, but now I realize the science behind it. (They say, 50% of your food gets digested while in your mouth.) No wonder, he’s kept in great health all of his 77 years of life. There are some other mindful eating tricks I use. Before I put anything in mouth, I always do a mental check. Often times, just the awareness is enough to help me make the right choice. I always eat a little bit (either a fruit or some nuts) before going to a party. That way I’m not tempted by those calori-fried kebabs. Remember, you can always nibble on your drink while others guzzle them up. Better waste it, than waist it, I say! 🙂
Stress does kill. But its a given with the kind of lives we lead. Therefore, its very critical that we detoxify and rejuvenate our mind on a regular basis. While there are many ways to do that, I find meditation like a gym workout for the mind. Last year I had the good fortune to try out the Inner Engineering program by Sadhguru. Ever since, I have engaged in their Sambhavi mahamudra. I feel its a great start to a journey towards mental detoxification. But you can pick your own form of stress busters…it could be as simple as deep breathing, a quick prayer, or even sitting quietly for 5 minutes. The point is to let go and reset.
You need balance across all areas to lead a fuller, healthier life – a balanced diet, work-life balance, emotional balance and even bank-balance. 😉 I owe most of my fitness to a nutritionally balanced diet. But if you eat badly one day, you need to balance it by going easy (or even fasting) the next day. Or if you are caught up in a stressful situation at work, balance it out by some relaxing music on your way home or talking to a good friend or engaging in a hobby. The other way to look at balance is moderation. Overdoing work or play or eat or rest is never a good idea…Remember, Guilt is the most fattening emotion!
A girl’s got to have her beauty sleep (well, even boys for that matter!)
Fortunately, I’ve always been a great sleeper. I believe it’s the final and yet the most important step of my health routine. Our bodies need sleep to heal itself and restore its chemical balance. Btw, did you know that you lose weight when you are sleeping? Weigh yourself at night before you go to bed and then again in the morning, you will notice that there is usually a difference of anywhere from 1/2 to 1 kg. Well, instead of beauty sleep, maybe we should call it skinny sleep! 🙂
There are many many health benefits
to a good night’s sleep. So, please make sure you are sleeping at least eight hours a day. And try to go to bed at the same time, each nite.
Unfortunately, this means you can’t be a regular at the late-nite shows/parties. Neither can you be spending your sleeping hours doing social networking..But that’s a small prize to pay for a longer, healthier life, right?!
Feel your best, look your best, and get your best body back. That is my wish for all of you in this new year.
Btw girls, trust me when I say this:
ps. I’m sure lot of you have similar stories to tell! Please do share them..It may just inspire someone! Also, would love to hear about fitness tips and hacks that you have found effective.