Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Easy ways to read more books

  1. Pick short and easy read - If you are new to reading then start with short stories, or a book of your interest which isn't too long. Finishing a book quickly will motivate you pick up another one, provided you enjoyed your first one. The books I read the fastest are murder mysteries, I don't like suspense.
  2. Choose a medium that works for you - Some people prefer e-books while others (like me) prefer a physical book in the hand and an audio book. Whatever your choice, pick one and carry it with you at all times (or have one available on your phone).
  3. Carry a book when you travel/commute - If you use public transport, use that time to get your reading in. I am a big fan of audio books and finish at least one audio book every week during my nasty commute time.
  4. Read while you’re waiting - Waiting for a friend who is running late for lunch/coffee, waiting at the doctor's office, waiting for the flight to board, - all good times to read. Audio books can be read while commuting, cleaning, cooking or taking care of any chores.
  5. Read before you go to bed - This is when I get maximum physical reading in, right before I sleep. I try and keep aside 30 minutes to get some reading in with the goal of finishing at least one book per month.

Hypocrites or a**holes

If I like you, life is easy. I take interest in your life and work and am concerned about your well being and supportive towards your goals and I make every effort to keep in touch with you. If I am neutral towards you, life is still easy. I am polite and civil towards you when our paths cross.
If I don’t like you or get an inkling that you don’t like me/ are trying to avoid me/ are giving me an insulting treatment then – life is again easy, because I don’t give a second thought about you, I won’t bitch and whine about you to people around me but at the same time I ensure that our paths never cross. I do not call you socially, I do not make plans to meet you, you might not even be on my friend or phone list. I do nothing. I don’t allow you to occupy my brain space.
You know what I don’t get…when people clearly do not like someone or do not agree with their fundamental view on life -professionally/morally/socially – and still continue to be social with them. A lot of people are perfectly fine with everyone around them ONLY they bitch about people on how they can’t stand someone or how someone did them wrong (but it can not be told from their interaction with anyone). I have seen people laughing at jokes rolling on the floor but then behind the closed doors complained that the joke was insulting to them.
If you ask me I am wary of people who are nice with everyone and talk nicely with everyone or even people who are friends with everyone and hang out in large groups, because you never know who they are really fond of or who are they bitching about… I have realized that straight forward people are considered a**holes (I am one such) but I prefer to be friends with a**holes any day, because if they are friends with me then I know that they are in it with a genuine interest.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Introducing a Vlog

I am starting a video log for movie reviews, book reviews and such. This is the first video that I made, hope you like it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Big Bad World

Fashion/ personal style blogging has become a new Vogue, a platform to try and get people to buy more, spend more, want more … and some times it also sets unrealistic standards for women. Of course not every style blog can be categorized in the same way but it is definitely getting harder to differentiate one blog from another.
When I started a personal style blog my biggest goal and vision was to show how many combinations can be created with just some basic stuff in the closet, and that one can be well and sensibly dressed without spending loads of time or money on it. A lot of people suggested that I should add variety of location and better my picture quality… sorry I can’t!  I do not want to spend more than two minutes to take pictures because as I said it is not worth spending too much time on clothes :-).
I never get ready just for the heck of taking pictures, I take pictures sometimes when I get ready for office or wherever the heck I am going. Most fashion blogs show women wearing these really fancy clothes, makeup, jewelry, hairdos and wearing new item in every post, I can’t do that, or for that matter I haven’t seen any women around me dress like how they do in fashion blogs. It is simply unrealistic. I want to share only doable styles.
On my blog you will never find one new item introduced with every post. It is just the same stuff repeating over and over again in many ways possible. Shopping was never my hobby and it never will be, if anything shopping stresses me out. I do not want to encourage mindless consumption with my style blog. But I want to encourage feeling excited about even the basic clothes and colors that you have in your closet.
I do think that fashion blogging is already past it’s peak because every unique idea gets beaten down till it becomes main stream. There are only so many ways in which clothes can be worn, and someone somewhere has probably already done that, so obviously I am not guaranteeing that what you see here is going to be unique, because nothing is unique. You might be wearing very similar combo as the person sitting next to you but the only differentiating factor would be your personality and the confidence with which you carry yourself.
A lot of brilliant and amazing personalities I have met have had sloppy style sense and I have also met some prim and properly dressed people who were not so nice people, so there is no association between clothes and personalities and no one is forming a judgement about you based on your clothes, the ones who do are idiots so never mind about them. On a day to day basis I hardly ever notice what others are wearing, so if you ask me what were your team members wearing today then really I don’t know, I wouldn’t be able to tell if they wore the same thing for the whole week. I am sure most people don’t notice it and what you wear is only to make yourself feel good.
All I can say is wear what you want to wear, it doesn’t matter, but again wear what ‘you’ want to wear, like how ‘you’ want to see yourself and not based on someone else’s idea of styling.
Look for ideas on personal style blogs, see how you can apply them to your existing closet and you are good to go. If you plan to get clothes and wear them how the fashion bloggers are, then you are probably going to get lost in the big bad world of mindless consumption, or at least that is what I think.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Skin Care

Know your skin type – is it dry/ oily or sensitive?
If you are here to note down a list of any fancy fast working skin products then you will be disappointed, I have none.
  1. Secret to keeping the whole body soft and healthy-looking lies in moisturizing.
I have a dry skin type, that means my skin feels very tight after bathing or any contact with water. I have a dry hand and dry lip symptom too, I get chapped lips all the time.
So what do I use?
a. I do not use soaps in public restrooms – restaurants/ theaters etc. they are by default harsh and do not suit me. I always carry either a soap bottle or sanitizer/wet wipes in my purse.
b. Almond oil – it is excellent for skin – it makes the skin look healthier, reduces dark circles, it cures skin problems like eczema, acne.
c. Citaphil and Vaseline are my all time favorite moisturizers, vaseline is best for lips too.
  1. Secret to good skin is NOT using loads of skin care products
Skin care products claim to be working fast like magic but they do more harm to the skin than anything. Go for the natural fixes instead. For example, before going to bed massage your face with coconut oil for at least 20 seconds – it takes away any makeup products used and keeps the face moisturized throughout the night.
Aloe Vera, castor oil, honey, cucumber and sandalwood powder are excellent for skin.
  1. Secret to a glowing skin is EXERCISE
I have seen many people who do not necessarily have a spectacular skin – but when they start working out, running, biking and whatnot – their skin starts to glow! Reason is simple – exercise increases blood flow and blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the entire body including skin. Marathon runners, bikers and generally people who workout regularly have radiant skin.
  1. Secret to healthy skin is DIET
French fries, hormone-laden meats, fried food, chips and generally all types of junk food is ALSO bad for the skin. Simple and nutritious diet does good to the skin too (as much as it does good to the entire body).
  1. Drink ….WATER
Drink at least 8 glasses a day, it helps to rid the body and skin of toxins.
  1. Last but not the least – SLEEP
Sleep strengthens your immune system, it keeps your heart healthy, it boosts your mood, it is important for your physical and emotional well being (as much as exercise and good diet is). Seven to eight hours of sleep is required by the body. If you want good health – sleep, if you want to lose weight – sleep, if you want to live long – sleep and if you want good skin —- sleep!
I hope you find these tips useful.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Makeup Tutorial

I am not a big fan of too much makeup. However I do wear a tinge of makeup every now and then and wanted to share this 'simple, natural, no-makeup look' tutorial video -

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Lifestyle, health and social circles

I was very close to a girl, she was the elder sister that I never had. I genuinely loved and cared for her.

When she was pregnant I cooked every other day for her, one day she had tears in her eyes saying she doesn't miss her mother because I was around. Months went by and then it so happened that she stopped inviting me to any of the parties she held. So if her brother was in town she invited the whole town to meet with him except me and next day she told me 'I invited everyone in our group but I didn't invite you because you are a vegetarian and I hate to cook vegetarian food', this happened many other times like her daughter's very first birthday, thanksgiving and whatnot parties. Every now and then she started to vent her hatred for vegetarian food which I wish she had expressed when she was pregnant because that would have saved me loads of time and energy.

'I will invite you for Ganapati festival because that is when I cook vegetarian food' she said. I am a vegetarian does not mean I am religious :-). I don't know why people who hate vegetarian food insist on eating it for these festivals, why associate purity, faith, god with what we eat or drink is beyond me and if you do then that means you are doomed for the rest of the year when you eat non-veg? But anyway, as much as these festivals suit your cooking conveniences they do not suit my basic belief system- I am a non-closeted atheist so Ganapati festivals do not work for me.

See, I completely get it that one doesn't invite everyone to every party - I have loads of friends who do not necessarily invite me to every single party that they host and same goes for me, but not inviting someone to meet with your brother because they are vegetarian sounds bizarre. One needs to know that I earn and cook for myself - that means I have food at home and am not forming relationship with you in search of food or parties, I am friends with you because I like you, as simple as that. So yes, I am cool with not being invited but not cool with being told that I wasn't invited because of my food preferences.

Here is another example - A week before 31st December I was having a discussion about new year plans with the same girl in the above example. I told her I have no plans for 31st so let me know if you want to hang out that day. She said she had no plans and wasn't too keen on doing anything. But on the afternoon of 31st she called to invite me to a new year party that she had decided to host last minute (that is what she said).

When I arrived I saw everyone was dressed in some theme, when I asked about it to one of the girls at the party she said 'you must have missed the details in the party invite that was sent, it is one of this themed party'. I asked her when was this invite sent (because I had received none). And the girl said it was sent over a week ago.

Next week the friend said the focus of her party was alcohol and since I am a teetotaler I might not have enjoyed it. So yes, I was being avoided because I don't drink alcohol, because the perception is one can not match the madness without being inebriated.

In this case I had a choice -
1. to change my food preference, to lax my religious opinions and faith, to start drinking alcohol only because I loved the friend, the one who obviously was keen on hanging out with those who shared similar habits (she held on to me until she found the new set of friends)

2. or then let go, let go of the relationship, let go of the strong emotional bond, let go of being a burden on someone, let go of making them feel guilty of omitting me because I once cared for them as their mother would have, let go of the stress that it was causing me - yes it causes stress when you see that everyone is invited and you are omitted (specially by someone you love) because you are not so-called cool, it causes stress when someone is constantly telling you that you were not invited because of your food and drink preferences.

On a sidetrack - For some people love for animals is only reserved for pets - who are treated just like a family member, people who love all animals as their pets are being idiots and unreal, people need to be intoxicated to be high, people like me who are being high on stupid thing called life are party poopers.

So anyway, guess what I chose? to chain them or to free them of something that had remained a mere formality for them? I chose to let go. I denied to be treated this way, I would rather hang out with people who respect my lifestyle choices. May be one day they will realize that none of their party lover - non-vegetarian, alcoholic friends helped them at the crucial phases of their life (or may be they will never realize it and that is fine).

Initially it was hard for me to grasp this whole experience, I found it very difficult to deal with because all my life I have had non-vegetarian and alcohol loving friends who did not associate or avoid me based on my lifestyle choices, they lived in their delirium and let me live in my own.

I have this closest friend from my college days (we were set apart by distance after college), I asked her recently if she was a vegetarian. She laughed and said she is a non-vegetarian and asked me the same question. So all these years we did not know what we chose to put in our own guts, reason is simple because we connected on understanding, empathy, compassion, care and love. I had like to believe that is what normal people do. So the point being I do not know the food and drink preferences of many of my close friends.

I have heard it from many people that best of their friends started omitting them from a social scene because the ones being omitted did not drink or smoke.

One girl told me that she was avoided by girls living in her society because she didn't speak the same language as they did - of clothes, shopping and jewelry. I can tell you for sure that this girl is highly educated, independent and more successful than the rest of her neighbors. I insisted (but to no avail) that she tell her 'society girls' that she had the biggest jewel of all times - fitness.

Another friend recently told me that he prefers to eat home cooked fresh food everyday (Kudos!) and rest of his friend circle loves to eat at restaurants every other day, he chose to let go of that group who also had started to avoid him, and he formed friendship with people who did potluck, poker, hiking and biking, as simple as that.

Anyway, I think you get the gist of what I am trying to say - do not fall prey to bad habits (like smoking and drinking) or eat unhealthy food at the restaurants frequently or change your food preferences or change your religious beliefs or become a clothes horse - just because you want to adhere to a group of people.

This is a big problem within people living away from their own country - they try to form superficial friendships just to be able to socialize with their own kind and culture. They do not think if my wavelength matches with this group, are their lifestyle choices bothering me, am I just hanging out with them to kill time or just to get a feeling of belongingness.

Believe me the world is full of nice people that you will stumble upon every inch, every corner and you will end up finding more wonderful and interesting people who match your psyche and respect you for who you are.

If you have had one such bad experiences before then don't let it dampen your mood to have that kind of emotional involvement again, just make sure that you are accepted irrespective of the choices you make. Also don't make lifestyle choices based on what your so-called friends are doing - don't succumb to social pressures.

Your social circle (and every relationship for that matter) has a big role to play in the lifestyle that you want live or the mental equilibrium that you need. All I can advice is stay away from relationships that are affecting your lifestyle or physical and mental health.

(I have written about this experience in bits and pieces previously in 'the meaty story-  ').

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

What the health! Part 5

This is part 5 of ‘What the health’ series. You can find earlier parts here – part 1part 2part 3, part 4

4. Mental health - 
Last but not the least is mental health! We are all living a stressful, busy life today, there is no denying or running away from it. Stress affects our physical well being, it can create anxiety, panic attacks, heart palpitations, heart problems, depression, high blood pressure and whatnot. One is unable to enjoy anything happening around if not mentally happy or stressed. Our body releases a hormone called cortisol when under stress, and high levels of cortisol creates havoc in our system.
We need some peace and quiet, time for ourselves to do something that helps us release the stress -  exercise, yoga, good diet and sleep play a big role in maintaining a good mental health and there is more-

1. Have a hobby - read, write, paint, do gardening, cook, it doesn't matter what your hobby is - the important thing is you have one (I would not encourage TV and such as a hobby, creation gives long lasting happiness and stress release than consumption does).

Same thing goes for kids - send them to classes, teach them different things - let them build hobbies! They won't do it if you tell them to go and paint or go exercise because... they are watching you! Are my parents engrossed in binge watching tv shows all day long/ spending time on social media or they are living an active lifestyle? Are they creating or consuming? As they say 'Raise yourself before you raise your kids'.

2. Meditation - Meditation helps a lot with releasing anxiety and stress - it also helps with better quality of sleep. You don't need any Guru or spiritual organization to teach you meditation. Some people sit and meditate on their own, it doesn't work for me, I like guided meditations, like the ones which are available on an app called InsightTimer, Glenn Harrold being my favorite. I am sure there are other apps/ videos on which you will find guided meditations.

3. People and negativity - I go through stress if I have negative people around me, I can not function in such surroundings, even at work. I do like to be around positive, easy going people (who are not full of hatred, jealousy, negativity or comparison) and I have written many posts on the traits that I do not like - bullies, vampires, gossipmongers, male chauvinist pigs, negative people (we all have these traits - I am talking about the extreme cases here).

Weed out the negative people slowly from your life, the world is full of nice people that you will stumble upon every inch/ every corner and will be able to form new friendships. There is no need to be associated with people who are giving you humiliating, insulting or degrading treatment or the ones who do not give a shit about you. My life and headspace feels so much sorted since I decided enough is enough, that I am going to stand up against and not give in to any of these beastly creatures.

Cut away toxic people and relationships, move away from situations and things and events that make you feel negative. Discuss ideas and not people, don't hang out with people to kill time - first check if your wavelength matches, society and socializing can make you feel drained or feeling empty, socializing is a boon and much needed when it leaves you feeling light and joyous in your heart, don’t let the insecurity, jealousy and negativity of other people affect you or dent you no matter how much you want to react, you can not stop your life from moving on to react to people who don’t matter to you at all, insecure and negative people will try and pull you down always, keep moving forward offering them silent good wishes. 

And lastly - Years ago when I was making a desperate attempt to loose weight - my personal trainer suggested that I try the dietician at my gym, which I did, but I didn't listen to a single word that she said, all I wanted to say to her was 'shut the f*** up'.

Why?... because she herself was four times bigger than me, she barely fit in the chair that she sat on. (to think of it may be she was experimenting what not to eat!)

One scientist guy told me he has done research that bread is healthier than a roti and I should start consuming bread everyday, no need to tell you that the guy is very heavy with the biggest paunch of the century.

The point is - In your weight loss journey you will hear advices, suggestions, opinions from loads of people - does not matter if they have a degree in diet and nutrition or are doing research - they are disqualified to give any sort of advice if they themselves are fat and unhealthy.  If you are working on your health and trying to get in shape then people around you will watch every thing that you eat and have a comment on it, stop eating sugar, stop drinking milk, stop eating gluten, this - that - whatnot, some will shamelessly tell you that it is okay to consume alcohol, it is highly likely that these people themselves are in a bad shape so just tell them to 'shut the f*** up' - of course in your head.

My mantra is read books/ blogs/ and listen to people who have fit bodies - everyone else is disqualified (they are obviously free to have opinions but one should not listen to them).

The opinions expressed in this series are influenced by many 'qualified' people, they helped me on my path to health, happiness, fitness and weight-loss - by not just words but by proving through actions.

Most of the fittest and healthiest people that at least I have seen - eat home cooked meals everyday, their portion size is smaller, they understand the difference between food and food like products, they exercise everyday and are not engrossed in any bad habits like alcohol, smoking or drugs. Before you do any crazy diet plans remember that food is not just about weight loss - it is also about health - which means having the right chemical/ hormonal/ bacteria balance/ gut health/ immunity and mental health, so diet plans might help you to loose weight but otherwise create havoc in the system.

One more thing - do not feel let down or lack of confidence or any sort of complex because of a certain body shape that you have, and understand that people who are making comments on you are not perfect either (I have expressed this experience before that a lady thrice my size laughed at me saying 'Rasika, you look too fat'. People do not realize the hypocrisy of their comments, so just  let it go). Most of the people making nasty comments do NOT have sculpted bodies themselves ;-). The only thing that matters is you keep working on your health and weight without giving up.

This is the last part of the series and the last thing I want to say is - when it comes to health and fitness most important thing is continuity, one can not say I am going to exercise, think positive, eat and sleep well for the next 3 months, it has to turn into a lifestyle - it needs to become our second nature and then it will become effortless...

Thursday, January 04, 2018

What the health! Part 4

This is part 4 of ‘What the health’ series. You can find earlier parts here – part 1part 2, part 3
  1. Sleep -
In today’s world, snoozing can be difficult, particularly when all your screens (computers, TVs, cell phones, tablets) lure you into staying up just a little longer. A lot of people also have ‘missing out on life’ syndrome so they don’t want to spend time sleeping. A lot of us make a mistake of popping sleeping pills (like I did for almost 2 years - it was a very bad idea).

The most important thing that I fixed after my diet and medicine usage is my sleep.  Why? Because… being short on sleep can affect your wellbeing and your weight too. While you are awake at night, your body cooks up a perfect recipe for weight gain.

When you’re short on sleep, it’s easy to lean on a large latte to get moving, I used to have a venti coffee from Starbucks everyday. You might be tempted to skip exercise because you are too tired, get takeout for dinner, and then turn in late because you’re uncomfortably full.

Skimping on sleep sets your brain up to make bad decisions. It dulls activity in the brain’s frontal lobe, the locus of decision-making and impulse control. So it is a little like being drunk. You don’t have the mental clarity to make good decisions, it can also affects your mood and the way you behave with people around you. Plus, when you’re overtired, your sleep-deprived brain may have trouble saying no to a second slice of cake.

Sleep is brain’s nutrition. Most people need between 7 and 9 hours each night. Insufficient sleep impacts your hunger and fullness hormones, including two called ghrelin and leptin.
Ghrelin signals your brain that it is time to eat. When you’re sleep-deprived, your body makes more ghrelin.

Leptin, on the other hand, cues your brain to put the fork down. When you are not getting enough sleep, leptin levels plummet, signaling your brain to eat more food.

Put the two together, and it is no wonder that sleep deprivation leads to overeating and extra pounds.
Then there’s the cortisol spike that comes from too little sleep. This stress hormone signals your body to conserve energy to fuel your waking hours that means you are more apt to hang on to fat.

Sleep deprivation makes you ‘metabolically groggy’ that means - your body’s ability to process insulin - a hormone needed to change sugar, starches, and other food into energy - goes awry. When your body doesn't respond properly to insulin, your body has trouble processing fats from your bloodstream, so it ends up storing them as fat.

So it’s not so much that if you sleep, you’ll lose weight, but that too little sleep hampers your metabolism and contributes to weight gain.

How do you ensure a good night’s sleep -
  • Shutdown your computer, cell phone, and TV at least an hour before you go to bed. No gadgets on the bedside.
  • Save your bedroom for sleep, rather than work, dining or entertainment.
  • Create a bedtime ritual. It's not the time to tackle big issues. Instead, take a warm bath, meditate, or read.
  • Stick to a schedule, waking up and retiring at the same times every day, even on weekends.
  • Avoid eating heavy meals and alcohol close to bedtime, which may cause heartburn and make it hard to fall asleep. And steer clear of soda, tea, coffee, and chocolate after 2 p.m. Caffeine can stay in your system for 5 to 6 hours. I stopped drinking coffee completely since last 2 years.
  • Turn out the lights. Darkness cues your body to release the natural sleep hormone melatonin, while light suppresses it.
I do have sleep issues - I am oversensitive to sounds, any small sound wakes me up and if I wake up in the middle of the night I have hard time going back to sleep again (mostly thoughts keep in awake). So the thing that helped me the most with my sleep issues is the app InsightTimer - it has loads of guided sleep meditations/ hypnosis. I absolutely love it, Glenn Harrold’s meditations are my most favorite. Whenever I am having trouble sleeping I play his sleep hypnosis and sleep like a baby… no more sleeping pills for me.

Monday, January 01, 2018

What the health! Part 3

This is part 3 of ‘What the health’ series. You can find earlier parts here – part 1, part 2

There are a few key elements when it comes to health... it is no rocket science... everyone knows what they are -

1. Exercise -
Take out some time everyday to exercise! Not having time to exercise is like saying I don't have time to do the basic things like brush my teeth. A lot of people do not want to join gym because they do not want to spend any money on it, while they do have the money to gather material possessions. Health is the best investment one can make!

Running a marathon once in a blue moon and then forgetting all about exercising until there is a marathon again is not the way to go about it. Exercise everyday, rain or shine, even if it is just 30 minutes of yoga each day.

Think of making exercise a fun time so that you don't have to struggle each day to find motivation - join some fun classes like Zumba or dance of any sort, kickboxing, pilates, do yoga - there are so many good videos available on youtube, go hiking/biking or play sports with friends, try weight lifting, the list is endless. Whatever you do, do not do lazy man's workout. You will see these kind of people when you hit the gym, they are there may be to watch TV, listen to songs, look around at some good looking people, I don't know but if you are spending time on something then might as well make the best out of it.

Not only does exercise tone your body so you can wear your favorite jeans, it strengthens your muscles, keeps your bones strong, improves your skin, increases relaxation (stress release), betters sleep and mood, your immune function gets stronger, and a lot more …

If you haven't then exercise today!

2. Diet 
When I was little eating out at restaurants was an event, the event probably happened once a year...
Times have changed and we eat at restaurants casually. Most of the social gatherings happen around food and drinks, it has become a social norm... Looking at the kind of schedule today's parents have I am sure the next generation of kids will be saying 'when we were little, eating home cooked food was an event'.

Our treatment towards our gut has definitely become very casual, to add to that we engage in things like frozen, processed foods, alcohol, coke/pepsi and whatnot. The wealthier that our wallets get the unhealthier the food choices that we make.

Would it be too much if I said 90% of the health troubles we go through are because of bad diet and unhealthy gut? It is true. Quarter of what we eat keeps us alive and the rest keeps our doctors alive.
We are what we eat and most importantly we are what we digest. Gut health is responsible for so many things - the chemical, hormonal, bacteria balance, for strong immunity, a good emotional/mental balance, healthy skin and feeling of wellbeing. Having a strong digestive system is a key element in losing weight too. People who are depressed or committing suicide have a bad digestive tract and I am not talking out of my ass, it is proven scientifically. Read the book 'Gut: an inside story' to find the details about the research on this topic and more on gut health.

We need to think before we put anything inside our own gut... are we adding value and nutrition to our own body or poison? Our gut is strong but not as strong to take the insults that we perform each day. Do not take your gut for granted and treat it as a garbage can just to sweep the dishes clean.

And PLEASE provide your kids with home cooked fresh healthy food - healthy does not mean organic and raw food. In their growing years the kids need nutrition, what they consume right now is also defining the kind of food habits they will have in the future and what you give them right now is building or destroying their gut health. A lot of people are under the risk of catching ailments and getting obese at a very young age because since they were kids they were fed restaurant food/ unhealthy/ frozen/ processed foods by ignorant, lazy and irresponsible parents.

Good gut health and exercising habit is the best heritage you can leave for your kids.

For gut health -

  1. You can make your gut stronger by eating simple, non-spicy, healthy, easy to digest food.  Spicy food, pepper, chillies destroys stomach lining and causes acid imbalance. Remember food stays in your mouth only for a few seconds while your stomach and intestine has to deal with it for a longer time.
  2. If I may say so consume a poor man's diet and by that I mean Indian poor man's diet and not an American poor man's diet.
  3. Don’t go after fancy diet plans, fancier the names the crappier that they are. Our body needs wholesome food, it needs carbs, fats, proteins and everything - remember moderation is the key.
  4. Recognize the difference between food and food like products.
  5. Take out some time during the day to plan and cook home cooked meals, eat clean, fresh, home cooked, simple food - as easy as that.
  6. Don't forget to drink a glass of fresh homemade buttermilk everyday (not yogurt, but homemade buttermilk), it encourages good digestion.
  7. When travelling - I ate the unhealthiest food when I traveled and always put on at least 5 pounds as an aftereffect. Now when I travel I book houses with kitchens through airbnb and such and cook simple meals even on vacations.
  8. Use of medication - I popped in loads of pills for all my health troubles. As evolved beings it is our way of dealing with health. Who has the time and patience to decipher the cause of an ailment and make minor changes to bring the body back to equilibrium when it is so much simpler to just pop a pill and banish your symptoms while the disease surreptitiously festers away. I did not want to spend time being sick, who does? So antihistamines, antibiotics, painkillers, sleep medication, cold medications and such were my constant companions. But remember... medicines cause bad side effects, it is as bad as junk food and alcohol. I should have fixed the troubles by taking a step back, by giving my body some rest, and with natural remedies, by fixing my diet, stress levels, routine, sleep pattern, etc., instead I relied on medicines. But the thing that I used to fix my health issues turned out to be the cause of my biggest problems later on. I had say avoid medicines as much as you can. Try herbal medicines (Ayurveda) if you have to.
  9. And last but not the least Alcohol - Call me uncool if you had like, I really don't care - but DO NOT drink alcohol (I know it is for some reason considered a status symbol these days), some people drink wine everyday saying it is good for the heart, it sounds ridiculous- there are so many better options for the heart like running for example - opt them and not wine. Alcohol affects the acid levels in the body, it affects the quality of sleep, it can cause many health conditions like heart ailments, it affects the liver and pancreas, it also increases the risk of cancer (throat, mouth, esophagus, breast and liver). Cocktails and hard liquor is loaded with unwanted calories that you just wanna avoid piling on. I am high on life and I don’t understand those who are dependent on alcohol to do that job and ones who drink do not understand how can one be high on life… some people come under social pressures and drink to give company, I don’t do that (not anymore). I have been asked many times at parties that if I don't drink alcohol or carbonated beverages then what do I drink. Stupid question. I drink many things - tea, coconut water, lime juice, freshly squeezed orange juice, turmeric milk, buttermilk and mostly water! I am not a fun bob (someone who needs to be inebriated to have fun, loose inhibitions or enjoy life). I enjoy life even when things are painful or not going so smooth. Accept that hardship is part of life. Pain, sickness and sadness is as much a feeling as health and happiness - embrace it, sooner the better - it is useless to be afraid of the existence of unhappy feelings and to forget it getting numb (and dumb) under the influence of alcohol/drugs.

Food and water is an important part of a balanced diet, yes, we are what we eat…. and drink.

to be continued...

Sunday, October 29, 2017

What the health! Part 2

Reasons you are not losing weight

1. You are in denial

One day I went on a hike with a hiker friend, this was the year when I weighed a lot - 170 pounds to be specific. After finishing the excruciating hike we stopped at a restaurant for dinner. She ordered a plate of idli sambhar and I ordered a dosa, which is the longest dosa I have ever seen, I could eat only 25% of it.

During dinner the hiker said "people are lucky to have good genetics and metabolism - they eat anything and still don't put on weight. I hardly eat anything, I do these strenuous hikes and still put on weight".

While she said this she finished the food that she had ordered and the 75% of dosa that was left on my plate.

We think we are doing everything right - we are eating right, exercising - even if it is one excruciating hike once in a while, and everyone who is in shape is just lucky. Do not conveniently ignore and forget that 75% extra that we are consuming.

From this incidence I learned I was in denial too.  I sat - analyzed and found so many things that I needed to change (mid-night snacking anyone?). I needed to take control of my health than it controlling me.

If today I am in shape or feeling light and right - it is not because of luck- it is because I came out of denial - I changed my entire lifestyle (from diet, exercise, sleep, habits, organization-prioritization skills to managing stress) - and obviously I had to put in efforts to do so. Do not be in denial and say that you are doing everything right, take an objective look at what you are doing wrong and try to fix it.
  1. You are finding lame excuses
Do not blame being fat or unhealthy on genetics, metabolism or horoscopes!
List of lame excuses is covered in earlier parts. or you can find it here

  1. All cardio, no strength
Don’t spend all your time on cardio - focus on weight/strength training too. Weights do not make you bulky or muscular. Instead not only does it prevent injury by strengthening the joints, but it also builds muscle mass and increases metabolic rate.
  1. No accountability
You assume that because you are opting for healthier food options and working-out so it is a reason enough to over indulge. I have seen people eating four ice creams in one go just because they are opting for a sugar free option. Don't do that, our body does not need so much food.
Contrary to popular belief eating and shopping can not be hobbies and can not be used as stress release therapy because therapy is a treatment that fixes you for good instead of giving just a momentary pleasure. Food and shopping is a strategy... one simply needs to learn the strategy.
  1. No Food Planning/ snacking on the wrong foods
Have healthy snacks and meal options ready at home and at work - at all times - otherwise if you are hungry you will end up eating unhealthy things. Don't snack on cookies and candy, instead on simple foods such as nuts, raisins, quinoa, fruits, salads, upma, thalipit, khichadi, daal rice, soups, buttermilk, yogurt, protein shake....

  1. Same old routine
You do not switch your workouts and rely on the same routine day-in-day-out. Your body gets accustomed to your workout and is not challenging it enough to make a difference. It is good to mix things up and try and do different activity everyday, or at least every week.
  1. Inconsistency
If you don't workout regularly, you do not see results. Consistency is the key! There is no way around hard work.
  1. Sedentary Lifestyle
Just working out might not be enough, if your remaining of the day is stationary or is spent on a chair. Try and take a walking break. Experts recommend setting a timer on the computer to remind you to move every hour. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park far away from the mall, run with your kids and whatnot.

  1. Poor Digestion
You are not what you eat; you are what you digest and absorb!
Our gut health determines our overall wellbeing. The bacteria that lies in our gut help us to fight disease, process our food, make nutrients and make hormones. When your liver is sluggish, it struggles to process substances/toxins/hormones efficiently and this leads to toxic build up and this will inevitably cause weight gain.
I had suggest fix your digestion by eating simple and easy to digest foods, do not forget to drink one glass of buttermilk every day (not yogurt but homemade buttermilk).
  1. Don't Drink Water
Last but not the least, we have all heard how important H2O is when it comes to shedding pounds. It helps to suppress appetite, so you're less likely to overeat. Staying hydrated keeps all chemical reactions going on in your body run smoothly and it fixes metabolism. It allows your kidneys to function properly and filter everything that they need to. Water is great for skin too.
How much water should you drink? It depends on how much you weigh, what climate you live in and how much you work out. 0.5+ ounce per 1 pound of bodyweight, so if you weigh 150 pounds you would be drinking (75+ ounces (2.2 liters))+ (if you live in a hot climate then few more ounces) + (if you work out each day then few more ounces). I drink 3 liters (more or less) everyday.
coming up in the next posts... how to lose weight and stay healthy