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

Thursday, October 12, 2017

What the health! - Part 1

Life is beautiful when healthy -

Having a good lifestyle helps you to get thinner, feel energetic and healthy (emotionally, physically and mentally). So I decided to write my experiences and battle with health, fitness, exercise and diet but the post was turning out to be too long so breaking it up into parts.
Beware: This post has strong opinions (facts ;-)) and a rant on fitness, obviously you are not mandated to read it ;-).

The Jargon - These days there is a jargon - don't fat shame people - and no I am not going to fat shame anyone. All I want to say is - IT IS NOT OKAY TO BE FAT! And it is not okay to live a junk lifestyle.

Just to clarify - I said the same thing when I weighed 180 pounds and saying the same thing today when I weigh 135 pounds that is 10+ pounds overweight for my height.
[There are some rare health conditions where weight gain happens, and it can also be a side effect of certain medications and I am not talking about these scenarios here - however shifting to a healthier lifestyle helps with most medical conditions].

How do we get fat?
It is really not rocket science to figure out why we get fat, we all know the reasons!
We eat junk food, live a junk lifestyle, are engrossed in a sedentary behavior and we do not exercise. There is so much variety of food available these days, one doesn't know how to control.

There was a time when I treated my gut and health with complete ignorance or shall I say disrespect, I ate out at restaurants every other day with colleagues, friends, family and sometimes alone - I ate pasta, pizza, cupcakes, burgers, ice-creams, anything and everything. To add to that I consumed medicines, painkillers, antacids every other day, I didn't have time and the luxury to be sick.

No need to say that one day everything came back to me like a boomerang. When the downfall of health starts it takes a long time to recover (if recovery happens!).  I will spare you the details of health troubles I went through for almost four consecutive years, all's well that ends well. During those years I caught some ailment one after the other, with no breather at all. I did not have the interest or energy to enjoy anything happening around me. Health affects everything that we do, career, relationships, personal interests and whatnot. Life is beautiful… yes… but more so when one is healthy. So I say... it is not okay to be fat, it is not okay to live a junk lifestyle, period.

If today I have lost weight and feeling light and right - it is not because of luck- it is because I changed my entire lifestyle and obviously I had to put in efforts to do so. Tomorrow if I weigh 180 pounds again or feel sick all the time then I know it will be because of my own stupidity, lack of control, lack of discipline and messed up priorities.

By being fat we are inviting diseases like heart ailments, diabetes, arthritis, GERD, sleep apnea, some cancers, gallbladder disease and many more - which is okay if you want to live with one, but trust me (or ask anyone who is suffering or has suffered because of bad lifestyle choices) that it isn't fun to live with one...

Here is why I respect fit people - irrespective of my overweight or fat status -

“Because fit people with a physique is much more than how good they look. A well-built physique is a status symbol.
It reflects you work hard for it, no money can buy it. You cannot inherit it you cannot steal it you cannot borrow it you cannot hold on to it without constant work.
It shows dedication, it shows discipline it shows self respect. It shows dignity. It shows patience work ethic, passion. That is why it's attractive to me.”

Here are some common (and lame!) excuses that we use for not doing what is right -

  1. I am too busy.
You have work deadlines, sick kids and you eat what is handy, you can barely bring home takeout, and you have time for nothing else.
Our body is the only thing that we have from the time we are born till the time we die and if you are too busy to spend time to take care of it then, well, you should not be spending any time reading this post.

Everyone gets 24 hours a day, no more, no less. We all live busy lives, no one is gifted with more time!  Being busy does not imply that you are being productive - you might very well be spending time on social media and calling it being busy. I have always said this - it is never about time, it is always about priority. As they say where there is a will there is a way.

Hone your planning, prioritization and organization skills. I have seen CEOs, VPs and directors of companies working out every single day, because living a healthy lifestyle is a priority for them. I am a proud employee of one such company.

Sticking to healthy behaviors like making time for meals and squeezing in exercise throughout the day, even when your life feels like it's going 100 miles a minute, is actually the key to long-term health. When the downfall of health starts it takes a long time to recover, your body is constantly giving you signals if there is something wrong, don’t wait for your body to give up, start a healthy lifestyle today. Don't be one of those who lose their health gaining wealth and then spend their wealth to gain health.
  1. I have kids
Even more of a good reason to start working out... ever since I remember - I have exercised. I don't really remember the time when I didn't. You know why? because I saw my parents working out every single day... till today.  So I did not know any other lifestyle, I thought this is what people do... they exercise everyday like they brush their teeth everyday. Set a good example for your kids. Better yet, workout as a family - ask them to join you in biking, hiking, swimming, dance, rock climbing and whatnot.

You can not tell kids 'go and exercise' because... they are watching you! Are my parents engrossed in binge watching TV shows all day long? or are they living an active lifestyle? As they say 'Raise yourself before you raise your kids'.
  1. I don't have time to cook.
But you have time to commute to a restaurant - order food - get the food on your table - or even food pick up from a restaurant takes at least 20 to 30 minutes of your time, isn't it? It hardly takes any time to cook if you plan well.

I have allocated a fixed amount of time that I spend on cooking each day - so even if I have a leftover from last night I still spend that allocated time on food preparation for the next day - like kneading dough, cutting vegetables or just make some supplements like soup, koshimbir, snack items and whatnot.

Just to clarify I hate to cook but I do not use it as an excuse, there are many things one might hate but has to take care of - that is what growing up and living a healthier lifestyle is all about.
One more option is get cooking help - whichever part of the world you live in you will be able to find cooking/cleaning help. Plan your finances accordingly - for example spend less money on shopping material things and instead spend it on a cook/help and essentially on your own body!
Studies show that people who cook meals at home tend to eat more healthfully and weigh less than those who don't.

  1. I don't have money for gym or personal trainer
I have seen people spending loads of money on material things, brands, jewelry, 100 shoes/purses and whatnot but when it comes to taking care of their own body they say 'it costs too much'.
Here is a blunt advice - I had suggest stop buying jewelry - it won't make you look or feel good as much as a fit body would - spend the money on joining a gym. There are so many free options to workout too - go hiking, biking, there are innumerable exercise videos online, play music and dance your heart out, don't forget yoga - you can do it anywhere and anytime.
  1. I love food a lot, in general
Great. Who doesn't? But you don't have to eat it all in one meal, do you? People eat in such quantities as if they are coming straight out of a famine and are not going to get next meal on their plate, remember there is always the next time, also remember that food stays in your mouth only for a few seconds and inside your stomach for very long, don’t give in for momentary pleasures, the high of having a fit body is way too long lasting.

Do not eat according to the health of your wallet! Wealthier that the wallets get unhealthier the food habits become. If I may say so - eat a poor man's diet and by that I don't mean American poor man's diet - I mean Indian poor man's diet - it is simple and easy to digest.
  1. My weight problems are genetic
No they are not, and I am not saying this - scientific research is. It is just too convenient to blame it on genetics.

  1. Diets make me hungry.
If your diet is making you hungry, it's not a good diet or even sustainable in the long term. Don't go for any fancy (or trending) diet plans, fancier the name of the diet the crappier that it is - our body needs everything - carbs, proteins and whatnot - all in moderation, don't cut back on anything. Do watch your portion size and eat healthy, simple food - healthy does NOT mean just organic or raw food.
  1. Exercise makes me too tired.
No kidding! That is why they call it a workout! Jokes aside, exercise generates energy. The more energy you have, the more you will get done every day.

I generally workout in the morning but if for some reason I don't, and have to workout in the evening, that is after a long day at work - then I do not feel like moving even a limb. But I still put on my shoes and do what I am supposed to, 5 minutes through the workout I start feeling charged.
You recharge your body through food, sleep, and exercise. Movement creates energy. It gets your heart pumping, blood pumping, cleans out toxins, and gets your engine started. Exercise helps you lose weight, makes your skin glow and gets confidence levels up so you feel better about yourself.
  1. I always gain back the weight.
When I decided to lose weight and make changes to my lifestyle there were months in a row I didn't lose even a single pound and there were some months when I put on weight instead of losing. Losing weight isn't a crash course, if you don't see instant results then don't give up, there needs to be patience and most of all continuity (for life).

I told someone to try yoga, she came back to me and said ‘I tried it for 3 whole weeks and didn’t lose even a pound’. Isn’t 3 weeks too less? considering you have taken years to ruin your body?… give it time… Rome wasn't built in one day ... it would be a long journey but it would be worth it. Don't do it to be thin, do it for a better quality of life.

One needs to change their lifestyle for good to lose weight otherwise if you resume unhealthy ways once losing weight then obviously you will be putting on the weight again.

  1. I can't live without junk food
There is this waterfall in Jasper, Canada and there is a board put up everywhere around it - it says don’t step on the rocks near the waterfall, they are very slippery and people have died here. People still cross the fence and walk on the rocks to take selfies. That means they accept the risk of dying a bad and untimely death out of their own stupidity.

Anyway coming back to the point if you can not live without junk food then no one can help you there. You have to make a choice. If you can't live without the junk food then make peace with living in a junk-body.
  1. I don't like gyms
Do you like parks? mountains? lakes? anything? Find a place you like and incorporate that activity as your workout. Running, Skiing, Tennis, Badminton, Dancing ...? There must be something. And if you don't know what you like yet, then try them all and I am sure one would click.
I do something different everyday - yoga, hiking, biking, kickboxing, dance, pilates, tennis, badminton, weight training and whatnot (whether I like it or not!).
  1. I am too old
Seriously, you are not. Meet Fauja Singh and Ernestine Shepherd. If you still think you are old then shame on you!
  1. I hate working out alone
Join a group class, a running group, ask a friend to join you ... there are a lot of options. If not hiking/ biking or doing yoga at home then I prefer to workout at group classes, that motivates me the most.
  1. It is boring
That is because you haven't explored all your options. Find something you enjoy. (and honestly do it anyways.)

  1. It hurts my body
If you have never worked out then yes, it would hurt for the first few days. But go past that and then you would get addicted to that 'good' pain. Stretch before and after a workout, get a massage once in a while, soak in warm water with Epsom salt.
  1. Exercise make me more hungry
Yes! That happens. The best solution to that is have a protein shake right after your workout and have a lot of healthy snacks - fruits, salads, nuts. Munch on them every 2 hours even if you are NOT hungry.
  1. I don't know where to start
That's fine. Just start with walking for 30 mins, do yoga at home, what helps the most is joining classes - you pay for it so you show up and then it is easier to work out in a group of people...the atmosphere keeps you motivated.
  1. I am already skinny (thin)
A lot of people are skinny on the outside and have unhealthy fat reserves inside, some are skinny and have no energy to do anything, you can be thin but chances are you are not fit … so exercise and eat healthy home cooked food!
I hope this helps and gives you a kick in the butt... exercise today if you haven’t already.

Coming up in the next post - Reasons why you are not losing weight...

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

My grandmother asked me to tell you she is sorry

1. Where had you go, Bernadette- Maria Semple

I do not want to spend any time on writing about this book, I already spent enough reading it ;-). Boring!

2. My grandmother asked me to tell you she is sorry - Fredrick Backman

Frustrating. This one just didn't work for me, although it has good reviews and ratings if you want to give it a try.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Truly Madly Guilty

1. Cider house rules 2. A prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
Irving is a very well reputed writer, most of his books have 4.5+ starts on Goodreads, some consider his books as the literary triumph. But sadly I just didn't get what the hoopla is all about, did not like the stories or the story telling, it is just way too lengthy and I found it uninteresting.

3. Truly Madly Guilty - Liane Moriarty
Slowness, lack of pull and the sheer dullness of characters - that sums it up. 1/5*

Friday, July 28, 2017


1. Wonderstruck - Brian Selznick
This is a story about two characters - Ben and Rose
Ben's story is told solely through writing, while Rose's is told through Selznick's gorgeous illustrations. Ben's story in words, Rose's in pictures, come together in deafness. And I loved how the author made their intertwining histories flow so smoothly. Good for ages 5+ (my guess). My rating is 4/5*.

2. The theory of everything: the origin and fate of the universe - Stephen Hawking
Have you read Brief history of time? I thought it was too difficult to understand. The theory of everything is easy to understand, although there are better books by other authors on the subject of universe. I give it 3/5*.

3. Rozabal Line - Ashwin Sanghi
I liked Chanakya's chant and The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi. 'Rozabel Line' made me resolve never to buy a novel just because you liked another one from the author (for example from the one time wonder Chetan Bhagat). A pretty confusing book...there are a couple of new characters being introduced on every's a struggle to remember the names and characters. 1/5*