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...

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