The Very First Step To Health: BMI

Hi Friends, happy Friday!

How are you all? Hope all healthy and happy.

As for me, it has suddenly become a little more hectic (never thought it could become any more hectic but hey, what do we know?) because of my nutrition classes. I swear I have started having serious time-lapses on weekends now. When I am studying, I don’t even realize where the three hours went by and once I finish, it’s like I am three-hours behind everything! I stay disoriented for a long time and it’s not exactly pleasant!

The first thing we learnt in our first class, was how to assess a person’s current health before we start a diet and fitness regime for her/him. The first tools are BMI and body fat content, among a few others. Most of us have at least heard of the term BMI. Today’s post elaborates upon it some more and if you didn’t know about it, here we are.

What Exactly is BMI?

BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is a way to measure body fat based on certain factors – such as weight and height.

Though not an absolute indicator of health and fitness, BMI still provides a good insight into it. For a normal adult person, male or female, BMI gives a good enough start to assess the health and risks associated with non-normal BMI ranges.

Why is BMI important?

BMI is a useful indicator and tells us whether we are at risk for many diseases. Once we understand the risk, we can work on our nutrition and lifestyle to lower the risk. We can consider BMI as a “risk-forecast” for our body and health!

BMI, waist circumference (to assess abdominal fat content) and assessment of various risk factors such as smoking and concerns related to obesity…combined together, can give us a fair idea of what’s wrong with our bodies, how we can prevent any further damages as well as their management, even reversal of a few!

Risks of What?

Type 2 diabetes (high blood glucose), blood pressure (hypertension), arthritis, cholesterol issues (high LDL and low HDL), cardiovascular diseases and many other obesity-related diseases as well as certain cancers.

Worldwide, people with BMI equal to or higher than 30 are considered obese and these people need to immediately start working on lifestyle correction including weight loss. Same goes with overweight people (with a BMI of 25 to 29.9). They also need to work on weight management to lead a healthy and active life, free of obesity-related complications.

Did You Know?

For Asians including Indians, the indicators are different as we are more vulnerable genetically, to cardiovascular and obesity-related diseases and disorders.

What Can Be Done?

Even a little weight loss means a lower risk of contracting diseases related to obesity. With a calorie-appropriate diet and some physical fitness activities included in the lifestyle on a regular basis, one can work on lowering BMI and other parameters. Consistency is the keyword here.

The ideal would be to stop ourselves and take a control of our health much earlier. Don’t wait, use the adult calculator-link below and a get an estimated BMI for yourself, right now. If it falls in a normal/healthy range, you can work on keeping it that way. If it falls in any other slab, start immediately on preventing any further damages to your health. Do note that for kids, the calculator is different.

https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/english_bmi_calculator/bmi_calculator.html

Please consider consulting your doctor or dietician in case you get a non-normal BMI read today.

Till next Friday,

Love, Health & Peace

The Palm Oil Story

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How are you doing? I hope a lot better than last month! At least, now all the items in our grocery list are available, online as well as offline. One can happily go back to the brands or types of products one is used to. I am very grateful that the brand of peanut butter I use is again available online. I am also very grateful that I am now able to make my own blend of wholegrain-multigrain atta/flour, once more.

I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to make rotis from the packaged atta/flour. Once you get used to eating rotis made of your own blend, you simply can’t enjoy them any other way! Same with peanut butter. The store-bought ones just don’t cut it anymore for me. And for good, I say.

Anyways, today’s post isn’t about peanut butter but palm oil. I am sure you have heard already that palm oil is not good to use but hardly a few know why.

What Exactly Is Palm Oil

Among all types of cooking oils that we use, palm oil is probably the one we would never consider using, in our kitchen even if it is the most-used oil commercially.

Palm oil is a vegetable oil that is derived from the fruit of African oil palm tree Elaeis guineensis. These trees are native to Africa however, are now grown extensively in Asia, North America and South America as the oil is much in demand everywhere today. Palm oil greatly contributes to the GDP of the producing countries. Indonesia and Malaysia make up for 85% of global palm oil supply today.

It is extensively used in most commercial food products be it ice-cream, doughnuts, toothpaste, cosmetics or animal feed…even your soap! Around half of the products that we use today have palm oil in them. Why? Because it is extremely versatile and cheap! It can give products higher shelf life. It gives the crispy, crunchy texture to the fried food like your french fries! It has no colour or smell so it is easy to use in food products.

Is Palm Oil Bad For Health?

It has a high saturated fat content which can be harmful for us and is linked to heart diseases. however many studies also say that if you eat a balanced diet (meaning less of junk), the effect is negligible.

Some other studies say that palm oil is rich in tocotrienols which is a form of vitamin-E. These protect our cells and reduce our risk of heart disease as well as cancer.

So, What’s The Verdict?

Palm oil might be okay for our health in moderation. If we consume less junk and processed food, the intake is very low. Which we should anyways and not just for palm oil!

Though one thing is sure. Palm oil is definitely bad for our environment. It is one of the major causes of deforestation around the world, especially the rainforests.

The palm oil tree normally lives for around 30 years but when it grows too tall and it becomes hard collecting fruit from it, it gets chopped down to make way for a new tree. And this chopping down leads to deforestation. This, in turn, leads us to climate changes and loss of habitats to many animal species such as Orangutans! Who said the earth belongs to humans only?

The use of less expensive palm oil is so extensive across industries everywhere that it results into massive destruction of forests and the environmental impact is huge today!

The worst part is that it has become impossible to avoid products that use palm oil. It is everywhere! Imagine my surprise when I noticed that motichoor laddoos that I got from a famous sweet brand, were made in palm oil too! I thought that brand wouldn’t use palm oil at least as every decent sweet brand/shop boasts of using ghee/ in its sweets!

By the way, did you know that ghee-flavoured oils are also freely available in the market today?

Why Not Find Alternative Oils?

Unfortunately, that is not possible commercially. Palm oil is an efficient crop. This means that it produces more palm oil per land than any other oil-crop such as soyabean oil or coconut oil. Thus means that much, much more land would be needed if not for palm oil. This would not address the problem at the core.

What Can We Do?

For starters and to safeguard our planet, we can identify and use products which contain only sustainable palm oil in them. How to identify? WWF has a rating tool for brands that you can easily use. The link is below:

https://palmoilscorecard.panda.org/

We can switch to alternate oils for personal consumption. In processed products that we buy, we can choose products or brands which are RSPO (Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil) certified. Certified palm oil protects the environment and the local communities involved in its production. It is very much possible e.g. in 2016, 75% of UK’s total palm oil import was sustainable.

This is all for today. And if you think that since palm oil doesn’t directly affects your health much and that you need not bother too much about it, think again! It is destroying our home, brick-by-brick!

Till next Friday,

Love, Health & Peace

Is Transformation Your Goal?

Hi friends, happy Friday! How have you all been keeping?

Life has, to a lot of extent, returned to a less panicked state, hasn’t it? Whether it’s due to better survival rate nowadays or to the fact that we are adapting to the new norm of masks, sanitizers and social-distancing, knowing that there is no other way any time soon. Doesn’t mean I am not hopeful of a vaccination this year only. I still am!

And after experiencing this pandemic and seeing how important, more than ever…it is to stay healthy and have good immunity, what better time to start than now?

Also, a big thank you everyone, for your overwhelming response over my last post on Instagram which was me doing one-handed handstand, against the wall. I hope one day, I’ll be able to do that without the wall support 🙂

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Today’s post is just a short one! I simply want to stress on the fact that it is very important to stay healthy, have a balanced diet and lead an active life. We all know it already. Much has been said and written already. By me and countless others.

Many of you have recently asked me about my diet chart etc. I wish I could give you one formula but I don’t have one. I have again and again said that one need to combine diet and a basic fitness regime for overall health and strength. Either of this combination alone, would not take you where you want to be.

And weight management is just one factor in the whole health equation. Though it is perfectly alright to start with that motive and any motive is good enough 🙂

Nutrition is a very powerful tool, no doubt. But it isn’t easy! It needs a strong willpower where one could think of food in terms of neither punishment nor entertainment but in terms of nourishment. It is entirely possible to eat what you want but with modifications and moderation.

And if one says that they have done all they could in terms of diets and still reached nowhere, I would still  understand. I have been there.

For starters, it is not the same for everyone. And second, if you reached nowhere, you haven’t done it either right (for you)…or enough! In my case, I did not do it at all! Till I started, I did not know what I was missing out on.

Let’s say you started on a journey which means to take 6 months. You started enthusiastically but stopped after 3 months…would you still reach your destination? Obviously not! You stopped mid-way. You stopped walking!

One thing is for sure, if you gave it 6 months, you would never want to go back! Neither in terms of diet modifications nor in terms of physical fitness. The success, the transformation would keep you coming back for more! It would become a lifelong habit, trust me. Do you remember the golden 21/90 rule? If not, do read this previous post here.

All you need in this journey is to show up…every time you are supposed to. Whether you work on your own or take external assistance, consistency is the key. Even if you make no special efforts, you are sure to move ahead…just by the virtue of showing up. All you need is 1% a day after all!

There is another issue that many of my old friends have come up with and I will write about it in my next post. It is more specific to women than men but all the men who read my blogs, need to read it too 🙂

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Salt: Good or Bad?

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How are you all? Have you started calling your helps back? I am thinking of calling one of my helps who works exclusively at my place, for a couple of hours every day. It has been 7 months without them but now that my classes are starting from tomorrow, I need more free time to read and study.

I already have a Diploma in Health & Nutrition but from long back. I feel it is a bit obsolete now and to acquire new skills and insight, am starting this foundation+advanced program in nutrition from a prestigious international institute. I hope that one day soon, I will be able to help you in your fitness journey professionally. I can’t even begin to describe what proper nutrition can do to our mind, body and soul!! Not to count our genes!!!

But more on that some other time. Right now, just wish me luck! 🙂

Also, many of you have DMed asking me about a weighing scale to measure food. What I use is a very basic, non-expensive kitchen scale, bought from Amazon. It served me well for 3 years, broke last week and I already bought it again. Initially, till you figure out the calories and food portions, it is worth buying. If you want to buy, you can check the one I have, on the link below:

https://amzn.to/2HEedCa

When anyone first starts her/his fitness journey, she/he is advised to reduce processed-sugar intake. And it’s right also. Such sugar means empty calories and it does way more harm than any good whatsoever.

What we should also reduce while we are at it, is our salt-intake as well. No, this doesn’t mean we start eating bland food!

It’s just that the processed food and junk food is so high in salt that we overshoot our daily salt intake recommendation. Salt is present in almost all processed food whether you taste it or not!

By no means, I want to imply that salt is as bad as sugar. Our body would do just fine without any additional sugar but salt is vital for it! We definitely do not need to cut it off completely from our diets…unlike sugar.

Myth

Pink salt, Black salt, Himalayan salt etc might carry a little more trace minerals but in the end, it is all salt. Thinking that it won’t be harmful to consume more of these, is not correct!

What Is Salt?

Salt is NaCl (sodium chloride) which contains 40% sodium and rest of 60% is chlorine. Generally, we use salt and sodium word as one and the same.

Is Salt Good or Bad?

Depends.

Our body uses salt to maintain balance of fluids and regulate blood pressure. It works as an important electrolyte for us. It is also needed for various muscular and nervous functions.

Salt is important but too much consumption is not good at all.

Many dietary guidelines recommend that we do not eat more than 5 gms of salt in a day which is equivalent to one teaspoon. Most of us consume almost double of it every day though. From the salt that we put in our food and salads…from ketchup to chips, dips and pickles…from the snacks we eat with tea and the salt we put in our fruits in the form of chaat masalas! Even cheese!

Eating too little salt also can be bad for us. Best is to eat a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods and adequately flavor what we cook. No harm in that and no need to eat tasteless meal!

However, people who already have blood-pressure concerns, kidney ailments, heart issues or diabetes etc would do well to keep their salt intake in check. A normal healthy person with a balanced diet would get by just fine but if you are already prone to these medical issues, best reduce your intake.

Less of processed food is good for everyone though, by default. Reading the food-labels is a great habit too.

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

The Confusing Business Of Calories

Hi friends, happy Friday! How are you all?

At my end, it has been pretty hectic lately. No helps still and the house is full of never-ending chores. Everyone in the family (two elders, one Other Half, two little ones and one dog…they all do their bits to help out but at the end of the day, the lady of the house gets the lion’s share of…err, chores, isn’t it?

Anyways, all this keeps me on my toes whole day (now night also, thanks to the latest addition of Kia, the pup. At 5 months, she is now tall enough to pull my hair while I am dreaming at night). I am sure your story is quite similar to mine and a big hug to all of us brave hearts!!

Amidst all the chaos, have you continued your fitness routine or diet plans? Or started any? Tell me if you have!

It does get all very confusing at the end of the day, isn’t it? Especially the term calories! Calories…low calories…zero calories…empty calories…high calorie food…calorie-dense food etc. What are these calories after all? Almost a scary word today especially for weight watchers. Let’s decode calories today!

What Are Calories?

Calories in simple terms, is energy that we need for day to day functioning.

Technically, ‘calorie’ word is the unit of energy that we get from a certain food item. This is how we measure energy. All food items provide us energy – be it sugars, fats, proteins or carbs. The amount of energy or calories each food provides varies. Every single cell in our body needs this energy.

Depending upon the goals and lifestyle, the daily calorie requirement ranges from 1600-2400 calories for adult females and for adult males, 2000-3000. However, men shouldn’t eat less than 1500 calories and women not less than 1200 calories per day – to get all the energy and nutrients required by the body for optimal day-to-day functioning.

Empty Calories

Empty calories come from food which would give us energy for sure but without any significant nutrients. Such foods are what we call as junk food also. Interestingly, one can lose weight on empty calories too, whether it would be healthy or not, is anybody’s guess. A few examples are pizzas, burgers and sugary foods/drinks.

Zero Calories or Low Calories

Products having zero calories such as diet foods and drinks are not necessarily any healthier, if you ask me. Replacing a good balanced meal with a low calorie meal-replacement bar/shake is not a great idea in long run! It just is not sustainable and can easily backfire unless accompanied by a healthy lifestyle change.

High Calories/Calorie Dense Foods  

This include foods that are high on calories in a relatively smaller portion such as butter or sugary sweets. Interestingly, some very healthy foods are very high in calories as well e.g. quinoa (yes, the superfood quinoa), avocados, dried fruits, olive oil etc

Similarly, low calorie foods have low amount of calories relative to the portion size such as many fruits and leafy greens.

How Many Calories Per Day?

The answer to this question would differ from person to person. It depends upon that person’s activity level and resting metabolic rate.

It is important to consume sufficient calories even if one is trying to lose weight. The calories consumed should be balanced out by calories spent.

Under-eating, over a period of time lowers our resting metabolic rate which in turn, affects our capacity to burn calories. So, if you crash-diet or starve yourself in the name of dieting, know that it is going to be rendered ineffective soon enough.

I have found an easy calculator online which should help you to with your daily calorie requirement. The credit goes to the website for it:

https://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html

So, What Kinds Of Calories Should We Consume?

That’s a very important detail and the turning point for you if you have specific goals such as muscle-building, fat loss, weight loss etc. Ideally, 45-65% of calories should come from carbs, 20-25% from fat and 10-35% from protein. Of course, it also depends upon your lifestyle, medical history and goals. Kids need more energy coming from fat as they are growing.

Do you want to know a few easy ways to reduce your calorie consumption? Do let me know.

In The End

It is crucial that we change our lifestyle in such a way that the focus is on staying healthy- physically and mentally. This is the only way to enjoy the process and keep it sustainable in the long run. This enables us to have fun while staying active and healthy. World-cruise at 60, anyone?

Also, it is important to consult a nutritionist or your doctor if you plan to make a big dietary change/switch or go on any low-calorie diets.

Hope you found today’s post informative and it cleared away a few doubts. To join me on Instagram for more tips/tricks on health & nutrition, follow the link below. Your support means a lot to me 🙂

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Only You Can Take Care Of Yourself

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How was the week that went by for you? It was alright for me, hectic and a bit contemplative.

Like you, I also am a member to many WhatsApp groups and in one of the groups, I received a forward (of a made-up story, of course) which was about a guy whose spouse died and the caller called him after a few days, to check up on him, to offer condolences and see how he is coping up with the deep void in his life. To this caller’s amazement, the guy seemed to be doing great, playing golf (or something) with buddies while his parents and kids were getting cared for, nicely, by hired helps.

By no means I want this to be taken gender-specific, in any way. Also, this post is not about me and many of you probably won’t be able to relate to what I am saying, however, I will still say it. For those who could relate!

What hit me hard was the fact that it could be true…for anyone. I myself have seen it happen so many times. The world doesn’t stop for anyone…the show must go on and all that. Barring the immediate family members especially the kids, people move on quickly. Beyond a RIP and folded-hands emoji, no one cares for very long. Only a handful would really miss the departed and even those learn to…or are forced to, adapt to the void. Nothing wrong in it and that’s the way it probably should be.

What about the departed? So much for the deeply loved house that one decorated with much care, the family members for whom one sacrificed all personal hobbies and even own health, the sacrifices one made, the time we never found for ourselves because we were needed somewhere else…for someone else, the job that required all our attention, the boss who couldn’t let us take an off even for a day (and we agreed) and all that money in the bank account!!

And this feels even truer for non-earning member of the family. We might think we are indispensable but no-one is, I guess. The show does really go on…or have to!!

By no means am I preaching selfishness/shunning our responsibilities for our own fun and frolic! We each have to play our part to the best of our abilities.

The point I am trying to make here is that while we are busy taking care of the entire world, let us take a couple of hours for ourselves too. This ‘me-time’ should be non-negotiable. People who really care for us won’t ever grudge us these couple hours, even if slightly inconvenient for them. Like we don’t grudge theirs! Do we?

This post doesn’t mean to be a ‘this-is-a-sad-reality’ kind of post either. This one is supposed to be a wake-up call to all of us who think the world would stop if they took even 30 minutes out for health’s (physical and mental) sake! I personally won’t consider screen-time (i.e. time spent in front of a screen such as mobile, laptop or TV) as me-time as neither it helps one in connecting with oneself nor it helps in our overall health improvement goals.

I am sure you can figure this out…you probably already know it all. As for me and if that helps, I don’t take afternoon naps and don’t watch any TV at all, to accommodate everything in a day. My sleep duration is 6 hours on an average and on weekends, a little more.

In the end, all I would say is we need, man or woman, to connect with ourselves…to become stronger and more confident in ourselves…being responsible for ourselves and taking care of our health and fitness, physical and mental.

Let us accept that we have only one life in this life and that we have got to live it to the fullest, being kind to ourselves yes, but being responsible for ourselves too.

Do let me know your thoughts on this one. Also, join me on Instagram as I am trying to grow my Insta-family and would really appreciate your support 🙂

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Lose Weight The Healthy Way: Intermittent Fasting

Hi friends, happy Friday!

Have you managed to find some time out of your hectic schedules for your own health and fitness while taking care of the rest of the world? I sincerely hope you have. It is important and you know it already!

In my last post I stressed on taking out 15-20 minutes a day for basic stretching at least, if there is nothing else that you are able to do these days. And a cup of tea/coffee with yourself whenever you have 5 minutes! Alone.

When we talk about health or fitness, the first thing that comes to our mind is an ideal weight and most of us struggle with weight management issues. On my Instagram, the most frequent DMs I get are for weight loss.

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

I feel just weight loss is not the right criteria to define health. One can easily lose weight through a sickness but would that person be counted healthy? Clearly no.

Health is much more than weight loss though many of us start our fitness journey with the primary motive of weight loss. Nothing wrong with that. And what if there is a way to retain your health, even boost it and lose weight also?

A Great Tool For Weight Management

Before we start, please note that this is a diet pattern and it does not mean starving yourself. The key point here is control. You are not starving but controlling yourself for a specific period of time.

Whatever you eat in the eating window needs to be healthy and balanced as well. Also, it does not mean that once you eat, you eat too much to make up for the lost time.

What is This Great Tool?

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a lifestyle strategy, more than anything and yes, I have done it personally.

It is a diet pattern which mostly tells us about when we should eat rather than what. Let’s say it involves us cycling between fasting and eating.

If you ask me, it is best to combine this great tool for weight loss with a moderate and healthy, balanced diet. And of course a basic fitness regime…to turn it into a healthy and sustainable lifestyle routine.

It can be useful for a lot of health concerns and not just weight loss/management. We Indians anyways are quite familiar with the concept of fasting, for religious purposes. This is similar, just a little more systematic.

The most common method is a daily 16-hour fasting and eating within the 8-hour window left, during 24 hours, night included. This is also known as 16/8 method. If 16-hour fasting  is a lot for you, begin with 14 or even 12.

One can also fast for 24 hours, once/twice in a week. The third method is to consume less calories for two days in a week. Just make sure these two days are non-consecutive.

How Does It Work

Long story short, our body uses the carbohydrates from food as it is readily available. Rest of the carbs are stored in liver as fat or in other fat deposits in the body. When we fast, the insulin level in blood drops signaling the body to pull the stored glucose/fat and burn it for energy.

In IF, we just increase the time when our body burns stored glucose/fat for all the functions rather than using incoming food energy.

Benefits of IF

The benefits are multi-fold even if one starts with the primary goal of weight loss such as

  • Weight loss, of course
  • Lowered blood sugar/insulin levels
  • Benefits fat loss due to increase in levels of growth hormones (HGH) in body (at least in short term)
  • Aids in repair work in body at cellular level
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Longer life and protection against disease, due to genetic modifications
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Good for cardiac health

IF is also easy as it simplifies the life by saving on efforts and money. No need to look for specific (and expensive) products!

Do remember that IF works for weight loss primarily because you reduce your calorie intake overall. It is more sustainable than a continuous calorie restriction all the time which can be demotivating. If you still binge eat during your eating windows, there might be no benefits for you at all.

What Is Allowed While You Are in IF Period

  • Kuttu poori, yummy fasting dishes, saboodana khichdi etc might be allowed during religious fasting but in IF, the only things allowed are water and tea/coffee without sugar and milk. Try to stay under 50-60 calories if at all you consume these
  • One can take their regular supplements etc. If on any medication, do check with your doctor first
  • One can and should stick to their regular way of life (including workouts) etc while fasting. No need to sleep through the entire fasting period 🙂
  • Eat healthy balanced meals during the eating windows
  • Keep up with your regular fitness regime and include protein in your diet
  • Stay hydrated and keep your diet high on fibre, fruits, nuts, veggies etc when you eat in your eating window

In The End

Intermittent Fasting is generally safe and a widely accepted weight management tool. However if you have any medical issues related to fasting, blood sugar levels or any eating disorders etc, do consult your nutritionist or doctor. Also, if you are underweight or trying to conceive/pregnant/breastfeeding, avoid IF. It is also not advisable for people under 18.

Initially, there might be hunger pangs and you might feel a bit fatigued but soon the body adapts. Remember, it’s all in the mind!

Hope IF works for you. Lot of things work for us if we just start, isn’t it?

Till next Friday

Love, Health and Peace

If Nothing Else, Just Stretch!

Hi friends, happy Friday!

Fridays are the best, aren’t they? With a promise of two days of late sleep-ins, they are a much needed respite from the rest of the week and early-morning online schooling. Can’t wait to send kids to schools again, post vaccination of course!

These days, yoga has become a way of life and Instagram a source of all sorts of guidance as well as inspiration. Seeing other people doing what they love doing, despite all odds, is a great motivation, be it online or the people I see/know.

While doing yoga, half the time goes into warm-ups and the rest into the flow which if you ask me is mostly stretching and holding those stretches. Everyday, I try to stretch a little more, bend a little more, hold a little more…and breathe through it all – that’s what it is for me. Of course, yoga includes a lot more than just stretching…more than physical postures…but stretch you will, in any case!

Yoga or not, it is important to stretch a little everyday. Even if for 15-20 minutes, even if you don’t have time and especially then! When you have no time or energy for any sort of physical activity, stretch is the least one could do.

I used to do stretching post workouts in gym also. However, as I started building muscles (and getting stronger!), I knew I didn’t want to lose my flexibility in the process and I found yoga the best remedy to maintain it. I won’t lie, I started for balance and flexibility however discovered much more along the way! Thus started the next phase of my fitness journey which is an equal combination of gym and yoga both. Then came meditation but that is unfortunately still very irregular.

Why Stretch?

  • To improve flexibility and for better joint/muscle movement
  • Posture correction
  • Prevention of injuries or reducing risk of injuries
  • Reduced muscle soreness or stiffness
  • Relieving post exercise aches/DOMS
  • To improve physical performance
  • To increase blood circulation
  • Decrease the risk of low-back pain
  • For stress relief
  • For calming benefits

A Myth

Believe it or not, stretching is not necessarily a warm-up activity. A warm –up is much advised before you stretch as stretching with cold muscles can lead to injury. Best to start stretching after a bit of warm-up.

The Ideal Way To Stretch

Whether plain stretching or stretching before a workout, best would be to take a short jog to warm up the muscles and then stretch. One can follow up with a workout or any physical activity post that.

In gym, that is why we do cross trainer or treadmill the first thing – to warm up. In Yoga, we do sukshma vyayama (simple joint movements) before we start the stretches and other asanas.

Keep In Mind

  • One can focus on sore or tight muscles first while stretching so they become loose and less rigid with the increased blood flow, if needed
  • Swift movements or bouncing should be avoided to prevent injuries
  • Whether you hold your stretches or do them in sets is up to you and your fitness level. It is always better to start with a short hold and less sets and then gradually increase both
  • Do not overwork an injured muscle if you are already injured

In The End

Stretching is a great way to take a mini-break from a hectic day or a desk-job, to recharge and strengthen you body and mind. All you need to do is to take 20-30 minutes everyday for just stretching if nothing else. Try doing it for 3 days a week at least. In case you wish to increase the flexibility or range of motion, you need to be more regular with stretching.

However, make sue you are stretching right. Stretching incorrectly or making incorrect movements can be harmful. Remember to do everything slowly and gradually.

I hope you found today’s post useful. Do share around if you did. Join me on Instagram on the link below for lots of tips, info and motivation.

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Namaste, Health & Peace

Weight Issues in Pandemic Times?

Hi friends, happy Friday! How is it going?

A few days ago, I did a poll on my Instagram story about how many from my Instagram family are unhappy about their weight gain specifically during this pandemic. There were many reverts about weight gain concerns and a lot of people were not sure about how to manage this weight gain.

Most of the people who were still physically active in some way are doing better and were stable – though some were struggling despite it all.

The situation for the people who for one reason or the other, were not as physically active, was quite unsatisfactory. Many were unhappy about it and it is understandable.

As per a report I was reading last week, around 22% adults in India have gained a significant amount of weight during this pandemic.

There could be many reasons that spoiled someone’s weight management plan and undid all their diet control/hard work of past.

Why Is It Happening?

  • Lack Of An Active Lifestyle – First and the most obvious one is a clear lack of a regular fitness regime. Most of us had to become ‘atmanirbhar’ in so many ways. Without our support system of domestic-helps, the responsibilities at home-front increased multifold.

Managing online schooling for kids and work-from-home took its toll too. This resulted in a lack of time/energy/willpower to pursue a regular fitness routine. I even know a few who had so much workload (or lack of energy) that they had to forego even their normal walks!

  • Stress – This one played a major role too. Stress from increased workload or a challenging work-front or pinched finances or loss of personal time/space or the loss of social life etc resulted in heightened pressure on us all. It got even worse for those who had to battle mental health issues on top of everything else!
  • Too Much Food – The entire family is at home and when that happens, good food flows! Or maybe, too much workload so we ordered out regularly. Or since we had some time at hands, we rekindled our old passion for cooking/baking and well, all that divine food went straight to our tummies!
  • Relying On Processed/Frozen Food – Whether its due to lack of fresh options or lack of time, many of us are eating too much of processed or ready-to-eat food or are ordering in! All such foods are high on sugars and sodium both. Midnight snacking while watching TV doesn’t help either.
  • Mental Health – A few of us ate for comfort, to fight loneliness and to battle anxiety.
  • Closed Gyms/Fitness Centers – With all the fitness centers closed, it has become increasingly difficult to find motivation or guidance. And no, online is just not the same! Not for me at least.

What Can Help?

  • The best way, ideally, would be to find some time even if half an hour…and the willpower to re-start a regular fitness regime. How about 500 rope-skips or a 45-minutes brisk walk whenever you find time (read post here on getting maximum out of your walking)?
  • The second best way, ideally, would be to practice moderation in the diet
  • A very important factor would be hydration. Drink at least 3 litres of plain or flavoured water through out the day, every day
  • Try intermittent fasting
  • Stock your pantry with healthier food and fresh produce as much as possible. You eat what you find when you are hungry, right?
  • Walk while you talk and measure your steps with a simple pedometer. Try setting yourself a target of 10,000 steps a day and achieving it
  • Get adequate sleep, at least 6 hours a day/night

In The End

The one simple rule of weight management is ‘calories in’ vs ‘calories burnt’. Though too simplistic and flawed sometimes, still works majorly. Simply put, if you are burning less, you eat less…preferably eat smarter! Don’t confuse it with starvation, just moderate and prefer healthy over junk.

This coupled with the few pointers above, should get you back in the shape soon. Do let me know what has worked for you so far and what you plan to do more. Just the fact that you want to try and are ready to work for it, is a commendable thing! All the very best!

Do join me on Instagram for more nutrition/fitness related tips and daily dose of motivation.

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Namaste, Health & Peace

Probiotics Part 2: Prebiotics

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How is it going? Apart from the pandemic going on, I feel this is a very good time to take a pause and re-think as well as re-evaluate our life choices. Be it a career, family or health, we can afford to stop and take stock these days. Are we where we want to be? Are we doing what we wanted to do since ever? We have been running, chasing one dream and deadline after another…and in all that, we sometimes forget to appreciate what we already have. We forget to find time for little things in life which actually were why we starting running and chasing in the first place, isn’t it?

After the last post on probiotics, here comes the promised one on prebiotics.

In case the concept of probiotics is of interest to you and ideally it should be, do read my previous post here. To add on to it, today is about prebiotics and how it can help in optimizing our overall health. However, do read the post on probiotics first before you read any further (in case you missed it).

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are food for the healthy microorganisms in our body, mainly digestive system. These are foods that induce the growth and activity of our gut-friendly bacteria and fungi. How does it help our bodies if we already are taking probiotics? Well, taking prebiotics can lead to even healthier digestive system, for one.

Prebiotics do not contain these healthy bacteria themselves (like probiotics do) but rather work as a fuel for the probiotic bacteria. On their own, prebiotics are of no use and only when combined with probiotics, are of any actual use. However, they can be powerful as they can change the composition of the microorganisms of the gut-flora.

There are few foods which combine both probiotics and prebiotics such as cheese, yogurt, kefir etc. Such foods are called synbiotics.

How Does It Work?

It’s all boils down to butyrate (and acetate and propionate…)! Butyrates, a short-chain fatty acid is produced by gut-bacteria. It not only supports the digestive system but helps in boosting immunity. It also takes care of the gut’s lining cells (by being their fuel) and stopping any inflammation happening there – as well as combating against cancer, leaky gut, obesity, diabetes, cholesterol levels and supporting mental health.

Trivia

Prebiotics are smart! They know just to feed the good bacteria so rest assured, they would do their job well. Unlike probiotics, they are quite resistant to heat, stomach acids etc.

Where To Find Prebiotics

Prebiotics are mostly fibre in nature. Our body can’t digest these but the friendly bacteria in our gut, feed on it.  These bacteria in turn, support healthy digestion and immune functions.

Certain foods that are rich in prebiotics are chicory roots, whole grains, bananas, onion, garlic, soyabean, legumes, bananas, asparagus, artichokes, flaxseeds, cocoa etc.

Packaged supplements are available too. Just keep in mind, probiotics and prebiotics go hand in hand.

Benefits Of Prebiotics

Apart from promoting the growth of friendly bacteria in our body and thus improving our overall health and immunity, prebiotics help with many digestive problems and promote a healthier metabolism.

Do read the previous post on probiotics to understand the benefits of probiotics which are all applicable once you take probiotics and prebiotics combined. Taking both together not just keeps you in sound physical health but also improves mental health.

Taking probiotics and prebiotics can also help in weight management if you combine it with a healthy diet with low fat/sugar intake, on a regular basis. Of course, maintaining a regular fitness regime is highly advised for magnified holistic benefits.

However, do know that lot of times, cooking and overcooking many foods can change the fibre content so it’s best to eat them raw and whole.

In The End

Do remember that you don’t need to take a prebiotic for your probiotics to work but taking them together might increase the effectiveness of your probiotics. In case of a specific medical condition especially related to immunity, do consult with your doctor/nutritionist before you start any probiotics/prebiotics.

Do join me on Instagram for more tips, info and daily dose of health/nutrition/motivation. Am going to start a series of weight management tips – general facts as well as from my own experience, on Instagram soon and I am sure you would find them helpful 🙂

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Namaste, Health & Peace