Kanyadaan

Hi friends, happy Friday! How are you all?

Have you read about Dia Mirza’s wedding from a few days back? What I found remarkable about it is that she took a brave and much-needed initiative to make a few changes in the whole way an Indian wedding works.

There was no pomp and no show in her wedding. A close, intimate and sustainable (eco-friendly) ceremony with a female priest and thankfully, no obsolete ritual of kanyadaan.

I am proud that 15 years back, my parents did not ‘’give’’ me away either. There was no need. No approvals were needed, no one protested and no one cared.

I am very much interested in our ancient wisdom and teachings of Vedas. I read a lot on it and though I cannot claim to understand even 1% of this ancient wisdom, I do know that “giving away” a daughter as a “daan (gift/donation)” and relinquishing any claims on her, is mentioned nowhere. Mentioned or not, this one ritual never made any sense to me. No, I am sure that I would not understand any symbolic or spiritual reasons/explanations behind it, have read them all already! 🙂

I am my parents’ daughter and I would always be so. Just because I get another family through marriage doesn’t mean I need to forego my first one. I am always welcome at their place, they at my home and I am here to take care of them, if and when need be. I bet they will do the same. Period.

There can be no ‘punya or moksha’ in “giving away” your precious daughter in my mind and there can be no bigger sin than demanding dowry as well as female-infanticide . I am pretty sure I can collect better karmas and punyas in many other ways 😊.

As per ancient Vedas, bride’s as well as grooms’s consent was must for a wedding and both of them entered the marriage ceremony as equals. There is no mention of kanyadaan anywhere in the Vedas. The first mentions come in Manusmriti and from here, a woman’s place in society started changing a lot. The less said in that regard, the better.

I personally believe in gender-equality and there have been plenty of situations when I held the door open to a man carrying heavy bags or gave my seat to a man carrying a baby. Good manners always look beautiful, regardless of gender or colour.

To me, a marriage or a family is about sharing things/responsibilities with your partner. Everything can be worked out with love, mutual respect and encouragement. There is no way a marriage can be called happy or successful if one of the partners, feels or is made to feel inferior in any way.

Any ritual that does it, should be made obsolete. May be it would be, soon. There are a lot of good things in our value system and traditions but it’s also high time we stop following those that put the gender-equality or humans-equality to risk.

That’s all for today, friends. Hope you agree to what I say and even if you don’t, it’s okay…the world would not change overnight. But, I am hopeful and I would #bethechangethatyouwant.

I generally write about health, fitness and nutrition…sometimes, I also write about life when something touches me deeply. If you want, do join me on Instagram on the link below:

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

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Hybrid vs GMO Produce

Hi Friends, how are you all? How was the week that went by?

On my Instagram story yesterday, I posted about my current fruit-addiction ‘Thai Guava’. Well, it’s a fruit that I got introduced to very recently. It is a guava grown throughout Southeast Asia but now, produced locally even in Maharashtra.

I generally prefer local, seasonal fresh produce as that tends to be less in wax and other preservatives and is…well, fresher. When I tried Thai guava, I was apprehensive initially as I though it’s an import. Later, when I researched more, I came to know that it’s produced locally. Thank God because I love them!

I also prefer my food to be non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms). And food/produce which is made to look better and made to last more on our plates/shelves, doesn’t appeal to me…despite the enhanced beauty.

And apparently there are more like me because on my Instagram story, I got a few queries if Thai guava was a non-GMO. And that is how this post came into being.

The truth is that a lot of fruits and vegetables that we eat are not nature-made. In fact, most of what we eat today is man-made. Oh yes, the orange carrots we love to munch on, were purple in the beginning. The kale and broccoli…the cauliflower…the Honeycrunch apples….all man-made. You won’t be able to eat most of the original versions!

So what exactly is a hybrid and what is a GMO produce?

Hybrid

A hybrid produce is man-made for sure, created either on a farm/plantation or in a lab…by cross-breeding two different but compatible fruits or vegetables. This creates a new variety which could be very different from the parents or just a better version, more suitable for human palette.

Many a times this happens naturally (evolved over a period of time) and sometimes its man-induced. Grapefruits for example is a cross between pomelo and sweet orange. It was a done on a plantation way back in 18th century.

And the banana that is equally loved today all over the world by all the classes…is a hybrid and I bet, you won’t like the original banana at all! A hybrid of two wild species, both unpalatable…our nutritious and humble banana as we know it today, was a natural accident, capitalized upon by human agriculturists however it hasn’t changed genetically.

In case of bananas in India, the popular varieties or ‘cultivars’ are Robusta, Monthan, Poovan, Dwarf Cavendish, Nendran, Red banana, Basrai, Ardhapuri, Nyali, Safed Velchi Rasthali, Karpurvalli, Chinia and many others.

Hybrid fruits/veggies need a lot of care as they are sensitive to their environment. They also don’t reproduce easily on their own and might not stay true to their parents if reproduce at all. They might eventually stabilize and survive on their own.

The hybrids are particularly profitable to the farmers/producers as it produces a consistent, higher yield and is predictable in terms of quality. They are maximized for human-desired traits. This could also make bigger-sized fruits/vegetables with a better taste.

GMO

As per WHO, foods produced using GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) are called GM (Genetically Modified) foods.

This genetical engineering (genetic cloning, protein engineering and kinds) can be done through bacteria, viruses or other plants/animals. It is mostly done to ensure some sort of resistance or tolerance in the produce e.g. a resistance for pesticides that is used to kill the pesty weeds or making the crop resistant to insects. The saved harvest can be high on that pesticide or other ‘un-studied on humans’ chemicals…and this is why GMO is a controversial topic since ever.

For example, GMO corn has a pesticide Bt engineered into its genetic code and this insertion makes it resistant to the pests. Overuse of such corn with a pesticide built into its genes, over a period of time really raises a red flag! However, don’t worry, thatb corn is industrial and the whole sweet corn (including canned/frozen versions) that we eat is most likely not genetically modified. Almost all GM-corn is used as fuel (I am also not sure if ethanol really is environment-friendly to be honest but that’s for another day), livestock feed and processed foods.

Am waiting for the day when it would become compulsory for the producers to label the produce as GMO or otherwise. We deserve to know and make our informed choices on our own, don’t you think?

In The End

Not saying GMO is all bad. There is a reason why such a concept was even introduced and the resultant high-yield, disease free species help in maintaining food supplies all over the world. They are approved by top authorities as safe for human consumption before they reach us. So make sure, they are approved by authorities such as FDA, FSSAI etc

In the end, a few key-points are worth remembering:

  • Hybrids are not genetically modified. They are guided/traditional/controlled cross-pollination in fact
  • Hybrids can be both natural or man-made…in plantations or in labs
  • Hybrids do not have an altered DNA
  • Organic foods are only labeled organic if they do not in any way, use GM products so make sure you know how to identify truly organic products/produce
  • Read your labels carefully as almost 50% of imported packaged food today have either wheat or corn in them, one way or other and…are also found to be GM positive
  • India allows import of GM soyabean and canola oil however the only GM crop approved for cultivation in India is Bt Cotton (because of many crop failures in past in the cotton belt area, I believe)
  • Cultivation of unapproved GM crops in India, is a punishable offence. Yey!

We are lucky that India still manufactures most of its produce non-GMO and many attempts to introduce them to Indian consumers in past, have been not allowed yet e.g. BT brinjal, Protato (protein rich potato) and GM mustard etc

However, let’s stay aware of what we consume and make a habit of reading the labels well. Till the time we have a definite answer to the question whether GM produce/crops are safe or not, better stay wary…and aware.

Do join me on Instagram on the link below for much more like this…on health, fitness, nutrition and awareness, on a regular basis.

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

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Never A Bad Time To Start

Hi friends, happy Friday! How is it all going?

Hope you all have finally adjusted and settled down somewhere between the pandemic-related anxiety and the courage to re-start the life, though of course, with due adaptation to the new normal.

I have, I guess. Though we still take care to sanitize everything, to wash hands frequently, to wearing the masks when out, we still order most things online and the online-schooling isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, I am sure. However now, the kids go down to play, the office is open and client-meetings have started in person!

A fresh breather came in the form of me starting my gym-routine again, finally. Though, it has been hard starting from ground-50 (I totally made that term up!)…once again sweating, panting, pushing, pulling…gradually increasing the reps and weights…even if at half the strength and endurance.

From what was a hard-earned good level of strength-training for me, to falling back and beginning again from ‘mid-way’ levels – has been almost disappointing. Oh no! It didn’t take me by surprise, I anticipated it but still.

Nonetheless, I am happy to be back. Not complaining a bit! I am not starting from ground zero and I am making quick progress. The hard-work hasn’t gone all waste!

So, why am I saying all this to you? How does it matter to you what happens with me?

Let me tell you why. I would be a super-rich woman if I get 100/- for every time someone told me that the reason that they don’t go to the gym (or do anything for health/fitness, for that matter) is because they “know” that the moment they stop, it all comes back…the weight usually!

They say it because they haven’t figured it out, yet! They say it because they haven’t started, yet!

If they ever start, they would learn the truth quickly. And the truth is that you never go back completely…your hard work is never wasted…your recovery the next time is much faster. And it’s never a bad time to start!

Once you get used to any fitness regime or eating healthy foods, you can never go back. Your body won’t let you!

It pays tremendously to be fit and healthy! You would not only feel less tired but calmer mentally! The joints would pain less and the back would be stronger. You would be able to run with your kids/dog much more and the sleep would be more peaceful. Not to mention the BP, sugar levels and osteoporosis…all under control.

So when are you starting? Someone who is at least making an effort or has started…is already way ahead of someone who is still busy finding excuses. Do start soon. And do join me on Instagram for little tips on health, nutrition and motivation, everyday.

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

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Part 1: Understanding Menopause

Hi Friends

Happy Friday! How are you all?

Today’s post is something that I have recently researched a lot on. One of my close friends is undergoing a ‘surgical menopause‘ (due to ovarian cyst) and the sudden stopping of hormone supply in her body has left her very disturbed: physically and mentally. The symptoms associated with menopause is what makes the word itself scary, to me and I am sure, to everyone else.

I am a strict follower of the notion that most of our life-problems can be cured/reversed/prevented/managed/maintained through suitable nutrition combined with some lifestyle changes (which invariably includes physical fitness). This belief led me to read and research more on menopause and related things – which I now want to share with you.

I am sure it is important for women to know what to expect so as to cope better when menopause happens. And it is equally important for men too , in order to be supportive when it happens.

First, What Is Menopause?

Menopause is the final period for a woman which occurs when ovaries stop producing the governing hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. It is considered confirmed when no periods happen for 12 consecutive months.  It is not a reversible process.

I have seen many friends and family members including my mom, go through it and experiencing a lot of discomfort, due to it all.

Did You Know?

Like the start of periods, to predict someone’s menopausal age, it is often said to look at the mother. The daughter is more likely to get both – periods and menopause, at the same age as her mother. So, genetics works yes. Do you also know that ‘genetics’ can be changed by nutrition and physical fitness? But more on that, some other day!

Types/Causes of Menopause

  • Naturally Occurring – Most common form, natural menopause happens between the age of 40 to 58. It happens gradually over a period of years – ranging from 4 to 10 years
  • Premature Menopause – Happens before the age of 40, premature menopause is considered abnormal and is often associated with autoimmune disorders as well as increased risk of developing osteoporosis
  • Induced Menopause – Happens when ovaries get injured in some way or with chemotherapy, radiation or a surgery. Induced or surgical menopause is sudden and the symptoms could be intense, as you are left unprepared

Other Associated Terms

  • Perimenopause – starts happening in 40s commonly. Might induce weight gain, mood swings, irregular periods etc. Since menopause doesn’t happen overnight normally, the ovaries gradually decrease the production of hormones. This gradual process can take several years and is often referred to as menopausal transition, average being 4 years. Some months, the hormone production could be normal, in some not so normal. However, many women do not get any symptoms till actual menopause
  • Premenopause – no changes or symptoms per say, just a gradual shift in the body/hormones
  • Postmenopause – means the period after menopause

Menopausal Symptoms – Different for every woman and ranging from mild to severe, menopausal (or perimenopausal) symptoms include:

  • Lighter and irregular periods in general
  • Hot flashes/flushes – ranging from moderate to severe, these could also bring anxiety or heart palpitations/racing heart issues. Lasting for 1-5 minutes and can occur once every day….to many per day!
  • Vaginal dryness – due to a lack of oestrogen, the walls lose moisture as well as volume and become dry, getting easily irritated
  • Dry skin, mouth and eyes
  • Disturbed sleep, insomnia, night sweating etc
  • Emotional symptoms – anxiety, depression, mood swings
  • Weight gain – especially in waist region, this type of weight gain is quite unhealthy and increases the risk of heart concerns
  • Memory or concentration issues
  • Tender breasts
  • UTIs and urinary-inconsistency
  • Headaches
  • Reduced muscle mass
  • Hair thinning/loss on head
  • Joint pains

The first thing to do when one start experiencing menopausal or premenopausal symptoms, is to see a good gynaecologist. When I say good, I mean someone who would be patient enough to explain everything and answer all our queries. It is a taxing time for women – physically and mentally, both. A difficult or ‘too busy’ doctor would be the last thing we would want, right?

There are various tests to confirm the menopause process which the doctor might suggest. Also, you already might be on certain medications or might require additional investigation for let’s say, thyroid etc.

In The End

Menopause is simply a part of the process of getting older, not a disease. The good news is that in naturally occurring menopause, most women do not require any medical treatment. One can always discuss hormone-replacement therapies and other medication (for severe symptoms) as well as supplements (calcium/D3 etc) with their gynaecologist, if needed.

One would also benefit greatly with certain lifestyle changes such as a good, balanced diet, meditation and some sort of physical activities. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol-intake helps too. Some strength-training would be great as we start losing muscles as well as have weaker bones now. Make sure to talk to a mental health expert in case you face any sort of stress that you feel unable to cope with, on your own.

This was all for today’s post on the basics of menopause. In the next post, let’s discuss various things/changes and foods (including phytoestrogens) that might help with the menopausal/perimenopausal symptoms once you are through with your preliminary visit to the gynaecologist in this regard.

Meanwhile if you are interested in understanding olive oil and various facts/myths associated with it, do keep checking my Instagram stories.

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

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Arsenic In Our Rice

Hi friends, how are you all? Hope all good.

As for me, I feel a little restless for the last few days. The time that we live in today, seems like a very disappointing situation to me especially since I read about arsenic in our rice. I mean, we keep reading about even worse stuff all the time…animal cruelty and exploitation of natural resources etc but there is some feeling of betrayal with the issue of arsenic in rice and say, if you still remember, in salt a few months back when found with high levels of potassium ferrocyanide? Don’t you feel disappointed too?

We humans, in our greed and carelessness over decades, have altered so many natural processes in our bio-environment and that too with huge long-term impacts that direct and indirect effects/consequences  are coming back to haunt us eventually.

Whole life-cycles have turned dangerous for many things…what we thought was a simple nutritious thing like rice, has become a major cause of concern now! Things have become so complicated these days…with genetically modified fruits and vegetables…to waxed produce…to cyanide in food, to lead in noodles…to the supermarket shelves full of refined products…to the various scams of misinformation on the labels, it is no wonder that most of us end up with low immunities and unexplained allergies as well as all kinds of diseases.

At first I thought this ‘arsenic in rice’ issue is just a shocker (plenty of those come, from time to time!) and half-baked information to scare us but the more I read, the more I realize it’s true and scarier in reality. Imagine we Indians start the food for a baby when she/he turns 6 months, with rice-milk kheer/pudding!

What Is Arsenic?

No doubt that Arsenic is a highly toxic trace element. It is naturally present in many forms in air, water and soil but today, the levels are alarmingly increasing beyond ‘safe’ levels due to increasing pollution, mostly through pesticides/herbicides that we spray on our crops. Its various forms can be divided into two categories:

  • Organic Arsenic – combined with carbon, found in plants and animals both
  • Inorganic Arsenic – not combined with carbon but with other elements, inorganic is the more toxic form. It is often found dissolved in water and in soil

Did You Know?

Arsenic is naturally present in most food and the water that we drink, all over the world. Some places the levels are low and at some, serious enough. Most seafood also contain the less toxic organic form of arsenic.

In general, arsenic leaves human body in a few days but inorganic arsenic tends to remain even for months, making it a concern.

How Does It All Start With Rice?

Rice is a staple food for Indians as well as many communities, all over the world. Rice is more prone to accumulate arsenic because it grows in water-filled fields, or rather polluted water fields! Rice crops absorb more water in general and the contaminated water as well as the soil (over time) make it worse!

And this arsenic is the more toxic one i.e. inorganic arsenic. This arsenic enters the food-chain through this contaminated water and gets accumulated in the plants and eventually in us humans as well as other animals (read meat).

Not just rice, it also passes on to the widely available rice-based products such as baby food, rice cereals and rice syrups etc.

Where Does This Toxic Arsenic Come From?

Majorly through human activities (not surprisingly!) such as herbicides/pesticides, fertilizers, wood preservatives, coal burning, industrial waste and mining etc. Not just leeching into our crops etc, it also contaminates ground water such as water-wells and irrigation water etc

This inorganic arsenic is highly toxic and frequent exposure to it may cause many fatal diseases such as cancer (lung, skin and bladder mostly), high blood pressure, heart diseases, diabetes and various neurological disorders. The worst part is that a fetus can get affected before she/he is even born. Even a baby, with so little of body weight is more vulnerable to the levels of arsenic in her/his food.

Small doses can cause headaches, stomach aches, drowsiness, confusion and diarrhea etc.

What Can Be Done?

It is practically impossible to test and certify every bag of rice or a rice product though it needs to be done now. Till then, we need to take things in our own hands:

  • Make sure you eat a varied diet and not just rice all the time. This would decrease your exposure to the arsenic in rice. In fact, eating a balanced and varied diet is always advised, arsenic or no. Amaranth, buckwheat and millet have almost zero arsenic content and barley has very low levels. Quinoa has much lesser than rice. Oats is good choice too
  • Wash the rice in clean, filtered water before cooking. Though this reduces the arsenic contamination by a small percentage only
  • While cooking, make sure you first leave the rice in clean filtered, boiled water for 5 minutes in 6:1 ratio, 6 being water. Throw this water after 5 minutes and cook the rice normally (like we do pasta). This might reduce the arsenic content by around 60%. Though it would reduce nutrition also. You see why I feel betrayed?
  • Some studies suggest that basmati rice has relatively lower arsenic content. In this sense, we Indians are luckier than most!
  • Brown rice has been found to have more arsenic content than white rice as the arsenic gets accumulated in the bran. And we thought brown was better than white because of this bran!!
  • Do know that it doesn’t matter much whether your rice is organic or wild or red, in terms of arsenic contamination as it comes from the soil/water which can retain inorganic arsenic for more than 50 years
  • Veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, kale etc are found to help with better toxin flush-out in our bodies as they contain a compound called sulforaphane
  • Work on your gut-health
  • Some brands already do (hopefully more would start now) publish on their product-labels, their independent testing for arsenic levels
  • Be very careful while choosing rice and rice-products for babies as they have less body weight
  • People who are on gluten-free diets need to be all the more careful if their gluten-free diet is rich in rice

In The End

The only solace in this whole arsenic-rice saga is that arsenic is water soluble and hence leaves our bodies in a few days if our exposure is limited. We can adopt a cooking method which would remove a lot of contamination. Also a varied diet with more grains etc, can reduce our risk.

And very important, as humans let’s work in some way, in our own capacity to keep our planet a little safer by being more vigilant and thoughtful. Hard and inconvenient but there is no easy way, is there?

Hope you found today’s post relevant and useful. Do share around to your friends and family. Join me on Instagram on link below:

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

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

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

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