25 small ways to a big life change

25 small ways to a big life change

Don’t always blame the pesticides, the pollution, the multitasking robotics, the traffic jams and the genes. Or the pressure of taking those huge, strategic steps to get closer to the next big promotion.

What are the hazards of life in our cities? The statistics are alarming: The World Diabetes Foundation’s 2010 data shows India’s diabetic population at 50.8 million, the world’s largest. The Cardiology Society of India estimates the coronary artery disease (CAD) prevalence at 1.8% of India’s population, i.e., around 20 million patients. Around 60 million people in India suffer from cardiovascular diseases, including CAD and hypertension, according to 2007 data from the American College of Cardiology. The concrete and immediate concern then is: How do you live lighter, happier and better despite the Sisyphean wheel you are pushing? We looked for practical, easy-to-do things that can make a big difference.

Mumbai-based fitness expert Rujuta Diwekar has a holistic way of looking at eating and living—she calls herself an “intelligent food" expert. Trained in sports nutrition, she combines this with grandmother’s knowledge of healing and rejuvenating food to develop a brand of wellness that is effective and easy to follow.

Diwekar became famous owing to her celebrity client Kareena Kapoor. Kapoor supposedly followed her prescription of “eating more to lose weight", which contributed to her size zero figure. But as we found, “size zero" does not exist in Diwekar’s own dictionary. Her two books, including the last, Women and the Weight Loss Tamasha, have shattered many myths surrounding crash diets.

Diwekar prescribes 25 small things that can change your life, starting today.

SET THE MEAL CLOCK

Eat small meals every 2 hours rather than three heavy meals.

THE 4-6PM POWER SNACK

The working population of the world goes hungry between 4pm and 6pm. Your work is not over, but your productivity is dipping after spending more than 5 hours at office, giving your best. It is the most important meal of the day—it will help you physically and emotionally. If you are hungry at this time, you will overeat at dinner and no matter what you eat then, you will not be satisfied. Have a small meal between 4pm and 6pm that includes carbohydrates, protein and fat.

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THE COLOUR OF WATER

Look at the colour of your urine. If it is not the colour of transparent water, you need to double your intake of water. There’s no fixed amount that every person should drink. It varies from season to season and your work environment. During summer the body requires much more water. But anyone who works in an air-conditioned office, which is virtually all of us, doesn’t get clear thirst signals. All of us are dehydrated, and the hydration status of our body directly affects the ways our kidneys and heart function.

SLURP THE MANGO

LIFT THE DUMB-BELLS

The benefits of weight-training are misunderstood. It is not just for Hrithik Roshan and bodybuilders. Weight-training done under the guidance of a qualified trainer will help people of all ages and with all kinds of ailments, especially diabetes and heart disease. Being the diabetic capital of the world, we need to start lifting weights. It protects and builds muscles in our organs, including the heart, which build the body’s stamina and strength. Do weight-training at least four times a month.

A WORKOUT IS LIKE A BATH

WHAT KIND OF ‘FAT’ ARE YOU?

At least once a year, get a fitness assessment study done by a qualified fitness expert. Many gyms in your city can do it. This study breaks up your fitness levels into three categories: cardiorespiratory fitness, flexibility and body composition. You will know your strong and weak areas and can take better decisions about diet and exercise.

THE HUNGRY POST-WORKOUT HOURS

Many people who exercise regularly look tired and unhealthy. That’s because they don’t attend to the body’s needs after an intense workout. The first hour after a workout should be for rehydration, the second hour requires replenishing glycogen storage (sugar and carbohydrates in muscles), the third hour is for repairs and the fourth, for providing the body vital vitamin supplements. Soon after your workout, have enough water, a banana, a protein shake and some vitamin supplements.

ANY TIME IS A GOOD WORKOUT TIME

Whether you’re walking, working out in a gym or doing yoga, choose the right time for you. You should not be distracted or rushed by anything. It can be 11am or 9pm, the effect of a good workout is the same.

THE IDIOT BOX CALORIES

While eating, don’t watch TV or a movie; you are bound to overeat. Eat with all your senses. Move the TV out of your bedroom, otherwise your sleep will be disturbed. It will affect your digestion, absorption of food, increase stress levels and disturb the hormonal balance. It also causes puffy eyes and dark circles under them. Watching TV just before sleep leads to similar problems. People who have a TV in their bedroom are usually fat or will get fat.

EYES AND MIND WIDE OPEN

If you change your alarm to snooze mode every morning, chances are you have not had a good night’s sleep. The number of hours varies from person to person, but the quality of good, restorative sleep is universal. Eat your dinner at least 2 hours before you go to bed. Avoid anything sweet or with sugar and caffeine after dinner. They are irritants to your nervous system and stress the body while you’re asleep. When the body is not rested, it cannot burn calories, and appetite also suffers.

BROWN IS NOT COOL

DON’T VEGETATE ON SUNDAYS

Sundays should not be compensation days for sleeping and eating. It destroys the body’s pattern and pressurizes its metabolic capacity. Be active on weekends and don’t eat food that is drastically different from what you eat during the week.

‘GHEE’, THE MAGIC POTION

Oil is crucial to a healthy life. It should be the right kind of oil such as groundnut oil or olive oil, and in small amounts. Besides oil, have 2 teaspoons of ghee in your daily diet. You will start losing weight. Ghee has essential fatty acids and vitamins which are crucial for the sharp functioning of the brain, lubrication of your joints and a healthy skin. It also helps you go into restorative sleep. Try ghee instead of sleeping pills.

THE BIOMECHANICS OF FEET

MIX CARB, PROTEIN AND FIBRE

Many fancy diets prescribe against mixing protein and carbohydrates in your diet. It is a myth that you lose weight because of this. You are losing weight because you are eating less when you’re on a diet, not because you are not eating protein and carbohydrates together. If you let go of protein for days, your body will seek it. It’s the same with carbohydrates. The body is most satisfied with a wholesome meal of small portions.

YOUR OWN LITTLE GREEN PATCH

One of your goals should be to own a farm, even a very small one, close to the city you live in. Being involved with the food-growing process will make you want to eat fresh. In your flat, grow coriander in a small pot. You will see the difference between that and what you buy from your vegetable vendor. It will make you want to go far to seek fresh vegetables.

A HOBBY IS CATHARTIC

Pursue something that you love doing besides your job, socializing and spending time with family. It makes your weekend more active and will help you mentally as well as physically. There’s a sense of peace to people who do something only for themselves, just because they enjoy doing it.

WHISKY OR WINE, AFTER OR ALONG WITH YOUR MEAL

THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES

Don’t judge your body by the size of your cheeks. Stop obsessing about hiding your body parts with flattering clothes and looking at yourself in the mirror. You’ll look old, tired and diffident.

YOGA IS NOT FOR FRIVOLOUS GAINS LIKE WEIGHT LOSS

THE EARLY MORNING CAFFEINE KICK

Don’t brew your coffee or tea first thing in the morning. There’s nothing cool about having an exotic brand of coffee served to you in bed. It jerks your system into working at a pace that changes as the day progresses. The metabolic rate is disturbed and fat burning is reduced.

ALOE VERA JUICE IS A WASTE OF MONEY

Don’t buy the aloe vera juice or amla juice available in the market. Real and effective changes for the good can only take place if there’s an overall change in the way you eat, exercise, sleep and think. There are no quick fixes. If you are not happy and healthy, a shot of aloe vera can’t do wonders. Eat a fresh amla sometimes instead.

WISDOM OF THE HIMALAYAS

Because of the ecosystem and terrain, the Himalayas are naturally restorative. Many gyms have introduced latitude training, which is naturally possible if you walk in the Himalayan region. Its herbs, fruits and fragrances are good for the body and mind. After a long trip, you come back with the wisdom to live better.

THROW AWAY THE WEIGHING SCALES

Your body weight, as shown by a simple weighing scale, is not an indicator of your health. Weighing scales can’t tell you whether your weight gain is because of fat build-up or muscle growth and can often mislead you to crash diets and wrong exercises. Constant weight checks can cause unnecessary stress.

As told to Sanjukta Sharma.

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