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All future blog posts will be available on http://www.ziptofitness.com
Thank you for following me.
All future blog posts will be available on http://www.ziptofitness.com
Lockdown, Stay/Shelter at home, Circuit Breakers, Curfew, Quarantine – Who would have thought that the whole world would be experiencing this most unusual, extraordinary situation, where all of us are forced to Be Home and Social Distancing would be key to our survival?
Masks, Gloves, Santitizers would be essentials along with Vegetables, Groceries and yes, Toilet Paper would be more expensive than Oil for a day !
Welcome to the World of Lockdown.
After being over 7 weeks in the confines of my apartment building ( and possibly another 4 more weeks to go) , it has given me a lot of time to reflect and think, and focus on what is truly “essential” in our lives. And I realised that what we NEED is very different from what we DESIRE. And that happiness is how YOU and I and each individual defines it.
In this blog Lockdown is used as an Acronym and each alphabet stands for an experience or a feeling/thought in the last 7 weeks .
L : LEARN A NEW SKILL
What better opportunity than at this time to Learn something New. Join an online course, take up that hobby that you have been thinking of for the last 20 years, learn a language, music, cooking. There are so many options available to us. My teenage daughter decided to learn embroidery and is transforming all our jeans. I started an online Yoga class 4 weeks back.
O : OPTIMISM AND POSITIVE THOUGHTS
This was one of my Health Mantras that I had written about in my earlier blogs. Think Happy Thoughts – think of moments, people that have made you smile. Do things that make you Laugh.
Most of us, at some stage in the last few months, have gone through thoughts of immense sadness, disbelief and fear. It is in these times that we should not underestimate the power of positive thinking.
While it’s unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience health benefits and higher immunity, one theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body.
C : COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
Think of all that is wonderful in your life. Be grateful for your family, your health, your life. Accept the new normal and don’t overthink. People who often wonder if the glass is half empty or half full, miss the point. The glass is refillable.
K : KEEP FIT AND ACTIVE
Excerise Daily. It not only helps you look good, it makes you feel good.
One of the key benefits of exercise is that it is an incredible stress reliever and releaser. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by the body when it is under stress or when one is anxious or scared. Exercise not only helps burn Cortisol, it also releases a chemical called Endorphins, which creates a positive feeling in the body, leading to reduced stress.
During the lockdown I have been exercising twice a day. Am discovering new online fitness classes and YouTube videos and making the most of the time at hand to learn them. In these uncertain times, exercise uplifts my mood.
D : DECLUTTER
I define decluttering as first identifying what one does not need and then go about eliminating that – One will automatically end up with what one actually needs.
From the kitchen to the bathroom to the bedroom, declutter your home.
Not only the house, declutter your mind, remove all the unnecessary noise and thoughts from your head. Instead, focus on what is fulfilling and makes you happy.
This lockdown time has also made me realise what is ” essential” , and not only the material possessions, but also relationships. Who are your ” magic people” – for me it’s my family, friends, who have made my life happy in so many ways and I think of all the incredibly happy moments that I have been fortunate to experience with them. And I have been connecting with them through the lockdown.
O : ONLINE CONNECTIONS
How much time have we been spending online. Whether it is reading the news, doing an online course, exercise classes, WhatsApp and Facebook and Instagram.
There is so much information out there that one can get lost in the World Wide Web.
Curate your social media. Be selective of what you want to follow and read daily. Listen online to playlists that touch your soul. Connect online via multiple media platforms and do video calls with your ” magic people”. Connect online with what you are passionate about, what gives you a sense of purpose and fulfillment and contentment and peace of mind.
W : WORK FROM HOME
WFH has become the new normal. Who would have thought that one could transition into a work from home environment and can efficiently meet the work requirements without the need of an office space or physical social interaction with co- workers. As humans we learn to adapt. I created a daily schedule from 9:30am to 6pm. It not only helps maintain discipline but also sanity and keeps the mind occupied and busy, and makes the week day feel as close to normal ie pre-corona days.
N : NEW BEGINNINGS
No matter where we are, the world post Covid, post lockdown will be different..we will also not be the same. We cannot look at the past to define the future. We have to approach our lives with a fresh outlook.
New Start, New Beginnings, A New Life !
I believe in four essential pillars when it comes to Health and Wellbeing.
Exercise, Nutrition, Not getting Stressed and Sleep.
Of these four, in my opinion, Sleep is the most critical and yet most underrated and undervalued by all.
Why is it then that I call Sleep – The Elixir of life. It is because Sleep has a strong influence on the other three key health pillars.
Pillar 1 : Exercise
Poor Sleep leads to Weight Gain !
How many times have you heard this ? While the effect of sleep on weight gain is believed to be mediated by numerous factors including hormones and motivation to exercise, my thoughts on this are very simple.
When you get good quality sleep, you will wake up refreshed and energetic and will not only be eager to exercise, but impact of that exercise will also be more effective.
Pillar 2 : Nutrition
Lack of Sleep leads to Obesity !
Studies show that sleep-deprived individuals have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more calories. Essentially, Sleep deprivation also increases levels of the hormone ghrelin, which is known to stimulate the appetite. Further, not only one eats more, but there is a tendancy to consume unhealthy food. And that also impacts your ability to sleep. We all know how high-sugar, high-carbohydrate, heavily-processed foods impact our sleep. So it becomes a vicious cycle.
Pillar 3 : Not getting Stressed
Sleeplessness leads to Stress !
Most studies talk about how Stress leads to Lack of Sleep. However, in my view, the impact of Sleep on Stress is far greater than the other way round. Why do I say that?
If you don’t sleep enough at night, your body boosts its levels of stress hormones. The brain chemicals connected with deep sleep are the same ones that tell the body to stop the production of stress hormones. As a result, when you don’t sleep well, your body keeps pumping out those hormones The next day, you feel more stressed, the following night you find it harder to fall asleep, and so on.
I have written in an earlier blog on how to get oneself to sleep well, have shared some habits that I found have helped me tremendously.
Yes my friends, Sleep is the secret to a long and healthy and happy life ! You need to develop your own routine and habits that help you sleep. It is the biggest gift you can give to yourself – A Good Night’s Sleep !
Bon Nuit Mes Amis.
Drinking pickle juice! Really ?!
The briny liquid which is used to preserve the delicious, crunchy, tasty pickles that we all love to eat as an accompaniment to our main dish – drink that ?
Yes ! And there are several reasons to consider it. Pickle juice does more than just add flavor to your favourite side dish.
So, Pickles have been around for thousands of years. According to the New York Food Museum, the history of cucumbers dates back to 2030 BC when cucumbers were first brought over from India to the Tigris Valley, and people had to figure out a way to preserve them for that journey.
Athletes have been sipping this briny beverage for years too. At first Experts didn’t know all the reasons why pickle juice was good to drink after exercising. It just seemed to help relieve cramps and stopped cramping faster than drinking water.
So why does this happen ?
Pickle juice contains sodium, potassium and vinegar. When playing sport, especially in a hot and humid environment, the body loses salt and sodium, which pickle juice helps restore.
That still doesn’t explain how it relieves cramping. What actually happens is when you drink this briny liquid, it triggers a reflex in your mouth that sends a signal to the muscles to stop the cramping. Hence, it is recommended at the onset of a cramp.
It is particularly effective to treat cramps when the weather conditions are hot and humid, and the sport event lasts long like a marathon, a football match going into extra time, a five setter tennis match, a cricket match where batsman bats the whole day etc.
I came across this juice recently when I saw an India cricket team batsman , Cheteshwar Pujara , drinking it in a match played recently in Australia. And I saw a couple of the tennis players having it during the just concluded Australian Open at Melbourne.
Not only does it contain antioxidants, it is said to help control blood sugar levels and boost your gut health.
And to top it all – it is actually good for your breath. That is because it kills the bacteria in your mouth that are the primary cause for bad breath.
Are you ready to try the briny liquid now?
Did you know that you burn an average of 50 calories more per hour by just standing ?
” Sitting is the new Smoking”, ” The chair is out to kill”.
These phrases were coined by Dr James Levine , Professor of Medicine at Mayo Clinic.
Numerous articles have been written on the dangers of excessive sitting and how sitting or lying down for too long increases your risk of chronic health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
Sitting for extended periods of time also leads to lower back pain. This is because 90 pct more pressure is applied on that area when you sit.
Man was meant to move !
Dr Joan Vernikos is a former director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division and the author of the book ” Sitting Kills, Moving Heals – How Everyday movement will prevent pain, illness and early death – and Exercise alone won’t”. In her words ” We were not designed to sit. The human body is a perpetual motion machine”.
In other words exercise alone does not negate the damage that extended periods of sitting leads to. The cure for too much sitting cannot be too much exercise. You cannot offset 7-8 hours of sitting with one hour of exercise.
I recently updated my Instagram handle ” ziptofitness” with this picture.
Scientists claim that our metabolism slows down by close to 90 percent after we sit for 30 minutes. The muscles in our lower body start turning off.
The chair at work is one of the biggest threats to our health. Researchers today are supporting the claims by Dr Levine and that of standing desks at work. Lots of corporates and institutions today have adopted them in their work environment too.
So what can one do?
If you get up for barely 5 minutes, every half an hour, it keeps your metabolism in check. It’s that simple. For students, for office going people this is very important.
Set an alert on your phone or your fitness band.
Take your phone calls standing or walking.
Instead of using the office phone to speak to a colleague, walk across to talk to them.
Just Move !
Are you looking for nutritional, healthy, immune- boosting, disease fighting, longevity promoting foods ? Look no further. Here come the G-BOMBS!
I came across this acronym while watching a Ted Talk “I love Nutritional Science” by Dr Joel Fuhrman, recorded in 2013.
Recently, I have been watching a lot of Ted Talks on various topics. Sports, Fitness, Well Being, Nutrition, Food, Healthy eating, all this while sweating it out one hour on the treadmill – ” Multi Tasking” I call it .
So what are G-BOMBS?
GREENS BEANS ONIONS MUSHROOMS BERRIES SEEDS. The 6 most healthy foods to include in your diet.
G-BOMBS is an acronym, coined by Dr Joel Fuhrman, a Food Revolution Expert, author of the book Eat to Live and the book Eat to Health. Dr Fuhrman describes G – Bombs as the best anti-cancer, health-promoting foods on the planet
What stuck me was that it was such a simple acronym and so very easy to remember and include in your daily diet. We come across a plethora of articles and TV and YouTube programs on nutritional eating, micro macro nutrients and they sound more and more complex and difficult to follow with the most exotic ingredients. This was not only easy to understand , but also to include as part of my daily diet.
So how do I include them in my diet everyday.
G : GREENS
Did you know that our closest living relatives – chimpanzees and gorrilas – consume tens of pounds of green leaves every day ?
How many of us heard our grandmother say ” eat green vegetables, they are good for the eyes”.
I include one green vegetable every day in my meal , either lunch or dinner – leafy greens salad, broccoli, spinach, bok-choy, green beans or Indian Saag. You can have it as an accompaniment to your meat, fish or as a main meal.
Amongst the host of properties what I would like to point out is that leafy greens is a plant protein that is packed with beneficial phytochemicals. Green vegetables ( such as broccoli ) are also rich in folate (the natural form of folic acid), calcium, and contain small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Leafy vegetables are also anti-oxidants and said to promote healthy vision.
B : BEANS
How many of you love Rajma ( accompanied with rice) or Cholas/Channas ( accompanied with Bhaturas, Puris, Rotis)? Or baked beans on toast ?
Very easy to include this on a daily basis in one meal – breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Beans act as an anti-diabetes and weight-loss food because they are digested slowly, having a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, which promotes satiety and helps to prevent food cravings. Plus they contain soluble fiber, which lowers cholesterol levels ( Source : National Centre for Biotechnology USA and US National Library of Medicine).
O : ONIONS
Staple diet in India. We put onions in almost every food item, including our masala omlettes ! Ayurveda recommends starting the day with eating raw onions and lemon water.
I love onions raw or cooked or pickled in vinegar. The easiest of the G-BOMBS to include in your daily diet.
Other than their anti carcinogenic properties, onions have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular and immune systems, as well as anti-diabetic effects.
M : MUSHROOMS
Given my love for the fungi family I eat them on pizzas, as a vegetable, with pasta, risotto, in a vegetable biryani, in quinoa, boiled in a salad.
And today you get a variety of mushrooms – Portobello, Shiitaki, Button, Oyster, Enoki. It can be included in various cuisines – Indian, Chinese, Italian, Mexican.
I sometimes just do a simple cheese n mushroom sandwich at lunch or a mushroom soup
Consuming mushrooms regularly is associated with decreased risk of breast, stomach, and colorectal cancers.
B : BERRIES
I eat them with my breakfast cereal, or yoghurt or between meals, easy to include them as your fruit snack every day.
The first Super Food, Berries are some of the highest antioxidant foods in existence. Not only are they an excellent food for the brain, but their plentiful antioxidant content confers both cardio-protective and anti-cancer effects.
S : SEEDS
Countless studies have shown the cardiovascular benefits of seeds. Seeds and nuts contain healthy fats and are rich in a spectrum of micronutrients, including phytosterols, minerals, and antioxidants.
Today they are considered as Super Foods – flaxseeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds.
I include them with my breakfast cereal every day. If I don’t have cereal for breakfast, then will include them in a salad or have them with yoghurt.
For more on Dr. Fuhrman talk on nutrition and G-BOMBS watch his TED Talk below. You could fast forward to 6 mins when he starts talking about G-BOMBS. He calls them “immune system special forces.”
From diet books to fitness magazines to Facebook and Instagram feeds we see a plethora of articles on Clean Eating. #cleaneating has over 60 million followers !
But, has this craze and obsession with Healthy Eating taken a life of its own ?
Today, our Supermarkets are full of Clean Eating products – Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free, Oil Free, Salt Free, Grain Free, Raw Juices , Whole Wheat Breads, Organic Eggs, Bee Free Honey, Vegan cheese….. it’s endless.
What is Clean Eating?
Simply put, Clean Eating is eating whole foods or ” real” foods, those that are un or minimally processed, refined, making them as close to their natural form as possible.
An extension of Clean Eating are the various Diets – Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Dairy free, Atkins Diet, Carb Free, Raw Food Diet, Zone Diet.
All this promises to rid our bodies of toxins and make us fit and healthy.
But does it do that ?
I believe in healthy eating. But this obsession , in my view, has taken an unhealthy turn. What should be a simple awareness of food and it’s properties, has today become an unhealthy following of fad driven diets. One day we don’t eat oils, another day we give up dairy products, next we remove salts from our diets, and then we move to only raw foods…….where does this stop.
What alerted me to this unhealthy obsession was when I recently met a friend who said she had been feeling very weak. She had been advised to go off oil, rice and sugar and cut down on salty food. She had been eating mostly raw food or boiled food, snacking on popcorn and fruit and sipping green tea whole day. Her blood pressure had dropped and energy levels were at an all time low. She had also started losing hair. This was alarming. I told her to start adding oil and salt in small quantities to her diet and it helped in restoring her energy levels and bring her blood pressure to normal.
This unhealthy obsession with Clean Food diets is leading to eating disorders and serious health issues.
Basically we have started replacing our normal everyday food with food items that are alien to our diet. We are so busy eliminating food items, that we are ignoring the fact that our body needs everything in moderation. Different foods add different proteins and vitamins to our bodies. What we need is Sensible Eating. It is all about balance in your diet not exclusion which Clean Eating promotes as it focuses on what food is “clean” and what is not. Some experts believe elimination of any food item is not good. It is a question of quantity and moderation.
As the saying goes “Too much of anything is bad”…..including too much of Clean Eating. So go have that ice cream, or garlic bread – as long as it does not become an obsession !
Bon Appetit !
This blog is inspired by my recent trip to Viking Land.
I was on a 10 day road trip in Iceland. Glaciers, Floating Icebergs, Magnificent Waterfalls, Volcanic Craters, Lava Fields, Erupting Geysers, Sulphur Hot Springs, Lavender Fields, Green Meadows, Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean, Black Sand Beaches, Dolphins, Hump Back Whales – Breathtakingly Beautiful Country, Incredible Natural Beauty.
While their summer temperatures are also at 5 degrees, we saw so many people camping, hiking, bicycling, swimming, fishing – one could see their love for outdoor activities.
This passion for nature is imbedded in the very heart of the Scandinavian people and is called friluftsliv literally meaning ” open air living”.
So how did I come across this philosophy.
On the Icelandic Air flight from New York to Reikjavik I decided to read the inflight magazine – to get some insights about the country I was visiting for the first time. I have had the opportunity to travel to Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. Was excited to see Iceland. And I chanced upon an article on Friluftsliv ! Pronounced “free-loofts-liv,” it is a Swedish/Norwegian word that directly translates as ‘Free Air Life’. It is, simply put, the process of spending time outdoors and enjoying nature.
This philosophy, conceptualized approximately 150 years ago, basically captures the notion that returning to nature is coming home. It is a way of living – and an essential and obvious part of the lifestyles of most Scandinavians.
They love outdoor living so much, that there is no concept of bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. No matter how harsh the climate, how low the temperature, how chilly the winds, it will not deter them from going outdoors. You will find the Scandinavians running, walking, hiking, skiing through the year.
This concept of Friluftsliv is also an integral aspect of the Nordic diet. It puts an emphasis on the use of seasonal and locally-produced ingredients – back to nature.
Any camping, backpacking, skiing or hiking expeditions would readily qualify as friluftsliv. However, I would go ahead and say any outdoor activity that involves body movement would qualify ie walking on a beach, walking in a forest, swimming in a lake, or just a walk outdoors .
Inspired by Friluftsliv, the latest fitness craze in the West is ‘ Nordic Walking’.
Nordic walking is a total body version of walking that can be enjoyed both by non-athletes as a health-promoting physical activity, and by athletes as a sport. The activity is performed with specially designed walking poles similar to ski poles.
There is something that the Nordic people are doing right. Life expectancy in the Scandinavian countries today is in the high 80s. And they are ranked as amongst the ‘happiest’ countries in the world.
I live in a big city, a bustling metropolis, a concrete jungle. For daily exercise I do the treadmill. The 10 days I spent in Iceland I did not go to a gym. I spent all my time outdoors, walking, hiking everyday. And I felt fresh and energetic and healthy, never tired inspite of walking the whole day. My mind was active too. I felt alive.
Aah Friluftsliv !
Recent research has shown the positive benefits of outdoor activity on children, students , young and older people. It is not only physical, but has a positive emotional, social and mental impact. Performing physical activities while outdoors provides a way to get outside and enjoy your natural surroundings. Aside from breathing fresh air and discovering nature’s many wonders, the outdoors provides various activities to keep you wanting to go back outside for more and helps keep you and your family physically and mentally healthy.
Some companies are encouraging their employees to have outdoor walking meetings with colleagues whenever possible. They also provide facilities for employees to access outdoor recreation activities.
A true follower of friluftsliv will do their best to ‘ move ‘ as much as they can every day.
One can easily incorporate friluftsliv into ones life simply by spending time outdoors.
Make your body the ”central tool” to be used everyday.
Go. Move. Begin by exploring your city by foot, walk to that next meeting on foot, or get off the bus a stop earlier than usual, and always, always take the stairs.
Manpo – Kei !
In continuation of my Japan influenced blogs, today I am writing about “Steps”.
These days it has become most fashionable to gift a a fitness tracker or a smart watch, that calculates the steps you take, the calories you burn. You can even put a target number of steps to take, and get prompted by your ” Fitness Gadget ” to move !
But, if you believe that fitness trackers and measuring steps is a modern day phenomena then you are mistaken.
Did you know that the first ” steps measure” was introduced in Japan in 1965?
It all started in Japan more than fifty years ago. Way back in the early 1960s there was a young professor at Kyushu University of Health and Welfare, who was studying about a rise in obesity in Japan. His name was Dr. Yoshiro Hatano.
Obesity in Japan ! Now, as we all know, Fitness has always been a part of Japan’s rich cultural heritage. The Japanese are famous for their long lives and healthy eating habits. This seemed to be under threat in the post second world war prosperous Japan. Dr Hatano was a worried man. He felt the Japanese might be in danger of importing obesity from the USA.
He started thinking of a way to calculate the number of calories burned during exercise in order to help to lose weight. This would not only improve health but make the Japanese more active.
His studies showed that the average person walked 3,500 to 5,000 steps each day. As per his calculations, if this daily total number of steps was increased to around 10,000 then it would be possible to burn off approximately 500+ extra calories. In other words one could lose upto 20 kilogrammes a year !
The 10,000 step mantra was created.
Two factors were key for the popularity of this mantra in Japan.
First was the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. It was the first time the Olympics were being held in Asia. It was the first time that it was broadcast on TV in colour. This had a major impact in Japan. Fitness and Health were back in the public consciousness.
Second key factor was the Manpo-kei. This was the invention of watch-maker Yamasa Tokei. It was a simole pedometer and was endorsed then by Dr Hatano. It was marketer in 1965 under the slogan ‘Let’s all walk 10,000 steps a day!’
Man means 10,000, Po means Steps and Kei means Measure – and so the name Manpo-kei.
This became super popular in Japan and has continued to be a way of life there.
I first heard about this in 2014. I was first very sceptical about having a gadget around my wrist that would ” guide” me on fitness. I also thought the concept of being attached to technology for fitness was like becoming a slave to it.
I finally bought my first Jawbone in the spring of 2015. I then graduated to their various models. Currently I am wearing a Garmin. You could go for a Fitbit, an Apple watch, A Samsung watch – the list of options is tremendous and caters to all price points.
It’s when I started wearing a Fitness Tracker, that I first realised that on a normal work day, if I didn’t do my cardio, I would only be doing 3000 odd steps. What I figured out was every km I walked was approximately 1000 odd steps. Ie a brisk 10 mins walk was 1000 steps. And that for achieving 10,000 steps, I needed to cover approximately 8-8.5 km.
Hence began my cardio regime where today I do 6-7 km every day. And try and cover between 12,000 – 13,000 steps every day.
Not only does this keep my weight in check, but I feel active and healthy.
And if I can’t hit the treadmill, I will just go for a walk.
And now that I know how to get to my target steps, I don’t even need a gadget to tell me anymore.
So go ahead and complete your 10,000 steps today !
Hello Friends ! It’s been a while since I wrote.
Today I want to write about What makes us feel Alive. What makes us get up and say Hurrah , it’s another day. What do we look forward to when we wake up. “What is our reason to get out of bed every morning.”