30 Active Minutes a Day keeps the Doctor Away

Mantra 4 : Yes you guessed right , my next mantra is Exercise Daily !

 

Do you brush your teeth everyday ? Do you eat your meals everyday? There is NO substitute for exercise.  Exercise is as essential a ritual as brushing your teeth. You need to do it daily.

 

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What that exercise is,varies from one person to the other. What works for me may not be the same as what works for another. There’s no black or white exercise regime. You need to zero in on what works best for you.
30- 45 mins is a minimum that one should do. Walking, swimming, running, bicycling , yoga – you choose. But do it everyday. 365 days of the year. If you are travelling substitute gym or pool with walking. Humans were not meant to live sedentary lives. We are meant to move.

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A lot of people ask me ” Why do you exercise every day ? You are so slim”. I exercise for “myself”, I exercise as it makes me feel good, I exercise so I can eat and drink what I like, I exercise so I can wear the clothes I love, I exercise as it makes me feel more energetic…….The list why I exercise is endless, and it isn’t only because I want to be slim.
For me my daily exercise is sacrosanct. It is my ” me time”. It is non negotiable. And I am completely selfish when it comes to exercise time. To be honest, I am addicted to exercise. It does give me a high, a boost to start the day.
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It takes a lot of mental strength to get up everyday and motivate oneself to exercise. When someone looks at me and says ” You are so lucky, you don’t put on weight”, I want to tell them – there is no such thing as luck. It’s a lot of hard work and discipline. There are days when even I feel like sleeping that extra 30 mins – but I push myself to get up and exercise.
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So what is my exercise ritual ?
I wake up at 6 am. From 7am to 7:30am I workout with my trainer ( when not traveling). This includes floor exercises, kick boxing, weights, strength training, stretches. Post this I do 6km on the treadmill. I used to run. I walk now at a speed of 7km per hour. On weekends I do 7km.  For me this is done everyday even when I am travelling. I wear a fitness band and my target is 12000 steps daily.
After the treadmill, it is very important to do a proper cool down and the stretches.
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Exercise not only helps you look good, it also makes you feel good.
I always feel peppy and energetic after my work out.
In my earlier blogs I have written about the ” good hormones” that are released when one exercises.
Please see Extract from my blog no 4 titled Stress Busters ” I would like to mention here is that 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 angry, anxious or scared. Exercise not only helps burn Cortisol, it also releases a chemical called Endorphins, which creates a positive and euphoric feeling in the body, leading to reduced stress.”
Remember, Exercise is key to a healthy, happy, stress free life.
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Again, why do I exercise ?
I love traveling, I love hiking, walking, I love to wear the clothes I do, I love to eat cuisines from all over the world, I love my red wine.
If you want to do and enjoy what you love and not deny yourself what life has to offer………Go Get up and Exercise !
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Everyday ! Tojour !

Super Foods

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So what are Super Foods. One hears this term all the time. Why Super ? Does it give you Super Man powers ? Well, you could say that. Simply put, these Foods have a tremendous amount of vitamins and minerals which are essential for health, vitality, immunity, energy. And they are easy to consume everyday. The dictionary defines Super Food as a nutrient-rich food considered to be specially beneficial for health and well-being. There is no scientific definition of Super Foods. And any food that is high on nutrients can be thus classified viz salmon, broccoli , blueberries etc.
Let me start by listing the “Super Foods” that I eat everyday. I would like to add here that I have been eating these , even when these terms were not coined. I had the benefit of being in a home where Ayurveda, natural remedies were followed. All articles in a newspaper pertaining to ‘properties of food – fruits and vegetables, spices etc ’ were cut and discussed. We were quizzed on properties of apples, bananas, beetroot, brinjals, moringa, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon , tea, etc. You will find combinations of various ground spices in our home – and each one is there due to its multiple properties. And this is used not only to eat. Once I had injured myself in an accident – pastes were made of turmeric and sandalwood and applied on my wounds. I wear contact lenses and used to constantly suffer from eye infections. Fed up of eye drops, I was given “phitkari” mixed with water. Post my pneumonia, I had lost half my hair. A hair oil was made with natural ingredients, amla was given to me every day along with a vegetable juice – mixture of all vegetables including beetroot. I can go on and on.
For the benefit of the readers I will list the ones I consume daily/frequently, which I find have helped me,  and how I have made it part of my regular routine. I would like to emphasise here that these are NOT medicines and even though some have medicinal properties, please go visit a doctor when you are suffering from any ailment.
1) Ginger – The health benefits of ginger are well documented . Amongst its key properties are it helps lower cholesterol, and fight fungal infections. I drink ginger tea every morning. It’s called “ adhrak chai” in India.
2) Turmeric – The new fad these days – turmeric latte. Turmeric has innumerable medicinal properties and health benefits including fighting inflammation, protecting the heart, fighting diabetes and cancer, is an antioxidant too. In India we put turmeric in all our food. I actually put a pinch of it in my ginger tea every morning.
I recently learned that turmeric consumed without ginger does not provide any benefits. It’s properties get enhanced if consumed with ginger.
3) Black Pepper – Again has multiple benefits including improving digestion, providing relief in respiratory problems, anti oxidant, anti bacterial etc. I use black pepper in my meals – over salads, soups, vegetables.
4) Cinnamon – Amongst its chief benefits are helps lower cancer risk and protects brain function, also is. A high source of antioxidants and has anti inflammatory properties.
Have recently started having a cup of hot water with the above 4 mixed as a powder. I have this in the morning before my tea.

5) Almonds – They have extensive health benefits including for heart, brain. Almond Milk has become a rage in the West. Since I was a child we have been given almonds daily – soaked overnight in water. I have them with my cereal every morning.

 

 

6) Walnuts – My grandmother used to say they are in the shape of brain and are excellent for the same. She used to give it to us during our examinations and say it will help keep our minds sharp. I have them daily now with my breakfast cereal.
7) Chia Seeds – I was introduced to this 2 years back when I had visited Peru. Chia means strength, and Peruvian folklore says that these black and white seeds were used as an energy booster. These seeds contain omega -3 , carbohydrates, protein, fibre, antioxidants and calcium.
I have it daily sprinkled over my breakfast cereal.
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8) Flax Seeds – In 2007 I was introduced to these seeds as there was an illness in the family and the doctor talked about how consumption of these seeds can help reduce cancer, lower cholesterol and help develop immunity. I used to take a spoon of flax seed oil with curd. Now I have it daily sprinkled over my cereal.
9) Sunflower Seeds – Rich in magnesium, vitamin E and B1, known as the healthy heart seed. I have it sprinkled over my cereal every day.
10) Pumpkin Seeds – Has a large variety of nutrients viz magnesium, protein, zinc. These seeds are also called ‘ nutritional powerhouses’. I have it daily with my cereal.
11) Goji Berries – Is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory super fruit that boosts immunity system and helps fight cancer, among other properties. I have a powder of this which I consume daily with my cereal.
As you can see , my breakfast is packed with ” super foods” – easy to eat and most delicious too.
12) Honey – Is a natural energy resource and helps counter lots of ailments. Daily I put honey on my toast with tea, and also on my breakfast cereal which is filled with all seeds and had with milk.
13) Fenugreek Seeds – It not only improves digestion levels but lowers cholesterol too. We soak these seeds and get them to sprout. Consume a spoon daily before morning tea.
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14) Wheat Grass – Had discussed this in my previous blog. Drink a glass of the juice every day.
15) Green Tea – I drink 4-5 cups daily, and especially after my lunch and dinner.
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16) Lemongrass – It is beneficial for high blood pressure, kills germs and is a mild astringent. I consume it along with green tea.
17) Quinoa – Was introduced to this incredible grain in Peru three years back. It is one of the highest protein rich food and has more fibre than any other grain. We eat this 3 – 4 times a week at home as a meal, mixed with Vegetables.
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18) Avocados – They are a good source of a number of essential vitamins and minerals viz calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorus and zinc. We make guacamole and eat it 4-5 times a week with dinner.
19) Amla – The Indian Gooseberry is a super fruit. It slows down ageing, fights against heart disease, helps increase metabolism. I have Amla juice 3-4 times a week.
20) Dates – Is also a good source of energy, sugar, and fiber anda contains minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. They also contain vitamins such as vitamin A, and vitamin K. We eat dates post our dinner as dessert.
Other super foods that we consume and like are ( these are not taken daily or weekly) are Moringa , Acai Berries, Aloe Vera.
Very essential to make these foods as part of your regular diet. And you can see how simple it actually is to do.
Next up is Mantra 4 ! Stay tuned.

You are What you Eat

Mantra 3 : Eat Wisely

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Food is essential. Yes my friends, you read that right. We need to eat – but eat a healthy diet, that provides us with the vitamins, minerals and proteins that are essential for our physical health, energy and mental well being. Our body needs different foods for the various nutrients. I don’t deny myself any food, as long as it is had in moderation, including carbohydrates and fats. Yes, I eat bread and cheese everyday !

I don’t believe in diets. If we stop eating fats, our bodies start storing the fat , as the brain is advising the body that it needs the fats. Haven’t you seen people who diet constantly, but don’t seem to lose any weight.

And remember, food not only affects your physically, but it also has a big emotional impact on our mental well being. Good food, your soul food , can make you happy, de- stress, unwind, relax. Remember Mantra 1 – a positive mind !

So, What do I mean by a healthy diet?

A healthy diet is not only a combination of fruits, vegetables, nuts, egss etc. More importantly it’s when you eat and the quantity you consume.

I was vegetarian for 15 years. I love all vegetables and fruits. And could eat 3 bowls of pulses and curd with every meal. Cheese and Bread has always been my soul food. And without fail it uplifts my mood. Paired with a glass of red wine and it’s my perfect meal.

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I became a Pescatarian after 15 years of vegetarian food. I broke that fast in Trishna, an iconic sea food restaurant in Mumbai , when I ate ‘ koliwada prawns’. I was Pescatarian for 13 years and ate sea food – fish, prawns, crabs, lobsters.

And 4 years back I re – discovered all the other meats.

While I eat everything now and don’t deny myself what I enjoy eating, I am very disciplined in terms of ‘when’ and ‘ how much’ I eat. What do I mean by that .

I start my day at 6 am with a glass of water with half a lemon squeezed into it. Then it’s time for toast and honey and a hot cup of Indian Masala Chai with a pinch of turmeric ( without sugar – cannot have sugar in my tea or coffee). This is my wake up food !

After reading the newspapers, just before hitting the treadmill, I drink a glass of wheatgrass juice. I started drinking this over 10 years back. It’s got multiple properties including strong anti carcinogenic benefits.

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After my work out I drink a glass of mixed vegetable juice and have a bowl of granola and muesli with almonds and walnuts and chia seeds and flax seeds, and sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds , with honey and hot milk. This is not only wholesome and extremely nutritious, it also keeps me feeling full till lunchtime.

All this is done by 8:30 am.

Around 10:30 am I have 2 fruits – any seasonal fruits.

Between 12pm and 12:30pm is lunch time. I am not fussed about what I eat. I also go out a lot for lunch meetings and eat any cuisine.

During the day I drink 2-3 cups of green tea.

I think what is important is my dinner time. I eat by 7:30pm. Unless I have to go out for dinner, this time is inflexible. I drink a glass of red wine and have cheese with my dinner.  My dinner is any 2 vegetables and curd. Sometimes I have fish. I avoid carbohydrates at night. I strongly believe one should eat dinner at least 2-3 hours before one’s bedtime.

Post dinner I have green tea. And just before sleeping I drink a glass of  water.

Next blog we will talk about ” super foods”. Stay tuned !

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh to sleep like a baby.

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In the previous blog we talked about my Mantra no 2 – the importance of sleep, and how we should get 7 hours of deep sleep.

 

I have never taken any sleeping pills. I don’t suffer from jet lag. I sleep like a baby. Between 12pm and 5 am is my deepest sleeping time. You could come into my room and drop a glass bottle and break it into thousands of pieces. And I won’t stir. Does that sound like a dream…….You can do it too !

So what is it that I do to get this sleep.

Below are some habits that I am sharing. These I found have helped me tremendously.

1) Eat my last meal before 8pm. When I am travelling overseas, I eat at 6:30pm. In India I try and eat between 7pm and 7:30pm . Along with my meal I have a glass of red wine and some cheese – and end the meal with a few bowls of curd. These foods are my stress busters. Find the food that elevates your mood. But eat at least 3 hours before your bed time. If there is a late conference call at work, I will eat my dinner at the desk itself.  I also drink 2 cups of green tea after dinner – it helps me feel lighter after the meal, and prevents acidity and heart burn that one can get sometimes after a heavy meal.

2) Exercise daily and in the early morning. I am an early riser, and my work out is finished by 8 am. It took me time to figure out my ideal time to exercise. Couple of years back I used to work out anytime of the day when I could take out the time. Last 4 years it has been very disciplined at 6.45am. I found working out in the evening kept me restless when I went to bed. I also figured out, if I go a couple of days without exercise, it affects my sleep.

3) Don’t take any stress or unfinished conversations to bed. They say a good laugh and sleep is cure for all ailments. But to get a good sleep one needs the mind to be relaxed and clutter free. Express your feelings through the day.  Keep your relationships in a state of completeness every day. And wake up to a fresh new day.

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4)  Find the sleep posture that suits you. I sleep on my right side curled up. If sleeping on the back works for you, then you should do that. And most important is the mattress and pillow. I sleep on a firm mattress and , a thin firm pillow .In fact in hotels which have thick fluffy pillows, I find it difficult to sleep and ask them to provide ‘my right’ pillow.

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5) Stay busy and active through the day. I work and am on the move the whole day. Even my holidays and days off are filled with activity. I can’t sit doing nothing .And I don’t sleep during the day at all. I have never taken an afternoon nap. By the time it’s 10:30 pm, my eyes are shutting and I am ready to sleep.

6) The 30 mins before bedtime, don’t do anything that consumes physical or mental energy. I read a bit of a book that I have started, listen to music or watch an episode of a show on Netflix. Find out what helps you unwind and do that before going to bed.

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7) Dreams – I find that they put me to sleep. I make myself dream – about anything, from relationships, to travel, to work related. It’s like watching a film in your mind. And sometime during the dreaming I just fall into a deep slumber.

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Bon Nuit !

 

 

Early to Bed Early to Rise

Mantra 2 :

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Wise words indeed. Yes, you guessed right. My second mantra is –  Sleep, Adequate and at the Right time.

Cannot stress how important sleep is. It is more important than even exercise and nutrition for our health and well-being. And unfortunately people abuse this aspect the most.
 ” Let us watch this movie. Doesn’t matter if we sleep 5 hours to night, will make it up in the weekend “. How many times have you said this to yourself.
You may be eating well and doing exercise regularly but if you don’t get at least seven hours of sleep every night, you may undermine all your other efforts.
Recently, the CEO of a top technology company passed away after a heart attack that he got while he was on the treadmill.  He was super fit, ran everyday, did yoga, extremely conscious of his diet. Did marathons and triathlons. He used to boast that he doesn’t need more than 4 hours of sleep everyday.
I sleep 7-8 hours every day. Am extremely disciplined when it comes to getting my adequate sleep. My regular exercise and good nutrition also helps me get sound and deep sleep.
Most importantly, if I haven’t had a good night’s sleep, I will not exercise – Listen to your body and what it’s saying. And don’t abuse it.
Adequate sleep is not only essential for a healthy lifestyle, but benefits your heart, weight, mind, and well-being. Sleep makes you feel better and happier.  It boosts your memory, not only makes you look good but more importantly it uplifts your mood.
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So then what are some of the benefits of Sleep.
1) Did you know that one burns calories while sleeping too?
A person’s weight and the number of hours he or she sleeps determines how many calories you burn while sleeping. Normally, a person burns about 0.42 calories for every pound in one hour of sleep. For instance, a 150 lb. person burns about 63 calories in one hour. Or 504 calories in 8 hours. That’s more than the calories burnt while brisk walking for one hour.
Isn’t this a relaxed way to burn your calories!
2) Reduces Stress and Depression –  Lack of proper sleep can make one moody and more prone to conflicts with others, leading to more stress. Sleep is the most effective natural way to reduce Stress.
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3) Increases immunity from diseases –
A good night’s sleep is a cure for all ailments. This is more true than you realise. Sleep is known to repair any physical or mental damage that has been caused in your body due to any stress, hence helps increasing immunity and fighting diseases.
4) Increased Energy Levels – Adequate sleep makes you feel fresh and your mind well rested. And makes you feel energised. You don’t feel tired or sluggish. A good sleep ensures that your body can exercise. And that helps improving your fitness and energy. And the more healthy you feel, the better sleep you get. It’s a cycle.
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5) Helps reduce and/or maintain your weight. Lack of a good night’s sleep can lead to obesity or even excessive weight loss.  We talked about the cycle in the previous point. Sleep well, wake up stress free, happy and energetic. Body feels fit to exercise. Mind is not depressed and body does not stop eating, leading to weakness.
And what do I mean by Adequate and Proper sleep?
It is not only 7-8 hours of sleep that the body needs. One needs to go to bed at the right time.
My grandmother used to say ” Every hour you sleep before 12 midnight is equal to two hours post midnight. ” I used to think – I can also sleep at 1 am or 2 am and wake up at 9 am or 10 am, and feel fresh and energetic. Wrong !
You are likely to feel more refreshed and well rested if you sleep 6 hours between 10pm and 4am, than if you sleep 8 hours between 3 am and 11am. How many times have you woken up after 8 hours of sleep, and are feeling tired? That’s because you slept past midnight.
The ideal time to sleep is between 10pm and 6am. We all have an internal body clock, a biological clock that works in rhythm with our bodies. While we sleep our body organs are eliminating toxins and rejuvenating themselves. And there is a time for these organs to perform these functions. A disruption in this clock can disrupt your normal body rhythm and lead to health problems.
The below is from a blog that I read in 2012- forever healthy blog. And it stayed in my mind  Important to note the timings mentioned for the various body organs.
9.00 pm – 11.00 pm: At this time, your body eliminates toxic chemicals from the immune system (lymph nodes). The best time is to go in bed and asleep before 8 pm, good enough before 9pm, latest before 10 pm it is still healthy. Generally in some sense from 8pm till 10pm rest our intelligence, ability to make Balanced and Healthy decisions. From 10pm till 12 mid night rest our mind, ability to think and contemplate. Ability to cope, digest and show in healthy way our emotions. From 12 mid night rest our growth material body.
11.00 pm – 1.00 am: This is the time your liver eliminates poisons and rejuvenates itself. It is best to be sound asleep by 9 pm or 10 pm for your body to properly execute this important function.
12.00 midnight – 4.00 am: this is the time your bone marrow produces blood.
1.00 am – 3.00 am: This is the time your gall bladder eliminates toxins and rejuvenates itself.
3.00 am – 5.00 am: This is the time your lungs eliminate toxins and rejuvenate themselves.
4.00 am – 7.00 am: This is the time your colon eliminates poisons and rejuvenates itself. This is the proper time to empty your bowel.
7.00 am – 9.00 am: This is the time that vitamins, minerals, proteins and nutrients are absorbed in your small intestines. Definitely it is healthy to eat breakfast at this time.
So next time you decide to binge watch TV or surf the internet, remember you are preventing your body organs from rejuvenating.
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Here’s wishing all my readers a good night’s sleep !

Stress Busters

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1) Don’t pretend to be happy if you are stressed or anxious or sad. Go ahead and express your feelings. Don’t leave them bottled in inside you. There is no virtue in hiding your feelings and desires. Sad or happy – express them fully.
I know of people who have led the most disciplined life, exercised daily, ate properly, no alcohol, meditation – one would think they should be the most healthy and fit people. But two of them got cancer, one of them has hypertension and one got a heart attack. While genetics definitely had a role to play, what was the lifestyle that pulled the trigger?  They all had one thing in common. Keeping their emotions, their desires to themselves. If they felt stressed or anxious about some event, they didn’t talk about it as didn’t want to burden their loved ones with it. They went through their lives without expressing themselves, their wants, their likes, their dislikes.
Don’t forget your body listens to what your mind is thinking.
Inspite of leading a most ” sathvik” life, they could not prevent the disease.
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A very important element of coping with stress is talking about it. And it’s ok to let your loved ones know what’s bothering you, what’s making you feel sad. If you don’t want to talk to them, find a friend. If you are lucky you will have that one friend or partner who you can talk with about anything.
And if that doesn’t work then ” self- talk”.
I do a lot of both. I don’t believe in hiding my feelings. I believe in expressing myself. If I want a hug I will express it. If a loved one said something that hurt, I will talk about it.
And Yes, I do a lot of self – talk. In front of the bathroom mirror, in the car on the way to work, while brisk walking on the treadmill. You should try it – it’s very effective in putting things in perspective and sorting out the various emotions going through your mind.
Say to yourself every day “I am in charge of how I feel and today I choose happiness”.
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2) Stay Calm. Deep Breaths. Don’t stress about things, events , people which are not in your control.  Do not think of what could go wrong but on what could go right. Think forward,  think positive, think of the solution to the problem, DO NOT think of the problem.
If I am stuck in traffic and have a flight to catch, ofcourse I get anxious. But I won’t allow that anxiety to fester into panic and stress. I start searching for options available in the event I miss the flight.
The ability to move on from a negative situation is most important. You cannot avoid negativity in your life. Key is how you respond to it.  I have gone through my share of personal lows and professional disappointments and there have been many times that I have wanted to quit.
What do I do when I am feeling down ? It’s quite simple really.  Instead of focusing on the event or people that are making me feel sad or angry, I instead start focusing my mind on the positives and blessings in my life – my family, my friends, my health, the opportunities I have received.  This is something I consciously do. It not only makes me stay positive and happy, but helps me move on. You should try it – Focus on all that is good in your life.
” Count your Blessings”.
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3) Laughter- it is wonderful for the heart and boosts your immunity system. I laugh a lot. I also have a unique ability to laugh at myself. You can crack as many jokes on me – hell, I can crack them myself. Laughter releases happy hormones and is a big stress reliever. Find a friend or a partner who can make you laugh. Join a laughter club. Watch a comedy.
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4) Develop interests and passions and devote time to them. It not only enriches you and makes you an interesting person, but it also makes you happy and creates positive feelings and energy. Whether it’s music, travel, reading, sports, fashion, movies, art, politics, cooking – Discover your passion. What moves your soul. What is your therapy. Find that and devote time to it.
I have always had multiple interests.
I was five years old when I discovered my love for music. It was my first friend, and it has never left my side. Music never fails to uplift my mood. As a child I used to study listening to Kishore Kumar, Mohammad Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle. I trained in Indian classical vocal and my love for music has endured. Even today a soulful song by Arijit Singh or Ed Sheeran moves me. Whenever I am feeling low, or depressed, I listen to music and suddenly my mood changes. Go find your ” music”. It is a big stress buster.
I used to be a voracious reader of fiction – happiest sitting in a corner devouring a book, oblivious to my mother calling me out. Reading used to transport me into another world. If you can find the time to read, it is a wonderful way to overcome negative thoughts.
I discovered the love for travel as a teenager and today I am a confirmed travel addict. I love to explore new places, cultures, cuisines, meet new people, visit historical places, nature and hiking trails, modern cities, wildlife. Have been fortunate to travel on my holidays to all the continents. I even need to travel a lot at work, but that doesn’t stress me. I  am very comfortable at airports, train stations and love to observe people. Travel to me is therapeutic. I always return feeling energised and positive. At the end of a trip you will find me planning another trip.
As a eleven year old the wonderful and exciting world of sports came into my life. Have been watching sports ever since. Today I am an avid follower of Cricket, Tennis, Olympic sports and try not to miss the Football world cup  Gives me a big high to just watch a sports game. Watching India lift the cricket world cup , Nadal and Federer playing a Grand Slam Tennis final, Sindhu winning the silver medal at the Olympics in Badminton, Germany winning the football world cup – the thrill of the game, the excitement of the sport, the joy of winning and the pain of a loss, watching sports can be a huge stress buster.
What can I say about the American and British Drama series – I am sure you too are a Game of Thrones fan or have spent hours binge watching 24 or Downton Abby and have listened to Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes.
And I haven’t even begun to describe about the world of fashion & shopping and the  pleasure of collecting Art and Antiques. Weekends spent scouting galleries and antique markets.
The point I make is develop multiple interests and passions. It helps your mind focus away from negative thoughts and feelings. And gives you a lot of happiness and a sense of purpose.
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5) I started this blog by mentioning about my obsession with exercise. And while future blogs will be devoted to it’s importance and impact on health and well being, what I would like to mention here is that 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 angry, anxious or scared. Exercise not only helps burn Cortisol, it also releases a chemical called Endorphins, which creates a positive and euphoric feeling in the body, leading to reduced stress. For me daily exercise is a non negotiable. It not only keeps me energetic, but helps me cope with the stress of work and family responsibilities.
Get on the treadmill, go for a walk,  practice yoga – whatever works for you.
What is vital is to make exercise and physical activity a part and parcel of your daily ritual.
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So here are my ” Stress Busters”
Don’t overthink
Express Yourself
Laugh
Hugs and kisses
Exercise
Music
Travel
Passions like Watching Sports, Drama series.
Spend time with friends, family.
Smile
Stay calm
Deep Breaths
Think of all that is wonderful in your life.
Stay optimistic and always look at the bright side. Life is too short to waste your precious moments thinking negatively.
Remember tomorrow is another day!

A Positive Mind leads to a Positive Life

Mantra 1 : Positive Optimism

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How many times have you gone to a doctor with an ailment and he asks you if you are stressed or upset or suffering from any anxiety. Did you ever wonder why instead of checking your physical symptoms he’s asking about your emotional and mental state.

Emotional health plays a key role in physical and mental fitness and well being.  We humans go through life feeling a myriad of emotions. But do you know that each emotion has a physiological impact on us.

A negative emotion releases a chemical called cortisol which  is more popularly known as the ‘ stress hormone’. High levels of cortisol can lead to hypertension, high blood sugar levels and reduced immunity amongst other things . Hence, a stressed mind weakens the immune system and one gets more prone to colds, coughs and other diseases. The more upset or anxious you get, the more negative thoughts, and more stress – all a toxic combination.

A positive emotion and happy thoughts, on the other hand, releases chemicals like serotonin and oxytocin and dopomein and endorphins, the ‘ happy chemicals’. I refer to them as the four pillars of happiness.

Some of the health benefits associated with Positive Thinking are :

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While it’s unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits, 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.

It’s also thought that positive and optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles — they get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet and hence have better immunity systems and stay healthy.

Essentially, Positive thinking makes you happy and has a direct correlation to good health.

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THINK POSITIVE !

Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you ignore life’s less pleasant situations. It just means that you approach unpleasantness and downs in your life in a more positive and productive way. You never stop thinking the best is yet to come, and that you have to keep moving towards it.

A positive person always anticipates happiness, health and success, and believes he or she can overcome any obstacle, failure and difficulty. A positive person has the ability to move on. A positive person is happy.

Alexander Graham Bell said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us”.

Do I get stressed ? Do I feel sad ? Do I get anxious ? Ofcourse I do. But I don’t let it fester inside. It is very important to be able to move on and get over the downs and the disappointments and failures. If you keep thinking about it, it kills you slowly. One gets depressed and sad. One loses interest in exercise, eating, one’s interests and hobbies. One becomes a loner, a whiner, a person who others don’t want to be around.

I am a bit like Scarlet O  Hara from the book ‘ Gone with the Wind’ . The famous lines ” tomorrow is another day”. I truly believe that and live by it.

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I learnt it the hard way. In 2009, my father fell seriously ill, and the stress of it all affected me to such an extent that my immunity (which I am so proud of today) collapsed. I contracted pneumonia and was hospitalised for treatment. My treatment continued at home for 2 months. To put things in context, I am an extremely energetic , active person. And here I was – sick, and couldn’t work, couldn’t help my daughter, couldn’t be with my father, couldn’t do anything.  When I got back to work, I was extremely weak and low on energy. The antibiotics had a severe after effect on me. I spent the next 6 months on getting my health and energy back with clear focus on my  diet and exercise.

And that’s when I made a promise to myself – NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS I WILL NOT GET STRESSED. Stress only leads to your health getting affected and then you become useless – to your self, to your family, to your friends. I will always stay happy and positive.

So then what is the secret to positive thinking and coping with stress.

Stay tuned….

Fitness Vs Wellness Vs Genes

 

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Before I get into the ‘Mantras’ and ‘Habits’, I would like to begin by defining what Fitness, Wellness means to me.
There are multiple definitions and explanations on Fitness. Oxford Dictionary defines Fitness as “ The condition of being physically fit and healthy”, “the quality of being suitable to fulfil a particular role or task”.
How do I define Fitness.
It is not just about the body. Fitness goes far beyond physical strength and energy. I define it as a condition or state of existence that is physically and mentally well. It is not only about looking good. It’s feeling good. It is about feeling alive and having the energy and strength to do the things that you are passionate about. It is about being happy, content, having peace of mind. It is not only freedom from illness, but a feeling of positive optimism.

 

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Then what is Wellness.
The Dictionary defines Wellness as “the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as a result of deliberate effort”. According to The World Health Organisation, Wellness is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.”
I view Wellness as the process of becoming aware and making the lifestyle and environment choices to becoming Fit. It is a deliberate action and dynamic process of change and growth towards a good and satisfactory state of existence which is becoming physically and mentally well. In simpler terms, It is the process to becoming Fit.

 

‘Fitness is the by product of Wellness”.
Grasping this fact ,that Wellness leads to Fitness, is key to becoming and staying Fit and Happy.

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And what about Genes – what role do they play in our state of good health and well being.

 

While we are all born with a certain genetic disposition, I strongly believe that understanding and comprehending the relationship between our genetic material and environment and lifestyle is essential to becoming fit and staying healthy.

 

Scientists for a while have been debating between nature and nurture. This question of whether Human Behaviour is driven by DNA or biological factors, or is a result of our environment , lifestyle and learning, has been around for centuries. Are we the way we are because of our genes, or because of our personal experiences and habits that we develop in our lives.

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The actual term nature-nurture comes from Sir Francis Galton’s 1874 publication of ‘English Men of Science : Their Nature and Nurture’, in which he argued that intelligence and character traits came from hereditary factors. He is considered to be the modern founder of behavioural genetics. He was influenced by the book ‘On the Origin of Species’ written by Charles Darwin, who incidentally was Dalton’s half-cousin.
Then there is John Locke, who coined the phrase a “ blank slate view”. His view was that humans develop tastes, habits, likes-dislikes, purely from learning and experiences, that humans acquire almost all their behavioural traits from ‘nurture’. He termed this blank slate as “tabula rasa” in 1690 and it is documented in ‘An Essay Concerning Human Understanding’.
Today most scientists and psychologists believe that nature and nurture are connected to each other. It is fair to say that Genes have an influence on the environments and learning that we experience. At the same time, a person’s environment and lifestyle will also determine and also change the way a gene gets expressed.
For instance, your genetic make up, the genes you inherit from your parents, will determine your susceptibility to a disease, but whether you get that disease can be largely determined by your lifestyle. And if, Because of your genes, you may actually get a disease, how your body responds to it is a function of your healthy lifestyle and fitness.

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“ a healthy diet and lifestyle can overcome the effects of poor genes”

“ a poor lifestyle can dampen the effect of good genes”.

” genetics holds the gun, lifestyle pulls the trigger”.
Thus, You are a product of your genes plus lifestyle and habits. There is no such thing as “lucky genes”. It’s a lot of hard work, and discipline towards a healthy lifestyle that determines the final result.

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Jim Rohn , author of The Art of Exceptional Living, said “ Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live “. We spend so much time and money to ensure our houses looks good. Let us also take care and look after our bodies, our mind, our ‘ home ‘, and get to a satisfactory existence of being happy and physically fit.

The pursuit of good health

Life is not a sprint. It is the longest marathon. And to enjoy it to the fullest, one needs to be healthy in both body and mind.

This blog is to share my love and obsession for fitness.

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At the outset I would like to clarify, I do not consider myself as a fitness or a wellness expert, a trainer or a nutritionist. I am just a regular person who is obsessed and passionate about a “healthy body and mind”. I have had no formal training, and no one has guided me on nutrition, or healthy habits.

 

It was after the birth of my daughter that I started looking at fitness and health in a more focused way. I had never been to a gym till I was 30 years old. I was always slim. But being Fit and Healthy goes beyond being slim and thin. It’s a state of physical and mental well being. It’s been fifteen years. And today I am more fit and energetic than I was when I was 20 years old, and when I say fit, I refer to both, in body and the mind.

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For me, Fitness is non- negotiable. It is not a good to have, it is a must have. It is as essential as any basic necessity of life. I am selfish when it comes to this, and don’t feel guilty about it.

 

“Fitness is my Status Symbol.”
A fit and healthy mind and body reflects all your hard work and endurance. It shows the will power, mental strength and discipline that one abides by.

For me, being fit is an expression of self respect and love for yourself.
One cannot inherit Fitness. One cannot buy or borrow it. It has to be earned, and once you have it , you can only hold on to it through constant hard work and discipline.

A lot of people constantly ask me “ What is the secret behind your boundless energy ? How come you never get tired”, “ How come you are always happy and smiling”, “How do you maintain yourself”, “How come you don’t get stressed”.
Here’s the good news ! There is NO secret formula. It is just a few simple disciplines practiced every day.

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Motivation to become and stay Fit is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.
This Habit is what I describe as the basic simple Mantras that I follow and have now come to define me and my lifestyle. And these have been developed over time. They have helped me immensely. They are not based on diets and retreats and denial of the simple pleasures of life – I don’t deny myself good food, a glass of red wine, dessert, adventure holidays, travel.

 

Being fit allows one to enjoy life in all it’s glory. When someone asks me “why do you exercise everyday”. My answer is simple “ so that I can enjoy life, eat and drink what I desire, have the energy to travel and explore the world”.

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I used to talk about this constantly with my friends, family, colleagues. It was when someone said that why don’t you do a “talk on wellness, fitness and share your experiences” that I decided to start this blog.
The blog will begin by talking about the “mantras”’ and “habits”. Further, I will continuously share some articles, news, quotes that inspire and motivate me.
Full of life, energetic, lively, full of beans, tireless, zippy, spirited, active, high octane, happy, sparkling, spunky, bright, cheerful, joyful, healthy, fit, buoyant, upbeat, pleasant, optimistic, positive, chirpy, cheery, light-hearted, sunny disposition – these are not merely adjectives and words that one reads about. I promise you , One can truly feel this way – all the time.

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