Rebooting Life

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One of the several things that we desperately crave for in life is ‘how to de-stress ourselves’ or rather keep save ourselves from getting stressed. STRESS…Oh, the word itself sounds so stressful! 😦 The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances”. Sadly, this word has occupied a major portion of our lives today. We all feel stressed out to different proportions throughout the day. And the even sadder news is that we all have adapted to this tendency (or should I say habit) of ‘being stressed out’.

If we scan our lives carefully, we can easily find that most of these stressors of our life are self-made. We are seriously responsible for a major portion of the stresses that we suffer. Whether it is our inability to manage our time well or it is our perspective towards a particular situation, we are very much responsible for that bad and stressful mood we get into. We often allow situations in life to control us rather than us controlling them.

Life is a very precious gift and the very fact that we are living and breathing in this moment is the greatest of all joys. But why do we forget this so often until the loss of a loved one or a really tragic news hits us? Every single moment is precious. Why let stress get into our lives and divert our focus from living and make us feel miserable!

Let me share with you some thoughts that I want us all to remind ourselves, each time we get stressed and feel burnt-out; thoughts and actions that will help us every time we wish to reboot our lives and refresh our souls 🙂

  1. Focus on your breathing: There is nothing more relaxing than a few moments spent focusing just on our breath. Whenever you feel stressed out or tensed, pause your mind for a few seconds and simply focus on your breathing. This will help you in realising your own precious existence and the very fact that you are alive.
  2. Sleep well: Sleep has a very big impact on the way we behave towards different life situations. Our cognitive abilities are controlled by our sleep cycles to a large extent. Less or too less sleep impair our decision making abilities, feelings of self-content, self-worth and allows too many mood swings.
  3. Think systematically: Whenever you feel stressed out, sad or depressed, try to find out the root cause behind. Whether it is an unhealthy relationship, a dead end job, troubles in the family or a sudden health crisis; think about it systematically, figure out the best possible solution or the only solution it might have and start working upon it. Trust me, there’s no time in life to be wasted on emotional distress.
  4. Time management is life management: Learn to set your priorities and act accordingly. Effective time management requires constant self-examination. Both ‘a hurrying up all the time’ and ‘a lazing around’ attitude are unhealthy. What we need is a balanced attitude towards time and an ability to practice mindfulness, so that we are always focused on our present.
  5. Stay calm: A noisy mind can never help you figure out a solution. Practice how to stay calm. Always keep your head calm and mind focused.
  6. Change your perspective: When we learn to shift our perspective, we are able to see the silver lining in the darkest situations of life. Even when the worst tragedies hit life, it is only a change of perspective that will help us in overcoming the grief and moving ahead.
  7. Do the ‘positive self-talk’: Learning how to tame that voice in our head that always criticises us and gives us constant negative feedback about our actions and behaviours is a must. Each time negativity pops up it’s ugly head in our minds, we should wipe it out with positive self-talk. Whatever troubles you, do not forget to remind yourself of how amazing and unique you are and that you will definitely be able to make your way through the tough times.
  8. Take time to disconnect from technology and connect with your own self: Our hyper-connectivity with technology is a big stressor in our lives today. Constantly checking your Smart-phone, Email inbox, Facebook notifications, Twitter updates or Whatsapp conversations drains out (slowly but severely) a major portion of your mental energy and productivity. Keep fixed time slots for all these activities and make sure that everyday you get enough time to connect with your own self.
  9. Practice gratitude: Although I have written a complete article on this, I still can not help but mention the power of this practice again and again. Being grateful and practicing gratitude helps us develop a sunny positive attitude towards life.
  10. Listen to your inner voice: Intuition is always more powerful than intellect (if we learn how to listen to it carefully). Whenever your inner voice speaks, shut-up and listen. Never act against your conscience. It is your best mentor.

So, the next time you feel stressed out, try incorporating these thoughts and actions into your life. After all someone has rightly said; “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought after another.” 🙂

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Understanding our Hormones (Part 1)

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Since the prime goal of my blog is to spread the mantra of Healthy Living, I am starting up with a series of articles completely devoted to the  “Understanding of the Chemical Messengers of our body –  our Hormones”. I believe it is extremely crucial to understand these tiny molecules of our body, not only to maintain a healthy weight but also to live your live to its utmost best. Hormones not only regulate our metabolism and other physiological processes, but also effects our psychological state, the way we feel and respond to various life situations.

This first article is based on understanding INSULIN, one of the most important hormones effecting our metabolism. It plays a severe role in our understanding of weight loss issues especially fat storage and burning. Insulin is a peptide hormone and is produced by the beta cells of our pancreas. It’s main job is to mobilise glucose present in our blood and helps our body cells to use that glucose for various cellular functions. It also causes our fat cells to absorb glucose from the blood. When no insulin is produced in the body of a person, he is said to suffer from Diabetes Type 1 and when the body shows resistance to the insulin produced, it is termed as Diabetes Type 2.

I want to focus on Diabetes Type 2 as it is intricately related to the modern day epidemic of Obesity. It has not only effected the adult population worldwide but even children are diagnosed with this disorder every now and then. One really important note: Diabetes is not a disease, it’s a disorder. A disease may get completely cured but a disorder can only be kept under control. Hence, it becomes extremely crucial to know the ways to keep a check and get control over this disorder.

Let us understand this in the simplest way possible. The food that we eat gets converted to glucose after digestion, which is released into our bloodstream. In response to this, our pancreas releases Insulin to help  our body cells use that glucose; thereby lowering it’s concentration from our blood. Some of this glucose is converted into glycogen by our liver, which is stored in the muscles for future use. The leftover glucose is converted into fatty acids and is stored in the fat cells of our body.

So, when and how does your body start resisting this helpful hormone?

Whenever we make poor food choices such as a lot of refined white and other “easily digestible” unhealthy carbs, processed food and take sugary junk (especially super sugary aerated drinks) often; we release too much glucose into our bloodstream. As a response to this, the pancreas releases a lot of Insulin to clear off all that glucose. Over a course of time, as we keep building up such poor food choices (and this process takes place every now and then to maintain our blood sugar) and continue torturing our pancreas, our body cells starts ignoring this insulin secreted. Thus,the glucose in our blood has now no function to perform but simply hang around in our bloodstream. And the high blood glucose condition then diagnosed is termed as Insulin resistance or  Diabetes Type 2 😦

It is now very clear that it is non-negotiable but to maintain lower levels of insulin in our body. And the only way to make that possible is to make sure that we do not trigger it’s secretion by making unhealthy  food choices. So, the lessons we need to take home are:

  1. Always make healthy food choices; Say a big NO to refined carbs, sugary junks and highly processed food.
  2. Eat a balanced meal in the right amount and the right time; helps our body reset it’s internal mechanism and get healthier day by day.
  3. Be physically active and exercise regularly to tap out the energy from the stored fat cells.

Remember, insulin management plays an extremely crucial role in weight management. So, let’s start respecting our fabulously designed physiology and stop torturing our bodies.

Eat smart, stay active and say Goodbye to Diabetes 🙂

       fofihere

Practice Gratitude! Feed Your Soul.

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I do not know how many of us have read (or at least come across) an article on this topic every now and then, but as someone trying hard to lead ‘the good life’, I have read a lot on this and have tried and inculcated this practice as one of my daily rituals.

GRATITUDE, it is a very beautiful word, isn’t it! It means thankfulness or the feeling/act of being thankful in appreciation of the gifts bestowed upon us. More often than not these gifts are the blessings that have been showered upon our lives. But how often have we reminded ourselves to be grateful to all the visible or invisible, real or abstract gifts that surrounds us all the time? The modern day world uses the word “Thank you” very often (more as an act of courtesy or reflection of good manners). It is almost like a reflex action. It’s good to say so and it’s good to be well mannered, no offence 🙂 But when we are asked to practice gratitude everyday in our daily lives, it has a different meaning altogether. It means everyday we are going to be thankful to life for someone or something that we do not show thankfulness towards generally or often.

Life is full of gifts and blessings. Some of them are bestowed upon us by God, some are given by time,some by our loved ones, some by our own efforts or some by destiny. It is our responsibility to express gratitude to/for all these blessings. And you know what, once you start practicing this, you will realise that the list of people,things,situations or circumstances of life that you need to be grateful towards is endless 🙂 It is a source of endless joy.

Be grateful for this universe, for this planet that supports our lives, for the fresh water down the streams (that eventually reaches our water cooler for us to drink), for the green plants and wilderness that supports human life system, for your fully functioning body cells that keep you alive, to your parents for bringing you into this world, to your family for their endless support, to your friends and co-workers. Be grateful to humanity that binds us all together, for science and arts that are ignited by the human brain. Be grateful for the beautiful night’s sleep you just got, to the food on your plate, for the smile you see on the face of your child, for those n number of times you and your loved ones have reached home safely after work, to the one who has loved you through times of joy and pain or to the mere fact that you are alive and so on so forth.

Very often we let sadness, anger, jealousy and all other forms of negative emotion take control over our daily communications, thoughts and actions. Practicing gratitude helps us channelise all those disturbing energies into the trajectory of positivity. It helps us in achieving a peaceful centre in our heart and lives. I would say that it has therapeutic effects on our soul .

Research has also shown that practicing gratitude changes the pathways of our neurones to help our system relax and fight depressive thoughts especially those of loneliness. Also, it boosts your sense of self-worth or self-esteem, helps you in strengthening your relationships and most importantly forbids you from making distractive and worthless comparisons. And it is very simple to practice. Everyday, whenever possible, just take a few minutes to think, reflect or write down at least one thing that you are grateful towards in your life. I promise you that immediately there will be a smile on your face 🙂

Start practicing gratitude and you will find your “Magical-Peace-Pills” in them 🙂

                     

Love Eating Love Food :)

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This is my first post on the new section of my blog FOOD. And even though, the name of my blog is ‘Fat-Out-Fit-In’, it does not mean that all I will write about would be just on Health Recipes, Nutrition Content of various food etc etc. The main intention of this section would be “To make you fall in love with food that is fresh, easy to cook and healthy,help you develop healthy eating habits and make you feel awesome through eating good food.” 

The first topic that I have chosen to write about is something very interesting. It is a term that I really grew fond of as I started reading about and researching on everything related to food and fitness. It is called Dietary Induced Thermogenesis or DIT. Sounds complicated and high profile,right? Well, not exactly 🙂 Let me explain you what it means and why do I love this term.

DIT or Dietary Induced Thermogenesis is the thermic effect of food i.e. it is the energy produced in the entire process of food digestion,absorption and assimilation (in other words, complete metabolisation of the food you take). Our body expends energy through three main routes: Basal Metabolic Rate, Physical Activity and DIT. If I put this in very simple words, I would say that You burn as you eat”. WHOA! that’s fantastic to know right? 🙂 Now tell me why would I not fall in love with this concept! Research has shown that DIT accounts for 5-30% of the body’s total body expenditure. And hey,do not consider these figures to be small as they build up to be a really important fraction of the body’s entire energy-expenditure picture. But here are a few facts to be a kept in mind:

  1. Only a balanced meal containing appropriate portions of carbohydrates,proteins and fats results in a good percentage of energy expended via DIT.
  2. Although protein induces highest percentage of DIT and ‘the weight loss industry goes gaga’  over the ‘lean-protein-diet’ concept, there’s a completely different side to this picture. Research has also proven that eliminating carbs out of your diet slashes your metabolism by almost 50% in a couple of months ( and that’s just sad because who can afford to remain fit with a 50% slower metabolism).
  3.  Although fats have the least percentage of energy expended via DIT,you cannot afford to eliminate them completely as their little contribution also plays an important role.

So, you see I love this concept because it is a scientific weapon to slash all those stupid FAD diets ever created. They have nothing more to do rather than give you a non-stop head and heart-ache about dieting for burning more. You can see how this concept clearly states that Eating is also a way of Burning. That means starving is never going to help us shed those extra pounds. 

So here are a few points that I would like you to take home:

  1. Do not go on crash diets (liquid diets, no carb diets, only soup-salad diets or only lean meat diets). Do not starve your body cells and torture your metabolism.
  2. Remember  there’s only one key to obtaining or maintaining a healthy weight : A healthy diet  combined with regular physical activity.
  3. By healthy diet, I mean a balanced meal containing appropriate portions of carbohydrates,proteins and fats.
  4. You will always need carbs to remain healthy, do not hate them or cut them out. Just choose healthier carbs. Avoid refined flour and sugar as much as you can as they are unhealthy carbs.
  5. An all protein diet can be dangerous, so have proteins but in controlled portions and with carbs.
  6. Do not avoid fats completely. Choose healthy fats like fish oils, cold pressed oils derived from various oil-seeds, extra-virgin olive oils, home-made Indian clarified butter or ghee that contribute their sincere % in DIT energy expenditure.

Choose your ingredients wisely, cook happily and eat with love and satisfaction 🙂 Never hate food if you want to stay fit and healthy.

6.2

The Beauty of Lifting Weights

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There’s a very widely spread myth among women around the world. At some level I feel that this myth is one of the main reasons for women staying away from exercise. Most women and even men, who try to set a foot into the habit of daily exercising, often stick to a self-made cardio-vascular activity (like brisk walking or running). Well, that’s good, cardio is definitely good, but do you know the magic benefits that resistance training / strength training does to your bodies?All you ladies out there, if I ask you- “Why are you so scared of lifting weights?” I am sure your answer will be- “ Because I am a woman and I just need to shed my body fat (just a few pounds). Why do I need to lift weights for that? I don’t want muscular biceps and triceps. That’s so masculine and gross, it’s going to hurt my feminine body structure 😦

*Beep Beep*…High time for the reality check! LADIES, what if I tell you that weights are your actual best friends, your best weapon to shed all that ugly, unwanted, unhealthy body fat and build a lean healthy body!

Let me try explaining you the science behind. Working out with weights (in the form of free weights like dumbbells/ kettle bells, resistance band or weight machines) is known as strength training or resistance training. Basically, when you lift a weight, you are providing resistance to your muscles to induce muscular contractions. The concept is simple- “Muscles of the body work to overcome a resistance force when they are required to do so.” Thus, when you do resistance training repeatedly and consistently, your muscles start working actively and become stronger. Not only does it strengthens your muscles, but also it provides your body with all-round “super-benefits”.

So, what are these “super-benefits”? (Let’s learn these as sincerely as we learnt our first alphabets 🙂 )-

  1. Improved muscle strength i.e. your overall physical strength increases.
  2. Reduced body fat – As your muscles get stronger, they start burning away all the intra-muscular and unwanted fat (especially helpful in getting rid of visceral fat i.e. the hideous AB FLABs).
  3. Tones your muscles (you get those hot buns and legs, fabulous arms and ripped up abs)
  4. Increases bone density and joint function (extremely important for us women as we have a natural deficit of calcium and tendency for weak skeletal structure, especially post-pregnancy and post-menopause;  No more back ache, knee pain or twisted ankle complains).
  5. Increases stamina as your it increases the anaerobic endurance of our bodies (I promise you are not going to get dull tired and fatigued easily).
  6. Improved posture and balance (You will attain the grace and poise of those red-carpet ladies).
  7. Get rid of insomnia as your sleep cycles start improving.
  8. Increases strength of your tendons and ligaments.
  9. And last but not the least, it helps your body to stay balanced, independent and strong with ageing as it improves your overall body definition.

WOW 🙂 So many benefits and you thought that lifting weights would make you Arnold Schwarzenegger (umm… not saying that to all men reading this post, in fact it will help you become like the Terminator man). Ladies, start strength training and you will end up becoming as strong as Madonna and as hot as Beyoncé or J.Lo 😉

Of course, just like any other form of exercise, resistance training needs to be done in its correct form (the right weight, the right exercise and the right number of repetitions required) and hence, needs to be done under trained supervision. You can also do it yourself provided you learn and maintain the correct form.

So, include resistance training in your workout schedule say Good-bye to a weak flabby body and Hello to a strong, lean body 🙂

                                    5.2

The Power of Baby Steps :)

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Ever sat down and had those overwhelming thoughts of “Oh my GOD, I have got so many things to do(tasks to be completed, goals to be accomplished). How am I going to manage it all? 😦 ” I bet you have, we all have. Most of the times we get so entangled in the humdrum of daily life that we often put behind “things that we really want to do or should do” in the back burner. It can be anything- going to the gym and actually utilising that gym membership you had once paid for, taking those guitar lessons you have been thinking of,writing that journal that you have been planning to start from a really long time, working on that list of new year resolutions (this one’s universal), starting to work on your grad school application or even visiting the dentist to get a solution to that aching tooth. The “TO-DO LIST” of our life just keeps on lengthening up with each passing day.Seriously, we all have fallen into the trap of PROCRASTINATION. And then when asked about these delays, we all have the same reply, “ I just did not get the time to do it.” How easily and how often do we say that!

Well, nature has given us all 24 hours a day, not a second more or less. And all that needs to be done has to be managed in this fixed time slot. If something is really important to us, then we have to do it within this time. No, Ifs and Buts. I know some of you are still going to disagree with me and say “That’s not possible, I am really busy (hence,not at all lazy) and at times I just cannot help but procrastinate.”

 Ok, I got it. In that case there’s a solution that I wish to offer. “TAKE BABY STEPS.” It’s simple 🙂 Each day take one tiny step towards accomplishing that task you have been pending or habit you have been wishing to develop. And it’s ok if your steps falter,your efforts fail. Really, it’s 100% ok. Do not feel guilty about it or start to panic. What goes wrong with most of us is that we either panic,jump into the task planned,mess it up completely and feel guilty later on or we silently keep on delaying it. After a certain threshold of time, we might even completely quit the idea of doing it.

Remember, this is just one LIFE that we all have. Each one of us have both the time and the potential to complete all those tasks and accomplish all those goals of our LIST. The only thing to be done is to continuously move forward, take at least one little step everyday towards them. For example, if you want to get real fit and go to the gym, start it these Baby Steps-  go for a light jog or a 20 minutes brisk walk everyday. Once you spirits start getting lifted up and you build endurance, start exercising with a friend or join the nearby gym so that your body won’t get freaked out and beg you to quit “the idea of getting fit” completely.

Start taking these BABY STEPS forward- one thing at a time, one day at a time. And then one day when you look back you will happily realise with a great sense of “Self-Pride” how you have accomplished all the tasks efficiently and lived a life far ahead of your own expectations. I promise, you are going to feel great, TRY IT 🙂

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Understanding AB-FLABS

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“It’s Saturday night. You are all set to enjoy the weekend, bust out all that stress of the week passed by. You open the closet, take out that favorite “little black dress” of yours and try it on as a rehearsal (Umm, Ladies we all do that, Accept it :P)Alas! You do fit into the dress but you realise something’s wrong =/ You don’t look good actually! You touch your abdomen and feel disgusted. Love handles and Muffin-top!!!!!! Arrrgghhhh 😦 “

Ok, now if you occasionally go for a jog or may be read a “health tip” that comes in your favorite magazine, you might know these terms. For the rest of you, let me explain – Love handles are those waistline fat (kind of like a rubber tyre fit into your waist, which sadly your lover holds on to). Muffin-tops on the other hand are those fat hanging over your abdomen when you wear a really tight pair of pants.

Hmmm…. Let’s take a little a bit of our time and try to understand the science behind. Our hormones (the chemical messengers of our body) are playing an active role in the creation of these disturbing FAT ZONES. Our Adrenal gland secretes 3 Stress Hormones namely Cortisol, Epinephrine and Norepinephrine. Whenever our body undergoes any stressful condition these hormones get secreted and start working. Definitely, nature has created these tiny molecules to stabilise our internal biology. But we have exploited our physiology and made them our enemies 😦

Whenever you skip a meal, do not give your body the desired amount of physical activity (i.e.. you don’t exercise), do not sleep for 6-8 hours daily, fall sick or really really stress your body, the level of these hormones rise, rise and rise. In an effort to save your body cells from these tortures, these hormones especially CORTISOL spikes up your blood sugar levels and stops the production of Insulin (because that’s the hormone that cleanses your extra blood glucose). When the stressor gets passed, all this extra sugar gets converted into your body fat. Interestingly, it is during this very same time that Cortisol starts mobilising fat from the healthy fat storing areas of your body like Butt and Hips and brings it all to your waistline and abdomen (as they have more “ cortisol-receptor cells”).

Now stop hating “Cortisol”. The fault is all yours. Each time you have stressed out your normal physiology, you have started generating and storing fat, resulting in the creation of these unpleasant FAT zones. So, how do you get rid of these “Muffin-tops and Love-handles”. Simple, you know it – Never skip a meal, do not stress out your normal metabolism with Stupid FAD Diets, start handling life happily (keep stress at bay), get rid of all unhealthy habits, sleep in peace for 8 hours daily and most importantly, stop giving yourself another excuse of not working out.

So, Ladies! Get into the “Good Habit Mode”, keep a check on your cortisol levels and say goodbye to those flabby regions 🙂

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