Category Archives: Healthy Happy Weekend

5 Healthy Ideas to Try This Week

Every January all of us make resolutions, many of which center around health and fitness. The problem with these resolutions is, we have the big picture but not the steps to achieve them and so they ultimately fall by the wayside. This year, we at Beaming Health Magazine decided to share a few tips to help you stay on the road to good health and fitness. So, plunge right in and do let us know which ones worked for you. 

  • Let the Winter Olympics inspire you to reconnect with a childhood game. Be it hockey, tennis, basketball, swimming or even just running free.
  • Discuss an issue that has been creating undue stress for you with someone you can rely on. Then work on eliminating or at least minimizing the source of that stress 
  • Eat one green meal every week. Be it an exotic one or a simple and delicious homemade one, the focus is on including as much raw plant-based food as possible in that meal
  • Switch off all electronic devices an hour before you go to sleep and read a book instead. This includes all computers, phones and the television
  • Spend five minutes in the morning doing a few, simple stretching or deep breathing exercises before you start your day. The quality of transition time, from sleep to alertness will make a difference to the quality of your day

Make these small changes in your weekly routine and soon you’ll be thanking us.

About the Author:

Niranjani is an entrepreneur and blogger who believes that good quality, affordable healthcare should be available to all. She occasionally puffs and pants her way through a 10k race to feel fit, despite her chaotic life.

Photo Credit: Image 1

Copyright 2014 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

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Cycling Nirvana – The Workout Series

Cycling (any ride that lasts over an hour) is on the up globally, as well as in India, and for good reason. More people are aspiring to get into shape for different reasons and cycling is often preferred over other activities, such as running as there is less impact on the body, particularly the back and legs. That being said, cycling can cause it’s share of problems, if the rider has an incorrect posture or if the saddle (seat) is not at the optimum height and angle.

One of the first things to figure out before starting cycling is the kind of equipment you want and this is where a lot of aspiring cyclists doubt their interest levels. Unlike swimming, where one basically needs a good suit, goggles and cap; cycling can drive you to despair with the choices you have to make. In recent years, the availability of cycles has increased dramatically and a good one can set you back quite a bit, so it’s important to make a good choice.

Most cycles are either made of aluminium, alloy metals and at the higher end, carbon fiber. The weight goes down dramatically with a carbon fiber cycle, which potentially increases riding speed. Here are the broad categories of cycles available today, which are mostly terrain dependent:

  • Road – A road bike or ‘roadie’ can be identified by its handlebars and the thickness of the tyre. Roadies have dropped handlebars which give riders a more aggressive posture. The other identifier is that, road bikes have thin tires usually ranging from 20-25 mm. A thing to note is that the thinner the tire, the faster it is because of reduced rolling resistance, though there are some tests which show that 25 mm tires are faster than 23 mm tires (but that’s a discussion for another day).
  • Hybrid – Hybrids can be identified again by the handlebars and tires. The handlebars of a hybrid are straight, while the tires are fatter than those of roadies and are usually between 28-34 mm. If you are a newbie, it is probably best to pick up a hybrid first before graduating on to a road bike, if ever.
  • MTB ­– Multi-terrain Bikes are the ones with straight handlebars and the rugged looking tires. If you are a newbie to cycling beware of getting this cycle unless you specifically want to do off-roading. Legions of new cyclists have bought MTBs because of the rough-and-tough look but since they are relatively more difficult to ride on roads (fatter tires have higher rolling resistance), they are quickly put in the closet only to make a brief reappearance to fulfil a New Year’s resolution.

It is critical that a prospective cyclist buy the correct cycle size (depends on the rider’s height) because it could have an adverse impact on the body, as well as ride quality. Most cycles in the market are geared though there are a few ungeared bikes for the brave ones. Gear changing is usually specific to cycle brands but the rule of thumb is that the lower gears are for inclines and the higher gears are for straights and descents. The front and rear gears can be used together, but beware of getting your gears crossed (high front gear to low rear gear and vice-versa).  

The Musts

Buying a cycle is only the start and there is a laundry list of critical items to have. The helmet, water bottles, saddle bag, puncture kit, tool kit, spare tire tube, air pump, sunglasses, front and rear lights and, of course, proper cycling apparel are crucial. There are also specialized cycling shoes (used with special pedals) but for a newbie, regular running shoes with regular pedals will do just fine. One should also have degreasers, greasers and other cleaning products to ensure that the cycle, as well as, the drive-train is kept clean. There are other accessories like cycling computers, however, one must watch out since the want list can get very long and very expensive.

Do’s and Dont’s

As you start cycling you will obviously get a better feel what to watch out for, however here are some pointers to start you off:

  • Avoid urban areas – Motorists in India unfortunately rank low on civic sense and do not care for cyclists. You and the cycle are fragile and there is no point to risking your life. Go out of the city and discover how nice it is to cycle in low traffic roads, not to mention less polluted areas.
  • Ride in groups – Riding in a group is just common sense, as it is just safer for you. On a personal note, beyond safety, I have made a number of good friends among the cyclists I ride with.
  • Hydration – Given that India is a hot country, you are more often likely to sweat a lot during your ride. Sweating means your body is losing critical fluids and we need to keep replenishing them. Drink water even if you are not feeling thirsty. The rule of thumb is to drink anywhere from 500 -750 ml of water an hour but that depends on climatic conditions and body weight. Also make sure you drink water (300 – 400 ml) before the start of your ride. One should mix electrolytes with water to replenish minerals being lost; low electrolyte count can lead to cramping. The best electrolytes products are the ones you can get at medical shops; avoid sports drinks because they are essentially sugar water.
  • Carbohydrates – Carbs have become such a dirty word and if you plan to exercise while having a low-carb diet you are done for. Carbs are the primary energy source during exercise and it is critical to ensure that the body has an adequate supply of it. If you are planning to do a ride that is over 3 hours, ensure that you have an elevated carb diet on the previous day. Be sure to carry energy bars during your rides – cycling burns calories real fast and not having an energy source can be debilitating.
  • Start slow – Know your limits. If you are newbie you should be comfortable doing short rides before graduating to longer ones. The effort needed as one rides longer is non-linear.
  • Stretch before riding – Like any exercise, it is paramount to stretch before cycling. A list of useful stretching exercises can be found here.
  • Stay safe – Always wear your helmet while riding – your life depends on it. Be extra defensive while riding your cycle. After all you don’t want to go head-on with a larger vehicle. Watch out for Curious George’s who pull their vehicles close to the cycle to have a look at the cycle.
  • Enjoy yourself – Make this enjoyable, something you’ll want to do for the rest of your life, not another chore to tick off on the weekends.

Our workout series aims to help you figure out the right fitness regime for your body and mind. Now we want you to get your whole family in on it. As part of this series, we previously covered: swimmingrowingrunning, a guide to picking the right shoe, a three-week campaign to get you out on the road and how to mentally condition yourself to get going.

About the Author:

Sunil Rongala is based in Hyderabad and can often be seen tackling the hilly terrain outside the city on the weekends. He loves his life even more since he discovered cycling and plans to continue enjoying this sport for as long as possible.

Photo Credit: Image 1

Copyright 2013 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

Find out more at:

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Family Fitness – Balloon Volleyball Sundays

It’s a well-known fact that it’s easier to teach kids with examples rather than through preaching. The same applies to lifestyle changes. Sitting around munching on a bag of chips and watching our favourite t.v. serial, while telling our little ones to go out and play, isn’t a great idea. They’ll most probably hide themselves away with an electronic gadget till we call them to start their homework or eat their next meal.

A simple way to make fitness a part of your lifestyle as a family and up the fun factor at the same time, is to introduce the concept of family fitness. There are multiple ways to do this and over the next few months we will introduce you to a few simple ideas to kick-start the process.

One game we enjoy as a family is balloon volleyball. I don’t know any children who don’t love balloons, even though many of them are terrified of the sound when one pops. I say balloons make dully dreary adults into children!

That being said, here’s our first activity for the family fitness program. Balloon Volleyball Sundays. Gather the family together, clear some space in a room, or make for the outdoors, and start playing.

Here’s what you’ll need (all available at most general stores):

A long piece of string or ribbon – for the net

Some tape – to secure the string

A pair of scissors – to cut the tape and string

A few balloons (obviously)

I have fond memories of my parents playing with my brother and me. Today it’s us with our little one. Fitness and a mental image of happiness, is as close to picture perfect as it gets.

So, this weekend ditch the afternoon movie and have fun being a child, with your children. Oh! and let us know if you have any family fitness ideas to share.

Our workout series aims to help you figure out the right fitness regime for your body and mind. Now we want you to get your whole family in on it. As part of this series, we previously covered: swimmingrowingrunning, a guide to picking the right shoe, a three-week campaign to get you out on the road and how to mentally condition yourself to get going.

About the Author:

Niranjani is an entrepreneur and blogger who believes that good quality, affordable healthcare should be available to all. She occasionally puffs and pants her way through a 10k race to feel fit, despite her chaotic life.

Photo Credit: Image 1

Copyright 2013 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

A Cup a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

A cup of green tea a day keeps cancer and wrinkles away.

Actually it’s 3-5 cups a day and you can add tooth decay to that line above. It’s not called a cup of magic for nothing.

Now, here’s a little story for you. A long time ago (around 2737 B.C.) Emperor Shen Nung was relaxing under a shady tree with a drink of freshly boiled water, when a leaf floated down and softly landed in his cup. A gentle aroma soon rose from the water and when the emperor took a sip he was rewarded with the delightful flavour of the world’s first cup of green tea. I’m not sure how much of this story is fact or fiction, given that tea leaves do not grow on trees, however, over the next 2000 years or so the delights and benefits of this gentle brew spread from China to Japan, and other parts of Asia.

Today, while the whole world is drinking this bittersweet brew, because it’s ‘the thing to do’, most of us are not fully aware of the benefits we’ll be reaping. Here are a few pointers you may want to share with the last few non-green tea-drinkers on planet earth.

Oxidative stress plays a crucial part in a number of human diseases, including the much dreaded cancer . One way to protect our bodies from anti-oxidant stress is to maintain an optimum level of anti-oxidants in our system While, Vitamin E and C are well-known anti-oxidants, green tea is supposed to be 24 times more effective than the former and 100 times more effective than the latter! Specifically, it is thought to reduce the risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer.

In an extension of the previous point, anti-oxidants reduce and even prevent cell damage, thereby acting as both a deterrent to heart disease and helping with recovery after a coronary attack. Green tea has the ability to accelerate glucose and lipid metabolism, which can help with diabetes, cholesterol and obesity. So both a diabetic grandparent and a teenager fighting puppy fat can benefit from a few cups a day. Talking of older people, the anti-inflammatory benefits of green tea can even help with rheumatoid arthritis and other common joint complaints. Matter of fact, in controlled human trials, green tea as shown to increase fat oxidation by 17% and energy expenditure by 4%.

In Asia, particularly India and China, green tea has been used for centuries as an astringent, stimulant, diuretic, as well as, to deal with flatulence, to regulate body temperature, to control the levels of blood sugar, and as an aid to digestion. It even kills bacteria which affect our teeth, thereby improving our dental health and reducing the risk of infections.

You want that make-up-advertisement-like glow? Get it the natural way, with no make-up. Sip a cup of green tea while reading your glossy magazine! The best part, that little bit of tummy bloat from too much weekend indulgence will come down and you can cut down on your dental bills at the same time.

So now we know it helps our bodies, inside and out, but what about our minds? Well, here’s something all of us know, green tea contains caffeine. Scientific studies have shown that, cafffeine can improve our moods, increase vigilance, reduce reaction time and sharpen the memory. The problem is the ‘jitteriness’ it causes our bodies to undergo. Green tea has cracked that problem. How?, you may ask. On one hand green tea contains close to the ideal amount of caffeine that the human body needs to stay alert. On the other it holds an amino acid called L-theanine, which can cross the blood-brain barrier and which research has shown to have an anti-anxiety effect on our brain! Ultimately, what you have is a slower, more stable release of energy, with increased productivity.

About the Author:

Niranjani is an entrepreneur and blogger who believes that good quality, affordable healthcare should be available to all. She occasionally puffs and pants her way through a 10k race to feel fit, despite her chaotic life.

Photo Credit: Image 1Image 2

Copyright 2013 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

 

Summer Recovery – Starting a Workout Routine

The summer’s over, the days are getting a bit cooler thanks to the rain and the mangoes are dwindling away from the markets. Everyone’s enjoyed a break, to some extent, from routine, especially when it comes to food and exercise. Initially, your activity levels may have been higher playing with the neighbourhood children on their summer break or travelling to a new or well-loved location, however, gradually the weight piles on, your skin gets dull and your hair looks lank. You obviously need to get back on track to be ready in time for the festival season. Well, don’t despair we have a simple and effective program to get your health back on track.

This week we start with fitness. Our five step Summer Recovery- Starting the Workout program will help you get started afresh or pick-up where you let off at the beginning of summer.

  • Pick a Realistic Time

The time you choose to workout should be comfortably available for you on a daily basis. Having competing commitments at the same time, will ensure that you drop the new routine within a few weeks or even few days because it’s just too much of a challenge in your already busy day.

  • Enlist a Reliable Friend

Rope in someone who will give you that wake-up call for a morning workout or call you on out on lazing in front of the television, instead of going for your evening run. Even better get a workout partner who you know will push you. When you know you have to report into someone on your effort or performance, you will be a lot more dedicated.

  • Choose an Activity You Enjoy

Your workout time is ‘me’ time, something that you are doing for your mental and physical health. Enjoying it ensures that you’ll look forward to it and want to do it every single day. A sure fire way to stick to your workout plan. Another option is to mix up the activities in your workout to keep it interesting. Enjoy the last bit of warm weather with a host of outdoor activities. Spend weekends going on picnics and playing some cricket or volleyball.

  • Make it a Priority

Your daily workout is as important as brushing your teeth every morning or having your main meal of the day. You need to tell yourself that’s a non-negotiable and essential activity. A good way to do this is to remind yourself about why you’ve chosen to start this regime. Make yourself stick to it for four weeks without a lapse and by the end of the month it’ll be a part of your regular routine.

  • Reward Yourself

While the obvious result of an effective and regular workout routine is a healthy body and mind in the long run, we all need some motivation to keep going. Choose a reward that does not affect your fitness and set it as a reward against the milestone of completing a month of regular workouts.

Use these smart but simple steps to get yourself back to your fittest and healthiest self and you’ll be ready to enjoy the rest of the year.

About the Author:

Niranjani is an entrepreneur and blogger who believes that good quality, affordable healthcare should be available to all. She occasionally puffs and pants her way through a 10k race to feel fit, despite her chaotic life.

Photo Credit: Image 1Image 2

Copyright 2013 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

 

Summer Smoothies – Cool, Simple and Nutritious

The heat is getting to all of us here and we supposedly haven’t even hit peak temperatures! Eating anything other than ice-cream or curd rice is an effort and cooking a meal is even more tiring, so how do we keep ourselves hydrated while ensuring that we get our daily nutrition?

The simple answer is a tall, cool and refreshing smoothie, that appeals to both the old and the young. Have it cool, chilled or frozen; sweet, sour or with a hint of spice. Either way these delicious recipes will keep you coming back for more.

Nutty Summer Harvest Smoothie (Serving: 2 glasses)

A summer addition, that will have you raiding the fruit shops.

Ingredients:

Freshly squeezed pomegranate juice – 1 cup

Musk melon or any other yellowish sweet melon – 1 small melon or 1/2 a medium sized melon

Almonds – 12 – 15 nuts

Freshly squeezed lime juice – 1 or 2 lemons (depending on personal taste)

Fresh ginger – 1 inch piece 

Honey or Palm Sugar – 1 large tbsp

Mint leaves to garnish

Ice cubes – 1/2 cup (optional)

Method:

Combine all the ingredients and blend till smooth.

Pour into a tall glass, top with a sprig of mint and enjoy.

Energy in A Glass (Serving: 2 glasses)

For those days when you have a lot on your plate and no time to stop for a meal.

Ingredients:

Plain cocoa powder – 2 tbsp + a dash to garnish

Flaxseed powder – 2 tbsp

De-seeded dates – 5 large

Banana – 2 medium or one large (frozen tastes the best)

Coconut milk – 1 cup

Method:

Peel the bananas.

Combine all the ingredients and blend, adding cold water if necessary, till the liquid is smooth and at a drinkable consistency.

Add ice to a glass, if required. Pour the smoothie into the glass, sprinkle cocoa powder on top and enjoy.

About the Author:

Niranjani is an entrepreneur and blogger who believes that good quality, affordable healthcare should be available to all. She occasionally puffs and pants her way through a 10k race to feel fit, despite her chaotic life.

Photo Credit: Image 1Image 2

Copyright 2013 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

The Workout Series – Mind Over Matter

Most fitness enthusiasts I have meet or worked with, stress on one important factor which the rest of us (who consider our daily workout a necessary evil) miss. That simple but oft neglected factor is this, ‘When it comes to real performance, it’s a case of mind over matter’. Yes, your mental fitness is as important as, or maybe even more than, your physical fitness.

As Naresh, a regular contributor with us, and a fitness enthusiast who has been running and rowing for over 30 years says, “While running or rowing, after a point your muscles get used to the effort and then it’s only  a matter of convincing yourself that you can do it, and at times even fighting boredom or laziness”.

Now we are definitely not saying that to win a marathon, you can be a couch potato who just needs to believe he can run. Physical training is an obvious factor here as it helps us build strength and stamina while preventing injuries. The difference between making it a lifelong activity and a flash in the pan, or between enjoying a 42k marathon and dragging yourself through a 5k run, is in the mind. Mental conditioning is vital for success in any activity so why should it be any different for physical fitness.

So how what does mental conditioning comprise and how do you do it? The ‘what’ is pretty simple to identify and has three ingredients. First, you need to be 100% sure that you really ‘want’ to get fit and perform at a certain level. The reasons for this ‘want’ can be varied and don’t really matter as long as they are strong enough to motivate you. It could start with a desire to look your best at your wedding, or to improve your quality of life while having a stressful career or just another challenge because you are a competitive person by nature.

The second ingredient in mix is convincing yourself that you can do this (whatever your target). This self confidence is, in my limited opinion, the most important aspect, as motivators can change over time but the knowledge that you are capable of achieving a target is non-negotiable for success.

The last item in the pot is a strong filter when negating factors come into the picture, such as, pessimistic influences or easy out options. The former are easy to identify but the latter can slip past your defenses and though this ingredient may have a certain link to the previous two, ‘motivators” and ‘confidence’, it is not the same. Say you are training ardently for a month and it’s taking a bit longer to reach your milestones when you come across an advertisement promising the results, that you are working towards so diligently, in half the time. In such a case you don’t feel you are giving up but just switching to a more efficient plan. This is the reason I used the word filter and not blocker. There is absolutely nothing wrong with exploring options but the common mistakes to filter out are two.

One, switching too often makes you lose focus, which may result in you not completing any plan, however good, in the long run, which means you  have essentially failed to reach your target. Two, not all plans are as good as they sound and it’s important to do some research before spending time, money and effort on any one. The second reason I used the word filter is that we need to be open to factors such as illness or injuries, but not so susceptible that even the mention of one makes us fall of the treadmill. This ability to discriminate, while not giving into paranoia or laziness is definitely an element of mental fitness and is affected by both the motivators and the our confidence levels.

So having identified the ‘what’ factors, we now move on to the ‘how’. While, there is no exhaustive list on ways to build mental strength, there are a few simple, commonly used and effective methods that I’ll share with you in a three step program:

  • Note your Motivation: Make a note (or list, if applicable) of reasons why you want to do this. Read this note (list), maybe even frame it and put it up on your wall.
  • Plan: Plan out how you want to reach your target or hit your goal. The plan can be as detailed or simple as suits your requirement and work style, you may even drill down to the level of planning out days / hours / distance to be covered in a certain period of time. Ensure that the plan is realistic, with respect to timing and type pf activity,  given your personality and current lifestyle.
  • Meditate: I cannot stress the importance of this step enough. I know people who have not done anything else (not even the first two steps above) to strengthen themselves mentally, except meditate, and they are the best at what they do. Meditation will not just build mental strength but will reduce stress and increase your powers of concentration, leading to success in any activity you undertake, be it professional or recreational.

For those of you who are planning to start meditating for the first time, here are three tips:

  • Till you achieve a certain minimum level of concentration, make sure you practice in a quiet place, at a time when you have no immediate demands on your time. I usually spend half an hour before I go to bed, after the whole household has settled down for the night. Others prefer to do it in the morning, before they day starts, when and the world as a whole is still in a state of semi-slumber.
  • Practice everyday without fail. Calming and strengthening the mind is a simple process but one that requires regular effort. In the beginning even missing a day can make you lose your mojo, so don’t give yourself any leeway. Make it a part of your routine and as important as brushing your teeth (please don’t tell me if you don’t consider that important).
  • Enjoy the process, think of it as ‘me’ time. After all it’s supposed to help you relax, not create more stress by adding to your ‘to-do’ list.

So next time you plan to run a marathon or take part in a mixed doubles tennis competition*, remember it’s a case of ‘mind over matter’.

*Always check with your doctor before taking up any new physical activity.

About the Author:

Niranjani is an entrepreneur and blogger who believes that good quality, affordable healthcare should be available to all. She occasional puffs and pants her way through a 10k race to feel fit, despite her chaotic life.

Photo Credit: Image 1, Image 2

Copyright 2013 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

I Have a Hot Valentine…

……only it’s not another person. I have written off as ridiculous, the pressure to conform to what looks good in the eyes of another person or society. This year my hot date on Valentine’s is with myself. From this day on, I will make a fresh resolution. I will do all that makes me feel good about myself, for you see the way my body looks and feels needs to make me happy.

Most of us are pressured by the fact that the media is full of diets and exercise regimes that swear that a person can lose 10 kilos in as many days, or something equally ridiculous. And then there are these interviews with hunky looking film stars that claim that their really muscled bodies are a result of pumping iron a lot of iron and a few tweaks to their diets, and was achieved in a month or 6 weeks. It is enough to give any normal human being a guilt complex. You have been doing your best to eat right since the New Year (more than a month now) and you have been real regular at the gym. Surely the occasional chocolate that you sneaked in, or that one Sunday that you slept in, couldn’t make such a difference between your still out of shape body and the ripped look that the cover page film star swears was achieved in a month?

First of all, do remember that a lot of these claims are just that. Tall claims with air brushed photographs that have little to do with reality. Secondly, unfortunately, a lot of the success achieved is due to the use of chemicals that in the long run have dangerous effects on the heart, liver and kidneys (of course that is not something that ever gets reported!).

If you are eating a balanced diet and losing around 3 kilos a month, you are on the right path. The weight loss will be sustained and not regained the moment you get off the diet. As for the ripped muscles, including the six pack, we all have them. It’s just that you don’t see them right now, because they are covered with a layer of fat. Continue with the diet, make sure you do your regular strength training to tone the muscle, and give yourself steady doses of aerobic activity, be it running, walking or cycling, and it will be just a matter of time before the muscles in your body start showing definition.

The important thing to remember is that all of us have different bodies, with no two being alike in terms to their response to a diet or exercise routine. That being said, if you put in the effort, there is no reason on earth why the results won’t show within a reasonable period of time. The only point is that on this one, you are on your own. Your efforts will work on your body in a truly unique way. There is absolutely no pressure to conform and go with the herd. Ultimately it’s your body and the way it looks needs to make you happy. Don’t forget, you are your own hot date for life?

About the author:

Sunitha Srinivasan has qualified with the National Association of Fitness Certification in the USA as a Lifestyle Consultant and Resistance Trainer. She focuses on helping people with their struggle to create a balanced and healthy lifestyle,  given the time constraints and stress present in today’s world.
She also conducts workshops on Wellness, Stress Management and Work-Life balance.
She can be reached at Sunitha@sans-souci.in

Photo Credit: Image 1Image 2

Copyright 2013 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

Christmas is coming…

The goose is getting fat, recipe books are being dusted off and hotels are preparing for Christmas cake mixing sessions. It’s a wonderful time of the year, full of festive cheer, catching up with friends, exchanging gifts and generally making merry, all of this accompanied by good food and wine of course.
Good food and wine, the perfect accompaniments to a nice evening out. In fact, can you really imagine catching up with friends and not sharing a meal? It’s something all of us do at least once a week right? Once a week, that’s the operative phase. Drinking in moderation which means two drinks for a man and one for a woman, once a week, is perfectly fine and does your body almost no damage at all. The same goes for eating rich ‘party’ food. The problem is, that during the festive season once a week tends to become every day or every other day, and as a result during that short week between Christmas and New Year a whole year’s sensible eating can go down the tubes, leaving you to start the New Year feeling totally depressed and frustrated. The end result, instead of looking forward to new beginnings, the focus would be on regrets over a year’s efforts wasted.

So, is the option curling up in bed every night and painting your toe nails? Now that would be truly crazy right? This is the time to wear a slinky black dress and show off that gorgeous figure that has cost you more hours in the gym than you care to remember. So how on earth does one really strike a balance?

As with everything else, the answer begins in your mind. Are you absolutely certain that you cannot enjoy that party without a plate of potato crisps and a whole lot of alcohol? Surely not, after all you are there to catch up with friends and enjoy their company right? So how about focussing on that instead of on the food and drink? Convince the group to join in some interesting party games maybe? Or even better; roll up the carpet, put on some lively music and get everyone dancing. You can be certain that the whole group will have a great time, and leave the party feeling wonderful. That “feel good” factor that comes only with vigorous exercise can make us all feel on top of the world. Best of all of you will wake up feeling full of beans rather than hung over and depressed.

If you are a fairly close group of friends who party together over the festive week, maybe you could suggest that everyone brings one or two dishes. This will earn you loads of brownie points from the hostesses, and at least a few of you can plan to carry some healthy, wholesome food rather than artery clogging ‘delicacies’.  But that’s going ahead to dinner, right? Before that you still have hours of drinking and snacking to get through. The first option is of course the games and the dancing. However, if that doesn’t work, or if you are in a restaurant, your best option lies in a bowl of soup, as this blog keeps advocating. Ask for a clear chicken or vegetable soup. It will fill you up nicely, thus keeping you away from the fried stuff, and help you stagger your alcohol intake.

The key to the whole game is to stick to your exercise routine, no matter what. If possible increase your exercise time, and this is where the dancing at parties comes in handy. Never forget that extra calories consumed have to be burnt or they will accumulate as fat in the body. Drink in moderation , and taste rather that eat the fried stuff and desserts, and you will be facing 2013 with a lovely broad smile because your favourite party dress feels looser than it did last year.

Have yourself a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

About the author:

Sunitha Srinivasan has qualified with the National Association of Fitness Certification in the USA as a Lifestyle Consultant and Resistance Trainer. She focuses on helping people with their struggle to create a balanced and healthy lifestyle,  given the time constraints and stress present in today’s world.
She also conducts workshops on Wellness, Stress Management and Work-Life balance.
She can be reached at Sunitha@sans-souci.in

Photo Credit: Image 1

Copyright 2012 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

That Humble Bowl of Soup

As you’re reading this, if you chance to look out of your window, you will see the sun blazing outside, and the last thing that you can think of is the fact that winter will soon be upon us. After all, we are pretty much in the middle of November, right?

Winter brings with it the long chilly evenings, when you try to get home as early as you can, so that you can enjoy an evening to yourself with a warm cup of tea? Or even better some homemade soup. There’s something about soup, that’s so heart warming. That may be because of its sheer goodness. There are few things as healthy as a bowl of soup, made from scratch with lots of vegetables and perhaps a bit of chicken stock. For sure, the ‘healthy’ part is severely put to test when you load your soup with dollops of cream or sauté the veggies with a whole liter of oil.

Be smart here, and you will find that your humble bowl of soup is the perfect meal, full of nutrition and low on calories.  The great advantage of having a bowl of soup early in the evening is that it is extremely filling, which means you are not tempted into a heavy dinner. Therefore, as you treat your body, and your soul, to a bowl of soup early in the evening, you will have the double pleasure of watching the pounds roll off you.

This is extremely important during the Festive season, where overeating of calorie rich food is par for the course. This is a time when you need to keep your bowl of soup really close at hand. Make sure that you always have a nice, filling mug of soup before you go out to eat or party. This way you won’t be ravenously hungry and therefore you will be able to enjoy the treats laid before you with discretion, instead of gorging on the first plate of chips that you see.

Discretion is the key word here. It will ensure that you really enjoy the festive season, with all the accompanying goodies. Remember eat with caution, and step up your exercise, so that the extra calories are burnt easily. This will free you from the the typical post festivity depression that hits most of us around the first week of January.

Seasons greetings to all of you, as we leave you with a simple and easy soup recipe to start off. Here’s to a lovely, bright and colourful Diwali and festive season.

Mixed Vegetable Soup

Serves: 2 bowls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped mixed vegetables (carrot, beans, cauliflower, green peas, sweet corn)
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 green chillies chopped
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Coriander leaves for garnishing
  • 6 cups water (or vegetable stock)
  • 1 tsp corn flour mixed into ½ a cup of milk
  • 1 tsp butter
  • Salt as per taste

Method

  • Heat a thick bottomed pan and add the butter.
  • Once the butter melts, add onion, ginger, green chilli and garlic, and stir fry for a minute on simmer.
  •  Once done add the rest of the vegetables and fry for a few minutes before adding the water or vegetable stock.
  • Once the vegetables are cooked, add salt and the corn flour mix and stir well. The soup will thicken a little.
  • Remove the pan of soup from the flame and add pepper powder.
  • Top with coriander before serving hot.

For more ideas on staying fit, while enjoying the festive season check out our ‘Eat Right When you Eat Out: The Food Court‘ article.

About the author:

Sunitha Srinivasan has qualified with the National Association of Fitness Certification in the USA as a Lifestyle Consultant and Resistance Trainer. She focuses on helping people with their struggle to create a balanced and healthy lifestyle,  given the time constraints and stress present in today’s world.
She also conducts workshops on Wellness, Stress Management and Work-Life balance.
She can be reached at Sunitha@sans-souci.in

Photo Credit: Image 1

Copyright 2012 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

Demystifying health, healthcare and the secrets of a healthy lifestyle

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Demystifying health, healthcare and the secrets of a healthy lifestyle