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.

 

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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.

 

An Ode to the Tender Coconut

Did you know that the liquid from a sealed tender coconut is pure enough to be injected into the human blood stream? In fact tender coconut water has the same electrolyte balance as blood and therefore it can be used as an emergency substitute for Plasma. Many a soldier’s life has been saved thanks to the humble tender coconut.

However, what we are talking about here is a lot more mundane. It’s more about quenching thirst in the summer heat. Those dog days are upon us, and in the scorching heat of summer the tendency is always to reach out for an ice cold soft drink or an ice cream. You gulp it down, enjoying the cool feel of the bottle, and the liquid pouring down your throat, only to find yourself doubly hot and thirsty just moments after you have had your drink.

Your average “cool” drink is extremely high in calories. Most of them are close to 100 calories per large glass. It is in fact, pure sugar water, which is why it leaves you feeling thirsty. It has the added disadvantages of harming your teeth and creating gastric disturbances.

If you are thirsty after sport, or due to the heat, your best possible drink is plain water. Even if you are not thirsty, make sure you drink at least 8-10 glasses a day. When you are working out in the heat, I’m sure that you have been told that you need to replace the water, salt and sugar that your body loses. You have probably been told that you need to have one of the several sports drinks available in the market. They are a great idea if you are running a marathon in the heat and have been doing prolonged high impact exercise for more than 2 hours at a stretch.  Alternatively, if you are lucky to lay your hands on a tender coconut instead, go for it. Tender coconuts are rich in sugar, salt and potassium in the perfect balance that the body requires. Moreover, they are much lower in calories than any manufactured drink.

Before a work out, there is a widespread belief that you need a protein or carbohydrate drink that comes out of an expensive tin. How about trying a simple banana instead? Yet another food that will supply you with all the calories you need for your work out, as well as sugar, salt, potassium and some fibre. There has to be a reason why monkeys are so athletic right?

Canned fruit juices are a great idea if you are looking to them as a substitute for alcohol or a dessert, However they are not a great source of nutrition, since they are way too high in sugar and preservatives. In fact, they are largely empty calories. You would be doing your body a huge favour if you drank fresh homemade juice, without sugar, or even better ate the whole fruit, as that way you’ll get the fibre too.

In India we are lucky. Every street corner has a vendor selling fresh tender coconut water. It’s cheap, healthy and tastes delightful. Go for it. Treat yourself to one every day, and watch the improvement in your hair, skin and in fact your entire system.

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 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.

Of Brunches and Easter Bunnies….

It’s that time of the year again…. redolent of great summer brunches, long lazy days by the pool, sugary drinks, ice cream and of course chocolate bunnies and eggs. The heat is just setting in, and we are getting to the point of power cuts, restless sweat drenched nights and the resulting inertia in the morning that makes waking up such a chore, and working out close to unthinkable.

Add to that the additional pressures that summer brings. The need for a flat tummy that looks good in a swim suit, and toned arms that enable one to sport sleeveless tops. All of which have to be juggled with the mounting pressures of children who are on holiday, and need to be kept entertained and away from mischief. Is it any wonder that tempers are frazzled beyond belief? This kind of pressure is enough to make a normal human being turn to food, if not food and drink, and that’s when the trouble starts.

Perhaps one of the most common ways of coping with stress and the pressure of life is by turning to food for comfort. On the face of it, it’s not so bad. A few extra cookies once a week will hardly make any difference to your waist line, and if you restrict that binge to once a month, it will not affect you at all.

Now that we have used that dreaded “B” word, and brought it out in the open, maybe we should discuss it threadbare. A binge is when a person consumes 4-5 times the food that he or she normally would eat in a relatively short span of time. Say two hours? Typically the food that one consumes when binging is high fat and high sugar. You would have to be a rabbit to binge on carrots, right? Now as long as the binge is restricted to one meal once a week or better still once a month, you won’t have a problem. Acknowledge it as a treat that you deserve for being so disciplined for the rest of the week or month. Savour every mouthful of the food, don’t feel guilty about it, and just go back to your normal healthy diet from the next meal. If all of us could do that, it would be perfect.

Unfortunately in today’s pressure cooker environment, those extra cookies or that slab of chocolate become a kind of crutch that you can’t do without, and over a period of time they become a habit. Of course it starts with a cookie with a cup of tea when you are stressed, and slowly that one cookie is just not enough. That is simply because, when you eat a high sugar/high fat treat, it sends the blood sugar soaring, which accounts for the feel good factor; only you come down from that high fairly rapidly since the body counters this influx of sugar by releasing more insulin to metabolise it, which is what causes that rather quick slump that you feel. Of course you counter it by eating more cookies, which only makes the whole situation worse.

The best way to combat stress is by exercising it away. Walking, dancing, cleaning the cupboard or baking a cake. By the time you have whisked all your frustration into those poor eggs, you are bound to feel better and more than ready to share the cake with the family, limiting yourself to a tiny bit.

If you are one of us who feels that the only way to fight stress is to eat, then maybe you should have a fruit, or a salad and a sandwich with a glass of milk. Actually, what would be really good for you would be the handful of carrots that you stole from the Easter Bunny.

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 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.

Fit @ Fifty: Lean Quality – Lifestyle Management

50 ++? Now that’s the age to be in. Silver streaks that command respect and a sense of accomplishment! Comfortably placed, nice house and grown up kids, a large screen TV with a home theatre, a great place to work and a car for commuting. And holidays with family!

Or is it, numbers all around you and the boss breathing down your neck which is permanently on the block. Excitement and stress combined with a sedentary life, thanks to the air conditioned car, office and home. Driving, pecking at the laptop and blackberry while comfortably couched.

So which is it? Aren’t both part of the middle-aged dream life?

Of course it is. Dream you shall. Only those who dare dream, achieve! You walk this planet but once. So go right ahead.

That said, the road ahead is not always smooth; the road to quality has no end. These are corporate jargons that you are all familiar with. These are true statements. Health Insurance schemes, inter-alia, take care of the road ahead to a large extent. But ‘quality of physiological life’ needs a different approach. A ‘lean quality approach’ maybe? So what is this lean quality process? Lean processes are the latest diet craze in the world of quality control. Lean is a quality control technique you can use to identify and eliminate the flab in your company’s processes. The “flab” is all the dead weight carried by a process without adding any value. The customer doesn’t want to pay for dead weight, so why should you?

Similarly, by adapting a lean process for your own healthcare, you can significantly reduce health related risks and set yourself up for a smooth ride ahead. Lean provides a robust framework that facilitates improving efficiency and effectiveness by focusing on critical customer requirements. Lean is a management system that focuses on delivering value to the end customer by continuously improving value delivery processes.

Value Stream Mapping

People think in images not in words. Look yourself up in the mirror. Reflect on your lifestyle. For most of us who are over 50 our lifestyle dictates that during most part of the day when you are at work or back home, you are sitting behind the wheel driving your car or you are seated travelling, else you are seated behind your desk at work peering into your computer or at some files, or you are in your couch at home watching TV. Imagine the amount of time you spend in this sitting posture. Do you know what happens to your muscles in this posture? Remaining seated for long periods creates a static load on our body resulting in muscle fatigue and restricted blood circulation and will affect our health considerably in the long run. Remaining seated for prolonged periods disrupts metabolic functions that lead to poor vascular health. This is part of the package that comes along with the life that we dreamed of. Now that we have identified the flab, we need to remove it while we continue to enjoy the lifestyle that we have rightfully earned. Women who reach 50 years of age need to prepare themselves to face the additional challenges posed by the onset of menopause. Women tend to gain weight as they age due to decease in muscle mass and accumulation of excess fat and lower resting metabolic rate. Hormonal shifts can cause a range of symptoms and increase overall risk for heart disease and stroke. The absorption of certain nutrients may also decrease because of a loss of stomach acid.

The Lean Integration Principles

 Build quality. Do your stretches before and after your exercise schedule. This is mandatory and so is a consultation with a doctor before you embark on an exercise schedule. Follow through with your doctor periodically. Augment with daily doses of Multivitamins, Calcium, Vitamin C and Vitamin D.

The Lean Integration Principles

  1. Focus on yourself. You are in control of your health. The change begins and ends with you. It is such a simple change. You just need to ensure that the flab that came along with the package disappears. You don’t need it. It’s a waste. Exercise is the elixir that removes waste and gives a new meaning to your well-earned lifestyle. It should be our goal to exercise to have a strong heart and muscles, decreased stiffness and less body fat.
    1. Walking, running, dancing or cycling are good cardio exercises that you can build into your exercise schedule. Walking and Cycling are relatively easier on the knee than running or dancing. They need not be a rigorous. You can walk to the grocery, you can take the stairway to your office or your apartment, and you can cycle to your club or even to your office if you are blessed with a residence that is close by. A good 30-45 minutes of cardio exercises two days a week is recommend.
    2. Two days in a week should be utilized for muscle strengthening. Weight training under supervision is the best way to do this. Invest in a membership in a gym or use the gym in your club to your advantage. The return on investment is considerable. Research shows that by age 65 we end up losing 20% – 30% of our strength and every decade after 65 the rate of loss speeds up. The good news is that this rate can be slowed down by building muscle through weight training. If you have not done weight training at all in your life so far, it does not matter. Start at 50 and set yourself up to be fit at 65 and beyond. That leaves us with 3 more days in a week.  
    3. Chose the sport that you love. Go out and enjoy playing for an hour, two days of the week. It could be badminton, tennis, swimming, volley ball or any other game. Give it your best, both physically and mentally. This will keep you physically fit and mentally sharp. While aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular fitness, strength training can build muscle mass and bone density. Both come in handy when you’re trying to pick up your grandchild or even simply a bag of groceries.  
    4. On the seventh day, whichever day of the week that is – normally a weekend, turn off your alarm clock. Catch up with sleep. Read a book. Work on a crossword to keep you mentally agile. Spend time with family. That’s an hour a day, six days a week, all for you. And imagine, until now someone else was managing your time. Now you are managing it yourself. Not to forget the whole of the seventh day that you will devote to yourself and your family. Isn’t this wonderful. 50++ is not so bad after all!
  2. Once you are set continuous improvements can be introduced. For example as you  progress you could build-in interval training in your cardio exercise schedule – alternating 10 min fast and 10 min slow or any similar time alternates that can be built-in within the total exercise time for better results.
  3. You are empowered to take your decisions. You can decide to walk, dance, cycle or run. Innovate. Try something new. Do not fear failure.
  4. Change is constant. Plan for change. If you had a wonderful place where you could cycle but had to move to a different home from where you cannot access this place, don’t let it be a show stopper. Go for a run, do something else that you enjoy.
  5. Optimize the whole. Adopt a big picture perspective. Introduce a good dietary system into your lifestyle. Clearly, the diet for the 50+ will conform to the goals of maintaining weight, consuming heart-healthy foods and building strength. Research shows that even modest exercise and changes in diet can bring considerable benefits regardless of the age you start. You don’t need to run marathons to shape up after 50, but you do need to get moving.
  6. Automate. While I wouldn’t want to call it rigor, it should become part of your DNA. It should happen by itself.
  7. Build quality. Do your stretches before and after your exercise schedule. This is mandatory and so is a consultation with a doctor before you embark on an exercise schedule. Follow through with your doctor periodically. Augment with daily doses of Multivitamins, Calcium, Vitamin C and Vitamin D.

Lean is not just for quality in the manufacturing or service industries. Lean is for quality in your lifestyle. Health is quality. Exercising and eating right is health. Dream, achieve and build quality into your lifestyle. Enjoy life 50++.

About the author:

Naresh is a fitness enthusiast who enjoys running, rowing and a multitude of outdoor sports. He also works in the healthcare industry and, at close to sixty years, is trying to create awareness of the concept of health through fitness.

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.

 

I am Woman – Celebrating Our Strength, Feminity and Power

It’s coming around to the 8th of March again. That time of the year when the air around is just filled with platitudes. Platitudes that talk of the dignity, strength, power and beauty of Indian womanhood. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what they are, platitudes. As a matter of fact, India has been labelled as the worst place to be a woman.

The law does not offer much recourse, because after having been subjected to the trauma of physical, verbal and emotional abuse, a woman has to prove that she was a victim, adding unspeakable mental agony to her already damaged psyche. As a result of this, most women prefer not to report crimes against them, leading to less than 20 percent of the country’s rape cases leading to a conviction.

Worst of all in recent times, we have somehow come away from our history. A history, that featured strong, brave women like Sita, Draupadi and the Rani of Jhansi. We have forgotten that being strong and powerful is the greatest privilege of womanhood. We have mistakenly come to believe that strength robs us of our feminity.

As a result of this, Indian women have all too often begun believing that they are victims. The point in fact is that you can only be a victim if you let yourself be one. Therefore the time is now ripe to break out of these stereotypes, and work on being a strong woman, who no one can mess with. For this change, mental and physical preparedness go hand in hand. You can build a strong mind on the foundation of a strong body and here’s what it takes:

  • Make time for at least, half an hour of brisk aerobic activity every single day. It could be walking, running, dancing, whatever you prefer as long as it gets your heart rate up. This will keep your heart and lungs healthy, enhance your mental alertness and stamina, and keep your heart ready to face any stress that comes your way.
  • Figure strength training into your schedule, at least twice a week, to develop your power.
  • Add flexibility training into the mix to give you the necessary reach.
  • Finish off with a healthy balanced diet to keep your weight in check and ensure that you stay healthy.

So women go forth, and celebrate your strength, your feminity, your power.

Don’t forget to teach your daughters to do the same.

Happy Women’s Day.

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 Credits: Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures

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.

Treasures in the Kitchen

From the beginning of time, Indian cuisine has always been associated with the word “spicy”. The word itself rolls of the tongue in a variety of ways – spicy, as in mouth watering and delicious, or else spicy with a tinge of guilt, rather like a forbidden delight, or best of all just as a matter of fact – spicy is how Indian food is. We have eaten it this way for centuries, and it certainly has not harmed any of us, so maybe it’s not so bad? Perhaps it’s even quite good for us! Now this is where the conversation gets interesting.

In actual fact, most of the common spices found in the kitchen are among the best sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants being, of course, our greatest allies in the war against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease. They can even slow the aging process (let’s see anyone say ‘no’ to that).

Unfortunately, as pizzas and burgers become easier and hipper to eat, the average Indian is consuming large amounts of refined carbohydrates and fat, cooked with very little spice; rather than the traditional Indian fare that includes a lot of vegetables, having large doses of fiber, cooked with hand ground spices. Preventive medicine has clearly established that almost all spices contain chemical compositions that have profound health benefits, which help to protect the body from numerous illnesses and, in many cases, act as effective treatments for established diseases. In addition, some spices also have chemicals that induce a “feel good” factor, with pepper being a great example.

In terms of their preventive health benefits, there are a few spices you don’t want to miss. Cinnamon, clove, ginger and garlic are great antioxidants, while mustard, turmeric and black pepper ward off the big ‘C’, cancer. Fenugreek and coriander are a great help if your cholesterol or triglyceride levels are high, while cloves and cinnamon are a boon to diabetics.

The only time when spices begin to harm you are when they are cooked with too much oil to make a rich curry or biryani. Obviously, the culprit here is the excessive use of oil, not the spices.

The best part about using spices as preventive medicine is that there are absolutely no side effects, and they are not really “medicines”. So when someone invites you over for a spicy meal, please accept. You’ll be doing yourself a huge favour.

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.

Demystifying health, healthcare and the secrets of a healthy lifestyle

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Demystifying health, healthcare and the secrets of a healthy lifestyle