Tag Archives: Health

(Un)Healthy Obsession

At Beaming Health we are all about creating a healthy lifestyle. We have talked to you about eating right, working out and managing stress. We also try to walk the talk or practice what we preach and that’s how we come up with most of the stuff here. So where am I going with this, you ask? Well, I was working on another article and really getting into reading some interesting research on stress and weight-loss (which I’ll, share with you in my next article) and that’s when it hit me…

Almost every conversation I have these days (apart from work meetings, where we try and stay on the concerned topic) comes around to health. It could be a successful weight-loss plan, rediscovering ways to cook with mustard or coconut oil, avoiding moisturizers with parabens, trying out Taekwon-do instead aerobics or another person tuning into a 5k runner. It  doesn’t matter where we start and end the conversation, somewhere in between we get round to discussing some aspect of a healthy lifestyle.

In a way this sounds great. Isn’t it good news that so many people are getting conscious about being fit, strong and happy? Obviously it is, considering that we are a race (the human race) that’s currently dealing with crazy levels of sickness and disease. Awareness never hurt anyone right and maybe we can reverse the negative trend. So what’s my problem here?

Well, as with any topic, when we tend top discuss one subject all the time (say music, movies, relationships) we are generally considered obsessed with it. Any form of obsession has a tendency to take over a large part of our lives, in a slow but significant manner. Most obsessions are harmless as they tend to just define our personality more markedly, rather than have any sinister effect. However, this obsession with health, that I see all around, seems to be part of a cycle, dare I say a potentially vicious cycle.

People start with it to get their physical, mental and emotional selves back on track and to improve their quality of life. However, is our quality of life really better if our obsession with getting healthy contributes towards one more aspect of our ever growing stress.

Counting every calorie, worrying about pollution every time we have to walk down the street,  fearing an injury every minute of a run because everyone else has got fit by running, or sleep waking through the day because six hours of sleep was cut down to five to accommodate another workout.

News flash, there’s apparently a new eating disorder on the block called orthorexia. Orthorexia occurs when a person’s healthy eating habit becomes so extreme that it becomes unhealthy. It basically means a person who’s obsessed with food, and it usually starts with an intention to eat only organic, healthy, natural foods but then spirals out of control.

While we need to be aware of our internal health and the environmental factors that affect us, are we really doing ourselves a favour by obsessing over this all the time. Where do we draw a line and create a balance between leading a healthy life and simplifying our lives to reduce stress? What’s the point of an hour of meditation in the morning, if we’ve spent the whole night mentally planning every perfectly balanced meal for the next day instead of resting our minds?

I think, we humans as a race need to rediscover moderation. Moderation in eating, working out and life in general. Moderation does not mean doing less, it means doing things regularly and steadily for a sustained period of time. Let’s make leading a safe and healthy lifestyle a lifetime goal, for ourselves, our families and the world around us. Working out and eating well should improve the quality of of your life, not lead to mental and physical deterioration.

So how do you draw the line between being aware of your health and being obsessed?

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 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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Defying the Aging Process

At 50 you’re expected to be close to achieving your life’s professional and personal goals. Time is always crunched and priorities change resulting in stress and related ailments.

Is 50 old or young? Indian psephologists, in their analysis of the 2014 Lok Sabha election results classified 50 plus as old and concluded that the people of India have voted for an “old” Parliament. This is a very generic classification, and I know of many who are young at 60 or even 70. It’s all about how you choose to age.

Ageing starts with birth.  Stress, inter-alia, accelerates the ageing process and a sedentary lifestyle adds to your medical woes. Inactivity slows you down, makes you lose your independence and increases medical expenditure.

So how does one cope with this phenomenon called ageing without having to give up on the quality of your life? Watching what you eat is definitely a good start. “What you eat today… you wear tomorrow” says an expert. Meditate and calm your mind. You have a lot of noise there thanks to the overload on your five sensory organs – tongue, ear, eyes, nose and skin (touch). Enter technology which aims to create a quantum of solace in each of them, while unmindfully creating new types of stress and accelerating the ageing process in you.

Age and Physical Condition notwithstanding, regular exercising carries its rewards.  Exercising delays the ageing process and helps in a multitude of ways. Exercising does not necessarily mean pushing yourself to the limit like athletes do. The goal of an athlete is to win. Speed and Strength are ubiquitous in them.  The Olympic motto is “Citius, Altius, Fortius” which is Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger.” Our motto is Slower Ageing, Higher Metabolism and Stronger Body & Mind for quality in life.

Well, if you haven’t exercised earlier or have for some reason pressed the pause button on a schedule that you were following earlier, it is a challenge to start. You will be dogged with concerns of injury, illness due to lack of fitness, probably fatigue and even general boredom; from giving it a try.  In fact these are probably the very reasons why you need to incorporate exercise in your daily routine. Exercise is good for your body and mind. It boosts your energy, improves your fitness, sometimes reverses symptoms of ageing and relieves stress.

Once you have earmarked a time that is comfortable for you, make it a non-negotiable part of your daily routine. Wear a comfortable outfit and ensure you have the right footwear. It is recommended that you start with a few stretches before you embark on your routine. Start slow with an easy routine. Walking, Swimming and Yoga are excellent exercises to adopt in your daily routine. You could switch between them, so you don’t get bored with repetition. These are low-impact exercises and therefore have almost no risk of injury due to exercise. Exercising in the presence of a good trainer for each of these is highly recommended. This will mitigate the risk of injury due to wrong execution of the routine or due to an accident. Of course, before you embark on the routine, do consult your family physician.

Exercise boosts mood and self-confidence, improves sleep, and is good for the brain. Get medical clearance, consider health concerns, start slow, commit to an exercise schedule, stay motivated by focusing on short-term goals, recognize problems – stop when it hurts and see your doctor.

So, are you 50 or above? There is no better day than today to start in earnest.

About the Author:

Naresh is a retired senior company executive and now an independent consultant. He is a dedicated  fitness enthusiast and a rowing athlete, who advocates working out at any age.

Photo Credit: Image 1Image 2

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.

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.

The ‘No’ Deprivation ‘Diet’

Last week, a friend of mine started telling me about this juice diet. Halfway through her sentence, my first I thought was ‘I love juice, so I can do it’. My second thought was ‘ but I love food too, so I can’t do it’. Her next sentence put my mind at rest. Apparently, you are encouraged to have this drink as a replacement for a meal or with a healthy meal, your option. I obviously will go for the healthy meal with the juice option.

This incident put me in a mind of a fact that we have all been long aware of. Unfortunately not many of us want to admit it, since it doesn’t sound magical or drastic enough. The simple fact here is that most diets get us to deprive ourselves of all treats (good for you but oh! so tough) or cut out certain food groups altogether (extreme and not so good for you). This is a tad difficult to maintain in the long run, unless you have the willpower of a dictator.

The easier way to go, would be to add in certain foods along with your healthy diet. In a manner of speaking, we are playing a mind game with our bodies. You can eat everything as before, just make sure you eat more of this. Adding in fiber and healthy nutritious liquids, will ensure that you have a healthy system, while having less space to stuff in your regular indulgences.

I’m starting with a pre-lunch soup and a vegetable juice before dinner. This has got to be the easiest way to get fit and balance those holiday indulgences. I’m sure you’re tempted to join me, so here are a few pointers to keep you on track:

  • Make sure that the food you are adding in is really good for you. For example, a glass of carrot juice loaded with sugar will not help
  • Finish your targeted ‘good food’ before you move on to the other stuff  
  • Since there’s no deprivation here, it’s best not to have ‘off’ days for the first month or three (till it’s natural for you to eat this way)
  • Don’t replace your whole day’s usual intake with salads, soups and fruit juices. I’m asking you to add some lettuce to every meal of the day, not turn into a temporary rabbit and live only on lettuce

Let me know how you plan to eat more and get fit. I’m rooting for you (and me).

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.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

Not Such a Big Deal After All

If you have followed this blog, the last article we published on trans fats, was aimed at demystifying cholesterol and the totally impossible tongue twisters that are a part of discussions on the subject. Those nasty LDLs (low-density lipoprotein), the triglycerides and the gentlemen HDLs (high-density lipoprotein). Demystification apart, at a very practical level, I’m sure that you’re asking yourself, “Fair enough, but what is the bottom line at the end of the day? How does one go about reducing total cholesterol and LDL levels; and increasing HDL?”

If you have an abnormal “lipid profile” as it is technically called, your first step is to visit a doctor and decide whether you need medication or not. Once you are in safe medical hands, make sure that you get yourself tested regularly. Next on the to do list are making specific lifestyle changes that will enable you to stop, or at least reduce, your medication levels over the long run.

So what are these lifestyle changes?

Well it has to start with your diet right? So here we go. With the advent of affluence, and restaurants vying for your loyalty, the concept of portion control has been totally messed up.  But wait a moment, what is portion control? Sounds like some form of educational syllabus! Well, portion control is not a big deal really, it’s just a way to define the quantity of a certain food that a person should eat. A healthy portion of anything is a handful of it. Say, a piece of meat or fish, the size of your palm, is a healthy measure. A cup of rice, again needs to be a handful of cooked rice, and so on. Once you control the quantities you are eating, you are well on your way to good health.

Next we need to work on your diet content. First on the list is fiber, a seriously good guy who needs to be as widely incorporated in your diet as possible. Sources of fiber are raw vegetables, fruit and whole grain cereal that is processed as little as possible. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. They play a huge role in appetite control; since they fill you up, ensuring that you are not hungry for the unhealthy stuff anymore. Fiber is also the broom of the body, ridding it of toxins. Fiber even binds with fat molecules and removes them from the system.

Next up is fish. Fatty fish, such as salmon, trout and sardines; are a great source of Omega 3 acids. Omega 3 acids are a way wonderful to lower LDL and increase HDL. Grilled fish twice a week is a great idea. If you are vegetarian, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and nuts are also great sources of Omega 3. On the other hand, please remember the handful rule here. These nuts are fairly calorie intensive, and like we already know, calories not used by the body get stored as fat in one of its forms, something that needs to be avoided at all costs!!

You already know that trans fats are right up there with Dracula on the bad guys list. Omega 3 fatty acids, and unsaturated fats, such as those found in olive, sunflower or canola oil are part of the hero team. They can actually help you in the struggle to achieve a normal lipid profile. The only caveat is that any form of fat contributes nine calories per gram, and so even a small quantity can increase your total calorie intake very quickly. Always make sure that you read the food label before you buy a product that has fat, even if it says it is a zero cholesterol product. If the ingredient list has saturated or trans fats, drop it like a hot brick!

Next we come to exercise. Aerobic activities like running, walking and dancing; as well as strength training, are vital to improve your lipid profile. The exercise will help you burn fat, sleep better and reduce stress. All of which will go a long way in normalizing your lipid profile. In fact exercise is the key factor for increasing HDL levels. One hour of daily exercise, will go a long way towards keeping the good H guys alive and kicking in your system. Here we go back to the caution factor. Please get yourself medically cleared for exercise before you start, and take it nice and slow to start with. A gentle walk is a great way to begin. Increase the pace and duration steadily. Aim for a minimum of one hour’s exercise every day, and stay with it consistently for the rest of your life.

In the end, it always comes back to the same things – a healthy diet, daily exercise and seven to eight sleep hours every day. It’s also important to make a conscious effort to control stress. Once you know what it takes, it’s not such a big deal after all.

About the Author:

Sunitha Srinivasan is a Lifestyle Consultant and Resistance Trainer. She has qualified with the National Association for Fitness Certification, Arizona, USA. She conducts workshops on wellness that she calls ‘A Celebration of Life’, counsels on the management of lifestyle diseases and writes for leading journals and magazines.

She can be contacted 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