Wish I had Known the 10 Benefits of Skipping Earlier!

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A week ago I was just browsing for some simple tips on fitness and health. What caught my attention was a write up on the benefits of skipping exercise. I remembered my childhood when owning a skipping rope meant fun. We girls were just three of us, but we would skip and skip every evening till our mothers called out that dinner was ready.

With an office job, marriage, home, kid and all that life entails, the habit of skipping was sadly left behind and forgotten. But I wish I had read this article on skipping a long time ago. Everyone I’ve met says that it would have probably prevented arthritic pain.

Dear readers, if you have a family history of arthritis, please do read this post and start skipping before you develop painful joints. Some of the advantages of skipping exercise are:

  • It is equivalent to a mile-long brisk walk,
  • It is just like running for an hour and is the best exercise for slimming,
  • The calories burnt in skipping exercise for an hour are 700,
  • Skipping benefits other parts of the body besides the legs,
  • The jolting of joints is less with skipping than running,
  • It improves blood circulation,
  • It helps teaches the body to maintain the balance at all times,
  • It makes your movements swift and agile,
  • It prevents the symptoms of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis,
  • It keeps the heart healthy.

HOW TO MOTIVATE YOURSELF TO SKIP REGULARLY

The best way is to promise yourself a brand new wardrobe once you have lost weight. There is nothing like shopping for new clothes and accessories that can motivate a woman of 40+ to exercise. So skip for shopping!

If a wedding or some other big family function is scheduled in a few months, that’s another motivator. Why not aim at stunning all the guests with your new, slimmer and gorgeous self?!

Eat a good mix of vegetables, fruits, proteins, and carbs. Don’t overdo any one of the food categories over the other types. Make time for yourself by cooking fresh meals, at least the breakfast and dinner. A couple of sandwiches and yogurt for lunch are fine.

But don’t ever overdo the skipping in an attempt to slim down faster. This is a fitness idea, not a crash course for slimming; although the ultimate effect will be a slimmer you. Take a break from skipping every 4th day. That is, skip for 3 days, miss 1 day; skip for 3 days, and so on…

An exercise like skipping will also diminish the chances of you falling and get injured once you become a senior citizen. I wish….!

6 Step Closet-Special Workouts for Lazy Women of 40+

Easy body sculpting workout for women of 40+

Being unmotivated to exercise is not a crime. I hate any kind of regimented exercise routine. But to prevent lifestyle diseases I had to think of some activity which would compel me to exercise.

That’s when I decided to turn the boring job of cleaning a closet into a full body workout. I decided to sort out one drawer of my wardrobe per week. This is not an ideal daily routine but I did say “lazy women”. A workout once a week is better than nothing at all! So here’s my 6-step full body workout for lazy women of 40+ (and men!):

WEEK ONE:

Start by cleaning the top drawer of the closet. Lay a mat/rug/blanket on the floor next to the bed.

Step 1: Let’s begin with biceps, triceps, knee joints and leg muscles.

Lift out all the paraphernalia from the topmost drawer and keep each item on the mat. The heavier the items are, the more toned will be your arm muscles. Even if you are tall, use a small stool to climb and remove each item and place on the rug.

Step 2: Pseudo bench press

Once the drawer is emptied, go tic-tac-toe and select the first box of items for sorting. Sit on the bed and push the chosen box just a few centimeters (for about 10 seconds). Repeat this process twice.

Step 3: Squats for Upper/Lower Abs and knee joints

Experts say that 3 sets of squats and 7-8 repetitions are an essential part of workouts for a sculpted body. In that case don’t pull up a chair to sit and sort out the stuff you have removed from the closet. Squat on the floor and then separate “keepables” from the junk. If you have too many things to sort out, squat for the first 5 minutes, then sit on the stool while you continue working.

Step 4: Bending and full body stretches

Once you know what goes back in the closet, it’s time for some bending exercises for the back. Don’t squat this time, but stand straight, bend forward and lift up the items you want to store in the top drawer. Now don’t use a stool to place the stuff in the closet (if possible). Instead stand on your toes, stretch upwards and keep your belongings back in place.

Step 5: Cardio

Collect the dispensable items in a garbage bag and carry it out to the trash bin. While doing so, walk at a brisk pace or at least as fast as you can. This will hardly take a few minutes but you will still be sweating at the end of it. Along with the junk, you are rid of the toxins in the body and your face is definitely glowing. If you don’t believe me just take a look in the mirror!

Throwing out the junk is the hardest part while cleaning a wardrobe. But you must harden your heart and throw anything that hasn’t been used for over a year (except personal items like albums and memorabilia).

Step 6: Eat a protein-rich salad

After you are done, treat yourself to an easy-to-make, delicious protein-rich salad. Maximum nutrients are absorbed if you eat within half an hour of completing the workout. Now curl up with a book or take a much-needed power nap.

SUBSEQUENT WEEKS:

Continue this body sculpting exercise routine till you reach the last drawer of the wardrobe. When you are removing your belongings from the bottommost drawer, naturally the workout will begin with squats. The other exercises will remain in the same order. Repeat this process with the next closet or the top drawer of the same cupboard.

Following these closet-special full body workouts have not only improved my health and complexion, but they have also helped me emotionally.

A clean closet gives you a satisfied feeling of a job well done. When your wardrobe is organized you don’t have to go through the stressful process of searching every time you need something urgently. So ladies, clean and keep fit!

 

2 tricks to stay fit on a low budget

A low budget fitness programme according to me should be a no-budget one. This may sound impossible but it is actually very easy to follow. If all you want is to do is keep fit forget about expensive gyms . There are two major deciding factors for fitness – exercise and diet. But this does not necessarily mean you need to follow a strict exercise routine or eat only salads! Here are 2 tricks to stay fit on a low budget.

EASY HOMEMADE DIET

Take note of the signals given by your body. Your digestive system constantly gives you indications on which foods are good for you. If you feel fresh and energetic after eating fruits eat more fruits. If abstaining from meat makes you feel weak and tired, make fish or chicken a part of every meal. Vegetarians can use sprouts, cheese, pulses or lentils instead of meat. No two diets will be the same because each person’s metabolism is different. Buy fruits, vegetables, cereals, pulses and meat that are grown locally.

Heat-n-eat readymade meals are your worst enemies. Avoid imported and canned foods even if they are well within the expiry date.
The easiest low budget way to fitness is eating home-cooked food. I don’t mean elaborate four-course meals but healthy, simple meals. For example, a salad made with steamed boneless chicken pieces (or bean sprouts), cherry tomatoes, lettuce leaves, mayo, salt, pepper, chilli flakes and eaten with toasted garlic bread tastes superb. It takes less than 5 minutes to assemble. Finish off with a homemade cupcake made with whole wheat and dried fruits. Your favourite deep fried foods can be a Sunday treat.

YOU CAN EAT EVERYTHING IN MODERATION AS LONG IT IS COOKED AT HOME.

NO COST EXERCISE ROUTINE

Most of us buy weekly groceries on weekends. You’ve enjoyed your weekend treats of fried foods and cake for lunch. Sunday evening is the time to burn the calories! Walk to the supermarket if it is just 15-30 minutes away from your residence.

Or else invest in a bicycle. Both walking and cycling will keep you slim and the muscles toned. Whether it’s shopping or just for exercise, cycling will definitely keep you fit. The health benefits include:

  • Improved cardiovascular health,
  • Better muscle coordination,
  • Strong bones and improved mobility of joints,
  • Optimum cholesterol levels,
  • Stress management, and many more.

Don’t want to spend on a bicycle right now? No issues! Just walk more than you usually do. A bicycle costs very little compared to a motorcycle or car and walking costs nothing at all. So choose your own combination of diet and exercise to keep fit on a low budget.

How Much Water Should You Drink As Per Ayurveda?

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Do you consciously drink 2-3 litres of water per day at fixed timings? When I was told to drink plenty of water as part of my general diet I read extensively on the subject. Unlike other experts, according to Ayurveda a fixed schedule is not necessary. I asked Ayurvedic doctors the right time to drink water. And you will be surprised at the reply – “Drink water whenever you are thirsty.”

What is the right time to drink water?

Many others (non-ayurvedics, if you permit the terminology) have given helpful tips on the right time to drink water, for example:

  • A glass as soon as you wake in the morning,
  • A glass of water half an hour before meals,
  • A glass of water just before bathing,
  • A glass 30 minutes before lunch,
  • A glass before sleeping at night.

These are just 5 that I have listed. There are many more suggestions about what is the right time to drink water.

Where are we going wrong?

Why is there an apparent contradiction in what most people say and what Ayurveda says? It’s really simple – our brain always gives us the right signal when we are thirsty. We don’t interpret the signal correctly.

In my mother tongue Konkani there is an idiom – “chor bhuka chor taan”. This translates as “false hunger, false thirst”. What is our first reaction when we feel thirsty? Instead of drinking a glass of water we will have a cup of tea or coffee. Worse still we opt for a diet Coke or eat a midday snack! We know we are thirsty but our actions are erroneous!

 What should we do?

Drink water whenever you feel like. It shouldn’t happen that in an attempt to keep to a fixed schedule you end up drinking less water than your body needs!

The only rule you really need to follow is not drinking too much water just before a meal. The strong stomach acids are necessary to break down food particles for easy digestion and proper absorption of nutrients. If you drink a glassful of water just before a meal you are actually diluting the acids and forcing the stomach to work that much harder.

If you like having water with meals, substitute this with a glass of buttermilk (2 tbsp yogurt diluted with a glass of water) and drink it during the meal, a sip at a time. This way you are having a probiotic along with the meal and digestion will improve. Secondly, drink buttermilk that is at room temperature and not cold. Avoid adding ice.

So as per Ayurveda drink water when thirsty  and enjoy good health.

How Cleaning Closets Improves Self Esteem

No, I haven’t lost it! This is a tried-and-tested theory and one which works wonders. When I was first diagnosed with osteoarthritis I asked the predictable question “why me”. Strangely, the journey from self-pity to being a happy blogger started with cleaning cupboards! Here’s how cleaning closets improve self-esteem…

Activity improves blood circulation

The first effect of cleaning your closet is increased physical activity. This naturally improves the circulation of blood, thus improving overall health.

Helps to develop positive thinking

Let’s say you have had an argument with a friend or family member. You will go on thinking about the tiff throughout the day and your anger will resurface. But as you begin cleaning the cupboard your thoughts are more rational. The entire argument will become a non-issue and your relationships will be more important.

Encourages creativity

While cleaning the closet you will find answers to some housekeeping problems. For example, we had got our house painted recently but then the curtains looked shabby. While cleaning one of the cupboards I found some satin fabric pushed at the back which was long forgotten. It is enough to make some nice drapes for the bedroom windows.

Enhances the mood

Once you have cleaned and sorted the cupboard, it looks neat and tidy. You can now pat yourself on the back for a job well done because you know it is a sign of good housekeeping. This will definitely make you feel elated.

Reduces stress

Every time you need something from the cluttered closet you have the tedium of searching high and low. The urgency to find the item will lead to stress. Besides, you know you are solely responsible for the chaos. Once you have cleaned the closet the stress will reduce because there’s a place for everything and everything is in its place.

So when you sum this up, what do you get? You have an organized cupboard, less searching time, efficiency, neatness, creative ideas, better mood, and much more. So however corny it may sound, cleaning closets improves self-esteem.

 

Easy Diet Plan for Diabetic Women of 40+

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There is no substitute for a well balanced diet. This is especially important for a woman of 40+ who is a confirmed diabetic. Besides the prescribed medications, there are many foods that can help to control the symptoms of diabetes. So here’s a easy-to-follow regime so that you can enjoy food without having to go on a crash diet…

Suggested diet for diabetes

Meal

Menu

Early morning On empty stomach  4 almonds  + 1 walnut + 1 glass warm water

After half an hour your favourite cup of coffee or tea without sugar or sugar-substitute.

Breakfast

(3 suggestions)

*Dal dosa (pancake) + chutney

1 bowl of oats + 1 boiled Egg + 2 slices multigrain bread

**2 Ragi and oats pancakes + chutney

Mid morning Papaya or apple + buttermilk 1 glass
Lunch

(3 suggestions)

Fish curry + brown rice + salad

2 Chapatis (Indian flatbread) + 1 bowl of low fat cottage cheese (paneer) + salad

Chicken curry + brown rice + salad

Evening *2 Dal idlis + coconut chutney

1 bowl of low fat curd + 4-5 black plums (jambuls)

Dinner

(3 suggestions)

Soup of your choice + a bowl of vegetable curry (with leafy greens, carrots or bitter gourd [karela]) + brown rice

Soup of your choice + 1 piece grilled chicken breast/fish + brown rice + dal (lentils)

Kidney beans soup + 2 slices garlic bread + salad

 Bed Time  A glass of warm milk

Why is this menu perfect diet for diabetes?

If you follow this diet plan for diabetes, over a period of time the symptoms will be more manageable. The nutrients that you get with this plan are:

  • Proteins from eggs, dals, beans, milk, fish and chicken
  • Carbs from oats, brown rice, bread and chapatis.
  • Vitamins and minerals from vegetable curries and salads.
  • Omega-3 from fish.
  • Fiber from oats and fruits.
  • Good cholesterol from almond, walnuts and fish.

A healthy diet is a must for everyone and all ages. This becomes even more important in the case there is an imbalance of blood sugar levels. A diabetic might suffer from distressing symptoms like dizziness, fatigue, frequent urination, mood swings, etc. Besides the prescribed medication, you can also keep the sugar levels and symptoms under control by following this balanced diet.

** For recipe of ragi+oats pancake click here. Ragi (finger millet) has a low glycemic response and is an excellent substitute for diabetics.

Note: To saute the ingredients of any curry (vegetarian or non-vegetarian) use ghee instead of oil. Ghee or clarified butter made from cow’s milk helps to reduce cholesterol levels. It also prevents joint pains.

Dealing With Hypothyroidism And Fatigue

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Hypothyroidism Fatigue

Dealing with hypothyroidism and fatigue that follows is not easy. Sometimes one feels tired to even take steps to prevent tiredness. When a friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) was first diagnosed with hypothyroidism she felt very depressed. For a year she had been suffering from symptoms that are very difficult to deal with. We got together and came up with some very simple ways in which to keep them under reasonable control:

Eat suitable fruits

On the whole fruits are very good for our health. But some fruits will prevent bloating; which is one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Regularly eat: Melons, blackberries, raspberries, bananas, seedless grapes or pineapple.

Completely avoid: Pears, cherries, strawberries, apples, blueberries and prunes.

Eat foods rich in Omega 3

Salmon fish is not the only food that is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. You must also consume 1 walnut and 2 tsp of flaxseeds per day to maintain a good balance of fatty acids. You can also add spinach, beef liver and egg yolk in your diet.

Improve your sleep pattern

Dealing with insomnia is another problem with hypothyroidism. Combine lack of sleep with bloating and you have a real disaster on your hands. Relax – here’s a very effective way to maintain a reasonably good sleep pattern and beat the symptom:

  • Reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol.
  • Save your favourite slow audio tracks on your mobile phone or iPod. The focal word here is “slow”. Instrumental music will also induce sleep.
  • Go to bed at the same time everyday till your body-clock gets accustomed to it.
  • Just before going to bed have a glass of hot milk.
  • In case of lactose intolerance, you can have chamomile tea instead of milk.
  • If you have any nagging worry tell yourself – “I know how to deal with this. I’ll take care of it tomorrow.”
  • Settle down and listen to music till you feel really sleepy.  Focus on the melody and sweetness of the music and don’t let your mind wander back to worries.

Learn positive thinking

If you still find it difficult to sleep, teach yourself to always think positive. Are you wondering, “How does positivity control insomnia?” Here’s an easy suggestion – try to associate the songs/tunes with a happy memory. Save songs that remind you of your child’s antics, fun with siblings, your honeymoon, parental love, your first romance, and such memories that will give you a warm and happy feeling. The “song-to-happy-memory” association will help you to stay positive at bedtime and improve sleep cycle.

Prevent lifestyle diseases

You have sufficient lousy symptoms to deal with when you are undergoing treatment for hypothyroidism so why add other lifestyle diseases to the list! It is best to eat sweets, very salty and fried foods in moderation so that you can prevent high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol. Stay with safer foodstuff like fish, low fat dairy products, brown rice, gluten free cereals like finger millet, oats, fruits and vegetables.

Check for other deficiencies

Sometimes deficiencies in vitamin B12 can also cause fatigue. A secondary effect of hypothyroid is low calcium absorption and weakening of the bones and cartilage. So it is always advisable to check your B12, calcium and D3 and thyroid levels once in six months. Also check your hemoglobin levels and take the prescribed supplements to make up for any deficiencies.

Practice yoga and pranayam

Enrol in a yoga class near your residence. Learn the breathing techniques (pranayam) and asanas that are specifically meant for thyroid imbalance and practice them under supervision of a qualified instructor. They have proved to be extremely effective in controlling the symptoms and you will even be able to reduce your medication to the minimum maintenance dose.

And yes – stop smoking and don’t miss your medication. Stay healthy and enjoy life.