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.


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.



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.


Ayurveda Says Drink Water When Thirsty


Accordingly to Ayurveda you must drink water whenever you are thirsty and a fixed schedule is not necessary. Do you consciously drink 2-3 litres of water per day? Going by what we read online isn’t that what we are supposed to do? When I was told to drink plenty of water as part of my general diet (not specifically for any health problem) I read extensively online about the subject. And then I asked Ayurvedic doctors the right time to drink water. And you will be surprised with the answer – “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 thirsty”. 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! So the error is in understanding the signal either inadvertently or intentionally!

 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 drinking water with meals. Our stomach acids are made to break down particles so that the food is digested and nutrients are absorbed properly. If you drink a glassful of water just before meals you are actually diluting the acids that are essential for digestion and making the stomach work that much harder.

If you like having liquids 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 pro-biotic along with the meal and digestion will improve. Secondly, we must drink buttermilk at room temperature not cold, and definitely no ice.

So as per Ayurveda understand your brain’s signals whenever you are thirsty. Substitute water with buttermilk (or lassi) during lunch for better digestion. 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 improves self esteem…

Activity improves blood circulation

The first effect of cleaning your closet is increase in 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.

Sorting out closets and trashing junk has a therapeutic effect. It’s almost like you are throwing away the anger.  

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.


Enjoy Food Despite Diabetes


There is no substitute for a well balanced diet. It is immaterial whether you are fit and healthy or whether you are dealing with diabetes. Besides the prescribed medications, there are many foods that can help to control diabetes symptoms. So here’s a easy-to-follow diet plan so that you can enjoy food despite diabetes…

Suggested diet for diabetes



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.


(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

(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)


(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 balanced diet?

If you follow this diet, over a period you will be consuming all the foods required to maintain good health. You get:

  • 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 of an imbalance in 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.

* Recipe for dal-dosa/dal-idli coming soon.

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

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.

Arthritic Pain Relief – Homemade Milk Cocktail


arthritic pain relief

Anyone suffering from arthritis is looking for ways and means to reduce the pain! I avoided travel for two years and stepped out of the house only for medical checkup! It was horribly demoralising till I discovered this homemade milk cocktail in an old recipe book. It has helped to reduce my dependence on pain killers from one tablet per day to one per month, if at all! This easy-to-make home remedy for arthritic pain relief turned out to be a real boon.

What you will need:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup low fat milk
  • 1” size fresh ginger (grated)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 strands of saffron (or ¼ tsp vanilla extract)
  • 1 tsp honey (or a pinch of salt)

How to make the cocktail:

In 1 cup water add grated ginger and turmeric powder.

Boil till it reduces to ½ the volume.

Add the milk and continue boiling on a low flame till the quantity is about one cup.

Add saffron (or vanilla) and boil till it becomes approximately 1 cup.

Strain into a cup, add honey (or salt) and drink it while it is still very warm.

Drink this cocktail every night at bedtime. In a few days you will notice that the arthritic pain has reduced considerably. I try not to miss my daily dose.

Note: Although all the above ingredients are natural and usually do not cause harm, please consult your physician in case of allergies.

Healthiest Cereal – Finger Millet (Ragi)

red millet 1

When speaking of healthy cereals we usually mean oats, brown rice and whole wheat, whereas millet is vastly undervalued. Finger millet or red millet (ragi/nachni) is the healthiest cereal of all. It can be rightfully called an all-in-one meal package because it prevents most of our lifestyle diseases.

Finger millet suitable for all age groups

Due to the rich nutritional value of red millet, it has become a staple diet in some Indian states. Here are some of the reasons for its popularity:

Stress relief


Ragi is a natural relaxant and relieves stress. One meal a day of ragi in the form of porridge or pancakes will prevent many stress-related diseases like hypertension, anxiety and depression that require lifelong medication. It also works like a wonder drug for insomnia.

Timeless beauty


Being very rich in antioxidants finger millet is the key to everlasting beauty. External use of beauty creams, age-defying serums and facials do help to some extent. But beauty treatment works best when it is consumed orally. Daily intake of ragi will give you the requisite dose of antioxidants for glowing skin and healthy hair.

Weight loss and flat belly

fitness 3

Tryptophan, an amino acid in red millet helps us to lose weight. It takes a little longer to digest as compared to other cereals so you won’t get hunger pangs too soon. If you are on a weight loss program, switching to ragi will speed up the process. You can replace the cereal content of one of your meals with ragi for best results.

Better digestion

digestive system

Red millet provides the necessary bulk. The excess fibre keeps the digestive system clean. This prevents chronic ailments like acidity, constipation, headaches, skin problems like acne, etc the root cause of which is improper digestion.

Prevention of cholesterol and plaque


Other amino acids in red millet reduce fat accumulation in the liver. Calcium or plaque accumulation thickens the walls of the blood vessels and free flow of blood is obstructed. This in turn can can lead to coronary failure or stroke. Ragi prevents calcification in blood vessels. With free flow of blood all the organs stay properly nourished and working in perfect condition; thus improving quality of life.

Healthy bones and joints

knee joint

Ragi is the first dietary recommendation of doctors for those suffering from osteoarthritis or osteoporosis. It is the only cereal that has calcium as well as vitamin D3 which is necessary for absorption of calcium. Fractures are known to heal faster when one eats millet. If you have suffered from fractures or other bone problems in the past, you can introduce millet in your daily diet now. Over time the bones will strength and will cause less discomfort.

Balanced blood sugar levels

blood sugar level

Since millet digests slowly the release of glucose in the blood stream is gradual. In other words millet has a low glycemic response and eating it will prevent diabetes. If you are already a confirmed diabetic never fear! Introduction of ragi in your diet will definitely keep your blood sugar levels well within range.

Prevention of anemia

low hemoglobin

When a cereal is abundant in iron as well as vitamin C which is needed to absorb the iron, what more can one ask for? There are other foods which are rich in iron, but sometimes it doesn’t get absorbed properly in our system. The iron content in ragi is in an easily absorbable form and prevents anemia in most cases.

Growth and repair of damaged tissue


Proteins are very essential for our growth and to repair any damaged tissue. Ragi contains plenty of proteins, and that too in the easily-digestible form. In adults it helps to heal wounds quickly. When you have one meal of finger millet per day, even old scars fade away with time. In children, millet promotes growth and muscle mass.

Too much of a good thing is also bad! There is no need to go into overdrive and chuck all the other cereals for finger millet. I’ve been having oats for breakfast, finger millet for lunch and brown rice for dinner with the rest of my favourite dishes. That’s all that is needed to stay healthy and fit.


A Pet Dog – The Best Mood Enhancer


My chair
Robin at 4 months

There’s a saying, “Once a dog lover, always a dog lover!” Dog fur on your carpet, the couch and bed you have to give up, and you can’t do anything without the pet’s interference! But you wouldn’t ever dream of getting another non-dog pet. It just not the same – too dull and boring. You will miss the crazy fun and unadulterated devotion. A pet dog is the best mood enhancer you can find.


At 2 years

If you are having doubts about getting a pet dog, here are some reasons why you should:

Unconditional love – That’s what a pet dog will give you. Who welcomes you home first even before the rest of the family? The dog knows you have reached before everyone else does. In fact, they worry and fret if the owner is late home! You won’t know the meaning of the word loneliness anymore.

Dinner time
Sharing dinner

Self-esteem – There’s an age-old phrase, “Dogging your footsteps!” This was obviously coined by someone who couldn’t go anywhere or do anything without the pet dog following at their heels. Life is hectic when there’s a dog around the place. When you are responsible for the wellbeing of the dog, you feel a sense of pride as the pet grows up to be healthy, strong and happy.

Smiles and laughter – A pet dog will make you smile whatever your mood might be, just by doing something comic! A dog understands that laughter is a positive reaction and will feel encouraged to get up to mischief!

My tub

Now it all depends on you, whether you want a over-disciplined, over-obedient pet dog or a hysterical-with-laughter kind. Dogs can be trained to some extent by offering treats for good behaviour, but their inherent personality will show in unguarded moments. Either way, just looking at your dog increases ‘Oxytocin’ in the system which is a “feel happy” chemical.

Helter skelter

Stress buster: Who’s the ever-ready companion for walks and outdoor activities? A dog will never say no. In fact, it is just the opposite! You just cannot miss your morning walk! Your dog is a God-made alarm clock and will lick your face till you get up and take it out for its morning rituals. A daily walk is good for you as well. It will improve the blood circulation and keep all the organs working in optimum condition.

Pillow My bedSofa

Improves immunity – You may buy the most attractive and comfortable bedding for your little “Whiskey” or “Moppet” but they will prefer your bed and worse, your pillow! Except for those who are prone to chronic respiratory diseases, this behaviour will be good in the long run. It will definitely sharpen your immune system because it is constantly bombarded by germs. In fact, surveys have proved that children who grow up with dogs are less prone to allergies and are healthier.

Empty soda bottle doubles as a toy

Prevents depression – With fresh air blowing on your face you can walk along watching your dog running helter-skelter for the sheer joy of life. A dog doesn’t need any particular reason to run around and be happy – just being alive is enough! When you are always in a good mood, it will prevent diseases like blood pressure, heart, insomnia, cholesterol, obesity, and even depression.


Social-emotional impact – Ever seen two dog lovers chatting? Their conversation is completely focused on their two pet dogs. Total strangers, after a chance meeting while walking their dogs, chat like old friends. A dog will improve the way you interact with others and will help you to form a subtle bond due to common interests – the dogs! Studies show that dog owners are more extroverted and social than cat owners.

To conclude

Dogs have a pack-mentality and therefore have a highly developed social mindset. Pet dogs steal your bed, sofa, food, leisure time, sleep time, and most importantly your hearts. So you love them whatever they might do! Have you wondered why there are therapy dogs but not therapy cats? That’s because a pet dog is the best mood enhancer.

Boost Immunity With Honey Indian Gooseberry Preserve


indian gooseberry 2

In my previous post titled “Beauty and Health Benefits of Indian Gooseberry” I have already listed all the numerous advantages of adding Indian Gooseberry (amla) in our daily diet. I searched in my Mom’s recipe books and found this wonderful Honey and Indian Gooseberry Preserve. I have been eating a teaspoonful of the preserve with breakfast everyday ever since and am feeling great. Boost immunity with this super and simple recipe…


Indian gooseberry

1 kg Indian gooseberries (amla),

1″ size cinnamon stick,

2 cups water,

1/4 cup granulated sugar,

1/2 cup honey (or as per taste).


Wash, deseed and chop the gooseberries into small pieces.

In a non-stick saucepan, boil berries, cinnamon, water and sugar.

Once they are cooked and soft, remove the cinnamon stick and discard it.

Add honey and boil till the mixture looks like jam. (approximate cooking time 1/2 hour)

Cool and store in an airtight jar.

Have one teaspoon every day for immunity, vitality, and an evergreen, youthful look.

Note 1: You can also have it as a topping with icecream or with pancakes.

Note 2: Diabetics can also have this gooseberry preserve because it has very little sugar. Most of the sweetness comes from the honey.

Note 2: If you like the flavour of cinnamon very much, you can add 1 tsp of the powder while cooking and leave it in the preserve.


Beauty And Health Benefits Of Indian Gooseberry

Indian gooseberry 3

In Ayurveda, the Indian Gooseberry (Amla) is used extensively in medications as well as beauty products. It is very rich in Vitamin C. It has an abundance of antioxidants, Vitamin B Complex, Calcium, Carotene, Phosphorus, and many other vital nutrients. It rejuvenates us mentally and physiologically like nothing else can.

The brain and nervous system, internal organs like heart, liver, urinary system, digestive tract, reproductive organs, from hair to feet; the Indian gooseberry has the capability of healing and keeping every part of your body healthy. It is known to even prevent cancer.


Wrinkles and age spots

Amla is a powerful anti-oxidant. It controls the level of free radicals and slows down the process of ageing. It prevents wrinkles and age-related blemishes.

Hair care

Most herbal shampoos-conditioners and herbal hair oils have amla as a main ingredient because it is rich in carotene and iron. It acts as a tonic and improves the colour, thickness, texture and strength of the hair. It also prevents premature balding by keeping the hair follicles nourished.


Consuming amla has manifold benefits:


With its plentiful Vitamin A, eating amla is a wonderful idea. It improves eyesight and prevents:

  • Myopia,
  • Cataract,
  • Night blindness,
  • Macular degeneration (age related).


Amla stops accumulation of plaque in the blood vessels, thus preventing strokes and cardiac arrest. It regulates free flow of blood and keeps all the organs working optimally.


How many foodstuffs have both calcium and vitamins C and D like the Indian Gooseberry does? This calcium-rich fruit slows down degeneration of bones, teeth and nails and keeps them healthy. The vitamins help in proper absorption of calcium.

Blood sugar

The chromium content of amla improves the health of the pancreas where insulin is produced. In fact, amla should be a part of our daily diet as a preventive or curative for diabetes.

Metabolic rate

Proteins are vital for cell formation. We may consume protein-rich food, but if it is not digested and absorbed properly we feel tired, listless and we age faster. With consumption of amla you will feel a new vitality without needing tonics.

Female reproductive organs

The Indian gooseberry works like magic where the female reproductive organs are concerned:

  1. Amla prevents menstrual cramps which can be very painful,
  2. it prevents infertility and consequent depression.

Urinary tract

Amla acts as a diuretic. It increases the quantity and frequency of urination, thus

  • It gets rid of toxins,
  • Prevents water retention and bloating,
  • Moderates level of salt in the body  and prevents high blood pressure,
  • Prevents excess accumulation of uric acid.

Dietary fibre

Being a fruit, amla provides the vital bulk to keep the digestive system working in perfect condition. Many of the health problems mentioned above are an indirect result of bad digestion.


The Indian gooseberry is like an astringent and has anti-bacterial properties. Regular intake of amla prevents frequent infections and improves immunity.

Considering the numerous beauty and health benefits of Indian gooseberry, it will be worth having every day to keep us young and healthy for a long time.