Freedom from Unhealthy Habit – Hum Fit to India Fit

Freedom is subjective in every aspect of our life. As we go ahead and make vows to make ourselves fit along with many celebrities on the eve of Independence Day, we need to really identify what is that one unhealthy habit which is taking toll on our body. Identifying that first will help us take further steps towards fitness. What is the definition of unhealthy? Well, anything which is not in coordination with your body is unhealthy. Today, we are going to emphasize on sitting. As per the new norms “Sitting is the new smoking”. Knowingly or unknowingly we sit a lot throughout the day. While commuting in the car or the bus, while at the office, while dining at the restaurant, while at home watching TV and so on.

An average human being spends around 7 hours of sitting during the day which is way above the guidelines specified by World Health Organization.

Sedentary lifestyle has been told to be the root cause of many health related problems. Sitting is considered as bad, but sitting with bad posture makes it even worse. I have seen people in mid 30s having severe back problems. This is primarily due to prolonged and wrong sitting posture.

What can you do about it?

Move every thirty minutes from your place to another place if you are working at the office. Take short breaks in between work so that you have necessary break from prolonged sitting posture. You can also have fitbit telling you to complete 250 steps every hour so that you don’t remain sedentary throughout the day.

Bad sitting posture can be improved by getting a proper ergonomic chair. If that is not possible, see to that your back is straight while sitting and you are not exerting pressure on your tailbone. Generally, prolonged sitting makes us spread our legs on a stool or a chair. This changes the sitting posture exerting pressure on the vertebral column.

If you are working from home, sitting on the floor with back straight helps. Sitting on the floor and getting up every hour for short breaks may also help strengthen the joints. We sit on tables, chairs, sofas, car and most of us have completely forgotten how it is to sit down and get up without holding any object for support. There was a challenge on internet sometime before which prompted many people to get up from floor without any support.

Get a standing desk. This is my absolutely favourite. Getting standing desk is very comfortable solution to prolonged sitting. Get a desk with proper height so that you can effortlessly carry on your workday with it.

Instead of doing all these workarounds it is always better to move often and reduce the risks related to sedentary lifestyle. Freedom from something as unnatural as sitting ( on sofa, in the car, on a chair) is necessary today. We are born to be active and we should be throughout our lives. That is the real definition of freedom for the human body.

This blog post is for the independence blog train by UK and Sarah

I failed – In my no sugar challenge :)

I failed – In my no sugar challenge :)

It is ok to fail, many people have told me but I seldom have failed in my many many pursuits if I ignore the surprise math test in 11std. Failure to do something does not feel great, it feels sad to not to have accomplished something.

No sugar challenge started when me and my colleague Vignesh who is a sports person were discussing about how no sugar has helped him.

He was talking about refined sugar and how completely stopping it helped him.

I was impressed and thought let me start it at once. It was exciting..no sugar..whatsoever with a resolve.

Next day I woke up to banana as always and some time later I tried having the no sugar tea. One sip of it was not great but overall it was fine. May be my taste buds were happy with the sweet taste of banana already so they did not complain much about the no sugar tea. I generally take one coffee around 11 pm, so my dear cook Kamakshi had to be told specifically that I am having this “vratam” please don’t indulge yourself in giving your akka (that is me) a great cup with a good quantity of sugar.

She was surprised because I am the one against all possible fad diets and fad rules about food.

Her coffee is out of the world but having it with no sugar was 🙁 never mind. I was ok with it. 6th day was Sunday. Little Ms. K is fond of chocolates and kulfi so is her dad. Both love sweets to the core and they indulge as they please. This Sunday, I really refrained from all types of indulgences deliberately. I was the topic of discussion at the breakfast table and everybody was condemning my resolve of no sugar.

I am not a foodie and I do not crave for sweets too but still people felt like I am depriving myself from my free will of having sweets.

Around 10 days of no sugar I started feeling as follows:

  • I was more alert
  • Slept well through the night
  • I felt that my oral cavity was healthy and fresh
  • No sluggishness throughout the day
  • My overall energy was constant without a slump.

It was around 12th day that I got a call from one of my friends. She invited me as a sumangali for Varalakshmi Vratam and I had to indulge myself in the naivedya that she served. It indeed had sweets and I did eat everything she served. That day we attended an evening food award function where dinner spread had an amazing variety of sweets which I have not tasted or had..I tasted around 5 sweets that day…TASTED (not indulged). So, my vratam actually failed that day and my belief that none of the fad rules work got reinforced.

Though I am back to my no sugar routine, there is practically no point in refraining from anything. Balancing is the key. You got to balance everything, your food, sugar intake, rice intake, salt intake and workout to maintain healthy lifestyle.  

I have failed in my resolve but I like my no sugar coffee. Kamakshi is also used to no sugar coffee for akka..that is more than enough at this point 🙂

Bhav – A Show By Shobana

I was already late, it was Wednesday and the traffic on TTK road was killing. Me and Ms.K were in an auto. The Autowala was making all the efforts to make us reach on time. Of course I had told him that it was Shobana’s show that I am attending. Slowly, we crossed all the signals and came to Music Academy signal, it took an eternity for that signal to show us GREEN and finally we were at the doorstep of a different world which was about to be created by Shobana and her crew.

Practically, words fall short while describing the feeling which one has attending any live show. The acoustics, color combination and fluid dance movements are bound to take you to a different realm but did I expect more? Yes I did.

Have been seeing many posters of her show “Krishna” from last so many years as the Gokulashtami nears. I could never attend though due to many many commitments that we usually have.

Bhav had a different concept. It was conceived to convey the story behind performing arts. Rather to let people understand the origins of arts and to make them realize that it is as close to nature as every human being is.

For the art to take the center stage in your heart, you just have to let go. Easier said than done. 🙂

We entered Music Academy and the show was already on..A beautiful lady in pink costume dancing at the center stage on the song sung by the Maestro Abhishek Raghuram. Shobana looked amazingly beautiful in her Bharatnatyam costume. Her jewellery was dazzling with a smart play of light on and off. Most of the renditions sung by Abhishek Raghuram were in Telugu/Tamil, it was difficult to understand but Shobana’s expressions spoke much louder than words.

The program started with Ganesh Vandana, and slowly moved towards the real subject of the performing arts. The journey which is close to 1000 years. The starting point of the journey and the evolution through the years was portrayed in a tightly knit performance.

It is so easy to write it, speak about it but ask somebody to perform it and show.. Well it is doubly difficult. But then Shobana is a true masterclass. She showed it all EFFORTLESSLY. All her repertoires were easy to follow.

Her greatness as an artist was apparent as my daughter along with several small children ( present in the full house) could relate to her performance despite the language barrier.

Seetha Svayamvara and her act of Hanumanta in Ashokvatika is memorable.

Ramayana, Mahabharata and other mythological stories we all know since our childhood but seeing it depicted as a stage show was mesmerizing.

Every dancer in the ensemble was a great dancer and artist. Not a single mistake throughout the act of 3 hours which is truly remarkable.

Seeing Shobana dancing is an experience, she enhances it with her smartly designed costumes, jewellery, backdrops and music. It was a treat to all my senses. I wish to thank my Guruji Jigyasa Giri mam of Devaniya School of Kathak Dance to give us an opportunity to witness this show.

I would like to state here that Madam Shobana is an actress of great stature and has been in performing arts since last many decades. To speak about her on the blog is my humble attempt to note the incredible show and the artist that I witnessed along with my daughter.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Movie Review

World War II, the struggle of Jews under the claws of German Army. Everywhere there was bloodshed and the small City of Guernsey was not exception. Here is a movie review of a movie ” The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”

Last week was not as great. I fell down and twisted my ankle, had severe neck and head pain. Already in the pain, I was helpless and rested. One such evening and I came across this wonderful movie of Lily James ( Cinderella fame). The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The name is quite mouthful but the movie was certainly awesome.

Based on the backdrop of World War II, the novel is written by Mary Ann Shaffer‎; ‎Annie Barrows, believe me I am not yet an avid reader so, I did not know this book too.

Surfing on Netflix is not bad as they say, it just gets you movies of different genres at your fingertip and nothing is more addictive than that.

Four neighbours Mrs. Maugery, Isola, Dawsy, Elizabeth and Eben meet over a dinner. But this dinner is special. It is a feast for all these people who have been suffering from acute starvation. In the fear of getting caught ( during world war any type of gathering was prohibited), Elizabeth says that they met for book reading and the name of their book reading club is spontaneously tossed by Elizabeth as The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Potato peel pie is in the memory of the pie made of potatoes by Eben. As interesting as it sounds, these people really meet over book reading sojourns, they read and read a lot.

“We read books, talked books, argued over books and became dearer and dearer to one another.”

― Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

In the meanwhile, you have Juliet Ashton, a writer from London, who has a typical life of a writer but she has a quest of something new and better. She receives a letter from Dawsy Adams of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society asking her to send one of the books and stating their condition as well as the story of the society.

This intrigues Juliet to the point that she goes to Guernsey. The movie depicts the inward journey of Juliet as she reaches Guernsey, meets and knows these people.

“Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true.”

Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

 

The movie was simple yet sent a very powerful message. The depiction of world war II and the struggle of people is portrayed very realistically.  We can only imagine the problems that Jews faced during WWII. I have read “Diary of Anne Frank” and that along with some history lessons are my windows to WWII. I was glad that I could finally see something related to WWII.

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is heartwarming and fresh, at the same time it makes you think about the hardships that people faced during WWII. Juliet and her journey inwards could be felt in due course of the movie and it ended on a positive note. In short, the movie has everything which makes it a good watch.

“All my life I thought that the story was over when the hero and heroine were safely engaged — after all, what’s good enough for Jane Austen ought to be good enough for anyone. But it’s a lie. The story is about to begin, and every day will be a new piece of the plot. ”

Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

These people with the reading society started breathing books. In any of their dialogues you will find Charlotte Bronte’s quote or you find Jane Austen. While reading these books which were the only entertainment that they had and the only way to be positive in their lives, these people would be transcending themselves in the world of no chaos no world war which made it so special.

Three days on and I have not been able to forget the movie and some of the dialogues.

Some things stay with your heart forever. I am sure this movie is one of them….

I should also read the book perhaps.

“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive – all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”

Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

 

Left Doubters Behind with Pinkathon

Left Doubters Behind with Pinkathon

I have been obese all my life. The brief duration that I was my ideal weight lasted around 2 years during my hostel stay and the other time when I was suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome ( IBS).

In the hostel, I was super malnourished and was homesick. I never quite liked food made in a mess and a couple of times I had to rush back home with gastritis during 4-year tenure.

After marriage and delivery and 2.5 years of breastfeeding, I wanted to shed some weight and landed myself in trouble because of the foolish diet food which was sold by a famous gym in the city. I followed that diet for around 1 year and lost a right amount of weight, only to find that I was in this vicious cycle of stomach pain, diarrhoea and vomits. Here again, I would like to say that I was my ideal weight

( weight loss can also happen with diseases, and you can lose those last 10 pounds to diarrhoea too) but in an acutely malnourished body which used to give up often.

I have written a lot about sustainable food habits and lifestyle, and I can not emphasize the importance more. After IBS, I was on medication for the whole year to the point that putting a tablet in my mouth would give a gag. But then, one day, I decided against it. I decided that if it pains I will bear it all and I did..slowly changed my food habits..brought myself back to regular food eating routine. I did not avoid anything but did not overeat. Started training myself with cardio, strength training, and HIIT.

A bit of more HIIT and you may injure your knee, heels and so on.

For a brief period again I was THIN (literally), this time it was no diet, it was workout which would go on injuring my body slowly…By this time I had already run the Wipro Chennai Marathon. It was a 10km distance. How did I do it? Well, it wasn’t easy. I was running for the first time. So I did not know how it would work. I completed it successfully.

The second 10k I ran, at a whim, registered just 2 days before and no practice.

But Pinkathon was different!

I was already doing 100 days of running.

100 days of running is an initiative taken by runners around the world, where one should run 100 days.

It does not have to be a 5km run, it can be 2km, 3km or the bare minimum that you can run every day. One can log in the information on their portal to assess the progress. This was a kick start. I had already started walking 10k every day and knew that it should progress to jog or run. Slowly, with 100 days of running, I could run 2km every day.

Body is a wonderful machine. Slowly, it got used to the 2km, and I felt nothing. Initially, there were many changes, but as I got used to it, it was more of a routine. I had to break the plateau, and I decided that I should run a 10k and see whether I am really capable of it. There were around 15 days for Pinkathon, luckily and we (Shrilekha and I) registered. Most of you have seen the journey of preparation. We were running every day (2-3-5 km) and slowly, we were ok with 5 km distance. Shri was covering it for around 45 mins and me about 50 mins. The day of Pinkathon arrived. Had a Chevazhai ( Red Banana) before going, we got ourselves dropped near Napier Bridge and walked around 2 km. There was a lot of buzz with Zumba and all happening around.

Milind Soman is a brand ambassador of Pinkathon, he came on the stage, and I could just say “ Wow.” Such an inspired morning it was.

Milind flagged the race, and we were on our own ( Shrilekha and I ). Yeah, we don’t run together because she is much faster than me.

After running two, 10km races, I knew that

I do not have to rush and run with other people that are the biggest mistake anybody would do while they are running.

When the race started everybody started running, I was the last person to leave Napier Bridge of all 10k participants. But that did not bother me.

First 1 km of the run is building my ammunition, I have a severe issue of breathlessness. So,   I have to make my lungs and body ready for the long run.

As I crossed 2km mark, it was good, I was leaving behind most of the junta who were walking. Till 5k it was easy. I did have some water at 5k.

The km marks were very haphazard, I never saw 6k, 7k mark.

8k was tough because there were two bridges, which were tough to climb especially when I was running out of my ammunition.

What did I learn yet again?

Running is a mind game, you quit in your mind, your body stops

Never compete or compare your performance with anybody. Everybody prepares; differently, everybody has a different lifestyle.

While running, get your lungs to work first which would later fuel your performance, if you are running on the breaths which you are taking on the go, it will deplete your energy ( Too technical but I felt it so..)

Never ever gulp a lot of water at the water stations, SIP it.

And celebrate your effort and pace whatever it is. 🙂

I am proud of Shrilekha who completed the race in 90 mins which is a great feat. I have learned from this race and would undoubtedly work hard to perform at my best.

Thank you all for constant encouragement. For those who are thinking, we did this for weight loss, I only have a thing to say, we are way past weight losses.. 🙂

It was a great journey, more so because all of you were a part of it. Let’s gear up for The Wipro Chennai Marathon in Jan 2019. See you at the start of the preparations. Speaking of doubters..I am one of my biggest doubter..so I believed in my capacity of running this time..hope the streak continues.