HEALTH IS GREATER THAN WEALTH. Ask the person who is languishing in the nearest Apollo or government hospital because (s)he has diabetes, heart problems, hypertension or some other lifestyle diseases. The following points are written by a marathon runner who is super fit, who rarely falls sick, who has a great body and who can any day run for 50 kms without a stop in about 4 hours. Read and change your life if you haven’t already.
HEALTHY EATING IS HALF THE BATTLE—
- Indeed that is half the battle. Actually that is the crux of it. KNOWING WHAT NOT TO EAT AND HOW MUCH TO EAT IS VERY IMPORTANT. Some people stay fit and healthy by just following this principle. From Hrithik to Amir, they all have admitted that a great, fit body (or washboard abs for that matter) is made in the home kitchen and do not come with umpteen sit-ups or crunches in the gym.
- AVOID JUNK FOOD. We all know what junk food is. We are bombarded with junk food at the nearest fancy global food chains and they are multiplying (and taking over your small-time desi food joints) as you read this. Sometimes we also cook them at home. Maggi, white maida bread to name a few. It is becoming stylish to eat in stylish food joints. Sadly, that is not what your health and body needs.
- EAT IN MODERATION. Most people I know are overeating. They don’t burn the calories they consume. Result for many is weight that they do not want. And if you are thin (despite heavy eating) it does not mean that you are really fit. Burning the calories you get by eating one samosa may require 3-4 kms of running. So don’t think a 20 minute exercise (in fancy Adidas or Nike gear) will take care of your unhealthy eating habits. Esp with ageing, eating less adds to longevity (research has shown). Eat less and light in dinner or you will feel lethargic in morning and also won’t feel like going out for a run or walk. This is very important.
- REFORM YOUR KITCHEN. Change your food habits. Reform your family too if they are careless about health and body. Get everyone involved; even your neighbours, society people, flat mates, peers, colleagues. This woman named Shiva Chaubey managed her weight just by healthy cooking (desi style). She has huge following on the Indus Ladies forum. See her recipe and read her health biography at http://www.indusladies.com/forums/blogs/shivachoubey/ (don’t’ ignore the link, visit and read it) You can also do it. Read more about what to eat, what oil to use, how to change cooking styles etc. And learn cooking yourself if your food is always cooked by someone else; equally true for males.
- SOME THINGS TO AVOID OR EAT IN MODERATION are: white maida bread (strict NO; replace it with multi-grain bread and not just ‘brown’ bread), a lot of bhatura, kachoris, pakoras, samosas, fried items. Eat whole grains, cereals, even steamed vegetables (never raw except some in salads). Sometimes less of rice if you want to watch your weight.
- ADD SPROUTS (whole green moong, grams, alfalfa, fenugreek soaked in water for some 6-8 hours then covered until they sprout) AND OATS in your food daily. You can garnish it to make it less boring. Go buy oats (jai, javi in Hindi) and eat oats porridge (made in low-fat, toned milk) daily if you don’t already. Read about oats recipes such as oats upma etc. and try them. Eat plain chapati (simple desi roti, less of paranthas), simple home food, lot of salads (usually before food to fill you) etc. Leave the table when you are a little over half filled (brain and stomach connection is usually delayed by 20 minutes; result is that you keep eating even if you are full). Always carry healthy snacks and water when you go out of home. Use organic foods and vegetables as much as possible (it is expensive, yes).
- MAKE SURE FRUITS MAKE UP AT LEAST 1/5TH OF YOUR DIET INTAKE EVERY DAY. Try seasonal fruits and avoid fancy, expensive items. A banana daily. NO FRUIT JUICE PLEASE; EAT WHOLE FRUITS (you need the roughage; and many physicians will also ask you to avoid juices at street juice counters as there is a strong chance of infection). AND YOU GO (WITH YOUR KIDS) TO THE LOCAL GROCERY AND VEGETABLE SHOPS to see and buy things. It is a good habit. Know what is there; don’t just eat what comes your way. Buy fresh vegetables and fruits, read about their prices, ask a few questions, know where they come from etc.
- AVOID PROCESSED FOODS. Even healthy food becomes junk when processed and cycled repeatedly (your sugary Tropicana juice, colas or the jam bottle you love in mornings is totally unadvisable. Remove it from the refrigerator sooner than later). If in a hurry in morning, eat four to six whole-grain bread slices (or roti) with some banana and other fruits or even a steamed potato. Get curious: don’t just eat things because ads featuring Bollywood actors or gym-fit models told you that they are healthy. And know that your bad habit gets transported to your family and kids. AND NO fancy CHIPS PLEASE (sometimes your desi chips, even banana chips is okay).
- CUT DOWN ON YOUR TEA AND COFFEE; ACTUALLY QUIT IT. Or avoid it if you can’t quit it. Embrace green tea and maybe black coffee too. You are consuming a lot of sugar day in day out with that tea and coffee. Choose healthy beverages: green tea in all seasons; nimbu paani, jal-jeera, amla drinks, lassi, chhachh (buttermilk) etc. in summer. Start green tea (tea leaves and hot water; any Kangra green tea leaves to begin with should do, not tea bags (full leaves look and taste better). Sugar makes you crave for it; it is, in a way, addictive. So use it in moderation. You should know that India is becoming the diabetes capital of the world. Many studies in places like Delhi have proved that even our kids are getting obese. We don’t want to become the US at least in terms of body volumes, do we? YOUR FRIENDS AND PEERS WILL MOCK YOU FIRST FOR YOUR HEALTH CONSCIOUSNESS. Later they will follow you and come to your for fitness tips.
- DON’T EXPECT ME TO TELL YOU WITH DETAILS WHY YOU SHOULD QUIT ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO IN ANY FORM. See the government ads in the cinema hall these days; you will know how much tar gets in your body in one year (go to YouTube if you want to). About 8 to 10 Lakh people die in India every year due to tobacco-related causes (you want to die before your time is up or remain sick coughing all the time?). And don’t even get me started on alcohol damages! Take command of your life. Cigarette is blowing you; alcohol is drowning you. Your addiction to momentary pleasures will get you a berth in Apollo sooner or later. So quit now.
- DIET CHART? I DON’T HAVE ANY. YOU DON’T NEED ANY. You know about foods and know what you should be avoiding and how much you should be eating. And make your chart accordingly. My food for you as an illustation. BREAKFAST —roti, paranthas with dahi or bhujia (I even use tissue sometimes to wipe excess oil from parantha), poha, chana-chura, multi-grain bread, toned milk (usually 300 ml only sometimes with Amul pro), Idli, upma, bananas and other fruits. LUNCH— salads (always as starter, fill yourself with it. More lemon and salt in summer if you run), 2 roti (more if running marathons within 3-5 days), daal, no rice (rice only on 2 days and that too not a lot), sabzi (prefer steamed, boiled sabzi but not always), dahi or raita. DINNER—Same as lunch; vegetables keep changing. Non-veg on three nights (but small amount; I even want to become a veggie. I avoid mutton). SNACKS— My best part in diet. Sprouts, fruits, 4 almonds daily, nimbu, sattu sherbet, roasted chana, oatmeal (with reisins or kismis and flaxseeds called alsi), amla, masala green tea (with laung, ilaichi, dalchini). INDULGENCE—Chocolate (Cadbury Dairy Milk has mostly sugar; eat something with more cocoa, Amul dark chocolate), IceCream (love brick packets of vanilla or butterscotch), Cold Coffee: I try to avoid all this. One 50 ml ice cream cup has enough sugar for a day’s need. I avoid eating outside. I carry my own water and food or snacks if going out for longer hours. I don’t stock maida biscuits and other junk food in my shelves. I also visit Khadi gramodyog stores for desi, organic foods. I sometimes eat popcorn (made in microwave; it is full of calories, mind you). You make your own diet chart; usually take out the negatives. Get whole family involved. See what is healthier around you. We all know that. And we eat more in tension, so keep happy. And please run, it introduced happy hormones (called endorphins) and you feel great (called runner’s high). You can actually eat all the junk you want if you are a distance runner. Your digestion will be just perfect; I have that. My friends fret about what not to eat and I challenge them and eat anything they say in huge quantities and nothing happens to me (no loose motion or acidity or anything nasty). Find local running groups on Facebook etc, then think of Delhi and Mumbai marathon participation and so on.
RUN, EXERCISE, AEROBICS—
- RUNNING IS ARGUABLY THE BEST EXERCISE. Mix it with swimming if you can. Cycling too. Gym body is a good-looking body and not a fully fit body. So if you are not a model or actor and don’t need a good-looking body then Running is what you should be doing. Walk first, mix it with jogging. Running is not an easy thing. You may injure your feet if you overdo it beginning. BEST RUNNING SHOES- ASICS (now sold in India; also good are Mizuno and Brooks). NOT Adias, Nike or Reebok. When you are able to do 5 to 8 kms then you should check your feet before you attempt long distance running. See the shoe size guide http://www.asicsamerica.com/Shoe-Fit-Guide/ You should know what is gait analysis, underpronation, overpronation etc. and you should buy an Asics shoes of your fit (I am not an Asics agent FYI). To begin with ordinary running or sports shoes (even the 300 Rupees Nepal ka Goldstar should work great). Your running shoes should be one size bigger than your normal fit. Kalenji (decathlon) running apparels are good (you will need bottle belt etc. as you begin running long distances). Read articles on web on how to start running and then read training plans by Hal Higdon or Jeff Galloway on their websites (I followed Hal) about your first 5k or 10k (k is kms). And road running is not good for knees is a myth (as long as you are using good shoes; run on different surfaces- someday road, some day earth, grass; avoid concrete). Aerobic exercise (one in which your breath goes up and down) is always better than gym. Running and walking is best, easy and affordable and gives maximum results. Keep varying your schedule, speed, distance, exercise timings, intensity, running routes and tracks to lose more calories and for better results. Or else the body gets used to the same schedule. In 2011, the big muscle man state-level weightlifting champion fell sick on the very first day (even before the Manali starting point) of the 10-day Himalayan trekking with us; the thin and slim European girls were the most fit and they also scaled the Friendship peak (5289 mts)! So know that FITNESS IS NOT necessarily ACHIEVED IN GYM. Though some gym (resistance training) is needed for toned looks and overall fitness and it should definitely be part of your exercise and weight loss regimen (and who doesn’t want a good-looking body). And you are evasive if you say that you don’t have time for it. We find time for what we think is important. I have a super fit body with almost the six-packs and my average comes to 35 mins of exercise daily for the last six months. If you are a beginner, you should start with walking and focus on getting your first 2km running done without a stop. It will take time. WHEN I HAD STARTED I COULDN’T RUN FOR EVEN 150 METRES WITHOUT A STOP. NOW I CAN RUN FOR OVER 50 KMS WITHOUT A STOP. YOU CAN IMAGINE THE MAGIC RUNNING MUST HAVE DONE TO MY BODY. And no body is a superman; we all do it with practice and perseverance. THE HUMAN BODY DOES MAGIC IF YOU AGREE TO DO IT. So use the body; don’t abuse it. And know that running is prone to injury, keep reading and evolving. You can’t run a 5km the day you decide to start. It is always incremental or you get injuries. Running will be one of the best things you will do to your life. Just give it the time it takes till you are a runner. The road is your gym, as they say. Sip (not gulp or drink in haste) water in middle of run or walk (that you should not is a myth). EAT FOOD WITHIN 30 MINUTES TO ONE HOUR OF YOUR EXERCISE; it is called the golden hour of nutrition as it works great for body and metabolism. Avoid fancy nutrition bars that your peers may be using; read and know more before using something.
- CYCLE AND WALK MORE; KEEP AUTOMOBILE AWAY. Use your body and muscles or lose it. Buy a cycle today; the simple desi cycle (unless you are into trail cycling or specialised cycling).
- DON’T RUN OR FOLLOW A HEALTHY LIFE STYLE FOR COSMETIC REASONS or just for temporary improvement with weight etc. Think it as part of life. Your body that serves you all the time needs this servicing. Don’t do dieting or you will gain it all sooner or later. Eat healthy every 2-3 hours, usually six meals a day. Eat less in dinner. Lot of salads in lunch. Good breakfast. Chew your food. Buy health and fitness books, read about Yoga etc.
- BRUSH YOUR TEETH TWICE DAILY; brushing before bed is more important. Run brush on tongue (avoid sharp edge tongue cleaners) and also on insides of both cheeks (where germs sit) before you finish.
- KEEP FOOD DIARY AND DIARY OF EXERCISES. Endomondo free app for your smartphone works great to track your exercises. There are other apps to help you eat healthy or to ensure that you drink 3-4 litres of water daily. Search and install them if you need such help.
- BUY SOME HEALTH GOODS, EXERCISE EQUIPMENT from Playground online dot com or healthkart dot com or flipkart. Such as rope, some weights etc. Or visit the local stores. I prefer Quchua, Kalenji clothes and apparel from Decathlon dot in. The Cosco full body gym is not every expensive. But free hand exercises on floor and bar works great too. Read about common PT exercises, stretching exercises on web. Do warm up with stretching and cool down with stretching before and after a run. You should definitely do running for posture improvement too if you sit for hours daily before computers. Go for really long walks, hiking, trekking in areas of natural beauty near your place or in Himalayas. Run or exercise with your family and friends and not alone. You do not know what the human body can do. So believe in it and do it.
- There are many good sites on net that you should read. READ ABOUT HEALTH, foods, exercises, running etc. Keep yourself updated. It is not as difficult as you think. Runners world is a good site for runners; bodybuilding dot com for muscle seekers, http://www.exrx.net/index.html for exercise techniques and good articles. Many US universities such as the MIT have full videos and text courses uploaded as Open course ware that anyone can access.
- Roger Wright, below, 150 kg man to Marathon runner in ten months.
Since then he has run so many marathons. See his story at http://training4abs.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/interview-with-roger-wright-300-pounds-to-marathon-runner-in-10-months/ He has many Youtube vids; search them. So GET INSPIRED. Nothing is impossible. He is just one example. I myself was over 75 kg; I came down to 58 kgs with running and healthy eating. I am now 66 kgs and my ideal weight is 65 kgs.
20-Some MISCELLANEOUS SUGGESTIONS: sleep early, leave bed early (sleep for 6 to 8 hours) with no tea or coffee many hours before bed; take out time for travel (money is not everything in life), develop a hobby (films, books, guitar, whatever), give attention to your life and body (and not only to your goals and aims). Get your full body-check up done at least once in two years; you should know your cholesterol, blood pressure or sugar levels. Take bath twice daily (I prefer the ordinary red Lifebuoy soap); make sure you have no body odour (it doesn’t mean you soak yourself in deo or perfume). Some food rules from Micheal Pollan’s book ‘Food Rules’: Eat real food and not processed concoctions sold in supermarkets, avoid food products that make tall health claims (no this, no that), eat only foods that will eventually rot (exception-honey), EAT IT IF IT CAME FROM A PLANT AND NOT IF IT WAS MADE IN A PLANT, IT’S NOT FOOD IF IT IS THE SAME IN EVERY LANGUAGE (BIG MAC, CHEETOS, PRINGLES), EAT WHAT STANDS ON ONE LEG (PLANTS) AND NOT WHAT STANDS ON TWO OR FOUR LEGS (CHICKEN OR MUTTON), go to farmer’s market not to supermarkets, don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the colour of milk, the whiter your bread the sooner you will die, eat junk food only if you cook it yourself. SOME PEOPLE ARE NATURALLY BIG AND HUGE; don’t live in tension by trying to get slim if your body shape if not of your own making. See a doctor instead. Learn to love yourself.
DISCLAIMER—Read more on web and stay informed about health and fitness. This is not an exhaustive list of things to do and not a substitute for medical advice. Use this information with care and caution. Consult a doctor if you have any medical condition and do not run or exercise strenuously.
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Written 19 July 2013. 3112 words. This document will be updated constantly.