Monday, July 03, 2006

Article - Fitness - Health Issues

“Health Issues”- I have always flinched at this phrase. Nevertheless, that is what I experienced these past few weeks. I will spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say that I was advised not to exercise; and that was at first, very frustrating. You see, for a person who is struggling to lose weight, ANY break from a regular workout costs dear! If this were me at the beginning of last year, I might have thrown up my hands and resigned myself to fate. However, this is me today – a LOT lighter and more confident and well,… much more sensible - even if I say so myself!. After a few hours of feeling frustrated and sorry for myself (really, I should win an award for candid talk!J), I went about planning how I would control my weight.

I decided that losing the weight on a “no-exercise” period was not as important as controlling the weight. You “never-been-overweight” people out there might smirk “what’s the big deal about that?” However, those who have “been there” and “done that” will fully empathize with what I am trying to say. When your exercise regime slows down or halts for even a brief period, you can literally see those numbers go up on the weighing scale (not unlike magic!! ). So, I wondered, what could I do to keep those numbers status quo and perhaps even make them descend a wee bit?

The answer is quite basic really. Diet control. Oh, I don’t mean starving yourself or eating “boring” food (Here, I risk drawing a frown from the nutrition experts;)). I just made seven, simple rules which I now fondly call the “Seven-Up/Chin-Up” strategy!!
Lower sugar and salt intake (just take what you absolutely need)
Stick to skimmed milk – for coffee, tea and curds, buttermilk, etc.
Eat dinner before 7 pm
Snack healthy - fruits, etc. will do it. Even if the occasional snack were a bit oily or fatty, I would have a very miniscule quantity – just to get that craving out of my system. It is very important not to crave. When the mind craves, the body tends to give in. At least, mine does! Candid indeed!
Drink around 3 litres of water through the day – it has to be a conscious effort
Stay active in the house or in the office – walk around, do some cleaning and sorting – every little bit helps!
VERY IMPORTANT – Weigh self every day
I cannot be more emphatic about how important it is to get on the weighing machine every single day or every other day. Lots of us have been in denial and avoided the weighing scale like the plague lest the bad news reaches our eyes! That’s half the problem. Face reality – that is what life’s about!

I have an added advantage MIND YOU. By that, I mean my 2-year old toddler who thinks that her mother has to give chase for a fair distance and then use some considerable resourcefulness to pin her down and catch her before she can be made to do just about ANYthing! (Am sure she knows her mom needs some exercise!)

Hmmmmm…. “Health is wealth” is an age-old proverb. Food for thought?

First-ever Article - Fitness - 'Weight and Watch'

“I am no fitness expert…but I definitely am a FATNESS expert!” This sentence has never failed to elicit a chuckle. However, that HAS BEEN the story of my life - from when I was 12, to be precise.

The “battle of the bulge” as most “like-bodied people” know, is no mean battle and as a person who has been overweight for more than 95% of her life thus far, I can vouch for it. Finally, after my pregnancy, delivery and subsequent, STUPENDOUS weight gain, I stood at a whopping 102(or was it 103?!)Kilos- unhealthy and lethargic, not to mention depressed. My good doctor suggested that I “do something about it”. He put it rather mildly, but since I detected the warning note in his voice, I decided I would ‘do something about it’.

I zeroed in on Fitness 1-- my-kind-of-clean ‘n’ classy gym -- last year and joined the aerobics classes and a little later, the gym itself. Managed to lose 15 kgs last year alone and have embarked on the uphill task of losing another 15 this year!! “Miles to go before I sleep” (thank you, Robert Frost), I like to quip. Initially, it was tough. I had not exercised in ten years and I first developed a bad back and knee pain and then, a strained hamstring, but regular exercise and stretches eased the pain off and the weight came down slowly but surely.

I now recognize and understand the mistake I made from the age of 12 (was JUST 67 kilos then!)– The mistake was: exercising / dieting in spurts – only to give in to cravings and binge and then gain it all back … and then some. “And then some” became 102 kilos at 31 years! I LOATHE it that I hit a century – not on the cricket field but on the weighing machine! Still, when I look back over the past year, I am QUITE satisfied with my weight loss and am praying that this newfound determination and (dare I say it?) self-control, continue…… long as I live.

Must wind up now as I don’t want to bore my reader with more of this personal yarn - but at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I reiterate that there is no shortcut to good health. The only way to get there is through exercise and a balanced, reasonable diet – it HAS to be a way of life. That is a fact - better face it and enjoy it rather than ignore it and “suffer like a duffer”, I say!

Joke in context: My late father had many German friends who used to visit us with family. One day, when this German gentleman asked me what “Sujata” meant (he could only say “sujaba” or suraja”, never got it right!) , I puffed myself up to reply. You see, I had just then checked out a book in Landmark on the meaning of Indian names and thought I had it down pat.

I told him, “Sujata means WELL-BRED!” In the ensuing pause, I kind of thought the Germans looked quite impressed until my witty father added “Actually, it should have been “WELL-FED”, not well-bred!! (I admit, I really treasure this anecdote despite being the butt of the joke).


Poem - No smoke without fire

Why on earth do u smoke?

Smoking is injurious to health
It causes bodily damage by stealth
A warning on every cigarette packet
Fails to stir up a racket.

You sit at a party and at it you puff
Soaking into your body …all the bad stuff
But it “feels so good” you claim
Be sure – your lungs smoking will maim.

What is the use of all the exercise and diet?
You may lift weights and avoid a tasty bite -
You jog, you cycle, you sweat, you run,
But smoke ….and you ruin all the fun.

Diseases, terminal illnesses, a persistent cough…
It can reduce your lifespan by half.
Think it will not happen to you?
Want me to wager on that a bet or two?

Do not think you will get a warning sign
That will tell you its time to resign.
You may wake up one not-so-fine day,
Realizing you smoked your life away.

You say smoking gives you a high
A subtle joy you won’t yourself deny.
You think its so cool and stylish -
When asked to quit, you turn mulish.

However, that is what I am asking you to do.
Think I have a vested interest do you?
Nope. I do not smoke, but I am on the real High -
Yes, I know because of smoking, I will not die!