Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Pregnancy, Motherhood and Body changes.

 

We have seen advertisements and posters of happy babies with their moms in media and hospitals. Every mother knows pregnancy and motherhood is not easy as the pictures and posters portray. Nevertheless, it is still a truly rewarding experience.

This post is meant to bust some myths and to make moms understand the reality and facts around motherhood and pregnancy.

 

I need to have a baby before I turn 30.                     

Reality –  Don’t have a deadline. Stress will reduce fertility levels and mess up with hormones.

Things may not always go as per your plan while having a baby.  The more you focus/stress on this deadline, higher the chance of not achieving it.

Remember, the baby will form when the nature knows you are happy, healthy and ready to receive and nourish a life.

 

Your tummy is too high/low/small/big.

Reality  – These comments will be heard by most moms. Each one’s body and each baby is different. 

Someone’s tummy might be high, some low, some moms have smaller bumps and some have it big. The shape of the tummy and how it looks cannot be decided or controlled by the mom or anyone around. It is what it is.

People comment about tummy size and body shapes because they don’t realise how foolish it is to comment on a pregnant woman/new mom.

Do not feel bad when people comment on tummy size and body shape. Just smile at their stupidity and move on. What matters for the child inside is to have a happy, healthy and confident mom. The shape of the tummy doesn’t matter.

 

I am anyway going to gain a lot of weight, so I can indulge in whatever I want now.

Reality – You are going to gain a lot of fat – and it is for a reason, But do it the right way.

The body will store fat in  the breasts and hips for a reason – To protect and nourish the baby while it is inside and once it is born.

Eating junk /processed /packaged food during pregnancy will not only make it harder to lose weight later, but also not provide nourishment to the baby and your body. It will also put you at a higher risk for gestational diabetes and thyroid disorders during or post pregnancy. Moreover, your food habits during pregnancy will decide the baby’s eating habits too.

If you are craving for processed/packaged food it is a sign that you are deficient in micronutrients and not getting enough nourishment.
Pregnancy and postpartum are the time one should focus more on eating fresh nourishing, nutritious and balanced food. You need to have enough nutrients to nourish the baby for ten months, feed them for a year after that and then take care of them for several years.

Eating fresh and nourishing food during pregnancy will make it easy for you to burn all the fat that you will gained. The nourishing nutritious pregnancy foods will also help you produce more breast milk.

 

 I haven’t lost the pregnancy weight yet.

Reality- You won’t go back to your pre pregnancy shape immediately after the baby is born.

Don’t try and squeeze yourself into your old/pre pregnancy dresses soon after delivery. It took ten months for a baby to grow inside you. Your body and internal organs have gone through a lot of changes to adapt to that situation. It cannot be reversed within a few days post-delivery.

Be patient and also be careful and mindful about what you eat. More importantly, don’t let the thoughts of weight loss eat you.

 

I need to lose weight by my baby’s first birthday.

Reality – No one is going to make you stand on a weighing scale on your baby’s birthday party and reward you accordingly.

Do not look for a diet plan that can shrink you to fit into your old clothes. Just like life post baby is not the same as pre baby, your body is not the same as what it was in pre pregnancy. Accept and embrace the changes you go through.

Focus on eating balanced food, start working out three months post-delivery.

Exercise will soon become your best friend when you realise you can focus on just yourself for 45 minutes a day.  It will ensure you will regain your core strength and muscle mass that is lost with a baby birth. Workout will also make you strong mentally and physically so that you can deal with the chores without complaining about back pain and tiredness. It will also help you be a happy and healthy mom.

So either people will be in awe that you look young and amazing on your baby’s first birthday or you will have the confidence to reply to them if they happen to make any hurtful comments.

 

I want to be a Supermom

Reality – There is no supermom in this world !!!  

Motherhood makes us mentally and physically strong. However, it also burdens us with all unrealistic societal expectations that most moms feel they are obliged to fulfil.

Balancing career, family, and finances, volunteering for the child’s school projects, keeping up with everyone in family and social media, traveling, household chores and the list of things that are expected from mothers now are endless. While fulfilling all or most of these, what most moms forget is to take care of themselves. The result of that is fatigue, exhaustion , hypothyroidism and health issues closer to menopause.

Remember this – moms can do anything, but not everything.

Prioritize what’s important and essential. Focus on those and learn to delegate or outsource things that doesn’t need your absolute attention.

Pregnancy and motherhood is rewarding and equally taxing. We can make it a pleasurable experience only if we accept the changes in our body and life as it is without the unwanted and unrealistic expectations.

 

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Lifestyle

How to stay healthy and sane during this insane period?

 

The world is going through an unprecedented phase and no one is certain about how and when this pandemic and crisis will end. Nothing is the same as it was a few months ago. Lives, outlooks, routines and many other things have changed drastically.

With no end in sight, we have to get on with life and remain sane. Lot’s of people have asked me how can we remain healthy during this insane period? Here are a few points that we should do.

  1. A strict NO to ultra-processed and junk food in the house.


    You can’t let a rat in and then complain about it damaging the house. Since everyone is home and the tendency to raid kitchen and fridge is more than normal, the easiest way to stay healthy is to not allow any processed food ino the house.

    Articles of bread, chips, instant noodles and other processed food flying off the grocery store shelves tells us how ignorant and negligent we have become about our immunity and health.
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    Healthy snack -home made ragi balls
    Keep healthy , wholesome and homemade snacks reachable.  Fruits, nuts and seeds, lime juice, buttermilk etc are simple and healthy options.
  2. Don’t try any new- name diet

    Let’s ditch fancy diets all together and stick to a balanced traditional diet that consists of grains/millets, pulses/legumes, veggies and good fat. Any traditional Indian meal will comply with this. Sambar rice, khichdi, Pongal, roti/dal/sabzi etc are all balanced and easy to cook.

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    Balanced plate – Grains, legumes, vegetables and good fat

    Trying out new diets now and stressing yourself out if you are not able to stick with it (because of  the limited grocery supply that we have during this pandemic ), is not worth it.

    Confused about portion control for balanced plate? Try mindful eating.

  3. Workouts need not be only in the gym

    Just because the gym is closed doesn’t mean you need to skip the workout. Physical activity and workout are equally important to improve and maintain immunity and energy levels.

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    Wall sit – Strengthens core and lower body

    Burpees, climbing stairs, squats, lunges, leg raises, pushups, pull ups, wall sit, planks, tricep dips, bear crawl, suryanamaskar , yoga and the list of body weight workouts that you can do are endless.

  4. Pranayama is the need of the hour

    Stress is a standalone factor that can hamper immunity, metabolism, fat burn, hormonal balance and health. Deep and meditative breathing can activate the parasympathetic nervous system and reduce stress levels which in turn can improve all the above-mentioned parameters.

    You can try breathing deeply even when you are reading this article.

  5. Improve your immunity

    Stick to wholesome, fresh and home made food that also includes spices like ginger, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric , pepper and the other Indian spices. Sipping warm water through the day, avoiding food that is cold and old, having a spoon of chavanaprash in the morning, getting atleast 30 minutes of direct sunlight everyday are all good ways of improving immunity.

    Blending everything into a smoothie doesn’t give the same benefit or serve the purpose.

  6. Routine – most important and most neglected

    Since there is no real hurry to wake up early and rush to office or school due to the sleep cycles have started getting distorted.

    Bedtime, sleep quality and quantity are as important to immunity, mood and metabolism as food. 7-8 hours of sleep is essential for optimal performance  of our body and health. However, sleeping for 7 hours from 1am – 8 am is not the same as sleeping from 10pm- 5am. Try and stick to a regular routine and bedtime closer to 10PM.

    If you are interested in binge watching at night , remind yourself that the same series is available in the day time too.

  7. Ditch the scale

    There is already so much chaos in this period and you don’t have to add fuel to the fire by checking your weight often. Besides, body weight and BMI are not accurate parameters of health.

    Your energy level, body composition/body fat, sleep quality, and skin clarity can talk a lot about your health than your weighing scale

  8. Ask for help from family

    This is a good time to teach cooking to children and spouse, and share your chores. Not only will you get help and respect for what you are doing on a regular basis, but it will also reduce their screen time and increase happiness in the family. Cooking is a lifeskill. This is a great time to learn it.

    Your Child/their spouse will be grateful about it when they grow up.  

 

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Food

Do carbs make you happy or heavy?

Gave up carbs ; now feeling cranky?

Most nutritionists, doctors and food companies come up with their own diet making one nutrient popular and another nutrient the villain. Being desperate to lose weight, we try all possible fads and diets just to realise it doesn’t work in the long term.

We shunned good fats like coconut, ghee , butter for a few decades, and embraced fat-free foods and refined oils. This resulted in a generation of people with issues like Vitamin D deficiency, cardiovascular diseases, Diabetes, PCOS, Thyroid and many other chronic lifestyle diseases.

Now we know that good fats like coconut, ghee, butter, avocado etc are extremely important for health and doctors are recommending it too.

The current fad is shunning carbs. Will we become a generation that is cranky , depressed and devoid of peace?

No unprocessed food that we term as ‘Carbs’ are made up of only carbohydrates or starch. They also contain some amount of amino acids/protein. Carb sources also contain the amino acid Tryptophan which helps in the production of neurotransmitter Serotonin.

Serotonin is the hormone that regulates our appetite, mood, anxiety, happiness, mental well-being , sexual desire and sleep. Tryptophan is the amino acid that is a precursor to the feel-good hormone serotonin.

Most protein sources also have tryptophan though only when there is release  of insulin can this amino acid reach our brain. Wholesome carbs and nuts like cashews are the easiest way to get tryptophan and make serotonin.

In other words, Serotonin is the reason why we feel nice after a bowl of yogurt rice/pongal/pulao/idly or khichdi and in some worst cases a piece of cake or pastry.

Any South Indian who has tried losing weight or controlling blood sugar levels, would have tried giving up rice totally or switched to brown rice, only to realise that they are attached to rice more than they realised.

Most women who have PMS also have refined carb sources to make them feel good before and during their periods. Blame serotonin , as your brain knows the quickest way to feel good is to load with refined carbs. However, the serotonin secreted quickly this way  goes down quickly too.

Are carbohydrates bad?

Yes, if they are from ultra processed refined sources like bread, bagels, breakfast cereal,  burgers( even if its plant based ), noodles, pizza, biscuits , cookies, chips, soft drinks, bottles juices and fruit bars.

No, if they are from wholesome sources like wheat, rice , millets, fruits ,  yams, tubers,  and other vegetables.

What makes the wholesome carb sources different?

The wholesome carb sources contain resistant starch.  These resistant starches are fermented in our large intestine by gut bacteria and produce Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) like butyric acid. Short chain fatty acids are also known to boost intestinal and brain health.  By the way, butyric acid is one of the main ingredients in keto foods and fat burners.

Resistant starch in diets are known to reduce risk of Irritable bowel syndrome, cardiovascular diseases, colon cancer, lower triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and improve insulin sensitivity.

There are populations that live in the blue zones of the world, who have some of the longest lifespan on earth like Okinawans(Japan) whose diets are made up to 80%  by  rice  and tubers.

Prebiotocs/Resistant starch , Probiotics and Vitamin B12

Prebiotics, also known as resistant starch are the favourite food for our gut bacteria – probiotics.

Probiotics is the latest in the nutraceutical industry . Its marketed now in supplements, bottled juices, breakfast cereals, flavoured yogurts, fruits bars and the list goes on.

Good bacteria can survive in our intestine only if we feed them with their favourite food Resistant starch/prebiotics.  The wholesome carbs mentioned earlier are rich sources of prebiotics and they support varying species of probiotic bacteria.  

Prebiotics, probiotics and Vit b12

Probiotics are the good bacteria that our body needs to keep us healthy and help us produce vitamin B12.

Poor memory, dementia, depression, and neurological symptoms like numbness and tingling sensations can be symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.

How to improve Vitamin B12 levels in body?

If you have heard or read that you might be deficient in Vit B12 if you are a vegetarian, its not true. Most meat eaters are also equally deficient or even worse in B12 levels.  B12 can be produced in your own body by your gut bacteria if you have a healthy digestive system. What is needed to improve B12 is different species of gut bacteria and food to support them – Wholesome carb sources.

In other words, just by gobbling juices/drinks/supplements of probiotics, we cannot improve gut health or B12 levels in a long term.

If a food can make us happy, calm and feel nice along with improve the health of our gut and brain , assist in burning fat in addiion to optimizing other health parameters, how can it ever be called as a villain? Above all, why should we  avoid it?


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