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5 Worst Gym Mistakes to Avoid

Do you know what are the 5  big mistakes people make in gym, irrespective of their fitness level?

The enthusiasm, energy and momentum most people have around the new year to join a gym and become fit, dies down by the end of the first quarter. Some people give up gym even after paying the annual membership.

Some factors or mistakes that lead to this loss of enthusiasm are :

  1. Injuries due to incorrect workouts and form
  2. Not knowing how to deal with muscle soreness
  3. Disappointment of not seeing results

What are the most common mistakes that we do in gym that hinder our progress or affect results?

  1. Jumping on to treadmill as soon as you enter the gym

This mistake might lead to injury and minimize the fat burn.
Both newbies and gym veterans err on this. Running on a treadmill isn’t the best exercise for our body.

If you have just started working out or are on the heavier side, running on a treadmill may cause more harm than good to your hips, knees and ankle joints.

Another disadvantage of treadmill is that for the self-satisfaction of running at a higher speed and incline, we tend to lean on the handle bars or change posture to accommodate the speed and incline. Both of the above practices are unsafe to our spine and hips.

Solution :  If your goal is to burn more fat, doing weights first and then cardio would yield much more result and aid in recovery than doing cardio first or just cardio.

  1. No stretching, warm up or cool down workouts

This blunder paves the way for workout injury and muscle soreness

Those who are regular to gym would know of people who walk into gym and start working out within a minute. Stretching and warming up your muscles for an intense /moderate physical workout is extremely important for an injury free workout and cramp-free body post workout. If you are one of those people who get headache or dizziness soon after you start a workout, it is a sign that you don’t warm up enough. Getting injured often during a workout, or while playing your favourite sport is also a sign of poor stretching before or after your activity.pablo (85)

Solution : Stretching and warming up relaxes and prepares our tensed muscles for the activity,  which ensures the workout we do doesn’t come as shock to the muscles when it is least expected.

 

  1. Looking at weights as though they are aliens.

Known mistake that reduces the fat burn and thus results.
If a fit body is your goal, treat weights like your best friend and not like an alien.

I have posted an article on why should we weight train. Many people get confused between muscle and fat.

More muscle you build, higher your metabolism and higher your fat burn.

Weight training is the best and most effective way to burn fat and get fit. Cardio burns fat only after 25 minutes of working out and only till you are performing the activity.  On the other hand, weight training has a profound effect on fat burn up to 48 hours after your weight training session(EPOC/afterburn). Although some trainers tell their clients that cardio is the best way to burn fat, studies have proven that the rate at which weight training burns fat or improves metabolism can never be compared with that of cardio

Solution: Spare a day or two per week for weight training, even if you are a woman.

 

  1. Doing 100 crunches right at the end of the workout for flat abs

This mistake makes the hard work, time and sweat in gym ineffective
Most moderate to well fit people commit this mistake. Right before finishing their workout, they focus on doing crunches. And proudly say they hit 75- 100 .

First things first , ab crunches are not the only workouts for six packs or flat abs.

Second, doing the same workout over and over again will not get your muscle to burn more fat.

Third, crunches do not target most of the core muscles, but only a small part.

Beyond all this, doing core strengthening workouts like crunches and more right at the end of your workout plan will not train those muscles as other workouts might  have exhausted their fuel. This means you recover less, burn less fat even after 100 crunches.
 Solution :  push core strengthening workouts and weights to the start of the workout, and make sure your workout involves more muscle groups than just upper abdomen.

 

  1. Doing ‘Insta Ready’ workouts.

This mistake diminishes or doesn’t give any result at all
There comes the last mistake of doing beautiful selfie worthy workouts. This is doing only exercises like bicep curls, wrist curls, heel raises for calf muscles and triceps extensions. Most women who go to gym do not go near weights, and if they do , it will be restricted to the above ones. Focusing only on the smaller muscles and not training the larger muscles like thighs, chest , shoulders and back ( Hamstrings, pec, traps and lats) is like planning all expenses for a month and leaving out the  ‘home loan EMI’.

Solution : Prioritize workout , in order of the size of muscles and train larger muscles first.

Needless to say, that we should not expect to see the transformation from a paunch to a washboard ab in a couple of weeks. Patience pays, especially if you started working out recently.

Working out is like a marriage. Just like we marry a person to be with them for a lifetime, and not just for immediate gains like having kids or buying house . Working out is meant to make us healthy and happy lifelong, not just to fit into an old dress or lose some pounds.

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

How do gadgets affect your child’s health?

Is too much screen time affecting your kid’s health and kitchen?

In the recent times, the term ‘screen time’ has become popular among parents. It is defined as the time spent in front of a screen such as television, tablets, phone and other electronic gadgets.

With the rates of childhood obesity, juvenile hypertension and other childhood diseases reaching a high, parents of this generation need to ask themselves the question, ‘What is the reason behind these?’

There are three critical factors that shape a child’s health

  1. Nutrition
  2. Activity levels
  3. Sleep

 

How could something as simple as watching Television, tablets and phone interfere with these critical factors mentioned above?

 

Nutrition

Nutrition not only implies eating healthy food, but also eating it in the right proportion. Children are intuitive eaters, meaning they tend to be more in touch with their body and hunger cues compared to adults. However, they lose this ability, to know how much should they eat when they are distracted with devices or when their plate is filled with processed food.

There was a time when parents or grandparents used to carry the child and tell them stories and play with them while feeding them. Today’s harsh reality is that we see parents feeding their children while the latter are watching television/tablet/phone. In order to ensure their children eat faster and with minimum fuss, parents allow them to watch cartoons or play games on television and hand-held devices. As children don’t realise what and how much they eat, they are more likely to have digestive and metabolic problems by their early teens.

With food industry and media targeting parents and children with their well-planned advertising campaigns, consuming food marketed by them as healthy is very common. Further, with celebrities endorsing such products it makes the children happy and proud to consume these. It doesn’t take much effort to fill children’s lunch/snack box with the latest products launched in the market as it’s easy and less time-consuming. While we fill our kitchen shelves, with products of Standard American Diet (SAD) we should ask ourselves the question: Is there anything unhealthy/bad about these?

Most of these products contain hydrogenated fat (they type that clogs the arteries), artificial flavours and colours, thickening agents and preservatives. These are known carcinogens and harmful to the body’s metabolism and are linked to issues such as ADHD, Autism, and depression.  Apart from these, they also contain other toxic chemicals, MSG(mono sodium glutamate) and high amounts of sugar & salt, to increase the shelf life and it’s taste.

Dr. David Kessler in his book, ‘The end of overeating’ says that consuming foods with high amounts of sugar and salt causes a change in the taste buds and brain’s chemistry. Subsequently, naturally sweet /normal home food will not please the tongue. This explains why children who are exposed to such junk food want to snack only on those , and never try real fruits, vegetables or fresh homemade food.

Pro Tip – In order to ensure your children eat right, be the change and the role model. When parents start eating healthy and fresh food, it will inspire and motivate the younger ones to try those. Involve the younger ones in grocery shopping , cooking and avoid bribing them with gadgets or food.

Activity Levels

It is recommended that children up to the age of 21 should have physical activity of 60-90 minutes per day. With the ever-increasing pressure and study load from our education system, children don’t get enough time to play outside. Moreover, with whatever little time is left for play, children are getting addicted to gadgets and sit on the playground playing video games, watching videos or using social networking sites. As their device usage increases, their activity, social interaction, and attention span reduces considerably.

pablo (83).png

Little do we realise the effect of devices on their brain and behaviour. Several studies have already pointed out that there is a delay in cognitive development in children who are exposed to too much electronic media. Additionally, since their skull is not as hard as that of adults, the radiations from mobile/tablet/gadgets can easily penetrate their skull and cause damages in their brain.

Pro Tip – Give them your attention and not a gadget. Let children play real games and not video games. This will not only improve their fitness, immunity, attention span and social skills, but will also ensure their brain develops faster.

Sleep

Both the issues detailed above creates a third issue. The chemicals and sugar in the junk food keeps the brain excited and lack of physical activity compounds it by not making the body tired enough to sleep. As a result, children don’t sleep on time, which disrupts their sleep cycle. Parents again give children gadgets or turn on television to calm them down or make them sleep. Though this sounds like a great idea, it only does the opposite.

The light emitted by these devices are largely from blue light spectrum which is outside human visibility spectrum. The blue light doesn’t let pineal gland secrete the sleep hormone – melatonin and interferes with the circadian rhythm and sleep cycle. Good quality sleep is a non-negotiable factor for immunity, physical and cognitive growth in children.

Pro Tip – Create a healthy sleep routine and stick to it. Avoid gadgets an hour before bed time and remove the television from the bedroom. Use this time to connect with family. Either coach your child to sleep by themselves or sing lullabies & read stories to them to make them sleep.

As parents earn more, and spend less time with the children, they compensate it with things like processed food, gadgets, and other indoor game consoles. Though these things keep children engaged, we often forget their real need and negative effect of these conveniences.

Word of advice

  • The family that cooks and eats together, stays together.
  • Educate your child on better food choices so they don’t get swayed by advertisements.
  • Real games and physical activity for about 60-90 minutes a day.
  • Give them your time, love and attention, not gadgets
  • No gadgets an hour before bed.

One of the best ways to show care and love to your children is to make fresh homemade food and spend quality time with them. This will improve their immunity, metabolism and mental health which will equip them to be fit and sound for a whole life.

 

This article was originally written for  the online magazine ‘Complete wellbeing’.

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Why are you deficient in Vitamin D?

Is it not ironical that most of us are deficient in the only vitamin in the world that is available for free? The Internet is flooded with articles about the risks of Vitamin D deficiency and ways to increase Vitamin D levels in your body.

Let’s identify the root cause and figure out the reasons why are we becoming deficient, even when some of us live in places that have more than 300 days of sunshine in a year.  The obvious answer is that we are not exposed to sunlight as much as we need to be. This is a no brainer and anyone can guess this. However, insufficient exposure to the sun is not the only reason for the Vitamin D deficiency epidemic.

  1. Even when we are exposed to sunlight, we tend to use sunscreens. Thanks to cosmetics industry and our society, we are more conscious about our beauty and complexion than our health.
  2. We don’t consume sufficient amount of good fats. Since Vitamin D is fat soluble, good fats are essential to absorb the vitamin D from the sunlight. French fries and burgers don’t count as good fats. On the contrary, cheap refined oils like canola, corn, soybean oil etc are proven to be detrimental to health. Since such products are marketed and packaged well, we tend to fall for those products. What is needed is consumption of good fats like ghee , cold pressed traditional  oils like coconut, sesame, mustard and groundnut.

  3. In our goal of becoming ‘health conscious’, we follow what our personal trainers and newspapers say, ‘Eat only egg white and not the yolk’. In fact, some of the items deemed to be villains like egg yolks, butter and ghee actually contain the much-needed Vitamin D.
  4. Our unhealthy eating habits causes Bloating, indigestion, constipation and other digestion issues which leads to Vitamin B12 deficiency which subsequently results in Vitamin D deficiency as well.
  5. We are not eating our greens. All green leafy vegetables are rich in Vitamin K. Deficiency in Vitamin K leads to Vitamin D deficiency . Also, anaemia or iron deficiency can lead to Vitamin D deficiency as Iron Is needed to activate enzymes for Vitamin D activation. Drinking green smoothies? Read this.
  6. Most people who are deficient in Vitamin D are actually deficient in Magnesium.

    Magnesium and Vitamin D are ‘Made for Each Other‘ and one cannot function without the other .

    Read this to know about Magnesium and how to improve your Magnesium intake. 

What Doesn’t work?

  1. I get sufficient sunlight when I am in my car and at my desk (in the comfort of Air condition):  Sorry , but glass blocks all the UV- B rays that is needed to absorb Vitamin D.
  2. 20 minutes of sunshine is enough for me : That depends on your skin colour. Dark skinned people (like me and most Indians) are created that way to ensure we can live safely in places with lots of sunshine. Looking at this the other way, if your skin colour is dark, you NEED to spend more time in the sun to absorb Vitamin D.
  3. I am having Vitamin D fortified milk, orange juice and cereals: The Vitamin D in milk and cereals are in negligible amounts. Furthermore, most of it is synthetic and might aggravate health issues
  4. I am taking Vitamin D supplements – Even scientists don’t know what the ideal amount of Vitamin D supplement should one take to avoid toxicity, leading to calcification of arteries, kidney stones etc. Since it is only fat soluble, consumption of higher amounts tends to get accumulated in the body.

 

When we are deficient in a Vitamin, supplementing just that vitamin will not help. We need to understand that unlike a mechanical body like a car, where we can fill in oils and fuels whenever needed,  there is a delicate balance of nutrients needed for human body to function optimally.   Focusing only on weight loss and trying out fancy diets posted in social media and magazines will only hamper the delicate balance.

 

Does this post echo what you go through? Let us know by leaving a comment.

 

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Food, Uncategorized

Hidden Sugar

Consumption of sugar has increased manifolds in the last few decades. With our modern and fast paced life, our kitchen and pantry shelves are filled with packaged food more than ever before. Sugar is in the top three ingredients of most of the packaged and processed foods. Excess sugar in our diet not just spikes our body fat, but also makes us prone to obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, hormonal disorders like Thyroid & PCOS, increases insulin resistance and inflammation which further leads to arthritis, High blood pressure and other diseases. Even though we are much more health conscious than any generation that lived on the planet, the occurrence of the above listed issues has been skyrocketing.

The daily intake of added sugar recommended by WHO is less than 6 teaspoons or 25 grams of sugar a day (This doesn’t take into count the naturally sweet foods like fruits).  While, we are unlikely to hit  even 3/4th of this threshold if we eat home cooked food, just a can of soft drink is enough to make us go overboard. After all, we do not eat gulab jamuns, cakes or payasams every day.

Let us see where does the hidden sugar in our diet comes from and which are the foods that might wreak havoc in our body, without our knowledge.

  1. Breakfast cereal and Snack bars– All breakfast cereals are highly processed, devoid of nutrients and are loaded with sugar, salt, cheap oil, and other additives. They spike the sugar levels right at the start of the day.
Special K
Special for the amount of sugar and price.

What is so special about the ‘Special’ cereals endorsed by actresses who look super fit? Their sugar levels and price are higher than the regular varieties.

 

cheerios
The several names of sugar in the same cereal
snack bars
Way too many sweetners

For those of you who are wondering what is high fructose corn syrup, it’s a cheap sweetener which is genetically modified and has several health implications

Alternative – Flattened Rice flakes/avil/poha, puffed amaranth/millets

  1. Soft drink/bottled juices – Soft drinks are nothing but a mixture of carbonated water, sugar/high fructose corn syrup and cancer causing additives like artificial colours and flavours. Just 350 ml (12OZ) of any soft drink will make you go over and above the 25 gm sugar limit.
    coke
    A can of coke has sugar way more than your day’s limit.

    This does not mean fruit juices have all the goodness of fruits, (even though some tag lines suggest it). Most fruit juices are water, sugar and added colours with fruit concentrate and flavour .

    juiceHow about the 100% fruit juice? Fruits and vegetables get oxidised easily when exposed to air, meaning the nutrients vanish in the air. Since they don’t have any amount of fibre, they spike the sugar levels too. This does not happen when you consume the whole fruit. Read more about juices and smoothies here.

Alternative – Freshly squeezed lemon juice, coconut water and plain water can quench thirst &  hydrate, and fresh fruit for a sweet tooth fix without piling on the pounds.

  1. Ketchup,jams, dressing, spreads – If dosa, idli or chapathi has to packed in lunch, most kids demand and most moms yield to squeezing jams or ketchup into the box . ketchup, jams and dressings are not just sugar laden but also filled with additives such as artificial flavours and colours that are known to be harmful to brain and cause ADHD.
    ketchup
    Ketchup , HFCS is the third main ingredient
    jam
    Sugar is the highest ingredient in any jam

    Most of us consume more empty calories from the ketchup we use as a ‘Side’ for the pizza, than the pizza itself.

Alternative – Home made chutneys and powders, filled with goodness of protein, fibre and love. Real Italian pizzas are neither loaded with cheese, nor served with ketchup .

  1. Bread, biscuits/cookies – Even the best protein biscuit has 29.8 gm of sugar for every 30 gm of protein, for which we pay a very high amount.
    threptin
    29.8 gms of sugar for 30 gm of protein, for every 100 gm.  Good for diabetics to stay diabetic lifelong.

     

     

    fibre one


    Need less to say all other digestive and cream biscuits have similar list, labels and numbers for sugar. As grown ups, if we decide to switch to the low fat chips/cookies, we are heading for even more trouble as those foods contain more sugar than the regular ones.

     

    Bread is a convenient food, not a healthy one. Watch my video about the healthiest bread.

    bread
    That’s the label of a whole wheat bread

Alternative –  Chapathis/rotis, Home made snacks, even if deep fried will not have the additives and sugar and are healthier and fresh than store-bought packaged ones. Home made phulkas or rotis have only three ingredients – flour , water and a pinch of salt.

  1. Fruit Snacks and flavoured yogurt – Snack bars , fruit bars , fruit snacks and so are the names. All they have is high fructose corn syrup, sugar, artificial colours & flavours and so on.
    fruit snack
    Corn syrup, Sugar , synthetic colours, flavours and so on

    fruitsnack
    Why buy a flavoured yogurt which is sugar laden and has artificial flavour ?

    yogurt
    Just a cup has more sugar than your daily limit- 26 grams

Alternative –  Plain home-made yogurt and fresh whole  fruits instead of processed and packaged ones.

I can hear most moms cribbing that my child/family  wont have food without flavour or the sweetness. Well, that’s because their taste buds and brain are tricked to like these flavours with the additives in these packaged food. Moms know Miracles don’t happen overnight, especially in case of kids. Constant , steady changes and educating the family about food and nutrients will help them to make better choices even if they are alone.

And for grown ups like us, lets learn to understand what is real food and what it does to body. Priority matters.

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Fitness

Why should women weight train?

Fitness Myth 3 : ‘ I don’t want to lift weights because I don’t want to look like a man ‘

While we are ‘modern’ enough to wear jeans and shirts, serve in the army, fly planes and do everything men do, we remain apprehensive about and shy away from lifting weights due to the fear of bulking up and looking like men. Just as a woman wearing jeans and shirts does not look like a man, the hormones present in a woman will ensure she does not look like a man (even if she lifts weights).

Weight training/Strength training/Resistance training is an important part of fitness and is essential to get a fit body. Let us analyse what are the benefits of weight training and why women shy away.

Weight training burns fat and tones you up

It burns fat faster and more effectively than any other workout. Unlike cardio and other workouts which stop working the moment you stop your work-out, weight training keeps the metabolism high for the next 48 hours.

It improves the lower back and core muscle strength which is a must for losing that pregnancy tummy , that most moms want to lose. Be it an hour-glass figure, flat stomach, toned arms, well-rounded butt or a lean and fit body you are looking for, strength training is a must.

So next time , keep this in mind before googling foods that increase your metabolism.

Weight training strengthens muscle, bones and heart

The picture of muscle most women have in their mind is that of a male body builder (or sometimes a female body builder). For the amount of testosterone produced by women it is impossible to achieve such a body by just lifting weights.muscle n fat.png

Stronger muscles build stronger bones. Based on extended research, the National Osteoporosis Foundation has recommended weight-bearing and resistance training to improve bone density. It increases the effectiveness of Vitamin D and Calcium supplements.

American Heart Association recommends weight training at least twice a week to improve heart health, since heart is also an organ made of muscles.

Weight training improves your hormones

Weight Training improves insulin sensitivity, which is a major trigger factor for diabetes  , most hormonal imbalances like thyroid, PCOS, and other reproductive issues. Regular strength training will ease the stage of menopause too, since bone density and hormonal balance will be enhanced.

Weight training improves confidence and mood

Studies have proven that weight training helps not only in improving strength and fitness, but also in improving confidence and reducing depression. The endorphins released while you lift weights help reduce stress ensuring you feel better. Every time you recover from a sore muscle, it improves not just your physical strength, but also your mental strength.

But, I want to run only marathons

Strengthening and conditioning your muscle and body is important for an injury free run whether it is a fun run, half or full marathon.

It will improve posture, form and timing. With the increased strength that comes with weight training, even the practice runs become more enjoyable.

Ditch the treadmill

In most cases, the first thing that becomes useless within the first few weeks is the treadmill (except for the occasional use as a place to dump or dry clothes).

Running on a treadmill increases the risk of knee, back and hip injuries especially if the muscles aren’t strong enough to bear the weight.

If you can work out only at home, purchasing a pair of dumbbell is cheaper than buying a treadmill (even if it is a used one) and occupies far less space. If you thought walking is the best and safest exercise, read why it is not here.

Even though it was not in the gym, our grand-mothers lifted weights. Fetching water from well and carrying it to the house, grinding in mortal pestle & stone, washing clothes, gardening, squatting in the potty and more. No wonder they had thin waists and flat stomach in spite of multiple pregnancies.

If you are a newbie to work out or strength training, some of the workouts that you can start with are squats, walking lunges, push ups, planks and leg raises. Watch out for a video on the same in this space.

Are you going to weight watch or weight train? 

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