16 Oct 2017
4 min read
Achieving good health and becoming stronger and fitter aren't short-term goals. They require serious effort and ought to be regarded as a lifelong commitment. Here are some simple tweaks that you can make in your day-to-day activities as you embark on your journey towards a healthier lifestyle.
Whether or not you have a morning sweat-session planned, it is important for you to stretch your muscles. You can reap many benefits by cultivating this simple habit, such as alleviation of back pain, better posture and increased energy.
TIP: Try this simple move to immediately energise yourself. Lie on your back with your arms on the side and legs stretched out. Slowly roll
your feet while making sure that they are on the ground/bed. Do about
15 reps of this. Gradually increase the speed and continue this exercise for at least two minutes.
- Drink up
Water has many benefits, one of which is that it kick-starts our metabolism, providing a great start to our day. Keep at least a glass of water by your bedside and drink it the moment you wake up.
TIP: Most of us have heard of and practice drinking a warm glass of citrus-y water in the morning. This, however, can cause damage to your teeth, so experts have some advice as to what should be done: drink the water cold, don't brush your teeth immediately after the drink, or drink with a straw.
- Hearty breakfast
Make the most of your revved-up metabolism with a healthy, hearty breakfast, which will help you avoid cravings before lunch time. Breakfast is when you should eat the heaviest (including your treats) as your body has more hours to digest what you eat and avoid fat storage. Not a morning person? Prep your breakfast the night before with simple items like overnight oats and/or omelette that you can easily heat up in the morning.
TIP: Make sure to at least have a combination of protein, fibre, calcium and whole-grain carbs. Avoid sugary foods as they can cause sudden spikes and falls in your blood glucose level and tempt you to binge-eat later. If you prefer eating light, grab some fruits and a glass of milk.
- Snack healthy
It is necessary to plan ahead and prepare for hunger pangs, whether it's mid-morning or mid-afternoon. Have healthy snacks at arm's length (literally), either on your work desk or in your bag. This not only helps you avoid reaching out for other unhealthy options, but also aids in preventing gastritis.
TIP: My favourite go-to snacks are nuts, and I always have a handful of them in a small container wherever I go. I would suggest adding some dry fruits, like dates or prunes, for a touch of sweetness. If you are someone who usually craves something salty, carry some crackers, and if possible, a few chunks of hard cheese.
- Conscious lunchtime eats
For me, the best time during a work day is lunch time--it means a break from the desk and catching up with colleagues. This also means an occasional treat and maybe ordering takeaways, which is alright as long as you include healthier options like fruits and vegetables in your meal. For students, if your canteen food is not the healthiest, brown-bag your lunch. Plan with your classmates and do a lunch potluck--it's a tastier and healthier option.
TIP: Sticking to a meal of rice, dal and tarkari is most advisable.
- Squeeze in little exercises
This is again something that I love to do, especially when I face a lethargic 'mind block' while on my work desk. Simple moves like a back stretch, calf raises and a walk around the office have significant effects on productivity. You can also keep some resistance bands and/or dumbbells by your side and do some light exercises.
TIP: Chained to a desk? Try using a gymball as a chair and sit on that for at least an hour daily; this improves posture. You can also look up exercises that you can do on the gymball.
Need I say more?
- Me time
Try to set aside at least 30 minutes for yourself and do something that will help you relax. For instance, if you have not worked out in the morning, schedule a sweat session, or if you are in the mood for something less intense, try yoga or stretching.
- Light dinners
After a long tiring day, making an elaborate dinner may be the last thing on your mind, and you might find yourself having convenient, unhealthy meals. Based on personal experience, I can tell you that the key to making healthy eating easier is meal prep. Plan out your dinners and shop accordingly at the start of every week. It may not seem feasible, especially if your eating habits are not shared by the rest of your family, but it's seriously worth a shot.
TIP: Skipping dinner might trigger hunger in the wee hours of the night and lead to late-night bingeing. To avoid this, have a decent meal at least 3-4 hours before bedtime, and if you feel hungry later, have low-calorie snacks such as unbuttered homemade popcorn, a hard-boiled egg or a glass of low-fat/skim milk.
End your day the same way you started it. Do some full-body stretches while on your bed. This will help you de-stress and sleep better.
TRY: Some moves that you can do starting tonight are:
1. Seated forward fold
Sit up straight with your legs stretched out. Inhale and reach for the ceiling with your arms. As you slowly exhale, fold your body forward and reach for your toes or as far as you can go. Hold for five seconds and repeat.
2. Yoga body roll
Lie flat on the floor/bed and slowly raise your legs. Hold them there for a second and gradually continue raising your legs further until your weight is on your shoulders. Hold for five seconds, and, if you can, take it a step further by bringing your legs down, over your shoulders, until your body is rolled up. Hold it there for 5-10 seconds. Repeat at least three times.
3. Back fold
In a seated position, interlock your fingers, and as you push both hands forward, roll your upper back. After that, push both arms towards the back while bringing your chest forward. Hold both poses for 5-10 seconds and repeat five times.
- Get vaccinated: Note that no matter how old or young you are, there are certain vaccinations people of all age groups should get. Check with your doctor/local clinics and online about the relevant vaccinations for you and get them.
- Supplements: Honestly speaking, I am not a fan of supplements, and I believe in getting all my nutrients naturally. However, it is sometimes difficult to get sufficient doses of various vitamins, and there's no harm in taking pills.
- Never skip meals: Even if you don't feel hungry, make conscious efforts to have something every 3-4 hours. Skipping a meal is not going to magically help you lose weight. Instead, it will mess up your blood glucose level, and make you hungrier and crankier. It will also slow down your metabolism.
- Adequate sleep: Many disregard the importance of sleep, especially when they feel that they are able to function well despite the lack of snooze time. Some also think that they can make up for lost sleep time by sleeping extra during the weekends/off days. These are myths. Not getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep will hamper your overall health--both physical and mental--in the long run. Studies have shown that those who sleep less are less likely to lose weight and eat more.
- Workout: This one's really is as simple as walking around your school/office or from one place to another when running errands. Just make sure that you are involved in the activity for a minimum of 30 minutes at least 3-4 times a week.
- Protect yourself against germs and pollution: Wash your hands often and protect yourself against pollution by investing in a high-quality face mask.
- Consider your mental health: Today's fast-paced lifestyle comes with a price tag of increasing demands and lack of outdoor leisure time. Make efforts to make time to do things that you enjoy, things that will make you happy.