Weight loss journey tips: Diet and Nutrition

In my previous post, I had mentioned that I have started on a weight loss journey. My goal is to mainly reduce about 8 kilos so that I can be in the normal range. In this post, I want to write about what I have learned so far on this journey. This is an attempt to share my journey in the hope that someone will get inspired or find the information useful for their own journey. I have always read weight loss journey posts that people write and am often inspired by that. In this post, I am mainly going to write about diet and nutrition tips.

Tip 1: Burn more calories, than you consume: This is self-evident, if we eat more calories than we burn, we will definitely put on more weight than lose.

Tip 2: Eat a balanced meal: All food groups are important for the body to function in a healthy manner.

First thing I used to do is that I would try to cut carbs. However, I have now realised that when I cut carbs drastically my energy levels go down.

Second, I was not having adequate protein. My dietician recommended that I needed to have protein with every meal because only then we are able to consume adequate protein required for repair and building of muscle. Increasing muscle percentage is very important to lose weight in the long run. Because I was not having adequate protein, I would easily crash and then gain back whatever amount I had lost. But with a more balanced diet and having all 3 meals, I am able to cope better with my exercise routine.

In general, my suggestion would be that you should cut out carb-loaded junk food (like things made from white flour, refined sugars and white bread). Because they just add to empty calories.

Tip 3: Eat more calories than your resting metabolic rate: While it is important to manage calories, it is more important that we eat more calories than we are burning during our resting phase. Else, our body go into a fat storage mode and starts to preserve fat. This basic principle is very important. You can measure your resting metabolic rate (RMR) on a body composition scale.

Tip 4: Have vitamin/ mineral supplements: While I have corrected my eating patterns and general nutrition levels in my diet, I have realised that there are times I still lack energy. Hence, I take multi-vitamin supplements. They generally keep my energy levels high. In addition to a daily multi-vitamin pill, I have taken B12 supplements in consultation with my doctor and I am now taking fish oil gels. While B12 keeps my energy levels high, I have found that fish oil helps with general aches and inflammation. I had injured my knee a few months back while running. While I finished the treatment my doctor gave me, the swelling and mild pain comes and goes. Having fish oil supplement has helped ease the symptoms. Generally it is advisable that you consult your doctor before taking any supplements.

Tip 5: Have enough fibre in your diet: Having enough fibre in your diet, I have learned is very important. It helps clear the stomach that remains in the food. When the food remains in the stomach for a long time, it converts into fat. To avoid that it is best to eat a lot of fibre so that the food moves easily.

Tip 6: Drink lots of water: This is extremely important. Having lots of water prevents dehydration, which can result in with sweating due to exercise. Second, it also helps with curbing hunger. These days when I feel hungry, I first try to drink water. Having water makes me realise that I was actually thirsty, not hungry. You can put an alarm to drink a glass of water every 60 min. At the minimum, you should at least consume 8 glasses of water everyday.

Tip 7: Cut sugar from your diet: I usually don’t keep white sugar at home. So I never really consume sugar except if it is already included in food. However, I had a habit of ordering ice-creams especially on those weekends when I stayed in. But for now, no ice-creams for me. While fruits are good, I am only consuming small quantities of fruit before my exercise. I usually eat a small piece of fruit like apple, or half a mango, or a couple of dates, figs, just before exercise or in-between meals. I also use some jaggery in my tea. I have learned that jaggery is good for you. So I am having it but if you can avoid it during weight loss phase.

Tip 8: Figure out if you are lactose-intolerant or have gluten allergy: Eating foods that you can’t digest can have a detrimental effect on your body. I have learned that I am lactose-intolerant but I can have curd. So I have substituted regular milk with soya milk.

I must admit that I am not really losing huge amounts of weight as of now but my fat percentage is reducing and my muscle percentage is increasing. Also I can see an overall tightening and slimming of body. So if you are looking for a quick fix solution then this may not work from you.

These are a few of my tips as far as my diet is concerned. Off course, there are many more tips and many different diet styles. I will try and add more as an when they come to me. I hope it helps you. If you have any tips, do leave in the comment box below. It’s always good to learn more.

 

 

 

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Walking is a soulful adventure outside and within

Last month I made a goal of walking 10,000 steps a day. One of the main reasons for making this goal is that I have been trying to lose some weight. Although I feel that running is better for losing weight, I can’t run as I injured my knee while running. So, had to stop running. My doctor recommended that I start walking. I was quite disappointed that despite taking the medication, I won’t be able to run.

My trainer, who I hired to help me lose weight also recommended that I should walk. His prescription is that I should walk 10,000 steps everyday.  I decided to give it a try. It’s not that I haven’t made a similar goal in the past. I have and have managed to keep it for a while but then lose interest in it and move on to other activities. When an activity becomes mandatory, it is easy to lose the joy in it and slowly interest. Even if one enjoys the activity 80% of the time, at least 20% of the time you feel that you have to do it because you have to do it. Then you start questioning the importance of that activity.

My trainer recommended that I buy one of those fitness bands that track steps everyday. This has greatly helped especially on days that I don’t want to go out and walk. When I look at my tracker I realise that I have taken only 2000 steps or 4000 steps and it seems very less. So I am compelled to go out and walk. Instead of questioning the why of walking, I have begun to find ways to enjoy my walking.

I try to take different routes. Initially, I used to go all the way by the sea. Watching the sunrise or the beautiful sunsets and the myriad moods of the sea always uplift my spirits. These days I go to the nearby parks and gardens. Although Mumbai is a crowded city, there are surprisingly parks and gardens hiding amidst the madness that help the city breathe. Walking in a park with a lawn and dense trees lining the fence reminds me of my childhood. There are always people walking with someone – spouse, children, friends and/ or pets.

When I it gets too hot outside, I go to a mall. Walking in an air-conditioned mall saves me from the scorching heat outside. Plus I also get to check out the latest fashion. On relatively cooler evenings, I walk in the crowded bazaars in the vicinity of my home. The bazaars are a complete riot especially in the evening. The roads dug up displaying the innards of the city, the street food vendors setting up their stalls with fresh snacks and thousands of commuters returning home after a busy day. It’s tough to negotiate to find any walking space. But I enjoy it. It gets me in the moment.

Another way I add variety to my walk is to listen to different kinds of music. Since I am taking music lessons these days, while walking I tend to listen to songs and ghazals that I am practicing to sing. The beautiful melodies add a certain poetry to my walking. In the morning hours, I like to listen to walking meditation music. It is refreshing and makes me focused on the day.

In past one month, I have managed to take over 10,000 steps a day on an average. There are certainly days when I take fewer steps but then there are other days when I go over so overall it balances out.

Walking is certainly beneficial for my physical health and fitness. I have started losing a bit of weight. I don’t have a lot of weight to lose. My main goal is to increase my overall strength while reducing unnecessary fat so that I can do certain yoga poses.

More importantly, allows me to connect with the world around me. As I move I observe the way the world is organised, the way the sun rises or sets, the way the trees become dark at the end of the day. How the rhythm of life changes by day and night?

It also provides me the space to contemplate and reflect. While walking I try and observe the nature of my thoughts. How they rise and fall? How they get stuck and loosen up? How they take me far away and the world beyond? How a sudden pebble brings me to the present moment? How a bird’s chirping fills me with a certain melody? How the sun’s rays add warmth and light to my inner self? With curiosity and compassion I travel within to search for those depths and insights that help me navigate this world in a skilful manner like an artist painting the canvas of my life with beautiful colours and mastery.

In past few months, I have certainly learned to appreciate walking and it is certainly becoming one of my favourite activities. I hope to write more about my walking sojourns in the city of Mumbai.

Do you enjoy walking? What are some of your favourite and not so favourite aspects of walking?

 

 

Memoir: Lit – A Memoir by Mary Karr

I enjoy reading memoirs because they usually portray a personal tale of finding meaning and purpose in life. They are usually about overcoming life challenges and in doing so, they remind us of the amazing power of human spirit.

While reading memoirs, there are many instances which make me wonder how connected we are as human beings, yet how separated we are in our circumstances. We could be anywhere in the world but at some level we are all trying to achieve peace and harmony in our lives besides other things. Almost all of us at some point in our lives are faced with the task of learning how to channel our inner being to achieve a peaceful and harmonious life in true sense. It may be difficult but unachievable.

Reading Lit: A Memoir by Mary Karr brought me to above realisation. Born to alcoholic parents, Karr struggled to emerge out of the shadows of her unhappy childhood and find a place for herself in the world. In Lit, Karr describes her struggles with alcoholism and how she overcame her addiction and become a bestselling memoir writer. While describing her journey, she also talks about a failing marriage which resulted in a divorce. This may sound like a story of many who fight addiction to get sober and take charge of their life, however, what is powerful about Karr’s memoir is the emotional tone with which she writes her life story.

Her life story keeps moving at a steady pace and as a reader you keep experiencing the various emotions. It is easy to empathize with her when she is drawn towards a drink, you can feel her anxiety, her impulses and her inability to control her behaviour. At the same time, you also feel somewhat angry at her preoccupation with herself and her tendency to destroy a near-perfect life. You question – why is she continuing on the path of destruction? And then as things start getting better and she starts taking charge of her life, you suddenly marvel at her inner strength to carve her own path. This empowerment comes about by having faith and trust in her own abilities. This transformation is accompanied by a certain sense of gratitude and acceptance of challenging life situations. Finding a community or a group of people who help and advice her are crucial to her recovery. It is important to rely on loving and caring people.

Her memoir reaffirms to me that when we start connecting with our loving self and expressing that loving self, we feel empowered.

Although I am not a literary critic but I do feel that her memoir is written lucidly. It also gets quite intense at times, I had to take a break even if I didn’t want to. The intimate way in which she describes her life situation makes you wonder how she can so clearly remember what she was feeling when she was so drunk that she almost passes out. I sometimes wonder, if these memories are what one experiences in that instance or later on when reflecting on the situation.

Whatever the truth, it is a memoir worth reading. It is definitely an emotional read.

Lit is Karr’s third memoir, before it she has written The Liar’s Club and Cherry. Perhaps I should have read the earlier two before embarking on this one. Perhaps I will read them now.

If you have read it, let me know what you thought about it.

The broken bracelet and impermanent nature of things

Yesterday, I was reading Pema Chodron’s book When Things Fall Apart. In the book at some point she talks about the impermanent nature of things. She says that if we remember that everything is impermanent, it is easy for us to overcome grief and sadness. The thought stuck with me.

I kept thinking how easy it is for us to get attached to things, people and the time spent with these people. We want to hold on to things and people without realising that nothing ever lasting. Our mind wanders to the time spent with people and dwells in the memory. Whereas in reality, nothing ever remains the same. The moment that we are living now is the only reality. The moment that’s gone is past and the moments in present and future are not going to be the same.

Yet, we keep wishing and keep feeling sad.

As if on cue, today morning as I was getting dressed to go out one of my bracelets just dropped on the floor and broke. I felt sad, since it was a new bracelet. I had just worn it once.

The broken bracelet reminded me of the impermanent nature of things. Sometimes we make a lot of effort to get something or be with someone. Despite our efforts the results don’t turn out to be as we desire. In such situations, having awareness about the impermanent nature of things can be very useful.

It helps us forgive and forget easily. We know that these attachments to things and moments are not lasting.

Minimalism: Organising books

Today, I decided to compile my books – mainly Kindle collection. Ever since, I bought my kindle I have been mainly buying Kindle books so that I don’t have to part with my books, when I move away. I have always led a pretty nomadic life moving countries, cities, jobs, apartments so have always had to give up my book collection.

Since I have a habit of buying a lot of books, I generally tend to collect a lot of books. Hence, it is not surprising that I have over 300 books on my Kindle. I have yet to count how many I have actually read. Some are reference books so I use them as reference. Currently, I have created an excel spreadsheet to organise the books by name, author, subject and date. That way, I can easily search the books on a particular topic. I am also putting a status as read or not read so that I know which ones I have yet to read. I am sure there will be many that I have not.

This is my mission of organising my Kindle books

  1. First, to see the kind of books I have bought over the years
  2.  Second, how many have I read or not read. So instead of buying new ones, I will try reading the ones I already have
  3. Third, make it easy to search my book collection by names of books, authors or subject. There are many times I need to reference books but because I can’t remember all my books it becomes difficult to search on kindle. This was I will know which one to look at
  4. Fourth, is to write some reviews on this blog. I had written reviews of some of the books on my old blog, which is now lost. So I am going to write more reviews here

It will take me a couple of days to get this done. I am hoping after organising my books, I will be better able to enjoy reading them

How do you manage your digital library?

 

Book notes: How to Love by Thich Nhat Hahn

These days I am trying to catch up on reading on spirituality. I have always found that reading books on spirituality has a calming effect on me.

As I was browsing through the Amazon bookstore, I came across Thich Nhat Hahn’s book How to Love. I have never read his books but have heard about him. I decided to try reading this one. I have to say that I loved reading the book and I felt a sense of calmness filling my soul.

The book contains lots of insights on managing a loving relationship. Although I don’t really believe in following any “should and musts” when it comes to relationships, I felt that his insights help to view a relationship from a different angle.

While Hahn gives short tasks to overcome the challenges couples feel in a love relationship, he also advocates finding a connection with the loved one. After reading his book this is what I learned from it.

As we go through life, it is easy for us to operate from an action-oriented approach of forming goals and accomplishing them. We see life as a series of tasks to be completed. This leads us to behave in an isolated manner. As if we are on our own little islands.

But when we operate from a feelings-oriented approach and live life with compassion our focus is on our own behaviour. We have more awareness to every being and everything around us. We understand the impact of our own behaviour on the world around us. Hence, we become more connected and attuned to others. With such an approach our behaviour leads to more success in the tasks we set out to accomplish.

Living from only an action-oriented approach makes us close to outside environment and other people. We tend to behave in a mechanical fashion, but living from a feelings-oriented approach makes us open to the world and people around us. While it is important to achieve the goals and enjoy the rewarding moments after accomplishing a task, eventually we learn that such moments are fleeting and transitory. It is only when we live from our hearts, we begin to enjoy life’s smallest moments and the journey of accomplishing those goals as well. In the process, we experience a variety of emotions and we find that our emotional journey has a lasting impact on ourselves and others.

By having more awareness and acceptance of our emotions, we learn how to manage our emotions so that they help us achieve harmony and success in our lives.

What do you think? Have you read any of Hahn’s books? And what did you feel about it?

 

Travel memoir: At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider

I just finished reading Tsh Oxenreider’s “At Home in the World”. I found her book through her blog. Since I am addicted to reading travel memoirs, I knew I had to read this one. I enjoy reading travel memoirs because they provide an intimate experience of a traveler with new locations, culture and people.

I wanted to read Tsh’s book mainly because it chronicles her adventures of traveling around the world with her family of five – Tsh, her husband and her 3 children. I marvel the fact that she and her husband backpacked through the world with young children. Her older daughter was only 10 years old and the youngest son was only 4 years old. Needless, to say they certainly had an adventure.

Each chapter in the book is dedicated to one country. These chapters provide glimpses of their experience as a family in the country as well as the interactions and moods within the family. Quite often the experiences contrasts the structured and organised life in North America, her home country with the unorganised and chaotic life on the road.

The description of living arrangements and choice of transport highlight the hardships and challenges that people face in each of these countries. Whereas the food rituals and interactions with the locals provide an idea of the culture and community. Every community seems to have a different culture about how the food is prepared and consumed. While tradition stays alive in most countries, globalization certainly has made in-roads and impacted the local cultural fabric.

I certainly enjoyed reading her book. Now, I am planning to read another book “Flaneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London”. I got the reference for this book from Tammy Strobel’s blog –  rowdykittens.com