The “Appearance Attraction”

Recently I met a few people – and as always they are obsessed about dropping ‘x’ kilos by such and such date to fit into ‘that’ dress or just appear a certain way. And to achieve their targets – they don’t really care about the approach – they could starve, skip meals, count calories, workout like crazies, anything but eating sensibly – they just want results! So I asked – would you put your child or someone you love on the same diet – I got a unanimous reply – NO WAY! Then why put yourself through it!?

What I don’t understand is that why is there so much attention on a certain number or appearance and at the same time so much disregard towards physiological and psychological parameters? Why do we forget that our body works as a whole unit – and anything we do or don’t impacts US – our body, mind and energy too at the same time.

An absolute focus only on Weight loss, with an indifferent or unaware approach to Fat loss – is simply Careless and even dangerous. How can we overlook the benefits that exercise and eating right have upon US – our body, mind and energy. The overall insulin sensitivity improves, fat burning is maximized. Strength-stamina-endurance gets better. We are better attuned to our Hunger cues and satiety signals. Heart, liver, kidney function better. We are more happier. We feel lighter. We look better (isn’t this the whole reason why most people want to ‘lose weight’?!) 😉

So I repeat myself – throw your scale – focus on living a disciplined life – be FIT. A good lifestyle ensures that you are not at risk of any lifestyle related disease – which are on high rise today. Get over the “Appearance Attraction” and get Sensible 🙂

Fitness

There is no need to DIE when DIE-Ting

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Most people DIE – when DIE-Ting. And obviously when it doesn’t work –  that kills you further, because you gave up so much and yet you are back to square one.

Also when you consistently Over – diet and eat less in the process – thinking you could knock some kilos off quickly, you actually end up landing in a bigger mess. Suddenly eating lesser than before, slows down metabolism and the body responds to this ‘starvation mode’ by holding the fat back and now the body burns calories more slowly.

Also haven’t you noticed how you feel when you starve? You feel hungry and as a result are irritable, cranky, angry and feel weak. You may weigh less on the scale but the minute you go back to eating like usual, all the weight piles back on and sometimes even more.

This yo-yo weight gain and loss is even more dangerous.

Instead, it is just so much easier to EAT small meals frequently, sensibly and the right amount of food you need in that moment instead of ‘dieting’. This way you actually nurture and nourish your body. In doing so you will notice that your energy levels are better, you feel fresh, fitter, look younger and your clothes fit better too.

Weight Watcher’s Words

The best part of my day is when I am with my patients – discussing their lives, insisting and ensuring that they are eating and obviously discussing – Food! With every person I interact, I also understand their mindset which often reflects in the way they talk about Life, Food, Nutrition & Diet. (For now I am sticking to the Food, Nutrition & Diet bit.)

Some of the very commonly-interestingly-annoying concepts I have come across include –

  • Khushboo, can you please help me, I want to go ‘ON’ a diet” – What do you mean by ‘on’ a diet? Is this an on-off switch? Sad, yet true, we believe we must go ‘on’ a diet and lose some weight, and once we reach our goal or target, slowly go ‘off’ it. Obviously after a ‘maintenance’ diet. Anyway, what happens once we go off the ‘diet’ – we slowly and steadily put all the weight back on and may be some more sometimes. Get frustrated and try something new again. And start another cycle. Shouldn’t the point of a diet program be to not gain the weight back? Exactly! So please get off your diet and start living a good balanced life – Eat right, Workout, Think Right, Rest – results have no choice but to follow.
  • “Cheating on the Diet” – this is another funda I just don’t get. Did you take some vows before you got on to the diet? Also by doing what you shouldn’t have done – exactly who or what did you cheat on? Who is the hurt-party in the bargain? Whose loss is it anyway? Did your Diet have heart-break or was it you, who felt sad and guilty thereafter? So time to get Real! You are human, you like to eat, and so you EAT. Yes, this sometimes includes fried, chocolates – or whatever your list of I-shouldn’t-have includes. Eating even these occasionally is good. You can’t be a sadhu, because if you are over-cautious with your diet, you will definitely rebel at some point. So it is best – to eat everything you like – just Sensibly and in moderation. Avoid the moralistic tag of being loyal or faithful to your diet or cheating on it.
  • “Willpower”– ‘By the sheer force of my will, I will follow the diet’ – doesn’t this mean the you are simply forcing yourself to do something, and pressuring yourself to do a particular, which you feel otherwise you cannot sustain? Because, there will come a time, when you will go back to the usual – and then you will blame yourself for not being strong enough, feel guilty, blah, blah, blah.

So to make life easy and more satisfying – Make life-enhancing Choices! Choose to Eat right because YOU want to. Choose to Work out because YOU want to NOT because you Have to. Whenever you choose something out of Love instead of compulsion or fear, the happiness on the inside shows and yes, the results are much better and long-lasting!

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Enjoy your Meal, if you want to ‘Lose’ your Weight

So often, in my practice I come across people, who are willing to give up foods they love or believe that “if I give in to my taste buds, I will stay fat forever. So its better I stay away from my favorite foods”. These are those who have been on and off diets all the time, and that’s because they couldn’t sustain their diet for long. And yet – they choose to follow the same and obviously results will be the same – weight loss (on the scale) when dieting and weight gain (as soon as they go back to normal eating)

We as humans are chemically wired to choose joy over pain or torture. So obviously when we are eating, we want to enjoy the food and in turn feel satisfied and happy. Scientifically when you relish your meal your metabolism goes up and you not only digest your food better but you also absorb maximum nutrients from your meal. In fact people who consciously eat foods that are “good for you,” even though you don’t like them, or if you think you can have a ‘cheat’ meal and compensate for it by eating bad-tasting vitamin-fortified protein bar, or some ‘tall-claimed’ foods or tea – to wash off the effect of the bad diet or purely choose these because you feel you will put on weight if you eat foods you like – then you aren’t doing yourself any ‘healthy’ favor. Instead not only are slowing down your metabolism, you are also reducing the quantity and quality of nutrients that you get from your food.

Haven’t you experienced that when you abstain from eating and enjoying your food, when you go out – you end up bingeing because you know you won’t be eating this again? Now ask yourself – if you could eat everything would you ever have to go on a bingeing spree?

Also haven’t you experienced that when you eat ill-tasting, ‘low-calorie’ food in the name of diet – you end up eating more and end up feeling stuffed but rarely satisfied?

Let’s talk about the science behind both these – the hormone that makes you feel good about your eating experience is the same one that stimulates your digestive system and also signals the brain to stop eating. Also when you are not enjoying your food brain secretes a neurotransmitter that increases your appetite and makes you hunt for food – and you end up feasting after a bit of starving. Then you get on to a guilt trip – again go starving or dieting and thus the cycle of starving and feasting goes on.

The simple act of eating good food – made at home – as simple as a dal chawal with little ghee – not only fills your tummy, it also satisfies your soul. You feel nourished. Your brain secretes the ‘happy’ hormone – thereby improving digestion, assimilation, nutrient absorption and in turn leads to a greater efficiency in ‘calorie burning’ 😀

Again this does not mean you eat anything and everything – mindlessly. I am just explaining that enjoying your meal is a must for your digestion. Cherish your food, celebrate your food and eat well in Moderation 🙂

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Happy Eating!

BEING TOO BUSY, CAN MAKE YOU FAT

“I was too busy at work, I just dint get time to eat.” Is this not the story of the most hardworking and busy people? So just let me clear a few things – this is not a sign of some righteous, honorable act, it’s a classical sign that you’re neglecting yourself, choosing work over health and going into a fat storage mode. Had you taken out 5 minutes to grab a quick bite, you have moved to fat burning mode. We all know the value of time – time lost can never be got back. Same applies to eating at the right time too.

So the obvious question is – what is the right time to eat? Eat through the day.  Yes, the quantity varies with each meal, changes every season, changes with your mood – but the act of eating consistently through the day remains.

Today we are aware and know that we need to eat before and after exercise – because our body needs the fuel. Like exercise is to physical body, mental activity or work is for the brain. The brain needs its fuel too. Your duration of exercise is restricted to an hour or max 2. Does this apply to work too? We work through the day say 9-5 or 11-7 – our brain; our eyes staring at the laptop are working. They need fuel. By not eating when busy or simply having tea/coffee to mask hunger signals, not only are you compromising on productivity, impairing your analytical skills but you are now charging towards weight gain, higher fat percentage and landing up closer to diabetes, heart disease.

To make this worse, when you are done with work, and you now realize you are hungry you end up having that fried yumminess outside work or buy a big bar of chocolate or have a pastry. And if not this, you end up overeating at home over dinner – because you are hungry! This leads to bloating, heaviness post dinner which leads to difficulty in falling sleep, so next day you wake up tired.

So break the cycle – EAT! Eat small frequent meals through the day, this practice not only keeps you satisfied, it also stabilizes your blood sugar, keeps you more alert, more productive – so in short your performance at work improves, your sleep cycle will get better – you will feel fresh and young.

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TIME TO BID GOOD BYE TO YOUR WEIGHING SCALE

Today I had this patient who came to see me – and like always – even before saying a courteous hello or having a glass of water – she jumped up on the weighing scale to see how much she had ‘lost’? I could not hold my laughter, and told her ‘I am not sure about your weight, but you have definitely lost your mind’. To this she promptly replied – ‘Noooo – Khush – you see if I have a glass of water, I will weigh 500gms more’, and I was like – Really!?

Weighing – is becoming an obsession. I know of people who weigh themselves not just daily and but after every meal and every time they use the loo! So now the scale and those numbers define their self-image. They cannot associate themselves for who they, but are identified by the number. You may be a good parent, you may be amazing at what you do or you may be a good person or anything – but still you choose to be unhappy because of how much you weigh. Does this make sense?

I really think it is time to THROW YOUR SCALE.

Now,

  • Become more aware of how you feel instead of worrying about some number.
  • Listen and get in touch with your to hunger signals instead of worrying that I might gain a kilo or gram.
  • Stop counting calories and started seeking out food your body needs
  • And most importantly – STOP picking apart every flaw or bulge and started seeing yourself as a whole person.

Give up the obsession with the number and focus on feeling Healthy, Light and Fit.

I am sure, by now you must itching to know the ‘results’ of following this practice! Like I have said before there are other ways to measure improvement besides looking at some number. You can always pay attention to how your clothes fit. You can measure yourself with a tape measure. You feel lighter, more energetic and people around you start Complimenting you 😉

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So STOP worrying about your ‘size’ and how much you weigh.  And this definitely does not mean Eat like a maniac and don’t care about what you eat – it means – eat sensibly, live sensibly, exercise – focus on being healthy and not looking thin! And trust me or rather your own body – for unless there are some major unknown medical issues, most people come to their own version of “healthy weight”, “healthy size” –  when they are living a healthy life. So focus on nourishment, eat good clean homemade food, and stay  active – this way you are on the right track than following some crazy diet for 2 weeks and then finally giving up coz-its-difficult-to-follow and cursing yourself.

So, how do you know it is Time for you to throw your Scale?

  • You have fixed a specific number that you wanted to “be” with regards to your weight even if “being” that number means you starve or punish yourself in the name of exercise
  • You wait to weigh yourself first thing in the morning, without-any-clothes, after going to the bathroom for the “best” results?
  • You suddenly felt ugly when the scale showed that you were up a kilo or 2 from the day before?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are you might also benefit from throwing your scale out.

Try it Out for a Month or 2! What is the big deal? I am sure letting go of worries about weighing a certain number – you definitely will have Lesser wrinkles 😉 . In fact, when you start living this way, you will feel empowered, more beautiful, confident and no more at the mercy of a number to define you. You will be able to connect to your inner self, your stomach, your body.

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Sounds kinda cool!

Would love you hear about experience, once you try this.

9 Commandments to Effectively Handle Emotional Eating – to Go from i-Crave to i-Understand

1. IDENTIFY YOUR HUNGER

Is your hunger physical or emotional? (Refer to the comparative chart on the previous post to determine if your hunger is based the physical need to eat, or emotional need to eat.)

If you ate a few hours ago and don’t have a rumbling stomach, you may not be “truly” hungry. Give it 5 minutes and see if the cravings are present yet.

Also –

  • When having a meal stay away from all distractions. Switch off your tv, you cell phones. This will help you put your complete focus on the food in front of you. Now with every morsel of food – try and involve all your five senses; see the food in front of you – the colour, the variety; smell the aroma of food, feel the texture in your fingers, taste the various flavors and finally enjoy the silence of your meal. This will make you more attentive towards your food and help you get in touch with your real hunger signals.
  • To help determine if your hunger is physical or emotional, try asking yourself questions like “When was the last time I ate?” “Am I suddenly hungry or I have been hungry for a while now?” “Do I really need to eat this specific food that I am craving for, or can I substitute it for something else?”
  • Create healthy alternatives to eating. Whether it’s a walk in the park or curling up with a good book or talking to your friend or even playing with your pet – planning other activities will help you relax and avoid binge eating.

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2. IDENTIFY YOUR EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS

Emotional eaters must become aware of their reasons for wanting to eat.

A long drawn but a great way to be more aware of your emotions surrounding food is to keep a journal and record how you feel before you eat and after you eat. Write down what you eat, how much you eat (portion sizes), when you eat, how you’re feeling when you eat and how hungry you are (on a scale of 0-10). Over time, you may see patterns emerge that reveal emotionally driven eating patterns and you will see your triggers that you need to avoid.

Top 6 Emotional Eating Triggers

  • Stress and Anxiety –Oh God! I am so nervous and edgy. Munching on the bag of chips or a tub of ice cream makes me cope with it better.”
  • Loneliness – “I am alone, I don’t know what to do or I am lonely and sad – let me just switch on the TV, watch a movie and order in a pizza”
  • Anger –I am so angry with XYZ, and what makes me more angrier is that I can’t tell XYZ how angry I feel – so let me just munch on anything I can lay my hands on”
  • PMS – “where is that CHOCOLATE? I need it NOW!”
  • Sadness and Depression – “I am feeling so low – only a good dessert would make me happy”
  • BOREDOM“I am bored and I have nothing to do, let me what is there in the fridge or the pantry or the kitchen”

3. AVOID KEEPING YOUR SNACKY-MUNCHY FOODS AROUND

  • Avoid keeping your comfort foods at home. Give yourself special days that you allow yourself to have “treat” foods available, and only in MODERATION
  • If you are planning on food shopping and are also feeling hungry or low, postpone the trip for a few hours so that these feelings don’t influence your food choices at the store.
  • Plan your meals ahead of time! Knowing what you plan to eat ahead of time, will make you look forward to every meal, as you know exactly what your next meal would be and will make it less likely that you will opt for an unhealthy option, even after a stressful day.
  • Eat every 2 – 2 ½ hours. Eating frequently and in small portions throughout the day will help to keep your blood sugar stabilized, keep your energy and mood up, and prevent cravings for sugary or fatty foods.

4. EAT A BALANCED DIET

  • If you are not eating enough in your normal meals – for the fear of getting fat, you may not be getting enough calories to meet your energy needs for the day and that may make you more likely to give into emotional eating. So try to eat at regular times and never skip breakfast. Include foods from the basic food groups in your meals (carbs, proteins and fats). Avoiding or reducing any of the food groups – leads to a lot binge eating. Get your portions and proportions of these correct. When you eat your basic food well, you are more likely to feel full longer.

5. EXERCISE  

Participate in regular physical activity. Be active for a minimum of 40 minutes for 5 days a week. Go for a bike ride, run or even a swim. Every little bit counts!

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(Image Courtesy – http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/img-thing?.out=jpg&size=l&tid=55003566)

6. GET ADEQUATE REST

Your mood is more manageable and your body can more effectively handle stress when it is fit and well rested. You can also do relaxation exercises such as imagery and guided visualization, deep breathing and meditation. Try tai chi or yoga.

  • Get enough sleep. If you do not sleep well when you are stressed, it may have an impact on your weight loss efforts, and often will cause fatigue leading to emotional eating.
  • Develop a ritual to help prepare you for sleep, and try going to bed at the same time each night.
  • Deep breathing, yoga, and meditation are all great ways to ease emotional stress, and to help you fall asleep more easily.

7. DEAL WITH YOUR STRESS

Since lack of emotional support is directly linked to the tendency to binge-eat, it is important that you build your own reliable support system. This could mean talking with a counsellor, or a friend or starting a healthy weight loss program.

  • If you have difficulty expressing your emotions verbally, try getting them out on paper. Maintain a journal or write a letter to even to yourself writing in detail about how you feel. Avoid judging or critically analyzing your own feelings. Acceptance of what you feel and where you are helps
  • Be sure to schedule time to spend with your friends or loved ones or family works wonders. Building relationships doesn’t happen overnight, so make spending time with those you care about a priority.
  • Make yourself your No.1 Priority. This is not about being selfish. It is about SELF – LOVE.

8. LEARN TO COPE WITH CRAVINGS

We all get food cravings, and often we all give into them. It is how we deal with these – is actually what will make or break our dream body efforts.

In essence, we subconsciously desire food that might bring on a specific feeling like a sugar rush or comfort. These “comfort foods” may have more to do with emotional security than a desire for food.

SO, THEN WHAT TO DO? TIP – The key to dealing with any food craving is to select times that you will give into them. If you deny your cravings all the time, you will only drive yourself to binge and eat more of what you crave once you do indulge. Select a day once every 2 weeks or once every month – where you eat the food you love! Be honest with yourself, and understand that having a treat does not mean having an entire day devoted to poor food choices.

9. COMPLETE WELLNESS OUTLOOK

It is important to remember that we eat to nourish our bodies and not for comfort. Look at food as nutrients that fuel your body. Every vitamin, mineral or nutrient that you put into your body helps to maintain your youth, vitality appearance, energy, fitness and health. Combine your food with exercise and a happy spirit, and you’re on your way to living happy, eating guilt free yet MINDFULLY!