Project New You: Things to Work on Right Now! 19 Days Before 2020

Each year we set goals for our career, health, finances and other areas of our lives. The New Year is one such time when we like to get busy crafting our goals and writing down how we’d like the year to pan out. Most of us do this in the first week of the New Year when the clock has already started ticking. How about we do things differently?

How about we work on setting our goals and desired behaviours before the New Year even starts (yeah I know, the title of this blog was a giveaway to this build up! Lol…)

Moving on, I’m specifically speaking about fitness goals and the general methods here can be applied to other areas of your lives as well. Firstly, if you’re still reading, then congratulations, you’re interested in changing your life. Let’s do this together:

Start Now

Don’t wait till after New Years’. Pretend it’s already begun and you’re incorporating the new behaviours and goals as of NOW.

Visualise it!

Yep, now that you want to be better and fitter, find a picture of yourself in your fittest form or that of a celebrity of model whose chiselled core you are coveting.

Paste these pictures into your fitness journal (yeah you need to have one). The reason for this is that the brain responds to visual imagery more strongly than numbers. Each time you open your journal and look at the pictures, you will send a powerful signal to your brain on the kind of results you are trying to create. Trust me, I’ve tried it and it works! That’s what got me to lose 14 kilos which I had been unsuccessfully trying to lose since 4 years!  

Write it Down

Goals have to be defined, so first start my weighing yourself, measure your waist, chest, hips, neck and jot it down with the date. Take pictures of yourself, front, back and center and save them alongside your measurements.

Define your goals, and be realistic. If you have a 34” waist then target a 32” waist in a month not 28”! Set realistic targets and try to achieve a little more than them each time.

Define the New You

If you want to see a change on the scale, then you’ll have to do something different. Consistency is the key to long-term weight loss or body composition changes. Write down what you are willing to do to achieve your goals. Some examples are:

  • Cut out sugar from diet completely
  • Fast for 16 hours daily
  • Work out 5 times a week
  • Wake up one hour early every morning
  • Go for a 20 minute walk daily
  • Do 20 minutes of stretching per day
  • Eat green vegetables atleast once daily
  • Cut out all aerated drinks and juice from diet
  • Only eat protein and vegetables for dinner
  • Consume only one alcoholic drink during a party without any sugary mixers
  • Stop eating after 8 pm
  • Do weight training 3 times a week

You get the drift! Each goal is specific. Pick the ones that make the most sense for you and stick to it! PS. You have to make big changes to your diet & workout if you want to see drastic results. You wont get good results if you only focus on workout and neglect your diet, so make sure you pick atleast 3 goals related to diet, exercise and lifestyle.

Feel free to keep adding and changing these goals as you progress in your fitness journey.

Try Something Outside your Comfort Zone

We always wait for that vacation or just the right company to try something different. Instead, of waiting for the New Year to bring you that opportunity, seize it and end 2019 on a high note! Go zorbing or bungee jumping. Try para gliding or even go on a 10 KM walk around your city at 4 am! Enjoy a picnic with your family in the park if you haven’t been spending time outdoors, whatever is different and feels good to you, just go ahead and do it!

Live in the NOW

As zen as it sounds for me to say this to you, trust me, it’s the only thing that’s been keeping me going. We are often prone to thoughts from the past, some random guilt, some unquenchable quest for perfection that can at times paralyse us. Instead of happily working on our goals, we often freeze, and judge ourselves and get in our own way of achieving success. So unload that. Remind yourself that your own happiness is important because it makes others around you happy as well.

Meditation is a great way to get centred

If you overate at dinner last night, today is a new day, focus on eating a healthy breakfast. Enjoy reading an uplifting book for 15 minutes. Go for a walk in the park, the greenery has a soothing effect. If life is getting too overwhelming and competitive, just bring your attention back to the NOW and try to do one thing better than before.

Remember, a step at a time. Just keep moving forward and soon you would have walked a mile.

These tips have been helpful to me in the past, and even now – and that’s why I thought of sharing them with you guys. Do share how you motivate yourself each year to get into the best shape of your life!

The Impact of Words on Your Fitness & Health

A lot of us feel that they way we physically appear is in no way in our control. It is based on genetics and factors beyond our control such as age and health. We think that disease is something that ‘happens’ to us again, because of genetics and lifestyle. How many of you have stopped to consider the possibility that the words you have been using to describe yourself or your life situation may actually be the underlying cause of your current life state?

I’m sure that many of you must have looked your best when you were happy, stress-free or in love? Why is that? Your skin was clearer, you were more active, things were going great in short bursts. Its not a coincidence that when you are truly happy within, your inner dialogue changes and results in physical changes as well.

The thing about words is that each word carries an emotional response for all of us (some words more than others) and repeating certain words will then emit a corresponding frequency/wavelength within our physical and body. So repeating positive words and phrases such as ‘beautiful’ ‘healthy’ ‘energetic’ and replacing them with negative words or phrases that you constantly use such as ‘oh i’m so tired’ ‘i’m so drained’ ‘I can’t do this’ will slowly but surely have an impact on your output in terms of overall health and even the way you look!

You can even use words and phrases to reverse aging, by first imagining yourself looking a certain way then reinforcing it with the right words. You can take this to any level that you wish, the possibilities are endless! Do let me know if you already use this tip and let me know how you’ve been affirming positive words to yourself! Cheers!

Why taking care of your skin is important before & during weight loss

One thing that everyone should take care of – before and during weight loss is their SKIN. A lot of people who have lost over 15 kilos of weight or have dealt with a few bouts of weight gain and weight loss are especially prone to loose and saggy skin. Coupled with cellulite, stretch marks; dead skin and ingrown hair are additional issues for people who are on their weight loss journey. The best thing to do is to start taking care of your skin TODAY. Whether you have started your fitness journey or are thinking about it – taking care of your skin is actually a gentle way to ease you into fitness – because fitness is really all about taking care of yourself and feeling good every step of the way! So here are some steps to help you get started with today!

  • Drink more water – I’ve mentioned this in 2 other posts and I think I’m not about to stop saying it – simply because it’s so important and so basic and simple that we all need constant reminders to drink more water. I slack on this front too! So yeah, drinking atleast 3-4 litres of water is a good way to encourage the toxins out of your body and to regulate metabolism and to get the glow on. When you drink more water you are stimulating your digestive system and encouraging elimination of various toxins and the yucky stuff that simply gunks up your system. When you drink more water you will notice that your skin is clearer and more glowy because of less gunk on the inside.
  • Focus on fibre – if your digestion isn’t great, chances are that it will show up on your skin too – in the form of dullness, dead or hard skin patches, allergies, pimples and sensitivity. Isabgol is the most natural way to regulate your digestion for an upset tummy or a shy one – just consume 1-2 teaspoons of this husk with water daily and you should see a difference in 3-4 days. If you need to continue with this husk for a longer duration – then ensure you are taking probiotic capsules or eating a lot of plain yogurt which contains good bacteria and will keep your system smiling from within!
  • Collagen Powder with Hyaluronic acid. This has been one of the coolest finds ever! Each morning, take about 7 grams of the powder in a drink of your choice. My preferred way is to have it in my morning keto coffee which is basically black coffee with MCT oil and the OragnicoSlim Marine Collagen with Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid powder. The most visible difference I found was in my hair growth and nails and it helps keep my skin supple too. You should be able to see the difference in a week to 10 days’ time. So the reason to take this is to maintain beautiful skin. Collagen is actually the most abundantly available protein in the body. Because it is needed in such large quantities to make up tendons, ligaments, bone cartilage – it can over time start to deplete. In different studies on women, taking a collagen powder for 12 weeks helped reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. I personally find that my skin is more plump and hydrated and I also notice an improvement in my overall skin texture.  

Now these tips above focus on the internal aspect of your skin care – which is an important place to start. This is because if your insides aren’t healthy then nothing you do topically can help in the long run.

My skin care favourites (in no particular order) – pink Himalayan sea sal, coconut oil, innisfree bija trouble facial foam, The Body Shop Almond Milk & Honey body lotion, Organico Slim Marine Collagen, Innnisfree Bija Trouble Lotion

Topical Skin care

So here is the section on surface skin care – with products that I found to be most effective in ensuring that I had no loose skin over the years in which I experienced fat loss and fat gain.

My key tip here is to be careful of what you put on your skin.

  • Be mindful of what you apply on your skin – Did you know that atleast 20-30% of the skin care products that we apply gets directly absorbed into the bloodstream? (I’m being conservative here with the percentages – some studies state that it’s actually 60-70%). Our skin is porous, so therefore, if you think applying products with chemicals will only remain on the surface, then you’ve been highly mistaken. Avoid products with evil ingredients such as parabens, excessive perfumes, sodium lauryl sulfates, toluene etc.  

If you’ve been guilty of the above, then it’s time to make amends and use high quality skin care products especially when it comes to lotions and creams. One of the best natural moisturisers I have found are natural oils such coconut & olive oil. Although Coconut Oil is a hot favourite of mine.

If you look at the image above, the coconut oil I use is Organic, Cold Pressed, Extra Virgin. Read up more about these attributes online and why they’re important. The way I use coconut oil is on my body – before and after a bath especially in winters when I suffer from dry skin. In winters I even mix up any body butter or lotions with a bit of coconut oil for extra moisture – this keeps your skin amazingly supple. Also, did you know that coconut oil has antiseptic properties? So using it on your underarms and other sensitive areas keeps your skin moist and free from bacteria too! It is particularly useful in getting rid of acne scars and any other scars from burns, torn skin capillaries etc. I have been using coconut oil for years and I feel it is my number one secret to having healthy skin that is not saggy or loose inspite of all the weight gain and loss. You can alternate coconut oil with extra virgin olive oil too. Switch it up!

Innisfree bija skincare line – I’m totally fan-girling at the moment on this range of innsifree products. So I’ve been using the Bija trouble lotion and face wash – and let me tell you, it smells amazing! But more importantly the results are great! It contains salicylic acid which is a key ingredient to look for if you have acne prone skin, open pores etc. I also use the Bija trouble lotion on my legs for ingrown hair, and it works beautifully! When you gain weight, you are prone to a lot of dead skin and ingrown hair follicles that look unsightly. The Bija skincare range has been a god send.

Pink Himalayan Sea Salt – this is a lovely product that is inexpensive and effective. Every week, before a bath, just mix up the salt with some oil (Coconut or Olive) and smooth over your body. Scrub it lightly all across and leave on for 5-10 minutes before your shower. It also helps exfoliate and get rid of all the dead skin.

Hope you found my views on skincare useful! Stay healthy & beautiful & have a great weekend!

It’s been a month since I started this new fitness program and I haven’t lost any weight! What’s wrong?!

If this is you, then you’ve come to the right place! Often when we start a fitness program which involves avoiding our favourite foods and drinks and hitting the gym more often, a lot of us are fixated on the kilos that we should be shedding. This is because of years of programming – things we’ve heard people say, things that are said by the media that lead us to believe that it is that number on the scale that tells us whether we are slim or not. It is that number that has the power to decide how are going to feel about ourselves. And that’s why many of us dread it!

I’m here to tell you, that we give a lot of power to this number – which is actually just one of the ways to measure our progress and fitness levels. Your weight often fluctuates for a number of reasons – such as water retention caused by dehydration, your BM schedule or for no good reason at all. Therefore, if you just rely on your weight to track your progress, you’re in for a frustrating ride – especially if you are a sensitive person who gets demotivated easily.

Instead of being so fixated on weight, there are other metrics that are just as important and must be considered at the start and throughout your fitness program. These are:

Indicative body fat percentage chart
  1. Body Fat Percentage – your body fat percentage can be determined through different types of equipment such as body scanners (expensive) or through sending electric signals through your feet to measure the density of fat (cheaper but less accurate). Basically, when done correctly, it determines how much of your body is fat in percentage terms. This should give you a fair idea of how much fat you need to lose. For example, 35% body fat and above is considered overweight/obese while the fittest, leanest athletes are at 10-15% body fat.
  2. Inch Loss – a lot of people who usually complain of not seeing results on the weighing scale, do notice a positive difference in the way their clothes fit, but think nothing of it. This is actual fat loss. The way your clothes sit on you, is one of the most telling ways for fat loss. Therefore, a suggestion is to not brush it off as good luck, but to rather, acknowledge it and accept the compliments coming your way!
  3. Improved strength – fitness and getting healthy is not just about weight loss and fat loss. If you are into it for the long haul, then you must focus on other aspects of your fitness and work towards building them up further. Strength or weight training for example is a qualitative way to measure your progress. If your starting weight for a deadlift was 50 kgs in week 1 of your fitness routine, and now in week 6 you’ve reached 65 kilos, that’s a big achievement in a really short amount of time!
  4. The mirror – are you noticing more muscle tone in your body? Are you seeing small but significant changes in your posture? Are tiny little muscles popping up? Is your collarbone looking more pronounced? These are some wonderful initial changes that you will see at the start of your fitness program. If you stick to it for years – where you continue to challenge yourself, you will see even more significant changes in your body, such as your lower back and belly if they are heavy on fat.  

Sometimes your body will simply not show you the results in terms of the numbers you are looking for. It doesn’t mean that you need to quit. You simply need to keep at it, keep trying different things till you find the one sport/activity that suits your body the best and that you enjoy. After that, there will be no looking back!

How not to fail in achieving your fitness goals – Tips & Tricks

The first step to avoid failure in achieving your fitness goals is….drumroll please! These 5 tips that I’m about to share.

These 5 tips will simply help you sail through your fitness journey and will have you looking fit and gorgeous in no time at all!

Wait…

That’s a whole bunch on BS…

It doesn’t work that way.

And the reason why a bunch of tips can’t help you stay on track with your fitness goals, is because you need to define your own goals. Which means, you need to first sit down and think….what is success and what is ‘failure’ in that sense.

Here I’m going to tell you a little story about myself to help explain what I mean, 5 years ago, I weighed 82 kilos. Felt and looked my worst. I was eating clean and healthy food, but for some reason my body wasn’t showing any results. I got a personal trainer with whom I trained 3-4 days a week for 3 months. At the end of 3 months, I gained a kilo so I was 83 kilos.

Listening to this, many of you would right away jump to the conclusion that engaging this personal trainer was a ‘failure’ since I didn’t lose any weight. Yes, that’s one way of looking at it.

At my heaviest at 83-84 kgs while on personal training

However, here was my take on things that changed for me:

  • I started waking up early. Because I knew my trainer is waiting for me.
  • Whenever I was travelling during this period and carrying luggage, I felt better and less pain in my joints
  • My skin was starting to glow again
  • My blood circulation and sleep improved – I had sleep apnea and the poor breathing would cause cramps while sleeping at night
  • I felt I was doing something to regain control of my health. That is the most important feeling ever – to feel like you have control over your own body and health. It is a really powerful feeling.

So at the end of 3 months when I gained a kilo, sure I felt slightly disappointed. My trainer was disappointed too, but by then I had figured something out. That I won’t let a stupid kilo on the weighing scale decide my failure or success. Just as I’ve listed above, it can be decided by so many other things.

Still the same weight but in slightly better health

What you focus on, you can expand. So I decided that I will focus on that good feeling I get from exercise. I will listen to songs that motivate me and get me feeling happy and upbeat. I will wear bright colours to the gym that make me feel like I’m worth dressing up for.

So yes, if I had set a target of losing 20 kilos in 6 months, I would have been miserable because I would’ve had to starve myself, workout much harder to lose the weight – which would have strained my 83 kilo frame.

Which brings me to another point, if you are heavy, then you need to start slow and gentle. In the beginning we just need to get our body introduced to working out and sweating – which helps get rid of a lot of stored up toxins.

The only way you’re going to be gentle and patient with yourself is when you KNOW that you’re going to stick to this for life.

Me at present. Still have a long way to go but sticking to it.

Understand this, athletes who eat clean, who are shredded and have amazing flexibility and stamina built it over a period of time. Think of good habits in the same way, make one little change and stick to it diligently – till it becomes ingrained in your mind and till your body gets used to it. Then add another habit and so on.

This is how you will build long lasting results and will achieve your fitness goals.

By crash dieting and working out furiously, you are just doing enough to fit into that dress or look good for an occasion – and that is not fitness or health. It’s self-sabotage. The side effects of constant weight gain and loss include loose flabby skin caused by lack of muscle mass.

You have one life, make fitness the top priority and fit in everything else around that. Hope this helped someone who needed to read it and figure out their goals.

Cheers! Stay fit!

Fitness | How to get started: Eating Clean

Every one of us is different. We are at different ages and stages of our lives. Our health conditions vary, our levels of fitness or fat also vary. Therefore, you should always approach your own fitness journey without comparisons. It is your own path. Don’t set yourself up for failure from the beginning. What works for you may not work for someone else. As long as you’re in tune with yourself, you will find what works best for you. Having said that, here are some tips that will help you figure out clean eating for yourself:

  1. Drink more water. This is applicable for most people who don’t move around enough and even for athletes who need to be reminded about basics from time to time. Drinking water helps you feel full, it regulates your digestion, helps with blood circulation and its zero calories. Drinking more water also helps reset your taste buds. So if you’re someone who’s always craving flavoured beverages, then water will help ‘re-set’ your cravings for something more natural.
  2. Reduce processed foods. Processed foods are foods that come in cans, foods that have been artificially preserved and can last a long time on your shelves. Things such as potato chips, processed meats like ham and salami, ready to eat frozen foods such as samosas and paranthas. The amount of chemical additives in such foods is much higher than the nutritional value of these foods (which is almost nil). So basically, you’re making yourself sick by eating these foods – therefore, avoid.
  3. Avoid foods that raise your blood sugar levels really fast. This is because such foods, lead to insulin imbalances in your blood and increase your cravings a lot more. These are mostly sugar based foods such as ketchup, dhokla (which is doused with sugar syrup), tamarind sauce, Indian sweets, caramel, butterscotch, all sugared aerated drinks, cakes and desserts sold at pastry shops, any type of white bread.
  4. Eat more of foods that are filling and help regulate your metabolism. Eating healthy fats such as those found in nuts, coconut oil, olive oil, ghee. Don’t shy away from fats as long as you don’t overdo your consumption of these. Fats help you stay full longer and actually aid in fat burning.
  5. Eat more proteins. Proteins are the building blocks of our muscles, hair, nails and our skin. Proteins also help you stay full for longer and help burn fat while being digested. Proteins are found in pulses (dals) and beans such as chickpeas and kidney beans (choley and rajma) and for non-vegetarians in meat and seafood. However, since a lot of poultry these days is injected with antibiotics which in turn causes hormonal issues in humans, it is best to consume poultry from organic sources or limit the overall intake. I personally choose fish over chicken (but one can never be sure of the contaminants in either).

Health food for fitness concept with fresh fruit, vegetables, pulses, herbs, spices, nuts, grains and pulses. High in anthocyanins, antioxidants,smart carbohydrates, omega 3 fatty acids, minerals and vitamins

6. Eat more greens: yes, your mother was right! More green leafy stuff, more spinach (palak), broccoli, celery, snow peas, green beans, avocado and rocket lettuce – just add these into your meals to make them more nutritious. Green leafy vegetables are rich in fibre, antioxidants and minerals and vitamins. If you can source more organic vegetables then that’s even better. A great way to cook these veggies is to simply stir fry them with garlic, sea salt, sesame oil and a dash of light soy sauce. Add in your proteins to make it a complete meal.

7. Consume more healthy fibre. A lot of times eating extremely clean (no carbs, high fat and high protein diets) can play havoc with our systems. We need to balance it out from time to time and give our systems a rest from excessive protein and fat. Thats when fibre – both water soluble and insoluble help clean up your system. Water soluble fibre such as oats or brown rice are a great way to get some energy in and keep your tummy happy. Insoluble fibre such as isabgol are great for cleaning or regulating your digestive system. However, when consuming more fibre, make sure you increase your intake of water and probiotics to make sure there’s enough good bacteria hanging out in your system.

These are broadly my guiding principles of clean eating. As long as you imbibe them, you should be able to stay on track with your health goals (of which exercise & weight training is a major aspect). The idea is to eat right for life. As long as you follow this 80% of the time, and 20% of the time you struggle, that’s fine too. Each time you’ve had a bad week, bad hour or even a bad month, just turn it around. Get up, get a good workout in, Eat clean, sleep well, drink more water and repeat. Repeat till one day you’re not struggling anymore and this is second nature. Good luck!

Wednesday Fitness Tip

It’s the middle of the week. Your motivation to do something different is probably waning. Go for a 20-minute brisk walk once you get home. Change into your sneakers and workout clothes before you have a chance to ‘relax’ and laze around! These 20 minutes will recharge you and you will have unexpectedly burnt some calories!

Changing into your workout clothes signals your brain that it’s workout time!

Fitness and Fashion and why it’s more important than you think

When you’re on the road to becoming a fitter and healthier version of yourself, external validation can be a powerful way of affirming body positive messages to oneself.

I’ve quizzed a number of people who used to be overweight and have successfully dropped over 115 kilos and many have said to me that sometimes, in their head, they still believe that they’re overweight. It’s like the mind is steadfastly holding on to the older image.

Me at my heaviest at 84 kgs

There are many a times when I still feel that I am at my heaviest still and that there are absolutely no changes in my physical form from 3 years ago.

That’s where fashion and trying on clothes can play a major role!

Trying on clothes that felt ‘too small’ on the clothes rack!

Every now and then I go and try on clothes that I’ve always felt were things I could never pull off. I may not buy these items or be able to wear them out for gatherings yet. But it’s an important step for me to reclaiming my self image. Sometimes on the inside I cringe at the idea of wearing tight clothes / because it reminds me of all the times when I was steadily gaining weight and my clothes would no longer fit. So this is a great way to remind myself that I’m past that stage and that I deserve to look and feel better!

Let me know if you tried doing this too and if it helped! Cheers!