15 Tips for Effective Weight Loss

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  1. Don’t believe in shortcuts: If you want to lose weight and keep it off for good, never go for crash diets or slimming capsules kind of things. When it comes to weight loss, there is no gain without pain!
  2. Exercise: Though weight loss is 80% diet, physical activity of any kind is absolutely essential to improve your metabolism, tone up and maintain your weight. There are so many things one can choose from, you don’t necessarily need to go to a gym. You can walk, run, cycle, swim, or choose from a wide array of exercise options. And most importantly, just because you exercise does not mean that you can eat everything unless you have everything measured to last calorie – in loss and gain.
  3. Don’t do this alone: Try to get other people in your family into your weight loss or fitness journey. Any diet plan or exercise routine has more chances of success if someone else is doing it with you.
  4. Change the way you cook / eat: There are several small changes in your daily food habits which can have significant impact on overall weight loss like cook your daily food in less oil, boil your rice the conventional way and strain the starchy water, etc.
  5. Avoid eating out: As much as possible avoid eating out because as long as we eat at home, we eat less and eat healthy but whenever we eat out or go to a party, everything goes for a toss.
  6. No oily / fried food and sweets: In the beginning, completely stop eating fried food and sweets (including those with jaggery and honey). You can certainly have these things once in a while once you have reached your target weight.
  7. Eat complex carbohydrates: Eat more of complex carbohydrates because they take longer to digest and therefore make you feel full for a longer duration of time. Examples of complex carbohydrate food are wheat roti, rava upma, idli, boiled potatoes, etc.
  8. Eat in small portions: Gradually reduce quantity of food that you eat. If you were eating 3 rotis, reduce to 2 and then to 1. Have more of pulses, vegetables and salad. Replace your plate with a smaller one. It helps.
  9. Snack healthy: Usually the main meals are sorted and healthy, we all falter in our in-between meals. That’s the time we end up eating junk food. So always keep healthy snacks ready like roasted peanuts, roasted chickpeas, sprouts, murmure bhel, nutri biscuits, etc.
  10. Say No often: When you are eating with other people, be open to say ‘No’ firmly. Indians are famous for forcing each other to eat more. Don’t eat out of compulsion, you will feel bad anyways by overeating.
  11. Eat frequently: It is now a common knowledge that we should eat every two hours, so that our blood sugar is normal at all times. We are never too much hungry and neither does the body store too much fat.
  12. Avoid tea-coffee or minimize quantity: Tea and Coffee are the biggest source of sugar on daily basis. So, the best thing is to remove sugar from your tea and coffee, and next best thing would be to quit them completely or atleast minimize because let’s admit they are bad for health. People who know me are surprised that I have quit tea and I drink only a half cup of filter coffee now. That’s it.
  13. Make meal plan: Making weekly meal plan is an excellent way to be prepared for the week ahead. If you know what exactly you are going to eat and when, you will be prepared and everything will be ready. When we are fire fighting from meal to meal, there are high chances of eating junk food or eating outside food.
  14. Write down everything that you eat: It helps to write down every single thing that you are eating, even 1 cashewnut. You can download a calorie counting App. Such Apps keep you informed about how many calories you are eating and I can tell you, I was scared to eat even one cashewnut or 2 dates because I knew they were too many calories. Once you get an idea about the calories, you can plan your food accordingly.
  15. Have cheat days: And of course, eat something fried, something sweet once in a while or you will completely quit following any sort of diet plan. But eat wisely. If you are having a sweet, eat one and on its own; not as a dessert after lunch or dinner. Eat how celebrities eat. They take tiny bites and savour it slowly.51muu-avppl-_sx319_bo1204203200_

And if you haven’t read it already, read Rujuta Diwekar’s Don’t Lose your Mind, Lose your Weight.’ If you are going to read only one book on food and nutrition, this has to be it because it talks about Indian and local food. The biggest point is that she never asks you to give up anything, she just gives you pointers on how to eat your food wisely and still lose weight.

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Thoughts on Schooling

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While my parents started school with Class 1, my brother and I did two years prior to that with LKG or Lower / Junior Kindergarten. My son started with Playschool at 2.5 years of age. He was already reading his books at the age I started learning alphabets!

In retrospect, it was a mistake. I should have waited some more. Enough research floats on the internet that proves when it comes to formal education, the earlier is not the better.

I admire people who homeschool or unschool. In fact, I’m in awe of them. But in my child’s current circumstances – that he is an only child and that he has a socially awkward mother – I believe he needs the social experience and exposure that a school provides.

Now, what is a good school? Are their 100% results or world-class infrastructure or focus on making every child an all-rounder make them good? It depends upon your own expectations from the school. Are you expecting the school to do everything for you? Personally, I see school as a place which complements learning that happens at home and in the outside world.

You cannot stop learning. It happens all the time; unless we create an environment that doesn’t give time and space to the child to pursue his curiosities and instead expects him to know a whole lot of other things. When learning becomes a chore, it puts off the child.

My expectation from the school is to create a stress-free environment for learning, to stop hurrying up, to focus on fundamentals and not encourage rote learning just to ‘know’ a lot of things, to not give so much importance to home works, to let them be free to pursue their interests, to encourage responsibility and independence, to be fearless to question authority, to nurture individuality over uniformity, to nurture their unique talents.

I’m willing to take risks. I’m willing to give alternate schools a chance. I was clear I don’t want the conventional schooling for my son, and I don’t think alternate schools are for slow learners. I listened to a lot of other parents. Many dream of a different kind of schooling for their kids but when it comes to taking decisions everyone gets afraid of going against the tide. Why are we so afraid? Why don’t we have confidence in our kids? Kids are exceptional learners. If a school teaches them numbers till 100, what will stop them from learning beyond?

Which Board is the best? Which schools have classes till Grade 10 and 12? What will my child pursue when he grows up? Those are least of my concerns right now. My priority right now is to encourage him to learn and be curious like he has always been. It will be a nightmare for me to make him sit down and ‘study’ because we have never done that, and have no intentions of doing that. Home works are also his responsibilities; I neither volunteer nor get involved in those.

We can keep dreaming about the change in education system but if we don’t take some necessary steps ourselves, things will never change.   

8 Tips for chronic Sore Throat issues

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I used to suffer from sore throat all the time. Always the change in weather would be blamed but the real issue was low immunity. I decided to do something about it, and incorporated some lifestyle changes which helped in my recurring sore throat issues and improving my immunity in general.

Here are 8 tips to combat sore throat issues:

  1. Switch to regular tap water showers (all seasons, throughout the year): I am the sort of person who wears sweaters and uses blankets 70% of the year and yet I take regular tap water showers; even during winters, even when I am unwell. I have been doing this for last 3 years now. Bathing with regular tap water makes you less susceptible to cold. As soon as you have taken bath, the body quickly warms up to the normal temperature. This is supposed to burn fat too (though I wouldn’t give it that much weightage).
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  1. Start your day with a glass of lukewarm water with honey and lemon: I don’t know if lemon-honey-water is actually the magical concoction that helps you burn fat but it certainly works wonders in keeping cough, cold and sore throat at bay. I have been drinking this first thing in the morning for over 2 years now, and found it useful.
  1. Add Exercise to your routine: Regular Exercise has 2 major benefits: improving immunity and improving metabolism. So, walk, run, cycle, swim, do yoga, do body weight exercises or Zumba; there are several options to choose from even if you cannot go to a gym.
  1. Seek natural / alternative cure: I have been consciously moving towards natural or homemade things as the first preference for everything. For example, I never use any face wash or anti-aging cream. I always use the home-made face packs whenever I can and use Almond oil to massage my face. Similarly, as soon as I feel the onset of sore throat, I immediately start Sitopaladi (easily available in medical stores in India), which is an Ayurvedic medicine; and also start homeopathy medicine. I avoid taking antibiotics as much as possible. With a young child around, I aim for faster recovery in a healthier way. Of course, there are times when you don’t have any option but to go for allopathic medicines.

If you get sore throat:

  1. Immediately start saline water gargles several times a day.
  2. Drink lukewarm water throughout the day.
  3. Take fresh ginger extracts mixed with honey. You may also add lemon drops to it.
  4. Drink Turmeric Milk. Turmeric naturally kills germs and warms up the body which helps in faster recovery.

It is not that I never get throat infection now but the frequency is far less and recovery is faster.

Hope these tips work for you.

Take Fewer Pictures

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I learned it the hard way.

I recently lost 2 years in pictures. I don’t even have the heart to recall what all I have lost. I was unable to manage the overwhelming amount of pictures. My entire laptop space was of pictures (talk about digital clutter!). Most of those were of my son, doing all sorts of things, on all sorts of occasions. I have lost all those pictures. Now, I have nothing. In a way, I lost part of my son’s childhood, which I do not have precise memory of because I was too busy clicking the perfect shots.

My first reaction was of denial. I thought we will be able to recover it but recovery is very, very expensive. I decided to let go. What really came out of clicking insane number of pictures! I could have ‘lived’ those moments better, not interfering with the natural flow of things by taking out camera to click those moments.

It is akin to the habit of taking notes during lectures. When you are caught up in documenting every single thing that the lecturer is saying, you postpone understanding. You think you can always understand it later. But that’s a huge mistake.

And how can I not mention our wedding, or any wedding for that matter. The whole occasion is a massive photo opportunity, clicking so-called ‘candid’ moments. Why? Because you will have those pictures all your lives to relive those moments! All I remember of my wedding is the photography. I remember nothing else. I do remember the time when I was leaving for my in-laws’ place because at that time nobody was bothering me for pictures neither was I thinking about pictures. I was in the moment, feeling the emotional turmoil of how things were going to change forever.

In capturing every small thing in pictures, I was thinking I was keeping perfect memories. But if I go by this research, I have been wrong all along. It says “When people rely on technology to remember for them – counting on the camera to record the event and thus not needing to attend to it fully themselves – it can have a negative impact on how well they remember their experiences.”

Honestly, you don’t require any research to understand that when you are just happy in the moment, not bothering about whether you are clicking perfect pictures of those happy moments; you cherish the times more.

Last year, we spent an afternoon chasing butterflies and finding ladybugs. We never bothered to click pictures. And I still remember how wonderful that time was.

So, it makes sense to take fewer pictures. Experience the moments. Capture the beauty of lovely sunrises through your eyes. Feel the thrill of your child’s gestures through your heart. Definitely take some pictures, but not 30 shots of the same frame because it never gets pared down. It just becomes a monstrous data which you just cannot backup. Ask me!

Trust your memory more than your camera.

To the Mother, who stays home

dsc_2946…. I feel for you.

May be you chose to stay home. May be not. But you are here. And let me tell you, how fortunate you are, to be able to witness the wonder that childhood is. And you get to see it every single day.

They grow up too soon.

The other day I found an old video of when my son was one and half years old (he is five and half now). He was trying to tell us that he wanted to be taken out. With his plump baby legs, he would make several rounds from us to the shoes’ rack, and try to explain that he wanted to be taken out. He took out our shoes; he got his own shoes and tried wearing them.

That video really wasn’t much, but I watched that video in a loop. I watched it hiding from my husband. I felt silly doing that. But even thinking about that video makes me cry. I can’t explain it. I was there when that video was taken. I have always been around. But I felt that he has grown up too fast. He is just five and I already miss his childhood.

So, that’s the reason I feel you are fortunate. I am thankful for every single day. I try to make the most of it. Every single day is unique and special. Kids grow up every single day. The other day he used to scribble all over the walls since he didn’t know how to write, now he spells words like ‘hypothetical’ and ‘exquisite’.

It is truly thrilling to be where the action is, to be present on the moments when he makes big leaps, when he shares tiny details about school, when he asks me to hold him close. I feel privileged because I have the luxury of time to do all that.

I know sometimes you regret not having a career, sometimes you look at working mothers and feel that perhaps you could have the best of both worlds too. But we choose what we believe in. And sometimes fate chooses it for us. But making the most of it is in our hands.

Don’t tell me you don’t feel that little flutter in your heart when you catch your sleeping baby smiling. It is so precious.

I have peace in my heart that to this piece of my heart, I gave my all. I did not hold back, I always gave my all. I tried every single day to be my best, be the best parent I can be. Many times I have struggled. First three years were extremely challenging, I will not try to sugarcoat them. I used to take each day at a time, always reassuring myself that the time will pass. And the time sure passed too quickly. He is on the threshold of being an independent boy of 6, which makes me want to hold onto this time much more.

He surprises me every single day. He is not the sum of both of us; he is astoundingly so much more.

I love being with him. At his age, he wants to grow up fast; to become taller, to become stronger but I tell him, “hold on kid! It’s nothing what you imagine. Growing up means a whole lot of responsibilities. It is not as if you have your way when you grow up”.

Sometimes I just trick him to sleep. I lie down and listen to everything. I will listen to all that he would be doing. Reading books, or writing and slowly just climbing next to me saying ‘Mamma, I’m sleepy’ (he would never be caught saying those words). I will hug him close and wrap him in my blanket. It feels so precious. I take in that moment, and feel gratitude for it.

So, dear mother, I feel for you, about your career and all, but believe me these moments are too special.

Life without TV

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My favourite part is when I tell people we don’t watch TV and they can’t believe it!

We haven’t been watching TV for over 6 years now. I remember I used to come back from office and park myself in front of the TV with a cup of tea. I would watch programs after programs but always have that empty feeling of non-productivity. I would lament about not having enough time to do any of the things I loved. I loved reading but I wasn’t reading enough. In fact, both of us used to come back from office and watch useless programs for hours. We needed to change something.

We decided we had to get rid of the TV (I mean the connection). And we have never regretted that decision. What also sealed the deal was having a baby. I didn’t want an onslaught of cartoon shows to make all our lives miserable. And it was one of the best decisions of my life.

Advantages of not watching TV

Couple time: When we stopped watching TV, we would play board games and have tea together. We would chat for long hours about our work, life, goals, etc. Time slows down when you are not watching TV.

No Boredom: It’s true. I have observed that kids who watch TV are easily bored otherwise. The reason is that TV offers a different kind of stimulation which cannot be matched by anything else like reading books or playing board games. I have never heard my 5 year old say he is bored. He always finds ways to entertain himself. He will write, create some variations of the games or read, or ask us to play with him.

Creative pursuits: When you are not sprawled in front of the TV in all your free time, you feel the energy and inclination to pursue your creativity. My husband keeps surprising me with his creativity – from a World Map on one of the Walls to a wooden book box for our son; from a little reading table for him to learning to make several Indian sweets like Kaju katli, Gulab Jamun, Boondi Laddoo and so many more things; he has been amazingly prolific.

Freedom from Advertisements: More than the programs, I am wary about the ads. Our son neither knows Chhota Bheem or Doremon, nor does he know KinderJoy. I am neither pestered for fancy merchandise of popular characters, nor for the latest chocolates or wafers or theme parties. TV is full of misleading messages like when you add certain powder to your milk, you will be stronger; when you eat certain noodles or cornflakes, you will be healthier. Actually, in a lot of ads kids are shown making faces at healthy food and milk, which influence kids in a wrong way. I do not add anything to my son’s milk, not even sugar. He loves it. And we eat healthy breakfast.

Freedom from Unnecessary messages: Since my son is at an impressionable age right now, I am uncomfortable with a lot of things that is shown on the TV. He does not have the experience or maturity to differentiate between real and make-believe. There are issues like gender stereotyping, violence, crime and poor self-image. Even music channels are no good. The less said the better about the lyrics and obscenity.

No dependence on TV: I was always clear that my son will never eat his food while watching TV no matter how much of an effort that may be. It’s easy to feed little kids while showing cartoons but I have seen what a vicious circle that is. I never fell prey to that situation. Also, you pay more attention to your food when you are not eating while watching TV.

Bonding with kids: The only thing kids really need is bonding time with parents, everything else is secondary. When there’s no TV, you play with your child, you talk to him, you bond. You have the opportunities to connect. You can’t expect kids to answer abstract questions like ‘how was your day?’ You need to sit with him, ask him ten different kinds of things to actually know how his day had been.

Freedom from Screen time worries: From 0-2 years of age, kids should have zero screen time; and after that, not more than 30-60 minutes. But that rarely happens in reality. I’m free of such worries. Sometimes we let him watch animated movies but that’s about it. And that also goes for laptops, computers, mobiles or tablets. With no screens around, we don’t have those daily power struggles.

Stimulating discussions: Our bedtime discussions are about galaxies and planets, instead of daily soaps.

Peaceful Mornings: Our mornings never start with blaring sounds of music channels or news channels. We exercise or have tea or chat or read newspaper.

Saves money: We still have our old CRT. We neither graduated to LCD, nor do we have any intentions of getting an LED TV. Technology becomes obsolete very frequently. I’m glad we are not shelling out money every two years to upgrade; and add to that the money saved for DTH services.

Disadvantages?

None so far. Yes, our parents sometimes threaten that they would not visit. But on a serious note, I am yet to find any disadvantage.

Here are a few perceived advantages of watching TV:

Educational and Informative: Some people say that kids learn a lot when they watch educational programs on TV. If you can control their TV viewing, it’s great. I didn’t want that headache and unnecessary power struggles. I also do not believe that they learn more from TV, they learn far more from reading, playing and doing things.

Feeling left out: Also called peer pressure. Personally, I’m quite happy in my ignorance. We also get the argument that kids might feel peer pressure when they grow up and they might feel left out. I would never stress out about a hypothetical situation. I will cross the bridge when I come to it.

News & latest updates: With internet, you get all the news anyways. It is like checking email 10 times in a day. It is really not required. You can check and respond to emails even twice. It is a myth that we need to be connected all the time. It actually makes you less productive.

One of the major reasons for moving to a TV-free life was to set an example for the little one. You need to practice what you preach. Moreover, if there is anything you really need to watch, there is always the internet.

And honestly, it isn’t as bad as it sounds. You do not miss something that you never experienced. We CHOSE to give up TV, while our son NEVER experienced having a TV at home. THIS is the life he has always known. Our lives do not revolve around TV programs neither do they fill our silences. Boredom is a boon for creativity and imagination.

So, if you are planning to go TV-free; I will say, go for it. It’s truly life-changing. There’s so much to do in life, why live vicariously!

Top 3 Goals for 2017

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Experience has taught me that too many things on your to-do list never works. So, in 2017, I’m going to focus only on 3 goals.

RUN

2 years back I decided that ‘things change only when you change things’, and started running to keep fit. Running is more about improving your metabolism rather than lose weight.

Pinkathon 2015 was the first event in which I had participated for 5K. And this year, in Pinkathon 2016, I comfortably ran 10K. I also participated in a few other events in between.

I enjoy 10K because it does not require any special kind of commitment or training. I try to run 3 times a week, and one of the runs is 10K or more. I always thought 21K is not for me but now I’m getting comfortable with the idea. I have every intention of ticking that off my non-existent bucket list this year. I know it is not difficult for someone who has been running for 2 years. My goal is to run consistently and increase distance gradually.

READ

I have stopped buying books since a long time now. I got myself a Kindle last year, but unfortunately my reading hasn’t increased. I used to review books on my book blog but it has remained neglected for some time. With my reading and reviewing goals this year, I aim to breathe a new lease of life into it.

  1. I plan to read 35 books in 2017 and review them.
  2. I also plan to review 24 children’s books this year.

 

WRITE

I have started working as a Freelance Content Writer as well as Editor / Proofreader. It was always my dream to pursue writing as a career. For a writer, it is important to create a discipline in writing, so I intend to write daily.

Why write daily? Writing is like any other skill, the more you practice, the better you become at it.

So, what do you want to accomplish in 2017?