Kanchan (Name changed) was a brilliant student in school and college. She was the first woman to graduate in her family and then went on to become the first to finish post-graduation with honors. Her life was looking bright when she was hired by financial services multinational. But things took an interesting turn when in her second year of employment, she started complaining of pain in her joints. She started avoiding any stressful activity including walking and climbing stairs. Finally, things became so bad that she started feeling tired all the time. She consulted a doctor who came to the conclusion that her sedentary lifestyle and obesity had caused these symptoms. The lack of exercise in her youth and increasingly sedentary lifestyle was creating serious medical complications. Kanchan is not alone, today millions of Indians are suffering from the after-effects of lifestyle diseases.
The old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is the best statement to explain how important it is to keep your weight in the ideal range. Once you accumulate fat in your body, it takes a long time to reduce it and get back to shape.
Although there are several ways to lose weight, here are a few principles that you need to understand to help you achieve this goal:
- A good exercise regimen can do the magic.It is easy to initiate weight loss by simply increasing physical activities like aerobics, yoga, and swimming which can burn extra fat and help you get in shape. Try cardio to burn calories and strength training to burn fat and build muscles.
- A good nutritionist would help you find your ideal body weight, fat percentage, and your overall vital statistics. This is best first step that you can take. If you know where you stand health-wise anddiet-wise, you would know where changes are needed. Diet and exercise go hand in hand
- Remember that the diet planned should not make you starve at any point of time. Your diet should be nutrition-rich and calorie-dense but based on your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and body mass index (BMI).
- The first thing that strikes us as important when going on a weight loss program is to banish fats from our diet. Understand that fats do not make you fat! They are as essential to our body as proteins and carbs and are play an important role in the weight loss journey. If you do not consume adequate fat you may not lose weight.
- Instead of eliminating your favorite foods while on the program, try changing the way you cook these foods, so you can still enjoy them, guilt-free of course! Roasting, boiling, and steaming are the best methods to cook food when you are on a weight loss plan. Avoid deep and shallow frying.
- Eat small and frequent meals. This ensures a steady supply of blood glucose levels thereby keeping your energy levels intact. It will also make sure you do not end up starving and bingeing on junk food.
- Vitamins and minerals also play a major role in a weight loss program. Include a good amount of dry fruits, fresh fruits, and vegetables. If supplements are an absolute must, speak with your doctor before trying any kind of multivitamin.
Are diet and exercise the only keys to weight loss?
While it is believed that diet and exercise lead to weight loss, behind the scenes, it is your dedication and will power that helps you stick to a healthy lifestyle pattern which helps you maintain the weight you lose.
These supporting factors to weight loss are gaining importance and now people are realizing that weight loss extends beyond physical exercise and healthy food. It is also an emotional and behavioral exercise.Our thoughts influence our feelings, and our feelings dictate certain behaviors.
“I’ll never lose weight”, “I deserve this piece of cake”- these thoughts influence feelings of depression and denial and can lead to binge-eating as a behavioral reaction. This can cause your whole weight loss program to suffer.
It is therefore, important to use some cognitive and behavioral strategies to deal with challenges and negative feelings that can upset your routine.
Tuning into the experience of eating and feeling what it is to be hungry or full, reminding yourself of your weight loss goals and how important it is for you, breaking through the negative thinking traps and maintaining positivity, and using family members as a source of encouragement are some of the cognitive exercises for weight loss.
Similarly, scheduling your day, stocking up on healthy snacks, and treating yourself only with healthy snacks are some of the behavioral self-control tactics to weight loss.
Of course, relapse can be de-motivating. It can completely throw you off track. But if we exercise our thoughts just like we exercise our bodies, we can modify the brain to understand that weight loss is like any other venture in life, where anything worth working towards involves setbacks, and it’s a part of the process.
It is also common to become anxious with the thought of maintaining yourself once the program ends. But, instead of being overwhelmed by the idea, the trick is to ask yourself what you can do right now to feel better.
Take each day as it comes. Break up your goals into smaller tasks that you can easily accomplish to move along the path as smoothly as possible.
Finally, a weight loss program is effective only when it is a combination of diet, exercise, and will power. Building a support system within and nurturing the mind and emotional self as much as the physical self leads to successful weight loss and long term sustenance of goals.
(The views are representative of the views of The Wellness Corner and the author. Healthcare India does not necessarily endorse them. Healthcare India has no business interests in The Wellness Corner)
About the Author
Piyush Agarwal works with The Wellness Corner, The Wellness Corner is your personal health assistant offers the complete solution for corporate wellness benefits program. It works as a platform to keep its users engaged with huge library of health & wellness content, health risk assessment, well-rounded guided wellness programs. In addition to this impressive list, users have access to nutritionists, psychologists, and doctors to answer queries and offer guidance.
Of the many myths that I have seen being propagated in India, the one that makes me curious is the one on the warm water, honey and lemon combination to reduce fat. I have seen this grow in my family even in childhood as one of my aunts used to religiously drink it each morning. I was too young to understand what she was trying to achieve, but I suspect she was try to lose weight.
Chota Bheem is a phenomenon for the children of today. Some look at him as a role model. But is he affecting the health of your child?
The thought first came to my mind, when my daughter asked me for a ladoo about 2 years ago. She said Bheem has ladoos and that’s why he is strong. Realizing that this was probably not such a bad thing, I did get her the ladoos. After a while this became the norm and she started consuming the sweets regularly.
Obesity is one aspect that is heavily covered in media in India. There are numerous reports on how the ‘Fight against Fat’is the paradigm shift in Indian public health policy. Obesity has been linked to heart diseases, diabetes and hypertension. And the information is all correct.
But I believe in a country of a billion people plus a problem affecting 50-60 million people is hardly the concern. Lets take the case of diabetes for example, the situation today affects about 50 million people with another 30-40 million undetected cases.
But India’s greatest challenge is malnutrition. yes did i hear it right, it is Malnutrition. So all those basic biology classes on balanced diet are the need of the hour for India.
According to a report by the UN and the World Bank, India is ranked second in the number of children suffering from malnutrition. The other country ahead of us is Bangladesh. Almost 47 % of the children in India are affecting by this disease.
Another alarming statistic is that India has about 150 million children contributing almost 18 % of the population. Also four children die every minute from preventable diseases like diarrhea, Measles and Typhoid which are usually more severe due to the prevalent malnutrition.
The icing on the cake is the 2011 Global Hunger Index (GHI) where India is ranked 67. Some of the other countries on the list are very small and poorer than us, but still have shown improvement. Sri Lanka for example has a index score of 14, while India lands an alarming 23.7. Even Niger has a score of 23.
But Media and industry continue to focus on obesity. The reasons are very simple. The obese population are also the ones with higher disposable income and hence a good target market for these companies.
In the days since liberalization Gyms, Clinics, Supplements and diets have grown manifold. A recent quest for a personal instructor by my wife saw numerous coaches show up at our doorstep, some with their own assistants.
But what about the hungry kids? This situation of malnutrition is leading to be a stumbling block to India’s progress in the long run with disease, disability and economic backwardness on the horizon for almost 20 % of India;s future.
There are a few steps that we can take.
Encourage the mid day meal schemes started by some of the government schools. The novel idea was the brainchild of the former Tamilnadu chief minister M G Ramachandran. This resulted in increased literacy and also improved nourishment.
Contribute to institutions like Akshay Patra. The Akshay Patra foundation has been the leading voice on nutrition. They run schemes to feed under privileged children.
Thirdly encourage the local community programs on nutrition. A good place is to start with the focus on domestic helps and their wards ensuring they have a balanced diet and educate them on it as well.
Unfortunately there are no quick fixes for the malnutrition issue. It is a deep socio-economic problem but a beginning has to be made somewhere and it is better to start late rather than not start at all.