“The idea is to die young as late as possible.” Ashley Montagu
Amidst chaos and randomness stands ‘Present’. Present – a possibility to do your best right at this moment. Nothing is under our control, Thank God! at least habits are.
I have not always been conscious about physical and mental health. Over the period, I adopted and left some habits for holistic health. My fitness journey has been very gradual, yet sustainable. This wisdom is helping me and worth sharing. It’s a long post, don’t rush, take your time!
I have observed people adopting some fitness routine or diet, but have not been able to sustain. This post is for office goers, travelers and artists who struggle to sustain healthy habits. It’s not about any diet or workout plan, not about giving up junk food or addiction. No philosophy but actionable insights on keeping mind and body fit.
Disclaimer – I am sharing insights in the capacity of a fitness enthusiast. These habits will ensure holistic improvement in energy levels. This is per my own meandering experience. Anyway, let’s get started 🙂
Chew & Sip in Silence
- Why Chew & Sip? Every structure in our body has a function. Function of teeth is to chew and provide input to stomach. Visualize if you run your solid food in a blender, what will be the consistency of food? The same consistency is expected by stomach, for it to digest efficiently. Similarly, fluids should be ‘sipped’, not gulped. Digestion process begins from mouth with the help of teeth and saliva.
- Test How do you know whether you are chewing properly? If the chewed food starts to float in your mouth (in saliva) and slips to food pipe on it’s own, then it’s a good input for stomach. Even if you eat junk food occasionally, ensure it becomes paste inside your mouth. If you are still not sure, just chew a bite 20 times. . Don’t worry if you are taking more time to finish meals, take less food if time is not enough. It doesn’t matter what others think. At the end of the day you have to deal with your ‘gut’.
- What’s silence? Eat food only if you have time to chew in silence. Silence means no talk, no media, no phone, no reading. Observe the process, your food with gratitude, how every morsel is traveling from mouth to food pipe to stomach. Avoid eating food under stressful situation, it does more harm than good.
Fast once a week
We consume energy while eating hence organs don’t get desired rest. Our body is designed to have less physical food. No eating and drinking for full day provide complete rest. The complex carbs and fats stored also tend to break down.
If there’s no sign of unhealthy living then you don’t need to fast. Things to do during your fast day :-
- Easy day Pick a day that’s less labor intensive. I avoid when I am traveling, training and working extensively.
- Just enough Sip just enough water to quench your thirst time to time. Not a lot of water.
- Five sources We are made up of 5 elements, get energy directly from the source (earth, air, water, fire and sky).
- Walk barefoot in park, beach or wherever you are in direct contact with earth.
- Practice breathing exercise, with a smile 🙂
- Let sunlight energize your body
- Talk less, just bare minimum
- Meditation is much efficient while fasting. Meditation is nothing but ‘focused & effortless attention’. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to meditate. Just pay attention to your breaths flowing in & out. Don’t worry about thoughts in your mind, they will come and go, Just stay with your breaths. Even if you are able to focus for 5 seconds it’s worth it and gradually increase the count.
- A meal saved is meal earned You can sponsor 52 days meals for underprivileged annually. Imagine the positive impact on our planet , if everyone fasts once a week
- Unable to fast If you are not able to fast, then take alkaline food or only fruits. When I am not able to fast, I take one kind of fruit at a time. Mixed fruit salad is not recommended.
- Breaking fast Go easy when you break your fast, start with liquid, semi-solid and then solids. Of course don’t stuff yourself up 🙂
Bridge the gap between couch & physical exercise
For the longest time I struggled to find time & energy for daily workout needs. Below helped me:-
- Believe First and foremost, believe that you can do it!
- First few steps Always remember only first few steps will be difficult, rest will follow through
- Poke Pick your favourite active gear, say shoes, shorts or whatever and keep it where you spend most of your time. Let it stare and poke you. At work, keep your gym bag on your desk not inside your car. Click a picture of active gears and make it your wallpaper.
- Group workout is recommended.It sets the rhythm if you lack self motivation.
- Active Wear Wear your active gears daily, even if it means 10 minutes walk. So what happens when you set up yourself for 10 minutes, actually you end up doing more 🙂 There’s a merit in doing an activity daily. Soon it will become your habit . I have decided for myself, Rainy, Hot or cold day I will wear my Sport shoes daily. When it rains, I climb indoor stairs multiple times.
MVP approach for traveling
The routine suffers when we travel. Suddenly, there’s a shift in priorities, as a result our internal system bears the brunt. Here’s how impact can be reduced by following Minimum Viable Product approach:-
- Minimum Viable Product The term is often used in the context of commerce. The product is just enough in initial phase and developed over the period. The basic principles can be applied on our body too. Start with doable physical exercises – gym, climb stairs or dance in your room. Start with baby steps, improvise till your product becomes robust.
- One way meal Pack home made meal for one way (grains & protein based) , e.g. sandwiches, oatmeal, noodles, breads or whatever satisfies you. Salad leaves and Fruits are rich in fiber and get digested much faster, hence don’t last long and you may feel hungry soon. The idea is to avoid food at airport and flight.
- Signal to brain Ward off hunger pangs with tasty healthy snacks, add the flavour you like ginger, turmeric, cinnamon etc. that you enjoy at home . The idea is to tell brain that you are relishing and at home ( e.g. Roasted gram, nuts, Makhana (Fox nuts)
- During the stay If you are not able to find healthy food then have whatever is available, below guidelines should be adhered to:-
- Gut is clean everyday
- Sugar, the new tobacco is not added in any meal. If you can’t avoid, then sugar based meal should not be later than 7 p.m. Of course you can avoid 🙂
- Packaged food – avoid as much as you can, start reading ingredients & nutritional value.
- Caffeine, Alcohol, Nicotine, Drug – It promises momentarily pleasure but takes away more. Whenever you crave, pop a cardamom, clove, cinnamon stick, cranberry, prunes, raisins, ginger toffee.Choose wisely!
- Pre-book meal for return flight or have at airport. This is to avoid impulse purchase in flight. Don’t starve else you will end up eating more junk food like cup noodles, chips etc.
Trapped? be a skillful Storyteller!
Party time! you are all set for team dinner, you enjoy booze and meat but decided to ditch it forever. The moment you break this news to your colleagues, you will experience a brief silence and the very next moment you will get extra attention. There will be more attempts to serve you both, probably you will loose self control and fall in the trap.
We get more attention when we change ourselves for good. Very few will be concerned with your bad habits. Some folks who don’t want to change themselves, will try to sabotage your plan too. Some tips & tricks to stick to your plan:-
- Avoid extra attention You don’t have to reveal that you are changing. Let the change be felt with your self control, smart choices and well being. If you are the only guest, then of course you will have to share food preferences before hand.
- One day at a time In the above scenario you can escape the trap by narrating a cooked up story. “Buddy! I am so full, I have had my share yesterday…I have to drive back….My system is not supporting alcohol these days…My annual health check up is due next week…” You know what I mean 🙂 stories for a good cause.
- Fill your tummy before party If you are unable to cook up stories then fill your tummy with healthy bites. You will not have space for junk.
- Cheat-day It releases stress from the system. Allow yourself to indulge once in a while.
- Withdrawal symptoms well this is very extreme, save yourself from the trauma of withdrawal symptoms. If you resist, it will persist, just go slow in changing your habits. Change your diet only if it’s sustainable in a long run. Keep a substitute handy, e.g. for caffeine – Herbal tea, Decaf coffee, for Desserts – Dry fruits, cold oatmeal, Jaggery, for Junk snacks – Healthy snacks, for Alcohol – Coconut water, Juice.
Sleep like a baby
“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” Ernest Hemingway
Sleep heals mind and body. There’s an in-depth concept about why we sleep, dream and how it heals. To keep it simple for this post, just believe sleep is the most critical of all. It’s a blessing, here’s how it can shower on you:-
- ‘Light’ after the ‘Last light’ Our body is naturally designed to sleep after sunset. Let’s say you plan to hit bed by 10 p.m., then from 8 to 10 p.m. your body shouldn’t be exposed to ‘white/day light/ bluish’ colour light. Our brain gets a signal that it’s still daytime and prevents sleep. The colour temperature should be ‘yellow/ dim orange’ of course not bright. Just like candle light in olden days. Color temperature should be more or less like that. I don’t have yellow light in every room, so I use light in diffused form.
- White light of gadgets These little monsters are reality of today’s life and silently hampering our health.
- Keep brightness of mobile, laptop low after sunlight.
- Set a reminder to reduce the brightness
- Turn off all notifications.
- Keep phone away from bedroom
- Get your wrist watch & alarm clock fixed, stop using phone for time
- Flight mode It’s the way of life and very soon people will sparingly use smartphones and digital media. Cut off yourself from digital world for at least 2 hours. Flight mode is effective while driving, meal time, workout, meditation…whatever you pursue to de-stress.
- Wash your feet, hands and face before going to bed
- Room temperature Our body releases heat while sleeping. Hence, outside temperature should be moderate to cold.
- Caffeine check caffeine consumption, it blocks the sleep inducing molecule ‘Adenosine’. If you plan to hit bed by 10 p.m. then your last caffeine pick should be at 3 p.m. Of course, it varies from person to person.
- Gratitude Before going to bed, remind yourself at least 5 good things that happened today. Even on messed up days, you will have something to be grateful for. My gratitude list usually entails:-
- I got one more day to live
- I got food and water
- I got one more day with my loved ones
- I could paint, workout and meditate
- I got one more day to make someone smile
- Fears & insecurities Still if you are not able to sleep then something needs to be addressed internally. Check if you have any fear or insecurities. Just write it and surrender to divine. It will be taken care! Don’t ask me how but I know it will be.
A heart that loves, a hand that heals
“No man is an island”John Donne
It’s 8 p.m., finally you reached home after a tiring day. Your spouse opens the door with a brief smile and gets busy with closing tasks. You had so much to share but couldn’t, probably you will blame the relationship, pity yourself, feel sad, alone…yeah all of that!
Or you come back home and there’s nobody to talk to, the negative feelings will even become more intense. Whatever you feel, just be aware our basic nature is ‘Love’ & ‘Peace’. How do we stay connected to our real self and ward off anxieties? There’s no short answer, it’s a journey and you are in the driving seat.
- Hug and hold hands Before going for work, hug and hold that special someone. Your spouse, parent, kid, friend, pet…You just need one person who can comfort and give you peace. If you have nobody, then don’t worry, give a hug to yourself, your body is your real life partner. You will feel more strong and be able to deal with odds. Whenever I am hurt and not able to drop my ego, I hug myself.
- Heart to heart conversation daily In this era of social media, followers, views, subscribers, likes etc… why there’s more loneliness? Because a basic requirement is breached, there’s no heart to heart conversation. It’s all about social brand. Find someone who can listen to you and if there’s no one then write it down. Don’t keep emotions in your heart, let it come out.
- Kind to yourself That constant judgement, guilt, anxieties will disappear if you forgive yourself. Keep the moral compass aside, just remain focused and watch your actions.
- Smile, fake it till you make it Smile releases stress from the system. Brain gets a signal that something good is happening and mind starts to expand. If you are shy to smile in front of crowd, then at least smile when you are by yourself. Smile in washroom, doing dishes, workout, dance, while staring your laptop screen… you know what I mean 🙂 Hey you! Are you smiling now?
Whatever made sense to you, make short notes , stick it where you spend most of your time, track progress. Don’t worry if you are not able to follow, spirit is more important than result. Keep trying and be kind to yourself. If you liked the post, share it with someone who needs to know. God bless!