Taking tiny steps towards better health and a happier me!

Taking tiny steps towards better health and a happier me!

March begins in just an hour, now. How time flies! Precisely why we need to make full use of every moment we get–every single moment of every single day.

A new month also means new beginnings, although, you really don’t need to wait for a new month or a new year to make a new beginning. You can do it anytime you feel like you need to change.

Some months back, I decided to change my phone habits and a couple days back, my diet. It does feel wonderful, seeing how the changes are affecting my health and my life!

CHANGE IN DIET:

Earlier, my breakfast included a mug of chilled milk with a spoonful of Horlicks. It was something I looked forward to, the moment I woke up. However, it was also something that gave me gas. Yes, milk does that to me….Sigh.

So, to get relief from it, I switched to curd/yoghurt.

Now, curd+banana+raisins+oats (I know, I know..OATS!!?? But, hubby got it for me, so I have to finish the stock, right?) has been my breakfast, ever since.

I have also started having curd+rice for lunch, as opposed to no rice earlier. My lunch, which comprises of chapatis/ragi rotis, sabji, curd-rice, satiates me. No more hunger pangs within two hours of lunch!

The curd keeps me cool, helps with the digestion and I no longer feel like my tummy is a gas chamber!

The live bacteria (pro biotics) in the curd takes good care of my gut health. And, a healthy gut, is a happy me!

Its high protein content ensures I have enough energy to face a busy day.

I deducted rice from dinner, though, which now includes chapatis, sabji/dal, and a huge bowl of salad (cucumber+carrot+tomatoes). Makes me feel full, and yet, not uncomfortably full.

MORAL: It helps having a light dinner!

CHANGE IN PHONE HABITS:

I did a post on my phone habits last year. I also did a follow-up post. Since the past two months, I have made furthermore changes in my phone usage.

I switch on my phone wifi in the morning at 8.00 to check messages/mail etc and switch it off within 10 minutes. I check it again for few minutes at 11.00 and then keep it switched off till 1.30 pm.

I use the Canva app on my phone to make images for Instagram and Pinterest after lunch for half an hour.

Evenings are usually spent working on laptop, or talking to friends on the phone. So, by 8.00 pm my phone wifi goes off to sleep.

The time I spend on social media has reduced substantially:

INSTAGRAM: 15 MINS. (Set the timer on Instagram and it will remind you when your time’s up).

FACEBOOK: 10 – 15 MINS.

WHATSAPP: 5 MINS. (I’d rather talk than text).

CANVA + PINTEREST: 30 MINS.

GMAIL: 2-3 MINS. (it’s also on my laptop, so makes no sense wasting time there).

Now, I have ample time to indulge in art, reading, blogging and planning.

Also, it saves my eyes from strain.

I have stopped watching TV during lunch time, too. I pay attention to the food in my plate and how good it tastes. TV viewing is for the evenings, for some time. That’s a lot less screen-time, right?

MORAL: Use the phone judiciously and you will have mastered the art of Time Management!

I keep an account of it all and intend to do a follow-up post on how well these changes help me in the long run.

How about you? Have you made any changes lately? How do you feel about it all?

Love,

SHILPA…

We need to change our habits for the sake of our health.

 

Are you lactose intolerant?

Are you lactose intolerant?


Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Do you remember, as kids, being coaxed to drink up that tall glass of warm milk every morning and evening? I know, some of you couldn’t even tolerate it and so emptied the glass in the flower pot or the sink, right?  The smell and the taste can be off-putting, so I can understand.

But, there’s a reason why our parents wanted us to drink that glass of milk, you know?

Milk is a COMPLETE FOOD as it consists of every such nutrient that we humans need.

 

We have heard it since the time we were kids about how drinking milk will give us strong teeth and healthy bones as it is rich in Calcium.

But, apart from that, it also helps keep the heart healthy and the blood pressure under control.

Milk fortified with Vitamin D helps us sleep well and helps produce serotonin–our  ‘good mood’ hormone–which could keep depression away. Now, this is an information my doctor provided.  He said that a lack of Vitamin D results in all of the PMS related feelings like mood-swings, irritability, depression, fatigue, etc, that, if not taken care of, can only worsen with time.

And, yet, so many of us find it unbearable to even bring a glass of milk close to our nose! Well, if the smell puts you off, you could always add a spoonful of some nutritional powder, like Horlicks, Boost, Complan, or even almond/cardamom powder–there’s a wide choice of nutritional drinks available in the market. Choose the one that you like.

If hot/warm milk gives you nausea or gas, try chilled milk. I love chilled milk. I add a spoonful of Horlicks to it and have it for my breakfast.  My last post was on coughs and cures, where I failed to mention that my cough usually gets cured by a glass of chilled milk, instead of the usually prescribed warm haldi wala doodh (milk with turmeric)!

Lactose intolerance and food options:

When the body cannot digest the lactose present in the milk, it makes you lactose intolerant. One could suffer from nausea, vomiting, gas or diarrhoea and, hence, stay away from milk, altogether.

However, if not milk, then you can surely have other milk products such as curd or yoghurt, buttermilk, cheese, cottage cheese or paneer, ghee, butter and milk which is lactose-free.

Other alternatives are soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk.

Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach contain calcium as does Amaranth. Chia seeds, beans, lentils and tofu are other foods that also contain calcium in good quantities.

Milk products for the lactose intolerant:

Curd contains high amount of proteins making it a highly nutritional food. Add some fruits of your choice, some dates and other dry fruits and honey and you have a delicious and healthy bowl for a midmorning or evening snack, ready in no time!

You could also make a smoothie with curds and some fruits. Keep sugar out of these recipes, though. And, artificial sweeteners, too. Using honey, dates or raisins is a better alternative.

Curds go well with parathas, rice (curd-rice, any day!) or oats, too.

Buttermilk, when had after a heavy lunch, makes for the best digestive. Just add some cumin powder, rock salt (kala namak), some finely chopped green chillies and coriander and you get the best cooling, digestive drink, ever. You know that, don’t you?

Cottage cheese, or paneer, is another milk product loaded with calcium and proteins. And, it aids in weight loss, too. Homemade paneer tastes the best–soft and creamy–as opposed to the readymade one, which is often rubbery and lacks any taste. Just add a spoon of lemon juice to some warm milk and when the milk curdles and the curds separates, pour it through a cloth in a strainer. Gather the cloth, squeeze it lightly to drain the excess water and tie it up. That’s it. Perfect, soft, tasty paneer ready to be used in your recipes, or eat it as is.

Cheese provides calcium and proteins, vitamins A and B12, riboflavin, phosphorus and zinc. The best benefit of cheese, I read, is for the teeth as it prevents tooth decay. For those trying to gain some weight, you could add cheese to your diet. It helps improve the bone density and also strengthens the muscles.Opt for cheese with low salt content as otherwise it could affect your blood pressure.

And, finally, gheeor clarified butter, is another milk product that you can consume on a daily basis. It will help in maintaining your gut health, keep your joints healthy, your heart beating beautifully, your skin soft, and your weight under control. My post on Ghee has the method of preparing it at home. it’s really easy to make, or you could buy white butter from the market and use that to prepare the ghee.

So, if you have deleted milk from your daily diet due to lactose intolerance, do include it now through the various milk products.  You will be doing a world of good for your health–mental as well as physical health. Trust me!

Take care,

Love,

SHILPA…

 

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From thin to slim. #Bonhappetee.

From thin to slim. #Bonhappetee.

Get Fit Stay Fit

Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

What is, or has been, the number one wish on your health list? Let me guess, does it have to do with losing weight? I know, that must be it, because 9 out of 10 people consider themselves overweight, or “fat” (which is so wrong, let me tell you). They follow everything they can to lose a few pounds to become “acceptable” and get rid of the tag that others label them with.

The world is not kind to thin people, either. The body shaming taunts wound our spirits, and our self-esteem suffers badly.

Having been thin,  I have heard it all–from “don’t you eat?” to “does your hubby thrash you if you eat more?”.

People fail to realise that there is a thing called metabolism –

The process that occurs within our body that maintains life; a process that causes food to be used as energy, and decides how fast or slow our calories and fat gets burned.

I have a high metabolism, that means, the food that I eat gets converted into energy at a faster rate and hence doesn’t get converted into fat. So, however much I eat, multiple times in a day, it hardly shows!

Earlier, though, the thinness caused me to appear gaunt and stick-thin. Hubby encouraged me to eat all that I wished to and include all sorts of health tonics and stuff, but to no avail. I remained thin as ever.

With time, I realised I needed to make changes in my lifestyle, my diet and my perception about myself.

Yoga: the best exercise regimen

It was only around three years ago, I decided to include a proper exercise regimen that would not further burn my calories, but help tone my body and help build some muscles. And, the best way to attain that, I felt, was through Yoga.

Yoga helped me understand my body. The areas that were flexible and also those that weren’t, and the aches and pains when I bent forward or backwards. Regular practice helped increase the flexibility in a body that had not had any kind of exercise for a long time.

We women are under the wrong impression that our household chores make for perfect workout sessions. It is really not so! We do burn calories sweeping floors and running around after the kids all day long, but, the flexibility that every other part of our body lacks can be achieved only by a proper workout.

The various asanas and the Suryanamaskars helped me achieve the kind of flexibility and suppleness I needed. I could feel my body getting toned, my skin getting healthier and me getting trimmer and curvier from being stick thin.

A balanced diet:

We learn right from our school days how important it is to follow a balanced diet in order to stay healthy and happy, but rarely do we actually follow it on a daily basis. Thanks to our busy schedules we treat our health as an afterthought.

I used to begin the day with a king-sized breakfast followed by a good lunch, too, but it was in the late afternoons that my energy levels dipped and I would feel tired soon. I realised the time gap between lunch and dinner was too big and I needed to add some snacks to fuel me through the evenings.

Most of us make do with a cup of tea/coffee and a couple of biscuits. Rarely do we stop to think where we will get the nutrients from that we require to function until dinner time. I mean, seriously, how are you going to benefit from a cup of tea and a few biscuits made from refined flour?

I added sprouts and vegetable juice for this particular hour in my diet plan. Sprouted moong and matki made into a bhel with tomato-onion-chillies and some farsan was the perfect savoury snack that kept me full and supplied the necessary nutrients to last me till dinner time.

Vegetable juice made from beetroot-tomatoes-carrots with some ginger made for the perfect drink to wash down the bhel. Either that, or buttermilk or lassi, that would aid in digestion and also keep my system cool.

Fitness matters:

Whether you are on the heavier side or the lighter side, what really really matters is how you are from within. I feel proud to say that almost all of my blood tests come out perfectly normal, except for Calcium and Vitamin D3, for which I take supplements. I feel energetic and happy knowing that sticking to a particular diet plan that I chalked out for myself as well as an exercise regimen has helped me stay in shipshape.

My body may not appear strong, but it is strong enough from within to fight infections quicker thanks to an efficient and a reliable immune system. I seldom fall sick (Touchwood!) and on the rare occasions when I do, I bounce back pretty soon.

Thanks to my Yoga practice, I don’t experience a lot of aches and pains. And, the bad lower back that does complain once in a while, gets taken care of through some gentle exercising.

Taking care of your diet despite a busy schedule and following a particular exercise plan goes a long way in giving you a healthy body. Accepting yourself as you are and being proud of how well you care for yourself is what matters.

Fitness matters more than size!

Love,

SHILPA…

Thanking Anshu Bhojnagarwala for this opportunity to share my fitness journey for Bonhappetee.

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10 super foods that help lower cholesterol.

10 super foods that help lower cholesterol.

Cholesterol  entered my world some years ago while I was researching healthcare necessary after the age of 35. A blood test (Lipid profile) would tell us if our cholesterol levels were good, bad or ugly. Suffice to say, the picture was rather ugly (for hubby), and we had to quickly get into battle mode to fight this enemy.

So, what is this cholesterol and is it really as bad as we think it is?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in every cell of our body.

Our body makes the cholesterol that we need. And, it does have a role to play: Our body requires cholesterol to make hormones, Vitamin D and substances that help digest our food. 

Cholesterol comes from our liver and our diet. 

There are two types of cholesterols carried by different types of lipoproteins: LDL, or the Low Density Lipoproteins which is the BAD Cholesterol and HDL, or the High Density Lipoproteins, which is the GOOD Cholesterol.

High levels of LDL can clog the arteries and cause heart disease.

Source: Wikipedia

 

Unlike fat, cholesterol cannot be burned by your body through sweating while exercising etc. So, to avoid excess accumulation of cholesterol in the body, you  need to watch your diet. Your doctor will prescribe medicines to bring down the cholesterol levels, or the LDL levels. The drugs usually prescribed are STATINS. These lower the triglycerides (another type of blood fat) and also raise the HDL levels.

However, Statins do have side-effects like high blood sugar, muscle inflammation and intestinal problems. So, while it is advisable to take the prescribed drugs to bring down the levels of cholesterol, it is better to take a good look at your diet to do the same. That is a much preferred mode of bringing down the LDL levels. Along with exercise, of course!

Exercise on a REGULAR BASIS is a must  if you wish to see any positive results. We do begin working out with great enthusiasm, but seldom do we all stick to the routine and in a matter of days we fall off the track and go back to our old habits, don’t we?

We also need to take care of what we eat. We keep reading about the need to watch our diet and make exercise a part of our daily routine, so, what’s new, you might ask. Well, the fact that not all of us stick to our diets and our exercise which results in raised levels of LDL that cause more trauma to your arteries and consequently to your heart, much more than you think.

There are foods that help bring down the LDL levels. Foods that, if we make them a part of our daily diet, are sure to help us in the long run as well as get off the drugs. So, sharing with you all today, 10 of the super foods available locally and which help reduce the bad cholesterol.

First off, though, you need to consciously stay away from deep fried stuff like certain Indian snacks (samosa, batata wada, bhajiya) and include healthy foods which I will mention below. Trans fats found in vanaspati, are the number 1 culprit that cause the LDL to shoot up. So, keep that out of your kitchens, and switch to desi ghee, or clarified butter, which is heart-friendly.

 

FOODS THAT HELP LOWER CHOLESTEROL:

Methi: I shared a post on Methi some time ago, where I wrote about the benefits of including sprouted methi , or fenugreek seeds. Fenugreek seeds help lower LDL as well as blood sugar levels if consumed on a daily basis. So, sprout some methi seeds, place them in an air tight container, in the refrigerator, and have a teaspoon of these sprouted methi seeds first thing in the morning.

Tomatoes: Rich in lycopene, tomatoes help detoxify the body and reduce the risk of heart disease by helping lower cholesterol levels. Add these to your salads, have these through soups and along with veggies, or juice them up and gulp them down!

Fatty fish: Now, this is good news for sea food lovers, isn’t it? Fish contain Omega 3 fatty acids which help bring down the level of triglycerides and simultaneously raise the HDL levels.

Garlic: Years ago, dad used to chew garlic cloves. I tried it, too, but the pungent flavour put me off it. It’s only after I grew up that I learned how beneficial garlic  is to the heart. The anti-oxidant properties of garlic help lower cholesterol levels, provided it is consumed raw, or semi-cooked. So, despite the bad breathe it gives, just chomp on a garlic clove. You can always use a mouthwash to drive away the smell!

Ragi:  Ragi, or finger millets, contain amino acids which help get rid of excess fat from the liver and bring down cholesterol levels. It also helps reducing blood sugar levels. Eating rotis (Indian Flat Bread) made out of ragi flour instead of wheat, will definitely help you in your fight against cholesterol. Ragi rotis are the most preferred rotis at my home and take lesser time to prepare!

Ladies finger: Ladies finger not only helps bring down cholesterol but also helps reduce your blood sugar levels thanks to its soluble fibre content. Slit a couple of ladies fingers and place them in a glass of water at night. Drink the water the next morning. Or, eat more ladies finger sabji! Either ways, it helps.

Nuts: Nuts, especially, walnuts and almonds help reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise the good cholesterol (HDL). Have a whole walnut daily and a few almonds, too, along with your breakfast.

Apples: Apples contain the same soluble fibre that you find in ladies fingers, which helps lower bad cholesterol. So, it isn’t for no reason that we have been taught that an apple a day keeps the doctor away!

Oranges: Including foods rich in soluble fibre helps reduce cholesterol. And, oranges are rich in soluble fibre, apart from vitamin C.

Cinnamon: Cinnamon is known to lower blood cholesterol levels significantly. Add a teaspoon  of cinnamon powder to your cup of tea while it boils. A teaspoonful of this powder is more than enough to do the trick, provided consumed on a daily basis. Grind the cinnamon and keep the powder next to your tea and sugar containers. That way you will be reminded to add it to your morning cuppa.

 

I have included those foodstuffs that are grown locally. Foods such as oats, or avocados, although available, aren’t locally cultivated. Eating foods grown locally makes a lot of difference to your health.  The reason being that these foods are picked as soon as they ripen and are packed and sold immediately, thereby keeping their nutrition intact.

So, that’s it from me today. Do share with me any other tips you may have for reducing cholesterol. I would love to know all about it!

Love,

SHILPA…

 

P.S.

I have been including almost all of the above in hubby’s diet since a long time now and his cholesterol levels have come down significantly. He stopped taking the drugs he was prescribed for cholesterol and depends more on the diet to control the LDL levels. Now, all he needs to do, is get back on that bicycle! I know he will. It’s just a matter of some time.

SHILPA..

 

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Fight Cholesterol the easy way

 

 

 

 

When Life gives you a jolt.

When Life gives you a jolt.

What part of Life is, actually, in your control?

We live each day planning for the next day, the next week, the next month, the next year. Rarely do we pause to live in the present; rarely do we pause to consider if the plans we make for our future will come to fruition, living, as we always are, in a world of illusion that we are the Masters of our destinies!

And, it’s as we go along living for our tomorrows, when Life gives us a jolt, straight out of the blue. Like the one I received three weeks ago.

Busy planning my tomorrows, I was blithely unaware of the storm looming on the horizon. A storm that threw life in a disarray and brought all my master plans to a standstill.

Hubby had a manic episode of Bipolar disorder, and we all found ourselves caught in the burning lava of a raging volcano. No offence meant, but, yes, that’s how a manic episode feels like. So, I won’t go much into the details except share with you how all of my best-laid plans had to be tossed into the sea, and how I came out of it all a lot more enlightened, a lot saner.

A week in the hospital and home since two, hubby is recuperating at home and getting better.

And, for me, my Life took a turn–for the better.

Yes, it’s only when our Life is in turmoil that we learn the true meaning of Life, of the trials and tribulations we face throughout and the lessons we learn from them all.

For, it’s precisely in such moments of immense stress and hopelessness that we learn to look at Life from a whole new angle, with a clarity we lacked earlier. Stressful though these past three weeks were (and that would be an understatement!), I am sorta glad we went through it all.

The stuff I learned from it is something I would never have learned otherwise.

Hubby is recovering. Touchwood. And, I got back to blogging, which I had put on the back-burner all these days. I didn’t even have the will to open my laptop or pick up a book or go out for a walk. Watching animal videos on Facebook and solving Sudoku puzzles was all I did when I felt bogged down by all that was happening.

But, nothing lasts forever, and so here I am, doing what I do best — sharing my thoughts with you. The loneliness during such periods can get rather stifling, though, so I had to get back to connecting with you all!

There are some lessons I learned from all that happened, as I said earlier, and I would like to share those with you.

Health lessons:

The saying, “Health is Wealth”, is rather underrated in today’s world, or so I believe. The mad rush to achieve success, earn money, reach ahead in “the race” has us completely disregarding our health. The result: Life decides to take matters into Her own hands and gives us a jolt.

So, prioritize your health over all else, for the simple reason that if your health doesn’t cooperate, what will you really gain in Life, except, maybe a super deluxe room at a private clinic!?

Look after your mental health, too, even if you aren’t suffering from a mental illness. Remember, it’s our mind that guides us in caring for our wellbeing.

Sleep. 8 hours or 9, or as long as it takes to rejuvenate you, but, sleep. Don’t skip it for work. Ever.

DO NOT consider yourself to be a superhero, because you are not. You are just a human being with a body that needs energy, rest and relaxation. Give yourself the necessary TLC. You need it. Always.

Life lessons:

Live in the TODAY!

Live in the present that’s been gifted to you, and, tomorrow will take care of itself. I can’t reiterate this point enough. It’s a known fact that despite knowing the preciousness of the present, we continue living in the future, for the future.

Make a Plan A and a Plan B and a Plan C, and toss it all out into the sea! Life has already made a foolproof master plan for us all and it’s according to Her plans that we will proceed. Best to just let Her take over the controls, isn’t it?

Be grateful for everything.

While running around getting things under control at the hospital, I felt abandoned by God. How I failed to see that in everything that was working out, God was at work, standing beside me, making things happen.

It’s a fact we fail to notice when in times of distress when things are not going our way. But, trust me, God never abandons us.

Push aside every negative thought, focus on the moment and count your blessings. And, breathe.

Cherish your family and close friends.

These few people are the only ones who will be by your side in your time of need. Treasure them. And, those who reach out to you in the virtual world, from miles away, enquiring about your wellbeing. There are really only a handful few people in your world who truly care.

I am thankful my dear sis-in-law was by my side for two entire weeks. My parents, brother and couple of hubby’s close friends. Can really never thank them enough! And, of course, the prayers of dear ones!

Learn to rescue yourself.

And, finally, this was a phase when the man who vowed to care for me for the rest of my Life needed to be cared for, himself. I had to take over the mantle of the Knight in the shining armour to fight the battle and slay the dragon.

It did get rather lonely and scary. I really don’t know how I functioned that week in the hospital. Maybe, it was the adrenaline that pushed me from one moment to the next, or maybe, I was running on autopilot. I have no clue. God was with me, of course.

But, I guess, I was put through this test to see if I was strong enough to rescue myself. And, I did.

So, yes, there will come a time in your Life when you will need to rescue not just your loved ones, but also yourself. You will be a bundle of nerves, exhausted, sleep-deprived and lonely, ready to flee the scene. But, believe me, you will stay put and play the rescuer, with a strength you never knew you possessed. Trust yourself. And, the Almighty.

Getting back to blogging has not been easy. The depression threatened to swallow me if I didn’t do anything about it. But, all I had to do, was look at hubby, who despite his slow movements–thanks to the anti-psychotic drugs and mood stabilizers–has gotten back to work, albeit a few hours a day.

How could I not get inspired!

 

Life is a mystery (don’t even try to solve it!). It has weird ways of teaching us lessons and giving us a reality check when we least expect it. Life can be scary, too. But, during some quiet moments, when we look at it closely, we realise that Life is also beautiful. Really, really beautiful. All we need to do is count our blessings.

There’s this quote I read recently:

“Life is constantly talking to us. Are you listening?”

To learn our lessons, we so need to listen to Life, isn’t it?

 

 

Love,

SHILPA…

P.S.

A gentle request, if you happen to be hubby’s friend. He is on the road to recovery and needs his privacy. Kindly refrain from contacting him to inquire about his wellbeing.

Thank you!

SHILPA…

 

Life is constantly talking to you. Are you listening?