Health is nothing without food

In today’s blog post we’ll help you look at food in a different way. Food, and eating it, is not just a mechanical process that we do day in and out (like breathing). Nourishing yourself in the right way with the right fuel for your body will help you not only nutritionally and physically, but also stabilize your moods and overall balance.

When it comes to eating right, there is no one-size-fits-all meal plan for everyone. As part of the Holistique program, we help you figure out what works for your lifestyle, and provide some invaluable advice along the way. For example, we encourage that you eat every 2-3 hours and that too eat what you enjoy. We don’t advocate going on fad diets for a temporary goal. These diets are not sustainable for the long term, and often make you feel bad when going off the plan, leading to guilt eating.

Instead, we suggest foods based on your existing diet pattern, as that is what your body has been used to for so many years. The most important thing is to plan your meals in advance, and once you are into a routine of doing this, you’ll see how easy it is to maintain a food plan that works for your body whilst also giving you results along with the workouts you are doing.

A couple of other tips and tricks on nourishment:

  • Remove all junk food from your pantry! If it’s not there, you won’t be tempted to eat it
  • Eat the right foods at the right time. We can help you figure out when your body will best digest that dessert you crave, as well as pre and post workout meals
  • Eat the rainbow! This means eating all types of fruits and vegetables, preferably seasonal and locally produced

*SPECIAL RECIPE – TURMERIC MILK*

The irony about food in this generation is that our grandmother’s recipes are often dismissed as old wives tales, and yet these very recipes are proving their ageless value over time. One such example is the simple yet effective “haldi doodh” – turmeric milk. We all know that turmeric is a store house of healthy properties, and is used for healing, and as an every day spice in all Indian homes. Typically, turmeric has been known to boost immunity, and a nightly dose of haldi doodh can keep all ailments away, according to grandma. Here’s a simple recipe for this power drink which you can have every night before bed, or as a snack in between meals:

Recipe Ingredients:
  • 1 inch fresh turmeric (grated) or 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder    
  • 200ml milk
  • Honey or sugar to taste    
  • Black pepper powder to taste (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Desi Ghee

Method:

  1. Heat ghee in a pan until slightly warm. Add 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder (or grated turmeric) to it and mix well.
  2. Pour in 200ml milk, mix well, and bring to boil for a couple of minutes.
  3. Once it boils, turn off the heat and allow the turmeric milk mixture to rest (covered) for two more minutes. 
  4. Strain the milk and turmeric mixture into a glass, stir in sugar / honey and black pepper as desired
  5. Garnish with sliced almonds and pistachios, and serve the turmeric milk while still hot.

Enjoy!

If you have any more old family turmeric milk recipes, tell me in the comments below!

Rant Alert! When you got it, flaunt it

Ladies, let me tell you something. The fact that you work out is a privilege, it’s a good thing, it’s something you ought to shout from the rooftops! Don’t be shy about it, be proud of it! You do it because you are able, and because you have the right idea of taking care of your body and living an active life!

This rant is about why women want to hide it from the world that they workout. Many women refuse to share their videos or photos on social media, and yet they want to be clicked, and worse still – viewing similar stories by strangers online inspires them. Is it that you feel embarrassed? Is it that you believe in the evil eye, and some undeniable force might stop your progress just by viewing a picture of you on social media?

It’s understandable to fear the unknown, the random strangers who don’t know you and yet might enjoy checking out such posts and pictures. That’s something we can’t really avoid in today’s digital age. What you ought to remember is that you could be inspiring another ordinary person with similar challenges as you to take out time for themselves and achieve their goals. Haters are always going to hate, and living in fear of that should not stop you from being accountable for your goals – so ladies, put it out there! Get online!

Think of it this way: you are helping to make the world a happier, healthier and fitter place. People will always talk, so let them. If they talk negative, it could be that they are jealous. If they talk positively, then be glad that you impacted someone in that way. You never know who you might inspire by sharing your journey, so just know that whatever you are doing is not only good for you and your direct family, but for your peer influences as well.
All this aside, be proud of the choices you have made to keep your body moving. Realize that your hard work and progress can motivate and inspire others. Show people your before and after shots, and even your work-in-progress shots. Because the truth is, it’s always going to be a journey. Fitness has no final destination. Once you get a taste of it, you will always and only want to better yourself.

Workout Smarter not Harder

How often should you train? Is 5 days better or 2 days?

These are some of the questions I am often asked at the studio. The truth is, training frequency is a highly debated topic in the fitness industry. Currently the mindset of most women is to work out five days per week because they believe that the more you exercise, the more results will show. This is a MYTH! In fact, many women spend an hour or less a day working out and the rest of the day in a somewhat sedentary fashion – which actually negates the workout benefits!

My philosophy on training for strength and fat loss is simple. I want to do as little as possible to continue making progress. If anything, I’d rather under train than over train. This goes hand-in-hand with another key priority: I always focus on quality of training and movement. What many fail to realize is that for fat loss, we often need a total lifestyle overhaul.

Benefits of training 2 days a week include:

– Prevents gross overtraining

– See progress faster than traditional workout frequencies

– Joints love 2 days per week as it reduces chances of doing something that hurts or injures your joints

– Exercises in the program are more focussed, making you good at what you do and getting you the results you need and want

– Time is freed up to focus on your nourishment (planning, shopping, cooking) and rejuvenation part of your lifestyle. Without nutrition and stress management, you won’t get the maximum benefit from your workouts

Your body builds or gives you the best results when it has time to recover from every workout along with good nutrition and rejuvenation. In any myofascial fitness program, I recommend 48 hours for recovery. But that doesn’t mean your body isn’t working – during recovery your body is actually repairing and becoming stronger on a cellular level, and burning fat to do this!

Now, I don’t advocate that you spend the rest of the days lazing around – in fact you’ll feel the opposite. Your workouts should give you energy on your other days to keep your body moving as it was meant to. You can go for walks, treks, cycle, dance, play with your kids, and feel great that you’re living an active lifestyle. You will see for yourself once you move more frequently – not only are you more in tune with your body, but you tend to “get it” much faster.

At the end of the day, the real question is not how often you should train but how much can you recover from training?

By switching from 5 days to 2 days a week, I have made the best progress in my career for my clients and myself.  Like everything in training, you need to figure out what works best for you and your body. Once you figure it out, you’ll be amazed at the progress you make.

Tell me in the comments below what kind of workout works for you!

The Holistique Journal

Remember back at school when you were forced to write down whatever the teacher was writing on the blackboard? The very act of doing that was what made the learning stick in your mind. It has been proven that writing things down enforces learning and can actually be therapeutic.

Journalling in fact dates back centuries, when people would note down their thoughts on a nightly basis, treating their journal as a dear friend (therapist?), confiding in them what they would never dare reveal to a person, and helping themselves gain clarity by writing things down.

A journal will never judge you, but allows you to understand yourself better. By getting into the habit of regular journalling, you are able to track your patterns and improve on yourself and your habits.

The Holistique journal is like no other – it’s a food log, an exercise log, a place for weekly goals, a space for feelings and gratitude. It even has artistic meditation to help you de-stress, and motivational stickers to make it all fun. It focuses on all aspects of you – fitness, health, happiness and productivity.

As part of the Holistique program, we want you to enjoy the journey to your healthy lifestyle, and we believe this journal is a key factor in this process. There’s something about having to actually write down your day’s logs and efforts that makes you feel committed to the process and helps you stay motivated. Taking a few minutes out of your day to be mindful and aware of your health and fitness activities is sure to bring about a change in your lifestyle. And the best part is – no matter what workout or diet plan you are on, the Holistique Journal is there to help you on your journey to a successful transformation!

Every single page has been carefully thought out to keep you on track and motivated. Its unique un-dated weekly and daily page layout consists of blocks for goals, motivation, workout and activity levels, nutrition (planner and log), emotions, sleep and gratitude. Some of the benefits of using the Holistique Journal include: tracking your progress, serving as a reminder to work out (even when you see it lying around the house), keeping a note about your goals and keeping you motivated, and helping you schedule and stick to your appointments!

Let the Holistique Journal be your personal storybook, making your whole transformation memorable and enjoyable. Order yours today!

Healthy Feet Mean Healthy You

Going barefoot is a natural state of being for us, especially Indians. Even now, in some Indian villages, people spend almost 100% of their time barefoot. Many wander through fields and do hard, physical laborious work, and yet they rarely develop any feet problems. Instead, it has been proven that being barefoot actually strengthens your feet to support the rest of your body the way nature intended, which is one reason why barefoot training has taken a huge leap forward in recent years.

Wearing different types of footwear and always keeping our feet confined and protected actually has the opposite effect to strengthening. We are providing cushions and insulation to our feet, which then make our feet dormant and lazy, after which foot problems can arise (which we blame on footwear and the ground!). Think of it this way – why are humans the only species on earth who feel the need to wear shoes?

Going barefoot also improves our proprioception – which is the sensory input we receive from the soles of our feet, which plays a role in our stability, balance and coordination. It helps us to connect to the earth and to the environment, thereby allowing us to move in every way possible. The more stable the body, the more benefits we can reap from our workouts. Our feet create stability and help our body feel safe – and this stability allows us to progress further in all our workouts, without the danger of losing balance.

Feet affect everything – almost all of us know about the reflexology points in the soles of our feet, which connect to all parts of our body and nervous system. Your foot is connected to your core (pelvic floor and abdominal) – so all the more reason to train barefoot, to give you a strong core, flat abs, prevent back pain and improve running speed.

More benefits of working out barefoot include: stronger arches, improved muscle alignment, stronger ankles, increased flexibility, and healthier feet overall. It also strengthens our entire body by helping energy to flow smoothly through our body.

Barefoot running has gained huge popularity in the past decade, but several other regimes can be followed on a barefoot program, including yoga, martial arts, gymnastics etc. Barefoot and minimalist training is the most ideal way to workout, however your body needs to be properly prepared first. At Holistique, you get to train under Barefoot Master Instructor and Physiotherapist (Dr Anuja Luniya), and the program fuses a blend of workout styles conducted entirely barefoot, which gives additional benefits which you now know!

Exercise and the Indian Woman (part 2)

Let’s talk about exercise, fitness and health in the Indian setting. Enough has been written about this topic from a western perspective, and now that the fitness trend is picking up in India, we ought to embrace this movement!

Women’s fitness in particular has picked up significantly, with women-centric studios and programs cropping up. We all know exercise is essential, especially due to our sedentary lifestyles. For women this is all the more important – from young girls, to post menopausal women, and everyone in between. The benefits of exercise for women are countless throughout all stages of life. From building bone strength and muscle mass to preventing gynecological problems to restoring posture, balance and functional independence, the benefits are endless. And today’s Indian woman knows it!

And yet, the question remains: why do only 10-15% of Indian women exercise? What about the other 90-85%? The myriad of reasons for women not having time to exercise is astounding. Health cannot and should not be taken for granted! It’s always better to jump on the prevention bandwagon first, rather than learn the hard way.

Now, exercise does not mean a walk in the park for an hour. There are a variety of workout styles for a reason. Women need to incorporate strength training, especially Indian women (more on why in a later blog). Your exercise toolkit should have a variety of workout styles so that you achieve not just the weight loss benefit but other benefits of exercise. And sorry ladies, stretching is not working out! And doing cardio to lose those tyres isn’t going to work! Walking, jogging, running, cycling or an hours Aerobics/Zumba (no matter how much fun) are all good but alone, are not enough to keep you fit. Cardio is only one aspect of fitness. You need strength, balance, agility, power, flexibility, reduced risk of lifestyle diseases and hormonal balance too. You need exercises to keep you gynecologically healthy (the number of young girls with PCOD is on the rise and so is the number of women going in for IVF).

Exercise to show and maintain results requires sincerity, dedication and perseverance. Before joining a class, make sure you get to know what the exercise program is all about. Does it interest you? Do you think you can persevere with it? Always choose a program that you will be able to enjoy and sustain, because that’ll keep you from quitting.

Healthy living is not by chance. It’s a choice. A lot of little choices you make everyday to live healthy. Now ask yourself, do you really want to take your health for granted?

Exercise and the Indian Woman (part 1)

The Indian Woman. Where do we start to describe her. Obviously there is no ‘one size fits all’, no generalizations that can be made about Indian women, because we come in all shapes and sizes. But one thing that Indian women do have in common (mostly) is their selflessness in prioritizing other things before their own health. Whether it’s a new bride who wants to put in effort into new relationships, or a new mom who puts her kids needs first, or an ambitious career woman who makes sure she never lets the ball drop at work. The connecting thread is that Indian women generally have this mentality of considering their own health only after all the rest of the work gets done.

Indian mothers make sure their child joins enough extracurricular classes – dance, martial arts, sports, theatre, arts – to keep them active. To help their children develop into healthy individuals. They make sure their husbands have their post workout meal ready after gym. She takes all measures to see to it that her family eats healthy. Then why does she skimp on her health? Her nutrition? Why does she eat whatever is there? How come no effort is taken to see to it that the lady of the house eats well and stays active?

We believe this is the very mentality that needs to change. A woman needs to give health and fitness equal priority as other matters in her life. After all, it’s only in good health that we can enjoy and achieve all of life’s demands. We no longer live like our previous generations, who believed in sacrificing every personal desire for the greater good of the family. Young moms no longer feel the need to eat the leftover scraps off their kids’ plates, and many mothers now utilize the time when their kids are engaged in an activity class to do some exercise of their own.

These are the mindset changes we foster in the women I coach. It’s a simple yet powerful change – when you exercise regularly and see the “holistique” benefits you gain not just physically but emotionally too, you realize that it’s a lifestyle choice to embrace for the rest of your life.

Don’t you think it’s high time we Indian ladies show ourselves the same importance, love and dedication we shower on our loved ones every single day?  Your health is not an expense but an investment, for your family and yourself. Choose to invest in yourself.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this post which goes into detail about which exercises are necessary and suitable for Indian women!

Move, Nourish, Rejuvenate – what does it all mean?

Join Holistique this Summer!
Join Holistique this Summer!

It’s no secret that our lives have become more and more sedentary, thanks to the influx of technology in our lives, and the fact that we outsource a lot of physical tasks to domestic help. Previous generations did a lot more physical work, even visits to the local bank and grocery stores, as these facilities were not available to them online as they are to us now. Hence the necessity to make movement a conscious part of our daily lives. We can even use technology (e.g fitbit reminders) to help us with this! Holistique is a contemporary movement based program, which has a multi-disciplinary approach. The workout fuses the age old principles of yoga with the latest evidence based body-weight workout styles. The sessions are small group personal coaching sessions with every client receiving personal attention from the coach.

Of equal importance to moving the body is to fuel it with the right nutrients. That is why Nourish is the second step of the Holistique program, because health is nothing without food. The Indian way of living, when it comes to food, is vastly dependent on the different sub-cultures that we all belong to. A Bengali family’s eating habits are extremely different to a Gujarati’s, for example. But at the very essence, the fundamentals remain the same. Indians know a million and one nourishing recipes which are not only good for us, but taste delicious too, as opposed to the bland and boiled options we often see coming from western influenced diets. The Holistique program helps you choose the right foods for your diet, without sacrificing the taste. Holistique emphasizes the marriage of movement and food with balanced eating recommendations and personalized meal planning by an experienced nutritionist and foodie!

To rejuvenate is to look or feel better, younger, or more vital. At Holistique, we have kept this in mind whilst designing our program. It’s a program that not only exercises your body beautifully, but also makes you aware of how you feel, thereby exercising your mind positively as well. It makes you conscious of how your thoughts and actions affect your lifestyle. And it stays with you long after the session – because we all know that simply doing one session of exercise is not going to get real results. It’s the remaining hours in the day that we need to practice mindfulness in our thoughts, and exercise discipline in our actions. And with Holistique, we will ensure you do this with joy, because joining this program will make you feel whole – in body, mind and spirit.

How do Electronics Affect Your Posture?

The proliferation and use of PDAs & touchscreen smartphones, and the significant increase in time spent at computer keyboards or engaging in video gaming has created a whole new generation of people of all ages experiencing RSI(Repetitive Stress Injury). More and more, people are depending on these devices to stay in touch with friends and family. However, an increasing number are beginning to pay the price for such ready access to the world.

As mobile phone technology develops, mobiles are getting smaller, with buttons closer together. Small, fine movements tend to aggravate more than larger movements-this coupled with the smaller buttons can lead to injury as smaller buttons are harder to activate.

When you are text messaging, you tend to hold your shoulders and upper arms tense. This cuts down the circulation to the forearm, when in fact it needs a greater than normal blood flow to achieve the fine movements of the thumbs and fingers.

One of the commonest RSIs, popularly called “Blackberry Thumb” occurs because these devices rely almost solely on the use of your thumbs (not all of your fingers) for typing. Any device that relies on the thumbs for typing can cause this type of injury because the thumbs simply weren’t designed for such use. Additionally, there are also other stress injuries reported — wrist, forearm, shoulder, upper back and neck — as a result of constant texting.While it’s hard to use mobiles & tablets in the same way you’d use a computer, the risks of injury are the same – Repeated motion, Unnatural postures and Bright screens, can all cause injury if you aren’t careful.

The problem with smartphones and tablets is that you can literally use them in a million different positions—most of which probably aren’t very good for your body.

Tips to Follow

  • Holding your mobile/tablet flat is bad for your neck, but holding it completely perpendicular is bad for your wrists. As such, you’ll want to compromise by holding it at a 30 degree angle when you’re typing or using the touch screen. If you’re just reading, you can position it more perpendicular, at whatever angle makes it easy to see.
  • Tap lightly on the keyboard. Many people have a tendency to tap very hard on touch screen keyboards because they lack tactile feedback, like real physical keyboards do, and this is bad for your fingers, wrists, and forearms. If you’re typing something longer than just a few sentences at a time, it’s probably worth investing in a Bluetooth keyboard.
  • As you type or use the touch screen, be sure to keep your wrists straight, while keeping your arms and fingers loose and relaxed.
  • Avoid eye strain by making the font larger when possible. If you’re using a program that doesn’t allow you to set the font size, you can buy glasses specifically made for reading tablet displays. If you’re doing a lot of reading, try eye-friendly E-Ink readers like the Kindle or Nook as opposed to the iPad or Kindle Fire.

Its best to…

  • If texting starts to hurt. Stop. Use the other hand or call instead
  • Vary the hand you use
  • Vary the fingers you use
  • Don’t text for more than a few minutes without a break
  • The best option when it comes to touchscreen phones is to use a Stylus while using the phone, as it uses larger muscle groups compared to using only a finger. Hold the stylus like you would hold a pen.

The biggest sufferers are college students and young adults. Plus, there’s not enough attention paid to ergonomics. RSI is preventable. It happens because it’s not taken seriously.

And an increase in miniaturization, and decreased usability–rates of aching thumbs among today’s people is likely…to swell.

If you’ve found any tricks that work especially well for you, share them in the comments below.

Busting Women’s Weight Training Myths

Being a physiotherapist and fitness coach, I’ve come across so many women for whom working out with help of free weights or machines is a strict No-No. There are so many myths in their minds about working out with weights. Most of them feel that weight training is only for men who aim to have a 20 inch biceps or a 6 -pack abs.

If you want to get stronger, leaner and healthy you have to supplement your aerobic workout with the key component of fitness and that’s “weight training”.
 
“USE IT OR LOSE IT”
As we age our muscle mass gradually decreases and hence our metabolism (i.e the energy our body spends in normal functioning of our important physiological systems). So when muscle is depleted, your fat percentage increases.
 
MYTHS RELATED TO WEIGHT TRAINING
 
Myth I : Weight training will make you bulky or masculine
My dear ladies the hormone to be blamed for bulking up is testesterone, which is in abundance in males but is in very minimal quantity in females. Our oestrogen abundance prevents us from developing a masculine body, unless you take steroids externally.
 
Myth II : Weight training will increase chest size
Breast size can never be increased or decreased. But yes it will surely make your chest look firm.
 
Myth III : Weight training will make your body stiff
There are many exercises such as dead lifts, chin ups, etc which will make you use your complete muscle length and hence maintain flexibility.
 
Myth IV : If you stop exercising your muscles will turn into fat
This myth is just like someone saying you can turn gold into brass!! Remember, both are different types of tissues so it cannot interchange.
 
Myth V : Women should do only cardio and if they want to do weight training they should only do so with lighter weights
Cardio is a very important component but if you are doing cardio for long hours it will not only burn your fat but your muscles too. And, if you are weight training with light weights then its not of much use as there won’t be any muscle breakdown. You need to overload your muscles to get the desired result of toning up.
 
BENEFITS OF WEIGHT TRAINING
  • Increases bone density thus preventing osteoporosis.
  • Increases your resting metabolism and burning more calories even when you are at rest (increase in Basal Metabolic Rate).
  • Decreases the risk of injuries by making your bone, muscles and ligaments stronger.
  • Helps to improve balance and coordination.
  • Improves your stamina.
  • And above all for most of the women it gives you a fabulous toned body .
Always make sure you adopt the right posture/form and correct breathing (exhale on exertion) before focusing on repetitions and intensity of weights.