31 July, 2015

Shooting for Zee- live

Today I was on Zee tv live in the afternoon, talking about how stress can lead to weight gain. I have a long term association with Zee and I quite enjoy shooting with them.
See some of the pics from behind the scenes during the shot. At the end of this post, I have also posted the video of the coverage how the questions of the viewers were being answered live.

What I wore: Tunic: Pankaj and Nidhi.
 On air, I kept the accessorising basic and minimalistic.

Do see the video

10 Squat variations to firm your butt and thighs

Squats and its variations.

Squats help to tone the muscles of legs and thighs. These are one of the most effective exercises for the hip and thighs. They work with your own body weight. The technique for the squats is very important and has to be kept in mind. If done incorrectly, it places a lot of stress on the knee joints. When you go down, imagine you are sitting on a chair or a pot behind you. So the angle of knee flexion should not be more than 90 degrees. Which means you should be able to see your toes when you bend down. The only exception here is the Hindu squats where the knees go beyond the toes but it is compensated by lifting the heels up and being on your toes.
There are many variations of squats and many equipments can be used to assist the squats to make them more effective and more challenging.

Lets evaluate the squats.

1.          Squats with swiss ball or gym ball:

In women, the pelvis is broader than men. That is to support the childbirth. But the other aspect is that unlike men, who can squat by keeping the back straight, because of narrow pelvis, women are unable to keep their backs very straight. A gym ball comes to assists us in this. Place the ball between your back and the wall. This will help you to squat without bending your back forward.
This also supports the back.

2.          Squats with kettlebells

The reason the double kettlebell squat is so much more challenging than its barbell cousin is due to leverage. Consider the rack position: With a barbell, the load rests near the top of the spine, across the collarbone and the front of the deltoids, just below the head. In this arrangement, the barbell becomes virtually one with the lifter, making it easier to move the external resistance. This allows you to move much more weight.
With a kettlebell, it's almost the opposite. In the rack, the weight rests low, against the outside of the forearms, with the elbows pointed down rather than out. The bells try to pull your body forward and off-balance, which forces your entire midsection to reflexively contract in order to keep you from folding in half.
 To start with, you'll become a better squatter. Because the spine is protected due to the increased reflexive core activation from the rack, lifters can usually squat deeper with kettlebells than they would with a barbell. The difference here is one you'll likely feel on your backside for days after the first time you try it, so consider yourself warned.

3.          Hindu squat

These are similar to traditional squats but instead of stopping parallel to the floor, go full down. Going through full range of motion, gets your heart rate up and uses more muscles. Do not be afraid: Contrary to the popular belief, research now says that squatting full will not hurt your knees.

4.          Prisoner squats

Done with hands behind your head. Keeping the hands up above the heart, helps to escalate the heart rate.

5.          Sumo wrestler’s squats

In this you bring the hands from down under your thighs and fold your hands. Now squat up and down.

6.          Dumbbell squats

Dumbbells are held to overload the muscles. You can choose to keep dumbbells down by the side of hips or up towards the shoulders.

7.          Balance board squats

The balance board has a small round ball, under it. You stand on the board, holding a bar for support and do the squats. These are challenging because the uneven surface activates the muscles more. Your calf and core muscles are also activated.

8.          Squats on top of Bosu

        Balancing on the bosu can initially help develop some of the stabilization muscles. It is of course more difficult than standard body weight squats. The thing of it is, is that balancing on a bosu is more of a skill based exercise. You get better at balancing on it less from getting stronger in a lot of ways than by learning how to do it.
This exercise is excellent to activate all of the muscles in your upper legs and your core. It requires a lot of control and balance and is a bit harder than it looks.

9.     Squats with medicine ball

Stand with a wide stance while holding a medicine ball with both hands. Fully extend your arms straight out in front of your body at shoulder level or to increase the intensity, hold it overhead. Next, simply perform a full squat so as to imagine that you are sitting down in a chair. Return to the start position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

10.     Squats with TRX

Regular squats are essential to build a strong lower body. Add a TRX to the mix to help improve you form or even give you some stability and support (if you need it). Start off by holding both handles in front of your waist, elbows bent by sides. Lower down into a squat, extending arms in front of you at eye level. Push yourself back up to start.

30 July, 2015

11 reasons why your stress is making you fat

Remember the scene from the movie Dil dhadakne do, where stressed Shefali Talwar is shown to binge on cakes and sweets? It is called depressive eating.
Stress has an impact on the body. It escalates the weight and fat gain specially around the waistline. It also causes loss of muscle, which is a live tissue and responsible for good metabolism. Stress plays a havoc on thyroid and makes weight loss a battle.
Losing weight is not as simple as plain exercise and controlling your diet. Sometimes you do not achieve the desired results despite exercising and watching your diet. There are many other factors attached like adequate rest, stress, hormones, water retention, eating at right time, sleeping at right time, constipation, etc.
If you are constantly tired and constantly craving for food, how can you achieve weight loss? Do you know that the underlying factor of all this is STRESS.

In modern, fast paced, competitive world, stress comes as part and parcel of every one's life. There are high expectations and ambitions but the bodies are not equipped to cope with it.
When weight is not ready to budge, it is a clear signal that we need to listen to our body and slow down, change the lifestyle. However, instead of doing that, we press panic buttons and become more anxious and depressed because of weight gain. People hit the gym with more vengeance and do crash diet. The result- total breakdown. Stress makes the situation bad to worse. It does not allow the fat to burn. In fact, when we are stressed, the body releases the hormone, Cortisol that holds on to the fat reserves as its reaction to protect the body for a long term. It also alters the energy levels and the metabolism. In a normal situation, Cortisol levels are high in the morning so that we can be active during the day. By bedtime they lower so that we need rest and our energy levels become low. But when a person is stressed, cortisol, which is produced from adrenal glands at time when it should be ideally low. This interferes with rest and sleep. That is why, when one is stressed, one has difficulty to sleep. When a person is stressed for long duration- for days or months, it is not just tiring but starts affecting the system of the body- the digestive system, reproductive system, hormones, etc.

A client came to me who had been gyming like a maniac. She would not eat much, run a lot, had tried various dietitians and gyms but the weight was not reducing. When she came to me, I assessed her and did her counselling. I told her to reduce her workout and increase her diet. She was not ready to believe this. In fact, she was very apprehensive. But I asked her to trust me. I made her do gentle Yoga and increased her diet. In two months she lost 8 kgs. She was surprised but very happy. I would not do this with everyone. But her case was different. Her body was already functioning at an optimum low. 
Sometimes, we need to pamper ourselves a little, take a small break, slow down, focus more and relax.
In women, specifically, the causes of stress are related to job, finances and most importantly strained relationships. For men, stress is primarily due to jobs and finances.
Today the stresses are not the same as what we have grown up to cope with. We have not evolved to cope up with stresses of modern times. Today, the turmoils are more due to society and its expectations of us vs our desires and needs. These challenge us more emotionally and less physically.
Modern challenges are due to technology, rat race, lots of pressures. Today our lives have changed and we are not equipped to handle the stresses. People are facing these stresses alone. They are either single or live in nuclear families. They have no time to exercise or to meditate. There is no emotional support and less contact with nature.

This is how stress makes us gain weight

1. When a mind is stressed, the first response of the body is to store the fuel (food) for upcoming fight or challenge. Glycogen, which is stored glucose is released from muscles and liver and sent to bloodstream. During stress, person does not exercise, to burn this excess energy. The body turns this excess glycogen to fat. The cells in abdomen have more receptors for this and hence, the fat gets stored around the midriff. That is why people, who are more stressed have bulging abdomen/ apple shaped body and not pear shaped body.

2. The sugar loading from stress triggers release of insulin. This functions to move sugar from bloodstream into cells and use as energy. High insulin prevents burning of stored fat and instead promotes stored fat. It leads to weight gain. It is a vicious circle. Reducing stress and exercising more regulates insulin.

3. The alimentary canal or gastrointestinal tract or the intestines get affected due to stress. It affects all body functions, systems and immunity. The body cannot detoxify properly. The hormones get imbalanced and the digestion is affected. Good bacteria are destroyed by steroids, stress, antibiotics, alcohol and sugar. This is how one experiences bloating, water retention in abdomen and weight fluctuation. Probiotic foods can be helpful. They are garlic, onions, artichokes, bananas, etc.

4. Exercise is very helpful to combat stress. It lowers cortisol naturally and in fact, releases happy hormones to counter stress called endorphins. Exercise is better than anti depressants. It improves immunity and supports pro biotic bacteria for alimentary canal. Exercise also increases metabolism and lowers insulin. Thus, you do not have stored body fat in your abdomen. You not only look physically fit and better, exercise helps you to become emotionally better and stronger too. Make exercise part of your leisure time. This is a sure shot way to combat stress and depression. Exercise clears the mind, improves the mood, gives more confidence, decreases the cravings and binge eating.

Yoga and pranayama are specially very helpful to reduce stress. Yoga gives you control on your mind, heart and body.There are increased relaxing alpha brain waves and anti anxiety chemicals released with Yoga. Stress hormone Cortisol is also reduced.

5. Long term raised insulin levels are responsible for saturated insulin receptor sites. This means that they become insulin resistant or have metabolic syndrome, which is typically associated with apple shaped bodies. To avoid this, avoid refined carbs, specially in the evenings when the metabolism is slow. Rather, have good protein rich breakfast. Also have nuts, milk and milk products, avocado, fish, eggs, etc.

6. Stress makes a person impulsive. Decisions taken under stress are seldom correct. Person in stress seeks quick results and pleasures. This leads to stressful or depressive eating or binging. Person is not mindful while eating. He does not focus on health and well being. He eats impulsively, despite knowing that it is not a healthy choice and seeks instant gratification. That is why when you are free of worries, you enjoy healthy food, you savour the taste and do not binge.

7. When a person is stressed, he/she craves for junk food. It is like an emotional reward just like drug addiction. Sweets, fats and refined carbs help to calm down the stressed mind. They release pain relieving opioids and serotonin. Opioids do sound like opium and serotonin are body's happy chemicals that go to the brain. This is body's default way of dealing with stress by craving for wrong foods. It is very addictive. But the high does not last long. So you crave for more and become cranky if you do not get your smoke or alcohol or sweets that you crave for.

8. Stress increases Oestrogen. Stress hormone is made of progesterone, which balances oestrogen. When a women is stressed, she might experience change in menstrual cycle, heavier periods, shorter cycles, mood swings called PMS or even have Polycystic ovarian syndrome ( PCOS), also known as PCOD ( polycystic ovarian disease). Oestrogen is more of female hormone that gives the females their shape- breast, etc. Increase in this hormone will lead to weight gain and apple shaped body. Oestrogen levels should not be low during menopause. 

9. Stress slows down thyroid. Thyroid in turn governs metabolism i.e the rate at which body burns the energy/ calories. Exercise can trigger metabolism and help to destress.

10. Stress leads to craving for sweets. Sometimes it is so addictive that the person craves for sweets as stimulants. Sugar is always seen as comfort or reward food. It leads to insomnia, anxiety, weight gain, makes a person irritated and angry.

11. To combat stress, women shop, smoke and drink. Men have alcohol. These are instant feel good ways. Due to cravings of food and alcohol, there is weight gain and hence, low self esteem. Which, in turn causes more stress. Stress lowers our sensitivity and patience. It also lowers our feeling of leptin- the hormone that tells the brain when we are full after having food. This leptin resistance is the cause of over eating. There is an increased appetite due to high leptin. 

Combat stress and weight management becomes easier. Eat right and exercise. Those are the key elements.

Kakasana or the Crow pose

This pose requires balance. Balance- whether it is in life, in your emotions or at a physical level, is necessary and comes with practice. There has to be a balance and an equilibrium in whatever you do. Yoga helps you achieve that. Hatha Yoga places lot of emphasis on balancing postures. These bring inner peace and inner balance. These postures also help to improve strength and coordination. Your posture improves and the nervous system becomes calm. Kakasana is very helpful not only to strengthen the arms and shoulders but also to calm down the mind and smooth the creases. It helps us to ease our breathing.

In Crow pose, we place our folded knees and thighs on top of our arms. Crows are light and they can fly. Gravity does not restrict them. This posture helps to improve our flexibility and strength. The arms and shoulders are energised. It helps to build confidence in our arms to support the body weight. The pelvis and abdomen are lifted up. It helps in our Pranayam practice.
People with wrist and shoulder injuries should be careful while attempting this. Also if you have weak core or less flexibility in your hip joint, you might find this posture challenging.
The pose is more beneficial if it is not done superficially just with the arms. Engage your core, extend from the perineum up through your core. This act of drawing up through the base of your pelvis, stabilises and makes the posture more grounded and solid. You feel lighter and lifted. Your body defies gravity and you experience inner energy. On the other hand, if you use only the strength of your arms, the pose becomes difficult, simply external and static.

29 July, 2015

10 fitness hacks for the lazy girls

Going to gym and leading a disciplined life seems too difficult? Now we are telling you simple and easy solutions that will keep even the laziest girls on track.
1. Opt for HIIT. High intensity interval training. Instead of spending long hours in the gym, do a short and intense workout and get over with it.
2.  Finish your workout first thing in the morning so that if you want to be lazy for the rest of the day, you are not guilty.
3.  Get enough rest and sleep. You do need 7-8 hours of sleep. So keep sleeping. At least for those many hours you will not be attacking the fridge.
4.  Take a dose of coffee. It will give you instant energy that will help you in the gym.
5. Do compound training. This means working on two or more muscles simultaneously instead of simple training that targets only one muscle. For example instead of only bicep curls, combine these with lunges. It is killing two birds with one stone.
6.  Socialise in your gym. So you will be eager to meet your gym buddies and will not miss your workouts.
7. Hire a trainer. The trainer can be your buddy, who will keep you motivated.
8. If you like floor exercises more than running, go for it. There are plenty of options like yoga, Pilates, Tai chi, etc.
9. On social media, follow fitness freaks. Their fitness feeds will motivate you
10. Eat right and drink lots of water. Junk foods will make you more lethargic and pure and Satvik diet will make you energised.

Buy sunglasses online

Whether you are wanting to buy sunglasses or frames for your lenses, there is one website, that I can highly recommend. It is called Lenskart.com. Check out some of their amazing sunglasses here. One might feel that you need to try a particular frame to see if it suits you or not. What is nice, is that they even have a 3D virtual try on app. They do not stock just 10-15 pairs but they have 3815 models to choose from. You may select your style, amongst your brands, or amongst your price range. Something that lenskart has exclusive is swimming goggles with power. So you get clear vision even under water. Their quality of lenses is much better than the others and there is assurance of service. All their lenses are shaped by laser precision machines. They also come with 1 year warranty.
In sunglasses, they stock wayfarers, aviators, oversized glasses, rimless and even with full rims. You can choose from a wide range of styles, shapes, colours, patterns and sizes and even enjoy some discounts. There is an option to pay cash on delivery and sometimes there is 14 day return policy too. Shopping goggles online is now an experience and something that is very convenient

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Lonely vs alone- part 2

Sometimes back, I had written a post- Lonely vs alone. Do read it. I have lots of friends and I am equally happy, contended, comfortable and confidant in my own company. It fact, it baffles me why people are not confident all by themselves and have to have a partner/friend for doing anything and everything. There are lots of things I do alone very happily and gladly. I go and watch movie alone. I can go and sit in a restaurant/coffee shop alone, all by myself (actually with my kindle).
Recently, when I took a Segway tour alone, early in the morning, the instructor was surprised and asked me, "You have come alone?" I said, "Yes". Then I asked him, "Do we ride this alone or two people together ride this?" Obviously, he said, it was to be done alone. Then I said, Oh! I thought maybe two people together were supposed to make a Titanic pose on it. He understood what I meant and said nothing further.
My point is, many people I know, find it surprising when they hear that I go and watch a movie alone. When you go for a movie, why do you need another person? Because everyone watches the movie all by themselves. They do not chit chat during the movie. So where is the NEED for another person. Yes, if you have a good company, it is great, but if you do not, for some reason, why can't you watch it alone? So many times, because of my work schedule, I want to see a movie, at my time and my day, according to my convenience, in a theatre of my choice. The best option is to catch it and enjoy it alone.
Why are people shy and embarrassed to do things alone? Why do they feel that being alone makes them look like a loser and being in big crowd makes them look happy, hip and happening?
Being alone, makes you look self reliant and in control, of yourself and of the world. Do not use others as a means to escape your loneliness.
Give me a lap top, kindle, internet and maybe mobile, then, I can be happy alone even in a jungle.
Many people fear being alone. They feel, they will appear to be "mad" if they are seen alone. They keep waiting for others to accompany them to where they want to go. That never happens, and you just miss out on opportunities and life and time.
Clock is ticking. Embark this journey alone. Enjoy your own company. Rediscover, restore and reconnect with yourself and enjoy yourself. Go for nature walk alone. Take up activities- Yoga, meditation, biking, dancing, writing, reading, teaching, helping, knitting, sewing, sports, tennis, swimming, etc etc.
There is a difference in being lonely and being alone. I am alone but never lonely. People are in big groups and yet lonely.
If you feel lonely, you tend to be depressed. Start enjoying your own company and you will always be happy. Solitude is the expression of the glory of being alone. To stand still, to focus, you need the "me time". It is your path and your road. Others may walk with you for sometime but they cannot walk for you. 

28 July, 2015

8 reasons why sisters are best travel partners

There are many reasons why sisters are the best travel partners and you must travel together at least once in your lifetime. Whether you are an elder sister, who has always ruled her younger sister or you are younger sister who has always agreed to whatever her elder sister said, traveling with your sister can be the most exhilarating experience. Here are some of the reasons:

1. You both will be inclined to do the same activities- try yoga, biking, same food, even the choice of destination to travel.

2.  There will be no arguments about what to do or where to go. You will want to do it all together or none at all. The adventures with her will be silly, laughable and extremely cherish able - memories lasting for lifetimes. She may get you off-board a number of times, but she will row wit you tirelessly to fulfil the adventure! 

3.  A sister is hardwired to support you, be on your side, defend you. The world may oppose you, resent your unity but the bond is unbreakable.

4.  She will be a willing partner in your crime. You can do fun activities, risky activities together. Not only that, she will equally participate in silly selfies, photo ops, etc. Thank God for sisters.
5.  You can pack less clothes because you always have a sister with whom you can share clothes, accessories, creams, sun tan lotions, hats, etc.
6.  At a party, when no one else is dancing, you two can jump in and dance to your heart's content. You do not need anyone else.

7.  You can check all your To Do lists with your sister and cover everything unconventional.
8. When the whole world seems to put you off and there seems not much sunshine, pack your bags and plan a girlie trip with your sister. You will see magic happen. 

Review: Dusit Devarana, Delhi

Today we had lunch at Dusit Devarana restaurant named Kiyan.
Review for Dusit. While the place is very beautiful, the ambience is breathtaking, their hospitality absolutely sucks. In fact, go at your own risk. I made the booking and was confirmed twice, a table for 12. Then at the very last minute they backed out and said, "sorry for the inconvenience" "we apologise" but we will give you two separate tables of 6 each.
Our big group had to split and sit and we did not like their attitude. They could have joined the tables and the restaurant had space but they were unnecessarily rigid and spoilt our fun. Anywhere, we went, they came behind us with their do's and don'ts. 
When we entered they offered us to show the place around, show us the rooms but conveniently forgot. They were not hospitable at all. 
The food is expensive. We did not have anything much. Yet it costed us Rs.2000/- per person. The food is average. Nothing great to talk about. 
An acquaintance wanted to book the place for a wedding function and we immediately told them that it is not such a good idea as they are very fussy and high headed.
I do not think I want to go there again. 
Ours is a fantastic group and despite Dusit being a dampener, we girls had a great time as you can see from the pictures and none of the credit goes to Dusit but to our fun spirit.

What I wore: Maxi- Tarun Tahiliani. Previously worn here.
Heels: Jimmy Choo
Clutch: Burberry
Shades: Dior