Walk for better health

set your own pace  If you can’t hit the gym every day, you can still do the 30-minute walk in three episodes of 10 minutes each. PIC GETTY IMAGESYou are piling on the kilos, your doctor has told you to check your blood sugar often and your cholesterol is not something you care to discuss. Of course, you can ignore the signs by attributing them to stress or you can get your act together.

When we hear the word ‘exercise’, most of us groan, and when fitness conscious folk extol the benefits of a brisk 30-minute morning walk, we prefer to do our walking indoors — from the television to the fridge to grab a snack and a bottle of beer!

Walk the talk

Take heart. You can do the 30-minute walk in three episodes of 10 minutes each. And, if it makes you feel any better, take into account all other kinds of walking you do. For instance, if you take the bus to work, the walk to and from the bus stop counts. If you take a taxi or an auto, ask to be dropped a few metres away from your office. Do this on your way back too and you’d have chalked 20 minutes. If you drive to work, try to park as far as possible from your destination.  And instead of grumbling about having to walk to your car, laden with your laptop or shopping bags, try to walk a little faster and make a virtue out of necessity.

Sacrifice the convenience of the mobile phone and email when you want to communicate with a colleague down the hall. Instead, walk up to him and hand a note. Soon you will be walking over to all your colleagues’ workstations just to hear them ask you the secret of your weight loss!

Making a resolution to watch your weight, is, however not enough to make you actually shed the flab.  If you are going to eat the food that is offered at meetings or at business lunches, your chances of losing weight are — for lack of a better word — slim! Just before heading out to your business lunch, eat a banana or an apple, a handful of nuts or a small portion of yogurt (dahi.)  Carry your water bottle with you as it is guaranteed to keep you from reaching out for the food on offer.

Eat wisely and well

Never ever skip breakfast.  This is the most important meal of the day.  If you skip breakfast you are giving your body a signal that it can go into starvation mode and store fat.  Rather than help you lose weight, this slows your metabolism and causes weight gain. A word of caution though; the operative word here is “healthy.” If you eat high calorie food and tell yourself that you have eaten a hearty breakfast, you are courting disaster.  Fortunately, we live in a country where healthy breakfast options are limitless. Vegetable upma, poha, chappatis with dal, idli-sambar, sprouted chana, omelette with egg whites, toast with peanut butter are some healthy choices. Oats with skim milk or buttermilk is great for a high fibre, low glycemic index breakfast.

Any dietician will be able to give you sensible choices, and there are many good cookbooks in the market to help you along. The internet is also a good place to find recipes.

For those of you who go out to work, the best lunch is the one you pack for yourself because you have control over what goes into it.  However, if eating outside is inevitable, you can start by ordering wisely. For instance, order a clear soup instead of a creamy one and go easy on the portion sizes in buffets. Always carry a small packet of nuts or a fruit. Keep this stash hidden — not from co-workers but from yourself — to avoid absent-minded munching.

Cheeni kum

Keep a strict watch on those cups of hot, sweet tea that you guzzle during the day, and try to gradually cut down your intake. The best alternative is to replace coffee or tea with water. If you must take a chai break, drink black, green or herbal tea with a dash of lime.  And, if you’ve got into the habit of ordering creamy latte or frappuccino, all I can suggest is for you to ask for your latte with skim milk!

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