Is Fitness All About Workout? No, Says SHEROES Champion
Our Ask Me Anything session are all the rage right now. They are the sessions happening periodically on SHEROES where community-specific live interactive sessions take place. We get industry experts like doctors, nutritionists, writers and start-up founders to answer queries of women from the communities in real time. Expert opinion, specific to your needs in the comfort of your homes, is now just a click away!
In one such Ask Me Anything session held in February, Shivani Ranganathan our nutrition champion, went all out to answer all the questions posed by our community members about health and fitness. To find out the specifics read on.
Weight issues stick with most of us our entire adult lives.
Whether it’s a relative telling us,
“Beta thode healthy lag rahe ho iss baar”
Simply the weighing machine always being 5 kgs off the right weight.
The struggle is real my friends. However, our weight issues are not homogenous and therefore a general solution doesn’t work for us. Here is where our nutrition expert, Shivani Ranganathan comes in and specifically tells us what needs to be done to help us resolve our issues.
There are some definite medical issues that make getting into the desired shape much more difficult than it already is. There are also lifestyle choices which may make our platter limited and affect our dietary choices.
Thyroid Related Weight Gain
It is harder to lose weight with hypothyroidism but still very much possible! Ms Ranganathan suggests noting what you eat for a few days. Rebalance your plate to add more veggies & protein and reduce carbs. Aim for two fists of veggies and 1 fist of protein at every meal. Drink a glass of water before a meal. “We find this always works”, she says.
The main challenge for you is likely to be getting enough protein. While lentils and legumes have some protein, they are surprisingly high in carbohydrates as well. Try using soya beans, as it is one of the legumes with the highest protein. Also, vegans usually need supplementation of some specific vitamins which are only found in food from animal sources, like vitamin B12. Also, take a vitamin D test to check your levels - often, many people are deficient in this vital vitamin D. You may need either more supplementation or get more time in the sun!
For a diabetic, it is important that the carbs are complex (low GI) carbs, like oats, whole grains, and millets. They will increase the amount of time taken to break down and will release the glucose slower into the bloodstream.
After Having A Baby
She suggests taking it easy, especially if one is breastfeeding, which needs more calories than normal. Take the advice of your doctor after which you can start doing some basic exercises. Eat healthy foods and avoid fried foods and too much sugar.
Shivani also suggests some basic activities we should incorporate in our life when aiming for weight loss.
“You need to get enough vegetables and protein and lesser carbohydrates (from rice, roti, potatoes etc). Also, avoid sugar and fried foods. Do some activity every day, at least a walk for 1 hour or some sport or yoga. Sleep at least 7-8 hours and drink at least 2 litres of water every day.”
While a good diet has a very important role to play in our overall well-being, exercise plays an important role too. Exercise becomes important in maintaining muscle mass and sustaining the weight loss that is achieved with our tears and sweat!
Breathing technique is very important during working out. Shivani Ranganathan tells us that while running, we should try to breathe steadily and through our nose, with our mouth closed, much unlike when we pant, gasping for breath while jogging. While lifting weights too, the exhalation is to be done when we lift (i.e. away from gravity), she says.
Yoga has its own science where we focus on breathing with great precision too. Laying a lot of emphasis on breathing she recommends not using heavy weights until we get our breathing technique right while doing bodyweight exercise!
We have been asked if lifting weights is better than cardio at the gym for weight loss. NEITHER helps with weight loss, she clarifies.
Shivani goes on to elaborate,
However this entire struggle of being in perfect shape is difficult and first and foremost we need to accept our body type.
You may be top heavy or bottom heavy, too busty or not busty at all, we have a body type and we must, MUST accept it and appreciate it as it is! It is a blessing to have a healthy body in the first place and in an effort to fit a body type we often morph our eating practices, ending up with various nutritional deficiencies. As a society, we need to stop commenting on anybody’s body. Unsolicited advice is absolutely unwelcome.
Fitness and thinness are two completely different things
Fitness is a long term lifestyle commitment to oneself to nurture and take care of our body. While thinness brings us a lot of appreciation from peers, fitness will give us a healthy mind and body, which gives us the space to explore our potential. While thinness is a social concept, which we are conditioned to feel good about, fitness is what our body demands in order to have an energetic and healthy life. Hence our end goal should always be fitness because that is what is going to benefit us right now and in the long term.
Shivani Ranganathan also gives us a small benchmark to measure our fitness. She says, “As a benchmark for women you are in good physical shape if you can do 3-5 push-ups hang from an overhead bar for 30 seconds+, do 50+ bodyweight squats (no weights) in good form at a stretch, run a 5k in under 30mins. One level up is to have 1 pullup which is a hard thing to achieve.” Yes please calculate which of these you can do, as I, just did!
We also don’t need to eat exotic and overpriced vegetables like broccoli and bell peppers to get our nutrients, just the way we don’t need oats and breakfast cereals to be fit.
Our age-old eating habits are suited to our climate, terrain and body type. Such a culture of having exotic goods like olive oil and denouncing of all Indian practices like consuming ghee, eating rice etc. are neither in our health’s best interest nor our farmer’s. It is important that we do our research before changing our practices and make long term and sustainable alterations.
Get back to your roots. That is where your secret lies and this is how you can think of achieving a healthy body, mind and soul. Stay tuned to our Health community for more health tips which normal women like you and I can follow in our normal, busy lives.
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M*****Nice article. Thanks for the information. Could you give some tips for dealing with hypothyroidism and consequent weight gain?