Journey to Weight Loss and Fitness (Part-5): Sugar and You

Say no to the added sugar –

There is science, and there are gimmicks. The choice is entirely yours. If you are serious about weight loss, you must understand metabolism, diet, and nutrition.No serious effort of losing weight will count, if you do not give up on the added sugar. Sugar in either form- sucrose or fructose, if not found naturally in your food, then it’s not for us. Fructose, that is used commercially as added sugar is dangerous to your liver, pancreatic and heart health. So avoid it. Cultivate a taste for coffee and tea and not of the added sugar that goes in it. Quit it completely, not even one cube, not even in the cookies or biscuits, and definitely not in the chocolates. Studies say that if you completely quit all products with added sugar, you lose two to four pounds a month. I lost nineteen pounds in five months. Once, I hit a plateau then I started doing serious cardio and diet modifications to lose further 45 pounds but that is for the later. Weight loss by quitting added sugar is the lowest hanging fruit. Go get it guys.

My Experiences-

Now, before counting examples of healthy sugars, and Mr. X who eats sugar yet he is so athletic, please see the context. I have taken care to prefix ‘added’ before sugar. I should have perhaps also used words like ‘processed’ and ‘refined’.The suggestion here is not for high endurance athletes but to an obese person who has a sedentary lifestyle, as it was the case with me. So, what is the first thing that I could have removed from my diet- refined added sugar and excess salt. How do I do it? I stopped adding sugar to my coffee, avoid products like chocolate, cookies, biscuits, aerated drinks etc. It has been 26months, I still do not consume foods with processed sugar, and I do not crave for it. Why do I ask for its removal from the diet- because, for a person with a slow metabolism, the excess sugar turns into visceral fat, which is deposited over the organs, causing metabolic syndrome and its consequences. Moreover, if you are into calorie counting, you would like to have food with calorie and nutrition, and not the junk calories sans any other nutrition. Everyone will have to find what he or she is comfortable with. I enjoy my food without added processed sugar, and it has helped me in losing weight. Yes, you can give yourself occasional cheat treats, but you must know what you are taking inside your body. About fructose -it is a commercial sweetener and known to be one of the leading causes of NAFLD.

 And I rest My Case Now-

If you are overweight, and you manage to lose 10 percent of your body weight, your metabolism starts changing your parameters in many ways. For example, reduction in hypertension, blood glucose levels, and as it happened with me reversal of NAFLD or even Fibrosis. I am planning to share my experiences and knowledge, about physiology facts, like calorie intake, nutrition, sleep cycle, genetic predisposition, HIIT. i.e. high-intensity interval training, and of course the motivation, psychological, and motivational part of it. We have been told myths like fat are bad and added sugar and excess salt is ok, no, it is not.

…….to be continued.

(Forced by the inevitability of the health reasons, the author of this series of blogs lost twenty-eight Kgs of excess body weight in six months, and attained a superior level of fitness. This series is an attempt to share the experience and whatever knowledge he had gained during this process. Please feel free to write, in either the comments section or mail at bastavarzumi@gmail.com, for any advice on exercises, diets, and daily routine. I will try to share my own experience to the best of my knowledge. Always remember that you feel so much better, physically and psychologically, when your BMI is 23 (my present BMI) than it is 34 (when I was obese). Achieving fitness and weight loss is possible and doable. You just need to make a start. The author plans to write on various diets, exercise regimes, problems of adjusting exercise in the daily routine, modifying diet with minimum change to your dietary habits, various ideas for sticking to the diet, understanding the roles of various micro and macro nutrients for your health, fitness and weight loss, and so on.)

Advertisements

The Heroes of Rezang La : Veer Ahirs whose gallantry dwarves even that of the Spartans of the ‘300’ fame


“When Rezang La was later revisited dead jawans were found in the trenches still holding on to their weapons… every single man of this company was found dead in his trench with several bullet or splinter wounds. The 2-inch mortar man died with a bomb still in his hand. The medical orderly had a syringe and bandage in his hands when the Chinese bullet hit him… Of the thousand mortar bombs with the defenders, all but seven had been fired and the rest were ready to be fired when the (mortar) section was overrun.”.

               — Major-General Ian Cardozo, in his book ‘Param Vir, Our Heroes In Battle’ about the supreme sacrifice made by the Ahir Company( 13th Kumaon) of the Kumaon Regiment, led by Major Shaitan Singh, in the battle of Rezang La.

Out of the hundred and twenty brave hearts of the Ahir company of the Kumaun regiment, only six survived, and those too were heavily injured. It was the true battle till the last man and till the last bullet. The battle of Rezang La was fought in the extreme cold temperature at an altitude of over five thousands meters from sea level and when faced with extreme odds. The hundred and twenty brave hearts, led by Major Shaitan Singh Bhati, PVC entrenched themselves in a mountain pass of one kilometer by one kilometer. The enemy, already buoyant by easy victory in the eastern NEFA sector, arrived in a number which was no less than four thousand by conservative estimates. They were armed with automatic rifles, grenade launchers, and had artillery support, as compared to three LMGs and bolt action rifles held by these hundred and twenty hardy Ahirs of the Ahirwal region of South Haryana. But these braves didn’t blink and waves after waves of the enemy were killed in the heaps. The enemy counted their deads in thousands and tried to encircle their positions.
The battle finally came to hand to hand fighting. The Ahirs used their bayonets with ferocity, and when these got stuck in the heavy woolens of the Chinese, they had their tough farming hands and the mountain rocks to break open enemy’s skulls. One ex-wrestler soldier killed more than two dozen enemies with his bare hands before being shot in the head. Even the Chinese saluted this dead hero and put his helmet on his chest.
Eventually, all were dead, except for the six grievously injured. The CO dispatched his radio operator to take the message to Brigadier Raina, who initially didn’t believe that these hundred twenty had dispatched thousands of the Chinese to the heaven, if there was one for the non believer Chinese.
Major Bhati fought till his last breath and the great son of Rajputana died a hero’s death, along with the hundred fourteen of his Ahir soldiers. When their bodies were found, still holding the grenades and rifle butts, the heavens cried, and so did Brigadier Raina, and a nation that was still in shock. But, it disheartened the Chinese when they counted their deads, and the Laddakh was saved. More importantly, the nation got back it’s courage and the pride.
Why didn’t they leave their post even when asked for it by the headquarters? The enemy strength was overwhelming, and the mere hundred twenty men, ill equipped in terms of dressing, weapons and backup couldn’t be expected to hold thousands of the heavily armed enemy for long. A complete annihilation was a matter of time, but they still chose to fight till the last man, and the last bullet. Why?
They fought because they followed what their Lord, their ancestor, Lord Krishna had to say about a righteous war. They fought as fighting was their dharma as warriors. The slogans of Radha-Kishan ki jai, and Banshi wale ki jai will keep reverberating in this remote valley of Laddakh for eternity.
On the anniversary of this great battle, on November 18th, an indebted nation salutes these brave sons of the soil.

Journey to Weight Loss and Fitness (Part-4): Forming Habits

Three kilometers!” The Soul reacted as if given a heavy dose of electric shock, “Na, It’s not possible. This fat man is no athlete. He’ll die if you make him run three kilometers.”

“He will be fine. Let him run at his own pace.” The Mind replied, “He will put on good running shoes, kneecaps, carry a bottle of water, and will be happy at the end of it.”

The mind talked about increasing metabolism, and how good and simple running is as an aerobic activity. And so the soul agreed, and thus it began next day, an activity in my life, that would continue on and off for months continuously.

It was not easy, far from it. However, it was not herculean either. But, the best part was the elation and positivity that I felt after completing it.

So now, I had running and climbing the stairs as an integral part of my daily routine.

It was good that you pushed him for it,” the Soul finally thanked the Mind for it. But, the Mind in place of acknowledging it, started talking something else, “Even if he can’t run, he must take at least ten thousand steps a day.”

“Oh I know it, but it is difficult to make a count,” the Soul, as usual, was counting difficulties.

“Not in today’s times, with lots of health apps and smartwatches,” the Mind dismissed the objections, “And one more thing–”

“What now?”

“He must leave sugar,” the Mind said, “ In all forms- glucose, fructose, sucrose etc etc.”

“Oh no!” The Soul screamed in horror, “What will happen to the soul foods that I need?”

“Don’t throw tantrums,” the Mind scolded the Soul, “If he leaves processed sugar, he’ll lose up to 1.5 Kg a month.”

“You can’t be serious,” the Soul questioned.

“Yes, I am,” was the answer.

                                                                                                      …….to be continued.

(Forced by the inevitability of the health reasons, the author of this series of blogs lost twenty-eight Kgs of excess body weight in six months, and attained a superior level of fitness. This series is an attempt to share the experience and whatever knowledge he had gained during this process. Please feel free to write, in either the comments section or mail at bastavarzumi@gmail.com, for any advice on exercises, diets, and daily routine. I will try to share my own experience to the best of my knowledge. Always remember that you feel so much better, physically and psychologically, when your BMI is 23 (my present BMI) than it is 34 (when I was obese). Achieving fitness and weight loss is possible and doable. You just need to make a start. The author plans to write on various diets, exercise regimes, problems of adjusting exercise in the daily routine, modifying diet with minimum change to your dietary habits, various ideas for sticking to the diet, understanding the roles of various micro and macro nutrients for your health, fitness and weight loss, and so on.)

Journey to Weight Loss and Fitness (Part-3): Climbing up the Fitness Path

“Five floors!” The soul was still not convinced, but gave in to Mind’s ‘better judgment’. “Let’s see,” she sighed as the time arrived to put the first step on the stairs.

The first two floors went past like a breeze, but the third proved difficult, and the fourth almost impossible. I was sure that I didn’t have the ‘altitude sickness’ but I was still breathless at a height of twelve meters from the mean sea level.

“It’s not the altitude sickness,” the Mind confirmed.

Then why is he panting like a dog?” The soul protested.

“Because he has no stamina, is overweight and has lots of visceral fat over his organs and in the arteries,” the Mind settled the question.

I gathered courage and started my adventure journey to the fifth floor. Each step taken was like a milestone crossed. The muscles in the thighs and in the hips were burning, and the lungs were spreading to the limit of their elasticity. Drops of sweat had now gathered on the forehead and with gaping mouth and clutching the side railing, I climbed the last step and conquered the peak named ‘the fifth floor’.

Hurrah! What an adventure it was!” My soul was eclectic.

Really?” The mind gave it a belittling look.

The breathlessness soon went away, and the burning in the muscles got subsided, but the sense of achievement remained in the heart. A challenge, no matter how small, has been overcome. And, now it was time for a new one, a little bigger one this time.

“What about a run of three kilometers tomorrow?” The Mind proposed.

                                                                        …….to be continued.

(Forced by the inevitability of the health reasons, the author of this series of blogs lost twenty-eight Kgs of excess body weight in six months, and attained a superior level of fitness. This series is an attempt to share the experience and whatever knowledge he had gained during this process. Please feel free to write, in either the comments section or mail at bastavarzumi@gmail.com, for any advice on exercises, diets, and daily routine. I will try to share my own experience to the best of my knowledge. Always remember that you feel so much better, physically and psychologically, when your BMI is 23 (my present BMI) than it is 34 (when I was obese). Achieving fitness and weight loss is possible and doable. You just need to make a start. The author plans to write on various diets, exercise regimes, problems of adjusting exercise in the daily routine, modifying diet with minimum change to your dietary habits, various ideas for sticking to the diet, understanding the roles of various micro and macro nutrients for your health, fitness and weight loss, and so on.)

Journey to Weight Loss and Fitness (Part-2): Running Away to Fitness

“Start running now before I kick you”, the mind thundered, “run, run, run…”

It was easier to say than do this. There was no stamina to speak off, and every pound of extra weight would put that much more pressure on the wobbling knees. However, a pair of kneecaps was on hand to support the knees.

“No distance is a short distance for a beginning,” the Mind suggested.

Hundred Meters! This was the distance that I covered when I first made the beginning, and yet it felt like an achievement. A mental barrier had been broken, and the physical one was the easier one.

Next day, the distance covered increased to six hundred meters. And, on the third day, I ran a full one kilometer. However, there were consequences. I now knew that there were certain muscles in the thighs and the shins, which had become sore after the run.

I woke up with very stiff legs on the fourth day. Should I still run? My weak procrastinating soul was trying to dissuade.

“Why not? Just do some stretching and get on with today’s running.”  The Mind didn’t yield an inch to the discouraging soul, “And yes, from today onwards, you have to take stairs, no matter how many floors you have to climb.”

“Are you in your f****** mind?” The Soul protested, “This poor guy lives on the tenth floor.”

“Five floors then–,” Mind conceded, “He would take stairs for the first five floors before taking the elevator.”

                                                                                             ……to be continued.

 

(Forced by the inevitability of health reasons, the author of this series of blogs lost twenty-eight Kgs of excess body weight in six months, and attained a superior level of fitness. This series is an attempt to share the experience and whatever knowledge he had gained during this process. Please feel free to write, in either the comments section or mail at bastavarzumi@gmail.com, for any advice on exercises, diets, and daily routine. I will try to share my own experience to the best of my knowledge. Always remember that you feel so much better, physically and psychologically, when your BMI is 23 (my present BMI) than it is 34 (when I was obese). Achieving fitness and weight loss is possible and doable. You just need to make a start. The author plans to write on various diets, exercise regimes, problems of adjusting exercise in the daily routine, modifying diet with minimum change to your dietary habits, various ideas for sticking to the diet, understanding the roles of various micro and macro nutrients for your health, fitness and weight loss, and so on.)

Journey to Weight Loss and Fitness: Getting Started

For a 172 centimeters tall man in his late thirties, being 98 kilograms meant to be well beyond the limit of overweight. I was obese, plain and simple while being overweight by at least twenty four kgs. But, did I worry? No, I didn’t, because I was confident of losing those excess pounds, whenever I would make up my mind about it.

In that elusive moment, I would have put into practice all that I knew about health and wellness. And, I knew a lot. I understood metabolism, nutrition, different regimes of physical training. I was confident because of my knowledge and because I have done all this earlier too. All I had to do was to repeat what I had already done.

I wish life is so simple. It gets complicated in ways you least expect it to be.

“You must reduce it by at least ten percent of your bodyweight.” The super specialist, DM Gastroenterology said without an expression on his face.

He was not expecting anything different from me then he had from his mostly sixty plus other patients. And, a casual look at the waiting area gave me an idea of his expectations.

“It might reverse,” he continued, “it’s all up to you.” I could only manage a silent nod before getting up from the round shiny metal stool.

“You may like to see a dietician.”

“I will,” I replied as I closed the door of the Doctor’s chamber. But I had pledged in my mind not to waste any more time with the diet charts.

***

Motivation is the key. It was my mind telling my depressed soul.

Ok! No negative thoughts, or low self-esteem or the vicious cycle of inactivity and depression. The soul agreed to the mind, for a change.

But then?

Then what? The mind was getting irritated now.

I just wanted to know how to start and when to start? The soul asked in a timid voice.

Good question. What is the first exercise that comes to your mind, the mind roared.

Running.

The soul wished she hadn’t said it.

Running? Who runs in this age of fancy exercises, from Pilates to kickboxing, she thought.

Yes, the soul has its own mind where it thinks independent of the real mind. Anyway, the soul was concerned about ‘the’ Mind’s response.

Why not! It is a good start.

While listening to these encouraging words, the soul lifted itself to a mood of ‘positivity’ and ‘jubilation’. So she asked another question, from tomorrow I think. Ha?

Now! Better start running now before I kick you, Mind thundered, “ run, run run….”

…….to be continued.

The Middle Class Tourism : Munnar and Kochi

In the early days of the internet and Google, all it took was few random searches in the browser to know the reality of a touristy place. But not anymore! The Internet is no longer a neutral place unlike seven to ten years ago. Search after search, you get only the promotional and paid information and articles. More you search, more you get confused. Unless you experience the place by reaching there, you hardly get to know the hidden downsides, and by then it’s too late. You get fleeced, cheated, bored, and have a less than expected experience. I don’t know whether it’ll be helpful or not, but I am going to write a series about the places I have visited across India in last twelve years or so. I’ll try to keep my own prejudices away while writing this series. But, you never know; the preferences often seep in. My experiences are from the perspective of a young couple, a small family with kids, and from a secular, cosmopolitan and culturally tolerant middle-class outlook. The first part is about Kochi and Munnar.

After twice visiting the plantation hills of Munnar, in two different months ( March and November), in 2010 and 2017 respectively, I am in a position to write some meaningful words for the first time visitors to this Kerala hill station, along with some experience sharing about the city of Kochi.

About Munnar

  1. The place is very green, full of tea plantation in higher slopes and coffee and spice plantations on lower slopes where the temperature is little higher. But remember that the tea leaves are bushes and won’t smell like boiled tea. Moreover, they won’t look different than any other garden hedge when you go closer. The beauty lies in the collectivity. Hills after hills of neatly lined and trimmed tea bushes give a garden look to Munnar.
  2. Most of the Munnar is owned by the Tata group which owns most of the tea gardens there and because of this, the resorts and the hotels are far away from each other and are spread around for kilometers from the main small town which is congested, full of fumes and noisy like any other Indian hill town. If you don’t have your own vehicle, getting out of these resorts can be a tricky and pricey problem. I’ll come to it later.
  3. Resorts are generally small but have good views of the hills, valleys and even fountains ( those with fountain views will highlight it on the website). As the land is at a premium, resorts are costly for the services they offer. I have no idea about five-star properties, but even other properties with a good view and decent rooms are not cheap. Expect at least Rs 6000 a day in the season.
  4. Taxis are costly, unionized, and downright fleecing. Taxi union will not let you hire a taxi for a day or on a per kilometer basis. They ask you to choose, half day or full day tours, on one of the three roads ( towards Coimbatore, towards Kochi and towards some other town I don’t recall now), and you’ll get to see the places as per the driver’s wishes. So in short, the taxi union dictates rates, time and even the spots for you ( yeah, you thought right, the commission element is there). And naturally, they avoid going far even on the chosen road to save on the fuel. There are good places to visit but most of them are far away from the town. The taxi driver will show you stupid places like a big beehive, or a crowded elephant ride area full of elephant dung. For going to town, tuk-tuks are cheap but riding in them is slow, noisy and quiet adventures on steep roads.
  5. Few resorts have very bad and steep access roads and need experts drivers and powerful vehicles.
  6. If it rains, the mist spreads in the valley which looks enchanting and beautiful. But, at the same time, it may cause melancholy when the darkness descends in the valley. If you are not a teetotaler, keep a bottle of liquor with you. It will help. Very few resorts have their own bars.
  7. Munnar is all about hills, valleys, greenery, tea and spice gardens, some distant but good tracks. This place doesn’t have any distinct cultural or culinary experience. Surprisingly, in most of the hotels, you’ll get only regular ( or even worse) tea and coffee which is a shame in this tea town.
  8. For families and young couples- Munnar, like most of Kerala, has fewer rowdy characters going around, but you never know.
  9. A rickety auditorium runs decent shows of katthakkali and kaleripayattu. The show is worth the money and time spent.
  10. For medical needs, there is a Tata run hospital which is clean and even has few specialists.
  11. There are various other spots like a dam for motor boat riding, and picture postcard type outdoors. The highest point of Munnar ( where our taxi driver refused to go), some gardens, the coffee and spice plantations etc.
  12. The town as such has nothing much to offer. But, you can buy some touristy stuff and eatables.

Kochi –

  1. The stay options are many, but I preferred two locations- hotels with a clear view of harbour, one KTDC hotel on a small island near the harbour. You can stay near the airport and take taxis to go around. Ola and Uber are allowed in Kochi and this provides big relief.
  2. Fort Kochi beach is not really a beach but just a small crowded piece of land with sand.
  3. The Jewish street has no Jews. All the pale skinned people running shops there are Kashmiris. There is a decent cafe there which shows on the list of tourist brochures. But I have seen it from the outside only.
  4. The synagogue has historical importance, but it is just a big room with old ( perhaps handmade) tiles. There is a museum located in a Travancore kingdom house ( I am not using the word ‘palace’ deliberately).
  5. Cherai beach is wonderful and just 25 km from Kochi. A French gentleman by the name of Andy runs the Chill Out cafe further down the beach where the environment is peaceful, the beach is clean and uncrowded. He doesn’t serve liquor but very good Mediterranean style food.
  6. You can take a boat ride in the harbour and see huge freighters going out of the harbour mouth and sailing in the sunset. Big boats with two decks ply in the harbour. These boats generally have loud music playing in it and may have some not very civil co-passengers. I preferred small boats which can accommodate a small family.
  7. The marine drive Kochi is a walkway with lots of hawkers.
  8. Backwater starts from Kochi and even boat rides are available for the city tour. I hadn’t availed them so can’t really comment.
  9. Backwater tours at Aleppy, for the half day, start at 11 am and the boats return by 5pm. In the humid Kochi weather, it can give a headache in a non-ac boat so try not to get exposed to the afternoon sun.

I hope this information will prove handy. But, every traveller is different. For queries, leave a question in the comments section.

My Two Cents –

Munnar is green, beautiful, clean and looks exotic when the mist surrounds it. But, it is commercialized and overpriced, at least in the season. But you’ll be disappointed if you are looking for things like a distinct cuisine, distinct culture or architecture. Kochi, on the other hand, is huge, clean, and commercial and has some places to visit which are hardly two hours’ drive from the city. I did not get time to explore few of the famous eating-places there. I hope someone will add his experience about this. To really explore the city, drive on the narrow country roads around the city, and you’ll see backwater, river, paddy fields, Chinese nets, and some not so famous but equally good beaches. The people are generally friendly, polite and educated.

kochi