This is perhaps the most oft repeated request to me. It’s strange because a couple of years ago, it was me who was on the other side of this question. I was frustrated with the quest for weight loss…I would look with longing at clothes which I was convinced I would never be able to wear. When I first started to workout, I felt that the more I sweat, the more weight I was losing. I thought punishing routines were an indication that I was serious about weight loss. I would put in an all nighter and still get up early for my workout. I would lust after chocolate and loath myself for it. Of course I lost weight. I blogged about it a couple of months ago here.
But I wish I’d known how to make the process worthwhile. I wish someone had told me that losing weight is about become stronger and more agile, and not about fitting into size 28 Levis. I wish someone had told me that it was about indulging once in a while instead of hating yourself for wanting to gobble down kgs upon kgs of chocolate. I wish someone had told me that losing weight doesn’t have to be hard, that it’s actually quite easy. But I remember how each kilo was tortuous, after all, it quite literally demanded a pound of flesh.
There’s been a paradigm shift in my approach to fitness in the last couple of years. I moved away from obsession about weight to interest in holistic health. I don’t own a weighing machine, and I stopped weighing myself a while ago. In line with my interest in constantly improving my health, I recently tweaked my lifestyle a little bit to see if it would affect my fitness levels. I’ve been living with those changes for the last 3 weeks, and on an impulse I weighed myself yesterday. I’ve lost a kg. Without intending to and without wanting to. And it was easy. I made very very little changes, nothing drastic.
Below are the changes I incorporated into my lifestyle. These changes are simple. You can make them too. And instead of leaving “Some yoga tips plz for weightloss” on my page, you can leave your weight loss success story.
- I’ve started waking up at 5 am, when it’s still dark and quiet outside. As the sun comes up, the birds start to sing. This period of watching the world wake up is strangely calming. Research has shown that if you tune your body clock to the earth’s natural cycle, your circadian rhythm (natural life rhythm) and nature’s rhythm are in harmony and this helps to balance you.
- To wake up at 5 am I’m in bed by 9.30 pm. In fact, I’m usually reading in bed by 9 pm. Regularly. So in the past three weeks I’ve clocked about 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Our bodies are meant to follow the sun’s cycles. So when the sun goes down our body processes also start to shut down (metabolism, alertness etc.). To force your body to eat and drink, watch TV and deal with the harsh light emanating from the laptop post sundown is against the way nature intended the body to be. Also, deep sleep is when your muscles relax and recuperate and when your body is completely at rest. Adequate rest is an important part of weight loss…so go to bed!
- I’ve started having dinner between 7.30-8 pm. Twice a week I have a class which ends at 8 pm. I decided to pack my dinner and eat it during the ride home. Bangaloreans know that patience is the only way to deal with the crazy traffic. There are two 10 minute signals on my drive home. I manage my dinner these two lights. I know, not the ideal situation. And many health care books and articles wax eloquent about how you should eat your dinner sitting down and having peaceful thoughts. After spending innumerable days fretting about not having dinner in the ideal setting, I realized that I would much rather eat my dinner in the car than push my routine back by at least half an hour and risk a sleep deficit. Basically, I was ok with eating my dinner in the car, than giving up on my sleep.
- I’ve quit whatever little alcohol I used to have. I’m not much of a drinker (I used to be long long long ago when I partied 4 times a week). But drinking with my friends usually meant late nights. I would say that quitting alcohol had a dual effect. It reduced my late nights allowing me to sleep more, and of course, fewer empty calories going into my system.
- I’ve replaced artificial sugars with natural ones. (I even quit dessert!) I made a point of eating more fruit. I’m lucky that papaya, watermelon and mangoes are in season. Remember that the changes I made weren’t absolute. So if I feel like having chocolate I go ahead and have it. But interestingly enough, I didn’t crave chocolate (which is the only kind of sugar I really crave). I do allow myself two teaspoons of sugar (preferably brown) in my morning coffee.
- I’ve stopped my evening coffee. I noticed a marked improvement in my quality of sleep. Instead I started having green tea with all the goodness of honey, cinnamon and lemon!
- I avoid carbs for dinner. So basically no rice or roti. Just have dal and sabji.
- I have a banana post my yoga session, and if I have time, then before yoga as well.
- I switch off my laptop and don’t watching TV in the evenings. Instead I read a book.
- I’ve added an extra workout day to my week. Before I used to practice only 5 days a week. Now I practice 6 days a week, and swim on Sundays. I’m learning how to swim, so for me it doesn’t qualify as a workout yet. Do I escape the heat and relax in the pool on Sundays.
In the last few weeks I’ve noticed that I feel more energetic and I don’t get tired very easily. I believe this is a better indicator of my fitness levels than the 1 kg that I’ve lost. As I said before, these are extremely simple changes that I believe everyone can make in their lives. Try it for at least a month and see how different you feel.