Many clients complain to me that they exercise vigorously with a trainer for an hour, do not indulge in sweets or fried foods and are still unable to shed any weight.Sounds unlikely that someone who works out so hard cannot lose weight, doesn’t it? It is not the one hour of exercise that counts as much as the remaining 23 hours of inactivity. With all modern amenities and household help to clean and cook, there is no need to budge from your chair. The watchman brings up your shopping bags, the local kirana grocer delivers your provisions, and your dhobi washes and irons your clothes. You work, read, go online, have coffees with friends, and sit at your work desk complaining that losing weight is so difficult.
Whether it is one hour in the gym or 30 minutes of brisk walking, exercise routines are great and should definitely be continued. However, if weight loss or even weight maintenance is your goal then you need to fit in more activity through the day and do something that will make you burn calories and rev your metabolism.
This will not automatically happen – you have to think about it, plan it and practice it, especially if you are used to a sedentary lifestyle. The following are examples of some people make that extra effort to stay active.(names have been changed)
Do household chores – Seema Shah’s maid quit and she could not find one for nearly a month. During that month she was doing most of the cleaning herself and lost 3 kilos. She had been trying to lose weight with no success for over 4 years. Now, one year later she has maintained the weight loss. Seema gives her new maid once a week off and she continues to do the housework on that day. She also has no problems with keeping maids—the weekly off is a great perk. You work to afford certain luxuries and one of those luxuries is household help – help that will clean your home, cook your food and look after your children. Keep in mind though that health is something money cannot buy and it is something you have to work hard at preserving – in every way possible. I am not advocating sweeping and swabbing every day or firing your household help, but pick something you can do such as folding and putting away clothes, cleaning cupboards, clearing the dining table – do it once or twice a week but make a conscious effort to keep moving and not only will you get some activity but your house will be cleaner and as well! If your maid does not show up do not get hassled, use it as opportunity to burn calories instead. If the doorbell rings, get up and answer it. If you forgot your socks upstairs go and get them — do not send someone else to get them. If your roommate needs something, offer to get it.
Take the stairs – advice I have been giving my clients for years and advice you’ve heard before but now you understand why it is so important. If you live on higher floors, consider yourself lucky — you can get a natural workout(it is great for the legs). My client Jyothi Bhide sends up the shopping bags with her watchman and takes the stairs at least 2-3 times a day and she lives on the 7th floor! Same goes for the workplace. At lunchtime, climb up a few flights of stairs. Perspiration can be managed with some good anti-perspirant – any other excuses?
Walking – I know our streets are not conducive to walking, but do it anyway. You need not walk far, but walk often, and throughout the day. Walk to the corner store to get milk; do not send your driver or watchman. Walk your child to school, walk to do your shopping or to visit a friend. Get up from your desk and take a five minute walk around the house or office every hour. One well known doctor I know walks on crowded Karve Road every morning and evening to and from his hospital. He says it keeps him fit and relaxes him before he goes for morning surgeries.
Walk the Pets/Play with Kids – My friend Meenal is a busy doctor but finds time to take her dogs for a climb up the Vetal Tekdi every afternoon without fail. She does exercise regularly in the mornings but the active afternoons refresh her for the evening OPD – and she maintains her weight quite well. Moms of kids– if you have a nanny, give her a break every now and then and run with your kids. Moms of older kids are through chasing after kids but need to stay in shape even more as they are getting older. Get a hobby to keep you active, make an extra effort not to sit too much. A couple of parents I know take their kids up on treks every weekend – a great way to stay active for the entire family.
Cook – I enjoy cooking every evening. It gets me off the computer and doing something I enjoy. If I need some special ingredients I walk to the local store and buy them. The whole process of cooking and shopping usually takes me an hour and half on average, and forces me to get up from my computer. Being on your feet, cutting, mixing and cooking for an hour may not seem like much movement but it is better I am not sitting for that one hour. Doing something productive and creative many times go hand in hand with being active. So find and an activity that will get you up from sitting in front of a screen or book and just keep moving.
Published in Pune Mirror, May 30, 2011