Monday, February 11, 2013

Getting back to fitness: Week 1

Last 3 months have been the longest break I have taken from my workouts since 2009. And thanks to my extreme sickness and medications, I struggle with even 5 lunges today. But what seemed like an even bigger shock is it is SO MUCH harder to start from scratch. Hmm..

Now I start to wind down within 5 mins of anything that is cardio intensive (I mean 3 mile sprints were a breeze before so it is very demoralizing for me now). This is so so so hard. Now I get it why people who have never worked out their entire lives shudder at the thought of it.

So I thought why not make it simple and responsible by journaling some of the progressive routines I will be using to gain back all the muscle and stamina I have lost.

Firstly, we need to focus on getting the basics right before starting the routines. This is essential because most of us have very little understanding of the basics of fitness and tend to ignore them. To ease into a fitness regimen it is important to first take care of basics and then build from there (aka everyday diet and well-being). I have skipped many of them owing to my illness but no more excuses. So here goes:

- Drinking plenty of water. I almost always don't do this. Your energy dips when you don't consume enough water. Sometimes when I get a slight headache or I am stressed out, all I do is drink some water. It really helps. Plus, water is the most natural way to flush toxins. The reason we need to drink more water is to get rid of excess sodium or toxics in our body.

- Taking care of your spine.  This is another thing I tend to ignore. Owing to long hours near laptop or other gadgets, it is not just your eyes but your spine that will hurt. It is the single most important part of your body. It is very very important to maintain a good posture, regardless of whether you are standing or sitting. Worthwhile to practice sitting straight without back support for few minutes each day like the meditation/pranayama pose. Even better if you can do some back stretches and yoga routines every day for few minutes. You can fix anything in life, except for a damaged spine.

- Getting adequate stress-free sleep.  I have been really erratic with my sleep schedule. This is in fact the simplest lifestyle change and yet so tough to stick to, given our "busy" lives. 7 hours on an average is said to be best duration. But things to note are: to keep away from gadgets before sleeping, ease into sleeping i.e relax and clear your mind of troubles, put away lights that might interfere with your sleeping. My bedroom windows face street lights, so it is very annoying. I will need to fix this by getting thicker curtains.

- Getting adequate Vitamin D. Believe it or not! We don't get enough Vitamin D anymore. Yeah, I know that is ridiculous right? Tell me how much time you spend out in the sun these days? Rarely. I don't even see people taking a walk. Half our lives are led in air conditioned rooms and cars. A little sun exposure is all we need.

- Keeping active.  Don't sit for too long. Get up even if it is for 2-3 mins once every hour. This will help in the blood circulation and you will feel less sluggish. (In fact, I opted for a standing desk at work last year and it really kept me fit and nimble.) Always take stairs! This is one of the most natural ways to rev up your metabolism anytime anywhere. Apart from that of course, you should aim for intensive cardio routines for a minimum of 20-30 mins, atleast 3-4 times a week if not everyday. I will talk about them in my later posts. 

- Eating a well balanced diet. Please don't starve! Rules of a good diet are simple - aim for multiple colors in your food selection. A few greens, reds, yellows. You get the point. Keep away as much as possible from processed foods - fried food, soda, cakes etc. Try to reduce sugar/salt intake in your foods. Don't drastically cut them - you will have a rebound! Instead try to reduce a bit at a time. If your body is used to a certain kind of carbs, you don't have to replace them completely - you will get fatigued. For eg: I am a big fan of rice. I eat generous amounts of rice everyday. Instead of cutting rice completely from my diet, I try not to eat rice for dinner most of the days. This is my way of controlling rice intake. You can also substitute with brown rice, but I really don't care. You should almost always eat what you like, just keep an eye on portion control that's it.

- Practicing to breathe. I have NEVER done this. And sincerely, I always turned myself away from mindfulness or meditative practices. This is definitely a very new thing for me. So I am not going to advice on this like I know it; because I don't. So I am going to start with a 5 min meditation everyday and go from there. Let's see how this goes. 

So anyway, this week my aim is to get back to habit with the above and include some easy stretching routines (my next post). Hopefully this helps you all.

"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. --Jim Ryuh"

PS: I can tell you how hard it was being sick and miserable for more than a month. I have learnt the hard way that good health is the greatest gift from God and I am definitely taking care of it and being grateful for it, from now on. 

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