Dear os.me family,
Today I am sharing a few fitness tips which helped me stay in shape consistently over last 2+ years. I was a very sedentary person never used to sports, physical activity or exercise till late thirties. I was never visibly obese, nor had any physical illness. But my BMI was above upper limit, I used to feel very fatigued by evening and my muscle strength was gradually weakening.
When COVID struck in early 2020, I got a break from the routine schedule of work and family, and my work time reduced to half. It was a time when there was lot of information available on importance of maintenance of health and fitness. We saw obese people were among those who suffered worst with COVID. As a result, my husband and me started caring about fitness and researched a lot on practical ways to keep fit , in the middle of a busy work and family time.
I am summarizing the key points which helped me a lot to lose weight and more importantly maintain that and improve muscle strength over last 2 years. I can’t deny the energy I feel even at late night after a full day of work and taking care of children, the secret of which is only “exercise and proper nutrition”.
3 key areas which helped me are these.
1. Regular exercise with special focus on strength training
Make sure you exercise 20-30mts per day minimum 5 days a week.
If you don’t have time for 30 mts at a stretch , split into 10-15mts in morning and evening each ( I found this very effective for busy days and you won’t feel regret in evening that you skipped exercise).
Exercise in fasted state (like morning, before breakfast) gives more advantage for weight loss. Also 10-15 mts light exercise after meals gives extra benefit in maintenance of weight.
Mix different types of exercise like 2 days each of cardio, strength training and yoga.
Strength training is my favourite. If you have time and resources, go to a gym or keep your trainer. You can master fitness without any of these too. For beginners , buy a pair of 5 kg dumbbells or 8 kg kettlebell. Start slow and go steady, with the help of any of the million online videos available. My favourite trainer is Amy Shemper Kiser. She is a 40 year old mother of two (just like me). She gives a lot of free content or you can join her group for personal guidance. Her method is not too hard on beginners. You can go up intensity with time as you feel comfortable. You have to push your selves, but never be too hard on yourselves.
You will begin to notice amazing changes on your body , your self esteem and your stamina . I could not lift above 2 kg when I began. By one year of so after starting regular strengthtraining, I surprised a worker who came to our apartment by lifting a 20kg + ladder for helping him, all by myself! And my husband couldn’t stop laughing.
So, the highlight in physical exercise, I believe, should be strength training, especially for ladies. Not to ignore cardio and yoga for flexibility.
2. Intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is not a diet, but just fixing a time frame when you can eat. It can vary from 8 hrs of eating and 16 hrs of fasting or 12 hrs of fasting and 12 hrs of eating. I have chosen 12 :12 period and got excellent result. You can have black coffee or black tea without sugar in fasting period to keep going. Best part of intermittent fasting for me , is that I can save a lot of time by not having to cook an elaborate breakfast.
Read about intermittent fasting from here. https://jamesclear.com/the-beginners-guide-to-intermittent-fasting
You will be surprised to learn that intermittent fasting even helps to increase your lifespan!
3.Proper nutrition-highlight is adequate protein intake
You need around 1g/kg of protein ie 60g for 60kg body weight. If you are a vegetarian who eat usual Indian breakfast and lunch /dinner with rice/roti, dal , veggies, your protein intake is going to be much less than optimum .Do calculate your protein intake on any calorie tracker app like healthifyme. My average protein intake was around 35g probably for many years! So, you need to add protein mindfully in your diet, by adding protein supplements ( whey or soy protein based) or increase protein rich food like eggs/ chicken/ soya bean or paneer . You need to atleast once or twice calculate your protein intake with help of a dietician or any available apps to make sure that you are taking optimum amount.
Don’t forget to maintain a low carbohydrate diet. There is no easy way out , but you have to avoid sweets and high carb food to remain fit , though occasional indulgence is allowed.
Many of us are deficient in iron ,vitamin B12 and vitamin D. (I was, when I checked by doing a blood test). It is always better to check your blood levels of these nutrients and take supplements as per requirement.
Once you optimise your diet, you will feel significant boost in your energy levels .
To summarise, my 3 pronged approach for fitness included regular exercise (highlight- strength training), intermittent fasting, and optimum diet ( highlight- adequate protein intake). It transformed me from being fatigued and overweight , to being happy , energetic more powerful. Not to mention, my physical fitness journey triggered my spiritual journey 🙏.
I managed do do it at home without going to gym or keeping a trainer and continue to do it in the middle of a pretty busy schedule of work and family.
Do try it out and let me know if any of you find this useful 🙂
Jai Shri Hari.