The inspiration to write this article is regular queries I get from friends and family on how to reduce weight and maintain physical fitness. So, let’s start with a recent one.
Few days back, one of my friends called me. After few niceties, he asked me about some food supplements for weight loss that were recommended to him by someone who supposedly got positive results of these supplements. This friend is more than 6 ft tall and weighing approx. 115 kg. I have known him for last 12 years and since then he has been trying to reduce the weight, but couldn’t. Perhaps due to laziness, lack of will, inconsistency and habits of smoking, drinking and unmindful eating. However, whenever we meet or talk over the phone, for good time he discusses with me about his weight and how to reduce it. I told him not to use such supplements, as body does not need them, what body needs is proper routine with healthy lifestyle and healthy food and weight loss will be incidental. Initially a strict workout regime is important with consistency and patience and don’t lose hope. It will take some time, but everything will fall in line, if you do so.
This has been my experience that along with spiritual health, maintaining physical health is very important. In fact, a sound physical health and fitness help to grow spiritually. At least a physically fit person is able to sit on the floor for long hours and maintain a posture while meditating. As far as I can recall, Om Swami ji has timely emphasised on physical fitness.
Today most of us, especially in urban areas, have such a lifestyle that we are trapped in a circle of daily routine and taking care of physical health and fitness is of the least priority and in some cases it is not at all in the priority list. We take it for granted. And when something happens we tend to go on medication, which seems to be an easy option. This is the general scene all around us. Infact during this COVID too, very few people have become active and are concerned about their health and fitness, that too out of fear, not out of awareness. More people can be seen going for jogging and morning/evening walks, and cycling. Cycling has been taken up so much that manufacturing companies are feeling pressure on their production and supply and low-budget cycles are already out-of-stock in the market. Anyway, production, supply and stock is not the subject matter of this article.
Coming back to another event that I can recall, long back during my graduation days, I took up a part time job of a financial advisor (insurance agent) in a life insurance company. One day I met a person in his early thirties, who was working at a good position in a private company and earning a very good salary. He agreed to take a life insurance policy for a good coverage with a big premium. I was happy for a good commission which was source of my earning in this job. He asked me to do paper work and come next day for his signature. Next day I reached his office, only to know that he had a heart attack last night and passed away. I was shocked. I was sad for him and his family and also sad for loss of my commission (as I was not in the age when I used to give much important to human life, it was just a casual response to life and death). The point here is to make, that the kind of life style we have, it has affected our physical and mental fitness and has created a lot of health issues, which though we want to correct, but do not and are not ready to put sufficient efforts, due to our laziness and egoistic approach. Though such a situation may come to a fittest person too, but unhealthy and unfit person has more chances to get into trap of lifestyle related diseases.
In “The Way of the Sufi”, Idries Shah has written a story or anecdote:
A man went to a doctor and told him that his wife was not bearing children. The physician saw the woman, took her pulse and said: ‘I cannot treat you for sterility because I have discovered that you will in any case die within forty days.’
When she heard this, the woman was so worried that she could eat nothing during these ensuing forty days.
But she did not die at the time predicted.
The husband took the matter up with the doctor, who said: ‘Yes, I knew that. Now she will be fertile.’
The husband asked how this had come about.
The doctor told him: ‘Your wife was too fat and this was interfering with her fertility. I knew that the only thing which would put her off her food would be fear of dying. She is now, therefore, cured.’
Today, obesity is a growing problem and is creating both physical and mental issues. Substantial number of people have diabetes and high/low brood pressure in their thirties or forties. There are mainly two reasons – One, is their spoiled lifestyle and second, their no-to-change attitude. Though they want to be fit, healthy and look good, but want an easy way out. Working out is not everyone’s cup of tea and that too with consistency. There are two excuses – one is lack of time and second is not-to-change-for-others mind set. Actually both are lies to cover up the laziness, which people do not want to accept. Acceptance of the problem is the first step to remove or cure it. If I am not ready to accept my problems, I cannot find a solution and resolve them.
People who say that there is no time, actually have considerable free time but waste it in unnecessary things and leisure. In the morning they like to sleep late and in the night they want to work till late for various reasons, including internet and smart phones. Then again same routine for the next day. In between lazy morning and lethargic late evening, there is unmindful consumption of food, drinks, smoking, tea, coffee, even incorrect sitting posture, etc.
Second, not-to-change attitude. Generally people have this attitude – why to change for others, I am good the way I am – despite having a feeling that their fitness needs attention. But because they want to prove to the world that the way they live is absolutely fine. It’s funny that just before getting married, both girls and boys, though not all, join gym or aerobics classes or Zumba classes, or any other fitness classes in trend, so that the can reduce some weight and they can fit into their wedding dress (lehnga or sherwani) and they can look better in pictures. The same girl and boy are not able to maintain this enthusiasm once the wedding fever goes away and life comes back to daily routine. Because their goal was short-lived, in fact it was not a goal at all, it was just a show-off out of guilt.
So how one can maintain a healthy and fit body. Note that being fully healthy is more than just absence of disease. However, physical fitness will certainly lead to a better health. For which the first and foremost thing is to accept the problem with utmost honesty, second is work towards finding the solutions again with honesty and third is have patience to maintain consistency to apply the solution and follow it.
If someone really wants to reduce the weight and maintain a fit body, here are few suggestions which are not new and almost all of you must be aware. Since I am a working professional and have sitting job, mostly, so I can speak from my experience only. Mind that below is not an absolute solution, it’s my personal experiment and experience:
· Try to get up early in the morning around 5-5.30 am.
· Go for jogging, running for around 30-45 minutes.
· 12 rounds of Surya Namaskar per day, preferably in the morning
· Learn some yoga and meditation practices, these are helpful to maintain physical and mental health and stability.
· Try not to eat heavy breakfast if you have sitting job and have crossed 30 years of age.
· Reduce your consumption of tea and coffee to maximum 2 per day. Zero is best. Replace it with green tea or herbal drink or juice, etc.
· During lunch, fill your stomach 80% with food, 10% with water and leave 10% for air. 50% – 25% – 25% ratio is ideal.
· Follow principle of “Drink your food and eat your water”
· After finishing breakfast/ lunch/dinner, drink water only after one hour. To satisfy your thirst, drink water before your eat
· Replace white sugar with jaggery (gur) or honey or palm sugar. Limit consumption of sweets
· For dinner, try to eat very less, fill stomach only 50%. For better results, eat only raw food for dinner – fruits and salad, soaked groundnuts, sprouts, etc.
· Maintain 3-4 hours gap between your dinner and good night sleep.
· Try not to be very late for your sleep. Maximum 11 pm.
· Try intermittent fasting, but do not keep yourself too much hungry and too much full.
· Do not push yourself too much. Go easy on yourself. Do not make it a short term goal to become fit. For, creation takes time, destruction takes nothing. Building a house takes years, but bringing it down takes only few minutes.
Stay fit, stay healthy and stay happy.