India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Sports & Fitness
November 15, 2011

Shape up!

Text by Luke Coutinho. Illustrations by Bappa

Fear not the upcoming festival season and the gluttony of eats that it brings with it. Plan and be assured that you will sail through it without a single kilo gained. Verve shows you how…

Failing to plan is planning to fail…. ­ With a few weeks left for the wedding season, I am flooded with calls to help people lose weight, tone up or put on weight, to allow them to fit into their dream ensembles. People try their hardest in these weeks to get fit and look their best, but post the wedding season, most put on all or more of the weight that they have lost.

Weights, spinning, running, swimming, power yoga, long brisk walks, kick boxing and dancing are some of the physical activities women throw themselves into, during this pre-wedding period, sometimes even injuring themselves in the process. Fad and starvations diets, juice and fruit fasts, high protein, low carb or low fat diets suddenly mushroom as a priority. Few, however, realise that good health and great bodies are built over time. Many feel that weight loss or getting fit is a mammoth task. It’s actually quite simple.

‘Eat smart, move more and sleep right’ is actually the truest and simplest concept. This has always existed but has been complicated and twisted by man himself. We lose ourselves in a world of fads and pills, exercise machines, so called ‘health drinks’, ‘vitamin waters’ and expensive ‘diet-foods’ which rarely work. If they do, it is only for the short term and can burn a hole in your pocket. In my book Shape Your Goal and Shape Up, I have reiterated the EFS model of fitness. It simply means, exercise, food and sleep. It’s as simple as that.

Define your goal
Is it ‘to lose 4 kg to fit into my dress’! That is not a good goal. What happens after the wedding season? You may lose 4 kg, but as soon as the ‘purpose’ is over, you will go back to your old lifestyle and regain all that weight. Your goal should be ‘to get fit and healthy because I want to live long and strong and look great in whatever I wear’. Now that’s a goal that would motivate and excite you to do your bit every day.

A goal without an action plan is only a dream. What’s your action plan? Make this your mantra: ‘Eat Smart, Move More and Sleep Right’. This action plan includes simple and commonly available foods that perform specific functions for your body and health, simple exercises (the frequency and way you execute them is important, it could be a simple walk) and getting the right amount of sleep to help your body burn calories, rejuvenate and transform into a fat burning furnace.

Plan your goal and fix a timeline. Goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound).

Rev up!
Simply defined as the rate at which your body burns calories for energy, the faster your metabolism, the easier it is for your body to break down and burn fat and calories. Start working on your metabolism right away. If you get it soaring by the time the wedding season starts, your body will be tuned to burn fat easily and keep your energy levels high and that healthy glow on your face. Your hair will be rich and strong and your skin tight and healthy. That’s what a good metabolism does for you.

Let’s look at three ways to build a great metabolism. Eat foods rich in fibre, protein and complex carbs; take your daily multi-vitamin and drink at least three litres of water daily and eat every two-and-a-half to three hours.  When you eat every three hours, your body needs to consistently break down the food you eat. It needs energy for that and it gets this energy from the stored fat in your body and the food you eat. So when you eat smart foods, your body burns calories and also absorbs minerals and nutrients from the food you eat, taking care of your skin, hair, internal organs and your overall health. Some foods are natural metabolism boosters – green tea, yoghurt, almonds, coffee, apples, spinach, beans, jalapenos, broccoli, oatmeal, soy milk, cinnamon, turkey and eggs are great choices.

Move more
Exercise and physical activity will boost your metabolism. For example most weight loss and calorie burn happens after your workout. When you lift weights, your body will continue to burn fat and calories up to six hours post your workout. The more frequently you exercise, the higher your metabolism. Even a 20 minute workout can be more effective than a one hour workout, if you do the right exercises, with the right form and intensity. Explore interval training and if you lift weights, do compound exercises. The most productive workouts end in 30 to 45 minutes. You can even boost your metabolism by moving more when you are not working out. Take the stairs, walk when you can, stretch every hour while at work, touch your toes, do small chores yourself. This will ensure your body is continuously burning calories throughout the day.

Sleep right
Your body grows and repairs itself when you sleep. Hormones produced are vital for your health and weight loss. Ever noticed a man’s beard? It grows when he sleeps, never during the day. Your hair grows when you sleep. That’s why undisturbed sleep is so important. Seven hours is the time that your body requires to complete all of its functions. You sleep less than that and you are breaking the process. Besides, you lose weight when you sleep. People who struggle with weight gain are those who usually sleep for less than six to seven hours or more than eight hours. Get your seven hours of sleep so your metabolism stays strong. When your energy levels are low after a night of less sleep, your body metabolism automatically slows down and affects your ability to lose weight

Detoxify your body
Pollution, junk food, alcohol, drugs, prescription drugs, late nights, long hours at work and stress, put toxins and negative stress on our bodies. The liver acts like a filter and cleans the body of toxins. It is also responsible for regulating fat metabolism which in simple terms is fat breakdown.

If your body has too many toxins as a result of the food you eat or your lifestyle in general, your body will work in overdrive to clean out these toxins, which otherwise would be fatal. So it stops performing its other function that is fat metabolism. This is why we need to detoxify our bodies from time to time, to help the liver in its detoxification process and in turn allow it to also perform its function of fat breakdown. In my years of experience, it’s been a pattern that I recognise amongst most clients. Detoxify the liver and fat burn automatically speeds up. (See box.)

So, plan for and enjoy the wedding season to the hilt and without any worries of gaining weight….

Detox made easy
To prepare for the wedding season, detoxify your body at least once or twice a month. Try and detoxify your body a day after a main event or before the beginning of another so that you maintain a strong metabolism and your body continues to burn calories even though you are eating rich food. A simple detox plan contains fruits, vegetables, fibre (oats, bran), nuts, seeds, herbal teas, loads of water and no dairy, alcohol or smokes. Select two days in a month and detox for a day or for three days in a row. A detox plan does not have to be difficult and you should never feel hungry. On a well-designed detox plan, you can lose a kilo and a half, though half of it would be water weight.

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