April 2014 Rewind

April 2014. Its has been a very hectic month quite contrary to my expectations. I had signed up for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge and picked a theme as well which meant I had to stay focused. If exercising can be tedious or boring then writing 26 different and interesting posts was even more difficult. I am happy to have completed the challenge but what a month. Besides the blogosphere there was so much happening all around me.

In India, the FX channel was broadcasting the popular US serial The West Wing. I began watching as I am a big Martin Sheen fan but soon was totally enthralled by the workings of the west wing and characters therein. It was the seventh season that depicted the whirlwind election campaign in the US.

The West Wing (1999) Poster
Image from IMDb http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0200276/?ref_=ttep_ep_tt

Coincidently we in India to have ongoing general elections and I kept contrasting and comparing the styles, rhetoric of the politicians. I realised there were many similarities in election politics – effects of conservative voters, immigration issues, religious beliefs, minorities and so on. Of course The West Wing is a TV serial but it must be based on some facts. Ours is a very real campaign with real issues. We will not know our exit poll results till May 12, 2014 but for all of April we were  glued to the TV news channels, or on the Internet for updates and speeches and interviews. That encroached on thinking time for my blogathon…

April is also repotting time for my succulents. This meant having to take extra care of them post-repotting. The rising temperatures meant all house plants needed more attention.

This and more stuff had to be cleared off. And, no photos of my Jade and Adenium. They are camera shy!

Jade, repotting, bonsai
Mess to be cleared after after repotting

Then there was the Pune Heritage Week happening here organised by Virasat Pune. Eight days of a brilliant reconnect with the natural, architectural, cultural, artistic heritage of this great city (Pune). I could not miss this opportunity to see and learn about places, things so close to me. I met people who had lived here for years but had never visited heritage institutes right in their backyard. There’s a saying in Hindi “चिराग तले अंधेरा ” (Chirag tale andhera). Loosely translated it means there is darkness next to the flame of the lamp.

Heritage, Pune
Heritage building in Western Circle of Botanical Survey of India

Through April I read many wonderful blogs across the world. While I think I am getting along in terms of age, I realised people who are much older are ‘penning’ their thoughts …is that the right word? should it be typing or sharing 😉 That has motivated me to be more regular and creative in my posts.

Here is a list of some blogs that impressed me. Many blogs had interesting features which made the page more attractive and informative to read. Aaaaannd… most of them are women writers!

Here are a few, I will add these blogs to  my link list on the right panel in due course.

Linda Maye Adams: Soldier, Storyteller
Debbie blog: Debbie the “Doglady” online 
Vinitha: Pooh’s Den
Corinne  Rodrigues: Everyday Gyaan
Shilpa Garg: A Rose is A Rose is A Rose
MAJK: Saffire Blade
Jetgirlcos: Forty and  Fantastique
Usha Menon: Kuch Khatta Kuch Meetha
Rajlakshmi: Destiny’s Child
Sonia Lal: Story Treasury

These are just a few. The link list closed at 2015 this year which means there are many awesome blogs that I have yet to read. According to this article in DNA there are about 100 bloggers from India participating in the 2014 Blogathon.

Lets stay connected and share thoughts!
Thanks AtoZ and the team who kept us motivated.

Zero… Size Zero

This is the final post for the April 2014 A to Z
Blogathon. Its been a month of “exercising for fitness” and I was not
really sure I would be able to complete the challenge and stay within
the theme. Suddenly I had a gamut of ideas for blog posts which had
nothing to do with my theme. They were banished to the ‘drafts’ and
hopefully should be up soon. So keep visiting.

to all of you who have visited and commented here. Its been a pleasure
knowing all of you and reading your thoughts. Do follow my blog on  GFC or on Twitter so
we can stay updated on our posts.

 Stunning models in fashion magazines look beautiful, lean and toned and whatever I do I somehow never achieve that look. Obviously a lot of it is due to superb photography, make up etc but size matters as well. I had a painfully thin frame and never ever was it considered to be beautiful. Rather it was looked down upon.

In my time, fat was beautiful.

Some years ago, the so-called size zero became quite the craze in India when Kareena Kapoor (an actress in India’s film industry) was down to this size for the 2008 film “Tashan.”

So thin was in.

Later on I saw the movie “Bride Wars” when this dialogue about a wedding dress by Vera Wang has stayed with me till now: “You don’t alter Vera to fit you; you alter yourself to fit Vera.”

I am not sure what dimensions qualify as size zero but I assume its something painfully thin as is evident in photos in the links above. Can one reach and stay in this size in a healthy manner? Obviously it would mean cutting down on food which will affect nutrition and energy levels. Will there be long term side effects? This is an eye opening article about models who go to all lengths to maintain the sizes required for their work.It involved eating less or not at all, sustaining oneself with drips but not much mention of exercise. The focus was only on the size and not on fitness. Fitness is not only size but involves overall strength, flexibility and endurance. Its the combination of these that makes a person fit.
But obviously the requirements of the fashion industry go beyond fitness. Appearances count.

So is it worth risking long term damage to our bodies to reach and stay at size zero? Thats a question we have to answer for ourselves.

If you ask me then its better to be happy with our bodies as God’s gift, try not to damage it wrong diets, wrong exercises, wrong lifestyles. 

Stay fit all of you. Stay healthy.

Disclaimer: All
suggestions are general in nature. Readers are advised to exercise
caution before implementing them and seek expert advise about what is
suitable for their specific needs. 

Yes, I can

A common excuse for not exercising is lack of time. There is some
project near its deadline or a team member is non productive or the
boss is over demanding and so on. When work calls we Always find time… be
it at 10 pm or 4 a m.

So why not get up an hour earlier, do a few Sun Salutations and then begin work? If its late then do some stretching
exercises to help relax the muscles.

Its all a question of having the will to do it. In London I have seen
folks jogging in parks in lunch hour. Initially i was quite amused but locals
told me these executives use any free time in this manner to stay fit!!

If Yes, I can is your motto you will find the time to exercise And

No more excuses.

Make this your motto “Yes I can”


Disclaimer: All
suggestions are general in nature. Readers are advised to exercise
caution before implementing them and seek expert advise about what is
suitable for their specific needs.

X is for e(X)citment!

Whatever be your workout it has gone exciting. You should look forward to
every session and find it challenging and satisfying as well. Of course
getting bored once in a while is OK but if you find that you have to
drag yourself for exercise the something is amiss. Seriously.

Ask yourself:

  • Are the exercises too difficult?
  • Are the exercises monotonous?
  • Is there excessive DOMS?
  • Are the gym or accessory costs too high?
  • Are your  exercise goals too ambitious?
  • Is there a lack of camaraderie in the group?

The answers will help you overcome any hesitation and get you back to your workouts again.

Disclaimer: All
suggestions are general in nature. Readers are advised to exercise
caution before implementing them and seek expert advise about what is
suitable for their specific needs. 

Variety is Essential

Doing the same exercises day in and day out can cause the muscles to ‘get used to the tasks’ and they are no longer ‘challenged’ by the workout. Hence we reach the so-called Exercise Plateau. Further just because we work out daily it doesn’t mean we will be able to do any type of exercise easily. Example: I used to walk about 5kms daily yet when I started cycling I found I was unable to do more than 10 kms without getting tired and that too on a flat road.

Thus its important to add different types of workouts so our muscles are used to working differently and working with different muscles groups. These varying workouts can be spread over the period of a month. Practical examples: Walk backwards for a part of your route, jog sideways, cycle on a slope instead of the usual cycle track.

Here is an extract of a my Healthnotes column first published in the July 2009 issue of Windows & Aisles, the in flight magazine of Paramount Airways.


An ‘exercise
plateau’ may occur after a period of exercising and manifests as a
roadblock in fitness or weight loss goals. The best way to overcome
this is to take a rain check of the exercise program and diet. Vary
your workout every six to eight weeks. Change is vital to maintain
the ‘surprise’ element for muscles and to continue challenging
them. On a daily basis add variety by changing repetitions or weights
during resistance training. Change from machine-led to free weights
training or visa-versa. For cardio workouts, change the type/
duration and intensity of exercise. Adding interval training can
further spice up your session. Sign up for Power Yoga or Tai Chi for
a mind-body experience.
Inspired? Go on try it out!

Disclaimer: All
suggestions are general in nature. Readers are advised to exercise
caution before implementing them and seek expert advise about what is
suitable for their specific needs. 

Upper Body

Whether one jogs or walks or swims regularly it is vital to include exercises for the upper body. By upper body I mean stretching and strengthening exercises for the shoulders, arms, upper back and neck. We use these muscles during all actions involving the arms, to maintain a correct posture of the spine and neck. Correct posture is important to avoid neck pain or upper back pain. Exercising these muscles is a must for those who spend hours in front of a computer.

So what are the exercises that must be done? Here goes:
For the shoulder girdle: Sit or stand comfortably with your head facing in front and chin tucked in. Carry out the following movements seven times each: Shrug shoulders; with palms crossed behind the head, move the elbows together in front and take them back; rotate the arms and shoulders clockwise and anticlockwise.

For the Arms: Free exercises like Push up, Plank, Triceps dips; machine led exercises like the Lat Pulldown, biceps curls and so on.

For the Neck: Chin tucks, Neck bends (sideways and front/backwards). Follow this and this link for a detailed explanation.

These suggestions are only indicative. Consult an fitness trainer or exercise specialist to find out what exercises you can incorporate in your routine.

Take care!

Disclaimer: All
suggestions are general in nature. Readers are advised to exercise
caution before implementing them and seek expert advise about what is
suitable for their specific needs. 

Travel right

The attractive ads and heavy
discount offers tempt us daily via print and visual media to sign up for group tours/guided holidays. We had booked for one such tour, I began to have last minute cold feet, would the tour be too hectic,
would I return tired instead of refreshed, would the change in
weather/ food/ water suit me… With a bit of common sense and some planning we had a wonderful holiday.

I would like to share my ideas that made it possible and hopefully will help you continue your exercise during your holiday so you can enjoy every
minute of it.

1. Closely study the itinerary of your tour. Usually the daily routine involved sitting in the bus for
long stretches (anywhere between 2-5 hours), and walking also between
1-3 kms daily ( if not more). Now remember this walking is different
from the routine walks which most of us undertake. On a tour one is
usually also carrying along a handbag with miscellaneous objects like
a water bottle, sunscreen, towel, a book maybe, purchases at the
souvenir store, umbrella/ raincoat and some snacks/ medicines. All
this can add up to 2 kgs not counting the camera whose weight varied
depending on the type. Also at home we walk in cooler times of the
day whereas here it could be at any time in the heat / cold or in the
hills. So one needs to prepare for that. I ensured that I was
walking 3 kms daily prior to commencement of the journey in order to
acclimatize. If you are not used to walking then begin with 20minutes
of walking and gradually increase.

2. Most cities in western countries have excellent roads and groups travel in high tech
coaches. This minimises the effects of jerks and bumps. But what of
the sitting posture itself? The spine stays continuously in a flexed
(bent) position, the feet remain hanging and the
neck faces severe torture if one takes a nap in a moving bus! Solution: Do proper stretches for
the back at the end of every day. During the journey whenever the opportunity arises, just stand up and walk a few steps to relieve the

3. The neck needs special attention. Usually, hotels offer a choice of pillows so choose one that is similar to your regular one to avoid stiff necks and headaches. Do neck
movements and stretches e just after getting up and at
the end of the day. If you are still not satisfied simply fold the large bath towel into 8 and
use that as a pillow. It works.

4. The lower limbs should not be ignored. When sitting the muscles of the thighs and calves
remain shortened for long periods. Circulation also slows which manifests as swelling of the feet at the end of the day. Good stretches
done in the evening not only improve flexibility but also improve
circulation and remove metabolic wastes. Frequent toe movements,
ankle circling and ankle pumps during the bus/air journey are also useful.

5. Now for the shoulders. Remember
carrying handbags puts a strain on them. Also one may have to lift
and put them in overhead shelves or help out a less able or senior
citizen who is your co traveler. Maximum permissible weight varies
between 5-7 kgs for cabin baggage for air travel depending on
airline. In case of other means of transport my common tendency is to
overstuff the bags making them bulky and extremely heavy. If one is not used to carrying weights
then do some strengthening exercises at home for the
arms and shoulders prior to the tour. No need for any expensive equipment
or joining the gym. Our kitchens provide enough props for such
During your journey itself, stretching the shoulders and arms is very relaxing. Remember to use the hot
shower as the warm water helps wash away the strain and relaxes the

6. For those who already suffer from
any bone or joint diseases extra precautions are necessary.
Those with coronary problems or any other problems, must make sure to
consult their doctor before departure for specific advise on diet and
exercises and medicines. Never forget to drink lots of water and
follow the travel advice given to you. Diabetics need to find out
what kind of diet will be available. Some changes in their regular
exercise patterns may be required. Remember to
protect yourself in extreme weather conditions and not over exert.

Weather you plan to
travel  with a tour operator or independently , learn some  simple exercises from a qualified person. They do not take more
than 15 minutes to perform and make your visit even more enjoyable. The responsibility of having a good tour rests
partly on us travelers too.

  • Include indoor workouts in your
    itinerary like a combination of shrugs, calf raises, squats, Surya namaskar, Lunges, yoga, pilates and
    stretches. Jogging/Brisk walking are good outdoor choices.
  • Carry your sports shoes along.
  • Walk up and down hotel stairs for
    10 min. Walk around the airport if flights are delayed. Eat healthy.

Bon Voyage!

Disclaimer: All
suggestions are general in nature. Readers are advised to exercise
caution before implementing them and seek expert advise about what is
suitable for their specific needs. 

Suryanamaskar (Sun Salutations)

This is the topic for which I had to shelve Streches to the Odds and Ends.
Sigh. Both so important and it was a tough choice.
But let me get on with this….

I had first learnt Surya Namaskar way back from my Dad, did them for some time and slowly forgot the specific steps. The general idea stayed with me. Its only recently that the importance of this exercise has again dawned on me.

It is a combination of 12 asanas (Yoga postures) to be done sequentially preferably in the morning at Sunrise. This link has excellent photos to describe how to do the Surya Namaskar.

The breathing technique is extremely important if you want to do these right else you will only end up getting breathless and give up. Thats what happened with me and I turned to my Father for guidance. Basically it boils down to breathing out when exerting or forward bending.

The Surya Namaskar is a tribute to the Sun so what better way to perform the salutations than by saying the names of the Sun. This is also a good way to count reps. Here is a list of the names of the Sun that my Father gave me. Its in Marathi but I will put those names in English for you. Its for 13 repetitions and those wanting to do more can just start over. I have pasted the paper on the wall where I exercise just in case I forget! 

Names of the Sun, Suryanamaskar

I have added the above names in English at the end of this post for those interested.  

When time is at a premium, just do a set of 13 Surya Namaskar and you need not feel guilty about not exercising. It doesn’t need much space and done correctly the 13 reps will be done in a jiffy and get your heart rate up as well!

Different experts will suggest variations of this exercise. Its best to stick to one form and not try to combine them by yourself.


Disclaimer: All
suggestions are general in nature. Readers are advised to exercise
caution before implementing them and seek expert advise about what is
suitable for their specific needs. 

Om rham mitrya nmaha
Om rhim ravaye namaha
Om rhum suryay namaha
Om rhaim bhanave namaha
Om rhoum khagaya namaha
Om raha pushpave namaha
Om rham hiranyagarbhaya namaha

Om rhim marichaye namaha
Om rhum adityaya namah
Om  rhaim savita namaha
Om  rhoum arkaya namaha
Om  raha bhaskaraya namaha
Shri Savita suryanarayana namaha. 

Adityasya namaskaraye kuruvanti dine dine
Dirghamayur balam veeryam tejas teshamacha jayate.

Rest and Recuperation

I expect this is a post that should get me some brownie points and boost popularity with those who find excuses to not exercise. Yes, you are right in thinking that Rest IS important when exercising. 


Simply because it gives time for the muscles to recuperate and for broken muscle fibres (they are broken down during when doing resistance training) to repair. Its this repair process that increases our BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) and makes the muscles stronger and bigger (over time). 

Obviously by rest I do not mean sleeping or becoming a couch potato. It simply means a day without your regular workout. For those who have specific fitness goals it can mean exercising a different group of muscles with a different workout or activity. There should be an interval of about six to eight hours between exercise sessions.Obviously I refer to those who exercise to stay fit not high performance athletes or those with specific health goals.

Besides rest as I have described above, one needs to get adequate sleep at night. It is the best healer for our body and mind. Overexercising can cause many problems and in this case more is not always better. 

So go ahead and take a break once a week in your workout. You’ve earned it.


Disclaimer: All
suggestions are general in nature. Readers are advised to exercise
caution before implementing them and seek expert advise about what is
suitable for their specific needs. 


This year, I am blogging about ‘Exercising for Fitness’ for the A to Z Blogathon. I do hope you have gained something from my posts.

You have? Then lets exercise those grey cells today?

A sneak peak… Does muscle weigh more than fat?
Does maintaining fitness require a change in lifestyle?

For the correct answer, follow the link below… 

Exercise and Fitness Quiz on MedicineNet

Go on, dont hesitate, take this quiz…
important to know what happens when we exercise, what goes on our body
so that we do not unknowingly hurt ourselves while exercising or get
swayed by exaggerated advertising claims about ‘body building’ or
‘weight loss’.

Stay fit, stay happy!

Disclaimer: All
suggestions are general in nature. Readers are advised to exercise
caution before implementing them and seek expert advise about what is
suitable for their specific needs.