7 Simple habits that have helped me stay fit

Over the years I have developed some habits which have helped me stay fit and I thought I would share those with you. Aside from helping me lose unwanted body weight and then sustain it, these habits have led to reducing the inflammation I experienced in my body earlier as tightness in upper back, bloating , acne, occasional headaches and PMS symptoms.

Many of these habits appear to be very basic and simple but my journey so far has been marked by sifting through the complex and reaching back to the basics. Many of these basics can be found in Ayurveda which is the ancient Indian science of longevity. Basics always work!

  • Getting good sleep– The past 4-5 years, I have averaged 8-9 hours of sleep per day. Prior to that I would get anywhere between 5-7 and I would actually feel like I am missing out on ‘doing’ something if I slept longer.  I have observed that functioning close to the sunrise/sunset cycles makes total sense for the body/mind. Quite naturally I sleep less in summer and more in winter. I had to learn to turn off all bright screens at least a half hour prior to bed. I do have my days when I end up looking at my phone later than I would want but overall I think I have developed good sleep hygiene. I don’t work with a laptop in my bedroom and I also don’t have a TV in my bedroom.

 I try and get max rest during my periods just as nature intended it to be. In my experience, sleeping well has also helped stabilize my body weight.

  • Eating real food– My definition of real food is good quality ingredients. I eat fruits/nuts/oatmeal for breakfast and good amount of veggies and beans for lunch/dinner. I follow my hunger cues and eat only when am hungry. I try and eat my meals at the same time every day. Based on my personal experimentation I have found that my body does better with no dairy/eggs/meat. I eat seafood occasionally and l have reduced the intake of grains by half. The grains that I eat are Quinoa, Farro, Brown/Wild Rice. I used to be a daily 2 times a day white rice eater which is now perhaps 1-2 times a week. Good fats are important and I love my Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil and Sesame Oils. I was using Clarified Butter/Ghee but I have reduced it only to get more plant based products instead of animal based.

Processed food is kept to minimal in my kitchen. One major change was to meet the ‘something sweet’ cravings with natural sugar found in fruits/dates/figs/raisins etc. I do buy Indian sweets from a local confectionery when I feel like.

If 70% of fitness/health is based on what you eat then I would say atleast 50% of what you eat should be seasonal fresh produce. Absolutely fresh is a luxury in today’s world and therefore I do the best I can. I don’t believe in ‘cheat’ days because I am not depriving myself of anything and feel satiated.

  • Cooking at home – I live by myself and I cook at home 90% of the times. I have found many people say how difficult it is to cook only for one person. I have my lazy days too when I don’t want to cook but for the most part my body drives me to my own home cooked deliciousness. My cooking base is Indian style and I have altered my ways to only lightly saute my vegetables with a good fat, some garlic, salt, black pepper and lemon. I am learning to let the ingredient shine instead of masking it with different spice mixes.

When I travel once/twice a month I do end up eating out. I do my best to pick places/foods which are closest to what I have come to understand as clean/pure/real. I resort to fruits and salads when I can but it’s also important to be flexible. When the situation calls for eating a dairy/meat based item, I eat it without any guilt because I know that on the whole I am taking care of my food intake.

  • Exercise– In a week, I try and give myself 4 days of 35-40 minute exercise. I do anything from weights, pilates, yoga, running, dancing, walking, to taking the stairs instead of the elevator. I think I am now in tune with my body’s energy and choose the type of workout based on those levels. Regular exercise has helped me avoid the PMS symptoms that many women experience. I have found that the intensity of those symptoms increases when I have not exercised regularly. During summers my body doesn’t want to do intense workouts and a simple walk in the woods is enough.
  • Meditation – I meditate everyday twice a day for 20 minutes for the last 5 years. The benefits are well known and I must say that meditation acts as a great system refresh because it helps reduce the cortisol levels in the body. I try and do this no matter where I am. There are times when I have missed my evening meditation but my morning meditation has been going steady so far.
  • Staying hydrated – For the past 12 years or so I have had a 12-16 oz glass of warm water with honey before I eat/drink anything else in the morning. Last couple of years I started adding a few drops of fresh lemon juice to this morning honey water. A mix of honey, lemon and cinnamon is an age old Indian tip to boost the body’s metabolism and lose weight.

I love drinking my 2 cups of chai everyday and I balance that out by making sure that I drink half my body weight in ounces in water. For example, a person who weighs 120 pounds would drink 60 oz water. Room temperature water has always been my go to as against cold/ice filled water.

  • Probiotic and Multivitamin supplements– I tried a couple of different probiotics and then found what works well for me. Two that I liked so far are Garden of Life Probiotics for women and Liquid Plant Based Probiotics by MaryRuth Organics. Probiotics helped me lose unwanted weight and also keeps my acne in check. Sauerkraut is something new I have added and like.

As for Multi-vitamins, this is a new add for me since I tried to stay away from the unknown ingredients and the capsule materials which I didn’t want to ingest. A couple of months ago I found Innate Response Formulas Plant based multi-vitamins and I have found those to be a good addition to my daily routine. I added multi vitamins after I learned that B-12 is difficult to get from any food source. Every so often I give my body a break from these too.

If I were to sum it up it would be- get the sleep you need, increase plant based content in your diet, stay hydrated and get moving, switch things up every once in a while & most important of all is LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!

Feel free to visit lifespa.com for Ayurveda related information and Medicalmedium.com for clean foods/supplements.



Disclaimer: I have not been paid by anyone to endorse their products/services. All statements in here are my personal experience/opinion and should not be taken as advice.


Parallels between Vedic Wisdom and Western Psychology

In the past few years my interests have led me to dig up some info on psychology in the Western world and corresponding work in the realm of Eastern wisdom. In this blog I am drawing parallels between two Western Psychological models of understanding why we do what we do with the Eastern wisdom namely from the Vedas about the Energy Centers which exist in us connecting us to the larger whole. Let’s dive in!

Tony Robbins’ Human Needs Psychology teaches us that we as human beings have the following six needs:

  • Certainty – Our need to feel safe, comfortable and having a sense of control.
  • Variety- Our need for adventure, pleasure, fun, spontaneity.
  • Significance- Our need for achievement, a sense of accomplishment and recognition.
  • Love and Connection- Our need to feel loved and establish relationships, feel a sense of connection with others.
  • Growth- Our need to feel that we are learning, growing in different areas of our lives.
  • Contribution- Our need to give back without expecting anything in return, to make a contribution, to have a sense of purpose larger than us.

As per Human Needs Psychology, most of us spend our lives focusing on the first four needs but it is the fifth and sixth that bring us the true fulfillment we are looking for.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:

  • Physiological – Our need for food, water, warmth.
  • Safety- Our need to be secure and safe.
  • Love/belonging- Our need to have intimate relationships, friends.
  • Esteem- Our need for prestige and a feeling of accomplishment.
  • Self-actualization- Our need to achieve our full potential including creative pursuits.

The first four needs are categorized as deficiency needs ( we get motivated to fulfill these when they are denied to us or are unmet) and the 5th one is our need for growth ( these become stronger the more we engage in them).


Journeying between the East and the West

As per the wisdom of the Vedas, a human body has the following 7 energy centers:

The human body has seven different energy centers which are called Chakras in Sanskrit. Chakra translates to a wheel. These energy points spin in order to receive and give out energy. Each center governs a certain aspect of our life and organs in our body. Chakras are healthy when they are clear and moving in the clockwise direction. Most of us have more than one that aren’t functioning optimally at a given point in time which point us to our challenges/areas of improvement which are recognized as patterns/themes. The best part is that you can simply intend/visualize a chakra to be moving clockwise and it begins spinning in the right direction. Of course, there is an entire field of Energy Healing dedicated to balancing the chakras and one may need that depending on how blocked they are.

  • Root Chakra/Muladhara – Muladhara translates to Root Support Located at the base of the spine, this chakra is red in color and represents the Earth element. This corresponds to safety, security and longevity.
  • Sacral Chakra/ Svadisthana – Svadisthana means sweetness.Located between the root chakra and the navel, this chakra is orange in color and represents the water element. This corresponds to feelings, sensuality and reproduction.
  • Solar Plexus Chakra/Manipura – Manipura means a lustrous gem. Located between the navel and the sternum, this chakra is yellow in color and represents the fire element. This corresponds to power, will and courageous action.
  • Heart Chakra/Anahata- Anahata means unhurt, unstruck, unbeaten. Located in the center of the chest, this chakra is green in color and represents the air element. This chakra is the bridge between the lower three and the higher three chakras. This corresponds to selfless love , balance , relationships.
  • Throat Chakra/Visuddha- Visuddha means pure place. Located between the heart and third eye in the center of your throat, the color of this chakra is turquoise and represents the element of sound. This corresponds to speech, communication, true purpose.
  • Third Eye Chakra/Ajna- Ajna means command. Located above the eyebrows in the center of the forehead, this chakra is indigo in color and represents the element of light. This corresponds to clarity of vision, intuition or pure knowing.
  • Crown Chakra/Sahasrara- Sahasrara means thousand fold. Located on top of the head, this chakra is white/gold in color and represents the element of space. This corresponds to our connection with a higher power, intelligence.

Root Chakra corresponds to the needs for Certainty/Physiological/Safety.

Sacral Chakra corresponds to the need for Variety.

Solar Plexus Chakra corresponds to the need for Significance/Esteem.

Heart Chakra corresponds to the need for Love/Connection.

Throat, Third Eye and Crown Chakras correspond to the Growth, Contribution and Self Actualization needs in the two western models.

Drawing parallels between the first four chakras and the western models is an easy match to perform.  It is the higher ones that need some explaining. Maslow’s Self-Actualization and Tony Robbins’ Growth and Contribution needs correspond to the 5th -6th and 7th energy centers.  These energy centers when functioning well connect us to the bigger picture where we can see how our challenges and struggles can be used to help others, where we feel rooted in our authenticity and speak out truth, where we engage in activities where our life actions benefit others around us. This is where one moves higher up from the needs of the ‘I’ and being self centric to serving a larger good.

If anyone of the 5th , 6th and or 7th are blocked, one may not be able to feel fulfilled in these areas- perhaps one can see (6th) the bigger picture but is afraid to speak the highest truth (5th) for the want of losing someone’s approval in the process. The 7th one is our connection to the universe’s big data, to the universal intelligence.  Speaking your truth also entails recognizing the areas you need help with which is a pre-requisite to any kind of growth to occur.  The 6th energy center provides us with the ability to visualize and use our intuition to conceive bigger ideas which is enhanced once your 7th is open to receiving from the universal intelligence.

This is one of my posts that I have had fun writing..hope you had fun reading it! One can approach healing/growth from any direction using any method one is drawn to. The key is that you need to be able to feel the difference. Combination of more than one method at a time works great too.

In order to learn more about Chakras, I recommend you visit http://www.deborahkingcenter.com and or read the book Truth Heals by Deborah King.