Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Outdoor training Vs Indoor training

The other day somebody asked me if I prefer outdoor training or indoor training and my immediate response was outdoor training but surprisingly I do a lot more of indoor training.  Here’s a little bit of my experience with working-out both outdoors and indoors

Ever since I started running outdoors I get bored using the treadmill. I used to have patience of using the treadmill for long runs but now I can only do about 20 minutes and even in those 20 minutes I can't just stick to running at a constant pace I need to do interval training to keep my mind occupied on the treadmill even music doesn’t help beyond a certain time on the treadmill
I find running outside very entertaining. I love seeing the world go by, I love seeing other runners, I get extra happy when a runner smiles or nods at me suddenly I feel like I am a part of invisible running group.  Another wonderful thing about running outside is the wind blowing, every few minutes I feel refreshed and the occasional drizzle also feels lovely during my runs.
Outdoor training wins in this department for me.

I love my RPM (spin) class in the gym. I love the music, I love the energy in this class. I really enjoy this class, It’s as challenging as I want to make it and usually I am drenched by the end of a 45 minute class.
I also enjoy cycling outside though I enjoy cycling only on the cycle paths away from all the traffic. I am not very confident of cycling in traffic. I don’t have my own cycle so I rent a cycle when I plan to go cycling outdoors. T enjoys cycling too so we spend a lot of our weekends cycling around one of the cycling paths in and around London
I can’t decide which one I like better – RPM or cycling outdoors but I definitely do indoor spinning more often maybe if I had my own cycle and if I was more comfortable with riding in traffic I would be able to decide which one I like better.

Body weight exercises and Calisthenics
The first time I did these exercises outdoors was when I attended the outdoor circuit class and I have attending that class ever since. Doing all these exercises outside actually gave me more confidence. Exercising in the park when people are sitting around sipping coffee was not easy for me it was completely out of my comfort zone. Working out in a group outdoors helped me, I doubt I can do the same thing alone (I am still not that confident).
I have attended my outdoor class in the rain and in freezing temperatures. I have worked out with my group when people passing by have stopped to comment on us working out...all this has actually increased my confidence and improved my attitude.
It’s easier mentally to do all these exercises in the gym where you are surrounded by people doing similar stuff not that easy to do when you are surrounded by people relaxing and a few staring at you..
Outdoor training wins in this department because it pushes me out of my comfort zone which is always a good thing.

Weight training
I have always done weight training indoors, either at home or in the gym. I am not even sure about how I could do it outdoors. I doubt I would carry my dumbbells or kettle bells outside for a workout and I use a lot of other machines for my weight training so outdoors is out of question for me
In this department indoor training wins (I have no idea how this could be done outdoors)

I love training outdoors because it is more entertaining and refreshing but when I count all the factors I end up indoors more often than outdoors.
What about all of you? Do you prefer training outdoors or indoors?

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Friday, 25 July 2014

My food journey

One of the most common questions people ask me is about how I manage to make healthy food choices. This post is mainly about my journey from a person who used to ‘crave burgers almost every day’ to a person who hasn’t had a burger for a long time and the best part is I am happy about it, I don’t feel deprived in any way.
I was a person who could eat at any time of the day. I did not leave any opportunity to eat. I would eat if I was bored, I would eat if I was busy (I was used to munching of something while studying), I would eat with my family, I would eat if I was alone,  I would eat if I was happy to celebrate and I would eat if I was sad. I could eat a burger followed by a proper Indian meal and still have some space for dessert. That’s how much I ate. Food definitely was an important part of my life and this was one of the main reasons why I could never ever follow a strict diet for even a single day. None of the diets that I read about ever worked for me, I used to make many plans to follow a strict diet but the minute I had a reason to eat I would...I knew if I wanted to lose weight I had to get my eating in control...Here’s a list of few things I did to make it easier to get to where I am today
  • I did not give up doing things I love

I am a social person, I love going out with friends and family. Even now you will see me go out most weekends.  I love hanging out with friends/family and most of these things always involve food. Just because I have started eating healthy doesn’t mean I have given up on going out.  The only difference is now when we go out to eat I make healthier food choices doesn’t mean I always order salads. You will usually see me eat grilled chicken or salmon both these are always easily available. When I go for dinner parties or a house party I eat a little before going and then I make the best possible choice I can. I spend more time talking than eating (isn’t that the point of meeting friends)
Just because you are choosing to start eating healthier does not mean you have give up on things you love doing. It just means you have to find a way to do the same things while making healthier choices.

  • I know I will make mistakes and it will be OK as long as I don’t stop trying

It takes time to reach a point where you are comfortable with making healthy food choices. It’s not easy for anybody who is used to eating unhealthy. I have made my share of mistakes and even now there are times when I wish I had more will power but I am willing to work on myself every day. I have accepted that I will make mistakes and that’s how I will learn and improve.  Don’t be disheartened or put yourself down because you went off track just be willing to get back on track that's the most important thing.

  • I gave myself all the time I needed

I am not somebody who lost weight in a short time I took my time (I am still work in progress). I did not directly switch from junk to salads. I switched from very unhealthy to a little less unhealthy then to even less unhealthy and finally healthy. It was a very slow process. When we used to go for movies I used to buy nachos, popcorn and coke. My first switch was choosing between popcorn and nachos. Then I switched to sharing whatever I bought, the next switch was giving up on coke for either water or coffee and finally I gave up on popcorn. For every switch I made I gave myself enough time to settle down before moving on. I did not jump directly from nachos, popcorn and coke to coffee those small intermediate steps helped me stay on track longer because I did not feel deprived.

  • I found replacements I love

I have always loved eating something sweet after my lunch/dinner and I still do. These days I usually eat frozen fruit or I mix fruit with yoghurt and  make my own flavored frozen yoghurt (I love it). Sometimes I have dates with nuts all these options are things I have always loved so I don’t miss my chocolate because dates and nuts makes me feel as happy as a chocolate would or my frozen yoghurt is as good as ice cream for me.
Also if search enough you usually find very healthy recipes for almost everything. My current favorite is sweet potato brownie (I will share the recipe soon)

  • I never stay hungry

This might surprise a lot of people but I still eat very often in a day. I usually have 6 small meals in a day sometimes even more. I have chopped fruits, carrots, nuts and some healthy snacks that I make over the weekend packed for each day. I think I eat every 2-3 hours.I have noticed if I stay hungry or skip any meal I make bad choices so I try to avoid the situation as much as I can.

grilled chicken/smoked salmon/my packed snacks :)

  • I don’t have too many rules
  1. Avoid processed food ( frozen meals, cans, cornflakes/granola, biscuits, chips. I prefer making my own at least I know what goes into it) 
  2. Avoid sugar, no sweetener too (I use honey if I really need to) 
  3. Make the best possible choice I can
  4. If I make a wrong choice I just make sure my next choice is right

I hope you all find this useful and it helps you make better choices. For me eating healthy is not about depriving myself (or feeling sorry for myself because I am not eating something) it is about exploring different options till I find healthy options I love 

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Tuesday, 22 July 2014


For days a fitness class called Insanity was making facebook rounds. The name itself made me want to try it out. Initially it was not conducted in my gym imagine my joy when I saw a brochure for the class being launched at my gym...

Here's my experience with insanity 
Before the class started we were all made to fill and sign a small questionnaire with a few health details this was something I had not done for any of my other classes so when I was filling my questionnaire I was thinking to myself " this class must really be a tough class if they are asking us to give our emergency contact details" my excitement had already doubled 5 minutes before the class just because of the form.
The class was almost an hour long and it was split into warm up, 4 intense working blocks and cool down. 
We started with a 9 minute warm up and then we moved to the working block. Each working block had a set of few exercises. We did each exercise for 30 seconds before moving to the next and we repeated each block 3 times. Each block ended with a minute power exercise. After each set there was a 30 seconds timed rest (though we had to keep moving even in our rest, no standing still)
Now that you have an idea about how the class was structured (hopefully you aren't very confused) moving on to how insane the class was. 
The warm had on spot jogging followed by different skipping/hoping exercises. I enjoyed all the skipping and jumping but by the end of warm up I was a little worried about not being able to finish the class. I have never had a more tiring warm-up. I was seriously worried about not being able to finish but I promised myself I will stop only if I really can't go on...
so I kept at it...the first block was plyometrics & endurance that's when I realised why the warm up was tough because the working blocks were tougher. Block 1 had lots of jumps, high knee jumps, diamond jumps...I really enjoy anything to do with jumps just because it is very challenging for me, I managed but all throughout I was wondering about how much longer I would be able to keep up..
The second block was more about balance and strength. It might sound or look easy but balancing engages a lot of core muscles and to make it tougher some of the balance exercises had a little jump before balance...what fun!!!! 
The third block was all about agility which was speed work and it did require a little bit of coordination which I completely lack I did my best to do these exercises correctly (I get usually get very confused when it comes to speed and coordination)finally we moved to abs/core. 
This is one of those classes where I was sweating so much I had sweat in my eyes. So my burning eyes were an additional pain to my muscle pain. The best thing about this workout was the combination of different exercises. I am used to doing most of these exercises in one of my weekly sessions but I was not used to the different combinations ...for example I am used to one leg deadlift without weights but adding a jump to it is a whole other level or I am used to doing the plank push-up combination (military press ups) but in insanity that combination was followed by a jumping jack in the plank position. So most difficult exercises were made tougher by combining them with either a jump or some other exercise.
Now that I am done scaring all of you I will tell you one very good thing was the fact that even though the name sounds scary it was a class open to all fitness levels and the instructor demonstrated each exercise at two different levels. So you can make it as difficult as you choose to. There were times when I would switch to the easier level for a few seconds and then get back on track
My calves are feeling the after effects the most otherwise everything else is a little sore but manageable.
Note to self: Next time warm up a little before the insanity warmup and push myself more 
If you have this class in your gym give it a try...don't get scared every exercise has a beginners level I am sure you would end up loving how much you sweat :)

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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Disappointments - How I handle them

There are times when I don’t get the results I expect in my fitness journey. There have been many days when I have been disappointed either with my weight or with the progress I have made and these days can be the worst obstacles...they can be very discouraging
Here’s what I do when I am disappointed to avoid going off track.
  • I ask myselfHow did I become unhealthy and obese in the first place? My answer has always been the same ‘I got obese by making unhealthy choices and by avoiding any sort of workout’. If I keep eating unhealthy and adding calories without really burning them where will these calories go? Over time I have noticed whenever I make healthy food choices and workout I automatically see a change in my weight and my health. It might not reflect as fast as I want it to but it definitely shows 
  • Focus on the process. I am very result oriented. I like seeing myself improve but if I only focus on the final result I find it very difficult to stay on track because nobody can see changes every single day. Instead I shift my focus to the process, I focus on sticking to my plan, I focus on making better choices, I focus on how I feel when I exercise. Focusing on small details instead of only my goals keeps me going because those small things also show progress. 
  • Another important question I ask myself Are my efforts and goals aligned?If I want to run a marathon then I need to train accordingly if my workouts do not include enough running then how will I ever reach my goal?? So whenever I get disappointed because I am not seeing the expected results I go through my workout plan see what I am missing and what needs to be changed. 
  • I remind myself all this effort is only for me. The one person who will get a 100 % benefit from me leading a healthy life is me. All the effort I put in has a direct positive effect on my life  I take time to think about other things that have changed for the better in my life because of my changed lifestyle.I have tried so many new things like hanging on monkey bars, jumping over things, wearing different types of clothes for the first time in my life only after I got healthier and none of these were ever in my goal list but they make me so happy.
Just because you don’t see the results you expected from your healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you are not benefiting from it. Take a closer look and all your disappointments will vanish for sure (mine disappear for sure)
I am slowly getting into strength training to reach my fitness goals
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Monday, 7 July 2014

Pre aand Post workout meals

Pre workout
Things I keep in mind before my workouts
  • I need enough energy to keep up with my workout 
  •  I need to be comfortable while working out that means I don’t want feel hungry or too full 
  •  I need to be well  hydrated otherwise I get dizzy
What food gives energy ??? Complex Carbohydrates!!!! Complex carbohydrates are the best form of fuel because they release energy over time so it helps you sustain your workout over a period of time (read more about this here).  
When deciding your pre-workout snack also keep in mind not to choose something that has too much sugar because that will give you energy for a little time before your energy level dips (read more about this here).
Most research shows ideally you should be eating a combination of complex carbohydrates (great source of energy), protein and fluid making sure your choice is low in fibre and fat (fibre is difficult to digest)

Some of my favorite pre-workout snacks are:
  • Yoghurt with berries
  •  Only berries 
  •  Fruits (I always have a banana) 
  •  Smoothies (this I avoid if I am running but when I am doing weights smoothies are fine) 
  •  Sweet potato (boiled/baked/grilled – I always have this around) 
  •  Multi grain crackers  with a slice of turkey/chicken (this is rare, but when I do have these I have about 2 of these)
The other important thing I carry with me is water. I always carry water. The minute I am not well hydrated I start getting a headache and feel dizzy irrespective of what I have eaten water matters the most.
I change my pre-work food depending on my workout too especially if I plan to go running I have my pre-workout snack around 2 hours before my run again water is something I carry with me even if it is just a short run
Keep in mind depending on your workout intensity and the time for which you will be working out your choice of pre-work food will vary

Post workout
Things I keep in mind after my workout 
  • I need to restore the balance in my body. I need to restore the lost fluids. I need to have enough energy to carry on with my day.
  • I need my sore muscles to get back to normal asap so I can continue working out during the week as planned
According to everything I have read when you exercise your muscles break down the muscle glycogen and muscle protein structure so these two things to need to be retained. In simple words after you workout you are tired and your muscles are sore both these things need to be taken care of.
What food helps best in muscle recovery??? Protein!!!

Some of my immediate post workout snacks are:
  • Protein shake with ½ banana 
  • Protein Bounce balls 
  • Water, coconut water 
  • Peanut butter with apple 
  • Left over chicken with couscous 
  •  Boiled eggs with sweet potato or other vegetables
Usually my workouts are scheduled either early in the morning or just before dinner time. Most days I have a very small post-workout snack because it is usually followed by one of my main meals.
Pre and Post workout both need a combination of good carbohydrates and protein just the ratio shifts. Pre-workout you need more energy so higher ratio of complex carbohydrates and post workout your body needs to recover so you need a higher protein ratio

Pre-workout our focus is on energy post workout our focus has to be on repair and recovery.

I hope you found this useful. What are your favorite pre and post workout snacks?

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