Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Seven steps to a healthy heart

Health is wealth but in today's times, wealth is our new best friend. We all are running from pillar to post to make ends meet. A comfortable sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food have become our soulmates. Most of us do not hear the warning bells ringing until a trip to the hospital doesn't happen.

Two years ago at around this time, I discovered on an accidental visit to the hospital that I had put on some extra kilos. I had been a victim of persistent throbbing headaches but decided to ignore them blaming the sweaty humid heat for my ordeal. While I was intending to meet the dermatologist, I also happened to walk upto the general physician. I felt thankful at the startling revelations  that he had to make about my health, and from then I took a decision to give up on habits that were playing a spoilsport for my heart and health.

My sleeping schedule has been erratic since college and all through the long tiring hours I spent at the laboratory trying to unravel the mysteries of life, it continued. That very day I made a promise to myself to go to bed early, come what may. That also meant that even if I were to fall in love, I had to make sure that I don't lose sleep over it.

A few changes that I have made to my lifestyle since then have been:


I have been a lazy inactive person after I left school. There were tens of subjects and assignments to do in college and thereafter during my days as a research student which made me forget my favourite sport in school: basketball. I also used to occasionally play badminton and jog, but all these became luxuries for my slothful self as an adult. The biggest challenge was to inspire and prompt myself to start running again. But with time I started enjoying the rush it gives and now I make it a point to alternate between running and brisk walking on alternate days. Cardio is the best form of exercise and any number of trips to the gym can never equal the wholesome experience that walking can give you. A friendly open terrain with no traffic can make your walks an enjoyable experience. Make good use of the parks that the government and the residential colonies have created for you.

2) Stay on your toes throughout the day

I was a big fan of the elevator and if I were to shamelessly proclaim it, I used to take the lift even if I had to go up to the next floor. I gave up on the elevator and started climbing the stairs especially at the local and metro stations. For the rest of the day, I made a five minute walk in an hour, a must. Since I am a teacher, walking around or standing for long hours is not a big deal. The idea was to keep moving around and not stay still.

3)Ditch the unhealthy calories

This was the the toughest challenge for me since I have a sweet tooth and an inkling towards deep fried foods soaked in oil. While giving up on deep fried stuff wasn't a big deal, what brought tears to my eyes was the self-imposed restrictions on chocolates. I gave up on snacks like potato chips which were once my best friends and switched to almonds, nuts and limited quantities of dark chocolates. Polished rice gave way to brown rice and I have been doing my best to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in my diet to get my fill of fiber. Giving up on refined sugar was another bad habit that I have given up over the years while replacing it with simpler sugars like jaggery and honey. Since I am a vegetarian, there was no question of ditching red meat. Healthier meats like chicken and fish are good substitutes to red meat. Also make sure to cut down on salt and make use of healthy oils like canola or flaxseed oil. Being a malayali, I also had to finally bid goodbye to coconut and coconut oil.

4) Relax

Yes, do your best to stay at peace with yourself. Modern factors like the internet add to stress and we all must do our best to use it for a limited time and for our advantage. Forget worrying about tomorrow and start living for today. Danes, the happiest people in the world value the present, perhaps that's why they are stress free and the healthiest.

Join a hobby class like dance or music or pottery. Try to nurture your talents like your love for writing. Reading is also a great stress-buster.

Make sure to keep away all the screens from your bedroom. Try finishing your work at the earliest and switch off the television atleast an hour before sleeping. The blue light that these devices emit can hamper your sleep.

5) Give up on alcohol and kick the butt

Do it today. Since I wasn't an obsessive compulsive drinker and have never touched the butt, this never posed a threat to my health. Also do your best to stay away from people who smoke. Being a passive smoker can also pose a grave danger to your health and heart.

6) Drink more water

Yes, I started the "one gallon a day" water challenge two months ago. There is an angelic sheen on my face and my hair looks healthier with a shiny bounce. I have been able to keep at bay the acne that used to sprout on my face every now and then. Of course, initially the frequent trips to the washroom may worry you a bit, but with time your body will get adjusted to it. For a sweaty hot country like India where you melt under the angry sun for many months until winters, increasing your water intake would be a smart move for a healthier body.

7) Go for a health check up

Make it a point to go for a health check-up once in every six months or once in a year. For it is better to be safe than to be sorry. Much like your laptop needs regular maintenance, your body is also like a machine that needs check-ups and tests to stay fit. Invest in a health insurance policy and be prepared for tomorrow, just in case if you ever have to utilize it.

I am doing my best to follow all of these practices to stay hale and hearty. I am thankful to that obnoxious acne outburst two years ago that made me think about giving up on habits that were harming me in the long run. The good news is perhaps, because of these changes I made to my lifestyle I am no more a spotted dalmatian, finally leaving behind the acne that reappeared in my life, every now and then.

“I am joining the Saffolalife #ChhoteKadam initiative in association with BlogAdda and follow these small steps for a healthy heart.”

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