Workout Essentials – Recovery!!

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I know you’ve been hitting the gym hard and busting it in your training at home or ever since the lockdowns were lifted and gyms started opening up! You went to depth on every squat rep and pushed your reverse lunges to failure. Your quads are beat and your hamstrings burn. Your workout was tough. But let me tell you this, IT DID NOT BUILD AND OUNCE OF MUSCLE!!!

What if I tell you spending hours lifting, day in and day out, might actually stall your progress?

The answer to this lies in your post-gym regime. The opportunity for muscle growth begins the moment you STOP lifting, and that growth can’t happen without proper recovery protocol. Recovery and rest are essential parts of any strength and conditioning program—and most coaches and trainers would argue it’s just as or more important than the lifting itself.

Recovery must occur before progress can be made.

It is important for staying injury free, long-term consistent training and hitting new highs from time to time. Muscles don’t grow in the gym; they grow after. When you lift heavy, your muscles suffer micro-tears and are actually broken down via a process called Catabolism. Immediately after you lift, your body begins repairs, but it needs your help.

If you want to get the most from each and every workout, you need to prioritise post-workout recovery. Heed these tips to maximise recovery, stay on top of your game and ensure maximum gains.

1. Push The Barrier, Don’t Annihilate It

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“No pain, no gain!” has probably been spat in your face as you struggled to rack a one-rep max bench press. Pushing beyond your limits is a good thing, but just how far should you push? It is important to hit the muscle just enough to create that needed stimulus for muscle growth, but not in completely destroying it to the point where your muscle hurts for days.

If you obliterate your body with every workout, your body will revert its energy to repairing the downstream effects of the damage rather than building muscle.

“The focus shouldn’t be on how fast you recover, but instead on how productive your recovery is”. If you constantly obliterate your body to complete and utter exhaustion with every workout, this damage accumulates over time and your body will revert its energy to repairing the downstream effects of the damage rather than building new muscle.

The trick is to “work out hard enough to push yourself past your comfort zones—trying to do more than you did the workout before, for example. Just don’t destroy yourself entirely.” By following this sage advice, you’ll make solid and steady progress rather than taking one step forward and two steps back.

2. Get Serious About Pre-Workout Nutrition

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By now, most people understand that the foods they eat after their workout and throughout the day factor into the quality of their recovery. The foods you eat before a workout can also play an important role in pre-empting the tissue-rebuilding process once the workout is over.

Digestion is a lengthy process; proteins and carbs that you ingest prior to the workout will still be circulating in the body afterward. For this reason, choose your foods wisely. Make sure you get high-quality, lean protein along with some complex carbohydrates, especially if you plan on an intense workout. I personally have a small 200 calorie meal with some carbs and proteins, 45 minutes prior to heading to the gym. It may include a banana, or a couple slices of bread with cheese or peanut butter, or some almonds and an apple.

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In addition to eating near your workouts, there have been substantial reported benefits of taking BCAAs before and during a workout, as well. BCAAs have been designed to encourage efficient absorption by the muscle cells. Having said that, I would like to add that I am not an advocate of supplements, and it is always down to your personal preferences. However, I do consume 1 serving of BCAA during my workout.

3. Don’t Skip The Stretching

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Stretching probably doesn’t sound sexy (or even necessary) when all you want is size, but it might be the most underrated player in muscle growth. By not having the necessary flexibility and muscle pliability, you might short yourself on muscular gains in many compound lifts. For example, if your ankles are too tight, you can’t go deep enough in a squat to reap maximum benefits.

Barbara Bolotte, IFBB pro, stresses, “Make sure you allot at least 20 minutes after a workout to cool down and stretch. If you don’t plan for it, you are more likely to skip it.”

Stretching is a great way to relieve muscular tension and potentially downplay the soreness you experience later. “Prolonged stretching with moderate exercise and diet control will reduce cholesterol and significantly reverse hardening of the arteries,” notes Barbara. Knowing these things, more people should be taking stretching more seriously!

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4. Perfect Your Post-Workout Protein

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Go ahead and giggle at the burly types chugging their post-workout shake. While you chortle ’til you choke, they’re feeding their muscles the necessary fuel to grow and improve. Post-workout protein is vital, especially if you haven’t eaten anything for hours. Aim for 20-50 grams of protein after each workout depending on your bodyweight.

Whey protein is the most popular protein supplement, and for good reason: It is convenient, easy to mix, and it offers a rapid absorption rate that’s perfect after a tough training session. Don’t merely go for taste or cost. Invest in quality whey isolate to see a difference. Casein can also be on your route to the top. If your goal is to build size, you can prefer this type of protein, since it takes a significantly longer amount of time to absorb. There are many bodybuilders I have come across, who consume Whey proteins right after a workout, and Casein right before they go to bed.

One trick that I use to optimize my recovery is to drink about 30 grams of whey protein followed by lots of water and some carbs. “You need immediate, fast-acting carbohydrates during your post-workout window to replenish glycogen levels, restore energy, and bump up insulin levels”. “Insulin can be extremely anabolic at the right time, helping the restoration of muscle proteins by inhibiting protein breakdown and stimulating protein synthesis.”

5. Eat Potassium-Rich Foods

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While we’re on the subject of post-workout nutrition, you should consider including a source of potassium in your post-workout cocktail. Your potassium reserves will inevitably be sapped from an intense workout session. Potassium, among other nutrients like sodium and calcium, is a key mineral which plays a role in muscular energy. Bananas or potatoes are good potassium sources. Bananas go with nearly everything, but mashed potatoes in your first meal following the workout are also winners.

6. Focus On Quality Sleep

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Source : Michael A. Grandner, National Sleep Association.

Catching quality Zs seems like a no-brainer, but it’s still all to common to hear how many people get less than six hours of sleep.

“Sleep is not just for relaxing. This is the necessary downtime that your body needs to restore itself”. Sacrificing hours of sleep over a long period of time can even make you mentally weaker and negatively impact your drive in training sessions.

At least seven hours is the ideal target to hit, although many people, including athletes, may need up to nine hours. Find ways to make changes in your day that will allow you to get to bed earlier.

It has been shown that lack of adequate sleep can decrease and reduce tolerance to training, alter mood, increase perception of fatigue and negatively affect the physiological mechanisms responsible for adaptation from the stresses of training. Hormonal secretion during sleep is one of the most important factors influencing recovery; after all, the purpose of sleep is to induce a state of recovery in the body. Anabolic (muscle-building) hormone concentrations and activity increase during sleep while catabolic (muscle-wasting) hormone concentrations and activity decrease. Disrupted or shortened sleep will negatively influence the effects of these anabolic hormones.

Try to develop a regular sleeping routine where you go to bed at a similar time each night of the week. Remove distractions like light, smartphones, and TVs. If possible, try for 8 hours of sleep per night and/or fit in an afternoon power nap for 30 minutes to rejuvenate the body.

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A GUIDE TO SUGAR & HOW TO REDUCE ADDED SUGARS

Disclaimer : I don’t own this article. It has been taken from here, another blog I follow regularly for healthy recipes.

Sugar is a sneaky little ingredient that’s in a considerable amount of foods in many forms. Despite its delicious and innocent taste, sugar has addictive properties and is linked to a variety of preventable health conditions. Although it’s easy to label all sugar as “bad”, there are types that, when eaten in moderation, may have nutritional benefits.

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Types of Sugars

Sugar is a type of carbohydrate found in both food and beverages. Once eaten, sugar is broken down into glucose which is ultimately used for energy. Let’s break it down some more with the most common types & examples:

  1. Monosaccharides » glucose, galactose, fructose
  2. Disaccharides » sucrose, lactose, maltose
  3. Oligosaccharides » maltodextrin, raffinose
  4. Polyols (sugar alcohols) » sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol

Natural vs. Added Sugars

Natural sugars: ​

These are naturally occurring in foods (i.e. not added). Carbohydrates (simple and complex) are naturally occurring in some shape or form in practically all whole fruits, vegetables, dairy and grain products. 

  • Fruit: Primarily contains fructose 
  • Potatoes and yams: Contain starch which are made up of glucose molecules
  • Cow’s milk: Primarily contains lactose

Added Sugars :

These not only add sweetness to foods, but manufacturers add them into products to serve various other functions : Preservation, Texture and Mouthfeel, Volume, Rich color resulting from caramelisation.

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They can be found in:

  • Soda/Pop Drikns
  • Sweetened coffee or tree drinks
  • Cocktails
  • Energy or sports drinks
  • Fruit juices
  • Many store bought cereals, salad dressings, soups
  • Dairy based desserts such as ice cream, pudding, etc.
  • Candies such as gummies or halloween candy
  • Commercially baked goods such as cookies, muffins, cakes etc.

What about coconut sugar? Coconut sugar, while it may have a small trace amount of minerals, is nutritionally identical to white granulated sugar and is best consumed in the same level of moderation

Effects of Excess Added Sugars

  • Type 2 diabetes: has been linked to the habitual consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Weight gain: is connected to excessive intake of sugar. Having excess weight or obesity increases the risk for chronic illnesses such as hypertensiontype 2 diabetescoronary heart disease and various forms of cancers.
  • Fatigue: simple sugars can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels, which can come crashing back down making you feel tired and groggy. Complex sugars and carbohydrates break down slower, keeping the blood sugar more stable.
  • Cavities: there is a strong association between sugar-sweetened beverages and dental cavities in children though adults can get cavities just as easily.
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Liquid Sweeteners :

  • Maple Syrup
  • Blackstrap Molasses 
  • Agave Syrup
  • Honey
  • Corn Syrup

Ultimately these liquid sweeteners are sugars, too. They contain about the same amount of calories as white sugar and are generally metabolized in the same way. Some have trace minerals in very small amounts. We still love to use these sweeteners for their wonderful flavours and consistencies in particular recipes; however, they should still be consumed in moderation. 

Artificial Sweeteners 

  1. Acesulfame potassium
  2. Aspartame
  3. Cyclamate (Sweet’n Low)
  4. Neotame 
  5. Saccharin (Sweet’n Low)
  6. Stevia/Steviol (Truvia)
  7. Sucralose (Splenda)

These sugar substitutes are zero- or low- calorie alternatives to the sugar options mentioned above. Because of this, companies market their products as “sugar-free”, “diet” or “no calories”. They are found in many diabetic products because they have little or no effect on blood sugar levels. Some can be made from natural leaf extracts, and some are manufactured. Most artificial sweeteners are also remarkably sweeter when compared to table sugar, meaning smaller amounts can be used to create the same sweetness level. 

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Considerations with artificial sweeteners

a. conflicting evidence

According to the most recent meta-analysis, artificial sweeteners have not been linked to health outcomes such as diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers or dental health. However, according to other analyses, they have been associated with increased BMI and other complications. In short, there are biases and limitations to the studies conducted so far and more research is needed.

b. compensating for other sugary foods

In our experience, when people consciously know they are having artificial sweeteners with no calories, they mentally feel they can compensate with something that does have sugar later on. This is similar to exercising and then treating yourself with an indulgent food as a result. 

c. potential GI intolerances 

Some artificial sweeteners include sugar alcohols, which if consumed in large amounts (say, in a beverage) can have a laxative effect. 

d. can it really trick the brain?

Consuming artificial sweeteners lights up similar regions of the brain in terms of satisfaction as with all other types of sugar. Therefore, artificial sweeteners may not actually help curb sugar cravings from the root because we still tend to crave something sweet. In fact, one study suggests that we use sweet taste to predict the calories in a particular food. And when our bodies receive these non caloric sweeteners instead, it realizes the discrepancy and continues to crave, and can potentially eat even more. 

Bottom line: we recommend whole food sources above processed foods including added sugars or artificial sweeteners. There is not enough conclusive evidence to lean one way or the other in terms of long term health effects. Therefore, if you enjoy the flavour and find you do not compensate for sugar elsewhere in your diet, including artificial sweeteners is likely safe include in small amounts. 

Spotting Hidden Sugars in the Ingredient List

When it comes to the ingredient list of foods, only added sugars are listed. Granulated sugar is easy to spot in the ingredient list. But, food manufacturers can still add sugar in many other sneaky ways. Here are some more common types of sugar that can be added:

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  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Dextrose or dextrin
  • Maltose
  • Molasses
  • Lactose
  • Cane Sugar
  • Invert Sugar
  • Sucrose
  • Caramel
  • Liquid Sweeteners (mentioned above)

Hint: any ingredient that ends in ‘ose’ or has ‘syrup’ in the title is likely a source of added sugar

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OVERNIGHT OATS- 3 DIFFERENT WAYS!

Disclaimer : I don’t own any of this content. It was copied from Bake With Shivesh. I have been following him since a few months now and really love his content. This was one I felt like sharing with y’all.

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WHAT ARE OVERNIGHT OATS?

There are two basic ways of preparing oats. One way involves cooking them with milk on the stovetop right before you want to eat them. Another way of preparing oats is a no cooking method where you soak oats in milk and let the oats absorb the milk. This gives a porridge-like consistency and there is no need to cook oats made in such a way.

Usually, it only takes about 2 hours of time for the oats to absorb the milk. However, for the best flavor and texture, it is advised to leave your oats soaked in milk overnight.

INGREDIENTS FOR THESE RECIPES

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As I’ve mentioned above, the recipe for these overnight oats is very easy and requires the most commonly available ingredients. You will first need to make the basic recipe to which we will add the toppings of different flavors later.

For the basic recipe, all you need is milk, oats, and honey. The milk and oats ratio that I use is 2:1 i.e., two parts milk and one part oats. The 2:1 ratio gives me the perfect consistency of oats the next day. I add a little bit of honey for some sweetness but if you’re someone who is not a big fan of sweet oats, then you can leave out the honey.

For this recipe, I used rolled oats and not steel cut or instant oats. The main difference between rolled oats and steel cut oats is with regard to the way they absorb liquid. Rolled oats absorb liquid faster than steel cut oats and eventually get soft and slightly mushy. Steel cut oats on the other hand, absorb lesser liquid. This enables the steel cut oats to maintain their shape. Less absorption of liquid also leads to more of a nutty flavor in steel cut oats.

A lot of recipes for overnight oats also have greek yogurt in their basic recipe. But according to me, milk, honey, and oats are all you need for the basic recipe.

HOW TO MAKE VEGAN OVERNIGHT OATS

If you want to make vegan oats, then here is what you’ll need:

  • I used rolled oats for my recipe. Rolled oats are vegan itself so you can definitely use these.
  • I used cow’s milk for my recipe. But using almond milk or soy milk is a good substitute for cow milk.
  • For sweetness I added honey but you can add maple syrup. Honey is taken from honey bees so it’s not considered a vegan product.
  • You can add any fruits you like, any seeds you prefer and you can also add some vegan yogurt if you want!
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OATS AS A HEALTHY MEAL

Oats make for a perfect breakfast because they have a lot of health benefits. Plus, things like oatmeal definitely fill you up. Thus, there’s less scope of munching on snacks and junk! Health benefits of overnight oats include:

  • Oats are a great source of nutrients. They have fiber, protein, magnesium, potassium, and omega 3 fatty acids.
  • They do not have any pre-added sugar. Some instant flavor varieties might have some sugar, but simple plain oats have zero added sugar.
  • They are also high in antioxidants which help lower blood pressure levels.
  • Oats contains good amounts of healthy carbohydrates.
  • The vitamins in overnight oats can also help boost brain function.
TypeIngredientsInstructions
Overnight oats1 cup  milk
½ cup rolled oats
2 Tbsp honey
To make the basic overnight oats, in a bowl, put rolled oats, milk, and honey. Mix this well and refrigerate it overnight or a minimum of 2 hours.

Once refrigerated, transfer the basic overnight oats into your serving dish and assemble your overnight oats according to your flavor preference.
Apple Pie Oats½ cup overnight oats
¼ cup chopped apples
2 Tbsp dried cranberries
1 tsp light brown sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp water
¼ cup chopped pecans (optional)
In a saucepan add chopped apples, dried cranberries, cinnamon, light brown sugar and water.

Cook this apple pie folling on low heat till all the sugar dissolves. Set aside
Take your serving bowl/ glass and add half of the basic overnight oats. Fold in chopped pecans. This is optional.

Add the rest of your basic overnight oats and top it with the apple pie filling and some chopped nuts. Serve immediately.
Banana and Chocolate½ cup overnight oats
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
¼ cup crushed walnuts
1 banana (sliced)
2 tsp chia seeds (to top)
In your serving bowl/glass, put the basic overnight oats.

Now add cocoa powder to this and mix it well.
Top it with sliced bananas and chia seeds. Serve immediately
Peanut Butter and Jelly Overnight Oats½ cup overnight oats
1 cup diced strawberries
2 Tbsp strawberry chia jam
2 Tbsp peanut butter
Strawberries and pumpkins seeds (to top)
In your serving bowl/glass, put the basic overnight oats. Fold in chopped strawberries to this.

Add a layer of strawberry chia jam.

Then add a layer of peanut butter.

Top this with fresh strawberries and pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately

Disclaimer : I don’t own any of this content. It was copied from Bake With Shivesh. I have been following him since a few months now and really love his content. This was one I felt like sharing with y’all.

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You Vs. Who?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com
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I was Cycling this morning and I noticed another cyclist about half a kilometer ahead. I could guess he was Cycling a little slower than me and that made me feel good, since I was faster.

I said to myself, “If I ride a little faster, I will catch up with him in no time”.

So I started cycling faster and faster. With every pedal, I was gaining on him a little bit. After just a few minutes I was only about 100 feet behind him, so I really picked up the pace and pushed myself. In that moment, all I could think about was getting past him and I was determined to do just that.

Finally, I did it! I caught up and passed him. It was a small moment of rush and joy where I told myself, “I beat him”. Of course, he didn’t even know we were racing. It was only after I passed him, that I realized I had been so focused on competing against him that I had missed the turn to my house!!!

In this entire unnecessary charade going on in my head, I totally missed out on enjoying the moment. I missed out on enjoying the activity that brought me peace, I missed out on seeing the beautiful greenery around, I missed out on paying attention to my thoughts and in the needless hurry my feet slipped from the pedal a couple of times and I could have have hit the sidewalk and broken a limb.

Like a lot of my other thoughts that I’ve penned on this page before, it then dawned on me, that this is exactly what happens in life when we focus on competing with people around us ; co-workers, neighbours, friends, family ; trying to outdo them or being busy trying to prove (to ourselves and people around us) that we are more successful or more important and in the process, missing out on our happiness within our own surroundings.

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We spend so much time and energy running after them that we miss out on our own paths to our given destinations. The problem, I realised, with unhealthy competition is that it’s a never ending cycle. There will always be somebody ahead of you, someone with a better job, a nicer car, more money in the bank, more education, a prettier wife, a more handsome husband, better behaved children, better circumstances and conditions, etc.

But one important realisation is that

‘You can be the best that you can be, when you are not competing with anyone.’

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Some people are insecure because they pay too much attention to what others are, where others are going, wearing and driving, what others are talking. Take whatever you have, the height, the weight and the personality. Accept it and realize, that you are blessed (Ofcourse, there’s always scope for growth and one should never stop working hard to be where they want to be). But accept it, be grateful for it and stay focused and live a healthy life.

There is no competition in Destiny. Each has his own.

Comparison AND Competition are the thief of JOY.

It kills the Joy of Living your Own Life. Run your own Race, one which leads to a peaceful, happy and steady life. Seek adventure if it suits you, seek competition if it brings out the best in you, but don’t let it pull you down or rob you of your joy or self-love.

I hope you find this helpful or atleast it provokes your thinking engines. Until next time!

Note : For more updates and photos, please follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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Guilty-Pleasure Chocolate Cupcakes

Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Egg-less Cupcakes
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PREP TIME – 15 mins

COOK TIME – 20 mins

SERVES – 12-15 portions

INGREDIENTS: –

  • 1 Cup Oats Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Dark Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 Cup Raw Sugar (ground)
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 Tsp Instant Coffee Powder

METHOD: –

  • In a bowl sift all dry ingredients; Oats Flour, Cocoa Powder, Baking Soda and Baking Powder.
  • In another bowl mix all wet ingredients, first the raw sugar and coconut oil, then add in Vanilla extract, Coffee and Milk-Mix well.
  • Slowly mix the dry and wet ingredients together; remember not to over-mix or else you will get dense cupcakes.
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  • Once the batter is formed, pre-heat your oven to 180C and fill your cupcake liners a little between half to two-third of the liner.
  • Heat the cupcakes for 20mins at 160C, keep an eye on the cupcakes and check once at 15mins depending on your oven heat.
  • Remove the cupcakes from the cupcake tray & enjoy hot or let them cool down for 15 mins and consume. 🙂

NOTES: – You could add melted chocolate on top but we liked a simple sliced almond crust since the cupcakes are going to be gooey thanks to the Oats Flour and Milk.

For more recipes follow and share via Facebook and Instagram.

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Banana and Apple Protein Snack

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PREP TIME – 10 mins

COOK TIME – 10 mins

SERVES – 2

INGREDIENTS: –

  • 1 Apple
  • 1 Banana
  • 3-4 Tbsp of Peanut Butter (I used Crunchy Peanut Butter)
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Tsp Protein Powder
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Flax Seeds

METHOD: –

1. Slice the Banana and Apple.

2. Spread the Peanut Butter on top of the Banana and Apple slices.

3. Sprinkle the Pumpkin seeds and Flax Seeds and Protein Powder on top.

4. Drizzle Honey.

Ta da – Enjoy you Banana and Apple Protein Snacks ❤

NOTES: – You can drizzle dark chocolate on top. You can also add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder and chia seeds.

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The Imposter Syndrome Is Real!

Have you ever felt like you don’t belong? Like your friends or colleagues are going to discover you’re a fraud, and you don’t actually deserve your job and accomplishments?

If so, you’re in good company. These feelings are known as Imposter Syndrome, or what psychologists often call impostor phenomenon. An estimated 70% of people experience these impostor feelings at some point in their lives, according to a review article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science.

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Overview:

1. What is imposter syndrome?

2. Types of Imposter Syndrome

3. Imposter Syndrome and Mental Health

4. Why do people experience imposter syndrome?

5. Coping with Imposter Syndrome

So what exactly is imposter syndrome?

Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments or talents and has a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a “Fraud“. Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. These individuals attribute their success to luck, or interpret it as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be. While early research focused on the prevalence among high-achieving women, impostor syndrome has been recognised to affect both men and women equally.

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Simply speaking, Impostor Syndrome can apply to anyone ‘who isn’t able to internalize and own their successes’ or people who downplay their own expertise in areas where they’re more genuinely more skilled than others.

Expert on the subject, Dr. Valerie Young, has categorized it into subgroups: the Perfectionist, the Superwoman/man, the Natural Genius, the Soloist, and the Expert. In her book, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer From the Imposter Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It, Dr. Young builds on decades of research studying fraudulent feelings among high achievers.

Types Of Imposter Syndrome

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Imposter syndrome can appear in a number of different ways. A few different types of imposter syndrome that have been identified are: 

  • The Perfectionist: Perfectionists are never satisfied and always feel that their work could be better. Rather than focus on their strengths, they tend to fixate on any flaws or mistakes. This often leads to a great deal of self-pressure and high amounts of anxiety.
  • The Superhero:Because these individuals feel inadequate, they feel compelled to push themselves to work as hard as possible. 
  • The Expert: These individuals are always trying to learn more and are never satisfied with their level of understanding. Even though they are often highly skilled, they underrate their own expertise.
  • The Natural Genius: These individuals set excessively lofty goals for themselves, and then feel crushed when they don’t succeed on their first try.
  • The Soloist: These people tend to be very individualistic and prefer to work alone. Self-worth often stems from their productivity, so they often reject offers of assistance. They tend to see asking for help as a sign of weakness or incompetence. 

For an in-depth analysis and better understanding of these types and to identify if you fit under any of these types, click here.

Imposter Syndrome and Mental Health

If you often find yourself feeling like you are a fraud or an imposter, it may be helpful to talk to a therapist. The negative thinking, self-doubt, and self-sabotage that often characterise imposter syndrome can have an effect on many areas of your life.

Impostor syndrome and social anxiety may overlap. A person with social anxiety disorder may feel as though they don’t belong in social or performance situations. You might be in a conversation with someone and feel as though they are going to discover your social incompetence. You might be delivering a presentation and feel as though you just need to get through it before anyone realizes you really don’t belong there.

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Impostor syndrome also occurs in the context of mental illness and its treatment. Certain individuals may see themselves as less ill (less depressed, less anxious) than their peers or other mentally ill people, citing their lack of severe symptoms as the indication of no or a minor underlying issue. People with this form don’t seek help for their issues, seeing their problems as not worthy of professional attention.

Why do people experience imposter syndrome?

There’s no single answer. Some experts believe it has to do with personality traits—like anxiety or neuroticism—while others focus on family or behavioral causes. Sometimes childhood memories, such as feeling that your grades were never good enough for your parents or that your siblings outshone you in certain areas, can leave a lasting impact. “People often internalize these ideas: that in order to be loved or be lovable, ‘I need to achieve,’”.

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Factors outside of a person, such as their environment or institutionalized discrimination, can also play a major role in spurring impostor feelings. “A sense of belonging fosters confidence,” says Young. “The more people who look or sound like you, the more confident you feel. And conversely, the fewer people who look or sound like you, it can and does for many people impact their confidence.”

This is especially true “whenever you belong to a group for whom there are stereotypes about competence,” Young adds, including racial or ethnic minorities, women in STEM fields or even international students at American universities.

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Coping With Imposter Syndrome

  • Share your feelings : Talk to other people about how you are feeling. These irrational beliefs tend to fester when they are hidden and not talked about.
  • Focus on others : While this might feel counterintuitive, try to help others in the same situation as you. If you see someone who seems awkward or alone, ask that person a question to bring them into the group. As you practice your skills, you will build confidence in your own abilities.
  • Assess your abilities : If you have long-held beliefs about your incompetence in social and performance situations, make a realistic assessment of your abilities. Write down your accomplishments and what you are good at, and compare that with your self-assessment.
  • Take baby steps : Don’t focus on doing things perfectly, but rather, do things reasonably well and reward yourself for taking action. It is all about finding yourself and building yourself up.
  • Question your thoughts : As you start to assess your abilities and take baby steps, question whether your thoughts are rational. Does it make sense that you are a fraud, given everything that you know?
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  • Stop comparing : Every time you compare yourself to others in a social situation, you will find some fault with yourself that fuels the feeling of not being good enough or not belonging. Instead, during conversations, focus on listening to what the other person is saying. Be genuinely interested in learning more.
  • Use social media moderately : We know that the overuse of social media may be related to feelings of inferiority. If you try to portray an image on social media that doesn’t match who you really are or that is impossible to achieve, it will only make your feelings of being a fraud worse.
  • Stop fighting your feelings : Don’t fight the feelings of not belonging. Instead, try to lean into them and accept them. It’s only when you acknowledge them that you can start to unravel those core beliefs that are holding you back.
  • Refuse to let it hold you back : No matter how much you feel like you don’t belong, don’t let that stop you from pursuing your goals. Keep going and refuse to be stopped.

A Personal Note

Remember that if you are feeling like an impostor, it means you have some degree of success in your life that you are attributing to luck. Try instead to turn that feeling into one of gratitude. Look at what you have accomplished in your life and be grateful.

Don’t be crippled by your fear of being found out. Instead, lean into that feeling and get at its roots. Let your guard down and let others see the real you. If you’ve done all these things and still feel like your feeling of being an impostor is holding you back, it is important to speak to a mental health professional.

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Coffee-Cocoa Walnut Cake

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PREP TIME – 15 mins

COOK TIME – 25 mins

SERVES – 1 Cake

INGREDIENTS: –

  • 3/4 Cup Oats Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Dark Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Sugar (ground)
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 2 Tsp Instant Coffee Powder
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • Handful of chopped Walnuts

METHOD: –

  • In a bowl sift all dry ingredients; Oats Flour, Cocoa Powder, Baking Soda and Baking Powder.
  • In another bowl mix all wet ingredients, first the raw sugar and coconut oil, then add in Vanilla extract, Coffee and Milk-Mix well.
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  • Slowly mix the dry and wet ingredients together; remember not to over-mix or else you will get a super dense cake.
  • Once the batter is formed, pre-heat your oven to 180C and fill your cake tin with the batter & top it with the chopped walnuts.
  • Heat the cake for 20-25mins at 160C, keep an eye on the cake and check once at 15mins depending on your oven heat.
  • Remove the cake from the cake tin & let it cool down for 15 mins and consume. 🙂

NOTES: – Enjoy with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate or even a warm glass of plain milk.

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Nutrition: An Essential Ingredient For A Healthy Mind

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Representational Image

Note : This article is neither written or owned by Bombay Ficus. It is written by Kripa Jalan and Sharang Shah and published here.

Globally, massive strides have been made in the last few decades to improve both the quality of and access to healthcare, but this progress has been lopsided. While certain forms of healthcare such as maternal and child healthcare have greatly improved, others such as mental healthcare play laggard in achieving SDG coverage targets.

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The WHO estimates that 25% of the world suffers or will suffer from a mental health issue at some point in their life . Closer to home, the National Mental Health Survey 2015-16 revealed that nearly 15% India adults need active intervention for one or more mental health issues and one in 20 Indians suffers from depression. It is estimated that in 2012, India had over 258,000 suicides, with the age-group of 15-49 years being most affected. Covid-19 has only ended up exacerbating the already grim situation.

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India was already not equipped to handle the initial case load; let alone the additional increased burden of the pandemic. The ideal psychiatrist to population ratio is about 1:8,000 to 10,000. According to estimates by professionals, in India, there is only one psychiatrist for every 2-lakh people. The shortfalls for other mental health professionals is also staggering: the need of Clinical Psychologists is 20,000 and there are only 1,000 available; for Psychiatric Social Workers, the requirement is 35,000, but only 900 are available, for Psychiatric Nurses, we need 30,000 and only 1500 are available.

To its credit, the government has put into motion the framework to help solve for this issue in the long run. In 2017, the Parliament of India passed the Mental Health Care Act , which puts the onus on the government to build up human resource capacities to ensure that mental health services are available in each district in the country. Unfortunately, the on-ground effects of these measures are at least a decade away.

With close to 250,000 suicides a year across the country, a decade is a luxury that India does not have. Other avenues of government policy can be explored and operationalized to reduce the burden of depression and anxiety in the short-run, and to increase general well-being levels among the population. To achieve this, one of the areas that the government can lean on is food policy.

Food is one of the biggest causes of illness and the consequent economic burden it places on families, societies, and countries alike. However, it can also be the solution.

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Over the past few decades, the diet of middle-class India has shifted from a primarily cereal-based diet for highly processed convenience foods, rich in refined sugar and trans fats .These foods are a contributing factor to increased rates of obesity and non-communicable diseases – caseload of diabetes in India has increased from 3% of Indian adults in 1970 to 11.2% in 2017. Research also reveals that the degree of hyperglycaemia in individuals with Type 1- and Type 2- diabetes is positively associated with risk of depression , and poor blood sugar control may harm mental health by increasing gut and brain inflammation, in turn compromising mental health. In fact, several components of the industrialized diet, disrupt the gut microbiome.

There is now a substantial body of evidence pointing to the existence of a strong relationship between the gut and one’s mood ; it is one of the reason’s we experience sensations such as butterflies in the stomach when we’re nervous/excited about something. Similarly, the gut is abundant with serotonin receptors ; shifts in gut health can impact our mood. A precarious balance of good and bad bacteria living in our gut can have major impacts on our daily experience. This is the reason medication like anti-depressants can impact our bodily functions and have warnings for side-effects such as diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal issues.

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As such, the food we consume is a critical ingredient in balancing our emotions. Consumption of whole food diets heavy on fruits, vegetables and unprocessed foods is linked to higher levels of well-being, while ingesting junk and processed foods heavy is a precursor to lifestyle diseases and has been linked to depression . Sugar and trans-fats , key ingredients in processed foods, have been found to cause emotional instability and dysregulation. Further, they contribute to inflammation, which is the root cause of several diseases and known to be associated with schizophrenia.

To effectively use these findings for improving the well-being of the population, the government needs to take a multi-pronged policy approach, which include mandatory limitsand awareness about reading labels. In this regard, there are already regulations in the pipeline, which need to be notified. The regulations limiting the amount of trans-fats in edible oils and processed foods have been pending notification for over a year and are nearing the government’s own set deadline of being implemented by January 2021 . While the government launched a trans-fat free logo last year, the same is one part of the puzzle. Labelling of high fat/sugar/salt (HFSS) has been in the works for over two years, with no indication of a deadline for completion . Such a regulation would be necessary for consumers to make informed choices that would impact their own well-being.

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The mental health and chronic disease epidemics demand to be treated with the urgency they deserve. This will require a massive shift with a focus on public health as a national priority. It would be essential for individuals, communities and both private and public healthcare sector to come together with a clear public health message. At the government level, one cannot take a one-size fits all approach; it is necessary to continuously look at the relevant science and keep expanding the umbrella of activities. Nutrition is a low-hanging fruit that has already been on the government radar from a physical health perspective. All that needs to be done is to expedite this process.

(Kripa Jalan is a professional nutrition consultant, Founder of Burgers to Beasts and a graduate student at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Sharang Shah is a policy consultant with Chase India)

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Gooey Banana Cupcakes

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Gooey Banana Cupcakes
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PREP TIME: – 20 mins

COOK TIME: – 15 mins

SERVES: – 3-4 cupcakes

INGREDIENTS: –

  • 4 Small Bananas
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla Essence
  • 3-4 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Jaggery Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 2/3 cup Whole Wheat

DIRECTIONS: –

1. Mash the bananas in a bowl.

2. In another bowl mix Jaggery Powder and Olive Oil well.

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3. Take a separate bowl and mix all dry ingredients together (Whole Wheat,Cocoa Powder, Baking soda and Baking powder)

4. Slowly add all the dry ingredients to the Banana Mixture and mix well. Remember, not to overmix.

5. Transfer the mixture into Cupcake Moulds or a greased Cake Tin.

6. Pre-Heat the Oven for 15 mins at 180C.

7. Heat the Cupcake or Cake at 180C for 15-20 mins or until a toothpick or fork comes out clean.

NOTES: –

You can add crushed chocolate, walnuts, almonds to decorate the cupcake. Let the cupcakes cool down before you eat them or you might burn your tongue like I did.

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Spiced Hot Chocolate

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PREP TIME – 2 mins

COOK TIME – 5 mins

SERVES – 1 Mug

INGREDIENTS: –

METHOD: –

  • In a steel pot pour the milk & jaggery and bring to boil
  • Lower the heat and put all spices in (Ginger, Cinnamon and Clove) & stir well and bring to boil once again.
  • In your empty mug drop Hershey’s Cocoa Powder (unsweetened) & then strain the spiced milk & stir till no lumps are visible.

Notes : Enjoy with our previously made Cocoa-Oats Bis-Cookies or No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookies or Chocolate Chip Butter Buttons.

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Veg Masala Oats

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Make your breakfast easy & special with this Indian Flavoured Veg Masala Oats
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PREP TIME – 5-10 mins

COOK TIME – 5-10 mins

SERVES – 2-3  Depending on the serving portion

INGREDIENTS: –

  • 4 Small Cups Rolled Oats
  • 1 Chopped Tomato 
  • 2 Cups of Spinach
  • 1-2 Handful Peanuts
  • 1/2 Tsp Himalayan Salt
  • 1/4 Tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Chilli Powder
  • 3/4 Jeeravan Powder (Mixed Spices)
  • Fresh Coriander to Garnish

METHOD: –

1. In a pan, boil 750ml water, then add the in the Oats, Himalayan Salt, Turmeric Powder, Coriander Powder, Chilli Powder and Jeeravan Powder. Stir and let the Oats cook for 2-3 minutes. 

2. Add in the chopped tomato, and let it cook for an additional 2 minutes or until the water has evaporated.

3. Once the the oats are cooked to your satisfaction then add in the peanuts and stir.

4. Turn the gas off and mix in the Spinach.

5. Plate and garnish with Fresh Coriander and some more Peanuts.

Ta da – Enjoy your Veg Masala Oats 

NOTES: –

You can add different vegetable & flavours according to your taste. Mix it up a little and try something new.

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