Pumpkin Seed Power Balls

Hello amazing readers, bakers, chefs 🙂

We are back with another Nutty Power-Ball Recipe

PREP TIME – 10 mins

COOK TIME – 15-20 mins

SERVES – 1-20  Depending on the size

INGREDIENTS: –

  • 1/4 Cup Cashew Butter (half a jar- approximately 4 to 5 Tbsp)
  • 1/3 Cup Almonds (grind in a grinder) 
  • 2 Tbsp Organic Honey
  • 1/3 Cup Pumpkin Seeds (finely chopped or grind in a grinder)
  • 1/4 Cup Fine Coconut
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METHOD: –

1. Heat the honey and cashew butter for a few minutes on low heat and then add in the rest of the ingredients.

2. Once all the ingredients are mixed well, roll into balls. Let them cool – once cooled put them into a tub and in the fridge.

Ta da – Enjoy your Pumpkin Seed Power Balls

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NOTES: –

1. These balls are high in protein and have good fat and carbs, making for a good pre-workout or post-workout snack.

2. Drizzle dark chocolate on top or dip them into melted chocolate using a tooth pick (this will make them into healthy cake pops).

3. Cashew Butter at home, simple grind 3 cups of Cashew (unsalted preferred) till a tough paste is formed, add 2-3 tablespoons of Coconut Oil to make it creamier.

Hope you enjoy these as much as we did, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more updates.

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The Truth About Jaggery

Jaggery is a sweetener that’s becoming popular as a “healthy” replacement for sugar. More so, it is used regularly in day to day recipes across most Indian households. If you’re an Indian, your grandparents or ancestors have at some point insisted that you have some and that it’s good for your health. It is also seldom referred as a “superfood sweetener”.

So what exactly is jaggery?

Jaggery is an unrefined sugar product made most commonly in Asia and Africa. It is sometimes referred to as a “non-centrifugal sugar,” because it is not spun during processing to remove the nutritious molasses. It is a concentrated product of Cane juice or Date or Palm sap, without separation of the molasses and crystals, and can vary from golden brown to dark brown in colour

Similar non-centrifugal sugar products exist all over Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, although they all have different names. These products include :

  • Gur: India.
  • Panela: Colombia.
  • Piloncillo: Mexico.
  • Tapa dulce: Costa Rica.
  • Namtan tanode: Thailand.
  • Gula Melaka: Malaysia.
  • Kokuto: Japan.

More than 2/3 rd of the world’s jaggery production takes place in India, where it is commonly called “gur” (and pronounced “gud“). It is most often made with sugar cane. However, jaggery made from date palm is also common in several countries. To know more about jaggery and how it is made you can visit the respective link attached.

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How is it used?

Like sugar, jaggery can be used in multiple ways. It can be grated or broken up, and then used as a replacement for refined sugar in any food or drink. In India, it is often used in the preparation of certain vegetables which require a hint of sweetness or in various Indian desserts.

Off late, it is also quite popular amongst bakers to use them it as a healthy alternate to sugar. You’ll find it as an ingredient in some of the recipes we’ve got on our website. There are a growing number of beverage drinkers who prefer adding jaggery to their tea or coffee in order to avoid using refined sugar.

Jaggery although sweet, does have a distinct flavour compared to refined sugar and simultaneously, isn’t as sweet either (because of other nutrients). It is also used to make traditional alcoholic drinks, such as palm wine, and for non-food purposes like dying fabric.

The next important question is “Is it better than sugar/ Is it healthy?”

Jaggery contains more nutrients than refined sugar because of its molasses content. Molasses is a nutritious by-product of the sugar making process, which is usually removed when making refined sugar. Including the molasses adds a small amount of micronutrients to the final product. The exact nutrition profile of this sweetener can vary, depending on the type of plant used to make it (cane or palm).

This is a screenshot taken from My Fitness Pal which talks about the nutritional value and caloric content of jaggery.

However, keep in mind that this is a 100-gram serving, which is much higher than you would generally eat at once. You’d probably consume closer to a tablespoon (20 grams) or teaspoon (7 grams). Jaggery may also contain small amounts of B vitamins and minerals, including calcium, zinc, phosphorus and copper.

Also, in terms of taste jaggery is not usually as sweet as refined sugar, which could lead to a person using it in excess (in calorie terms) as compared to refined sugar, which is all the more counter-productive.

HOWEVER, It is not all bad and it does have some benefits.

There are some health benefits to jaggery too.

It is high in iron, which helps with anaemia prevention. It also helps regulate bowel movement and avoid constipation, helps build immunity, controls blood pressure, detoxifies the liver, etc. To read about it in detail, click here.

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BUT…. It is still mostly sugar.

Compared to refined sugar, jaggery appears nutritious. Refined white sugar contains only “empty calories” — that is, calories without any vitamins or minerals. When compared side by side, molecule to molecule, jaggery is more nutritious than sugar. However, there is a big “but” when it comes to describing it as nutritious.

It is essentially still sugar with some added nutrients that come with A LOT of calories. You would also need to eat A LOT of jaggery to get a meaningful amount of these nutrients, which you can get in much greater amounts from other sources.

So, while it may be slightly “healthier” to replace refined sugar with a sweetener that has more vitamins and minerals, it is not the most ideal option to add jaggery to your diet.

Conclusion :

Is Jaggery better than sugar? Yes it is. Jaggery may have a better nutrition profile than sugar and is a *healthier* alternative. But it still is 85% sugar and high in calories and is best consumed (if it must be) in moderation. However, for a person who intends on reducing weight, curbing your desserts or sweet intake may still be the best, healthiest and most sustainable option in the long term.

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A World Without Sports

Different sports.

It has been a difficult couple of months since the COVID19 pandemic hit, without any kind of sport being played because it was one of the biggest sources of entertainment for me. I follow the NBA, F1, EPL, Cricket and Tennis very closely. Watching these sports to geeking out on post-match analytics and arguing about it over lunch took up a lot of my day.

The first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions the word sports to me is ‘Passion, Competition, Discipline, Athletes, Physicality, Fitness, Training, etc.’ to name a few. The next thing that probably comes to mind is an athlete, a sport or an entire sporting event.

Lebron James with a monstrous dunk
You could sense the passion, intensity and competitive spirit in this moment when Lebron James made that monstrous dunk!

Although every country and every person has their own background, sports has become a universal culture that is represented in every corner of the world, becoming its own platform that unites people and their cultures in many different forms.

Polish fans hoisting their flag before Portugal V Poland during The Euros 2016

Take The Indian Premier League for example. A joy for every cricket fan and one that ensures every other human being in India is sitting in front of the television sets every evening for 45 days straight. Or imagine The NFL or The NBA or European Football. An event stretched over 36-40 weeks that entertains you everyday or weekend and usually leads to a big withdrawal and boredom over the summer break (Transfer rumours are super exciting though!).

It was only when it was taken away from me, that I realised how far reaching impact it had on a global scale through many multiple sectors. So let’s break down sports into various categories and how they impact our lives:

1. The Economic Impact of Sports

Economic Impact of sports

Sports represent a billion-dollar business—that’s no secret. But what you might not realize is the immensely positive impact sports have on local economies, mainly through tourism dollars.

According to the data provided by BCCI, the Indian Premier League (IPL) contributed Rs 11.5 billion ($182 million) to India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015.

2. Job Creation

Sports and job creation

Part of the economic impact involves jobs. According to Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., as of 2013, the sports industry in America produced 456,000 jobs. These jobs include far more than just the athletes; other occupations involved with spectator sports such as coaches, referees and agents. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the many stadium vendors and their employees, front-office personnel, etc.

Sardar Patel Stadium in Gujarat, India

Currently, the Sardar Patel Stadium in Gujarat is undergoing redevelopment and with a capacity to host 110,000 fans, it is set to become the largest sporting arena in the world, overtaking Melbourne Cricket Ground. Development is not just restricted to the stadium, with management planning to integrate the metro rail and Sabarmati Riverfront Road in its schema. The new stadium is expected to attract more tourists to the area, bringing in contribution from indirect spends.

3. National Unity

Stretford End and Man Utd Fans

Sports provide a platform for people to come together and support their country. International events like the Olympics and the World Cup serve as a point around which to rally and show national pride and unity.

During the 2011 Cricket World Cup, the ratings agencies TAM and aMap respectively recorded that 135 million people in India watched the final live. The game was watched by 13.6% of Indian TV-equipped households on average, with a peak of 21.44% at the end of the game.

I still remember the goosebumps when the entire stadium was singing The Indian National Song and how the entire city came on the streets, shouting at the top of our lungs to celebrate that victory. Nobody cared about castes or communities. All we jeered about was that ‘India won the World Cup’.

4. Role Models, Motivators and Inspirers

Roger Federer as a role model

Ask young children who their role models are, and I bet a good amount of them would name an athlete.

Take an athlete like Abhinav Bindra who holds India’s only Individual Olympic Gold Medal or Virat Kohli, who now captains a dominant Indian side in cricket or Sania Mirza, a former world no.1 and 6 time grand slam winner. These athletes inspire millions of kids and athletes to take up sports and make the nation proud.

5. Community Relationships

Most teams and leagues have community-relations departments or charitable arms. This means that professional athletes often spend time performing service in their communities.

Take an example of an IPL franchise. Since 2010, Mumbai Indians has been supporting ESA – Education and Sports for All. Through this initiative, Reliance Foundation has impacted the lives of over 18 million children. The initiative provides quality education and sporting opportunities to children across India.

6. Emotions

I know this sounds hokey, but one of the most positive things about sports is the pure, unadulterated joy that can result—for the players, coaches, fans and everyone involved. Sports has the capacity to move people. It gets people to believe and bring about a feeling of ownership and inclusivity.

Sports are emotional, and they can incite great passion. Sometimes it’s joyful, and other times it’s not. But anytime something can bring out that range of extreme, raw emotion in people, it’s a good thing. I remember having tears in my eyes after Indian won that World Cup, mainly because I was relieved and I could finally let go off that anxiety and we achieved the best possible result. But, it’s not just upto a commoner like me.

Lebron James collapsed and cried after the 2016 NBA Finals when he finally brought a major sporting title to the city of Cleveland after over 5 decades. As did Michael Jordan after winning his first championship with the Chicago Bulls.

The entire city of Toronto was on the streets to celebrate The Rapotor’s first NBA title since it’s existence.

When a team wins, a city or a nation wins, millions of people win and nobody can take away that raw emotion from you.

7. Philanthropy

Many professional athletes have foundations. There are hundreds, in fact, with causes ranging from promoting healthy lifestyles to diabetes awareness.

Derek Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation, in existence since 1996, helps steer young people toward a healthy way of life. During his final season in 2014, many teams donated money to Jeter’s foundation to help honor him. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the foundation has raised over $19 million to date.

The inauguration of LeBron’s I Promise School in Akron, Ohio.

LeBron James grew up in Akron, Ohio and became a sports icon. James has done numerous projects to help disadvantaged children. With none viewed higher than the creation of a public school in his hometown.

While some might classify it as more entertainment than sport, there’s no denying the physical conditioning and functional strength of WWE wrestlers, and there’s absolutely zero questioning John Cena’s rank as one of the most charitable athletes in the world. Cena is not only the most-requested athlete in the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he’s blown everyone else out of the water, granting more than 500 wishes to date.

8. Iconic Moments

I don’t find the need to say anything more about these memorable moments in sports, except just add a few pictures that any fan would probably never forget.

-The Travellothoner

Workout Myths – Squat Edition

Back squats are unquestionably one of the single most productive exercises that can be performed in the weight room to increase overall strength and power. Together with bench presses and deadlifts, this trio in my opinion are the most effective at gaining overall strength and gaining muscle.

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There’s no reason there should be blanket cues that encompass everyone—especially where exercise is concerned. When it comes to squats sure, everyone knows there are basic tips to follow in order to stay safe and prevent injury – keeping a tall spine, proper breathing methods, distributing weight through the entire foot, and tightness through the core and upper back. And they go without saying.

Nevertheless, the exercise still has its critics and myths continue to haunt us. Some of them are as follows:

1. Your knees can never go over your toes when you squat

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The theory that knees should never go over toes was found in a study that found maintaining a vertical lower leg as much as possible reduced strain on the knee during a squat. However, the study only looked at two dimensional models of the knee joint, so it lacked consideration of forces working from above, at the hip, below, and at the ankle, which all receive considerable force in this position

The reason we are told to ensure our knees don’t go over our toes is actually less about our toes and more about our centre of gravity and muscle recruitment. With the weight shifted back, we get more muscle activation from the glutes and hamstrings, whereas when our weight is shifted forward the focus is more on the quads and anterior chain. So… knees over toes is a myth as the toes simply serve as an arbitrary point and the guideline should really be more to do with how to balance load, but the knees over toes works as a simplified guideline.

2. Deep squats are bad for your knees

 

this-is-how-deep-you-should-squatContrary to popular belief, squatting deep is not bad for the knees – studies have found there is no difference between partial, parallel and deep squats impact on the knee.  Another study by The Journal of Biomechanics found that the deeper the squat, the less pressure is created inside the knee. The journal of strength and conditioning research also completed a study which concluded that parallel squats with heavy weights are less effective at increasing strength than deep squats with a lighter weight.

Obviously, there is not a one-size-fits-all perfect squat, but in most cases, gradual progressive training to the full range of motion of a deep squat will be effective.

3. If it doesn’t break parallel it doesn’t count

Myth. Despite the research supporting squat depth as seen above, failing to squat deep doesn’t mean that the squats don’t count. In fact squatting to parallel is probably the most widely used squat because it is arguably the safest form of squatting and the easiest to perform.

For some people, though it has greater muscle activation, squatting below parallel just isn’t possible, be it due to lack of flexibility, lack of strength or lower back issues.

If the lower back rounds when the athlete performing a full squat breaks parallel, it’s time to stop. Rounding of the back during this phase of the squat places intense pressure on the lower vertebrae of the back. Research has shown that during the deepest phase of the squat, this compression is six times greater than at the top of a squat.

Work on flexibility by performing bodyweight squats and gradually sinking lower until you can break parallel and enter the full squat without compromising your spine. Dynamic warm ups and flexibility work will help to increase your range of motion.

4. Look up as you squat

As much as you may enjoy staring at your squirming face as you squat, “head up” is one of the worst commands you can give to a client. The logic behind it was/is that the body goes where the head leads and therefore if you look up, you will be less likely to fail your squat. However, with a heavy load across your shoulders looking up increases the amount of pressure on your neck and could potentially lead to slipping the discs in your neck. Ideally, the aim should be to keep your spine in neutral alignment. For most people you need to keep your eyes forward and tuck the chin slightly.

5. Squats decrease knee stability

This myth can be traced to a research that found that squats increased knee laxity, thus increasing the risk of knee injury. The results of the study have never been reproduced, and later research found that populations that performed squats, such as powerlifters and Olympic-style weightlifters, possessed more stable joints that other populations.

6. The Deadlift is a good substitute for squats

The deadlift is a great core exercise that compliments the squat by more aggressively working the trapezius, grip, and hamstrings. The issue with the deadlift is that it doesn’t work the legs through a large range of motion as the squat and as such doesn’t provide complete development of the quads. Performing lower body exercises only through a partial range of motion tightens up the tendons, making athletes more susceptible to injuries, and reduces knee stability. Rather than choosing between squats and deadlifts, include both of these powerful exercises in your program.

7. Performing leg extensions before squats works the quads harder

The idea is that this training method would work the muscle used in the isolation exercise harder. However, research found that because lighter weights are used in the second exercise, the strength training effect is reduced. The leg extension is fine as an auxiliary exercise, but they should be performed after squats, not before.

8. Your feet should be shoulder width apart

Let’s be realistic here. It may make for a visually appealing setup when you have a semi-wide stance when squatting, but this statement gives no consideration to the lifter’s anatomy. There are big guys out there who have very wide shoulders, so this cue would almost put them in a sumo squat position right off the bat. Not following your body in this regard may lead to clearance issues when the ball and socket joint of the hip are restricted due to your stance.

In fact, one may choose a very close leg stance on a particular day and a very wide stance on another to ensure they hit all their muscle groups or to avoid a monotonous movement.

Conclusion

The worst thing a lifter can do is try to fit a round peg into a square hole. There’s no one-size-fits-all on body types and skeletal structure, so take heed of this important information.

-The Travellothoner

Mumbai Riders – Midnight Cycling

My Experience:

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I went cycling with this group back in 2016 and it was something I had been wanting to do for a while, ie, explore the streets of Mumbai on my bike. It was a totally different experience for me, viewing this city in a totally different lens altogether. Riding past some of the most iconic buildings and streets this city harbours. After my ride, as luck would have it, the founder Rishi Shah turned out to be a college mate, and I instantly started volunteering and helping him host these rides. And each ride has had such a diverse bunch of people, that it feels like a new experience each time.

We’ve hosted cyclists and sports enthusiasts, people just looking for a different experience away from the routine Saturday Night Partying, people who do it from a fitness perspective or as a group activity, etc. And people from various fields like software development, finance, medicine, construction, engineering , psychology, entrepreneurs, etc, ranging from as young as 15 year olds to 50+ year olds. The best part about these rides is the route. For a person living in the suburbs, my frequency of going to the other side of town is very scarce, and I have always wanted to explore these areas up close.

About Colaba:

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Colaba is one of the oldest and one of the first places to be occupied in Mumbai. Constructed by The East India Company in 1838 it occupied the 2 islands of Colaba and Old Woman’s Island.

The architecture of the area is reminiscent of the old Bombay, fact highlighted by buildings like National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Regal Cinema, Prince of Wales Museum (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum) and Cusrow Baug, a Parsi residential colony built in 1934, covering an area of 84,000 square yards, which home to over 500 families. Plus the area is also hub of various art galleries, which makes this area a natural destination for artist community.

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Apart from upmarket retail showrooms, and small shops dealing in electronic goods, cosmetics and music, it a has pavement book stall dating back several decades, besides having numerous small shops and footpath outlets selling everything from artefacts to shawls, carpets and minor antiques to slippers of all kind, which make tourists, backpackers and locals from South Mumbai, throng the area through the year.

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Among the restaurants, cafes and roadside eateries that make the street popular with tourists and locals alike are the Indian Mughlai fame Delhi Darbar restaurant, Piccadilly restaurant, Cafe Churchill, Mings Palace. Cafe Mondegar, and the Cafe Leopold were founded by Iranians in 1871.

Other visitors’ attractions in the area are historical structures like Church of St John the Evangelist (Afghan Church) in the nearby Navy Nagar, built by the British to commemorate the dead of the disastrous First Afghan War of 1838, and the Sassoon Docks, built in 1875, by Albert Abdullah David Sassoon(1818–1896), son of David Sassoon, a philanthropist Baghdadi Jew. Today the Sassoon Docks house, one of the largest fish market of Mumbai city. 

About The Ride

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We start from Happy Cycle Shop towards Taj Gateway and then head towards Regal Cinema. From there, we ride to Asiatic Library. From there, we head to the High Court, CST/BMC Building and then towards Metro Cinemas. From Xaviers we head up the bridge to Marine Lines. From hereon, we move towards Valkeshwar and then Peddar Road. We go up the road and then cycle our way to Haji Ali.

Moving onward from Haji Ali, we take a U-Turn from NSCI Dome, and head back via Breach Candy towards Marine Lines and then head to Colaba. It take a total of 3 hours, we provide refreshments and take several water breaks at some checkpoints. All in all, it is a joy ride which enables you to navigate South Bombay on 2 wheels.

If interested in participating, you can find us on Facebook at Mumbai Riders. We organise approximately 2 rides a month.

-The Travellothoner

Your BMI Sucks!

The body mass index, or BMI, is commonly used in doctors’ offices or in general fitness terms as a way to estimate your body fat level. It provides a quick and easy way to evaluate obesity trends in the general population. Medical professionals use it as one of many screening tools, such as cholesterol checks and family history questionnaires, to evaluate your risk of chronic disease related to your weight. But your doctor cannot rely on BMI alone for diagnosis of whether you’re overweight or obese and the health risks posed by these conditions.

bmi

Your BMI is equal to your weight in kilograms divided by your height in meters squared. The equation using American measurements is: BMI = weight(kg) / (height x height (m)). For many online calculators, you enter your weight and height, and the calculations are done for you.

BMI is useful as a way to evaluate the rate of being overweight or obese in the general population. It’s easy, convenient and inexpensive, and doesn’t require any specific training to take the measurements. But BMI only provides a rough estimation of your body fat because it doesn’t involve any direct measures of your tissue.

Limitations:

BMI Mistakes Muscle for Fat

BMI uses your weight in the formula but doesn’t distinguish if that weight comes from an abundance of fat or from lean tissue. Athletes and gym enthusiasts who carry a great deal of muscle may seem heavy for their height or overall size, but that’s because muscle is denser than fat. These highly muscular folk may have a high BMI but not have too much fat.

Individuals who are very muscular such as bodybuilders or those that have very little muscle definition may not receive an accurate BMI reading by using height and weight measurements alone. Muscle weighs more than fat. Hence a muscular person may appear to have a higher BMI and be perfectly healthy, or a frail, inactive person may appear to have a lower BMI and in reality have more body fat than is healthy.

Your health care provider can easily see with a physical evaluation and lifestyle questions that your high BMI is due to muscularity rather than fat. Further evaluations, such as blood pressure checks and cholesterol screenings, may still be performed to rule out any underlying health issues.

BMI Can Underestimate Fat

Because BMI does not directly measure fat, it can miscategorize people as healthy who have a normal weight for their height, when they’re actually carrying too much fatty tissue. A man with 20 percent or higher fat and a woman with 30 percent or higher, but both at normal weight, can be at the same risk of chronic disease as a person who looks obviously overweight.

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Sedentary people and older adults are at particular risk of this condition, called normal-weight obesity. If you don’t exercise, you lose valuable muscle mass and accumulate excess fat — even if you don’t rank high on height-weight charts. Older adults naturally lose muscle mass as they age, along with some bone density. For this reason, health providers often run lifestyle screenings, family history questionnaires and annual blood tests in addition to BMI calculations on all patients. This helps rule out normal-weight obesity in otherwise seemingly healthy patients.

A normal BMI is only one factor in your overall picture of health. If you smoke, eat a nutritionally poor diet that contains a lot of sugar and saturated fat, or sit the majority of your day, you may still be at risk of health problems.

BMI May Not Reflect Positive Change

BMI is a broad number that doesn’t accurately reflect changes in behavior, which could be improving your health. People with a high BMI who are physically active are at lower risk for many health problems than people with a high BMI who are sedentary. For example, physical activity correlates with reduced risk of coronary heart disease and early death, regardless of your weight.

People who adopt a healthier lifestyle by exercising more and choosing healthier foods over junk food may not lose weight if they haven’t reduced their calories significantly. They are healthier, but BMI doesn’t change because their weight has remained stable. If they rely on BMI as the only marker of their health, their new habits don’t seem to be doing much good.

Even if you lose weight, your BMI may not change noticeably. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that losing 5 to 10 percent of your weight can lead to positive benefits, such as decreased blood pressure and cholesterol. In a 200-pound person, this is a loss of 10 to 20 pounds. Losing the weight may not move your BMI to a normal range, however. For example, a 5-foot-11-inch person must weigh between 136 and 178 pounds to register a normal BMI. If he started out at 200 pounds and lost 10 to 20 pounds, he may have improved his health, but he still falls into an overweight BMI range. Although a bit frustrating, the change still has positive benefits.

Weight Distribution and BMI

Healthier habits often also change the distribution of your weight, even if weight loss isn’t showing up on the scale. You may lose some visceral — or belly — fat, which is inflammatory and increases your risk of disease. Exercise in particular helps you lose this fat. BMI can’t tell that you’ve reduced a wide waist circumference and added muscle, creating a healthier body composition. It may just show an unchanged ratio of height and weight, putting you in an overweight category.

Your waist size may be a better marker of your health status because it indicates where you store fat. Use a measuring tape to measure around your waist just below your belly button. A waist wider than 40 inches on a man or 35 inches on a woman can be dangerous.

Those who have enough lean mass to be classified as obese by BMI but not by body fat percentage, are far and few in society. These persons would normally be highly active athletes, and it is unlikely sedentary persons or those with infrequent exercise habits would fall into this category.

Does not consider Age, Gender and Other Conditions

BMI fails to take age and sex into account. Women naturally tend to have more body fat than men of equal BMI, while older people tend to have more body fat than younger people with the same BMI.

Furthermore, BMI measurements have no way of measuring where body fat is located in the body. Studies have indicated that belly fat – the fat surrounding abdominal organs – is more dangerous than peripheral fat beneath the skin in other body areas.

If you are normal weight or overweight according to BMI (18.5-29.9) there is still a chance you are actually obese, which is primarily due to low levels of lean mass (muscle, water and glycogen).

BMI also does not account for lactating or pregnant women, children and teenagers who have not reached physical maturity and are still growing, and a tendency for natural differences in height and weight ratios between races.

Conclusion

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute suggests that an assessment of weight and health risks involves using three key measures

  • BMI
  • Waist circumference
  • Risk factors for diseases and conditions associated with obesity.

As BMI is based on weight and height measurements, by losing weight you will reduce your BMI and put yourself into a lower risk group. A healthy diet, including a balance of food groups, vitamins and minerals, is essential for a long and active life. Body weight and shape are a balance of energy intake (dietary calorific content) against output (calorific burn from activity and exercise).

Many studies have shown that, to lose weight slowly and steadily, any diet that includes a healthy balance will work if you are motivated. Ideally, a balanced eating plan is always best to lose weight healthily.

Simply put, BMI can give you a rough idea of your level of health when considered along with your lifestyle and physical factors. Sedentary lifestyle with an unhealthy diet and belly fat all point towards the risks that your BMI indicates. However, if you’re the opposite of the above factors, BMI may not be a criteria doing justice to your overall health.

Until next time,

The Travellothoner.

Why I Run!

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I used to be the kind of person who always said “I hate running”. And I meant it too. Being a fat kid that I was, my go-to activity was computer games, staying indoors and eating . I wanted an easy-to-implement, cheap exercise to help me lose baby weight (although I wasn’t a baby anymore). Then I came across a running group within my community. They’d just come off The Mumbai Marathon back then, and would show off their medals with pride. It was something that caught my eye, and gave an added incentive to run.

I wanted to prepare for an upcoming marathon, although reluctant to put in any effort. And somehow on this quest of mine, my dad joined in too. And there’s something about peer pressure that just keeps you going, maybe for the good or for the bad. His enthusiasm was one of the primary reasons that kept me going. I trained for this marathon with all my heart, and all my unhealthy body had to offer.

And as it went, I finished the HTHM 2015 10k marathon in about 1 hour and 10 minutes. A total of 19 years before I took exercise seriously. I was on track to finish in under an hour, but I developed a cramp that slowed me down a little. I so wanted to give up, but I was very determined to finish what I’d started. Rather I did not want to quit something that I’d started, again.

So, that was that. After the marathon, my competitiveness took over and I want to do things the right way this time, and finish stronger. Something that you should know about me is I am either all in or all out. I don’t know how to half-commit to anything. And thus began my journey.

At the gym, I would use all sorts of cardio machines. I’d step out for runs and added some weight training to my regime. I’d use the treadmill too, but I’d always walk it out in order to protect my knees. This was my routine until about a month, before my life took a huge turn.

It had happened – a random event that changed the course of my life from being a lazy bum to a runner. I registered for a marathon that was way out of my league. I ended up registering for a 25k hilly endurathon, when I’d barely managed to finish the 10k a month ago. But again, I was all in, and I told myself that I would go back to my routine, work extra hard and be ready for this event.

But amidst all this training, a funny thing happened…I fell in love!

I started running on a ridiculously steep hill near my place, to get used to running on a hill. I ran slowly the whole time, but so what? No one was timing me. I wasn’t running a race. I wasn’t with anybody. I was able to run simply because I loved running.

When I got back that day, I felt amazing. I felt “clean” on the inside. I felt like I had worked my whole body, not just my legs. I did it again the next day. I took an easier route this time. At the end of that run, I was sure of something. I had a new sport. A sport I loved. A sport that in itself was enough to get me out of bed every morning. I was a runner.

Once I got back to the gym, I was worried about running on the treadmill. I had always avoided that like the plague. It’s boring, right? And tedious too. But this time, it wasn’t. I found some good running music, set the treadmill on a gentle incline, and ran a good 30 minutes. I was still slow. But it was nobody’s business as to how fast or slow I ran. It still gave me that clean feeling on the inside. My mentality started changing. Instead of despising it, I started looking forward to it. I’d start thinking about my next run as soon as my current run was over.

Why did I fall so hard for this sport?

  • I could do it alone (I’m a friendly introvert, but I need lots of alone-time).
  • I felt like my whole body was working together at once. It was also a nice break for my overthinking brain.
  • The physical exhaustion even at the end of the run helped my restlessness too. I felt clear-headed, certain, secure, and light.
  • And I could see the changes. I’d already been able to run slightly faster than the first time. My resting heart rate dropped a little. Tiny improvements – but still improvements. It’s addictive!
  • I felt like I was a part of a larger community. Runners have a lot camaraderie. Even though most of my connection was through my club, I still felt like there was a great deal of support out there for runners. It was motivating.

All I’ll say in conclusion is that whatever you do for your body, I hope you love/enjoy doing it. That’s what matters the most. That is what will help you stay committed and make an activity sustainable. Any sport will work for you if you do it consistently, and pair it with a nutrient-dense diet. You can do it!

Peace and love,

The Travellothoner.

How I Started And Fell In Love With Running!!

How I started and fell in love with running!

-How was your life before running?

Before I ever started running, I was always one of those fat kids, who had wanted to lose weight since years. My parents promised me a lot of mouthwatering goodies, countless bribes if I lost “x” kilos of weight, but it never led to anything. I had a very typical teenage lifestyle, attending college and eating junk everyday (thanks to all those shacks opposite Mithibai college), attending classes and coming back home exhausted. The busy schedule being a very good excuse to skip exercise.

I was gaining weight, telling myself I’ll start exercising from tomorrow, but never inspired enough to act on it.

– What inspired you to take up running?

This happened right after Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2015. My dad told me about the list of people who participated in that marathon, which came in our community magazine, and we both found it very cool. It was in that moment that we told ourselves this seemed like a good idea and we took up running, planning to do a 10k in the upcoming Hiranandani Thane Marathon. I practiced and trained everyday for a month.

I could run/walk only 2.2k in 30 minutes on the first day, and realized I had a long way to go, if I wanted to finish the 10k nicely, in good time. And I slowly started loving it a little more everyday, when I could see the improvements in myself.

-The excitement of your first long run/race?

My first long run was actually the marathon itself. I had never gone beyond 6k in training, but I told myself “I am going to run this race without walking for even a second, I’d rather slow down as much as I have to”. Luckily my training proved sufficient and I finished the 10k in good time, and without any cramps or injuries.

– The feeling of accomplishment?

That feeling of accomplishment, I will never forget. Be it a 10k, a half marathon, a full marathon or any other event of such kind; that feeling of having finished a marathon is still the same, as if it were my first race and my biggest achievement.

– what kept you going?

The realization, that I was capable of doing so much more than I ever thought I could, pushing my boundaries and going beyond my comfort zone, is what made all the difference. I could see myself and my capabilities in new light, and set out to explore all that I could do. I was never short of inspiration and motivation after that. Although I could accomplish so much, I drew inspiration mainly from 2 places :

1. My forever training partner and the person who always pushed me to do more, My father!

2. Realizing me taking up running inspired a lot of people around me, especially in my family to take up running or some sort of activity to stay fit.

– Details of number of races which you have run?

My marathon count is as follows:

10k x 5

16k x 1

21k x 15

25k x 2

42k x 3

Duathlon x 1

– Your short term / long term running goals?

My goal for this season is to finish 10 half+full marathons. Hopefully get near a sub-2 finish by the end of February. My long term goals include training and participation into more full marathons, ultra marathons and triathlons.

-How did it change your life?

When I started initially, I ran just cause I wanted to, because it was exciting. My first few half marathons were all near the three hour range, and there was no improvement. It was my love for the sport, the willingness to do better in the sport that I loved, that inspired me to bring in changes. I started training in a more systematic way, watched what I was eating, became more active all through my day and changed my lifestyle altogether. Late night movies, outings and eating junk was replaced with sleeping and waking up early and exercising. In the process I also lost over 24 kilos without any strict diets or stressful gymming regimes with nothing but consistency being the key.

It helped me improve my performance, and made me more competitive in terms of bettering my own previous timings and without cramps or injuries. The improvements were also very evident in all the other sports that I played. Thanks to the sense of achievement, improvement and the flooding compliments from my people thanks to the massive weight loss and my new capabilities, it lead to a huge confidence boost and helped me find a new sense of happiness and content in the way I was living.

– Message to your fellow runners, beginners & those who dream to take up running a marathon some day?

The best part about running is, you don’t need any kind of special equipment to start. All of us have a good pair of sport shoes. The two main things necessary to run is “your will to run” and “your eagerness to step out of your comfort zone”. All I ever invested into this sport was effort, blood, sweat, time and tears; and it has paid me back dividends in the form of confidence, achievements, lifetime memories, mentors, countless colleagues and new friends, and so much more! And all I have lost in the process is an unhealthy lifestyle, lots and lots of weight and the “I cannot do this” attitude!

All I ask from everyone is, just stick to it for the first 4 weeks. These weeks will be torturous, painful and will make you question your decision and want to quit. Get past it, and life will never be the same again.

“It doesn’t matter how slow or fast you go. You’re still faster than every other person who’s sleeping or wasting time behind a TV. All that matters is being a better version of yourself from the previous day”.

Happy running!

Regards,

The Travellothoner

My Third Full Marathon – TMM 2019

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20th January, 2019 was the big day for me. All those days of waking up before the sun while my bed was at its comfortable best, getting myself mentally prepared to run while I struggled to get my stride in order and through all that constant soreness, muscle pains and what not!

It was going to be a tough day. One I was mentally prepared for; however it actually turned out to be tougher than I anticipated. Running the race for the 3rd time this year, I thought I had a slight edge over some others thanks to my experience. But the weather gods had something totally different in mind.

I did anticipate the first 5-7k to be really hot and humid, thanks to the thousands of people together, as well as it being very humid towards Nariman Point. However, slowly as the crowds begin to separate, the more seasoned runners pulling ahead, it starts to get better, with more breathing space (literally) for everybody. And usually, you start to feel the cool air whisking through your face as you near Haji Ali.

However this year, it was way worse. I was sweating so profusely by 10k, that I already felt slightly light headed. And what good weather usually starts hitting you by 9k, only came to us around 15-16k when we hit the Sea Link. To give you a better idea of how bad it was, I shall type an excerpt from The Times Of India, dated 21st January which goes as follows:

A sweltering Sunday meant that nearly 40% more marathoners needed medical attention compared to last year: By noon, over 3,200 were treated at the event’s medical camps for dehydration, exhaustion and muscle cramps. Fourteen needed hospitaliztion, though barring two, the majority went home by evening. Because of heat and humidity, several seasoned runners said they took more than their expected time to reach the finish line: Many who wanted to beat their personal best were disappointed as their running time increased by 25-45 mins.

In the morning, the minimum temperature recorded by IMD’s Colaba observatory was 20.3 degree Celsius, 1.4 degrees above normal. The maximum temperature was 33.6 degrees, which was 4.1 degrees above normal. Adding to the unconducive weather was a humidity level of 93%. Studies have shown that elite athletes can suffer one to four-minute slowdowns due to higher temperatures and humidity.

This year cases of cramps and dehydration were more mainly due to warm and humid weather. Also, the number of hospitalizations were more than last year’, said Dr. Vijay D’Silva, director, critical care and medical affairs, Asian Heart Institute (AHI). As compared to the 2,324 runners who required medical attention last year, the number rose to 3,226 this year. As a point of reference, overall participation rose by a little over 200 this year.

Read the entire article at:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/67616609.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

It was a tough game mentally. I was running at a very good pace for the first 25k, covering that distance in just a little less than 3 hours. Then slowly as I felt a cramp start to build up, I had to slow down, and even walk in the midst cause I had another 17k to go, which would be just under the sun. And if that wasn’t enough, I felt morally depressed as I saw all the various pacers run past me.

Such is life. From a high of wanting to finish the race in 5:15 hours to wanting to quit at multiple durations, cause the cramps were getting to me. However, I knew this would be a blip on my running career, I’d never be able to forget. And giving up has always been something that’s very hard for me to accept on all levels. So I carried on, one step at a time, running slightly and walking all the more, doing my best to block all the pain that came with it. All is well that ends well I suppose.

Another thing I’d like to add at this point is, being well prepared for it, I don’t hate running as much as I did last time. I started my training keeping in mind this race a year ago, after finishing it in 2018. Last year, I did not take up running for almost a couple of months thanks to all the anguish and pain it caused. This time around, thanks to better conditioning, I’ve been on my feet on the day of the marathon and the next day (today); and I am looking forward to starting training again by the end of this week.

And like always, I did manage to run for the last 1.5k, just so that I could get this race over with. The timing was nowhere close to my liking, way past it. But it was a humbling experience and something that is going to surely help me grow as an individual and a runner. Looking forward to sharing many such experiences in the future.

-The Travellothoner.

Benefits of a body-weight workout

bodyweight-exercises

Bodyweight training is as simple as it gets and requires no equipment in order to perform it.

1. It’s a super-efficient workout.

Research suggests high-output, bodyweight-based exercises like plyometrics yield awesome fitness gains in short durations. Since there’s no equipment involved, bodyweight workouts make it easy to transition from one move to the next with little rest. And you’ve probably already heard that those short-but-intense HIIT workouts can yield major results.

2. It can combine cardio and strength training

Performing quick cardio sessions (such as 60 seconds of burpees or high-knees) between strength movements (such as a set of push-ups or lunges) will keep the heart pumping while still encouraging muscle and strength development.

3. You can burn fat—fast.

Just a few minutes of a bodyweight circuit training can have a major impact on the body’s metabolism. If you’ve ever heard of the afterburn effect, you know that even when your workout is over, your body can still be revved for hours to come.

4. At any fitness level, it’s challenging.

Bodyweight exercises are great because they’re easily modified to challenge anyone. Adding extra reps, performing the exercises faster or super slowly, taking shorter breaks, or adding a ballistic movement (like a clap at the top of each push-up) are just a few ways to make the simplest workout tougher. And with each added modification, your progress is obvious.

5. You’ll gain core strength.

Your core is more than just six-pack abs. In fact, at least twenty-nine muscles make up the trunk of the body, and many simple bodyweight movements can be used to engage all of them. Such exercises won’t just give you tighter abs, you’ll also gain better posture, relieve lower back stress, and improve overall performance.

6. It can increase your flexibility.

Not everyone who does regular resistance training has to end up with tight muscles and inflexible joints. Bodyweight training can go hand-in-hand with building strength and flexibility. Completing bodyweight exercises through a full range of motion ensures your joints are moving freely. Plus, it can lead to improved posture and might reduce the chance of exercise-related injury.  Yoga, the fave no-equipment workout for many, is another great way to to improve flexibility while also significantly improving strength.

7. There’s never an excuse to not workout.

Ask someone why they don’t exercise, and chances are they have “no time” or it’s “inconvenient.” Luckily bodyweight exercises eliminate those common obstacles. When you only need a little space, it’s easy to squeeze in workouts wherever you are. Exercising without equipment can also be used as a stress reliever whether you’re working at home or on the road.

8. You’ll achieve better balance.

When it comes to this type of training, sometimes increasing resistance means increasing balance, too. For example, a normal squat can be ramped up by swapping in a single-leg squat (a.k.a. a pistol squat). Functional movements like that one can improve balance through increased body awareness and control.

9. You’ll never get bored.

It can be easy to get stuck in a workout rut of treadmills, bicep curls, lat pull-downs, and bench presses. That’s why bodyweight training can be so refreshing: There are countless exercise variations that can spice up any workout routine. Working with a variety of exercises not only relieves boredom, it can also help break plateaus and spark further progress.

10. Mixing up your workout is easy.

11. It’s free.

Gym memberships and boutique classes can quickly add up—but bodyweight training is free. Experts cite the low cost of bodyweight training as key to its rise in popularity.

12. It can help with injury prevention.

Injury is one of the main reasons people stop working out, so preventing those aches and pains should be a big priority. Bodyweight exercises are generally safe for any exerciser regardless of experience, age, or fitness level. Many simple bodyweight movements can actually be an effective option for rehabilitation, even for those with significant impairments.

13. You’ll see results.

Bodyweight exercises get results partly because they involve compound movements—meaning numerous joints and muscles are engaged in each move. Compound exercises such as push-ups and lunges have been shown to be extremely effective for strength gains and performance improvements. And research shows improved core strength (see No. 5 above) translates to improved strength gains throughout the entire body.

My road to 26.2 Miles – Weeks 5 and 6

This is a string of posts that I have been doing over the last 6 weeks to document my way through training for a full marathon.

You can follow them here :

  1. My road to 26.2 miles – Week 1
  2. My Road to 26.2 Miles – Week 2
  3. My road to 26.2 Miles – Weeks 3 and 4

My goal through these 6 weeks has been to intensify my training regime and improve my diet, so as to get leaner and tighter while maintaining my muscle mass. So far, it hasn’t been the most successful road. Although I have managed to lose a few kilos, I’m still far away from my goal. In the meantime, I also planned to increase my weekly running mileage which hasn’t been going as well as planned either.

However, on the bright side, I have managed to improve my training regime to include almost 2 hours of workout or active time in a day, which includes a session of running and a session of weight training. Over the last 2 weeks, I have managed to clock about 35kms a week, which includes more inclines. And during my weight training sessions, I have started increasing my number of reps per set while maintaining the same level of weights.

My prime focus still has been on getting an adequate amount of sleep and focusing on recovery, while making sure I consume foods with ample vitamins, nutrients and most importantly protein.

My goal over week 7 is to clock atleast 45-50 kms which includes a long run of atleast 2 hours or 20kms. Over the next few weeks until the marathon, I have also decided to reduce my weight training to give my body more time for recovery. All in all, Core-Training is an area that I am going to emphasize a lot more on.

Do feel free to add tips or share your expertise in the comments below, especially if you feel I am not on the right path.

Until next time,

The Travellothoner.

My road to 26.2 Miles – Weeks 3 and 4

In response to my posts from earlier, I continue ahead. If you haven’t read it before here’s a link to it.

Part 1 : My road to 26.2 miles – Week 1

Part 2 : My Road to 26.2 Miles – Week 2

The idea initially was to post a weekly update as well as my training plan along the way. However, week three was uneventful or vaguely eventful and so I decided to club the 2 weeks. However, I don’t think that will be necessary in the weeks to come, since training has picked up quite some pace this week.

So for week 4 so far, I’ve managed to cover about 35 kms. I also managed to do my weight training 3 days a week in the evenings and some core work along the way. The day-wise breakup is as follows:

Day 1: Morning : 5k running.  Evening : Chest & Triceps.

Day 2: Morning : 35 mins of yoga and core. Evening : 7kms running.

Day 3: Morning : Back and biceps.  Evening : 35 mins of cycling.

Day 4: Morning : Rest.

Day 5: Morning : 7kms running.

Day 6: Morning : 10kms running.

Day 7: Morning : 4kms running.

In the meantime, I have also managed to tweak my diet to increase my protein intake and reduce my carb intake. I instead consume more of fats. I have also managed to shed another kilo and that has really managed to add a spring to my step while running. I also climb about a 100 flight of stairs a week.

Another step I’ve taken is increase the amount of stretching to avoid feeling stiff. I stretch a few times a day now, especially if it’s been a sedentary day. The diet and workout changes have certainly improved recovery.

For next week, I intend to increase to 40-45kms and do some more stretching and core work, coupled with some strength training.

 

Until Next Time,

The Travellothoner.