Taking Stock

Originally published here on 15-Mar-2014 at www.Enerzal.me
This is a re-print of that article.

This was my 10th blog in the food-drink-nutrition series. As with every endeavour in life, it’s good to pause, take stock, and then plan ahead by looking backward from the future but living life forward. (Get it?)

Here’s the path we’ve tread together in the last few chats on this topic area.

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(Click on any of the boxes to read that blog)

I have spoken to you about what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat.  And I have spoken to you about how, through all of those dimensions, to be more mindful about eating and increase your own self-awareness in the process.

Those who know me either in my existence in the world of Finance or in the world of Fitness (or both!) will know that I am not one to preach and not practice. So, I went back to my logs and diaries since the start of the year to paint for you a simple sketch of the things I’ve been doing – just as I’ve been preaching to you. To keep things interesting and relevant, I won’t mention my activities from the world of business and finance, but stick to what is most important, health!  (Needless to say, I spend most of my waking hours in front of a computer on business and financial models – a different world – the less said, the better!)

Sirsasana (Headstand)

Sirsasana (Headstand)

Following the Mumbai Marathon in January in which I was an official 2-hour pacer for the half marathon, I decided to take a multiple-week break from running for various reasons. In Setting Achievable Goals I spoke about setting goals and then breaking them down into bite-sized achievable mini-goals through processes you could focus on.  And the end result might often interact beneficially with other goals. Well, I decided to take up yoga for the first time in my life. My children have been doing yoga even before they learned to crawl (yes, seriously!) so my goal was to catch up with them by the end of this year. I joined the Yoga Institute in Mumbai and had 21 consecutive mornings there. As part of training under the American College of Sports Medicine I also discovered the most amazing yogasana teacher in the city of Mumbai, and have been advancing my interest and ability in yoga. Her ability to teach advanced postures through demonstrations and clear instructions exemplifies her own level of incredible body self-awareness.

I continue to attend the Sunday morning Satsangs at the Yoga Institute – which is a little like going to Church, but without any specific religious ideology. If you live in Mumbai, I strongly recommend you attend one Sunday soon (it’s free!). It’s a satisfying way to reset the soul.

Optimal loading of a salad plate.

Optimal loading of a salad plate.

I’ve had the opportunity to practice eating sensibly at buffets at various places. I’ve even developed my own algorithm to optimize the loading of my salad plate at a salad buffet where you’re allowed only one serving. Engineers and architects will know what I am talking about. Oh, and are you mindful of the hidden bad calories in salad bars? (Just avoid the stuff with sauces and anything that looks creamy or syrupy.)

As part of my personal mission to make the country healthier, but having made a conscious decision to avoid meetings where one sits (“sitting is the smoking of our generation!”) which typically happens in cafes (more mindless eating and drinking) I have been encouraging friends to meet and walk with me a few evenings of the week where we can discuss, among other things, better living – physical and spiritual.

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A new genre of breakfast meal!

I mentioned earlier that I travelled around the North East of India during that Christmas. During this trip, I also read the book Eat and Run by the famous ultramarathoner, Scott Jurek, which made me even more conscious of eating more and varied fruits than I had already been. I have also pretty much erased butter from my breakfast and have invented a few new breakfast dishes of my own (basically eggs, a lot of ginger, leftover rice (or bananas if there is no rice) and anything else for garnishing I can think of – with everything cooked in water rather than oil). During my main (Indian) meals, I’ve been eating a small quantity of the peel of a lime for a few months now, not just squeezing their juice into my food.  Even a tiny amount of raw peel contains more Vitamin-C than a whole lot of lime juice! In any case, Vitamin-C is water-soluble and there is almost no risk of toxicity.

Because I have taken a break from running, I am ensuring that I cycle as a form of cross-training. I have become more conscious of my gait when cycling in terms of maintaining neutrality for the spine. In addition I have taken a greater interest in lower body strength workouts at the gym, not just to prevent muscle atrophy but to actually increase lower body strength and power. As you might expect, I always track the load lifted and have made considerable progress over the last few weeks for this component of training.

Progress with Lower Body Strengthening

Progressive loading for Lower Body Strengthening

Staying active has meant that despite not running 165 km a month for almost 2 months I have not gained any weight or fat. In fact, it’s not impossible that I have lost fat and gained muscle (statistical tests pending). I know why that’s possible. Something for you to think about?

Being particular about timing (yesterday morning I waited till 0631 and then went cycling alone when my riding buddy for the morning didn’t show up for an 0630 start) I am more conscious of not drinking caffeine in a 2 hour window around my breakfast eggs as caffeine suppresses the absorption of iron whereas Vitamin-C promotes it (remember the quiz question in the previous blog?). Also on the mornings that I do no exercise, I continue to maintain the same pattern for breakfast time. As a large number of the lower body muscles are deep (as opposed to superficial) I am conscious of the fact that the repair process takes longer and so the workout-nutrition cycle is longer, perhaps 72 hours rather than 48 hours.

These are most of the things I have added onto my already fairly healthy lifestyle in the last 10 weeks or so. My purpose of laying it out thus is to demonstrate that many small steps take us to our ultimate goal.  The power of miniscule change!  But that’s enough about me, now tell me about you. Have you taken stock?  Observed any changes? Comment below please.

Puru

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Dr Purnendu Nath spends his waking hours focusing on helping individuals and organizations reach their goals, to make the world a better place. He speaks, writes and advises on topics such as finance, investment management, discipline, education, self-improvement, exercise, nutrition, health and fitness, leadership and parenting.

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