By Shabna Cader
Whenever I've discussed the importance of staying fit and healthy amongst most family members or friends, everyone seems to get the wrong idea and try to veer me from getting on a diet. Attention all you people, staying fit and wanting to live a healthy life does not mean dieting. It means, being conscious about what you put into your system, making a few lifestyle changes and simply staying active.
I have a small frame and people automatically tend to assume I must be either dieting or I do not need to immerse myself in any activity because I might 'disappear.' The ideology is completely off. I could be super unhealthy thanks to all the times I've gorged on junk food and how am I keeping my body active with no proper exercise? These aren't good ways to live a healthy life. In a year I'll turn 30, and I'd like to think even in another ten years, I'd maintain a well balanced and healthy life.
So, I decided to make a few changes – for starters brisk walks and short runs in and around the city of Colombo. I'm not entirely a morning person and so my favourite time to do this has been past 5 p.m. There's not too much sun and there's almost always a light breeze in the air.
I start either towards Independence Square and run the entire block all the way across the Racecourse and onto the Vinharamaha Devi Park. My aim is to be out and about for at least 70-80 minutes. I don't necessarily time myself and I don't time when and how much I run either. It's all just a spontaneous bit of exercise which leaves me feeling both liberated and exhilarated.
I don't like to carry too many things on me when I run, so I have a teeny pouch with just my earphones connected to my mobile phone and the house keys. I've been advised to carry a little change or even a credit card on me but so far I've put away that thought.
I do not carry a bottle of water with me because it isn't such a good idea to take a pitstop, have water and continue on a brisk walk or run. As for attire, I keep it very basic –hair tied up so that it won't get in the way, a light and casual t-shirt, sportsbra or even a t-shirt bra, active three-quarter leggings, basic ankle socks and sturdy running shoes. My t-shirts were bought on Amazon and the active leggings are by a brand called Body Hugger, available at Odel. My shoes were bought on Amazon as well.
Dinner time for me usually is sometime between 6.30 and 7.30 p.m. so once I'm done with my routine, I head home and make myself a quick dinner. Nothing fancy – I've found that a basic pita wrap, with some grilled chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, green chilis and a bit of lemon or lime zest is sufficient. But other meal options include grilled fish and raw veggies like bell peppers, carrots and spinach.
A bowl of quinoa with an egg and some grilled veggies, a wholegrain sandwich with salmon and avocado are other favourites. Be sure to look up options online. I'd advise against too much starch because the whole point of going on a run would be useless if I were to gorge on string hoppers or even pasta.
I like keeping an infused bottle of water with me all the time too. Currently my favourite combo is a lemon flavoured tea bag and a few springs of mint. Slices of cucumber, cut up fresh strawberries and even a bit of lemon and lime are other good options. Stay hydrated throughout the entire day.
I'm not a huge breakfast person but I've made it a point to have one of the three options – cereal with milk of course, an omelette with veggies like mushrooms, spinach and bell peppers, and spicy oats. My hunger pangs start early so lunch for me is between 12.30 and 1.30 p.m. I'm a HUGE rice fan so I've stuck to half or one cup of rice, one meat item and again, a ton of veggies. Sometimes I'd skip the meat altogether and go vegetarian for a day.
Getting a good night's rest is also something I cherish and believe keeps the body balanced. No matter how old you are, a minimum of 7 hours is a must in my book. Have a sweet tooth? Well who doesn't? I'm someone who loves the occasional treat – cheesecakes, brownies and a ton of frappés but staying in line with being fit and healthy, I've decided to reduce (not cut off) my sugar intake. This way, I can both indulge every once in a while and also maintain a well balanced diet.
There are may ways to keep fit and it does not necessarily mean you do exactly what I do. Our bodies are different, our lifestyles would differ and our metabolism rates can also vary. Me opting to walk and run is currently because I'm not ready to spend on taking any active classes of any form of exercise.
However I am hoping in the weeks to come that yoga lessons would be on top of my list. Go to your nearest gym, look around for other fun and active classes in your area, maybe even a sport centre. The idea is to do something, anything to stay active and balanced.
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