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Savoring Four Almonds Daily

Indian food is dangerous, at least for me. A firm believer in Atkins and all things low carb, I continue to be apprehensive about what the food in India could do to my size. Why? Because it’s too tasty for my own good! ¬†Put some Bengali sweets in front of me and watch me sweat. And it’s simple enough then to talk myself into having just one rasmalai. Western desserts I can ignore with equanimity. Why, oh why, can’t I do that with traditional Indian too-sweet desserts?

And that’s not even considering all the other delicious dishes from various parts of India (see Hyderabadi biryani and other yummy food in the picture here)…

With this fear in mind, I started taking precautionary measures once I moved here. So, it’s yoga on 3 days every week and weight training under the guidance of a personal trainer at the gym on the alternate 3 days. Mentally, all of this is helping greatly. ūüôā

My body too is ‘appearing’ to become more flexible and I feel more energetic due to the yoga. Is it my imagination or are my muscles getting visibly toned due to the weight training? ¬†I think I just feel all-over good because I’m actually doing something.

My personal trainer is very determined that I meet my goals to lose weight. I don’t particularly care about the weight (muscle weighs more than fat after all), but I sure would like to lose inches off certain strategic parts of my body. ūüôā

He explained to me that when it comes to weight/inches loss, 75% is a result of your diet and only 25% to exercise. He also recommended a nutritionist who has worked magic with his clients.

So, of course I went to see her. I asked her why Atkins was not helping me lose inches like it had before, and she advised me that my body had “adjusted” itself to that diet and probably needed to be shaken up. Made sense to me. So, I just began my new diet. It’s both low carb and low fat and involves small meals and snacks every 2-3 hours. ¬†Lots of veggies, eggs or fish are allowed, but no chicken yet. Every week she will check me out and start adding other foods based on how much I have lost so far. ¬†Can’t wait!

So, that brings me to the almonds. One of my prescribed daily snacks – the 10 am snack to be precise – is 3 to 4 raw almonds. ¬†Yes, you saw that correctly! ¬†Not 34 almonds or even 23; I would settle happily for a mere 12, but no, it’s¬†3 to 4 almonds a day. Well, to me that means FOUR, dammit! ¬†So, you should see me at 10 am, pitifully counting out my four almonds. Then, I take a few bites of each because I need the rations to last awhile. Finally, I relish each bite like I’m in heaven. Did you hear me say pitiful?

So, there you have it.   Now you know why I savor my four precious almonds every day!

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P.S. I still think Atkins¬†(or some other low-carb lifestyle) is the way to go for good health and happiness; will return to it once a few inches disappear…soon, I hope!

P.S. #2 – This post was written in late May but only published a few weeks later. Sad to say, the new diet lasted exactly two weeks with no¬†discernible¬†change, except for hunger and dissatisfaction. ūüė¶ ¬†Not surprising! Now, I am happily back on my Atkins for life, where I can enjoy cheese, heavy cream in my cuppa coffee, peanuts and an occasional glass of red wine without breaking any rules. In fact, one positive aspect of this trial was to gain a finer appreciation of all things low carb! Bye-bye silly diet, and bye-bye hunger…

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Biryani Photo By Karan Verma (originally posted to Flickr as Hyderabadi biryani) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Almonds Photo: By Sanjay Acharya (Own work) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Yoga: The Magic of Surya Namaskar

Surya Namaskar means Sun Salutation and it is one of the most comprehensive of yoga asanas. It consists of a series of twelve separate asanas or postures  (an advanced variation can be done with 16 or 18 steps) and it truly works every muscle in the body. Made more famous recently in India by Bollywood actors who use it to maintain their girlish figures, it has caught on as a healthy weight loss strategy.

I’m glad to have taken advantage of one of the benefits of living in India – learning yoga, which I have been doing for the past 3 months. Not that you can’t do the same elsewhere, such as in the U.S., where yoga’s popularity continues to soar. But the really cool benefit is that I can (afford to) have a personal yoga teacher who comes home three mornings a week to teach it. With this, I can get a personalized training session with individual attention paid where it is most needed – like all over, in my special case.

When I did my first surya namaskar, I thought I would die. And, I didn’t even do it correctly! Now, I have advanced to three “sets” – three surya namaskars where I repeat postures # 6,7,8 ten times each, for a total of 30 repeats. I still don’t do every posture correctly but there is undoubtedly a huge improvement in the state of my body. (And my mind). I can feel every¬†darn muscle in my body¬†str….etch….ing!

Here’s a great pictorial article of the 12 different postures – check it out so you can get an idea of what I am blabbering about. No doubt about it,I think it’s an amazing all-over body experience (that sometimes feels like an out-of-body experience!).

And to give you an idea of what muscles are worked during these various postures, here is a sampling of some of the postures (#6 which is not pictured below but is in the article above, is the toughest nut to crack!):

Posture #3

Posture #5

Posture #7

Posture #8

There are several ways to get the best out of doing Surya Namaskars:

1. You can repeat the entire set of asanas several times (Size Zero Kareena Kapoor purportedly does 100 of them every day!)

2. You can repeat some of the postures (like my torture, I mean, yoga teacher, makes me do with #s 6,7,8 – the hardest ones, if you please). Several times.

3. You can hold each position for several seconds – 30, 45, 60…the more you can hold, the better the results. Duh.

All of these variations can work wonders for you Рnot just physically, but mentally too.  Trust me.  

I just wish I had started learning yoga in my childhood. However, I have also discovered that it’s never too late to start – based on the difference that a mere 3 months (that’s only 36 hours in all; three classes a week) have made.¬†

You can’t underestimate the¬†tremendous all-over benefits¬†that you gain! ¬†

And of all the yoga you can ever do, I can safely say, Surya Namaskar is the most and the best – a tortuous but magical series of yoga postures that work everything. ¬†The yin and the yang. Give it a try, won’t you?

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Photos By http://theholisticcare.com [CC-BY-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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