Getting back on track

What is the one most challenging part of a fitness journey? Finding time to exercise? No. Muscle burn during and after a workout session? Nope. These are definitely pain points but not the factor that puts you off your fitness track.

It is the ability to bounce back to where we left off every time we are thrown off board. This is especially true when we are in the early stages and are struggling with on and off days. When we are off track, we just assume this is not for us and we totally quit. Even worse is the fear of failure. I realized recently that when we are on track, we feel so anxious to stay on track that we become so rigid with our lives. We struggle every bit to fight life whose very nature is change. Sometimes this affects not just us, but everyone around us too. The solution is to accept this reality and to develop the art of seamlessly lifting ourselves when we sink and diving down when we seem to float up. Just like in swimming, the ideal place for you is the middle zone, completely submerged inside the water, where we can surge ahead and cover real distance. But you do need to come up for a gasp of air now and then.

Getting fit is boring. Yeah, I said it. I do try to keep variety to reduce the boring factor but it still is not so exciting once you get used to it. You just repeat it day after day, and over time, you simply get fit. But it is not so “simple”, is it? Life happens. We get sick or pull a muscle. We get busy with work. Extended family visits us or we go on vacation. Happiness or sadness, we end up binging on comfort foods and our fitness goals fly out of our mind’s window. Once off track, we struggle to get back. The task of looking back and thinking of the uphill struggle to get to the point where we left off itself feels huge. And if we repeat this more often than not, we think everything is lost.  What is the point, we say to ourselves. “I always end up doing this. I’m hopeless. Fitness is not for me. May be I am doing more damage by trying than not.”

Relax! Fitness can be easy when you work it into a routine, a habit. Habit formation has three discrete steps. First, comes the trigger. A condition that pushes you to action. My energy slumps in the evening or my painfully tight muscles when I wake up – I desperately need an energy boost to cover the last part of my day or need to stretch to get myself to face the day. This feeling of pain or dullness is my cue! Now comes my workout session to the rescue. I train myself to automatically hit the mat. We are successfully in the second step of action. Then, our objective is to make this action part a no-brainer. No decision making or scrambling for supplies at this moment or all momentum is lost. Plan and prepare in advance and execute. Definite plan, like monday is yoga, tuesday running or wednesday 20 minutes and thursday 30 mins and so on are some examples. You could also decide what to do depending on how you feel that day, once you get in tune with your body. Work a plan that is meaningful to your lifestyle, your needs and your constraints. Because it is your body, your journey. The third part is a definite result. How do you feel at the end of the workout. Relaxed, calm, light, sweaty, hungry, jumpy, happy, fresh, centered within your body, lesser pain than before, more flexible than when you started… observe and register these feelings every single day. This is what you earned through sweat and hard work, so relish every bit of it.

I read somewhere that exercise is 30% and diet is 70%. May be. But it does not work for me that way. I could never control my diet. The more I try to control, the more it spirals out. That is because I know when I lie to myself! I can’t convince myself not to eat that cookie or the cake when I’m drooling within. But instead when I exercise and feel good, I don’t really need that comfort from food. Once the need is eliminated, I find that the battle is half won. Second, I really know how I feel when I eat a nutritious vs comfort food and what it does to my next workout session. I feel lumpy and heavy and I end up struggling to finish my session. I register this feeling as well. It becomes easy for me to say no because that’s again the truth from within me. It becomes an intuitive decision rather than a struggle of will. But it is easier said than done. I find that emotions play a greater role in my food choices. I need to have routines to improve the happiness quotient like gratitude journal, connecting with friends and family, carving out time for an activity I enjoy and so on. And the time to dissipate the negatives through meditation or calming down, speaking out and the like.

Slow but sure and steady steps are more important than acting fast and ending up crashed midway. Forget micro-managing and look at the big picture for fitness is a process not a result. If you mess up, the one thing you would not want to do is to beat yourself up emotionally, give up and stand at the refrigerator door late night for one more serving of that cake. You may be just starting to walk. But it’s important to keep walking, pick yourself up every time you fall and march ahead. And one day, you will be sprinting like a pro! Oh, and the very next day you may need to fix your walking again, but that is how life goes…



Sugar Coated

I caught this one on Netflix. I haven’t been able to catch documentaries for a long time now, especially after K. So I decided to indulge in something meaningful this time. Here are some takeaways…

Sugar is not empty calories, it is toxic calories. The increased consumption of sugar by humans have resulted in the non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and so on, also called lifestyle diseases. Not all calories are made equal, and hence metabolized equally by our body. When our body has a overload of sugar, like when we eat dessert, the fructose needs to be processed by our liver which then feels overwhelmed and converts the sugar to fat thus contributing to weight gain.

Sugar is dangerous when consumed beyond a limit. That limit is set by World Health Organization to 5% for children and for adults 10% of daily total energy intake. That comes to 25g of sugar at 5%. Now, approximately 4.2g is equal to 1 teaspoon. So, that makes it 6 teaspoon of free sugar per person a day.

Sugar is hidden in MOST of the packaged foods. Even bread contains sugar- my package says it is less than 1 g per slice not 0g. I consider myself to follow a normally healthy lifestyle. I cook all my meals and use ketchup, syrups, sauce in moderation. So, how did my sugar intake add up for today?

  • Organic tomato Ketchup 4g in 1 tblsp
  • Coffee 12 g
  • Brownie 24g
  • Honey as I have cold : 1 tbsp 16g
  • Total = 56g =  14 tsp.

Whoa… that is more than twice the recommendation!! Add to this any snack for evening time that is just not under my control yet.

Dry fruits need a special mention. When they package dry fruit, seems they dip it in sugar syrup and then package to increase the weight to maximize the profit. So it is not ordinary dried fruit but sweetened dry fruit. Sugar is so rampant in packaging because it is cheap for it’s weight and makes the food palatable. Especially the low fat version where the food tastes so bad they add sugar to make it tasty.

“No Added Sugar” on the front of the cover does not mean it contains no sugar. Sugar in ingredients list also comes in so many different names. We need to read the nutrition information at the back for the actual grams of sugar per serving. This is especially true for fruit juice, fruit jelly, fruit snacks that are for kids. While it is OK to indulge in them on occasion, regular eating damages dental and over all health.

Once our tongue gets used to a specific quantity of sugar or salt or spice, that taste does not stand out. To make it sweeter, we tend to increase the quantity of sugar automatically or go for larger quantities to get to the same experience. This works in favor of food industry as the consumer tends to finish up the product quickly and return for more.

Sugar through whole fruits, whole foods is fine. The fiber in whole foods fills us up quickly and we don’t consume dangerous quantities plus we get to have the nutrients that our body needs for daily function and repair.

So the bottom line is, we need to be more watchful of the limit on sugar intake per day. This limit, though it looks adequate, can easily be surpassed by the sugar we consume without notice though packaged foods.



Kids Mealtime Drama

My memory goes back to my early childhood when my grandma used to pamper me to bits especially during my summer vacations when I get bulk of time to spend with her. She would feed me, play with me, listen to my stories, take me out to market… Those are warm memories I cherish to date. I particularly remember how she used to consider food. According to her, food makes you strong and you need to treat it right. She says if I leave the food on the plate after it is served and go to play or do something else, I am disrespecting it. If we spill even grains on the floor, we pick it up immediately because food is God and we don’t want to step on it. Particularly when she fed me, she would put a small piece of it in her mouth, almost as a reflex action, and then start with me. I once told her if she was hungry, she could eat first and then feed me. She laughed and said, she was not hungry, but it had become a practice to check the food first, before offering to babies/ kids. She was checking for taste, ingredients and how hot/warm it was. It stuck to my memory and comes up every time I prepare to feed my baby. This simple action makes me understand if my baby has tough time with that feeding session, why he might be doing so.

I have seen some of my friends struggling with feeding their infants or toddlers. Kids these days need a distraction to eat. Mostly it is videos. It is sad to have the mind of the kid taken away from one of the most satisfying experiences of life, that is, having a tasty meal. Sometimes, there is a rush and the kid does not understand the concept of time. Sometimes, the kid is too tired to sit for a satisfying experience and would appreciate finishing off quicker than usual, so they can go to sleep early. Sometimes, the caregiver is unwell and needs to finish the task with minimal energy and time spent. These times, taking help of videos for distraction is fine. But they should enjoy the food experience in a normal daily basis.

What does not feel good being done to us, does not look good when we do it to another, however small that person may be. For example, we don’t like being force fed. We don’t like to eat something we don’t like the taste of. We don’t like to eat when we feel full, because we had lesser activity that day or due to temperature outside or we feel constipated etc. We don’t like to eat when we are thirsty and want to drink just plain water, even if it is meal time.

There are a few points we need to remember when feeding our kids.

  • Satisfaction instead of completion: Our duty is to offer nutritious foods at right times and in adequate quantities. It is the choice of the kids to decide how much they want to eat. That bowl or plate need not get empty. Only that the tiny tummy needs to feel satisfied.
  • Kids change as they grow: We need to know their taste, if they like a particular spice or ingredient more. This comes with trial and error. Sometimes they just need to grow up a bit more before they like what we are offering. My baby was not taking cow’s milk when I offered it soon after his first year. My doctor advised me to try different flavor, sweeten it and so on. I tried, but nothing helped. He was just not ready. Every few weeks I would try and give up. At 17 months, he was ready. Forcing them to gulp down what we think is important for them is the most violent thing a person can do to a tiny human that has not developed skills to communicate or defend themselves. This works the other way too. What the kid/baby eats well at a point, they may not like as their palette matures. The textures, tastes all change. We need to be flexible to this fact and celebrate the growth involved.
  • Saving our energy and emotions: Taking so much effort and time to make a meal specifically for a baby and then throwing 99% of it to trash is heartbreaking! It’s emotionally and physically hard on the caregiver. So, instead of pushing ourselves to make another meal and then ending up in frustration, lets have backup plans like fruits, quick snacks, ready-made foods for emergencies. We have limited time and energies. Lets not waste it worrying about the past and save it for the next meal time.
  • Forget the clock and let them feel hungry: Just leaving the kid to play some more until they get really hungry will make them eat well. Don’t go by the clock. Physical activity and outdoors help a lot.
  • Handling Rejections: While eating, if after a few spoonfuls, the kid refuses and turns his/her head away, we have the urge to somehow make them eat what is in our hand. Just this one, we plead. I had caught myself doing that a few times. My feeling was one of being rejected or dejected. Why is it so hard to take a no from a child? Is it the “adult ego”? I don’t know. I consciously put the spoon down and back off a couple of steps to register that I am not in any pressure to get that food in. The baby is in charge.
  • Give them space and time: Sometimes, my kid needs a few moments before he continues eating. Probably, he is overwhelmed at the speed at which he is eating and wants to take a leisurely pace. Or he just got interested in some play suddenly and couldn’t concentrate on food immediately. Sometimes, he is working on a tiny bit of nut or veggie that is stuck in his mouth and he can’t accept another spoonful. Sometimes, he has dry throat and needs water and not food that time. There are so many valid reasons that could be addressed or just waited over before continuing with the feed. Giving him space and time usually resolves it and he usually comes back on his own.
  • Gentle but firm: Perseverance pays off. With kids there is a learning curve. We just need to stick to what we need to do firmly and not give in to junk foods or other short cuts/ bribes to get them to listen to us. We need to be cautious about being gentle but firm at the same time.

Babies and kids are more in tune with their bodies than us adults. Following their lead not just makes parenting more enjoyable and less of a war zone, it definitely produces better results and improves confidence in our kids as we respect their choices. Kids have very big hearts. With all the well-meaning mistakes we parents make, they shower us with so much unconditional love! I have my share of mistakes and learning during my journey and I’m so grateful for this love from my little ones!


Baahubali Milk

Come cold season, we expect common cold and flu symptoms especially with little kid and grade schooler at home. One of my childhood memories is whenever I used to catch cold, my mom would prepare Masala Paal (half a cup of warm milk with 1 tablespoon honey, 1/4 tsp turmeric and 1/4 tsp pepper powder) that night for me. I hated the very look of it. Yellow liquid with black specks floating at random. Milk is supposed to be white and frothy and sweet and soothing. This was nothing of that sort. I would run and hide as much as I could, bargain with her to reduce the quantity she gives me by half or even argue on why she should skip that damn pepper which leaves my lips burning. She would increase the honey but no other compromise. Fine, I would have one more teaspoon of honey at the end of that milk. How much drama I used to create! Now, with my kids, I give them the same at the first strike of a cold symptom. I know what they feel when they rebel. But it is important for them to drink it in order to feel better and stronger the next day. Falling sick is lot more work than few minutes of argument and lecturing! Logic and logistics are mommy’s worries. Kids are kids and I have to give them reward at the end anyway! Of-late, I started calling it Baahubali Milk, which turns their white blood soldiers racing in their blood streams into super heros that they are capable of fighting the bad guys, the virus and bacteria that have launched an attack now. Drama! Works both ways 😉

So what makes this milk so special? We all know turmeric is anti-inflammatory. It boosts our immune system. But then, when we just add turmeric, our liver would flush it out through the kidney by making them water soluble. When pepper is present, though, this function of liver is inhibited. Plus when we have a fat base, which is the milk, that helps absorb a good portion of it through our lymphatic system, bypassing the liver. This bioavailability (availability of a component in the blood stream) of turmeric in presence of pepper increases by 2000%. Now that is definitely super hero standard! How much my mom knew when she forced, cajoled me into having this except that she did not know the science, I marvel now. I do want to bridge the “why” gap for my kids!


Why Pepper boosts turmeric blood levels

Boosting the bioavailability of curcumin

Just one meal


What does one meal do to us? Can we not escape the consequences?

Image result for restaurant food india

This week I had restaurant food. The reason was “I was tired and overworked after everyone at home took turns to getting sick over the past month or so or I just wanted to eat something to make myself happy for just this once or my body needs variety and rich food to get stronger (haha! Excuses can get so lame at times, especially when it comes to food) or I was craving for this dish or that or I just need a change from routine.” You are free to choose any or all of these or make up your own. But that day I had it for lunch. It was tasting fresh and good, but as I said it was richly prepared. It was so tasty that I had few additional helpings more than my usual limits and felt my heart and tummy both full! Finally!!

There were no adverse reactions and it felt like a well deserved break. I got back to my usual home cooked meals by dinner. The next day the feeling of fullness was still there. Looked like my body was working on digesting it for a really long time. So I decided to go for a run on treadmill, my usual routine. I was used to walking at 3.5 mph and running for 8 minutes at 4.5 mph for half an hour. That day I could barely walk at 3 mph. No, I did not even try to run. Suddenly my body felt so alien, so heavy and I was literally dragging it through my 20 minute short workout session. I was sweating and panting heavily when walking at 2.5 mph. “What have I done to my body ?”, I thought. I gave myself rest and lighter foods for another day and then I was feeling much better. Exactly 4 days after I ate that meal, I felt light again and was running at my usual routine. After that feeling of heaviness, it felt like it was a miracle for my body to have healed itself to it’s lighter self again!

When one single meal can do this to our body, what will happen when we constantly assault it with hard to digest foods, toxins and empty calories and lack of conducive environment for it to heal. These actions of ours cause inflammation and make us sick. How capable is our body to recover? And if we do not give those conditions for it to recover like good sleep, stress free mental state, abundance of feel good hormones for a really long time, then what? How much built up trash would we have to deal with? We reach a point where we no longer recognize our body’s signals anymore. We become mutually disconnected with each other and go on a mindless living and feel total lack of control thereafter. Living would become so painful with all the medications and their side effects to add on. It becomes a vicious cycle.

But this human body is an amazing machine. It can self-heal when we just stop doing more damage to it. That is no rocket science! Babies are so good at reading their body’s signals. We were born intelligent. We grew up to become lesser and lesser! Lets give this faithful companion, our body, it’s due respect and treat it with love and care! Lets stop hurting ourselves with our wants.

What should a Goal look like?

We have goals for every area of our life like financial goals, academic goals, fitness and even travel goals. We know what we want. So what is the point of spending our already limited time in framing a goal? Why is framing it so important?

Football, Shot On Goal, Door Husband, Nike, Mercurial

Psychology. What we know is in our sub-conscious mind. It is fuzzy and we feel we kind of know it. We can understand how vague it is when we start defining it. To bring our intent or desire to the physical realm and for us to work on concrete steps to move towards that point, we need to define the specifics of it. For example, I know I feel uncomfortable in my current fitness levels. I know it would definitely do me good to lose a few pounds and to get into shape. But this lacks clarity in terms of what exactly I would be doing to move from point A to point B. Goals give shape to this desire. A goal needs to be SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.

So, my fitness goal now would be “I want to lose 10 lbs (Specific, measurable) by exercising for 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week (realistic in my current schedule). I could expect results in say 20 weeks instead of a 10 week with more rigorous schedule (achievable and time bound)”. Done, but is this enough? I know what I need to do but I just don’t have the motivation to do it or to continue through the initial few weeks of pain. I feel like I’m dragging myself through this process and not really enjoying what I am doing.

This is what I found. A goal should be challenging, motivating in itself. It should make me feel so excited that I need to jump up at the first available opportunity to get it done. I had lost enough lbs before my second pregnancy and got to a good level of fitness to help me through my pregnancy and to bounce back post delivery. I thought all I had to do was to follow the same fitness routine, diet routine to get back on track once I recover from my delivery. But I was wrong. It did not work because my current life situation and schedule are totally different. My sleep is “less than perfect” to say the least and my calorie needs, stress levels and social life are so different.  What is one to do?

I’m a low impact person especially after my sciatica and discectomy and dread high impact activities. But there was this constant feel of wanting to run. I came across someone who recovered from his accident and had the same fears like me and ended up running not just marathons but Ultra-man. I was fascinated. May be I too can run. It was new to me. It was challenging. It was testing and expanding my limits. I felt wonderful to even think of working on this. I prepared a plan to start from couch to walking to running for 30 seconds at a time between walks. Now I do 8 minutes run – 90 second walk for 30 minutes alternate days. This is amazing for me. I have new pains and give my body plenty of stretches and time to heal before I hit the treadmill again. Now my thought is no more about reaching a number on the scale. It is about expanding my capabilities.

Now that is what a goal should look like, right? We are so used to shrinking our thoughts to mediocre needs and levels because that is what everyone else around us are doing. Typical successful life is considered to be: Birth, good student in school, then graduation, then job, then marriage, children, profession, retirement, old age and end of story. And then we fight within ourselves and search for motivation outside. No! We need to learn and experience limitless thinking and gradually expand our capacity. Instead of aiming for a tree top, lets aim for the stars. So even if we fail, we will land on a mountain top.

Food fights and what to do about it

Why do we consume food? Is it just for energy to get through the day? If so, why then does food feature in every festival, every celebration of ours? Is it to just get nutrition and for us to grow strong and wise? If so, then why do we struggle with cravings and weight management? I too thought that food is a basic need and need to be treated like that. Life would be simple if we approach food as nothing more than a necessity. Eat when hungry, eat necessary amounts and avoid foods that cause inflammation and sickness. That approach just does not work, does it?

We all know right from wrong when it comes to food. So why does so many of us struggle with waistline and weight issues? Food is much more than a need. Lets face it. It is a pleasure to consume food. No, not a guilty pleasure but just plain, simple, basic pleasure. Each meal we take connects us with memories, scents and scenes from the past, creates complex emotions that makes us crave certain tastes and textures. Food is sheer power of how we operate, that is, it has control over how we think, feel and act. Anyone who manages the food department will know that the kitchen is the power center of a household. Taking control over the kitchen is considered nothing less than a declaration of war! Traditionally most mother-in-law daughter-in-law problems stemmed from this power equation.

Image result for cooking at home india

Not just eating food but making it too gives a sense of fulfillment. Cleaning, chopping and cooking food, looking at the colors, feeling the textures, smelling the scents and vapors, checking for taste, hearing the crackling and sizzling sounds, it is nothing less than a sensory treat that calms down our everyday stress. The other day I was peeling garlic and my 16 month old wanted to feel the texture of garlic peels. He had a terrific time throwing the peels all around, up in the air, crushing in his palms for almost as long as I was doing my task. I have seen my grandma prepare food for herself until the end of her life, even through her partial blindness. Not that she did not have support, she just did not want to give that power away.

So why then did many of our households today delegated this basic gratifying experience to an outsider – a cook who just does it for money, something they would like to get over with? The lesser time they take, the more houses they can cover, the more the revenue. The treatment meted out to food in this situation is less than loving. Higher heat, over-cooking, under-cooking, too much oil, same repeated taste. Same story with restaurant foods. When we outsource our food preparation to a business, either a fast-food restaurant or easy/ ready to eat foods from a multinational company, they work on maximizing their profit, not on maximizing our health. There is a saying in tamil that when food is not pleasurable, they say “Naaku sethupochu” – My tongue is dead. It is literally killing the life inside our body slowly.  It is not just about us. When we delegate this important life skill, we are showing our next generation that cooking is something so complex that we don’t have the time, energy and skills to do it ourselves.

It is OK to get external help when in need, like during a sickness or emergency. But otherwise, food is a power that we have and it feels so powerless to give away this control to someone else. Especially when I am sick, I would rather want to make some simple dish, at least a chutney that I can have with gruel or curd rice. Because I am the only one who knows what I want to eat. Sometimes it is more of pepper, sometimes I crave the ginger taste, sometimes the tangy taste of tomato or tamarind, sometimes sweetness of coconut, sometimes the pungent or nutty texture of groundnuts. I know what to make and in what proportions. That, I feel, gets me on my feet much faster every single time. Taste is not a feeling. It is a language that our body uses to communicate it’s needs to our brain so we act accordingly to satisfy those needs.

In today’s busy lifestyle, we reach for ready to eat foods. Biryani points at every corner, cakes and bakes everywhere, sweet shops from every part of India, restaurants specializing in different cuisines, fast foods and fried meat, “healthy” grab and go bars on the shelf. All this with door delivery to keep us from even getting off the couch. When the cook in our home takes a break it makes us even more happy because we get to have a change from the “same old” routine. It is this availability and affordability that is adding to our issues. Food is not our enemy, we just outsourced it so much that we no longer recognize it. It’s OK to eat on occasion. But for everyday life, we should hold the control. There are some things we can do to bring the art of cooking back into our lives.

  • Time factor: Prepare in advance. There are infinite possibilities for this. Roasting rava, semiya, peanuts; Grinding ready-to-use powders; Peeling garlic, small onions; washing and storing vegetables for using right out of fridge; Peeling, chopping some vegetables that need to be used within few days; Cook lentils and beans and store for quick meals. Shop once for a week or 2 weeks and store appropriately in fridge to avoid wastage of food, money and time.
  • Energy factor: Schedule time for cooking. Make it once a day. Have some raw foods – salads, fruits. Have a standard menu so you do not need to decide on the dish at that moment. I cook first thing in the morning for precisely this reason. My energy hits rock bottom by evening.
  • Skills: Cooking comes with practice. Start with small and easy dishes. It is ok to mess up first couple of times. Learn the techniques to correct the mistakes. All answers are a just google away. Build a strong foundation with consistency. Start young! Open your kitchen to every age group. Learn the medicinal value of the spices and herbs. Discuss with kids how something is going to help them when they eat. It stays with them for a lifetime.
  • Inequality: This is big. One reason why I never wanted to learn cooking when in my teens. For me, and many others I suppose, cooking is looked down upon chore by the society. My thought process was when I am equal to a boy in my academics and achievements why should I take up added responsibilities in the home that a boy would not take. That time I did not realize what a wonderful and powerful act this cooking is! Now as a leader of my family I realize that if I don’t have a skill, I am at a loss of power. For a working woman, they have double full-time job. Even as a stay-at-home mom, it is hard on one person to serve everyone else all the time. Plus when we get sick, we need to train our family to step in as a backup. Delegate chores to everyone depending on their skill and capacity. Make it a team work for the whole family. It is an important skill for every kid, whether a girl or a boy. Our job is to make this learning fun. Apart from the cooking, they will learn vocabulary, math, time management and team work. It is as important and valuable as sending them to a summer camp!

Lets celebrate the food and cooking it. Here’s to making our lives simple and satisfying!

Hip pain post delivery – the why and how

Hip pain is a common complaint I had right after my first pregnancy. First I mistook it as lower back pain but with years of experience with the pain I understood it is different. I had no clue of what to expect after delivery. I used to be wondering why I seem to be in so much pain all the time but never recollected this complaint from my mom or grandma when I was younger. With other moms too whom I would see outside, I would assume everyone else is enjoying a pain free happy motherhood and something is wrong with me or with what I am doing.

Now I learnt that hip is one part of the body that bears all the load from our daily movements and need to be stretched quite often. It bears the most brunt when we stand or sit in one place with wrong posture for a long time. For a woman, after 10 months of bearing the weight during pregnancy and after a normal delivery, hip needs special care. So what changed now from my grandma’s times?

This is what my childhood looked like:

Furniture: We had 2-3 chairs in the living room and no dining table/chair. We used mats to sit down on the floor to eat, play, talk and even sleeping. If we had guests, we used to offer the chairs to them and they were used for just a few hours. Also the chairs were for elderly who could not bend their knees to sit down. Reading, eating, playing everything was on the floor or on mats. Sitting on the ground gave a lot of space for trying different postures/ yoga poses: lotus pose, butterfly,  a lotus pose variation with one leg bent and foot on the ground, torso twist and so on.

My mom to 70% and my grandma to a 100% used to do these hip exercises as part of their daily chores:

In kitchen: Chopping vegetables using standing knife (aruvamanai) – the way to do this is one needs to sit down with one leg folded and on top of the wooden platform of the tool Image result for aruvamanaito hold it firmly and fold the other leg with foot on the ground and hugged to the chest so one could bend over and reach the knife.

While the description sounds complicated it gave the hips a real stretch when doing it for even 5 to 10 minutes.

Image result for ammikkalA wide squat to use stone appliance instead of a table top mixer grinder (ammikkal) – 10 mins bending at the hips to reach, a wide squat to clean the utensils on an open backyard instead of standing at the sink – 10 mins 2-3 times a day.

 Sitting with one leg extended on the side and one bent and bending at the hips constantly for grinding dosa flour (I used to have fun helping her with this one) – 20-30 mins once in 2 days.

Laundry: a wide squat in open backyard to wash clothes – 15-20 mins daily,  forward bend and up for rinsing them – at least 20-30 times depending on the laundry load. Reach up with both hands to dry the clothes and take them.Related image

Cleaning up: forward bend at the hip for sweeping the floor- 5-10 mins daily, sometimes twice a day, wide leg forward bend for rangoli 5-20 mins depending on the occasion once or twice a day

Commute: Shopping, temple, bus stop, groceries, friend’s place we walk or catch a bus. Autorickshaws were rarely used, that is when in need alone. – 15-30 mins are considered very walkable.

Toilet: Indian style full wide squat: 5-10 mins

Now fast-forward to the present:


  • Sofa in living room for family time, TV time, pretty much the default when we are in the room including when guest arrive.
  • Dining table: laptops, eating, homework, studies, crafts.
  • Raised bed for sleeping

Kitchen: cooking, cleaning, mixer grinder, chopping vegetables all when standing in one place. Hips bearing the weight and not getting stretched as needed.

Cleaning: vaccum – standing and slight bending to move it around. Good workout for arms may be but hips again are neglected.

Laundry: What is that? 🙂

Commute: Car to everywhere- school, work, shopping, maximum stroll for 30-45 mins a day for my baby that too when weather is merciful.

Toilet: Western, upgraded slightly with squatty potty very recently.

Aaaah! so, that is why!!

Pain is not something wrong with our body, but definitely something that we are doing to it.

But I can’t get back to the old style. Sure, yes. But we can include some of those stretches into our daily lives.

Including a few minutes of hip stretches as part of my daily routine and sitting down with my baby during his play, eat times which is most of his waking time and including walks are showing good improvements to my present situation.

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