The Skinny on Staying Skinny
One of my first jobs in college was as an aerobics instructor at the gym in New Delhi’s Surya Sofitel Hotel in the late 80s. It was the era of Jane Fonda, spandex leotards and leg-warmers, an era when “no pain, no gain” was the mantra, low-fat diets were all the rage and “step” was a noun. I would sail through a dozen high-impact Jumping Jacks, my twenty-something body quivering with effortless grace, while the rest of my class composed of forty-something-year-olds heaved and panted through the fitness routine.
Three decades later, that image fills me with envy. After two kids, a sluggish metabolism, and a body that feels decrepit, I've found (like many others before me) that it's not easy to lose the pounds anymore. At cocktail parties and at meetups, the most common lament I hear from people is that they'd like to "exercise more regularly." Exercise is very important for health and mood (those aerobic highs aren't exaggerated!) and everyone knows this—and yet it's often tough for people to stick to an exercise routine.
Here's my cheat sheet on staying fit . . .
1. Make working out a part of your daily routine: I'd like to work out every morning because it fires up your metabolism for the day, you have more energy, yadda, yadda, yadda. But with carpool schedules and writing deadlines, that doesn't always happen. The only way to avoid the "Darn it! I'll just exercise tomorrow!" hump, I've found, is to pencil it in for the latter part of my day. "6-7 p.m.: Workout" written clearly and legibly on a yellow post-it note stuck to my car's dashboard for the remainder of the day has a funny way of settling into my subconscious.
2. Cut the C.R.A.P. (Caffeine, refined sugar, alcohol, processed foods): Limit coffee to two cups a day or switch to green tea. While caffeine may help burn fat, too much of it spikes cortisol production. If you have excess weight at the sides of your waist, blame sugar. Studies show that 40 to 60% of sugar you eat is converted to body fat. It’s hard to wave good-bye to spaghetti bolognese and chocolate molten cake, but it’s necessary if you want a long and lean body. Food should be organic or locally sourced; dump the ready meals and breakfast cereals.
3. Begin your day with a yoga pose known as the ‘butterfly’ pose. Yoga is all about uniting the mind and the body. Yoga allows us to strengthen awareness and quiet our minds. You don’t have to practice yoga on a regular basis to get the energy boost out of the butterfly pose. Truth be told, I don’t practice yoga, and I don’t pretend to be an expert on it. But, I can tell you that the butterfly pose is one of he best ways to start your day if you want to get your circulation going, get oxygen into your brain, stretch your muscles and quicken your step. It’s an energy bonanza, and it takes only a few minutes to perform. Here’s a video on how to do this pose correctly:
4. Build strength straining into your workout: Yes, I too had heard and read it all along—after forty, women need to focus on strength training to maintain their shape. But only when I began going to a personal trainer once a week did I see my waistline whittle. Am I back to my pre-forty weight? Nah! Not by a long shot. But, I do feel healthier, and fit better in my clothes. Working out with a trainer is not for everyone, but training videos and apps that help coach you in strength moves—lunges, squats and planks, abound on supermarket shelves. My favorite—https://www.popsugar.com/Workouts
5. Have you tried intermittent fasting? (Read about it here: http://www.anoopjudge.com/blog/eat-your-heart-out-intermittent-fasting-works?rq=intermittent%20fasting) Intermittent fasting is an eating style where you eat within a specific time period, and fast the rest of the time. Though is an effective way to lose weight, it's less a diet and more a lifestyle choice. Delay is never denial—I truly believe this is one of the most powerful interventions out there if you want to increase your metabolism and feel rejuvenated. As Gandhi said, “what the eyes are for the outer world, fasts are for the inner.”
Check out the tips above and let me know what you found the most helpful!