Category Archives: Health and fitness

Ditching your running shoes

I’m not much of a runner. I’m still traumatised of coming last in every race I ran in school. Much to my dismay. This put me off sports for a long time. I’ve just listened to a TED Talk that makes a good case for ditching your running shoes. The case he makes is that running barefoot eliminates running injuries and brings the joy and freedom back to running. He makes an interesting proposal – I might just take up running, barefoot.

Check out the talk below.

What Was Great About Yesterday 1

Full of ‘I don’ wanna’ and ‘I wanna stay home‘ I dragged my feet through the revolving door of the gym. Classes are scaled down for the festive season so there was nothing interesting to do. Only boring treadmill and please don’t even mention the bicycle.

So the rowing machine it was and what a great workout I had. I felt great afterwards and this morning even greater which for me means more energy and flexibility. I rowed for 10 minutes, rested for 1, stretched for 2, then started again, this time faster.

I’ll stick to the rowing machine again today and probably until all the classes start up again. It’s a short workout which means that I will do it every day.

I’m looking forward to it today. There’s none of the ‘I don’ wanna’ and ‘I wanna stay home‘, so let’s go!


6 Habits I Rely On When I Travel

Remind me to never again take 3 flights in a 24-hour period. The last time I did this was in 2011 returning to South Africa from a trip to the US.

Sacramento – Minnesota – Atlanta – Johannesburg.

By the time I got on the Delta flight to Johannesburg I was tired and sick. I took some pain meds, told the flight attendants to please keep my food warm (vegetarian special meal) because I needed to sleep awhile.

This was probably the best sleep I’ve had on a plane, thanks to the meds. I don’t make a habit of this though. The only muti I take is echinacea for the blurgies.  I’d rather sleep it off when I arrive at my destination. I find that melatonin helps me deal with jet lag and flight exhaustion although I forgot to bring it this time around.

Anyway, the Delta flight attendants were so kind! When I woke up, dinner service had been over a long time since. I walked to the galley to ask for dinner and in a few minutes, the tray of food was placed in front of me.

Johannesburg – Frankfurt – Barcelona – Lisbon.

That was yesterday.  Not wanting a repeat of the 2011 trip, I made sure that I ate regularly, kept hydrated, and made a deliberate effort to remain relaxed. Oh yes, and I took some Gaba (gamma-aminobutyric acid is a neurotransmitter) which helps relieve the anxiety I feel when I travel.

Like all flights I didn’t sleep well – perhaps 2 or 3 hours of fitful sleep.

These are the habits I’ve adopted to make long-haul flights bearable:

  1. I always select my seats at the time of booking so that I am either on the aisle or have extra legroom. This is important to me and I will pay extra for this.
  2. I like to start taking Gaba 2 days before traveling. It helps deal with the anxiety I feel when I travel.
  3. I eat all the time, in small bits. I carry nuts and dried fruit with me. When I arrive on the other side I seem to crave fruit, so if I’m in transit I go in search of fruit and yogurt.
  4. On the flight I quaff copious amounts of orange juice and water – I find that in the dry environment of the plane, the tartness of the orange juice is something my body asks for.
  5. Take liberal amounts of echinacea (this is in my little 100ml plastic bag of liquids allowed through security.
  6. Keep melatonin handy – for after the flight, to get my sleep cycles operating normally again.

It may seem that I rely a lot on nutraceutical supplements – yes I do – and it’s better than relying on sleeping tablets or such like.

What are your habits when you travel?


Ode to exercise

The geyser is still on the blink. It’s so irritating. It’s not more than 5 years old after the last one burst and was replaced by the insurance company. So still showering at the gym. Maybe I will put in a gym session as well. I haven’t been very “gymmy” lately, just not been in the mood. The result is 3 kgs evident. If I put my mind (and body) to it, it should take me a month to be back to my pre-India body (says she, chewing on a sweet Gulab Jamun).

I am not into weight loss gimmicks or products. Common sense eating and exercise is all that’s needed. Common sense in that if you take in more calories than you burn then guess what? And that’s where the exercise comes in. It helps you burn calories, those that you don’t need. But here’s the magic thing – the more you exercise the more you have to eat (healthily and common-”sensily”) in order to sustain the exercise.

To gain slimness you have to exercise. Diet will only get you so far (imagine all that slack dangly skin, ugh!). Exercise is key. Exercise is king. It doesn’t matter what exercise. Are you burning calories? Are you becoming fitter? Are you having fun? If you have answered “Yes” to all those questions, that is all that matters.

Over a number of years I became progressively non-slim. It happened, and one day I woke up and thought, WTF? To get it off took another few years. Not that I was dieting during those years. Nooooo! I was trying to find shortcuts. Which didn’t work.

One day I woke up and decided that the time had come to go to the gym. 6 months of personal training and sensible eating changed my body shape. I surprised even myself. The benefits of exercise were also many, the most awesome one was realising that the happy hormones were coursing through my body. It’s like walking on clouds. Walking into the gym, smelling the combination of chlorine and sweat, together with the pumping music is enough to get me all excited about working out.

You have to be patient and sustain the routine until the endorphins kick in and the dual anchors of smell and sound will carry you through the tedium of treadmill and bicycle until you want more.

But I hate gym, I hear you say. So did I. But that’s ok. There’s hiking, dancing, running, hockey, netball, soccer, cricket. Anything to get your heart pumping and the unwanted calories off.

The best investment I made was a heart rate monitor. Mine is not fancy, it is the basic entry-level model and it tells me my heart rate during exercise. Based on certain thresholds I program in, it tells me if I am over-exerting myself, and at the end of the session tells me how many calories I’ve burned. The more fancy models give you much more info including downloading the exercise info onto your computer so you can do all sorts of analysis (if you’re into that sort of thing). My basic one is more than enough for me.

As to the thresholds, you can either get a personal trainer (which I got for 6 months, but when he stood me up 3 times I decided to go it alone), or do your own research. There are lots of online resources. OR you can buy a book. Or an exercise and fitness magazine available at any supermarket.

They key to all this is off course – your goals! For me to be healthy is the main goal. The fact that I can now wear skinny jeans – well this is a bonus.

So there you have it. All of the above has been written based on my own personal experience. Now to put it into action again to shed the 3-India-kgs.