Working out, self care, eating ‘clean’, meditation — doing everything ‘right’ can get overwhelming for someone who has just started on the health journey. Here’s a day-by-day break-down to ease into the process with a little help from hashtags online
Meatless Mondays do not have to be the first step in turning vegan. Instead of focussing on cutting meat out, look at introducing one forgotten native vegetable into your diet every week.
On his Instagram, Chennai-based Akash Muralidharan points out how eight vegetables: beans, potato, cauliflower, tomato, onion, carrot, peas and okra, have dominated the menus and markets of urban India. In March this year, he led a 100-day campaign to cook one little-used local vegetable each day. “We cooked with almost 70 varieties of vegetables, and almost 40 of them were new to us,” he says. These included karonda, snake gourd, roselle (gongura) and so on.
It can be challenging to find all of these in markets, so Akash and his family looked towards their relatives and friends who grew vegetables in their backyards. Joining communities of kitchen gardens will also help you source vegetables, as bartering leftover seeds is a common practice in such groups. Here, you will also discover fun ways to cook the vegetables but of course, you can always ask your grandparents.
Akash, who still maintains the diversity on his plate after the project ended, says, “These vegetables not only help us lead a healthy life but also keep the environment healthy.” Bringing back these vegetables meant safeguarding our biodiversity.
Widely used online to compare before and after weight differences post training, its essence is the discipline and self-control that go into any meaningful transformation.
Every Tuesday, try and detox yourself from one habit you have been meaning to give up for a while now: smoking, bingeing on Netflix or social media, or excessive snacking — whatever is your poison, this one day, you take a break. This practice has roots in cultures that advise us to fast on certain days of the week.
The middle of the work week is a good day for your foray into meditation. “When I was learning at the International centre of yoga and research in Puducherry, I stayed with a family that would sit together quietly for two minutes every day,” says Shraddha Iyer, trainer at SARVA Yoga. “I understand that the general impression of meditation among people who don’t do it is that it is boring. But the main point is focussing on your breath. Most of us use only 40% of our breath capacity.”
So for the uninitiated, taking one day out to devote two minutes of your time to meditate will help you in eventually becoming more aware of your breathing. “You can choose which type of therapy you prefer,” says Shraddha, adding that laughter yoga and sound healing are two popular ones. Something that helps quiet introspection is the act of maintaining a gratitude journal that you can fill in every Wednesday. Make sure that at least this day, you take time out to do what makes you happy.
Give a healthy spin to what is essentially a hashtag to flaunt a cocktail; reserve Thursday mornings for homemade veggie-fruit juices (no added sugar), rich in fibre and micronutrients. Dietician Sheela Krishnaswamy believes this is a good way to hydrate as long as the sugar levels, with the rest of your diet in mind, are within the daily recommended intake. Try spinach and tomatoes/apples/cucumber, with a dash of lime. “Wheatgrass juice is another option,” she says. You’re trying to give your system an antioxidant blast.
At least once a week, get out to play a sport like gully cricket, badminton, or tennis. Given the times we are in, of course, make sure that the sport is non-contact, in the open air, and with people from the same family or trusted neighbours. Or use the day to vary your workout routine by letting a coin, or dice decide your plan. Heads can mean jumping jacks, push-ups and leg lifts, and tails can mean high knees, squats and lunges, and so on for the die.
Draw cards on a WhatsApp group for a group workout, where you sync exercises in your own homes. Let each card: diamonds, spades, hearts and clubs be a different type of workout and let the number of the card: aces to kings decide the number of reps. It’s all up to you, to make it as randomised as possible, so just get creative with it.
Finally, reserve your weekends to up your game in whatever you feel has been challenging you throughout the work week and you have been putting it off for ‘when you have more time’. This could be levelling up on your workouts, adding weights to your training, cycling or walking two kilometres farther than you are used to, or trying a new sport or hobby.
It doesn’t have to all be physical fitness-related. You can take time out to prepare that elaborate healthy meal whose recipe you have bookmarked. Or simply, deep clean your house and fix those little things that have been bothering you. Never underestimate the mental health benefits of a clean room for an anxious mind.