Friday, June 12, 2009

Get Fit the NEAT way!

Are you someone who can’t seem to find anytime for exercise no matter what you do! Or just the thought of a gym makes you want to bury your head in the sand!

Well, the world is really amazing and the number of people working just to help you out will surprise you! What I am talking about is the concept called NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.
Sounds complicated but is the easiest thing you can do to get fit in your own small ways!
Human energy expenditure (EE),which needs to be balanced as against the input energy through eating for optimal health is defined by 3 components – the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), Thermic effect of food (TEF) and Physical Exercise activity thermogenesis (PE). There are also other small components such as the energetic costs of medications and emotion that could be considered.
The equation can be represented as EE = BMR+TEF+PE
BMR is the energy expended when an individual is laying at complete rest, just to keep all body mechanisms running (tested in the morning, after sleep, provided the person is not shocked awake!) and accounts for nearly 60%. TEF is the energy associated with digestion, absorption, and storage of food and accounts for approximately 10-15 % of total daily EE. The PE is a variable factor and depends on the amount of physical activity done as - Exercise and NEAT during any given day.
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is thus the energy expended for anything that is not sleeping, eating or strenuous exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, household activities, walking up the stairs or even fidgeting!
NEAT activities are a great way to start incorporating some physical activity in your daily life in a non-time consuming way. However, for those who are still excessively over weight, a word of caution – while NEAT activities can be a great way to start off, this alone will not suffice to get you into optimum health by the right time!

Here are some easy ways –
o Park your vehicle 50 - 100 metres away from your office building or elsewhere, and walk down the distance.
Use the same concept in your society and park your vehicle a few buildings away from your own building.

o Avoid asking the newspaper guy to drop the newspaper at your home. Instead, make it a routine to walk down and pick up the newspaper yourself.

o Try to use the stairs while shopping in malls or even at office and home. Of course, in case of office or home, do choose the number of floors you can climb according to your fitness levels and time, and let the lift help you with the rest!

o Instead of asking for home-delivery of household items, pick it up yourself from the neighbourhood shop.

o Reduce the use of remote while watching TV, and instead physically get up and go to the TV to change channels.

o In the lunch break during office hours, take the longest route to reach the canteen, or incase you eat lunch in your cubicle itself, make sure you take walk around for 8-10 min atleast either before or after lunch.

o Take some time out daily to play with your children, or incase you have pets, take them for a round outside, atleast once a day, and watch your health and relationships improving!!

All over the world, the concept has been put to use quite creatively… Here are few examples I feel that you may find useful too!

o While in office, keep your dustbin 5-6 cubicles away, and make it a point to get up and go over to it every time you want to dispose something!
o During the time that the computer is loading a page or downloading something, try some leg extensions, side bends, shoulder rolls or just stand up and walk around, stretch and then come back to your work.
o Walking meetings i.e. meetings where the participants walk around the office and discuss issues are quite popular abroad!
o Walk down to the water cooler, every two hours and fill up your bottle, instead of asking the attendant to do it! Who would have thought humility could also burn some calories!
o In the morning, while reading the paper, try walking around instead of sitting at the table! Also, you can take breaks in between at office and do the same!
o For mothers who have delivered recently, walking the baby around the house can also be a good exercise.(I am sure some of you must be of the opinion that taking care of a baby can be an exhausting exercise in itself!)
o While climbing steps at home or office, try creative ways to climb – like criss-cross climbing, climb once-step down and climb again – repeat etc.
o For those who sit for long hours at work, consult an expert who can suggest some office exercises for you, considering your workspace.
o In fact, it has also been found that chewing gum can also contribute to NEAT!

Get creative with NEAT and remember that “it’s the little things that count!”

Working with the Subconscious…

Writing and drawing are excellent ways to connect with the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is always receiving information without judgement.

The simplest way is to write positive worded sentences targeted at the issue that we are working on..
For example, in case you have a trouble remembering things to do or to carry things when you are headed somewhere, you can use sentences like “I remember to take the things I need” or “I remember all that I need to do”. These are positive sentences and have a corresponding positive effect on the mind, instead of using sentences like “I don’t forget to take the things I need or do things I need to do”. The basic intention is almost the same, however, what you focus on is very important.

There is a popular saying that “What you focus on, grows” and that is exactly that we as intelligent human beings can use to our advantage.

Whether you believe it or not, the underlying causes of most of the diseases, problems and conditions we have are the two main feelings – inadequacy and resentment / guilt / anger. Suppression of these feelings is what was taught to us since childhood and which later manifested as health and relationship problems.

So, the only way to get out of this vicious circle is to “let go” of the past conditioning, limitations and inhibitions that were passed on to us by our parents and ancestors and so on. That said, I am sure you think it is not that easy to just “let go” or “forgive” painful experiences or people that have caused us a lot of hurt and problems.
However, if you really look into it, you will realize that all the anger, hurt and resentment is only eating away at you. It is not really helping you live your life any better!

You can today choose to lead a better life and let go of all the anger, resentment, guilt and all negative emotions and move above and beyond these petty things as seen in the larger picture of life! Every experience is here to teach you something valuable!

Minding the Mind!

The two main feelings of inadequacy and guilt, anger or resentment when repressed give rise to many diseases, problems and conditions.

You might find this hard to swallow since most of this happens without conscious awareness and our human mind is accustomed to relating emotions, feelings and everything with logic and factual reasons!

The Subconscious mind is where all this is happening without your consciously controlling the thoughts. The Subconscious mind is like a sponge, with unlimited capacity and it just soaks in all the information around you unlike the conscious mind which has limited capacity and filters out information and is prone to judgements and bias.
More important is the fact that the subconscious is highly active in the first seven years of one’s life and hence the childhood conditioning stays with us for the rest of our lives, unless one becomes aware and intends to change it.
So, we take on the views, fears, limitations, attitudes of those closest to us during those years.

And that is where the advantage and the challenge lies! So, the challenge is that you cannot always control the information available around you and the advantage is that once you are aware of your mind games, there are ways in which you can tap your subconscious and tune it into positive perceptions and frequencies so as to overcome the effect of any negative conditioning or information that is present in the subconscious.

How to achieve this is by using our senses – namely audio, visual or kinesthetic. A combination of any two or all three works best. Writing and drawing which make use of kinesthetic and visual senses are an excellent option.
However, what to write or draw must only be done in consultation with an expert!


Taking it from the last week, before you learn to apply it, just to understand the power of the human mind, which is rarely discovered, leave alone understood, take this as a simple example –

Don’t think about the white hairy dog! Or Don’t think about Shahrukh Khan!

I am sure all of you thought about it. When ever you hear such a statement, the mind has to first construct the fact and then negate it. So simple things like “Don’t forget to do this, don’t forget to get that” usually end up in a negative way, with the person actually forgetting to do the instructed thing.

And such words are used so unconsciously that we don’t even understand how many times we say or use them, and then we wonder why keep getting negative results. Is it any wonder, now?
In other words, every word we speak has the power to bring about drastic results – good or bad, that depends on us!

Now, I would see that as a boon that the results of our words depend on us! Because it gives us the power to also use the words to our advantage. Actually, if you got to see, the mind is a good slave. It will do exactly what you tell it to do.
So, if you get up one morning on the wrong side of the bed, and keep telling yourself that “I’m having a bad day”, then that’s exactly what you will have! One by one, things may go wrong and just confirm your belief that it is indeed a bad day! If you don’t have one, it is just because you have consciously or unconsciously shifted your frame of mind to the brighter side of things or to positive frequencies, where you don’t let a small issue bother you!

The human mind is a powerful tool which can be used or abused. This is widely observed everywhere, right from books on the “Power of Positive Attitude” or training modules, which tell you how to be positive in life!
It’s easy and yet not very easy, interestingly!

The human body is the only tangible asset out of the three assets – mind, body and soul – the trinity of life! However, what has to be understood is that the other two assets – mind and soul are the ones in control of the body and hence must be given due importance so as to achieve a healthy balanced life.
The human body has been so beautifully and intelligently designed with a divine purpose for every organ, bone, tissue and cell in our body. Everything that manifests outside (effect) on a physical level has a deep underlying internal cause.

As a simple example – take the case of lower back pain. From the fitness point of view, lower back pain can be caused improper posture for prolonged hours, excess weight/fat on the belly, age, not adhering to proper lifting and bending techniques amongst a few reasons.
If you look at it from the other perspective, when a person is depressed, lonely, tensed or fearful about life, his muscles get tensed and usually the posture droops downwards. This causes muscular imbalance in the adjacent muscles and usually it’s the lower back muscles that compensate by becoming shorter and tense thereby causing inflexibility and pain in the lower back.

There is another perspective that, when a person with a history of “emotional eating” (eating excessively when depressed or afraid or undergoing emotional turmoil) is lonely, depressed or fearful about life, he ends up eating more, consciously or unconsciously, which leads to weight gain, which with the Indian tendency, shows first on the mid-portion i.e. the belly. Excessive weight towards the front, tries to shift the Center of Gravity of the body and tries to tilt the body towards the front, and thus the lower back muscles have to compensate for it by tightening themselves and pulling the body behind, thus causing lower back pain!!

Moreover, most of the root causes lie in the feelings of fear, resentment, guilt and anger which has been repressed, that is, it has not been expressed in a healthy way since childhood.

Its not surprising, how these feelings are common to one and all, since ever since we are able to talk, we are told to listen to elders and the society, and that anger is a bad emotion – you are not supposed to be angry, or that fear means you are a weak person and so on..
With no creative outlets to these pure feelings, they build-up and make a person fearful, pessimistic, negative, anxious, worrying all the time, jealous and insecure all of which affect their intra-personal and inter-personal relationships!

As a part of research worldwide and our own research as well, it has been found that two major feelings dominate most our human minds – the feeling of inadequacy (I am not good enough the way I am) and the feeling of anger or guilt towards oneself or especially others (I cant believe he did that to me / I cant do or say this, its not right, people wont like it).
There are many other feelings that are related to these and which finally manifest in disorders, diseases and problems.
For example, if you get angry at your mother for something she said, you stifle your need to give it back, since we have been told that a good child never disobeys or disrespects his/her parents. If there are more instances like this, then build-up starts and then finally either you burst out with anger one day, or you take to substance abuse or it causes other problems!

Mind & Body -- The connection

Last week, we talked about the power of mind and how it controls our body. This week, we shall see how this can explain the most common complaint in our lives – putting on too much weight, or rather how to lose weight.
Gaining excess weight is usually the effect of a deeper underlying cause.
Everything in our body is interconnected and ultimately controlled by the mind. So, our thoughts and feelings can manifest in the body, over a period of time, cumulatively, as excess weight. These thoughts and feelings are usually of “fear, resentment, guilt, sadness”.

Fear is the most important reason that is interconnected with the other three and various other feelings. Fear is one of the most important underlying causes of anger. When a person stifles his anger or fails to express it and get a closure on it, it usually builds up in the body as resentment. This fear and resentment manifests as excess weight.

Guilt again works in the same way and coupled with any of the above reasons gives rise to issues like emotional over-eating, obsessive eating of sugary foods etc. The fact is that, when you are depressed or sad, usually the blood sugar levels get affected and hence some people get a sugar craving and end up eating the wrong kinds of sugary foods, which gets stored in the body as fat.
Some people are able to step out of their negative emotions, especially when they start exercising due to two reasons –
a) They receive support from the people around or they themselves become mentally stronger and thus can keep themselves motivated.
b) Exercise releases happy hormones like endorphins, dopamines etc. in the body and they like the feeling.

However, this is not true for all the people. If your root cause is not taken care of, the problems will come back to haunt you even if you do manage to succeed the first time.