No more cheat days or ‘sin-days’!

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 11.25.11 PMReprinted from DailyMail UK. In case you are wondering how to consume 3000 calories a day, it’s easy: some pizzas, some soft drinks, some ice cream, some chocolates, some danish…  I am switching to a monthly cheat day; waiting for 1st October.

Healthy does not mean boring and bland

IMG_2807I had my favorite salad for lunch today, and realised not many people are aware of this amazing combination.

Main ingredients:

  • Avocados
  • Cheery tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Oranges

Dressing ingredients:

  • Lemon juice
  • Vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Honey

What next? Chop the main ingredients and mix together. Then make the dressing and pour over the salad. Lastly, sprinkle crushed walnuts on top and serve/eat. Visually appealing, extremely nutritious, quite filling and very delicious!

Please share your favorite salad recipe.

Check out Dinchack Facebook page for daily tips on happiness, motivation and success!

6 months on Paleo: maintaining at 75kg and 32.5″!


Paleo has become my favorite diet and lifestyle. Not only it allows me to maintain myself at my perfect weight and size, without regular exercise, there are lots of other benefits too!

I first heard it from Hamza, my son who is a bigger health and fitness freak than I am. Then I read the book, The Paleo Solution. More on that here.

I started following the diet in September, and lost 3kg and 2 inches of belly fat in 4 weeks, as reported here. By week 6, I had lost 3.5kg and 2.5 inches of belly fat, as posted here with a photo in November 2012.

By week 8, I had achieved my target of losing 4kg and 3 inches of belly fat. I was down to my perfect weight of 75kg and waist size of 32.5″. Here’s the best part: I have maintained it for the last 4 months! Want to know what the diet really is? Read it here.

It’s easy to follow. You don’t need to go find or cook anything special. Just remove carbs from your regular meals and add some more vegetables, nuts and lean meat.

While on Paleo, I feel more energized all day long, even during late afternoon and after dinner. Sleep seems to have become more refreshing and it’s easier to wake up energized.

If you are serious about weight loss, you must read more on Paleo and give it a try.

[Photo of one of the best fruit salads I’ve ever had, during one of my travels to the Middle East]

Paleo Diet works: lost 3kg and 2 inches in 4 weeks

Dinner of grilled fish with vegetable salad

In a post last month, I wrote about my introduction to Paleo and the 30-day challenge. Well, 30 days are over and here are the results: lost 3kg and 2 inches from the waist.

If you don’t want to read the book, here’s the summary: The basic theory behind the Paleo Diet is that our bodies are evolutionary and genetically designed to thrive on Paleolithic era. You choose foods that were available during the caveman-era, such as meat, fish, eggs, roots, vegetables, berries and mushrooms. And you give up on all processed foods and everything that came along after agriculture and animal farming were adopted such as sugar, added salt, dairy, grains and all processed or fast foods. You drink water and eliminate all beverages, except green tea and coconut water.

My challenge was to cut down on lentils, yogurt, fruits, home-made roti (bread) and the afternoon latte, while introducing eggs and meat back into my diet. Here’s what my diet looked like: Continue reading

What does it take to work off a blueberry muffin?

What it takes for a 70-kg, 30-year-old woman to work off a blueberry muffin (360 calories):

  • 21 minutes of fast skating or
  • 33 minutes of jogging or
  • 66 minutes of lawn-mowing or gardening or
  • 77 minutes of cycling or
  • 92 minutes of vacuuming or
  • 115 minutes of lifting weights or
  • 230 minutes of folding laundry

Think before you eat 🙂 [photo credit: TIME magazine, August 2009]

Download free e-book: 47 simple steps to enhancing life

The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss

I’ve been reading this fascinating book for the last few days, by the same author who wrote the #1 bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek. It says you’ll learn, in less than 30 minutes each:

  • How to prevent fat gain while bingeing
  • How to increase fat-loss 300% with a few bags of ice
  • How to gain 34 pounds of muscle in 28 days, without steroids, and in four hours of total gym time
  • How to sleep 2 hours per day and feel fully rested
  • How to go from running 5 kilometers to 50 kilometers in 12 weeks
  • How to reverse “permanent” injuries
  • How to add 150+ pounds to your lifts in 6 months

Most of these appear to be tall claims, but I’m going to try a few things and see. I’ve already gone on the ‘slow-carb’, high protein diet to convert the few inches of fat into muscle. Will post the results in a few weeks.

[Join my Facebook page for links to the most popular posts – past and present]

How I lost 3 kg in 3 weeks!

I don’t believe in short-term weight loss programs. Even if you are successful in losing weight through a few weeks or months of a diet or exercise routine, you put it back on as soon you go back to your ‘normal’ lifestyle. That’s why it’s much better to make long-term lifestyle changes that you can live with, for example:

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables; cut unhealthy fats and sugars, reduce processed food; eat slowly and in small portions…
  • Make some exercise part of your routine, whether it’s walking, jogging, swimming or playing your favorite sports a few times every week…
  • Learn to sleep well; reduce stress; maintain good posture…
  • Know your ideal weight, considering your height and structure, and figure out the calories you can consume, considering the amount of exercise you can do. (Tough one!)

Having said all that, there are times when one needs to get rid of a few kilos quickly. I usually maintain my weight at 75 kg. But every once in a while, I find myself guilty of putting on an extra kilo or two. And for such occasions, I have figured out a diet that helps me lose one kilo per week, without starving or Continue reading

Start Swimming to be Healthy, Happy and Fit!

0909 swimming

Swimming is a very unique activity that can be used for health, fitness or fun. It doesn’t require any special gear or  equipment. Swimming can be a regular exercise, a warm up or cooling down activity with other exercises, or a social activity that can be enjoyed with family or friends.

Here are ten health and fitness benefits to motivate you to take up regular swimming:

  1. Swimming involves the use of almost all the muscles required for movement, without the weight of your body pounding you with each move like when you are walking or running.
  2. Swimming builds muscle strength, endurance, and cardiovascular fitness. The longer you swim, the more your endurance and speed improves.
  3. Swimming improves the body’s use of oxygen and increases lung function, without overworking the heart.
  4. Swimming stimulates circulation, and promotes proper breathing.
  5. Swimming helps you sleep better.
  6. Swimming burns calories at about 3 calories a mile per pound of body weight, so it helps maintain a healthy weight.
  7. Swimming helps tone the upper arms, shoulders and legs.
  8. Swimming doesn’t make you hot and sticky, as many other forms of exercise do.
  9. Swimming is a great stress-buster. It relaxes the body and soothes the mind.
  10. Swimming is a skill that can save your life, or help save someone else’s live.

Like any other sport or exercise, you can also use swimming to build discipline, enhance will power, increase competitiveness and improve your goal-setting skills.

[Photo taken by Salma when I jumped off the boat in Goa]

If you enjoy reading this blog, you can a) subscribe to get latest posts in email, b) follow the latest links in Twitter, c) forward this link to friends.

Exercise Alone Won’t Make You Thin!

0908 muffinTIME magazine article “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin” reports interesting statistics showing that most people who exercise end up eating more, and eating worse. Not only these people don’t lose any weight, they often end up gaining weight.

After we exercise, we often crave sugary calories like those in muffins or ‘sports’ drinks. A bottle of Gatorade contains 130 calories. So if you drink one of those after a 20-minute run it neutralizes the calories burned. A blueberry muffin contains about 360 calories, and the illustration below shows what it takes to burn that many calories: over an hour of cycling, over half hour of jogging, and hour and a half of vacuuming are a few.

However, the article also lists many benefits of exercising including enhanced health and prevention of disease. And then goes on to suggest that exercise doesn’t have to be ‘sweaty, exhausting, hunger-producing bursts of activities’. Continue reading

20 Healthy Habits

0906 exerciseWe all know that everything makes a difference when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. If you find it difficult to make major changes to your diet and exercise routine, start with small changes. See how many of the following you can commit to:

  1. Add a fruit or two to your breakfast. Or make fresh juice with 2-3 of your favorite fruits.
  2. Have a small portion of uncooked vegetables (salad) with your lunch.
  3. Replace unhealthy snacks like cookies and crisps with your favorite dried fruit.
  4. Try fruit yogurt instead of ice cream.
  5. Replace regular coffee with decaf, or better still, herbal teas.
  6. Use olive oil if you must have deep fried stuff.
  7. Have fresh lime instead of carbonated drinks.
  8. Stop eating three hours before your bedtime.
  9. Replace white sugar with brown sugar.
  10. Replace white bread with brown bread.
  11. Replace white rice with brown rice.
  12. Replace regular milk with skimmed milk.
  13. If you must have cheese, have cottage cheese or feta cheese.
  14. Do at least 10 minutes of simple exercise, like stretching or jumping, before breakfast.
  15. Take the stairs instead of elevators.
  16. Park your car a little farther so you have to walk to it.
  17. Take a 10-minute walk during your lunch time – slowly increase to 20 minutes.
  18. Take a 20-minute walk a couple of hours after dinner – with your spouse, kids or dog.
  19. Do some form of intense exercise at least once a week – swimming, cycling, hiking, other sports.
  20. Eat 5-6 small meals instead of 3 big meals a day.

Please share your own health and exercise tips too.

Health, Simplicity, Procrastination and Goals

It wasn’t easy compiling this week’s list of links/posts as there were way too many awesome articles swirling around the blogosphere to choose from, but here are the shortlisted six that are a must-read.

For the week ending Sunday, 26/04:

Health – Hard Talk, by Trevor Lunn

Trevor Lunn has been one of my best friends, mentors and inspiration for almost two decades. At 60+ he is healthier and fitter than most people half his age. He recently left his long-term publishing career to pursue his dream of getting a degree in Health Sciences. Now he is a full-time university student in Melbourne, majoring in exercise science, psychology and nutrition. He has agreed to share his knowledge and wisdom about health and fitness through this blog. Here’s the first one:

Welcome to Health – Hard Talk. Here will not be found “handy hints and tips” or the latest headlines about “health research” reported in the media, or the supposed quick fixes or mystical herbal or alternative remedies. Here there are no easy, comforting words intended to lull you into the belief that there is little that you can do to improve your own health status; that it’s all in your genes or your circumstances make it unavoidable.

What you will find is ideas and recommendations drawn from high quality scientific literature. They will not be my ideas. They will come mainly from epidemiological studies conducted by the World Health Organization and governments and from scientific research published in peer-reviewed, reputable journals. For now references will not be provided though they can always be requested.

This journey is intended to help you understand where you are with your health compared to the population, what risks you expose yourself to and, hopefully, how you can address these risks and move towards a healthier life. Join me and see where the journey takes you.

Here’s a starting and perhaps startling thought. The leading modifiable risk factor for all-cause mortality world-wide is cigarette smoking. The second is physical inactivity. Putting that into simple language, cigarette smoking kills more people than any other risky behavior and physical inactivity kills more than any of the rest.

If you are in the majority, you do not exercise enough. What’s enough? We’ll get into the detail of that later, but the quick answer is 30 minutes of moderately vigorous activity at least five days a week. Why don’t you do it? Here’s a useful exercise to try. It’s called a Decisional Balance by psychologists. Draw a simple table with two columns side by side. Head one “pros” and the other “cons” Now write down under the “pros” heading all the positive outcomes you think would result from exercising and in the “cons” column all the possible negative outcomes.

Post your answers and we’ll start our journey.