How to Look Good through Good habits

Good habits are difficult to form but make life easy. Bad habits are easy to form, but make life difficult. 

How can good habits to make one fit and look beautiful. While, I cannot say if any habits can make one beautiful from outside, there are certain practices that can make you beautiful from inside. 

Develop a morning routine. I typically follow this routine :

1.  Wake up early in the morning at 5:00 am 
2.   Drink 2 big glasses of water
3.  Meditate for 10 minutes 
4.  Practice affirmations and visualization of my goals
5.  Write and review my goals for the day
6.   Read something motivational 
7.   Go for a run. I run 5 km in about 30 minutes. 

By 7:00 am, I am done with my morning routine. This routine helps me prepare myself for the day, keeps me mentally, spiritually and physically fit. 

If your goal is just to reduce weight, my suggestion would be to do only 3 things, wake up early, review your goals, go for a work out or exercise or for a walk. What kind of exercise or work out you do would depend on your taste and ability. Generally, you have to start small. For example, if you choose running as your preferred exercise, start by walking. Over a period of a month, gradually move to running. Follow any walk to run program. 

Only with exercise, it may not be possible to reduce weight unless you look at your diet. Do not increase your food intake when you start exercising. Avoid all outside food and stick to home made food. 

Keep a journal of your daily workout and daily food intake. Review the same every week to see how you are doing. 

The key to sustaining a habit is discipline. Key to discipline is motivation. Keep your motivation high by reading up books, articles and posts on physical fitness. Form a group of like minded people on Facebook and post your workout. Encourage others to post their workouts. Form a small tribe of people or friends who help and push each other to achieve your fitness goal. 

It is a time taking process. But slowly and steadily, you will see progress and reduce your weight. 

Have food on time.  Sleep early in the night and do not stay awake for late in night . This is one of the prime causes of pimples. Drink lots of water and eat at least 1 fruit every day. This will help with reducing pimples. Avoid stress. Do meditation in the morning if possible. 

Groom your self well. Always wear clean clothes, clean and polished shoes, well trimmed and combed hair, clean shaven or trimmed face and have clean and trimmed nails. 
How well you dress makes a lot of impact on how you feel. Always buy good clothes. 

Now, to make yourself beautiful, help other people. Seriously. Serve others. Volunteer to help out the old lady next door in bringing the grocery for her. Or go to a hospital and help poor patients. Donate your old clothes and books to the orphanage. Invite someone to your house for dinner.

Finally, practice Gratitude and Forgiveness. These will make you beautiful from inside and then, it will reflect on your outside. 

Remember, any external change starts internally first. Believe that you can change, you will. 

All the best for your transformation!!

How to Lead an Active Lifestyle

Our thoughts are manifested through our words and our words create our actions. You have started thinking about having an active lifestyle. The thought has made you ask the question, seek guidance by writing the question here in words. Hence, kudos to you for reaching the second step of the thought, words, action process. 

Many people may suggest you many things. But I can suggest what works for me. You can see if a similar solution works for you. 

After being lethargic for better part of the first 35 years of my life, I reaped the benefits of my sedentary lifestyle. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, high BMI and high uric acid. It was not on a spur of  the moment, but over a period of several months,  may be bit more than an year, the realization dawned on me that unless I change my lifestyle, I will not be around much more. 

Being an introvert and a book worm, I did what I liked most. I took solace in books. However, I did not just read any book, I started reading up on books on fitness, motivational books on how people fought against all odds and regained back their health. I discovered sites on the Internet that were dedicated to fitness and health. I read up all articles that were there on blood pressure, cholesterol control and each one of those suggested lifestyle changes. 

I started going for a walk. It was not regular. I would go for a day and stop for three. Then go for three days in a trot and stop for a week. This went on for a few months. But I realized I was neither losing weight, not getting much benefits of the exercise. Some of the well meaning folks suggested me to join a gym. But I deduced that it is not the problem of the right exercise, but the problem of right attitude. My problem was I was not regular. 

To tackle this, I sought help from family and friends. I asked my cousin to come with me daily for a walk. It was a good incentive for both of us to walk for an hour, have a chat while walking and unwind from the stress of the day. If on a particular day, I didn't feel like going, he would prod me and vice versa. Slowly, we planned to graduate to jogging. We continued this for about 3 months. But my lifestyle was still far from active. Other than those 30-60 minutes of walking or jogging, I was a complete sloth for the rest 23 hours in the day.

As luck would have it, I got transferred out from Bangalore to Hyderabad. After settling down in Hyderabad, I started jogging alone. Over a period of a month, I found other runners in the area and we started running together. Then someone told me about Hyderabad Runners, a running group. I went along with my running friend and participated in few of their local events. There I was exposed to the running lifestyle. 
There were folks who were running like crazy. There were folks who rode the bike for 300 kilometers! There were ultra marathoners, iron man finishers, mountaineers, rock climbers and folks who were doing many adventure sports. It was a revelation for me that such a lifestyle existed. I didn't have a inkling of this in my 9 to 7 lifestyle. I got into few such groups. I learnt the tricks of the trade. 

Today, I run 5 kilometers every day. It takes 30-35 minutes. I do some push ups and planks daily. Apart from this, I participate in the running events organized by Hyderabad Runners on weekends. I join adventures organized by GHAC, an adventure club if possible. I completed a half marathon, then did a full marathon, did cycling, rock climbing, trekking, kayaking and other activities. Recently, I tried boxing and I really liked it. I plan to learn boxing and swimming in the future. 

Over a period of time, my medical tests have yielded better results. My cholesterol, triglycerides and uric acid levels are now normal. I still have a high blood pressure. My weight is under control. I no longer consider myself sedentary. These changes in me inspired others to take up an active lifestyle. There is no bigger compliment than someone saying you are my inspiration!! 

Thus, if you want to cultivate a healthy lifestyle,

1. Explore various activities and discover the activities that you enjoy.
2. Find a supportive group and join them. They will help, guide and motivate you when you don't feel like. 
3. Join virtual running, cycling or adventure groups on Facebook .
4.  Keep reading motivational material on health and fitness. 
5.  Eat less, move more and enjoy life!!

A New Experience - Guided Meditation

As I walked out of the lift in the 7th floor of the apartment, I was a bit confused where exactly the flat that I was supposed to go to was located. I looked around. Yes, there was certainly one board hanging, but I barely read the board.  I rushed to the door of the nearest apartment. It was not the one I was looking for as it was closed and there were no lights in the house. Then I looked at the apartment just in front of it. That also did not seem to have any life. I turned back and then I saw the apartment I was supposed to go to.

There was a man standing in the corridor and speaking to another person who probably had just arrived there. I just stood there looking around till their conversation was over. On the door of the apartment were stickers proclaiming various things –Life Coach, Tarot reader, Angel Healer etc. I studied G, who was bald and very fair. He was somewhat stout and not very tall, but of medium built. His name gave away that he of course was from the North. Could be Delhi, UP or Punjab. Apart from the smile on his face, he was wearing a White Kurta and blue pajama. It being winter, he was also wearing a blue Nehru jacket.

We said Hi-Hello and I just went in to his apartment. He did not ask me why I was there, nor I told him my reason to be there. There were about 5 other men in the hall. Some of them were seated on the sofa and some on a chair in the far end of the hall. G asked me to sit on the sofa.

The room was sparingly decorated. The main color of the room was yellow, but the front wall was a bright orange. Against the Orange wall, was a wooden showcase. On the right hand side shelves of the showcase, there were piles of cassettes. Old Hindi song cassettes from the 80s and 90s when the tape recorder took the pride of place in middle class houses. There were some decorative pieces. Some lights and a small water fountain were placed on the left side shelves. The middle portion houses a wall mounted TV. Below it was a sound system connected to a phone. A soft meditation music was playing on it.

The top of the showcase was quite interesting. There were many indoor plants known as money plants. There were couple of other variety of plants as well. But the surplus of money plants was striking out. And all these plants were placed in water in different types of beautiful liquor bottles.
Slowly, few others also trickled in. 3 more gentlemen and 3 ladies.

Till all the people came in, G was speaking to some people and I was unable to get the context. Once everyone was there, G started the guided meditation. He explained that we will do 4 levels of meditation. The music was put on. We were asked to come down and sit cross legged on the floor. There were yoga mattress spread on the floor. Some people who has back problem wanted support. G said as long as you keep your spine straight, whether with support or without, it is ok.

Having sat he told us to start the level 1 of meditation, which is take a deep breath in. Notice how it goes in. Then breathe out. Notice how it comes out. He asked us to breathe through the gut and not the chest. He said, your thoughts may wander here and there. But just try to bring your attention to your breath. He asked us to count up to 21 using the fingers.

Once everyone was done, he asked us to bring our consciousness to the present and slowly open the eyes. He asked how was the feeling. Anyone wants to share anything. No one had anything to share.

Then we went to level 2 of the meditation. He asked us to take deep breath through nose making a nasal sound (ham)  and then breathe out through nose making sound (sa). The count remained the same at 21.

I somehow finished my 21 breathes quickly and opened my eyes. The others were still breathing. After some time, they stopped. I was looking around. But most of the others still had their eyes closed. Then G asked them to return to the present and slowly open their eyes. Some of the folks rubbed their palms and put it over their closed eyes, before opening the eyes.

2 other people joined then. G asked them to join the meditation. We were told how to do the level 3. It was to take a deep breath through nose, making a sound, and breathe out with a mild force through mouth. Same, 21 count.

The there was the Level 4. In this, one had to take a deep breath through nose, keep hold it in for 2 seconds, then breathe out with a mild force through mouth for count of 21. I was sure most people were not counting as they kept on doing this long after my count was over.

The G asked the usual questions. What did you feel? Is there anything you want to share. Some people said they felt very good. Felt relaxed. G told that each level of meditation opens new doors. He asked us to note the type of sleep that we will get in the night. He asked if we were ready for level 5 of meditation. Most said yes.

Level 5 he said is the Om meditation. Om, he said, as I had even read somewhere earlier is the sound that the universe makes. It is claimed that NASA has been able to even record this sound. Not sure how true this is. However, he turned down the volume of music. Asked us to breathe deep and say Om together. While saying Om, he asked us to focus our attention on the third eye. The chorus that was generated was not in synch. Some people started early, some late some finished early some late. It was interesting to hear. For some repetitions I did not say Om but listened to all others how they were doing. This was supposed to be done 21 times. But I am sure the folks did not count and some went as long as almost double the number.

After it was over, he asked how people felt. One of them said he felt a tingling in the forehead. Someone said he could see a blue light in his forehead. Someone else was feeling uncomfortable. G said all this is good. This is how it is supposed to be. Neither did I feel anything nor say anything.

After the meditation, there was a round of introduction. G asked everyone to tell their names, what they do and any experience in meditation.

People went one by one. Some people did not have any experience in meditation. Some had done Kundalini meditation and Raja Yoga meditation. One impatient young man asked if he will get what he wants and how soon will he get it. G replied that he has to ask, then Believe and he will receive it. He has asked. Now he should believe that he will receive it and it will happen. 

When it came to my introduction, after telling about me, I recounted an exchange that I had with a friend recently. There was a discussion and my friend said that if you are getting a first aid kit at your home, it means you are attracting some accident. You will invariably have an accident. I countered him saying it means if I buy insurance does it mean I attract death. An interesting discussion followed. G said Yes. He gave the usual story of putting the thought into the universe. The universe will decorate and enlarge it and send it back as an experience. Few others joined the discussion. One person spoke about a colleague in office who always had advised others to buy life insurance. That chap himself had insurance though he never smoked or took alcohol in his life. However, he died an untimely death. The discussion went on to why people take insurance, tax savings, better investment avenues etc. Finally another person summarized that you can take life insurance, but do not attach yourself to that. If you attach yourself to it, you attract it.

At the end, G gave his own introduction. Seems his life was in doldrums 1.5 years back. His relationships were not working, issues at professional side, he was on the dumps. Someone asked him to attend the Heal Your Life workshop. It was life changing for him. He took more such workshops and his life began to turn around. He liked to teach others what he learnt and he became a certified instructor from Lay House. And now he is imparting Laws of Attraction courses to others.

He told about his upcoming courses, took our phone numbers and email ids, hugged everyone and I 
left!