Monday, February 28, 2011

De-stress, the Osho way!

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Feb 28 2011 5:09PM

In this fast-paced world you pay with your life for the wealth you accumulate. And the stress you undergo is more than what you can handle. Here's how you can de-stress, Osho style:

Laugh out loud!
Laughter is the best medicine for stress. "Seriousness is a sickness; your sense of humour makes you more human, more humble. The sense of humour - according to me - is one of the most essential parts of religiousness," Osho once said. It is only through love and laughter and a tremendous joy in life that you can start feeling the presence of something that is beyond.

Let loose and meditate
According to Osho, the best way to de-stress is by shedding your ego, soothing your intellect and elevating your soul. Try Osho's dynamic meditation, a technique that differs from others because it doesn't lay stress on concentration. Dynamic meditation involves many energetic activities such as jumping and dancing. The underlying principle is that you need to de-stress the mind simply by having fun and by feeling happy.

Live in the present
You tend to get stressed about things you don't have, can't do or don't know. The reference points are always either in the past or in the future, not 'now'. Osho stressed on the need to experience life in all possible ways - good-bad, bitter-sweet, dark-light and summer-winter. "The heart knows nothing of the past, nothing of the future; it knows only of the present. The heart has no time concept," he once wrote.

Live life as it comes, one moment at a time that you enjoy to the fullest and stress will say goodbye to you.

Go size-zero the Kareena way

Eisha Sarkar 

Posted on Hello Wellness on Feb 25, 2011

Power-packed performances, a suave actor-boyfriend and a 'size-zero' figure - Kareena Kapoor does know how to make people envy her!

Eat more often to lose weight
Unlike most Bollywood actresses of the yore, her career growth has parallelled her diminishing waistline. But getting fit is a lot of hard work. In the foreword that she has written in her dietician Rujuta Diwekar's book, Don't Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight, she talks of how as a Kapoor she can't do without parathas, paneer and cheese and what she liked Diwekar's diet formula was that she was allowed all of it. She says that she eats every two hours and still manages to fit into bikinis.

Get snacking!
Kareena snacks on peanuts, roasted chana, dry fruits, cheese, fruits, sandwiches and soy milk through the day instead of eating large meals at lunch or dinner. She prefers nutritious home-cooked food, avoids carbohydrates with high glycemic index such as pasta, noodles, white rice, biscuits, pancakes and crepes, drinks a lot of water and is vegetarian.

Power your body with yoga
Kareena starts her day with "60 surya namaskars for half an hour" and believes yoga is a way of life. "If I don't do yoga for a day I feel something is missing. I don't believe in slogging out in a gym or running on a treadmill because gyms are full of AC's. One hour of yoga is enough," she once said in an interview.

It has been a decade since her debut in Refugee and Kareena has managed to lose weight and get gorgeous over the years. There are no short-cuts to fitness. It's all about hard work and patience.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

When wellness goes corporate

Corporates are now accepting wellness programmes as an important part of employee welfare

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Times Wellness on Sunday, February 27, 2011

Long hours, demanding bosses, tight deadlines, irreverent subordinates, absent colleagues, sleepless nights – no corporate job is without stress. And with increasing number of employees complaining of aches, colds, sore backs, larger waistlines and weaker hearts, companies are now looking beyond gyms and retreats to ensure better employee health and productivity.

Wooing employees with wellness
From full medical checks, to one-on-one diet counselling, to discounts at spas, gyms, hospitals and pharmacies, to seminars on stress management, yoga and meditation, to tobacco cessation camps, companies are doling out incentives to make their employees slimmer, fitter and healthier.

“We take good health for granted. Our lifestyles are characterised by stress, lack of exercise and unhealthy diets. These lead to ‘lifestyle diseases’ such as hypertension, heart ailments, cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes, which progress silently. Through regular screenings, they can be detected early and managed through lifestyle and dietary changes and medication. Preventive health check-up, therefore, saves the body from further damage and reduces treatment costs,” says Manpreet Sohal, Director, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital at Vashi. Fortis Healthcare, along with Apollo hospitals, has re-defined corporate healthcare in India with customised health packages for clients depending on the age group of employees, stress levels and the industry they work in. So while they provide Pulmonary Function Testing (PFT) to employees in the chemical industry, they organise relaxation camps for top-level executives in Mauritius.

Good health means better productivity
While they help improve attendance rates and lower insurance costs, corporate wellness programmes have been shown to lead to higher levels of job satisfaction among employees. “Healthy people tend to be more productive and experience a better quality of life both at home and at work,” says Manoj Menon, senior vice president- operations of SunGard Global Services which has offices in Pune and Bangalore. Introduced four years ago, SunGard’s initiative, Wellness Works, has become a regular feature on the annual employee activities calendar. “It started with a simple thought - how can we can help employees stay healthy given the pressures of modern day life? Scattered efforts such as ergonomics camps, gymnasium tie-ups, etc followed and soon grew into an organisation-wide movement that garner the support of our high-level executives including Cris Conde (our group CEO) himself,” Menon explains, adding that the number of employees taking time off due to illness have reduced significantly. 

Finding time for health
With most corporate employees working 12-hour jobs, few are inclined to take up other activities alongside office hours. But many corporates have now made wellness a part of their employees’ schedule. Sohal notes, “Some corporates give a full day off to employees and they appreciate that. It is a nice gesture that your company thinks of you and gives you an off to take out time for your health and wellness.” Aniruddha Bose, CEO and director of the New Delhi-based Renova Health and Wellness, points out, “The average smoker spends 40 hours smoking over a two month period! Is that not a waste of time too? If spending five to six hours in wellness programmes over two months can help that employee quit smoking, or become more fit and productive, then isn’t it a good investment of time?”

Corporate wellness initiatives have resulted in greater awareness and participation among employees. “While we did have tie-ups with organisations for health check ups earlier, people were not availing these services citing time constraints among other reasons. By launching our health initiative, Sanjeevani in 2006, we brought wellness to the employees’ doorsteps while aligning ourselves to the corporate Health Safety Environment (HSE) standards,” notes Pradeep Vaishnav, senior director, Human Resources - India and South Asia, Sanofi-Aventis Group. The last complete medical check-up conducted under the programme saw an employee turnout of 96 per cent. Vaishnav remembers a case where, “An employee took the risk posed by his high BMI very seriously and entered into a conscious exercise and diet control plan and reduced his body weight by 28 kg!”

A win-win for all
The initiation of corporate wellness programmes has resulted in an increasing number of health service providers who want to enter into this sphere. Bose explains, “Service providers can execute deals on a mass scale rather than acquiring customers from retail, which can be expensive, frustrating and time-consuming as it requires a very significant branding effort. A two-month wellness program for a 300 employee worksite can cost anything from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh. Though the profit ‘per unit’ is lower in corporate deals, the volume profits can be significant if the projects are managed and executed smartly and efficiently. As for the client, the benefits include improved productivity, better employee morale, lower attrition, better talent attraction, CSR benefits, lowered healthcare costs, lower sick days, and better senior management productivity.”

The competition is fierce but fitness providers remain unfazed. Says Nicholas Kraal, senior business development manager at the Mumbai-based lifestyle club, True Fitness, “We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of people who want to lose and maintain their way. There’s a demand for fitness and so it’s good that many service providers are coming into the market. More players mean good competition and competition will make us better.”


Health versus Cost to company
Wellness does not come cheap. Deepika Muthreja of BFY Sports and Fitness mentions that a one-day wellness programme can cost the company anywhere between Rs 30,000-50,000 while regular one-hour sessions for the workforce, three days a week for six weeks can cost anywhere between Rs 750-1200 per head. That may sound a little steep for companies to consider. Bose notes, “Many companies do not have (or are unwilling to allocate) adequate wellness budgets, or are relying on ‘freebies’ provided by independent wellness professionals – which are really just marketing activities in disguise. 90 per cent of Indian companies are still unwilling to accept the fact that spending on employee wellness actually improves their bottom line over the long term, and neglecting employee wellness increases costs heavily over the long term. In fact, a recent study has indicated that every rupee spent on corporate wellness returns Rs 3 over a three to five year period. That’s a return of over 200 per cent!”

As Dr Rajesh Mahadevan, COO of the Bangalore-based Alpha Medical Services sums up, “Gone are the days when people would read brochures for awareness. They just don’t have the time now. They need seminars, workshops and health camps to enable them to ask questions and clear their doubts. Healthier employees mean better bottom lines!”

A novel on weight loss woes!

Book: Slim Chance
Author: Jackie Rose
Publisher: Red Dress Ink
Price: 606
Pages:
331

"Is her chance to have it all shrinking along with her waistline?" It's this question in the bold yellow typeface on the book's back over that screams for your attention. Few novels revolve around the central theme of weight loss. And that’s why Canadian author Jackie Rose’s Slim Chance stand apart from the rest of the books that have been dubbed as ‘chick lit’.

Of crash diets and stapled stomachs
In her debut novel, Rose talks of crash diets and stapled stomachs, peer pressure and job stresses and deterioriating relationships that are commonplace in urban society, never mind if you are in New York or London or Mumbai or Singapore. The protagonist is a certain Evelyn Mays aka Evie, who is totally unprepared when Bruce, her boyfriend of six years barges into a meeting at her workplace and romantically proposes to her in front of her colleagues. Evelyn says, "Yes" and then rushes to the washroom to throw up.

Trimming down to fit in a gown
In the weeks that follow, Evie tries to come to terms with the fact that she will be a married woman soon and starts shopping for the perfect wedding dress. At a special sale, she buys a size eight Vera Wang wedding dress even though she wears a size 14. She pledges to lose all that extra weight to fit into the dress that she hides at the back of her closet.

Losin' it all
Evie signs up at a gym and spends a fortune on a personal trainer. Losing weight and looking good becomes such an obsession that she starts starving herself, sometimes eating just an olive at an official lunch party and takes to smoking to combat those hunger pangs. Egged on by her attractive trainer, she begins to spend more time at the gym and less time with Bruce. Every time she loses a few pounds, she goes on a shopping spree to purchase outfits that make her feel good. The more addicted she becomes to changing her appearance, the further her relationship with Bruce, her colleagues and friends deteriorates.

The message and the verdict
It's easy to identify with the characters. You almost feel sorry for the naive and image-conscious Evie and her decent and intelligent Bruce who is totally bewildered by his fiancĂ©e's mood swings. Rose cleverly takes on magazine articles that talk of diet and fashion tips, coercing people to spend more money on the ‘latest buys of the season’.  The only problem with the book is the volume. With such a simple storyline, the reading becomes a little tedious in parts.

The book is an eye-opener for those who tend to find their faults and in desperation to improve, end up becoming different people altogether. The message is clear: You are good just the way you are.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mata-ni-Pachedi

Image source: http://www.welcometoahmedabad.com/10/art-and-culture.html
The craft of making temple hangings known as Mata-ni-Pachedi in Gujarat is over 200 years old. ‘Mata’ means, ‘Goddess’, ‘ni’, ‘belongs to’ and ‘Pachedi’ means ‘behind’. The nomadic Waghari community would use four or five of these temple hangings painted by chitaras to form a shrine for the goddess (Devi or Shakti), where the bhuvo (priest) would perform the rituals and jagorais (singers) would interpret the pachedis. Traditionally, maroon and black were the colors used and were sourced from alizarin and oxidized metal. Maroon was associated with the color of Mother Earth or Gaea and believed to possess healing powers. Black was meant to repel malevolent spirits and intensify spiritual energy. White was the color for purity and contact with ancestral spirits and deities. Gradually, other colors were added to the palette without having any religious significance. As the nomads settled down, the depiction of narrative epics through temple hangings took a backseat and the craft is unable to attain its status amongst the finely executed textiles of India. 

Such paintings are on display at the Lalbhai Dalpatbhai Museum and Calico Museum in Ahmedabad and Baroda Museum and Art Gallery in Vadodara. 

(Text source: India Guide - Gujarat)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Germ-I-Check

This was my first-ever career profile for an education paper, in this case, Free Press Journal's Knowledge, Monday, February 21, 2011. I am glad Shraddha gave me the opportunity to write on a subject very different from what I usually write on. Do check it out!

GERM-I-CHECK

Lord Mahavira postulated the existence of unseen microbiological life in his teachings as as early as 6th century BCE. This existence is no longer challenged, as the field of microbiology has evolved exponentially and become one of the most popular fields since the first observation in 1676. Eisha Sarkar examines the career options in the field 

Think microbiology and we think of a geek in a white laboratory coat working with pipettes, Bunsen burners, petri dishes and microscopes. But there’s more to the science than that. The study of microbes has actually changed the way we look at the world. 

When Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek first observed bacteria under the simple microscope in the seventeenth century, little had he imagined that his discovery would lead to the creation of a multi-billion dollar industry which revolves around the study, usage, containment and elimination of germs!

In simple words, microbiology is the study of microorganisms - everything from fungi to amoeba, from bacteria to protists, from viruses to prions - that cannot be seen by the naked human eye. Many of them are parasitic and interact with the immune system. Through the centuries these microscopic bugs have caused much damage to plant and animal life that have resulted in famines, deaths and even the downfall of governments. A flu epidemic can ground more flights than terrorists can. The uncontrolled infestation of a crop by a fungus can lead to food shortage, starvation and mass migration. And a deadly mutating virus flummoxes the best brains in the world today as spreads across continents killing thousands of people.

Microbiology aims to study the interactions between microbes and their environment. The better we understand them, the greater will be our chances of curbing the spread of diseases and making the world a healthier place to live in.

What do microbiologists do?

By combining their knowledge of chemistry, physics, biology, and medicine, microbiologists conduct exacting laboratory research using highly specialised equipment that lead to the development of new vaccines, drugs, biofuels, and agricultural products.

Wide range of careers
Once considered as the second option after medicine, with the advent of biotechnology and increase in funding of research and development of drugs and increased investment in healthcare, microbiology has become a hot career option for students. The range of job opportunities for microbiologists is as diverse as the organisms they work with:
  • Bacteriologists conduct research into the characteristics of bacteria or a particular aspect of bacteriology such as public health bacteriology, pharmaceutical bacteriology, hospital (clinical) bacteriology, environmental microbiology or biotechnology.
  • Environmental microbiologists study of the composition and physiology of microbial communities in the environment and how they can be used to curb pollution
  • Food microbiologists study microorganisms that cause food-borne illness and spoilage
  • Industrial microbiologists usually work in field of biotechnology and study microorganisms that produce useful products
  • Medical microbiologists/clinical researchers are often doctorswho have chosen to specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of microbial diseases in patients
  • Agricultural microbiologists study plant-associated microbes and plant and animal diseases, microbial degradation of organic matter and soil nutrient transformations
  • Biochemists study how organisms obtain energy, consume nutrients and reproduce
  • Biotechnologists manipulate genes in order to modify microorganisms that make new products such as insulin, drugs, food crops, etc
  • Cell biologists determine how microorganisms and cell function
  • Geneticists crack the code of life that is written with four letters, A, C, G, and T and the process by which organisms inherit and transmit genetic information.
  • Immunologists investigate, study, analyze and/or treat disease processes that involve the immune system
  • Science writers write about the latest research findings to enable the common man to understand the developments in the field
  • Teachers educate students about the usefulness and uniqueness of microorganisms
  • Virologists study viruses and bacteriophages and keep track of how viruses mutate and the new forms that keep cropping up

Prospects
Dr Smita Limaye, Head of Department of Microbiology at R K Talreja College and Associate Professor at University of Mumbai has been teaching the subject for 24 years and seen a recent shift in interest towards the multi-disciplinary field of biotechnology. “This is the era of biotechnology. Because of their in-depth knowledge of their field, microbiology students are better-placed than even BSc Biotechnology students because the latter study many things but have little knowledge of anatomy, symmetry, etc. By taking up microbiology, you have the options of working in pharma, food and biotech industries.”

Clinical microbiology is a very lucrative option for those with a Doctor of Medicine in Microbiology (MD-Microbiology) degree. Dr Aruna Poojary, microbiologist, Breach Candy Hospital says, “Clinical microbiology has proven to be the fastest growing science in the last decade, thanks to the development of various nucleic acid amplification techniques or ‘molecular microbiology’ as it is also called. A clinical microbiologist diagnoses infections, advises on the appropriate antimicrobial therapy, prevention and control of outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics, understands the epidemiology of infectious diseases and conducts research. Thus clinical microbiologists can work in diagnostics or specialists in hospital infection control and prevention or as epidemiologists at organisations such as the World Health Organization (WHO). And the job’s lucrative too. Even in the government sector, fresh graduates appointed as lecturers get about Rs 50,000 per month.”

Research is also an option for those who are passionate about the subject such as Komal Loya, who is currently pursuing her PhD at JRG Stem Cell Biology, Hannover Medical School, Germany. “I opted for MSc Microbiology because it provided an opportunity to study biochemistry, virology, industrial microbiology, genetics and biotechnology, which would help me explore opportunities in the industry too. It was during my Master thesis at the National Chemical Laboratory, Pune that I actually thought of pursuing a PhD. I looked at options in Europe because I could finish a PhD in three to 3.5 years here while it takes five to six years in the US. Besides, Germany has state-of-the-art laboratories and immense amount of money is spent on research every year.”

Qualifications and skills 
 Since microbiology is a career mostly dependent on research and quality control, a Masters or a Doctorate in the field is necessary for most jobs.
Microbiologists are expected to employ a range of investigative, recording and analysis techniques, prepare, interpret and present data, using statistical programmes, qualitative and quantitative techniques, conduct literature surveys, undertake practical laboratory investigations in a safe, responsible and ethical manner, using, aseptic techniques, microscopy skills and microbial identification, and taking into account relevant health and safety regulations. Employers have high regard for those who identify, select, organise and communicate information, are able to work on your own and as part of a small team and use analytical and problem-solving skills.

Earnings
Typically, compensation for freshers with MSc degrees start at Rs 8000-12000 per month at Indian companies and Rs 15000-20000 a month in multinationals. Doctoral candidates get anwhere upwards of Rs 25000 per month.

Industry-wise payscales for 0-2 years of experience are as follows: 

  • Pharmaceuticals: Rs 1.2 lakh - Rs 2.42 lakh per annum
  • Research & Development, Biotechnology: Rs 1.2 lakh - Rs 2.54 lakh per annum
  • Health Care Services: Rs 10 lakh - Rs 2.35 lakh per annum
  • Professional Analytical / Laboratory Services: Rs 1.12 lakh - Rs 2.44 lakh per annum
  • Food Manufacturing: Rs 1.1 lakh - Rs 2.38 lakh per annum
(Source: www.payscale.com, corroborated by students in the field)

Study and training
Students who take up Biology at the HSC level can pursue BSc Microbiology. After graduation, you can pursue an MSc in applied microbiology, medical microbiology, food microbiology, industrial microbiology, genetics, biotechnology, bio-informatics, microbial technology, clinical research, analytical chemistry, molecular biology, biochemistry, forensic sciences and hospital management. After completing three semesters of MSc Microbiology and attaining a minimum of 55 per cent marks, you can take the CSIR- NET examination to get appointed as Junior Research Fellows (JRF) at CSIR laboratories. After your PhD, you will be eligible to register for PhD Senior positions such as Senior Research Fellow, Research Assistant or Research Associate in government and private research institutes.

Institutions
  • K C College
  • St Xavier's College
  • Ramnivas Ruia College
  • Wilson College
  • Sophia College
  • Institute of Science
  • Haffkine Institute for Training, Research and Testing

Aptitude Check

Before embarking on a career in Microbiology give a thought to these following questions:
  1. Would you be able to sit in a lab (sometimes by yourself) day in and day out to work on a research project?
  2. Are you able to concentrate while you work/study?
  3. Are you meticulous?
  4. Do you rarely fall ill?
  5. Do you like statistics?
If you've responded with a "no" to more than three of the above questions, then this field is not for you.

EXPERTSPEAK 

“Pharma can’t survive without Microbiology”  
V Raghavendran, Quality Assurance Manager at Bafna Pharmaceuticals has been working in the pharma sector for 12 years. He reasons why it’s the best option for microbiologists

 
“Microbiologists in India, typically have two career options – one in the industry and the second in research. Since there are few research institutes in the country, the bulk of the microbiologists opt for industries such as pharmaceutical companies that cannot survive without them. The consistency, incentives and challenges that Pharma offers makes it a great career option. A fresher, who starts off with Rs 10,000 per month, can in a few years, depending on his/her talent and aptitude, earn around Rs 10 lakh a year. However, freshers should learn more about the industry before applying for jobs. There is zero tolerance towards error here, especially in companies where they produce sterile pharmaceuticals. It is a high-pressure job and we don’t get people who survive for long. Even toppers from universities who have all the theoretical knowledge find the practical applications tough. Also, a lot depends on the person’s nature too. Mostly, quiet people go in for jobs in Research and Development while others prefer to stick with Quality Assurance. Students need to condition themselves mentally before taking up Pharma jobs.”

Friday, February 18, 2011

Arise! Awake!

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Feb 18 2011 1:02PM

Everybody's got an attitude. But not everyone has it right. With the amount of stress we undergo we end up angry, frustrated, unsatisfied and even harm others. "What makes you weep, my friend? In you is all power. Summon up your all-powerful nature mighty one and this whole universe will lie at your feet. It is the Self alone that predominates and not matter," Swami Vivekananda once said.

Though the potential strength is hidden within us, we are often unable to tap into it. Having the right attitude, thinking positively and unshakable faith alone can help us manifest our hidden strength. According to Swami Vivekananda, "Three things are necessary to make every man great, every nation great:

1. Conviction of the powers of goodness.

2. Absence of jealousy and suspicion.

3. Helping all who are trying to be and do good."

Believe in your inner strength
We often shy away from accepting challenges and responsibilities because we doubt our capacity to perform. We underestimate ourselves and lose wonderful opportunities in life. Never doubt your inner strength. Believe that you have infinite power and that will come out when you sincerely call upon it by way of positive attitude. As Swami Vivekananda said, "Great convictions are the mothers of great deeds."

Work hard for your dreams
Nothing great can come unless we work for it. Vivekananda said, "To succeed, you must have tremendous perseverance, tremendous will.’ I will drink the ocean, 'says the persevering soul,' at my will mountains will crumble up.' Have that sort of energy, that sort of will, work hard and you will reach the goal."

Will yourself to take on challenges
We make promises and break them easily. Weak minds search for excuses. Those who possess a strong will and are determined to make their minds work for them to achieve higher things in life. Vivekananda advised, "You must not say that you are weak. How do you know what possibilities lie behind that degradation on the surface? You know but little of that which is within you. For behind you is the ocean of infinite power and blessedness."

Let go of negative thoughts and live in the present and your outlook and attitude towards will change for the better.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why fleshy and fibrous is nice

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Feb 15 2011 6:48PM

"I can eat a man, but I'm not sure of the fiber content," British commediene-author Jenny Eclair once said. Humour aside, fiber is one of the most important of dietary nutrients. Yet we do little to add it in our diet. We care for our vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and even salt, but fiber? No.

What is fiber, exactly?
Fiber is made of plant cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin and lignin that are not completely digested. It can be either water-soluble or water-insoluble. Soluble fiber includes from fruits, vegetables, dried beans and peas, nuts, oat bran and seeds, lowers cholesterol and helps manage blood glucose. Water-insoluble fiber from wheat bran, wholegrain breads, cereals, vegetables, fruit skins and nuts is less-digested in the colon and helps with disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Diverticulitis. It also shortens the time food is in the bowels and promotes more frequent bowel movements.

How does fiber help?
Eating 40-50 grams of fiber a day helps:
  • satiate appetite: Fiber increases the chewing time and increases salivary and gastric juice flow. This decreases dental plaques and decay, satisfies the appetite more quickly and reduces calorie-intake.
  • moderate digestion: Fiber affects the rate at which your stomach empties and the rates of digestion and absorption. Pectins increase the viscosity of the partially-digested food and decrease the emptying of the stomach, while wheat bran promotes more rapid emptying of the stomach.
  • lower cholesterol: Fiber increases the removal of bile acids, decreases intestinal absorption of fatty acids and cholesterol and decreases cholesterol synthesis. Soluble fiber also binds cholesterol for elimination.
A high fiber diet improves diabetic control, reduces risk of constipation and heart attack and helps fight against colon cancer. Add it to your diet for a healthier life.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pump iron to pump up your libido

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Feb 05, 2011

Need a reason to hit the gym? How about sex? Studies have found that exercise can make your sex life more enjoyable and increase your potency.  Here’s how:

More testosterone, greater desire

Exercise enhances sexual functioning because it can naturally increase testosterone levels in both males and females. The androgen is secreted mostly from the testicles of males and the ovaries of females, with small amounts produced in adrenal glands of both sexes. It is best known for its affects on increasing lean muscle mass, reducing body fats and slowing aging processes. It also plays a central role in promoting sexual desire.

Endorphins set the mood...

Each time you exercise or have sex, your body releases these endorphins. The more frequent and intense the releases, the easier it is for sexual arousal and pleasure in the future. In fact, studies have shown that women who frequently exercise become aroused more quickly and are able to reach an orgasm faster and more intensely.

Exercise to prevent erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is often caused by circulatory problems. In order to have an erection, the penis must swell with blood. Blocked arteries, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues can interfere with that process. Exercise keeps the heart and arteries healthy, reducing the risk of erectile dysfunction by nearly 30 per cent, according to one ruch research.

Be fit for good sex

Being limber and flexible can enhance your sex life by making it a bit easier to get into your favorite position. Try stretching after your workouts or incorporate a little yoga into your routine to help you reduce fatigue and get in the mood.

Both sex and exercise help reduce stress, so doing both on a regular basis should help you stay relaxed and happy.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ayurvedic herbs for weight loss

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on  Feb 3 2011 11:00AM
 
You've done the diets, the gyms and even the swims. But all you've managed to lose is a couple of kilos. Fret not. Here are some Ayurvedic herbs that may help you:

Guggul (Commiphora mukul): Also known as gugglu, this popular herb for weight-control is believed to break down low density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol. Some studies have shown that after taking it for a duration of one to three months, the blood cholesterol levels may drop by 14-27 per cent while triglyceride levels may fall by 22-30 per cent.

Vrikshamla (Garcinia cambogia): Studies suggest that Garcinia helps in controlling obesity by slowing down the mechanism of fat production within body cells. Hydroxy-citric-acid which is an active ingredient in Garcinia, helps promote synthesis of glycogen from blood sugar, thereby suppressing appetite.

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra): While the glycyrrhizin-rich sweet licorice root can keep those cravings for candies and treats at bay, experts believe that it can also help reduce body fat. Supplementation with at least 300 mg of licorice flavonoid oil daily can considerably reduce LDL levels, prevent amelioration of obesity and obesity-induced metabolic syndrome, when combined with calorie restriction and moderate exercise.

Triphala (Emblica officinalis): Composed in equal parts of Amalaki, Bibhitaki and Haritaki, triphala has been used to treat obesity, as it regularises the functioning of the digestive system. Use of triphala is said to be beneficial for the liver, as it helps in secretion of bile juices, that are necessary for burning fats. At the same time, it helps reduce water-retention and thereby induces weight loss.

Supplement these herbs with balanced diet and moderate exercise and you will lose those extra pounds.

Caution: Check with your doctor before you use an Ayurvedic remedy.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

3 Workplace Wellness Tips

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Feb 1 2011 10:38AM

Coffee cups, computers, cigarette corners and colleagues (not necessarily in that order) characterise a workplace today. People fall sick more often at work than at home. It may be hard to think of health when you have demanding bosses and impossible deadlines but it's important. Here are three workplace wellness tips for you:

Go, take a walk: Quit Facebooking and move those muscles. If joining the office gym is not the option for you, take a walk whenever you can. Go outside, but not for a smoke-break. Breathe deeply. Stretch your arms, back and legs before you sit in front of the computer again.  Take a break from the keyboard and the screen every 10-15 minutes so that your fingers and eyes get some rest.

Watch what you drink and eat: Coffee breaks mean conversation but they also mean caffeine which is not good for your body. Opt for water, instead. Water can help fight the afternoon 'lull' and boost the immune system. Also, you must stop snacking every now and then. Stress makes you eat more and you unknowingly pile on the pounds. If you have to snack, opt for nuts and carrot sticks instead of chips and chocolates.

Talk: Most issues at work can be resolved through communication. Unresolved issues cause stress that can lead to headaches, ulcers, diseases and strokes. Whip up some support from your co-workers so that you can talk to your employers openly about your problems. Don’t overwork yourself and balance your personal and professional commitments. Be optimistic and you'll be fine.

Eating healthy, staying focused on your goals, and taking 20-minute power naps when you’re really tired to refresh your energy will help you sail through meetings, projects, training and activities at work.

Book Review: The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

Book: The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari: A fable about fulfilling your dreams and reaching your destiny
Author: Robin Sharma
Publisher: Jaico
Price: Rs 250
Pages: 198

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Times Wellness on Monday, February 28, 2011

Much has been written about Robin Sharma's, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. You wonder why the fictional story of a hotshot lawyer, Julian Mantle, who sold off his holiday home and red Ferrari to embark on a spiritual journey to the Himalayas, makes for a bestseller. But once you leaf through the pages, it’s the fable that Julian narrates to his friend, John, that first catches your eye and then slowly inspires you to become a better human being.
"You are sitting in the middle of a magnificent, lush, green garden. This garden is filled with the most spectacular flowers you have ever seen. The environment is supremely tranquil and silent. Savor the sensual delights of this garden and feel as if you have all the time in the world to enjoy this natural oasis. As you look around you see that in the center of this magical garden stands a towering lighthouse, six stories high. Suddenly, the silence of the garden is disturbed by a loud creaking as the door at the base of the lighthouse opens. Out stumbles a nine-foot-tall, nine-hundred-pound Japanese sumo wrestler who casually wanders into the center of the garden. The Japanese sumo wrestler is almost totally naked. He has a pink wire cable covering his private parts.
As this sumo wrestler starts to move around the garden he finds a shiny gold stopwatch which someone had left behind many years earlier. He slips it on, and falls to the ground with an enormous thud. The sumo wrestler is rendered unconscious and lies there, silent and still. Just when you think, he has taken his last breath, the wrestler awakens, perhaps stirred by the fragrance of some fresh yellow roses blooming nearby. Energized, the wrestler jumps swiftly to his feet and intuitively looks to his left. He is startled by what he sees. Through the bushes at the very edge of the garden, he observes a long winding path covered by millions of sparkling diamonds. Something seems to instruct the wrestler to take the path, and to hos credit, he does. The path leads him down the road of everlasting joy and eternal bliss."
When you first read this, you think you’ve picked up the wrong book. On its own the fable lacks character and emotional content. It hardly caresses your skin and certainly doesn’t tug at your heart-strings. You feel disappointed, almost cheated. But that’s when Julian steps in again and explains in depth the significance of each part of the fable:
The magnificent garden: It stands for cultivating the mind and improving the quality of your life by improving the quality of your thoughts and shunning all negative thoughts that creep in. There are no mistakes, only lessons!
The lighthouse: Set clearly defined personal, professional and spiritual goals and then have the courage to act on them. The purpose of life is a life of purpose.
The Sumo wrestler: Practise Kaizen, the Japanese strategy for continuous improvement. Enlightenment comes through continuous cultivation of your mind, body and soul. Do the things you fear.
The pink wire cable: Live with discipline. Discipline is built by consistently performing small acts of courage. 
The gold stopwatch: Respect your time, it's your most precious commodity and is non-renewable.
The fragrant roses: Live to give, practise daily acts of kindness and cultivate richer relationships
The path of diamonds: Embrace the present, live your children's childhood, practise gratitude and grow your destiny

Call it a fable or just another self-help book, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari does inspire you to change your life for the better. While the book sheds light on life’s bigger questions, it shows you how moderate changes in lifestyle, diet, exercise and how you deal with your relationships can help you develop better mentally, physically and spiritually. It defines success not in terms of material wealth but in terms of how well you know yourself. It encourages you to read more, eat less, exercise everyday, spend more time with your family and think positive. And while you may not want to give up your cushy job and car for your spiritual quest, it shows you how to live life in moderation, keeping in mind both your personal and professional goals.
The book's not for those looking for a quick-fix to everyday problems. While the steps may seem easy, Sharma subtly warns people not to look for immediate benefits and wait for at least a month till the changes are evident.
Packed with excitement, drama, and quotes from the likes of Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, is a good read. You can run through all the 198 pages of the simple text in one sitting itself. But you'll dwell on this book for days. And that makes it special!