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'Don't buy into 'pay x and lose y kilos' programs'

Last updated on: December 14, 2010 17:17 IST

'Don't buy into 'pay x and lose y kilos' programs'

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Celeb nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar's new book, Women & The Weight Loss Tamasha will be on bookshelves next month.

The author is fitness guru to stars like Kareena Kapoor, Anil Ambani and Preity Zinta and we bring you an excerpt from her latest offering. Here is 'The work-out paathshala' from Exercise Strategies in Chapter 7, The four strategies of well-being:

Let's assume that there is a workout school out there that you could attend. You'd be taught five main subjects: cardio-respiratory fitness, muscular endurance, muscular strength, flexibility and body composition. You cannot do any justice to the time spent working out or the calories burnt if they do not lead to any kind of progress or learning in these five core areas of fitness.

Cardio respiratory fitness: Ability of the heart and lungs (also called cardio-pulmonary fitness) to deliver oxygen and nutrients to working cells or muscles which are demanding them. Let's say you're climbing stairs: your leg muscles will demand more blood supply, oxygen and nutrient delivery, and will need to remove or recycle waste products (like lactic acid).

Muscular strength: The greatest amount of force (maximal effort) that a muscle or a group of muscles can exert at one time. Ever watched a cop lagao a lafa? That's muscular strength. Or when Sunny Deol says, 'Yeh dhai kilo kahaath jab padta hai to aadmi uthta nahi, uth jata hai'. The technical term in exercise physiology is 'one rep max' but apna Bollywood describes it better.

Muscular endurance: The ability of a muscle or a group of muscles to perform repeated activity over a period of time. For example, if you're moving furniture or if you're making laddoos, then you'll be using your muscular endurance.

Flexibility: Ability of the joints to move through their full range of motion (ROM). For example, a bowler would move her arm through a full range of motion of her shoulder before the delivery.

Body composition: This refers to the fat mass that you carry as compared to the total body mass you have. For women this should be twenty-five per cent or under. So even if you weigh a hundred kilos, not more than twenty-five kilos should come from fat. When women say they want to look toned and not flabby, they actually mean that they would like to reduce the fat mass and increase their lean mass (bone and muscle).

Now, the moral of the story is when you make improvements on the first four parameters of fitness, it results in an improvement (lowering fat mass) in the fifth parameter, that of body composition. Learning these 'subjects' or making improvements on these fitness parameters leads to an improvement in overall health, sense of well-being, sharpens your kinesthetic intelligence and, ya, improves your appearance as well. It also leads to perfect harmony in our hormones, stable moods and puts the mind into 'feel good' mode, unlike the high-strung or run-down state of mind that most weight loss plans lead to.


Image: Rujuta Diwekar

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Any weight loss or inch loss achieved without an improvement in fitness is a tamasha'

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One of the reasons why I call the book 'weight loss tamasha' is exactly this. No one seems to talk about getting fitter, sharpening the kinesthetic intelligence, improving quality of life, increasing the well-being quotient etc. All that we seem to care about is losing inches and getting that needle on the weighing scale to move down. Any weight loss or inch loss achieved without an improvement on the five fitness parameters above is a tamasha, a joke, cheating, a criminal waste of time, money and resources. What are we thinking when we buy into those 'two months, five kilos' (buy fifteen kilos and get three kilos free for any family member -- my favourite ad), 'seven sessions, nine kilos' guarantees, one week 'detox' before shaadi etc? If we don't think about asking questions like, will it make my knees stronger, bones denser, skin smoother, hair thicker, mind calmer, hunger signals sharper etc, then we deserve the diets we get, pretty much like we deserve the politicians we get because we don't ask them the right questions or give a damn for accountability (other than living room conversations of course).

So let's understand this well. Weight loss is a by-product of (but not essential to) an improvement in body composition, which in turn is an essential by-product of improvement in the first four parameters of fitness. If you want to save your skin literally (sagging, wrinkles) and figuratively, then you must opt for fitness and weight loss programmes that are not sold or popular for 'weight loss'. Samjha? Don't buy into programmes that say 'pay x and lose y kilos'. Also, don't go under the knife to lose weight. Simply because weight lost at the cost of a decrease in all five core fitness parameters (which is what most 'diets', 'procedures', 'surgeries', 'toning tables', 'techniques','herbal or ayurvedic pill/potions' do), is simply worthless.

And no, these five areas of fitness are not meant only for athletes or sports persons, they are meant for people like you and me, the ones who do a lot of sitting around and lead sedentary lifestyles. Athletes or sportspersons need these five core areas and then build on other parameters specific to their sport, like agility, power, speed, hand-eye coordination etc. Why am I telling you all this? Because I want to make sure that you don't tell yourself that this is for sports people/size zero/youngsters/celebs etc. This is for all of us and we can improve at any age, at any weight. These are the very basic foundations of nurturing the physical body to use it like a vehicle fit to pursue higher goals of human life (the Vedic tradition, in fact all religious traditions adhere to this view). No higher purpose can be achieved when you lose those two or twenty kilos or fit into a size six or whatever, but it can be when you have enough energy and enthusiasm left at the end of your day. Incidentally, this is also how exercise science describes physical fitness: to go through day-to-day activities without feeling unduly tired and to have enough energy left to tackle emergencies, pursue hobbies, exercise or higher spiritual goals.

Excerpted from Women & The Weight Loss Tamasha (Rs 200) by Rujuta Diwekar, with the permission of publishers Westland Ltd.



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