On Postnatal Depression

Postnatal Depression is real and new mothers often fail to recognise it and reach out for help. If you are a new mother or going to be one or know someone who is, share this article  of mine on the topic. Yes, once again on Mums Write. Don’t forget to show some love by liking the article (only if you like it) 🙂

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I’m on Mums Write

So, I submitted an article to Mums Write and actually got accepted. If you are a parent or are going to be one, this might be some useful information. If you aren’t a parent, then share this with others who are.

http://mumswrite.com.au/putting-yourself-first/

Published on Mums Write

Waking up early and related lifestyle changes

Call me for an all-nighter and I’ll be game any day. But tell me I need to wake up early to do something and I’ll probably lie that I will definitely be up and then keep snoozing the alarm. Of course except when I need to travel or trek. Then, I hardly sleep and wake up earlier than everybody else. And on normal days I get lazy and sleep in till 8 am! I find that on days when I coax myself out of bed before 6:30 am, I am fresher and livelier and bounce with a new energy that only early morning fresh air bring.

So what is with this problem of waking up late? Do I even intend to remedy it? What do I need to do to be able to comfortably experience the freshness of the mornings without feeling like I’m losing out on my sleep.

Everybody has an inner clock, which is also called biological clock. Our body works according to that clock which might or might not coincide with the regular clocks that we use. That is the reason some people are early birds and some night owls. I am comfortably the latter. I can stay awake until the wee hours in the morning. I just need to pass my regular bed-time and I can be up for a long time. As usual my body requires 8 hours of sleep which makes me sleep in during the morning. And that is how my own body clock work.

My aim is to change this pattern a little. I want to be able to sleep by 10:30 or 11 pm and wake up by 6am. Hence getting around 7 hours of sleep, which I believe my body should be able to do with. Imagine what all I can do with those extra two hours in the morning. My running and workout schedule can be handled well, so I am left with some free time in the evening to do some more useful things. I do have some plans on what to do when I wake up early, but lets not talk about it before it is done.

I know that tweaking the inner clock might not be that easy. It will definitely take a lot of will power and some incentive to get me out of bed. And I need to make a lot of lifestyle changes. Here is what I plan to cultivate, not necessarily in that order.

1. Early dinner: Eat at least an hour before going to sleep.

2. Exhaustive day: Nothing makes one fall flat on the bed than a laborious day.

3. Healthy mind:  If the mind is healthy without any thoughts, sleep will no more be elusive.

4. Complete the tasks of the day: Trying to accomplish whatever was planned for the day will avoid the thoughts about what all is left and the contemplation time before sleep can be decreased.

5. Healthy relationship: With the husband that is. Helps to have a nice conversation just before drifting off to sleep.

6. Planning for the next day: Plan for the next day after dinner and list out the to-dos either mentally or on a notepad. Helps to remind the mind that there is a big day ahead and that waking up gives a head-start.

7. Have goals: It might be personal or professional or both. Having a goal helps serve the purpose of achieving discipline in lifestyle in order to strive towards achieving that goal.

8. Less TV/laptop time: Decrease the time spent in watching TV or working on laptop by half and thereby sparing more time to finish pending tasks for the day. I practically don’t watch TV so that means I should cut down on internet time.

I am hoping for me to soon be able to follow all of them. Right now I’ll start slow and take them on one at a time.

And on the working out front. I played a great game of shuttle badminton on Sunday that I have a very sore arm. Reminded me to buy the second racquet so I can play with the husband. And have been pretty consistent with walking everyday. All in all I am OK with how I am progressing though I am yet to get started with the core strength and body weight balancing training.

I shall treat myself something besides a good pair of shoes this very weekend if I am consistent with the waking up schedule. Yep my little incentive.

 

The joys of healthy eating

So my dears, I finally got back into the groove. Thank heavens I did. A little late actually but never mind that. Late is better than never. Right?

Now, what does it mean that I am back? I am back to my radical and practical self in my mind and my new mind right now is busy being astonished at the amount of tummy fat increase over the couple of months. Don’t remind me of the discontinued challenge. Yes, me is very sad about it.

Let us leave all that old and sad stories behind, shall we? And proceed towards new beginnings. Where I get back to thinking health almost all the time in the day. It is also the time where I started drinking ragi-ambli. The age-old formula of strength and fitness. I’m sure the health gurus might be sniggering at my late discovery of it. Or, on second thoughts, the health gurus probably don’t even read this blog. Ha!

Ragi was incorporated in my diet since my childhood. We used to have ragi-mudde and ragi-rotti. But that was all. And it gets boring after a point eating those two things. Especially when ragi doesn’t taste all that great. But I love it and hence wanted more of it. Mudde and rotti are difficult to make and take up a lot of time. So I looked up for the malt and got a simple recipe which I have linked above. I made it and had the version with added curd and salt. And holy cow, it is DELICIOUS! Only, avoid drinking at night as you might get sore throat due to curd.

Now, I have included it in my diet as a fitness drink. Only, I make it so thick I need to use spoon to eat it 🙂 You can add butter milk and make it thin and drinkable.

Now the other healthy eating plans that I have are to eggs, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. And I’m quite happy to say that I enjoy eating all of them and can convert them into different forms for variety.

Eggs: boiled, omelet, vegetable omelet, spinach omelet, scrambled, egg sandwich, bread omelet.

Whole grains (grams): soaked and salted, soaked and mixed with vegetables with salt and pepper, soaked and tempered, boiled with salt. Mixed pulses masala idlis, mixed pulses masala dosa.

Vegetables: Half cooked/stir fried with chapati, raw salad, pulav/biryani with lots of veggies and less spice, vegetable fried rice.

Fruits: least one fruit a day and mostly 3 fruit juices a week.

I am so happy to get back. Finally. And I am pretty sure I am going to stay right here, on track. Because I need that tummy tucked in by November. Also trust me, eating healthy elevates your mood and keeps your happy. Also increased metabolism drives your day.

And here is the food pyramid everybody should know about. And hey exercise mat, feels good to meet you again.

 

Steps towards health and healthy eating

Healthy eating

Whenever we think of healthy eating, we think of home-made food. Most of us, being working people, find little time to cook a light snack at home leave alone make a three course dinner.

For kids, parents make sure they are eating well and eating healthy. They keep a track of what they need and provide it. We all remember of the times during our childhood where we HAD to eat a certain thing which we thought was disgusting back then. Now we know it is healthy and very important in our diets. Mostly people with kids tend to eat healthy to set examples for their children but not all elders think of their own health. But it is mostly the young adults and couples with no children, who ignore their health in a very big way. Include me in the second category.

Reasons
Initial phase of new job, new location, new friends and new-found independence do no good when it comes to food. All things which were previously out of reach suddenly become available and reachable to you. You think eating at McD and Pizza hut is cool and more importantly time-saving and easy as you won’t have to sweat in your hot kitchen. What more, you can order-in from restaurants as well. All those paneer butter masalas, cheese/butter filled parathas and maida filled naans look very tempting. Chips and fries become TV time snack. And who doesn’t like variety everyday? I myself am guilty of having done all these.

We rarely cook at home; I don’t have the energy to cook in the mornings because I am not a morning person and in the evenings I’m just too exhausted. Then I started analysing a pattern to find out why I get so exhausted in the first place. Many do the same job that I do, which should derive to everybody being exhausted. Yes, full-time jobs are tiring but not so much that you don’t have time to spend time with your family and have a family dinner. It shouldn’t be. That is when I thought, may be I am not putting enough nutrients into my body because of which I feel tired. I might need to add more energizing things to my meals and snacks. I really observed that most of what I eat everyday are not particularly healthy, even though they are filling. Eating had already become a chore and cooking non-existent.

Making the transition
Now that I am past the hurdle of knowing the reason for my bloated tummy and lower immunity, my next step would obviously be to remedy it.

1. First step is to avoid unhealthy foods. I am consciously avoiding foods that are of no nutritional value. That doesn’t mean that I don’t pay attention to taste. My taste buds are hyperactive and I would rather eat a small tasty healthy meal than a large bland healthy meal. Of course I do go out once in a while, but I am making sure I don’t eat out every other day.

2. If you can’t avoid eating out because you don’t and can’t cook, my suggestion is to hire a cook if you can afford one. Many of my colleagues have one and are happy with the arrangement. Another option is to find an outlet where you can buy home-cooked food. Places like darshinis are good for daily out-eaters which prove to be cost-effective while being pretty good on your stomach and health. Though most of the food we buy outside are not particularly enriching. In this case, it is advisable to take supplements in the form of fruits and vegetables or multivitamin tablets.

3. If you can cook and are willing to, nothing like it. You just need to break the lethargy. Paying close attention to your body will reveal what it might be lacking. Getting tired, body ache, low strength, problems in vision, headaches, irritation, low patience, skin problems, bowel problems etc are a few of the things which you can keep a watch on. Once you start noticing that your health is deteriorating, you’ll realize the value of nutrition. I did. So try to have small meals packed with nutrients. Eat healthy snacks like nuts and raisins,  use brown bread in your sandwich with less butter and cheese, fruit cubes, smoothies. Wash down everything you eat with plenty of clean water, preferably luke warm.

4. Read about health and nutrition and find out how toxins are formed in the body and what hinders nutrients from being absorbed. Information will be in your mind and slowly slid into your subconscious so you can make wise decisions every time you are presented with dubious situations of choosing between a cheese burger and roti subzi.

5. Make health not only a habit but a lifestyle. I am still in the phase of making it a habit in which I can say that the challenge I took helped a lot. So go ahead challenge yourself to a goal and treat yourself once you accomplish it. Once it becomes a habit, it’ll take not much time to become a lifestyle. You’ll automatically make healthy choices in everything.

Withdrawal symptoms

All this sounds so easy, isn’t it? But is it? Definitely no. People who have tried to be on a diet know how difficult it is to be to abstain oneself from those yummy calorie rich foods. When we try to avoid something, suddenly all our thoughts are filled with it. I started craving more burgers once I thought of avoiding them. So much so that I had to go to McD on two consecutive days and binge. So do intelligent avoiding. If you really feel like it, go have it but see if you can share it with a friend so that way you can taste it as well as half the calorie intake. Going forward, minimize the intake to bits and bites. I have started tasting stuff when I go out and sharing food. If it is not my favourite dish, I tend not to eat it in full. Even if it is my favorite dish, I share if I see that I have been eating out a lot.

Also, drink a soup or juice or milkshake half an hour before meal. That way you will be forced not to eat too much as your stomach is already a little filled. I find soups very healthy, tasty and filling. Just ask without cream. And most importantly, don’t think much about your change in eating habits when you are making the transition. Make a list of what you’ll eat and store it in your mind and go about your business of daily activities.

Ultimately, you will lose some to gain some. You WILL have to make an effort in this case to lose the unhealthy  for the healthy.

Skincare – acne care

We all want healthy glowing skin. We dream of facial skin devoid of pimples, scars, pores, bumps, uneven skin-tone, hair etc. However, not all of us are fortunate or blessed to have flawless skin genetically. That is why, it is very important that we have a skin-care routine that suits our skin. We might not be able to stop the nature’s course, but we might just be able to lessen the intensity.

Here, I am giving a few tips for acne. I have followed these myself when I am on the verge of breakout/s and seen results. So you can be rest assured they are tried and tested. And also no side effects like rashes or anything.

1. Apply toothpaste

Toothpaste

 

Yes, toothpaste works wonders. Get a little bit of it on the tip of your finger and gently touch the finger on the acne. Dab, do not rub. Make sure most of the acne surface is covered, especially the tip. Do this when you are about to go to sleep. Leave it overnight. The acne won’t magically disappear, but you will be able to see the change. If it stays on, continue the same for the second day.

2. Tea tree oil

Tea Tree OilAnother remedy for day-time. To apply it, get an ear-bud (Q tip) invert the tea tree oil bottle with nozzle above it, so a drop falls on the cotton. Press/Dab it on the area of acne. Again, don’t rub it in.
It will burn a little for a little while, but it is kind of faint tingling feeling. This too won’t make acne disappear dramatically. But yes, it will dry soon. It is available in most stores that sell cosmetics. Better buy it at an Ayurvedic store.

Tip: Avoid using too much of it. It peels the skin. If it is skip application for a day or two. I use it once a week.

3. Home made face pack

That has gram flour(besan), turmeric and lemon. Apply once every day. When I can feel the acne coming up, I do it everyday in the evening. Else I do it every 2 or 3 days once.

4. Avoid dust.

Wrap your face in a scarf/stole if you must. It is ok if you look like a dacoit and ignore the stares. Your skin is what you’re trying to save, and stares are a very petty price to pay for it.

5. Find out the cause

Sometimes acne are caused due to an external agent, not only hormones. It might be something you eat, a dirty pillow, unwashed hair/dandruff or something else. Try to find a pattern of what you did when you get pimples. If you happen to find out, avoid doing that to see if it stops acne from appearing.

6. Do not pop that pimple

Take your hand off. RIGHT NOW!

I know, because I used to do it all the time. So much so that it got into my subconscious mind. I didn’t even notice that I was doing it.
This is the worst thing you could do to your skin. Don’t touch it again and again. Don’t let your nails touch the pimples. Don’t pop pimples because it leaves an unclosed pore, ready to take in more dirt and cause infection. The puss could spread around and cause more pimples. And your friends will be grossed out if they see you do that. No, really.
Stop touching your face all the time. Period.

7. Don’t get facials and cleanups done at beauty parlours

Yes, no chemicals until you heal. I don’t need to say more. If you want to clean your white/blackheads, do it at home after a good steam. Get yourself a blackhead remover (ref pic). I got mine from the Health & Glow store in India. It is available online as well.

8. Go to a doctor

Acne are after all a skin problem, and we can do only so much at home. Go to a good dermatologist if your problems persists/worsens. It might be something that you can’t find out by yourself (like a fungal infection). Get treated and diligently follow the routine the doctor suggests.
Before visiting the doctor, make sure you get a few good reviews about him/her. You don’t want an inexperienced handling your skin.

My acne scene is right now little better than in the below picture. So, again, I’m not an expert in this. I am sharing what got me to this level. Trust me, it was much worse.

My acne scene

I wish you an acne free skin. You mostly feel good if you look good. At-least I do. And a skin that looks good and feels good is a big part of that.

Maybelline eye-studio eye liner review

Disclaimer:
I was neither paid nor asked to do this review. This is my opinion and mine only.
This is not a product promotion.

I had bought this a few months ago, but still hadn’t got a chance to use it. When there was an occasion, I simply didn’t have time. When I was free I was plain lazy. That about sums up my time management and planning skills.

One day, out of the blue, I decided that it was the right time to see how the new eyeliner looks on me.

I must say that this is the first time I am using a brush to apply eye liner. I’m not much of a make-up person. I use only foundation, pressed powder, kajal and lip-balm as everyday makeup. Eye liner and mascara don’t feature in my basic makeup stuff. And my previous encounters with eyeliners were always with the water based runny liners which need too much of my concentration. I’m always scared that I’ll someday poke myself in the eye using that liner.

But the new Eye-studio from Maybelline is absolutely amazing. I feel like an artist holding the brush in my hand. The way I can line my eye is completely up to me. I can do it thick, thin, wings, you name it I can do it with this magic wand. I am absolutely thrilled that I bought it.

I am now waiting for an occasion where I can wear eye liner (yes, eyeliner warrants occasion) because I tried it on when I was about to go wash my face that evening.

This is how I looked with the liner on. Not a very attractive eye. In-fact a tired one. But it looks okay with the liner on, doesn’t it? 😉

My eye lined with the Maybelline eye studio

First one is my regular look. Second one is party look. Third and fourth are the longest wings I’ve ever done, for the dramatic effect. Which I’m sure I’ll never wear anywhere outside. It’s just for the kicks.