Saturday, 5 January 2019

Time to step up the fitness game with #SmartHomeRevolution

Last year I twisted my ankle and unfortunately it turned out to be a second degree sprain which meant I had to avoid using that leg for a good one month .Thankfully and gradually I regained the functionality of the limb but the forced rest made me pile on unhealthy wads of fat to which I did not pay any attention to as I was more concerned about making up for the lost time on the professional front.
                                                         
Image- Pexels

I had accepted the weight gain as part of life even as I got out of breath taking the stairs to my second floor apartment .When the buttons of my favorite Levi’s decided to get inspired by Gandhiji’s non- cooperation movement and refused to get buttoned up, I coolly chose to be unfaithful and chucked them and moved on a new comfier and roomier pair.

I had full faith that once I got onto my feet, all the newly gained curves (yes I chose that flattering description for rolls of lards around my lower half!) would automatically whittle down. It was not my lack of knowledge but rather my over confidence and sloth that made me believe in that myth.

 It was only after about six months of walking in that state of ignorant bliss and a few embarrassed moments like when my favorite LBD refused to acknowledge me as the same Preeti that would easily rock that dress or the instance when my little son lovingly asked me if this was probably how I looked when I was carrying him in my womb!).

To cut a long story short that kind of rang a bell and woke me from my slumber and it was then that I decided to avoid wishful thinking and take matters in my hands.

Three months of following a more disciplined fitness and diet regimen, I am nearing my goal; I have reduced 5 pounds and am probably going to hug my old jeans back into my life!
                                                            
I also feel fitter, stronger mentally and physically now.
                                                                 
Image -Pexels.com
For those of you who might be facing similar struggles and are curious to know how I did it, I am definitely going to share what worked for me.Let me tell you, it is not easy but it is possible.

First the challenges :

1.Mental challenge – Be objective and realistic about what should be your ideal weight and waist/hip ratio and what can be realistically achieved in a certain time period.

2. Psychological challenge – Believe in yourself, whether you are a size 10 or a size 16, believe that you can and will attain your goals by keeping a disciplined lifestyle.A little goes a long way if followed dedicatedly. Other than going for regular exercise, I started going for meditation and Yoga every morning to keep myself motivated and focused .I found that music really helped me in getting into the mood or unwinding.

3.Physical Challenge – This would include setting up an exercise regimen that would be compatible to your lifestyle and would be enjoyable too.But more importantly you need to be monitoring your activity levels closely.

4. Dietary Challenge - A sensible diet plan that cuts down on processed food, carbs and fat and involves lot of fruits and vegetables and water can help down in achieving a healthier body.


5. Involve your friends – Other than being running or gym buddies you can actually score more by keeping your friends informed of your fitness goals. You can ensure that every time you falter in your goals or feel like you are losing track, you will have motivation at hand. Also, your time out with friends will not turn into a binge fest that may throw out your goals out of the window!


I got an added bonus when I told my good friend - a certain Mr. Rajeev M about my health concerns. Now Rajeev not only shares the same initials as the famous Tech-guru Rajiv Makhani but also shares the passion for fitness and gadgets.

Rajeev helped me to pick up a few smart gadgets that could make my life so much easier and my fitness journey a less bumpy one.

Here is what we picked up from the  #GetFitWithFlipkart collection of smart home gadgets to achieve a healthier lifestyle :

1. FITNESS BAND /ACTIVITY TRACKER :
source -Flipkart
GOQii Vital
Description : The GOQiVital  is a smart wearable band different from many other similar fitness bands in the market and quite affordable too.Apart from the usual features such as step counts, distance travelled, calories burnt, sleep tracking it has few additional features such as Heart Rate monitor & Blood pressure monitor.
What I liked most about this band is that it comes along with an online human Coach Service that helps to customize your fitness routine and constantly keeps you on your toes till you reach your desirable figures.

2. SMART PERSONAL ASSISTANT (Wi-Fi / Bluetooth Speaker) :

source -flipkart
Google Home
Description: A smart personal assistant at your beck and call, who makes doing your everyday tasks easier whether it is viewing your calendar, playing music, or controlling your home entertainment.
The google assistant can be used for a lot of things but I mostly use it every day to listen to music of my choice and especially during morning Yoga sessions.
In fact I have created special playlists for  workouts  and meditation  , now all I have to do is ask the google assistant to just play my list while I get into my gear .
I specially find it useful to read recipes in my kitchen as both my hands are free to cook and multitask.
This smart home device made a big contribution in making my home a smart home, as now I can even control the lights in my house by simple voice command. Of course that means the lights need to be smart too!

3. SMART LIGHTS   : 
source - Philips 

                                 

Philips Hue Mini Starter Kit with 10 Watt E 27 Bulb
Description : Smart lights come equipped with features like Home Away Control( so no stress if you forgot to witch of the lights , you can do that sitting in your office ), multicoloured lights and mood based lighting (really great for getting into the mood of the moment –whether it be romance or just sleeping like a  baby ).

4. SMART COOKING:
                                   
source -Flipkart
Philips HD9220/20 Air Fryer
Description: An electric frying appliance that uses hot circulating air to roast and air fry yummy snacks at home.Food is intrinsic to any healthy diet plan ,so my fitness story had to have  smart cooking appliance.
This is a great, smart and healthy addition to my kitchen and has helped cut on oil/fat intake by almost 80%. Me and my family now enjoy all sorts of snacks without guilt and the quality of cooking is also great because the food still tastes real crisp and it is light on the tummy too.

5. AIR PURIFIER :
                                                   
source -Flipkart

Mi AC-M4-AA Portable Room Air Purifier 
Description: Indoor pollution is a major contributor to poor health .Poor air quality not only reduces lung function , thus making you perform poorly but it also causes faster cellular ageing  and so a much needed  smart addition to my home is an Air Purifier to tackle city pollution.
This model has Realtime Air Quality monitoring and display. I love the feature of WiFi remote control via a phone app as I can monitor air quality and control it sitting anywhere in the world.

By bringing the #SmartHomeRevolution to my life I was able to create my very own successful fitness story and  it will be a NEVER ENDING ONE ,I will make sure of that !
Now tell me what is your Smart Fitness story ?






Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Avene Tricneal Expert Soin Emulsion

                                                         

I have had my share of struggle with adult acne every now and then and earlier I had got great results with Avene Tricneal cleanance Expert cream so I was using it whenever I suffered from breakouts and it helped every time.But this time around the product was not working well for me - also it was leaving my skin very dry.

Unluckily the Avene website does not give you much idea about how to choose a product,it does not mention the strength of the ingredients either so you have to choose yourself or ask around. After much deliberation and googling I settled for the Avene Tricneal Expert Soin  (soin means care in French ) Emulsion to take care of my adult acne and post acne marks.

Today I shall share my experience about Avene Tricneal Expert Soin Emulsion after using it for nearly 2 months .

                                                                

Ingredients -  As per the website the Avene Tricneal Soin Emulsion contains : 

DIOLÉNYL®
An anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredient that effectively eliminates acne  and prevent blemishes 

X-PRESSIN™ 
A gentle but efficient exfoliating enzyme to help reduce the appearance of stubborn marks left behind by blemishes.

RETINALDEHYDE
It is a Vitamin A derivative, has an anti-ageing effect and also helps to unclog pores, reduce acne marks and gives a rejuvenated glow to the face.

AVENE THERMAL SPRING WATER 
This helps in soothing the inflamed skin and also aids in healing .

I have clicked the picture of the bottle and the key ingredients  are shown below  :

                                                       

Presentation - I am quite happy with the sturdy but light weight slim bottle that is easy to carry with a pump that ensures that most of the product is used up.It is a bit tricky initially but works well after a few pumps.It dispenses small quantity so there is no wastage;considering it is pricey ,this is helpful.

  


PROS of  Avene Tricneal Expert Soin Emulsion
1. Suitable for sensitive skin
2.Effective of acne  and helps in preventing new ones by unclogging the pores 
3. Helps in fading away marks left by acne 
4. The Retinaldehyde has an anti aging action so keeps skin clear ,smooth and glowing .
5. Not drying at all , rather is moisturising
6. The Avene Thermal Water soothes the skin
7. No fragrance , which is a plus for sensitive skin and noses !
8. Can clear a pimple in 2-3 days itself 
9. Regular use even keeps blackheads at bay
10. Parabens Free 


CONS of  Avene Tricneal Expert Soin Emulsion
1. Expensive at Rs 1800 for 30 ml , though I got it at a discount from Amazon.in
2.Not easily available offline
3.Gentle but Slow action,do not expect overnight action, though I have seen budding pimples get cleared with in 3 days too !
4. It has Retinaldehyde so should only be used in the evening (no stepping into the Sun after applying this). Make sure to use a very gentle face wash ( or use from their own range ) and always wear sun protection .

FINAL VERDICT - I am loving this product,two months down the line,it has gently cleared the acne though marks are taking a lot more time but I understand that it is a slow process and stronger treatments will end up irritating my sensitive skin and give more pimples.

Added bonus , a clearer and glowing skin !

I rate it a 4.5/5 



Sunday, 2 December 2018

A trip to the Tropical Spice Plantation in Goa

Q. Did you know which is the King of Spice ?
A. It is Pepper .

Q. Did you know which is the Queen of Spice ?
A. Green Cardamom is the Queen of spice .
                                                  

During my last visit to Goa , I missed visiting the Tropical Spice PlantationSpices have long been a part of the Indian way of life not just because they impart rich flavor and fragrance to our food but also for their medicinal values and how can we forget that it was the lure of these spices that brought the colonial rule to India .
                                             
The Tropical spice plantation in Ponda, Goa is spread across many acres .There is another Sahakari Farms nearby which is also a spice plantation but we had time to visit only one of them so we chose the Tropical Spice Plantation and I shall be sharing my experience about this one.


  
Lobster Claw or Heliconia or
Wild Plaintain -an Ornamental tropical tree 

    
 
A Vanilla creeper 

Parking - The parking is free , they do note down the number of your vehicle .

Entry Fee - When we went there, we were charged Rs 400 per head that included a tour of the Spice Plantation and Lunch Buffet . Children below 5 years are given free entry.A short wooden bridge connected the tropical spice garden to the ticket counter which itself was thrilling for my kids .There were some ducks and geese waddling around which my son really enjoyed watching.

                                               
                                                       
The Welcome - We were given a warm welcome with traditional Tilak and showering of flowers petals at the entrance .Once inside, we were seated in the large waiting hall cum dining hall and served warm and fresh lemongrass tea till our tour guide arrived .

image source :wikipedia 
                                                         
Our tour guide arrived 5 minutes later ,she was a young lady who also spoke fluent Russian ,since this plantation attracts a lot of foreign nationals , the guides are multilingual. She took our group of ten people for a 45 minute tour of the spice garden.
                                                     
                                                                     
                                                                  Our Guide explaining about the #AllSpice
She showed us Betel nut or Areca Nut Palms  (सुपारी in Hindi ) and explained the use in Indian households as well as the medicinal values of the betel nut.It was a revelation for me , as I had no idea that these small nuts grew on such tall trees.She also gave us the Areca fruit to see closely.

                                                          
                                                       
Other spices and their mother plants that we got to see were the Green cardamom , The black cardamoms ,The All spice ,The Nutmeg tree, The Ocimum sanctum plant (Tulsi) , The Neem (Azadirachta ) tree, The Curry leaf tree, Bayleaf ,The Fennel Plants , The Vanilla Creepers ,The Peppercorn tree , the Cinnamon Tree and the Clove tree besides some common trees like Mango,Coconut and some ornamental trees that are indigenous to Goa .

                                                      
After the 45 minute spice plantation tour ,our tour guide also showed us how the natives made Feni - a local alcoholic brew made from fermenting the cashew apple juice .
                                                   
                                                          
                The fresh Green Cardamoms,generally are found near the base of the plant in
                                               contrast to the black cardamoms that are found
                                                       among the higher branches of the Black cardamom plant
At the end of the tour she asked us if we wanted to have a bath with a relaxing medicinal mixture.This was a watery liquid which she poured down our spine.The liquid caused a tingling and hot and cool sensation and thus made the muscles relax .It definitely helped but also made us wet !
                                     
               
               
                                                              
                                                                           One of the hottest chilli in the world
                                                                           - the Thai Chilli or Bird's Eye chilli
The tour was now over and we were back to the dining-cum-waiting hall where our guide informed us that lunch was ready.It was a buffet with both vegetarian dishes and non vegetarian dishes .
The buffet that day consisted of - Yellow Dal , Zeera Rice ,Potatoes and Peas curry, Cabbage dry curry and a sweet rice dish for dessert.
For non vegetarians , there was a dry Prawn curry and Chicken Xacuti with steamed rice.


Lunch Buffet at #TropicalSpiceGarden
                                               
                                                The vegetarian buffet at #TropicalSpiceplantation

The food was fresh, hot ,lightly spiced and easy on the stomach. While we were eating, our guide asked us if wanted to try the Feni ( Goan alcoholic drink made from Cashew apples) and gave us small samples to try.
                                             
                                                                
                                                                    A model of #Feni making -A local Goan Liquor made from
                                                          fermenting and distilling ripe Cashew Apple juice
Me and my Husband tried Feni but it had a strong taste and very strong hit of alcohol so we could not have more than a sip.

With the hearty lunch and Feni, our trip was concluded ,there were spices and handicrafts for sale at a special counter but seeing the price tags , we avoided buying any.

Handicrafts display for sale at Tropical Spice Plantation 
                                         
Handicrafts made from coconuts at
 display for sale at #TropicalSpicePlantation 
                                          
We did not return empty handed though, there were huge smiles on our faces as we felt quite enriched with seeing all that greenery and the sources of all those spices that are intrinsic to our Indian cooking.
                                              
Nutmeg,Cinnamon,Green Cardamoms ,Cloves and Pepper
etc. spices for sale at the #TropicalSpicePlantation in Goa
                                             
Do visit it whenever you are around ,specially if you are in Goa with your kids ,you will have a great time I guarantee!






Thursday, 8 November 2018

You Deserve Better – Find your mate through #Okcupid

We all wish to lead happy and fulfilling lives but sometimes our circumstances do not let that happen.

With increasing urbanization there has been a rise in migration maybe to pursue better education or better career prospects .At the same time there has been a spurt of unlimited social opportunities around us, and we might feel left out when we do not have a special social connection while others flaunt theirs on social media.

This leads to a feeling of being isolated and lonely amidst the chaos of the urban jungle, basically an uneasy combination of being exposed and isolated both at the same time.
                                           
 (Image source – Pexels.com)
                                         
Loneliness is an acutely painful state that can feel very embarrassing and uncomfortable to live in.
In fact, according to Gretchen Rubin, the celebrated author of “The Happiness Project”-“One major challenge within happiness is loneliness “.
Loneliness should not be confused with solitude which is a chosen circumstance that is peaceful and recreational while “Loneliness” drains us emotionally and feels like a black hole, sapping us off energy and joy.

Loneliness can be due to many reasons – 

Migration – Be it for education or jobs or relocation, one loses the touch of the special people who were unconditionally there for you. Forging new ties takes time and effort and most importantly trust. Trust does not grow overnight and one has to work at forming new relationships.

Cultural and Socio-Economic differences - Difference in social and cultural origins etc.  leads to difference in opinions and beliefs, making it difficult to find like-minded people around you. Opposites may attract, but that is generally short lived, one needs a cohesive, binding force and common grounds for long lasting relationships.

Busy schedules – Sometimes we may find the right people but our busy schedules may not allow us to connect as much as we want.

Death or separation from a spouse – Let us not forget that a sizeable population of young adults is now battling divorce or separation and some of the mature adults too  have to deal with loneliness arising from the death of their spouse.
  

 (Image source – Pexels.com)
To be happy, we need intimate bonds with people we can confide in, we need to feel loved and feel cared for by someone;we need to feel that we belong; we need to be able to get and give support in times of crises. In fact strong relationships can be the key to a happier life!

How can one combat loneliness and create that much sought happiness?

 (Image source – Pexels.com)
                                           
1. Nurturing and caring for others - Caring for someone be it an elderly or caring for a pet — helps to alleviate loneliness and makes you feel appreciated.

2. Create your own tight social circle - Having just one of two good friends may still not fill the gap and may leave you feeling lonely many people need both a social circle and an intimate attachment so it is important to have a close knit group of friends or community.

3. Sleep Well  - Sleep deprivation brings down people’s moods, makes them more likely to get sick and dampens their energy, so it’s important to have a good night’s sleep that you rise with a sunny mood and we all want to be around happy and positive people, don’t we?

4. Try to figure out what’s missing from your life - You may want a friend, a roomie or love in your life to fill the loneliness. Figure out what you are missing and then try to find possible solutions to that problem. 

5. Take steps to connect with other people (to state the obvious) -Show up, make plans, sign up for a class,and take a minute to chat. The idea is to try and find new connections.

In fact the same technology that can make us feel exposed and lonely can also help us in filling the void if used constructively.

 
 (Image source – Pexels.com)
                              
The internet has a host of social networking sites, dating websites and online dating apps that can cater to your needs once you have identified them.

Personally I am wary of websites that focus only on physical appearance or hook ups. I would prefer to be able to look up for like-minded persons who share my passions like books, trekking, traveling etc. ...
An online dating app should respect a women’s privacy and at the same time allow her to choose whom she wants to connect with.

I am not picture perfect nor do I look great in selfies,so I need an App that understands that and shows the real me beneath the touched up surface to the world and gives me the flexibility to choose my date upon not just on one or two perfectly filtered pictures  but traits , common likes etc. basically something that gives weightage to #substanceoverselfies                           
                                           
  (Image source – okcupid.com)
A platform like #Okcupid (yes it is now coming to India in a big way though it has been around for a long time)that helps in finding compatible partners not necessary a life partner but maybe a partner in crime!

That special someone that can be considered for serious dating and not just a one night stand. 

A person with whom you can connect over coffee and share jokes and who knows what else!

I have tried a few dating apps and #OKCupid fills the gap between the plain old matrimonial websites and sleazy hook upsites. It is an App that encourages serious dating and offers you the opportunity to make meaningful connections with the person of your choice.

  (Image source – okcupid.com)
                                               
If you find yourself lonely or need a mate, you might want to check this app #OKcupid here, you can also check out their Instagram account - Okcupid_India to get a feel of this App.

So what are you waiting for ...
Choose to be happy today – after all you deserve better!

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Book Review - A Dowryless Wedding


Price – Rs 399/-
Pages  - 225 

About the Author 
                                             


This is the debut novel of Dr. Merlin Franco, a P.H.D. in Ethnobotany from who is an Ethnobiologist from Kanyakumari district of India and is currently based in the beautiful island of Borneo studying the  relationships between people, languages and biological diversity of the Island. An avid dancer,he dreams of a utopian society when he is not working in the woods.

The Cover –The cover itself bears a humorous take on dowry, with a garland made of Rs. 2000 notes, roses and a car dangling from the center. There is no acknowledgment about the artist but it was a very appropriate cover.

The BOOK 



                                         
This book is a brilliant and hilarious take on the custom of giving dowry from the male’s perspective.The Book has strong autobiographical influences as the main character Dr.Franklin (distorted to Pranklee lovingly by his Tamil Mom) is also an Ethnobiologist like the author and is striving hard to conserve the flora and fauna of his native district Kanyakumari often ending up at loggerheads with the local religious and political leaders for speaking out his mind.

The left leaning young Dr. Franklin is of marriageable age and considered a good catch even though he is not a devout practicing Christian as his Mother wishes him to be. When his parents choose the lovely Nisha as a bride for him, he falls in love instantaneously with her. But the turning point comes when Nisha’s father, an important man in his community, insists on gifting his unwilling Son-in-Law, a car in dowry and there from starts a tale of clashing beliefs , counter allegations  and compromises making Franklin often question his love and his beliefs.


The book is written in simple English and is full of satire and wit and makes for an amusing and easy read. Also Dr. Merlin Franco gives us such a beautiful insight into the social, cultural and political threads of the society that you almost feel a part of the narrative. For a first timer, this is a very good book indeed.


FINAL VERDICT – I rate it a 4/5.

I would have given it full marks but I was a little let down towards the end, with things going in a spiral and at a fast speed  and almost leaving the reader confused though ending  on a positive note (maybe I myself am a bit of a day dreamer and expect Utopia !).