A Change In Attitude

So you want to lose weight. Half the world does. Obesity is a worldwide epidemic so it’s only natural that every second person you meet is keenly seeking the holy grail of weight loss. Dinner conversations invariably return to feelings of guilt over indulgences. The Internet is flooded with clever advertising to lure vulnerable individuals into buying some product or the other with the promise of ‘losing ten kilos in ten days’ or similar fantastic claims.
You may not be thrilled with your body right now, in fact, you may view it with a good deal of distaste. Let’s ask ourselves a question, how did we get this way? How did we pile on the pounds? Where is that slender teenager? No doubt there are some who struggle with obesity all their lives. Over weight as children and teenagers, they are often faced with ridicule and marginalized. A large percentage of the population however, grows obese with age. A certain amount of weight gain with age is acceptable. But to become obese and as a result develop various obesity related complications like pain and discomfort, diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, depression, indigestion and so on, is not.
Take stock of your lifestyle.
– Are you physically active all day or does your job entail a lot of sitting behind a desk?
– Do you exercise regularly?
– Do you stay home and watch a lot of television and do little physical labor?
– Do you deal with an inordinate amount of stress? More importantly, are you one of those people who does not handle stress well? Do you develop acidity, anxiety or insomnia as a result of your stress? Do your work and relationships suffer? Do you become an insufferable boss or mother?
– Do you go on eating or drinking binges?
– Do you starve yourself often with the hope of losing weight only to go back to binge eating?
– Do you get enough sleep? (Six to eight hours a night of uninterrupted sleep is recommended.)
– Do you eat well-balanced meals with plenty of vegetables, fruit nuts, protein and healthy fats or are you loading up on the bread/cereal group (rice, rotis, bread, etc.), refined, processed, packaged food with additives and sugars out of packets as is common and convenient?
– Do you eat home cooked meals or depend on canteens and hotels and takeaways?
– Do you travel a lot, subjecting yourself to different time zones, food, lack of sleep and stress?
– Does your life involve a lot of socializing with indiscriminate eating and drinking?
– Are you addicted to sugar and need to eat something sweet ever so often?
The list of poor lifestyle habits is endless. These are some of the reasons you could be steadily gaining weight. Each problem has to be addressed independently with a combination of life skills, dietary advise and regular exercise. There is no way around it. Whatever the reason for the weight gain, the solution is to eat better, exercise and change your lifestyle.
Here’s the problem – most people think an hour of exercise alone will solve everything. It takes more than that, although that’s a good place to start. Your lifestyle (as shown above) is important. What you do for the rest of the twenty-three hours counts far more than one hour of working out. This means change. A change in attitude towards your lifestyle and not just one aspect of it.
A new mind set and not just a new menu is what is required.
The real secret to losing weight and more importantly, keeping it off is your attitude. The ability to look at your lifestyle with a certain amount of objectivity and a critical eye and then take the necessary steps to change what needs to change. The ability to get the necessary professional help when required. It’s not easy to change a whole lifestyle. There are other people involved – family, friends, colleagues and boss who are probably helping you preserve the current lifestyle. Change may involve others and this is not always welcome. For change to be sustainable however, it has to be holistic.
Adopt a slow and steady approach. Help your body and mind gradually learn to eat better, exercise more, live healthier, sleep earlier, relax and breathe. Most importantly, learn to appreciate yourself and your efforts. Learn to respect yourself and your body.
Dr. Sheela Nambiar MD Obgyn
Fitness & Lifestyle Consultant, NAFC
Author – Get Size Wise & Gain To Lose (Published by Rupa)

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Fitness trends and follies

 In a world of a multitude of choices for every thing from the flavor of pasta sauce to face cream, it is only natural that we come up with a mind numbing number of options for exercise as well. Whatever happened to good old walking and running? It seems to me a new “Exercise Fad” is born every week. Don’t get me wrong. I think it is exciting. As someone who loves exercise and fitness and loves to experiment, it is wonderful to have choices. 

When I started out teaching fitness in the year 2000, there was basically only Stepper, Floor aerobics, Dancercise and Jazzercise. Then came Tae-Bo and kickboxing with Billy Blanks and his high-energy routines. Aqua Aerobics, Zumba, Bollyrobics and the numerous take offs on Yoga have grown in the recent past to accommodate the ever-increasing need for variety. There are ‘Fitness Trend’ forecasts by industry experts that predict which form of exercise is likely to be the most popular for the year. There are clothes and shoes made ‘just for Zumba or Yoga’ for instance. It is a huge industry that is not necessarily only about fitness. 

 What does an average person do? How does she choose which kind of routine to follow? With advertisements that claim, “get a flat stomach and slim waist doing Zumba”, it is easy to see how people can fall prey. 

 One should firstly understand ones basic requirement. The four pillars of Fitness (Ref my book ‘Get Size Wise’http://www.flipkart.com/get-size-wise-training-life-indian-woman/p/itmdjz4mtx5v2vf4?pid=9788129123978&otracker=from-search&srno=t_1&query=get+size+wise&ref=a0eec19c-ae97-48ae-801e-8974a982a007 ) – Stamina, Strength, Flexibility and Muscle Endurance. You then decide what you want to do to improve each of these four pillars. You could for instance take a Step class or Zumba twice a week and add a run twice a week to accommodate your cardio. Do Yoga twice a week for your flexibility and train with weights at least twice a week for your strength and muscle gains. 

Floor Aerobics, Zumba, Bollywood dance, Jazzercise, walking, running, cycling swimming fall under the category of the first pillar or fitness or Stamina/Cardio. 

 Traditional weight training is focused on increasing strength and muscle mass. Forms like Boot Camp, Body pump, P30 X, Crossfit are strength-training sessions in various formats which also kick up ones cardio to a very high intensity by the way the exercises are performed.

 Simple stretches and Yoga work to fundamentally increase flexibility with Yoga also increasing balance and core strength.

 Muscle endurance is improved by adding to your routine low intensity, long duration exercise in the form of long walks, treks or cycle rides, mostly recreational.

 Weight Training of the traditional kind to increase muscle mass and strength by going through several sets and reps of specific exercises to address single muscles or groups of muscles is important to build a strong foundation of Strength and Muscle mass. This is particularly important for someone of Indian origin as we are inherently endowed with less muscle mass at birth (called Sarcopenia). Learning the exercises with precise form is important for prevention of injury. 

 Thereafter, having built that foundation of strength, experimenting with Boot Camp, Body Pump and other spawns is justifiable as by then you have understood the nuances of Strength Training with external weights or with using ones own body weight. If you have established that strong foundation of strength, the chances of injury are minimized. When you then attempt to attend a class where there are several students, with the trainer’s attention diverted as he screams out instructions and tries to keep an eye on everyone, you will be able to take care yourself. You will be mindful of how you perform each exercise, however difficult. You will recognize if something does not “feel” right for your body irrespective of what the trainer may say. 

 Traditional weight training to build strength and muscle also helps prevent injury from other forms of Cardio like Step Aerobics, Zumba, Bollywood Dancing etc. Some of the moves encouraged in these classes are not always kind on the knees or hip joints. If you inherently “know” how to move properly and have the necessary muscle Strength and Body intelligence to protect your joints then the chances injury with these forms is minimal. If however you go in blindly with no clear understanding of body mechanics you could twist a knee or injure the back trying to mimic your instructor.

 Some of these forms of exercise claim to include ‘weight training’ or ‘toning’ within their routine by adding 0.5-1 kg dumbbells (which I call baby rattles) , which are then moved to music. One cannot build a respectable amount of muscle mass OR strength with these light weights so frankly, I think that is a waste of time. You would much rather go through a traditional Strength Routine in a Gym or Boot Camp and use your Zumba, Jazzercise, Stepper, Floor Aerobics as a form of cardio. 

 Yoga improves flexibility. There is no question. Strength increments and building muscle from Yoga is limited by the fact that the contractions are isometric and your own body weight is the ceiling. Proponents of yoga would argue that it not to be used a form of ‘exercise’ and is a whole lot more holistic than physical exercise as it focuses on the Pranayamas, Kriyas and a lifestyle change. 

 Yoga in my opinion, is a very important aspect of fitness. Those who train with weights will do well to do Yoga contrary to the commonly held belief that those who do Yoga should do nothing else! Especially not, weight training! I think the two are complementary.

 Here’s why –

Training with weights involves addressing one muscle group or a single muscle strengthening it, increasing mass and improving the quality of the muscle. I would think one of the great spin offs of having stronger shoulders; chest, arms and core would be to be able to hold a pose like “The Crane” for instance. 

 Both forms of exercise focus on breathing. You really cannot train with weights or do yoga without knowing how to breathe. Doing both, somehow brings home the concept and importance of ‘breath’. 

 Yoga greatly increases flexibility which is beneficial in preventing injury while training with weights. At the same time, strengthening the various muscles of the body, helps one perform Yogic poses with better muscle control, preventing injury, using those very muscles and challenging them in different ways.

 Yoga helps you understand how to use your body as an entire unit and brings about a kinesthetic appreciation and sense of balance without the help of the mirrors in the gym! Weight training, improves and creates even more body awareness as you focus your mind on individual or groups of muscles, ‘feel the burn’, and go beyond yourself to strengthen. 

 They complement each other very well. Bring about a kind of balance of spirit between the calm introspection Yoga demands and the driven power Weight Training produces. Doing both, I think produces an endless loop of benefits that feed off each other. Love them both!

 The wide variety of ‘fitness forms’ to choose from is to accommodate this society of ours which suffers increasingly from ADD. We search for something different because we are easily bored. We want everything quickly so the latest fad that promises to be the easiest way to quick weight loss naturally attracts us. 

 Here’s the thing – practice makes perfect. You will have to concentrate on one thing long enough (10,000 hours if you are really looking for. perfection!) if you want to do it well. When you excel you enjoy it more. It is that simple. Flitting from one thing to another too often only sets the stage for injury. 

 It is good to cross train and challenge your body in different ways. Not all of us can though. (Ref chapter– ‘What is your Fitness Personality?’- Get Size Wise). Some prefer the simple act of running or walking for cardio while others enjoy music, dance and choreography. To each his own. 

  • Include the four Pillars of fitness 
  • Lay a strong foundation in strength
  • Learn to work with your required level of intensity whichever form of cardio you choose. This means you need to know the routines and moves well enough to get your heart rate up to the required level. 
  • Choose your instructor wisely. The exercise form is only as good as your instructor is. 
  • Maintain perspective and a sense of humor! Fitness is supposed to be fun as well. Enjoy the journey.

Get Size Wise….. my book is finally published!

 

GET SIZE WISEAfter a three-year wait my book “Get Size Wise” is finally out It published by Rupa Publishers, India. It took me about a year to write it and two years to get it published. Finally it is done and am hoping it is widely read.

So, this book is basically for the Indian woman (because I work primarily with Indian women), but the basic principles would apply to women anywhere. It gives her an idea of how exactly to go about her fitness routine. What she needs to include, what to be wary of, setbacks to anticipate and so on. No, it does not supply any magic tricks to “lose weight”, “get slim” and more such crap.

This book is more about Fitness than Weight alone.

However, eventually, as the book explains, when done right – Fitness and Diet, the weight will fall in place. That is my premise in the book.

I have seen too many women fall prey to clever marketing, advertising promising perfect bodies ……. if only they subscribe to a dubious product, procedure and so on. Of course, the women concerned are to blame too. They WANT the easy way out. They DO NOT WANT to be questioning these claims that promise miracles. They are constantly making excuses for themselves. They play the VICTIM ROLE very well, leaving their health and bodies to sheer chance and circumstances and under other peoples control.

As is very clear I am totally against women relegating control of their bodies to others or to society. I think they need to sit up and take notice of themselves. Prepare to be shocked or pleasantly surprised with what they see in themselves and then, make the necessary changes to progress not regress!! This seems to be extremely hard to do for many. It is much easier to go to, lets say a dietician or trainer and have her draw up meal plans or exercise routines for drastic results. Have her take responsibility for the success or failure of the person concerned in ‘losing weight’. If there is no weight loss, then the dietician/ trainer is to blame. They are uninterested in the ‘why’, unacceptable of their own responsibility and unwilling to question what is being recommended. They are not concerned with the long-term effects as long as there are short-term results. They choose to believe what suits them rather than try to sieve the wheat from the chaff. So for instance, if someone recommends ‘drink lemon and honey first thing in the morning’ to ‘burn’ fat, they would much rather believe that than – ‘exercise first thing in the morning’!

I believe women need to be more proactive with their choices about their bodies. They need to be more discerning about their long-term health and not just short-term cosmetic results. They should not fall prey to societal pressure to look a certain way. It is not always possible to get to a ‘certain size’. A lot depends on genetics and environment especially lifestyle, stress, work and so on. Comparing one with other women who one perceives to be ‘beautiful’ or ‘slim’ is a futile exercise.

Every woman is beautiful in her own way. She can also be the best possible version of herself physically by applying some basic principles of diet, exercise and healthy living. By challenging herself intellectually and creatively, she then can proceed to live a fuller more fruitful life.

Women are more likely than men to allow emotional challenges to affect their eating, weight and health. Crisis in relationships or work can set one to start abusing food and ultimately their bodies. Binge eating, anorexia, bulimia are all psychological disorders with a basis in ones lack of self-esteem and a troubled consciousness. Women are also more concerned about how society views their physical appearance. This would translate as them trying all means possible to ‘look’ a certain way. This self-defeating attitude can be highly corrosive to ones self-esteem.

You should ultimately want to look a certain way for yourself and not for society. No doubt, that societal influence is great even while making that choice. For instance, in the early 16th century a more voluptuous figure was considered beautiful. Today in the 21st century, such a body would be considered ‘fat’. The point is, should you try to attain a certain ‘look’ because it is expected of you? More importantly, what happens when you cannot achieve that look? Does it make you a worse person? Not at all.

Women have to understand that they are truly more than their weight on the scale. They cannot evaluate their life by a mere number. Yes there are a several reasons (not just cosmetic) why being overweight is not recommended, and why losing fat is advised. The reason to lose weight therefore should be more focused on health than mere looks.

Certainly, if you believe that just losing weight will make you feel better about yourself, you may be in for a surprise! You may feel ecstatic initially after losing the weight. This is because of the sense of achievement, the admiration and applause from others and what you see in the mirror. After a while however when this palls and when the complements fade, you still need to find a reason to continue to exercise and eat healthy for yourself. You still need the self-motivation to keep going with your fitness routine. You need to find those resources from within yourself and if you are lucky, from encouraging friends. This is what makes for a success story and for the difference between short-term weight loss and long-term achievements.

One has to understand that Fitness is a Journey, not a Destination. Being Fit is not just about being a certain Size, but an improved level of Performance of the Body and a Superior Quality Life.

This is the only way to persist with a fitness routine and healthy eating, day after day, week after week. Sometimes, even when you don’t want to. Sometimes, when you are lazy. Sometimes, when you just don’t see any reason to! It is the understanding of this journey that keeps you experimenting, progressing and enjoying the process enough to persist with it for as long as you possibly can.

It becomes a way of life. It becomes so much a part of your day that it is no more an ordeal to exercise. It is your way of saluting your body. Of respecting it. Rewarding it for being there for you!

These are the ideas that I hope will permeate the lives of those who read my book, “Get Size Wise”. I hope to make them love their bodies more. Be thrilled, amazed and appreciative of it. I also hope to make them stop abusing it with food or lack of exercise. I hope to help them understand that they ARE already beautiful but can become even better versions of themselves if they only try.

Warmly

Sheela

 

 

Sleep – The Healer of all Things

imageThe body and mind require sleep to heal, repair, rejuvenate and prepare you for the next day.

Sleep is a healer of all things, even your muscles, after you workout. Ever noticed how exhausted your muscles feel, especially after a good weight-training workout? That is them telling you they now need to rest to allow sleep to do its work of healing. Weight training, (I mean serious weight training) causes small tears in the muscle fibers worked. These tears heal over time to produce stronger, larger muscles and this happens while you rest. You do not grow in the gym. That sensation of your muscles being bigger immediately after a workout is what is called ‘the pump’ in weight-training jargon. It is only your muscles increased in size temporarily with blood and fluid. This gives way for the real increase in size and strength as the muscles heal – while you sleep.

In your enthusiasm to show your undying loyalty to your fitness routine, you may disregard sleep, dragging yourself out of bed even when your body is clearly craving sleep. I know because I’ve done this! Catastrophe! You fall ill, you can injure yourself (and then set yourself back several weeks with your much loved fitness routine! Not very smart). Being sleep deprived prevents you from actually listening to your body.

Working out without rest and adequate nutrition is like trying to drive a car without fuel. It does not work! Your muscles never recover. They will feel fatigued all the time.

The worst part of being an Obgyn are the night calls. Sleep deprivation is so common amongst us Obgyns that it is almost a way of life. One of the highlights of going away on holiday or just ‘away’, even on work, is the thought as ones head hits the pillow that one does not need to anticipate hospital calls. You don’t need to fall asleep every night hoping, THAT ring tone doesn’t rudely pierce through your slumber.

I am sure many other professions, nurses, new mothers dealing with bawling babies, people who travel frequently etc also suffer various levels of sleep deprivation.

Lack of sleep can affect us in a variety of ways. The most obvious of course is the fatigue. You eyes burn, your body hurts, you are irritable and intolerable to be around and your attention span is shorter than that of gecko.

You could make dangerous, even life threatening decisions when sleep deprived. Accidents, disastrous business decisions, poor judgement, unnecessary arguments and fall outs can all result from JUST not sleeping enough.

Lack of sleep has been linked to increased levels of stress and even obesity. This of course also works vise-versa. Stress can lead to insomnia and obesity to sleep apnea, which in turn impair sleep. Hormones Ghrelin and Leptin are responsible for hunger and satiety respectively. Sleep deprivation causes an alteration in these hormones, which change your perception of hunger and satiety.

Ever noticed how you tend to eat more and/or indiscriminately when tired and sleep deprived? You may not even be hungry, just sleep deprived. However, when your body tells you that you are experiencing discomfort, (IT means, you need to rest), but YOU interpret it as – you need to satisfy hunger! What’s more, preferably with the most ill-advised food choice available. So, you reach for that mid-night snack. A recipe for disaster when trying to lose weight.

A good nights sleep is important for ones psychological health. Depression and anxiety can result from and cause poor sleep patterns. Depriving one of sleep is akin to torture. It is THAT significant!

Sleep is a healer of all things. What seemed frustrating slips into insignificance after a good nights sleep. You wake up with a new perspective, a new energy and whole new point of view.

In today’s world though, its not just work, babies or stress that keeps one awake. There is the Internet for endless surfing as it sucks you into its vortex of the virtual world. Face book, chatting, trying to connect and keep up with just about everybody in the whole world. The television, with the incessant supply of news or mindless drama. For some, it’s a can’t-put-downable book (again, guilty as charged! You suddenly look at the time and its 1am! GROAN… and there’s a 5am wake up call)!

Late nights, early mornings as one is climbing the social ladder or bettering ones career or just partying for fun and alcohol. All of this somehow take precedence over much needed sleep.

It all comes down to priorities. Sometimes you may just need to refuse a party invite, or shut down that computer/television when you know that it’s sleep you need. It is a matter of mental and physical health and well-being.

As someone said – “If you don’t sleep, you are never really awake”.

Learn form the cat. Sleep can be a healer of all things……..

Ref-

–      Mental distress, obesity, and body fat distribution in middle aged men. Rosmond et al. Obesity Research, Vol 4, May 1996.

–      Inadequate sleep as a risk factor for Obesity: Analysis of NHANES. Sleep, Vol 28, 2005

–      Insomnia as a Health Risk Factor. Daniel.J et al. Behavioral Sleep Medicine/ 2003, (4), 227-247

Have you ever bought a Ferrari?

Have you ever bought a Ferrari?

Well, maybe not a Ferrari, but a great car, or the latest phone, or an expensive watch. Or, for that matter, anything that costs a bit of money? What do we do once we invest in expensive gadget/gizmos? We ensure good maintenance. In fact, we go to great lengths to ensure GREAT maintenance. We buy the best possible insurance policy, upgrade, service, fuel up, buy protective gear, shine, polish and basically spend a whole lot more money, time and energy on protecting our worldly investment. We are talking about a piece of metal here. A car that can be repaired, even replaced if need be.

Lets take the human body. The phenomenal human body. How much do you think it should cost? Remember we have only one body. It serves us all our lives. We need it to work for us 24/7 through all our impossible times, highs and lows. We have no spare parts and no, it cannot be replaced. How much do you think we should price it at? Priceless don’t you think?

And yet………..we place it under an inordinate amount of pressure and then fail to nourish it properly. We starve it. Alternately we stuff it with appalling food choices and expect it to behave itself. We get upset when it doesn’t. We are annoyed that it has “gained weight” or “fallen sick”. We stress it further to lose weight rapidly and unhealthily. The abuse is relentless.

Sure, we buy Life insurance and Health Insurance. That however is not the same as a “maintenance strategy” now is it? Buying life Insurance does not ensure a better QUALITY of life.

What is it that drives us to be quite so careless about our own bodies and yet pay so much attention to inanimate, material things? Is it the sense of infallibility? The conviction that somehow, we will be the ones to slip through the cracks and escape the implications of a reckless lifestyle?

We believe the rules of life do not apply to us. Perhaps justifiably. We do see some heedless humans cheerfully leading long or disease-free lives. On the other hand, we also see apparently healthy individuals sometimes dying or falling ill unexpectedly and shockingly. This is what is pointed out to me only too often when I advise people to follow a healthier lifestyle. “But what’s the point?” they ask, “look at how Mr. so-and-so dropped dead. He was fit, exercised regularly, eat healthy and yet he dropped dead”

I never said fitness was a guarantee against death! Only that it is a guarantee for a better QUALITY OF LIFE while you live. I for one, would much rather lead a full and productive life however short, than a long arduous one that is spent mostly in bed or a wheel chair in pain or depressed, suffering ailments that could have been prevented.

Have you ever bought an AMC (Annual Maintenance Contract) for anything from a water heater to a washing machine? Most of us do, for almost every piece of equipment we own. I even know someone who has an AMC for his treadmill, which by the way, he never uses!

I believe we need a DMC (Daily maintenance Contract) for the human body. If our bodies came with an instruction manual, it would probably say the following:

– Eat clean (most of the time. Occasional indulgences are allowed).

– Sleep at least 6-8 hours a day

– Exercise regularly.

– Drink enough water

– Manage stress appropriately.

– Stay busy and productive!

However, we do not come with an instruction manual now do we, so we do not bother with a DMC. Occasionally we realize the jeans do not fit or the triglycerides are sky-high and panic. Then come the desperate measures to right the wrong. Usually resulting in running for the nearest “quick-fix” remedy available. Drugs, massages, wraps, fasting, starving, drinking nasty concoctions that would probably make a skunk throw up, anything for instant results.

The panic however is short-lived. We get used to the weight gain or the high blood sugars/triglycerides. We tell ourselves it is part of the aging process. That we need to go with the flow, relax and take life as it comes. After all, most people around us suffer the same maladies don’t they? Therefore, it is absolutely natural. This is how we justify ill-health or a poor quality of life.

What if we pay as much attention to our own bodies as we do to our various material assets?

What if we begin to follow a DMC and consider our own wellbeing, both physical and emotional, as important and relevant to how we experience life?

What if we accept that WE are responsible for our own choices and subsequently the quality of our lives?

What if we treat our bodies as we would our Ferrari?

Droog

Droog is situated about thirteen Km from the town of Conoor. The hill is also called Bakasura Malai (after a fabled, cruel demon from the Mahabaratha). It is a hill about 2000 meters above sea level. One gets to it through the NonSuch Tea estate on the most dreadful roads. Estate roads, meant for a four-wheel drive and a strong stomach.

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Parking on the road, we began our ascent to the top of the hill. It was a fairly steep incline. Initially, through the most beautiful tea estate and then through the shola forest. There was a charming little paved path to follow through the forest. The path was steep and winding in places. Innocently effortless in others.image

The lush foliage looked alive, breathing in the morning air. There were so many unusual flowers, trees and plants. Lemon grass grew in plenty deceiving us with its sharp edged leaves camouflaging the fragrance and flavor of the plant. Beautiful wild flowers in the most vivid colors. Growing in abandon, unaided, content to be blowing in the breeze.

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We passed the remains of the fort of Tippu Sultan. Build in the 16th century it is said to have been a vantage point and the out post to oversee the surrounding areas. What remained was only the wall of the fort. Just piles of stones stacked to build a semblance of a wall.

imageOn the top of the hill was situated a Lookout tower of sorts. Now vandalized of course, with scribblings all over the walls of names of lovers and new-gen heroes. A reminder of those who have managed to get to this point, not to absorb and appreciate the incredible view but to record their pathetic presence on the walls of this monument. Reprehensible, to say the least. The last time we were here, we were startled by a group of police officers in their camouflage uniforms said to be combing the forest for terrorists. Very reassuring that was! Thankfully, no such incident this time.

Beyond the tower, a little further through the forest leads one to an even more stunning landscape. The sun had already risen but was still partially concealed behind gloriously patterned sheets of clouds. Ornate and almost surreal, it was the work of a brilliant artist, the sky, the mountains, the rivers below the trees and sheer rocks. The cliffs were sheer drops of thousands of meters to more forestland.

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After spending some time taking in the splendor or the surroundings, we headed back to Conoor town. A delicious breakfast at the famous canteen in the quaint Conoor railway station. A welcome indulgence after that long walk.

Walks like these test the endurance of your leg muscles. The uphill climb definitely also tests your cardio vascular endurance. It was about ten Km and the pace was certainly not leisurely.  Improvement in fitness levels is one of the additional spin offs of these walks. The encounter with nature only adds to the experience. Including activities such as treks, walks even dancing which are more for pleasure and not specifically focused on either weight loss or improving fitness create the environment to include physical activity as a form of a “lifestyle”. It becomes something you do as an extension of ones day. You tend to then make better choices more often. You choose to walk up the stairs instead of taking the lift. You choose to go for a run on a Sunday morning instead of lying around, wide awake wondering what to eat. You choose to throw a dance party with light finger food instead of a sit down meal. It becomes more ‘natural’ to stay healthy and fit