Category Archives: Gym and workouts

Getting in the zone of Flow – A guest post by Daniela Martinez


Hello friends! Most of you may not be knowing this but I had started my blog with the idea of a fitness blog(you can read some initial posts related to fitness by selecting ‘Gym and workouts’ in the category section). Later on it became a home for my thoughts and feelings. I have not posted anything related to fitness for a long time.
My friend Daniela who blogs at http://theillegalgal.wordpress.com/ shares a passion for running just like me and we both have experienced something called as ‘flow’ several times. I thought it would be a good idea to ask her for a guest post and allow my readers to understand about the flow associated with running.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=314917555279278&set=a.302223466548687.60683.100002831098041&type=1&theater

This concept is quite complex to understand for those who have never experienced it. It is a feeling. You may explain a thought, but feelings are to be felt and expressed, they can’t be explained. So it becomes very necessary for you to watch the videos linked to the article. This post is just an expression of feeling and also attempts to make people aware of this interesting phenomena. I hope it encourages you to start running and make a commitment towards your fitness goals. Once exercising becomes an obsession, you are not just following a routine, you are revealing the strong side of your character by feeding that obsession! Happy reading!

Last year I started running at the beach next to my flat in Barcelona. What started as a way to stay fit, it became a passion. Each time I ran I could have a sense of inner peace and clarity, I could keep running without feeling my body nor hearing my thoughts, until my notion of time and space vanished just as the people around me. It was amazing!

Later I knew that what I felt had a definition, and I understood why Forrest Gump couldn’t stop running[1] or why Haruki Murakami wrote a book called What I talk about when I talk about running[2].

It was the flow[3].

According to the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi[4], to be in flow feels like:

  • Completely involved in what we are doing – focused, concentrated.
  • A sense of ecstasy-of being outside everyday reality.
  • Great inner clarity-knowing what needs to be done, and how well we are doing.
  • A sense of serenity-no worries about oneself, and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of the ego.
  • Timelessness-thoroughly focused on the present, hours seem to pass by in minutes.
  • Intrinsic motivation-whatever produces flow becomes its own reward.

I can tell you from my own experience that to be in flow is a wonderful sensation. I only get to feel it almost every time I run or write, but I’ve realized that it is possible to be in flow voluntarily. If you want to try it while running, these are my recommendations:

  1. Run without goals. Forget about the time or distance you think you need to run. Just run.
  2.  Get lost. If you run within the city, be an explorer. Don’t follow a path, make one. You’ll discover new places in your own city, even after living there for a decade.
  3. Don’t think, just breathe. I know this is hard, but if you start thinking on something, try thinking about your breath. Stop the mental chat and control your thoughts by telling yourself “inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale…” Focus your attention on your breath and in the words following it.
  4. Build your own playlist. The day I started to REALLY LISTEN to the music I heard was the day I discovered I could control my flow. As with following your breath, if you focus your attention on the sounds of the music that motivates you to keep running, you will have the sense of getting into the music, of knowing the notes as if you were the musician.

Until you have your own playlist, you can use mine either on spotify[5] or youtube[6].

Not everybody likes jogging. In fact, most of my friends, including the sporty ones, hate it. However, I highly recommend you to give it a try just for the possibility of having the experience of being in flow.

I could say that my life changed since I started running and discovered what meant to be in flow. I don’t exaggerate if I tell you that my perspective about life, people and things changed dramatically when I experienced what was like to let the ego fall away[7]. Not only my health or my body shape improved, but also my mood. I started to see life through a more positive glass, gaining control of my emotions, feeling powerful, and having a sense of knowing that I could lead my life in any direction I wanted.

For me, running has become an irreplaceable activity. I know that no matter what my circumstances are, I won’t stop running, because now I know that I will make it only if I run.[8]

Improving metabolism through lifestyle changes.


Hello guys!!!In my previous article I told u how we can improve our metabolism by proper exercises.In this one I’ll tell you about the small lifestyle changes that we can make to increase our metabolic rate.

Most of us lead busy lives and therefore it’s challenging to really keep an eye on all of our habits.We have limitations in our lifestyle choices;there are some small changes that can be made in our daily lifestyle and that can boost our metabolism.Men especially need to change these 2 habits:

1.Alcohol:People who consume alcohol in a wrong manner are seriously undermining their efforts to boost metabolism.Studies have shown that drinking alcohol with meals encourages over eating.Alcoholic drinks are laden with calories;almost as much as sugary-rich soft drinks.A bottle of beer can deliver a few hundred calories.Wine is generally considered to deliver the least amount of calories,but if you have 3 glasses of wine that means you have consumed 300 calories.

Am not asking you to stop drinking alcohol together.If you enjoy drinking with your friends ,then there’s no particular reason why you have to quit it.The tip here is to keep everything in limits.This is a big problem with many people,especially Indians.Instead of having 2 glasses of wine or a single bottle of beer daily,Indian men generally tend to stay away from alcohol for few days or a few weeks.So when they actually land at the bar,they have a tendency to gulp down everything-2 bottles of beer,4 shots of rum,3 shots of whiskey followed by another bottle of beer,for example.Such mindless drinking forces your system to deal with huge amount of calories.Anabolism will inevitably occur and is likely to create new fat cells.So,if you drink in limited amounts,then you prevent generation of new fat cells,you save your money and you are not likely to be involved in creating a ruckus at the drinking place.

2.Zzzzzzzz…..Zzzzzzz…. :Getting a sound sleep and in the right amount is the toughest thing to manage.Sleep deprivation affects your metabolism because it directly affects your digestion.In absence of proper rest,,your body lacks the strength to break down food efficiently.Also,if you exercise by stealing some time from your rest period and have a lesser amount of desired sleep,then you are actually doing more harm than good to your body.You should not oversleep,because you’ll feel lazy the next day.7-8 hours of sleep is said to be ideal.6 hours is a minimum unless you’re a workaholic and feel that your body and mind can give their optimal performance even at 5 hrs of sleep.

But there’s a problem.You might not feel asleep as soon as you go on bed.You go to bed at 11PM and intend to wake up by 6AM,but you fell asleep only by 12:30…so u actually get only 5.5 hours of sleep instead of 7 hours.U’ll find a variety of advices to deal with sleep -related disorders on internet.3 small changes can help you get a better sleep……First,don’t exercise close to bedtime.It may get you so energized that your body refuses to enter the sleep state.Second,try to keep a gap of atleast 2.5 hours between your dinner time and the time when u go for sleep.Third,avoid using earphones/headphones just before sleeping.Listening to a soothing song may calm your mind,but it may delay your sleep as well.

And if you can’t follow these.then there’s yoga for you.You can do ‘shavasana’ to get a good sound sleep.(search on wikipedia).

To conclude,I would tell you that lifestyle changes alone will do improve your metabolism,but if u want to have better results then you’ll definitely have to follow the appropriate lifestyle,exercise and diet patterns.

10 workout songs u should have


Hello guys.On my first day in the gym I wondered why so many people were listening songs on their mp3 players.It was only after I started doing the same that I found the reason behind this.While doing cardio,you are more likely to give up earlier if you are not listening to music.Try running without your mp3 player and you can easily notice the difference.Music may evoke pleasant associations, while masking unpleasant stimuli (such as rapid breathing associated with exertion). It may also serve as a distraction to some internal feelings, possibly associated with discomfort.Research suggests that music can increase your heart rate and the increment depends on the tempo of the music.For common people like us it is enough to understand that music will increase exercise performance.So here am sharing with you people 10 workout songs that you should have for a greater performance.Some of the songs listed here are not very popular.I would like you to check them out.Here’s the list(in no particular order) :

1]Master of puppets-Metallica:

Shit doesn’t get much more agro than old-school Metallica Released in 1986, “Master of Puppets” deals with drugs and how they end up controlling you, but we suppose you can imagine that you’re the master of the bench press. Clocking in at 8 minutes and 36 seconds, you should be able to get a pretty intense set in before the song finishes. Of special note: VH1 has ranked this song as the third greatest heavy metal song ever.

2]Till I collapse-Eminem:

“’Cause sometimes you feel tired, feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up/But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength and just pull that shit out of you and get that motivation to not give up and not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse.”

Those lyrics say it all.

3]Smack that-Akon with Eminem:

Do I even need to say something  about this song?

4]Stricken-Disturbed:

The lyrics can be motivating enough for people dealing with a relationship problems or those who have been hurt.Someone who hasn’t been hurt in love has not seen life.I hope you people must have seen life 😀

5]Koi manchala-Jal:

The lyrics is in hindi.It is about a self-made person,moving forward in life,all alone.Even though you may not be able to understand the lyrics,the drums in this song can drive you crazy enough to do 10 extra reps!

6]Down with the sickness-Disturbed:

The song is one of Disturbed’s best-known songs and is a concert staple, usually played as the last song. You are surely gonna like this heavy metal stuff.

7]Mindstreet-Motherjane:

Motherjane is a band from India. You can find a difference in Motherjane’s musical style. Influence of  Carnatic music is  prominently seen in the guitar, vocals and percussion.Its like ‘sitar on guitar’. In the 2010 AVIMA Awards, Motherjane won the award for the Most Popular Act of Asia.

Mindstreet is about accessing the powers of your subconscious mind. It is a call to interest people in meditation / prayer / art / hypnosis / visualisation or whatever it is that gets them to realise their fullest potential as human beings. As the song says in the end, “feels better everytime, to know that we are all divine.”This song has got very unique style.You can’t ignore this song.

8]Holy wars-Megadeth:
The song has an unusual structure, shifting at 2:26 after an acoustic bridge by Marty Friedman to a different, slower and heavier section called “The Punishment Due”, before speeding up again.

The lyrical theme of “Holy Wars” deals with the Northern Ireland conflict, and Mustaine’s feelings concerning religion. In an interview with the UK magazine Guitarist, Mustaine says that he was inspired to write the song in Northern Ireland, when he discovered bootlegged Megadeth T-shirts were on sale and was dissuaded from taking action to have them removed on the basis that they were part of fund raising activities for “The Cause” (i.e. the Provisional Irish Republican Army).

9]Beast and the Harlot-Avenged sevenfold:

The actual song is about the fall of Babylon from the Book of Revelation(particularly chapter seventeen), from which many quotes are taken, such as “Seven headed beast, ten horns raise from his head”, “hatred strips her and leaves her naked”, and other references. The Harlot referred to in the song is Great Babylon, quoted in the song, “Fallen now is Babylon the great.”

This song has a very high tempo and is perfect for doing cardio.

10]Lose yourself-Eminem:

This song won the Academy Award for Best Song solely for its ability to motivate even 75-year old voters to shadowbox in the mirror. Arguably the best workout song of all-time, it’s good anytime before, during, or after exercise.

Improving your metabolism


You all must be familiar with this ‘M’ word if you have gone through my previous article on understanding metabolism.This one aims at telling you about some ways in which metabolism can be increased.Unless you are a gifted soul with an unusually higly active metabolism that allows you to eat thousands of calories everyday without weight-gain consequences,you need to include the exercises in your schedule.The most common and beneficial would be running or any other cardiovascular exercise.That’s it?No!!!This is the biggest mistake that people make.Running alone is not sufficient.U keep running,and then soon your body will stop increasing the metabolism rate  by the desired level because now your body is used to it.If you want to tame your body,then fool it,trick it,deceive!!!Variety is the spice of life,spice up your exercise program.

The concept of change is very important when it comes to running.You must have noticed that the sprinters have a leaner body compared to the marathon runners.Run for short distances,at high intensity,vary your pace,slow down suddenly,start walking,then sprint after few minutes.This kind of running comes under ‘Interval training’.Google this term and then select the interval plan that suits you best,but make sure that you’ve an experience of atleast 3 months of normal running…and yeah,Don’t forget to invest in a good pair of shoes,comfort matters while you run.

So cardio is important,but muscle building can’t be excluded.A very common fear among people is that muscle building will cause muscle bulking and give you a very bad look.This is not the case unless you are using steroids or taking other supplements.You are building muscles to improve your metabolism,plus you are doing cardio too.So don’t be wary of including any muscle building exercise in your schedule.Muscle building is a powerful way to boost your metabolism.When you do such an exercise,the calories present in the food taken by you directly go to the area that has been worked upon,to build the muscle and the chances of these calories getting stored as fat is minimised.Push-ups are the best for your upper body.They targest chest,upper abdomen,biceps,triceps and collar bone.Build muscles,and stop worrying about bulking up!!!The more fat you transform into muscle,the more calories you’ll burn simply to maintain that new muscle(remember catabolism?),and this cycle goes on and on!You shouldn’t be wary of muscle building unless you are excessively fat.In such case,u should first decrease your weight as much as possible and then start building up muscles(otherwise u’ll look like Mark Henry from WWE).

Running,interval training and muscle building are the exercises that’ll shift your metabolism into high gear.A healthy lifestyle and a sound sleep are also important.Will write about them in next article.Happy exercising!!!

Understanding metabolism:The first step in any exercise!


Metabolism  is not a new word.You keep hearing it by your gym trainer,dietician,doctor or by some friend.While talking about metabolism,they all assume that you have some fundamental information on this.Regrettably,most people simply don’t understand the concept of metabolism and metabolic change.Lets unravel the metabolic mystery!Metabolism,basically,is the conversion of food that you eat into energy!There are two conflicting processes involved in the overall metabolic process-anabolism and catabolism.The former process creates tissues and cells to replace dead or dysfunctional cells,while the latter one breaks down the cells to create energy so that your body can do what it is supposed to be doing.

Metabolism brings together these functions in an optimal way that enables the body to create cells as needed,and break them down,again as needed.It’s in this way that metabolism earns its reputation as a harmonizer!When you do an aerobic exercise,Your body temperature increases,and the increased breathing rate demands more oxygen,which would ofcourse require some additional energy.This is the time when your body will start converting your food into energy at a faster rate.When your body has too many calories(regardless of what food source those calories come from) it can do only two things.It can desperately try and see if you have any energy needs or it will have to store those calories.And unless you have lean muscle that is gobbling up those excess calories,you’ll be adding fat.

By now you have got a sense of how metabolism relates to weight loss and muscle building.The more efficient your body is in carrying out the metabolic process,the faster and better will be the results.Some ways to boost your metabolism will be discussed later.Till then keep eating healthy food,avoid skipping your meals and stay away from high fat foods

 

What I hate about gyms


U have been there.I have been there.We all have once visited a gym.I’ve had some crazy experiences at the gym.Well,am not talking about dirty towels or smelly people.Lemme bring you to your first day at the gym.You are in your new gym shoes,new workout clothes,all motivated and u have tried to look as good as possible for your first workout 😀

Now you walk in and look around.You see those guys using dumbbells and barbells and some are looking pretty ripped.you try to stay away from them thinking you might embarrass yourself.After your first day,you are fairly consistent with your workouts,but soon,u develop the dreaded ‘no time’ excuse,’can’t wake up’ syndrome or the weather conditions force you to stay away from gym.

Well,I hav seen some people going to gym for the last 2 yrs nd even more but  widout havin any major improvements in their personality or physique.Earlier I used to wonder,but now I know the reason.Its all because they have been irregular and depended solely on gym for their workouts.If you take a break of more than 45 days,then lemme tell u that u are just wasting your time coz u’ll have another set of excuses for avoiding the gym few days after u resume your workout session.

Now being a student of biomedical engineering and my interest in human body,I have developed a fair knowledge about the effect of workout on your body.Many  people repeat the same workout everyday.The problem with repeating workouts is that the body will adapt to whatever you do and it will get easier each time. For your body to benefit from it again you have to do the workout harder and longer to continue getting results otherwise your results will taper off and decline considerably. You will hit the dreaded ‘workout plateau’.

Another problem that I have with the gym is lack of guidance.Gyms try to be hands off.  They provide little or no instructions onproperly using their equipment.The Indian trainers either leave you on your own or they want you to blindly follow them.Does your trainer know about your history of diseases?your backache?your metabolic rate?You might be thinking wtf dis guy is talking about but beleive me there’s nothing worse than going into something and training incorrectly.

Lets consider for a moment that u are a lucky guy.You have got a very good trainer and you are quite regular with your workout sessions.But there is one very important thing that u might be missing in the gym,and that’s INTENSITY. Embarrassing your self in front of others, lack of equipments to keep track of managing your rest periods,getting  busy in talking with others,watching TV in the gym,waiting in line for a machine or weights to free up are some of the few reasons that decrease your intensity and don’t allow you to give your best.

Now lemme share wid u guys some of my biomechanics gyaan 😛 . A natural movement or functional movements by definition are movements based on real-world situational biomechanics that usually involve multi-planar, multi-joint movements, which place demand on the body’s core muscles.Some weight machines in the gym promote un-natural movements. Seated leg curls on a machine are not functional.   It’s a movement we don’t use in real-world situations that make it un-natural.  In fact, it’s down right asking to damage your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)!A great functional replacement exercise would be a squat. Functional in every day activity as picking things up off the ground, multi-joint in nature.

I am not against visiting gyms and I myself  still go to the gym.But the sight of innocent people being trained by some idiots really pisses me off!!!You know about Your strengths and weaknesses,let you be the one who decides the routine of exercises for himself.You can design your own set of exercises,starting with the warm-ups of your choice.I have been suffering from a severe lower-back pain for the last 3 years.My trainer didn’t take it seriously,and the result was that the next day I was unable to move from my bed.Incorrect exercises or exercises that  just don’t suit you are unsafe and can cause injury.Morever,you get frustated and depressed.Gym is not a place to get depressed.U should walk in there motivated and then come out wid even more motivation.Just wear your earphones properly(it’ll luk clumsy untangling them very often in the gym),put a metal song or any song that can increase your intensity(Better prepare a gym playlist) and then just njoy every workout session.Forget the girls,do it for the person you see every morning in the mirror.Yeah,the same person who is now growing bigger and stronger everyday.Remember that the shoes that fit others need not fit you.You are the best judge of yourself and you can be the master of your body.Will post about some alternative exercises in the coming posts.