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Mar 3, 2012

Being healthy is more important than flaunting six packs

IN · · 2 comments
Of late, our country has got obsessed with six-pack abs (the prominent rectus abdominis muscle). From youngsters who are barely in their teens to middle-aged men who are in their late 40s or 50s, everyone wants to flaunt a six-pack, washboard abdomen all thanks to the entertainment industry and electronic media. Movies, which are one of the biggest sources of entertainment, are compounding this obsession.

In fact, it would not be wrong to say that movies are the source of this obsession that has hit both the young and old alike. And, when it is so viral in the movies, how can the TV lie behind? So, now, wake up to the TV soaps having protagonists who are slim, trim, and flaunt six-pack abs!!! Well, while it is good for the society when the entertainment industry promotes health consciousness, it is also of paramount importance that the viewers are sensible enough.

six pac abs
One needs to understand where to draw the line, where to control the obsession, and how to set goals that are realistic and achievable. When a superstar in his mid-40s or an yesteryear’s star in his late 50s flaunt that six-pack look, we all think to ourselves if they could do it, then why cannot we? Advertisements or commercials show women drooling over models with six-pack abs and even children pressurizing their parents to lose weight and be slim and trim. We are all under pressure to give in to this obsession either by our partners, spouses, peers, parents, or even our own children!

After struggling for some time trying to be content with our appearances, sooner or later we end up giving in to this obsession. So, now, here we are at the gym doing abdominal crunches, dieting, running, cycling, starving and what not!

But, as most of us would agree, one needs to realize that it is more important to be healthy and fit rather than appearing sick and exhausted though flaunting a six-pack ab. We all remember how the above mentioned actors in their 40s and 50s looked sickly when they lost tons of weight and flaunted their six-pack abs.

Of course, one needs to be fit, cut excess weight, and be able to enjoy life like other physically fit people do, but at the same time it is equally important to appear healthy. We need to identify our body types and set realistic, achievable goals. You cannot make Arnold Schwarzeneger out of a Bruce Lee and vice versa.

Though both flaunt six-pack abs, they both have entirely different kind of body types and their six-packs too appear entirely different. While some of us might prefer Bruce Lee’s six-pack abs over that of Arnold’s, others might prefer the other way round. Back home, we have an actor with eight-packs in his mid-40s! Anyway, enough of six and eight-packs. Lets be more realistic and see how we can remain fit and healthy.

All of us can come up with myriad of excuses for not being fit. We need to understand that these are excuses and mere excuses alone. If we want to be fit, we can definitely spare at least 20 mins (big deal? I do not think so) a day out of our so called busy like a bee 24 hours a day schedule. Research shows that just going for a brisk walk or a jog for 20 minutes a day helps one to lose weight and remain fit. But, aside from this 20-minute, there are so many other things that one has to do to achieve desired results.

DIET. This is more or less the biggest culprit for gaining excess weight and adversely affecting our overall health. A diet rich in fat combined with a sedentary lifestyle (which most of us have today thanks to our jobs and gazettes) would show us the way towards obesity and other illnesses sooner than later. When we do not burn the fat from our diet, it has no other way but to get stored in our bodies resulting in weight gain. To prevent this, we need to know and avoid food items rich in fat. For example, chicken and fish contain less fat than red meat; so, obviously, thumbs up for chicken and fish and down for red meat! The other important factor is to divide our meals into small fractions.

Instead of having 2/3 large meals a day, we need to divide it into 5/6 small meals. This way, one would avoid remaining hungry and then eating large portions before going to bed that would not be used but only be stored in the body. Someone has very correctly quoted as “breakfast like a monarch, lunch like a king, and dinner like a commoner.” Since breakfast is the first meal of the day, one should try and have only the best and nothing else during this session.

Lunch should be lighter and dinner the lightest since we rest after dinner. For people working night shifts, this should be modified or changed. The basic idea here is to remain active after our largest portion of the day/night and having the lightest when we rest. We need to keep ourselves adequately hydrated. In my opinion, having a glass of water before our meal would restrict our portion intake. And, whenever we have a hunger pang, we need to make sure that we are patient and have a healthy fruit or snack rather than binging on to something high in fat.

This transformation from being addicted to high-fat foods to healthier options might be difficult and might seem tasteless in the beginning, but one would get used to it after a period of time. You want something; you have to pay a price for it! Similarly, for good health’s sake, one has to give up on his bad, though tasty, high fat-containing diet for healthier alternatives.

PHYSICAL EXERCISE: There is no go but to do some kind of physical exercise if one wants to lose weight and keep healthy. If we can join a gym or manage to go for a brisk walk or jog, there would not be anything better than this. If we are real busy and have no time to go to the gym, the least we can do is to somehow get at least 15-20 minutes out of our busy schedule and go for a brisk walk or jog or a swim.

To lose weight, there is nothing better than doing cardiovascular exercises like walking, jogging, running, swimming, cycling, skipping etc. Someway or the other, we need to take some time out and indulge in some form of physical exercise.

BEING PHYSICALLY ACTIVE: The least one can do apart from healthy dieting or doing some form of physical exercise is to be physically active. Instead of using the lift, we should use the stairs. We should use our feet instead of our two-wheelers or four wheelers for even the slightest of distance! Our forefathers did not have the luxury to have vehicles and gazettes that we use today. They used their feet to travel and their hands for any kind of work. The reason they were all fit was because they were all physically very active. While we cannot act the same way our forefathers did, we can at least do some of the things that are feasible. We can even start playing a sport that would give us a good workout.

Even playing with our children would help us getting some amount of cardiovascular exercise! Gardening and other house chores involving our hands and feet would help us too! The basic idea here is to keep our whole body occupied and not being a couch potato.

These are just a few ways to remain healthy and fit. Six-pack is a different ball game altogether. Once we lose weight and start feeling fit, active, and energetic six-pack can follow. So, please let us not be obsessed with six-packs but instead concentrate on our overall health and fitness first, and six-pack would knock on our doors once we are fit. Till then: “knock-knock! Knock-knock! Who is that? Six-packs. Please wait a while for me to be fit and healthy!!!”


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