By Mansi Agarwal August 2006 If you are one of the countless victims of weight gain, read on for alternative ways to lose those extra kilos. Archana is a relatively slim woman in her 40s. Yet she is obsessed with her weight and agonizes each time she gains a kilo. ‘I feel so unattractive,’ she wails. We live in strange times. On the one hand, a plethora of delectables tempt us through shop displays, advertisements, and magazine articles. On the other, society condemns weight gain. The pressure to be slim and fit is tremendous as models and actors flaunt their perfect bodies through the media. No wonder the weight issue has gained such momentous proportions. Every second person is writhing in its coils. Obesity is caused when abnormal accumulation of body fat occurs, usually 20-25 per cent or more over an individual’s ideal body weight. It is associated with an increased risk of illness and disabilities. In childhood, excess calories are converted into new fat cells, which remain in the body throughout life. In adulthood, excess calories simply cause existing fat cells to get larger. ‘Nature has managed in such a way that the body demands food as and when required and we may then eat food in definite requisite quantity only,’ says Dr Sambit Pattanaik, an expert in acupressure. He elaborates, ‘The hypothalamus manipulates all these processes. However, control of this function is influenced by many factors. As a result, we may eat without control, ingesting much more than the body requires.’ Holistically, this is seen as an imbalance, an attempt to fill emotional, mental and even spiritual needs with food, often torturing the body as a result. How does one achieve optimum weight? In the first place, decide whether you really need to lose weight and if yes, how much. Next, formulate a plan. Crash diets, fad diets or sudden bursts of exercise don’t work. The body likes slow changes in terms of food and exercise. If you have not exercised for years, do not attempt to run three miles every day. Build up your level of exercise gradually. Consume as much as you can of the right nutrition. Avoid as much as you can of the wrong nutrition and always remember that ‘food is not equal to fat’. Alternative OptionsAlternative therapies offer many simple and painless measures to control weight gain. They have the additional advantage of working on your mind, emotions and spirit as well, and therefore checking the original imbalance that manifests in uncontrolled eating. YogaSwami Ramdev, the eminent yoga guru, guarantees weight loss through the daily practice of pranayam. Thousands testify to the efficacy of kapal bhatti, a form of pranayam that he has popularized. Yoga focuses on you as a person, not just as a body. It offers a harmonious attitude that will help you live in accordance with your needs and nature. Begin by making time for an integrated yoga sadhana. You can try yoga nidra for 30 minutes, any time in the day, or any of the methods listed below. Asana: Asanas reduce the amount of cholesterol and liquid fats. They conserve and renew energy that helps us overcome heaviness and lethargy. Asana practice should include tiryaka tadasana, surya namaskar (6 to 12 rounds), vajrasana (before and after meals) and pranamasana (30 to 50 breaths). Shatkarmas: For effective weight loss, asanas must be coupled with kunjal kriya (twice weekly for one month, then once a week) in alternation with shankhaprakshalana. Laghoo shankhaprakshalana (weekly for three months) brings a rapid drop in blood sugar, encouraging the body to draw on its fat reserves to restore the difference. NaturopathyDr Rajiv Rastogi, assistant director, Central Council for Research on Yoga and Naturopathy (CCROYN), is an expert in naturopathic techniques. He prescribes a complete diet and lifestyle plan, which has successfully restored many to robust health. He suggests it even if weight is not an issue. Begin your day by replacing your morning cuppa with a glass of lime juice blended with honey. Adopt the practice of morning walks or a mild exercise, such as yoga, as they recharge and tone the body. Have breakfast not later than 8.30 am and make it as wholesome as possible by including light fruits, steamed, boiled vegetables and whole wheat bread enriched with bran. The suitable time for lunch is from half past noon to 1.30 pm and should consist of four bowls of lightly cooked vegetables and two rotis. Dinner could be the same as lunch but taken three to four hours before bedtime. A weekly day of fasting revives the digestion system. Various techniques such as hot and cold fermentation, mud bath, hip bath and immersion bath are included in the weight-loss package but the focus rests on correct diet. Homeopathy‘According to the constitution of the patients, medicines are prescribed, as there are no set medicines in homeopathy,’ says Dr K M Chopra. He adds, ‘There are certain medicines such as fucus-vesiculosus (mother-tincture), calotropis (mother-tincture), antimonum crudum, calcaria-carb and graphite which are prescribed to obese patients, depending on the cause.’ He states that taking the medicines on time and avoiding carbohydrates should be beneficial. He recommends consultation before taking medicines. AyurvedaIn ayurveda, people are classified according to three prakritis, namely vata, pitta, and kapha. One of these is dominant, though the other two may also be present in smaller ratios. The kapha prakriti is excessively prone to obesity. Dr Sanooj Edathottiyil, consultant physician at Santhigram Kerala Ayurvedic Centre, says that diets and medicines are prescribed according to each person’s prakriti. Certain herbs are beneficial in reducing the effect of one or the other type. Cleansing herbs like guggul and pungents like clove and ginger bring balance to kapha. Ginger increases internal heat and nourishing herbs like ashwagandha bring balance to vata. Herbs like aloe, dandelion and burdock improve fat metabolism, reducing the pitta effect. ‘Eliminating fat through ayurvedic massages is very popular nowadays. Many have successfully lost weight in kilos and inches through the medicated powder massage udwarthana,’ says Dr Edathottiyil. Dr Edathottiyil concludes, ‘Weight gain can be easily controlled by ameliorating the lifestyle. Always remember that divaswapna or sleeping during the day is a major cause of weight gain.’ AcupressureDr Sambit Pattanaik, a Delhi-based acupressure therapist, suggests ways to overcome weight-related problems. o Stomach 21: Popularly known as the Abdomen Point, located by keeping the fingers of the left hand together and straight, then placing the tip of the index finger by the umbilicus. The point lies just below the web between the ring finger and little finger.o Leg Point 1: It is located four fingerbreadths below the lower level of the kneecap and a fingerbreadth outside the shinbone in the soft tissue.o Spleen 10: It is also called Knee Point-6, located at a level three fingerbreadths above the upper border of the kneecap; it is a vertical up-line on the inner thigh.o Pericardium 6: It is also called the Wristhand Point, located on the palm side of the forearm, three fingerbreadths above the middle of the wrist crease.o Ear Point1: This point lies immediately behind the end of the ridge. ‘There are several other acupressure points on the earlobe that control taste and appetite. The upper palate acupressure point is located in the center of the earlobe about 1.25 centimeters from the bottom of the earlobe. The lower palate acupressure point is located about a centimeter above that point. Halfway between these points is the tongue point that affects sensory organs and small glands that function especially in the taking of food. By applying pressure to these points on the earlobe, appetite can be suppressed,’ says Dr Pattanaik. He adds, ‘This method of appetite control is very popular these days.’ Getting rid of extra kilos may be tough, but it’s not impossible. Keep a food diary; this will help pinpoint the flaws. Be happy with every small change you’ve been able to make permanently and finally, be relentless. Contact: Dr Sambit Pattanaik (acupressure): (0) 9868049433Dr K M Chopra (homoeopathy): (0) 9811600239Dr Rajiv Rastogi (naturopathy): (011) 28520430-2
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