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Over the past few decades, the average weight and waist circumference of both male and female Indians has been steadily increasing.
There are 30 million obese adults and 14.4 million obese children in India (and this data is from 2014-15).
There are a number of reasons as to why, and we’d like to help you understand the problem better. The solutions are rather straightforward, once we understand the real issues.
Let’s start with a story, and roll the clock back 50 years.
Whether one was a farmer or a city-dweller, times were different. The culture was different, and how we thought about work, activity, food was all drastically different.
The daily activity was high. Farming is a physically demanding activity, especially unaided by machines. Transportation did not deliver us from door to door and involved a reasonable amount of walking. All our household chores required a lot more work as well – from washing the clothes to drying them, to meal preparation. Everyone, irrespective of their job, moved a significant amount.
Their diet probably consisted of a lot of grain (rice or wheat mostly, depending on their geography), with seasonal, local vegetables thrown in. And the occasional serving of meat, if one was a meat-eater. Dairy was also available locally.
All foods were of high quality (especially compared to today), and the amount of junk foods available was close to zero.
While the amount of grain eaten back then was a lot, it was because calories aka energy was hard to come by. For the amount of physical activity they did on a day-to-day basis, they needed the calories.
With limited access and availability of TVs and social media, the evenings were spent in socialising and then going to sleep at a reasonable hour, and getting adequate quantity and quality sleep.
They did not carry work stress home.
This is not to say there was no stress – we are simply talking about taking work home, which a lot of us tend to do today.
Low activity, poor sleep, high-stress levels – they are individual problems that get compounded because of each other. Prolonged sitting, weak and tight muscles, poor joint mobility add to how our body thinks we are doing (rather poorly).
These send signals to our body that we are under constant stress, which the body interprets as “do what it takes to keep this going”.
Coupled with fast foods, extremely high-calorie eating and low nutrient intake – we end up putting on a lot of weight.
It is a downward spiral. The high stress and poor sleep increases our cravings for junk food, and the junk food increases our girth, and reduces our health, which in turn makes our stress levels higher and harder to fall asleep (sleep apnea, for example, has been linked to poor sleep routine and nutrient intake). Slowly but surely, this results in weight gain over the years.
Please note that this is not about being skinny or six-pack abs or any such thing. Presence of a high amount of adipose tissue (fat in the body) is unhealthy, but at the same time, unrealistic goals like single-digit body fat percentage are not appropriate and mentally unhealthy. Many times because of the drastic measure we take to get there or try to, they are downright unhealthy for us.
All of them are connected to us getting bigger. Poor nutrition is one of the pieces of the puzzle but it is the vicious cycle of all four (diet, activity, sleep, stress) that keeps worsening the situation.
That’s why, in theDaily9 coaching programme, we focus on small habits across all facets of your lifestyle. All the big rocks, and multiple ways to tackle those big rocks. Slowly and steadily, we chip away at our old habits and patterns, learn new ones, and solidify them.
The answer does not lie in living like a saint, in a cave and away from all modern advances. It lies in finding balance, and that’s not easy.
Don’t worry, we are here to guide and coach you.
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