Secrets of the slim

We all have that one friend, the one who hasn’t put on a kilo of fat since college. That’s the friend relishing every bite from entrée to dessert at a party, fitting into easy sizes, and never worrying about how he or she looks in photos. You, on the other hand, have grown to fear salad, hunt for trousers that flatten your tummy, and have to remember to suck it all in when someone shouts, “Say cheese!”

PlayHow did you get here? And how did your friend get so far elsewhere? What did you do that made you round, and what kept your friend trim? Health and weightloss advisers show you just where the two roads diverged, how little changes early on reap big benefits later, and how to ensure your children grow lean, healthy and happy.

Most nutritionists will track the bulge back to your teens, when you started chilling with your pals instead of heading to the playground. “With longer hours at school and tuitions after, how are you going to get the time for exercise?” asks obesity and health consultant Naini Setalvaad. “Unless you have a high metabolic rate, you’ll end up getting chubby right away!”

So trim down tuition time and get your kids to join the school sports team. “I used to play kho-kho, volleyball and throwball for school,” recalls publicity designer Pratha Narang, who was elected sports captain at school. This way she got all the exercise she needed to keep fit. Research shows that active habits through childhood will keep you fit and consistently healthy all the way into adulthood.

StudyPuberty brings more than just acne and mood swings, says nutritionist Venu Hirani. “Hormonal changes crank up the body mass, density and fat.” So, if your teen is feeling glum, don’t pamper them with ice cream. Take them hiking instead and let the outdoors do the trick!

Turn off the TV. Play a sport on Sunday as a family. And while you’re at it, make the right food choices. “We never eat packaged food,” says student Diana Mowdawala, whose family takes yoga classes together.

Active families pass on good habits to their kids. Fitness expert Leena Mogre agrees, “My mom, a bharatnatyam dancer, pushed me to work out, and I encourage my son much the same way.”

WOrkplaceOnce done with college, most of us settle down with jobs that make us sit at a desk all day. Long hours and ghoulish deadlines come at the cost of good sleep and regular meals. Canteen food brings on a  potbelly. And short, stress-filled breaths become the only way to operate. “I end up ordering pizza for dinner on most days,” says 24-year-old lawyer Param Sampat, who never makes it home before 10pm and still finds time for fitness. When he isn’t representing his law firm at court, he’s busy sweating it out on the football field. “We have regular inter-law firm tournaments, so we practice after work on weekdays and on the beach on weekends,” he explains.

If you’re not the football type, have low sugar smoothies and untoasted sandwiches for lunch. Healthy meals on time ensure you don’t binge. Nutritionist Rima Rao adds that regular walk breaks  help break down the fat, which otherwise accumulates as inches around your belly if you sit tight at the desk all day.

CoupleOnce hitched, sinking into that loveseat with your partner comes easily. “Comfort food creeps in to your daily diet when you’re in a happy place,” says health psychologist Seema Hingorany.

Research on newlyweds shows that most are prone to weight gain. “My in-laws love meat and their idea of greens was a bit of chopped cucumber on the side,” recalls Mogre, a vegetarian. So be smart and work around it. Mogre did just that by introducing tastier salads as a meal and the family grew to love it.

At the Bharucha home, parents Taima and Kyan schedule time for exercise. While Taima lost her post-partum belly by jumping in to regular exercise just a month after her first baby was born, Kyan took to the cricket pitch as a coach to kids.

Health experts say such a lifestyle helps you enter middle age slimmer and fitter, and if you have company doing it, that’s twice the incentive too.

From HT Brunch, July 21

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