Your body’s natural workings go AWOL from spending nights under artificial lights.

I worked for a year at a call-centre. I quit as I couldn’t take the night-shifts, which caused terrible headaches. I aim to take up a regular 9 to 5 job after a break. But I feel disoriented. If I eat even a slice of bread, my head throbs and I fear it’ll turn into a full-blown headache. Could you guide me by giving me a time-table? I also want to lose about 5 kg. I’m 27.

Anuskha A.

Essentially, your body’s natural workings have gone AWOL from spending nights under artificial lights. It has suppressed the sleep hormone — melatonin; a sleep-debt has been created. As your digestive system is out-of-sync from this unnatural lifestyle, the stomach secretes acids and gases that cause those headaches. As sleep is your key to balance, we’ll start your time-table night onwards:

9 to 10 p.m. Darken the room, lie in bed and prepare for sleep. Darkness raises the melatonin. Lying down slows the body’s rhythms, allows it to relax and drift into quality sleep. Be disciplined about your bedtime and you’ll soon feel a beautiful sense of well-being steal into you.

5 to 7 a.m. Wake up sans an alarm. Drink warm jeera water. Empty your stomach. Read a page of something spiritually inspiring, then write it verbatim in a notebook. Nothing beats starting the day on a peaceful, exalting note. Next, do stationary cycling, dance, jog or walk for 30 minutes to get your circulation going. Drink two glasses of water.

7 to 9 a.m. Soak in the morning sunlight for 45 minutes to re-set your natural sleep-wake cycle. Have a balanced breakfast of carbs and proteins — say, two idlis steamed with sprouts, or egg with two slices of wholewheat bread.

9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Run errands, study to help your career, do something creative, help somebody… If you feel hungry, stand on your weighing scale — the false craving vanishes instantly. Drink water — thirst is often mistaken for hunger.

12 to 3.30 p.m. Lunch on dal, roti, salad, green leafy sabzi and buttermilk. Sit quietly for five minutes after eating. Stroll around for 15 minutes. Then, catch up on your correspondence, read, listen to music, daydream…

3.30 to 5 p.m. Down a cup of coffee sans sugar. At this time, your body is most flexible. Warm up with a fat-burning cardio, stretch, do abdominals, weight-training — at home/ gym/ class. Meditate. Eat a fruit.

5 to 7 p.m. Have an early dinner — a lighter version of lunch. As you must be in bed at 9 p.m., don’t delay dinner — there should be minimum two hours’ gap between supping and sleeping. Avoid violent films, crime serials, tearjerkers on TV. Stick to sitcoms.

On this full and fulfilling schedule, you’ll lose weight, feel fit, healthy, charged. Have a great life.

I’ve been advised by the doctor to walk half hour every day to lower my blood pressure. But I find walking boring. How can I make myself enjoy it?

Sukun T.

Simply by deciding to enjoy it. Make every stride you take symbolic of getting into Total Wellness. Take every step as a thanksgiving that you only have to do something as simple, as natural as walking for good health. See every step as healing, transforming, and creating inner peace and a beautiful order and balance.

Let walking be your personal meditation time when you commune with the rich natural wealth of flowering trees, fresh air, golden sunlight, the friendly tweets of birds… when else will you make the time to look around gladly and say, “Thank you for this beautiful world” to the maker. “Walking meditation is a wonderful way to learn how to live deeply each moment of our daily life,” says the Buddhist spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh.

Remember, you were born to walk. When you walk, your body walks, your heart walks, your mind walks, your very spirit walks. This is true recreation — a re-creation that makes you whole. Just get into the flow of the sacred rhythm of breath, air, life… watch the scene around you slow down… experience the great healing peace reign in you… This is what it is to be truly alive.

My dad had kidney stones in his 40s. I’m 42 and want to take preventive measures. I drink three litres of water every day. Is that sufficient? Should I do anything else? I’m worried. Please advise.

Rohit K.

Yes, three litres of water daily is sufficient. If your urine is light and clear, it means you’re not in the stone-zone. You can take three more risk-cutting steps:

Avoid salted foods (wafers and so on). And don’t sprinkle additional salt on your food.

Eat two sweet potatoes or carrots daily. Their Vitamin A content discourages formation of kidney stones.

Exercise — walk, cycle, swim. Regular exercise pushes calcium into the bones and prevents the minerals from hanging in the bloodstream.

Finally, don’t misuse your imagination by worrying — think creatively.

The writer is co-author of the book Fitness for Life.

Queries may be sent to life@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 23, 2012)
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