I am confident and bold, but I have a stuttering problem. My interviews come a cropper due to this. I’m taking therapy to overcome it. Can you suggest ways to reduce stuttering?

— Omkar K. V.

It’s great that you’re already in therapy. Here is what you can do: Write out a sample interview with dialogues. Every day, read the questions and answers out loud in slow, measured tones. Whenever you are about to stutter, pause, take two deep breaths, and continue.

If there are any specific words that you stumble on, say them in sing-song tones.

Speak at a comfortably slow pace. Don’t worry about what other people will think. You can also visualise the first two or three words, see them spelt out in your mind’s eye. Visualising helps the words flow out of your lips.

Speak a tad louder than you usually do. It stops the stutter.

Often, a stressful situation can act as a trigger to stutter. Keep thinking, “Everything is fine. I’m on top of the situation.”

The most important thing is to believe in your therapies. Essentially, you’re training your brain to have ‘competing responses’ by practising them daily. For the new responses to become a habit it can take one to two years. Just relax, and keep practising.

I’m a 58-year-old man. I was recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. After the initial shock, medication aided with exercise and diet control helped bring my sugar levels within acceptable parameters. I walk/ jog 5–6 km a day, do yoga, and eat a balanced diet. I’m 5 ft 7 inches tall, and weigh 70 kg. What can I eat before jogging and after exercise? Is avocado better than apple/ pear?

— (Name withheld on request)

I read your letter with great interest. Congrats! You’re on the right track! I’d like to cover two more points:

Don’t get tense about the term ‘Type 2 diabetes’. It doesn’t mean it’s a more intense form. Type 1 denotes the diabetes that some folks are born with. Type 2 denotes the diabetes that sets in adulthood and is normally due to an unhealthy lifestyle.

At 5 ft 7 inches, your ideal weight according to your wrist circumference ought to be: 7-plus inches — 67 kg; 6.5 to 7 inches — 61 kg; below 6.5 inches — 54 kg. These are only indicative. The important thing is to reach a weight where you feel trim, light, healthy.

To answer your questions:

Your diet and exercise plans are good. Since they’re getting the desired result, stay with them.

Apples and pears are good fruits. Avocados, however, contain more fat and are not recommended for weight loss.

Have a small banana half-an-hour before you jog/ walk. Wash it down with a few sips of low-fat milk.

After exercise, have some healthy protein — moong sprouts, steamed broccoli or two egg whites.

Finally, choose brown rice (low glycemic index), black beans (improves insulin resistance), and flax seeds (improves insulin sensitivity).

My blood pressure was normal when I was taking a brisk walk in the morning. Now, I’m not able to walk fast as it hurts my knees. Please advise how to maintain normal blood pressure without walking fast.

— P.R.K. Rao

You don’t have to walk briskly to lower your blood pressure. Walk at a comfortable pace. Sport good, thick-heeled walking shoes to minimise the impact on the joints.

The better alternative is to swim. It’s a non-weight-bearing exercise, and your knees will love it while your blood pressure will remain on the lower, healthier side.

You could also make some small changes:

Lower your salt intake. So as not to feel deprived, add tangy herbs like mint leaves, coriander leaves or tulsi leaves. The freshness they provide is amazing!

Work towards harmony (rather than being right). Working towards harmonious relationships has a great healing effect on the heart and blood vessels. The opposite happens when we choose to argue, bargain, or calculate.

Chant for a loved one. Initially, chanting may raise the blood pressure, but as you get into the continuous peaceful rhythm, it drops about five points and stays there. When you take the responsibility to chant for another person’s good health, you tend to be regular and sincere about it.

Strengthen your knees with this exercise: Sit on a chair. Raise your left leg until the knee is straight and leg is parallel to floor. Hold to a count of five. Repeat three times. Now do this with your right leg.

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

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