January marks the first month of a new year, and this is the month wherein the resolutions are made, and people get focused on trying to stay in good health and knock off the extra weight, thus making this month a healthy weight Awareness Month. So in honor of the month of new beginnings, we at Medi circle have become the series wherein we are interviewing the experts in the field of health and wellness to give out correct information to our viewers and readers. In this initiative.
Mehar Panjwani, Dietician and Nutritionist, has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a writer, speaker, certified diabetes educator, and a plant-based health and wellness consultant. She regularly contributes to the Times of India, Mumbai Mirror, and Rishimukh ie. the Art of Living magazine, journals, and periodicals across metros in India.
Muscle mass is heavier than fat mass
Mehar explains what is Healthy-fat and Unhealthy-thin, “It's all about their muscle composition and their fat percentage. The truth is that it's the muscle weight that matters. Let's assume a person who's been weight training for a couple of years and has built a good muscle mass, that person will show more weight on the weighing scale, but if we look at the body fat percentage, it will not be more than 7% to max 12%, it means that the person’s weight is normal because the reality is that muscle weighs more than fat. When I place a chunk of muscle on the scale or a chunk of fat on the scale, the fat will be of less weight and shapeless, but the muscle will be firm and toned while weighing more compared to the fat, which may look the same from far. So in that case, even if the patient is looking huge and carrying more muscle and showing more weight in totality, because of the muscle, I consider it as a healthy way to be with that kind of body composition. Whereas if there's a patient who is very thin, but when we look at the body fat analysis, it shows that the fat percentage is very high, and the muscle composition is low, it is not good. So the body composition gives us the true picture of how healthy the person is,’’ she says.
It's all about the determination
Mehar underlines the facts and criteria considered in fat loss, “Fat loss is primarily a lifestyle modification, and it is multifactorial, it's not something which is to do with a particular factor. The main factor is the way we choose to eat. Other factors are whether we choose to be physically active, or the quality of sleep, the way we handle our stress, the way we handle our emotions etc. There may be exceptions, like medical reasons like hormonal imbalance, or very strong genetic factors, which may toggle in between for some cases, but in spite of having thyroid or any medical discrepancies, patients still land up losing weight, even seniors, who are not very physically active and who have challenged medical anomalies, like celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome, land up losing weight. Hence your inner mindset, and the way you are motivated to touch the goal is ultimately what matters, just by keeping themselves physically active and eating right, and of course, mastering their mind. I've had patients who have a hard time with alcohol, who were not ready to give up that addiction and gradually when they start doing breathwork they empower and control their emotions in a better way. So by preferring the right choice of foods, or staying away from alcohol which gives additional calories and due to so many changes like that they were able to sail back into their normal levels of weight, which is the desired weight for their height and body. Hence that is why I think it's all about the determination, one procures towards achieving their goals and mastering your lifestyle. The medium could be via meditation, or via resonating with some kind of chants, there are so many ways and ultimately it's up to us,’’ she says.
One must not look back after they have started
Mehar shares her views on how to lose weight and maintain a healthy body, “One must not look back after they have started. There are layers of combinations, which the patients go through:
- Their medical reports
- Supplements they take
- Recall of their lifestyle, and we make some changes, and they are asked to maintain this into our food recall diary
- Ask them to exercise daily
- After the first consultation, we expect them to come back with the diary
- Follow up weekly - it could be digital or in-person
- Then look into what has gone wrong
- Try to guide them
- Once they have started following what is recommended, they themselves see the changes, and then it's auto rolling
- The same diet doesn't work for like forever till the time they touch their target, alterations are required probably in a few weeks or a month, till the time they touch their goal
- Once the goal is reached - we tell them how to maintain it. So that is also taken care of because we don't want them to become half hangman in their life.
So we have programs wherein five kgs is the target within one month, you have something like seven kgs, in two months, we have Ten kgs in three months and 15 kgs in 4 months, and so on and so forth. There are patients who go through this, and they have seen changes and they're very satisfied with those goals,’’ she says.
The golden keys are inside us
Mehar sheds light on the subject, “Weight loss is a big challenge and so is maintaining it after you attain that ideal weight. But it's all in the mind, if the mind is strong, neither this nor that is a challenge. It's like the golden keys inside us. And we have to kind of use it and open the door for our well being. So it's all up to us, as far as food choices go, and being aware of how much one is losing and being in touch with your consultant and giving your 100%, it has to be at the epigenome of all agendas, then only will you see the change,’’ she says
Need to work more with the preventive aspect
Mehar shares her opinion on why the nutrition industry is not at its best in our country, ‘’In our country, we have two kinds of populations, one is rural and one is the urban. There are a lot of variances, even as far as the infrastructure of the country goes. The sad part is that even the soil is losing its core nutrients, let's say a few decades back if people were consuming the crops grown from a particular soil, they were getting more nutrients, but in today's times, because the soil is not up to the mark, there is a nutrient deprivation coming with that kind of soil, especially due to the use of fertilizers, insecticides which have made an impact on the assimilation of nutrients in the body. So we definitely need to supplement some specific nutrients if we are not getting them through natural sources. Also, there are many people in our country who don't even have money to eat one nominal square meal. So that is a big challenge. However even in the urban areas where people can afford, are deprived of nutrients as the whole point is that there is no awareness and there's overexposure of processed foods, canned foods, and refined foods. Which is not helping the urban population to procure the actual nutrients required for their immunity. So, these are some things which definitely have to be looked into. And as health caretakers, we have to spread awareness. So, I hope we get more aware, and we work more with the preventive aspect rather than waiting for something to happen and then taking care of it. So the preventive measures would always be the best to look at when we talk about Health,’’ she says
Make changes in your lifestyle for weight loss
Mehar gives few tips for reaching our goals:
1. Try getting in touch with your inner energy through ‘Breathwork’
‘Breathwork’ is a practice of getting connected to one’s inner self. When we take up breathwork, which is a breathing pattern, ie. a Kriya. what happens is, during the process a lot of oxygen is exposed to each and every cell of our body, which gives our immunity a boost, and many clinical conditions come down and it also helps in building up your ‘Kundalini Shakti’, which means once you take this up, you don't have to walk towards your goals, your goals start coming towards you automatically. Hence you become a multitasker and a multi facilitator who can shine in your own light, you can also help others shine in their own life. So I feel this breathwork is a master controller even for your mind.
2. Make changes in your Lifestyle Management
-Get good sleep
-Good Water Intake (stay hydrated)
-Take up a physical activity which you love to do. Eg- weight training, a form of high-intensity yoga, swimming, or Zumba, etc.
3. Eating right
When it comes to eating, the basic principle we follow once we take the recall is that we deduct approximately about 500 kilocalories from a person’s previous diet, so that we see a change of about half a kg per week. The outcome of it is that you're burning up more calories because you become more physically active and definitely then one has to focus on low-calorie foods.
Points to remember about low-calorie foods
-The right amount of protein which is ‘Good high biological value protein’
-A lot of fiber in the diet so that you're feeling full and you're not hungry, and you have all your core nutrients going in.
4. A Well-balanced Nutrition
Reaching out to one’s fitness goals is also about taking good amounts of nutrients.
-Include dark green leafy vegetables Yellow-orange vegetables
-Healthy fats, coming from nuts and oilseeds
-Eat the right quantity of carbs
-Avoid binging into fried foods or sugary foods
-Start the meal with soups, salads, thin liquids like buttermilk, lemon juice, coconut water, all these have to be taken up as buffers, then indulgent to your main meal.
The right quantity, and the right quality of each and every food group has to be looked into and then a diet is prescribed, considering the previous history and the medical complications the person may have,” she says.
You can find Mehar Panjwani:
Consulting at :
Unique Hospital (Dr. Zubin Vaid)
Health First - Cardiac center (Dr. Amit Sharma)
The Other Song - International Academy of Homeopathy (Dr. R Sankaran)
Presentations on SlideShare: https://www.slideshare.net/meharpanjwani/
(Edited by Faryal Siddiqui)