Ways to wear workout gear

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I read this quote the other day – Don’t let anyone tell you that leggings aren’t pants – you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

Look around you and tell me what people are wearing around you. Think about how high heels have become passé and people have adopted sneakers and high tops for footwear and swapped expensive jeans for leggings. Workout gear has evolved a lot since the 70’s with moisture wicking fabrics, sweat proof technology built into fabrics and fit wear that actually claims to sculpt that derriere into shape while you wear it. It is no longer synonymous with boring tees, yoga pants, shorts ands strictly functional sportswear.

This trend was born out of functionality and necessity but also because people the world over are looking after their bodies now more than ever and want to focus on leading healthier lives. It is convenient and makes sense because you no longer need to lug an extra outfit to work when all you need to do is style your work wardrobe into a gym wardrobe with a few tweaks.

For some of us, athleisure is a trend that we hope will grow in leaps and bounds because there’s absolutely nothing comfier than wearing yoga pants or workout leggings. What exactly is athleisure, you might ask?

Since brands like Lululemon Athletica, Under Armour, Victoria’s Secret become wardrobe staples in and out of the gym, athleisure has become serious business even among high end designers with everyone embracing the trend. Retailers all over the world teamed up with well-known designers to create functional fitwear that you could wear outside our gym or workout class. Athleisure is an all encompassing trend that describes ‘apres sport’ or ‘gym to office’ clothes. Well, if social media and fashion blogs are anything to go by – we’ve got Victoria Secret models, Gigi Hadid, Gwen Stefani, Kendal and Kylie Jenner and just about any fashionista sporting the sports meets street style look. You would’ve seen influencers sport sneakers and high tops to the runway, evening soirees as they team it up with coats and blazers. Net-a-porter launched a clever Net-a-Sporter division last year to cater to this growing need of fitwear and outerwear everywhere. India has also seen an increase in homegrown brands adopting the idea of athleisure and eco conscious fit wear. Ethical clothing brands such as Stretchery make working out exciting, while you are doing your bit for the environment too.

To me, athleisure is a trend where balance is extremely crucial. There are several ways you can wear workout wear this year.

  • You can wear leggings with crop tops or bralettes for yoga.
  • Leggings and pair it with a nice jacket and high tops to work and meetings.
  • Add sneakers like Adidas Originals with a sexy black dress and a well tailored, fitted overcoat
  • Wear a dress with high tops and a fitted workout jacket
  • When in doubt, pick black leggings with white high tops and a crop top or a nice top and a well tailored jacket
  • Layering is extremely crucial and stick to neutrals like black, white and grey that are easy to pair and accessorize.
  • Wear a Stretchery racerback with fitted leggings or leggings and a nice cover up or jacket

I think that it’s absolutely fabulous that athleisure is becoming more and more mainstream. If you invest in quality workout clothes, fitness accessories, high tops and expensive sneakers – it’s great to be able to wear it to work or an evening out with friends. So long skinny jeans and fitted trousers, I am happy to lounge around in a yoga shirt and leggings. Grab a few of these online and you’ll a new shirt for every day of the week and you get to play around with looks and combinations. Head over to stretchery.com and pick a style that works for you. I personally love their racerbacks. Staying fit has never been so much fun.

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12 tips for a healthier holiday season.

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I absolutely love the holidays and who wouldn’t – you get to spend quality time with your family and friends, eat your favourite treats and spend nights by the fire. No matter where you live- the winter is synonymous with celebrations, late nights, rounds of cocktails, calorific food and a whole lots going out. Let’s face it we are social people and there’s really no point in missing out on all the fun Since time immemorial, our celebrations have revolved around a feast, social drinking and good company with ham or poultry, lots of wine and bubbly. Even disciplined folks have trouble resisting snacks at the party and tend to indulge during the festive season. The slight nip in the air, dip in the temperatures and the fact that its jacket season makes you want to indulge in rich calorific beverages and eat food that will help satiate and keep you warm. Luckily, the advent of winter also means you can layer up – if you dress sensibly, you can be clever about it and accentuate your best assets. Holiday weight gain for most of us might seem inevitable but the festivities and holiday cheer shouldn’t derail you from your diet and workout goals.

We end up starving ourselves and eating too little to fit into our clothes and then feel miserable after a few weeks of overindulging. The idea is to be consistent with your workouts and eat clean 80 percent of the time so you have some leeway for indulgences. Everyone’s got a vice – I love a nice steak, decadent cheesecakes and anything with nut butter, coconut or berries and frozen yoghurt. For some of you it could be your daily glass of vino or a few drinks with your partner post work. Don’t approach the holidays with guilt, anxiety and apprehension over what to eat and what to avoid this year.  Here are a few tips and tricks that have worked for me and they might work for you too.

  1. Portion control is key. Everyone’s going to be tempted to have that glass of vino or that key lime pie but you have to be able to stop at one. Enjoy your treat and indulge mindfully without feeling guilty afterwards but stop yourself from going for seconds.
  2. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Sit down and eat at the table. If you continue to graze at the table and nibble through the night – you will have no idea as to how much you’ve consumed.
  3. Try and incorporate some form of physical activity particularly when you can’t seem to find the time. Whether it’s a brisk walk, a long yoga session, swimming a few laps or a cross fit session- you’ll be happier and healthier for it. It’ll help you stay on track and the tequila shots and the wasabi prawns won’t hurt either.
  4. Try and eat something protein rich before you go out to a party. I swear by a stuffed omelet or a tuna salad with grilled vegetables to satiate me so I can nibble sensibly at the party.
  5. The festive season means late nights and eating binges. Try and keep healthy snacks like roasted foxnuts, salami rolls, apples and almond butter, veggies and hummus and unsalted nuts handy in case you feel like noshing on something. The protein and fat content in most of these will help stabilize blood sugar levels and keep your hunger at bay.
  6. I know you are tempted to drink those mimosas and sangria but stay away from sweetened cocktails and infusions. Pick a gin, vodka or whiskey if you absolutely must and drink it with a no calorie mixer like water, lemonade, and soda or mix soda with tonic for that extra bit of zing.
  7. Go meat free one day of the week. Detox your body with a few glasses of coconut water, herbal tea, fruits, cold pressed juices, and almonds. Have a light dinner with grilled vegetables, sautéed tofu and don’t add salt to anything. Use herbs and spices liberally to flavour your dishes. Your face won’t look puffy any longer and your system will appreciate the break.
  8. Stay away from aerated beverages, sweetened drinks, fruit juices and cocktails if you don’t want to put on weight around the middle. Drink herbal tea like green or oolong or white tea to help fight belly bloat, water retention and the caffeine will help with the puffiness too.
  9. Start your day with some restorative yoga and you’ll have more energy all day. If going to the gym seems like a trek with the traffic- log onto comor check out tone it up or P90 for prop free, home based workouts that will help get you toned for the season.
  10. Skip the baileys, café patron and the jaegermeister if you are trying to watch your weight. All that sugar from the shots will go straight to your middle and it’ll be the hardest to work off. If you absolutely must- opt for plain tequila made from agave that is lower in calories and sugar making it a wise flat belly choice.
  11. Sweat out the toxins. Spend some time in the sauna to help release the toxins, detoxify your skin, liver and organs and facilitate lymphatic drainage. Regular use of the sauna will help restore your skins radiant glow and get rid of the holiday water weight and puffiness.
  12. Skip the Indian sweets this winter and opt for a few squares of dark chocolate. Our favourite mithais are sugar bombs made with dairy, sugar and fat. Opt for poached fruits with some fresh yoghurt or cream or dark chocolate.

Good luck and happy holidays!

Six moves you need for a strong, fit body.

STRETCHERY0415_01_0407Erratic work schedules, peak hour traffic, a lot of traveling and the monsoons can wreak havoc on your exercise regime. Fret not, we’ve got you covered so you can no longer come up with an excuse to work out. This prop free workout can be done in your home, hotel room and when you are taking a lunch break at office. You can thank us later 🙂

I’ve always been an exercise nut and never feel good unless I’ve worked up a good sweat – at least on the weekdays. Unlike most women who spend all day on the treadmill, cross trainer and stair-master – I choose to divide my time between HIIT for cardio and squats, burpees, push ups and lunges. Using your own body weight for resistance has a ton of health benefits such as accelerating fat burning, breaking out of weight loss plateaus, lean muscle growth and kick starting the metabolism. Unlike cardio, the after burn with resistance training is even greater so you can burn calories even on a rest day when you are spending time on the couch over the weekend. Consistent body weight training improves your reflexes, increases your strength and raises your basal metabolic rate. I find that it becomes easier for me to put on lean muscle if I workout my legs consistently – squats, lunges and glute bridges work beautifully for me. After a year and a half of consistent leg days every weak and an emphasis on squats, lunges and glute bridges- my derriere looks more defined and I love the way my jeans and leggings fit now. It’s all about feeling comfortable with your body and embracing the way it looks. My upper body is still not half as strong as my legs so I swim whenever I get a chance and do push ups and TRX to work my upper body and strengthen my core, arms and chest to balance it out.

Squats – in the age of belfies or butt selfies, the booty has become extremely popular and if Instagram is anything to go by, it’s only becoming more popular. A strong toned derriere helps support your core and your spine and makes you look fabulous in jeans and shorts. The squat is the easiest way to tone those glutes, especially when you are pressed for time. Done regularly and with correct form, you can hope to see results in just a few weeks. Variations you can try – goblet squat, sumo squat, one-legged squat or jump squat.

Tip – pay attention to your form and make sure your knees don’t go over your toe line. Imagine that you are pushing your butt back into a chair and visualize sitting on that imaginary chair as you squat.

Push up – contrary to popular belief, push ups aren’t just for men and can do women a whole deal of good too. This no prop exercise isn’t easy to master but is a great way to tone and strengthen your arms, chest and stabilize your core. Done correctly, it can be used as a warm up or as cardio in between sets of resistance training. Variations to try – half push up, elbow push up, one arm push up and military push up.

Tip – pay attention to form and tighten your core and don’t let your belly hang loose when you are performing a push up. Remember even If you do three correctly, it’s better than you doing ten half assed push ups.

Burpees – this explosive full body exercise is a great way to bring in your cardio when you are pressed for time. It is dynamic, fast paced and extremely effective at toning the midsection and working up your heart rate. Put simply, the burpee is a squat, plank, push up and jump – working your entire body. There are several variations of the burpee and crossfitters, athletes and HIIT enthusiasts incorporate it into their workouts for efficiency and to maximize their workouts.

Plank – the only way to get rid of unsightly flab is to stabilize the core. The plank is the most effective exercise that engages your core, protects your back and helps tone and whittle the middle. You can start with a 30 second plank and work your way up to 3 minutes. At first, you will lose balance and struggle to stay up but it will get easier with time. Variations to try are the bench plank, wall plank, forearm plank, elbow plank and side plank.

Lunges – if you’ve seen Kayla Itsines, Beyonce, Ciara or Rihanna’s Instagram feed, you’ll see the emphasis they give to leg day. Lunges, like squats are a compound functional exercise that helps give you a shapely derriere and a nice set of legs you can flaunt. Variations to try – walking lunges, forward lunge and reverse lunge.

Tip – pay attention to form and make sure your knee doesn’t go over the toe line.

Glute Bridge – This is one of my favorite exercises as it gives the spine a nice massage and allows you to feel loose and limber. Done pretty often in yoga and pilates classes, it is used to stabilize your back and strengthen your glutes so you get a nice and round booty. Lie flat on your back with your feet bent at the knees. Contract your abs and push through your heels to lift your hips off the floor. Keep your heels firmly planted on the floor and bring your hips back gently to the floor. Repeat this 10-15 times and do 3 sets. You can thank me later.

Carry a water bottle, towel, anti-bacterial wipes a mat with you for core exercises. Make sure that you are wearing a high-impact full coverage sports bra and breathable workout clothing from Stretchery.

Do you love your body?

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“It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me” 
– Maya Angelou

The excerpt above is from a poem called ‘Phenomenal Woman’ by one of my favourite poets- Maya Angelou. A poet, civil rights activist and leader in her own right, Maya Angelou shows us that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and we must embrace and celebrate the body we are in.

A lot of us spend way too much time on glossy magazines, other people’s Instagram feeds while we subconsciously criticize and compare our bodies to airbrushed renditions on the media. We fail to realize just how beautiful, perfect and unique we are- irrespective of our size, measurements or the love handles. Photoshopping, cropping and airbrushing make dimples, crows feet, cellulite, fine lines, scars and wrinkles disappear with just a click but these imperfections are what make us unique and beautiful.

When I ask my friends if they love their bodies- there’s often a sullen pause because not many of us have really asked ourselves the question. We train too hard, eat too little and wear far too much make up and product in an attempt to fit in. Beauty has no standard and every body is beautiful in its own right. Social media, Instagram feeds have made it harder and harder for us to embrace our bodies. Everyone is constantly striving to achieve the perfect tan, the dreadful thigh gap, sculpted legs and of course the most coveted flat belly. This can be particularly dangerous for younger girls and even boys who are impressionable and don’t realize the ramifications of what they are doing to their bodies. They get moody, irritable, become unsocial and reserved and often end up with either anorexia, bulimia or orthorexia (eating too clean). A lot of teenagers steer clear of meals and drink juice only cleanses popularized by Oprah, Beyonce and Gwyneth Paltrow without the supervision of an adult or medical professional which can have devastating consequences on the heart, organs, skin and the bones.

I grew up in an all girls boarding school where people tried practically everything to stay skinny because to them being skinny meant looking good. While some of us didn’t succumb to the pressures of looking like our peers, a lot of us ate too little, worked out too hard and trained far too much- causing damage not just to our self esteems but our bodies too.

I, too, have struggled over the years with finding the right balance between loving your body and worrying too much. Having a balanced attitude towards diet, emotional wellbeing and fitness has helped me to transform my body and love it. I have an athletic built that allows me to put on muscle relatively quickly. Instead of shunning it and hiding behind baggy sweatshirts and loose clothes, I’ve learnt how to embrace it and dress right for my body type so I look and feel my best. To read my personal journey- http://scribbler.co/r/5353c76adb043cd2a0f43003/diary-of-an

While, it’s perfectly healthy to worry about your health and exercise restraint on calorific drinks, alcohol, sugar and processed foods; it’s very important to accept your body and love it just the way it is. Our bodies are beautiful and dynamic and constantly changing. So let go of your inhibitions and insecurities and embrace your body. Don’t be afraid of what people will think. Look after yourself and spend time styling your outfits, wearing comfortable lingerie, clothes that fit well and flatter your body shape. Loving your body means complimenting yourself when you look into the mirror every morning or allowing yourself to indulge in that glass of vino or a slice of cheesecake over the weekend without feeling guilty afterwards. Loving yourself comes with the understanding that no two bodies are identical and that you need to embrace the skin you are in without comparing yourself to others. There is nothing sexier than a confident woman who loves herself and the skin she’s in and you also come across more assertive and self assured.

Here are a few guidelines that will enable you to have a healthier relationship with your body-

  • Spend 15-20 minutes daily doing meditation or to practice mindfulness and express gratitude for all the blessings you’ve been given. Practicing the art of gratitude will give you renewed perspective on life.
  • Spend 30-45 minutes every morning doing restorative yoga poses, easy asanas and sun salutations followed by a few moments of pranayama and most importantly, shravasana or rest. Your body will thank you.
  • Atleast twice a week, engage your body in a HIIT workout (High intensity interval training). It’s the perfect way to tone your glutes, abs and thighs, get rid of unwanted fat and is a real calorie torcher- especially if you are pressed for time.
  • Go for a walk in the woods or in the park and try and walk at a medium pace for about 30-45 minutes a few times a week. Soak in the scenery, listen to the sounds of the birds and enjoy the gentle breeze. Switch off your electronic gadgets and devices and breathe in fresh air. Visualise each and every organ getting oxygenated with every breath.
  • Don’t set unrealistic body and fitness goals but enjoy the journey and watch your body change and transform as you emerge a stronger, fitter and leaner you.

If you are suffering from body image issues or know anyone close to you who is- please don’t hesitate to seek help. Speak to a family member or grown up and tell them what you are worried about. There are counselors, dieticians and psychologists near you that might be able to help you change these maladaptive behaviours so you can learn how to eat healthy, find a balance and learn how to love your body again.

“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.” ― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

Contributed by Jia Singh. Jia is a wellness consultant, nutritionist and food & travel writer.