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Are you watching your diet?

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Last updated on: December 13, 2004 18:17 IST

Samreedhi SharmaLook good, eat right, work out well and lose weight, was fitness expert Samreedhi Sharma's advice to Get Ahead readers in her hour-long chat.

Here's more, in the transcript of that chat.

Rachna: I want to look slim and trim. I don't get time to work out. I walk for 10 minutes a day. My height is 5'2.5" and my weight is 60 kilos. I want to lose weight from my upper and lower back. I look so fat. Please suggest an easy way to lose weight and look slim.

Samreedhi Sharma: To lose weight, you must control what you eat. Avoid fried, refined and processed foods and excess sweets. Eat four to five meals a day. Never skip breakfast and eat lots of fruits and vegetables throughout the day.

As far as exercise goes, try to work out at a gym, walk or join a group class. If you do not have time, walk on any one day of the week, and exercise for the two other days during the weekend. Progress might be slow, but it will be steady.

nisha: I want to know how to avoid overeating and to lose weight. I work at a private firm, and my job is a table job. Please help me out.

Samreedhi Sharma: You need to be more active. Try and make it a point to get up from your desk from time to time, use the staircases instead of the lift. Walk to the station/bus stop. If all this sounds boring, join an interesting activity, like tennis/ swimming/ gymming/ dance after work hours and sweat away those calories!

Ravi: I am 30, M, 5.6, 63 kgs. I am working out since the last four months to reduce my tummy, but with no results. I spend 30 minutes on cardio and 30 minutes on weights/ abs on alternate days (4-5 days a week). I am drinking atleast three litres of water every day. What is the missing piece in the puzzle?

Samreedhi Sharma: Hi! Let me congratulate you on your dedication first! Are you keeping a watch on your diet? If you eat too many starchy/fried or refined foods, chances are all the 'extra' calories are being stored as fat. Consume more fresh fruits and vegetables (at least 4-6 servings per day) and see the difference.

priya: I am addicted to colas and have had a miscarriage. I want to reduce my stomach. The problem is, I really don't get time to exercise. Can you suggest something to help me?

Samreedhi Sharma: Switch from colas to nariyal pani or nimbu pani. If you want that 'perfect figure', you must find time to exercise. Choose an activity you like. Believe me, you will find time for it!

jai: I travel a lot in my job as a marketing manager. I have put on a lot of weight thanks to junk food. I want to reduce weight. Help!

Samreedhi Sharma: Modify the amount of food you eat at one sitting, i e if you eat four Naans, eat three. And then reduce it to one. Make wise choices in your food, like Naan without butter. Opt for steamed rice over fried rice. Avoid rich gravies. Carry fruit with you at all times so you are never stranded without food. This way, when you are hungry, you have a healthy alternative with you. Munch on Khakras, wholewheat snacks etc. And stop loading your body with junk. Make a conscious attempt to eat healthy!

anna: I am 35, female and weigh around 51 kgs. My height is 4'11". Am I overweight? I have joined a gym to tone up, but don't seem to be getting the desired results. What do I do?

Samreedhi Sharma: You are in the right weight category. If you are not satisfied with the result, maybe you are not training right. Speak to your trainer. Ask him/ her to change your workout. Explain your goals to him/ her. Watch your food, too!

smr: Any remedy for depressing thunder thighs?

Samreedhi Sharma: You cannot spot reduce, i e lose weight only in one particular area of the body. But you can burn fat overall by doing cardio exercises, i e walking, running/ swimming/ cycling/ jogging. You can tone your thighs by weight training. All this will definitely steal your 'thunder'!

rajesh: What is the ideal weight for a 26-year-old guy who is 167 cm tall?

Samreedhi Sharma: Assuming you have a medium body frame, you should weigh 61 to 67 kilos.

sahil: I am 20 years old. My height is 5'7" and I weigh 65 kilos. However, my body fat ratio is 22.5 percen. Is that bad? Any comments/ suggestions?

Samreedhi Sharma: The ideal fat ratio for males should be between 12 and 18 percent. For women it should be between 18 to 25 percent. Your ratio is high for your age. Your weight is in the ideal range but, in the long run, you may need to lose weight. Why not correct it rightaway? Do cardio activities (30 minutes for three days), and a little bit of weight training (20-25 mins for three days), and you will be surprised at the dramatic change in your appearance in three months!

vijaya: Will you put on weight if you eat dry fruits?

Samreedhi Sharma: Dry fruits are calorie dense. If you eat them within a limit (five to 10 gms/ day), and don't eat any other calorie dense foods, you won't gain weight. But if you eat lots of refined/ fried foods, you will!

rahul: I have a lot of fat towards my abdomen, even though I go to the gym every day. Are there any hereditary reasons for this?

Samreedhi Sharma: Where the fat will deposit in the body is decided by your genes. Men are usually apple-shaped, ie they gain fat around the midsection and chest, while women are pear-shaped, ie they gain fat in the lower body. Fat is always burnt last from the place where it was deposited first. So while you cannot spot reduce, you can keep exercising and toning those muscles. And believe me, you will get those fab abs!

fitnessfreak: I find that I have a lot of fat in my lower abs. I used to play every day earlier. My diet is usually south Indian vegetarian food. What should I do to reduce the fat?

Samreedhi Sharma: You probably use too much coconut in your food preparations. Reduce or avoid that and continue your outdoor activities as before.

shobhit: How do we get rid of loose skin that gets formed after weight reduction?

Samreedhi Sharma: You can go for a body massage. Or consult a skin specialist. If you have lost weight just by dieting, start weight training -- it will make a tremendous change.

arunrabbit: I am a male, 17 years old, 5'8", and I weigh 78 kilos. Most of the fat is deposisted in my chest. How much should I work out every day?

Samreedhi Sharma: Start with one hour a day for five days. Your routine should be 30 minutes of cardio, followed by 20 to 30 minutes of gymming. And you will be fine!

KooolRahul: What is the minimum amount of water you should drink every day?

Samrredhi Sharma: You should drink a minimum of one litre of water every day!

priti: I am a sofwtare engineer and I really like to keep myself fit. But I have really no time to work out. How do I keep myself in shape? Which exercises are good for reducing thighs, hips and shoulders?

Samreedhi Sharma: Hire a personal trainer for three months. Learn to exercise with correct techniques on your own and work out whenever it is convenient for you. I could tell you exercises, but you could hurt yourself without guidance.

sibi: What is the ideal weight for a male, aged 29 and is 171 cm?

Samreedhi Sharma: Assuming you have a medium body frame: 63 to 69 kilos.

rinkeshjindal: Does taking B-Complex tablets increase metabolism and reduce weight?

Samreedhi Sharma: No, it does not increase metabolism or reduce weight. It just helps the body in energy metabolism, gives you more strength and prevents deficiencies.

Sanju: Does reducing rice intake help weight loss? What can I do to reduce my appetite?

Samreedhi Sharma: Have either rice or chapattis for every meal. We tend to eat both -- that causes weight gain. Exercise helps reduce appetite, so does having fixed meal times, including fibrous foods like raw vegetables, fruits, whole grains, etc.

pam: Does drinking whisky every day increase weight? Should you drink beer to control weight?

Samreedhi Sharma: Alcohol slows down your metabolism. And fat from alcohol is usually deposited around your waist. It also dehydrates you, so you get all puffy-eyed the next day. If you like your drink, no problem. But limit it to once a week or once in 10 days. Don't eat fried food/ nuts with it -- that adds calories. Have popcorn instead to cut calories.

abscookie: Is it necessary to wear tight inner clothes while exrcising or doing aerobics? I am 23, 5'11" and weigh 100 kilos.

Samreedhi Sharma: Wear fitted clothes, not tight ones. Your clothes should allow your skin to breathe, so choose cotton or spandex. Wear stuff you are comfortable in, not something that will make you feel conscious. Your clothes should give you leeway to bend, twist, run, etc.

rinkeshjindal: Do supplements like AyurSlim, etc, help reduce weight?

Samreedhi Sharma: NOOOOOO! Never take pills and powders to reduce weight. If these were infallible, no one in the world would be out of shape! Exercise and eat right -- it always works!

amit_s_mishra: People say drinking cold water increases fat burning. Is this correct?

Samreedhi Sharma: Totally untrue!

SID: Are there any schools where people can learn various massages or acupressure/ acupuncture -- schools of alternative healing?

Samreedhi Sharma: Yes, there are. Please search through

thilak: Does drinking hot water burns calories and fats?

Samreedhi Sharma: No, my friend. If that was the case, no one would be fat in the whole wide world!

venky: What is this deal about chewing food? I have heard that chewing food helps digest food quicker, hence you don't tend to put on weight. Is this true?

Samreedhi Sharma: In a way, yes. When you chew food, you eat slowly. It takes 20 minutes for the signal that food has reached your stomach to reach your brain. So you tend to eat less, since you feel full -- this way, you do not gain weight.

devjanirajat: I have flat feet. What is the best exercise to lose weight?

Samreedhi Sharma: If your flat feet are not causing any physiological problems, you can exercise like any other person. If they do, please get special shoes/ insoles for flat feet and wear them when exercising.

Shalini: I am a female, 28 years old, 5'1" tall and weigh 50 kilos. I started working out on the treadmill every day for 35 minutes and then the stepper for 20 minutes recently. But this doesn't seem to be reducing the excess fat on my thighs, waist and hips. Can you please suggest what I need to do? I have also been suffering from severe loss of hair.

Samreedhi Sharma: You are in the ideal weight range. You may have a zinc deficiency (Read my article: 100% healthy? You may not be!). Ask your doctor to give you a zinc supplement. Start weight training. It will definitely reshape your lower body.

swami: Hi. Am 24 years old, 5'10" and weigh 65 kilos. I want to put on weight and get stronger. What do you suggest? How long will it take?

Samreedhi Sharma: Join a gym. Start eating right. Drink lots of water and train smart, not just hard. How long it will take depends on how much change you want to see and how much effort you are putting in.

ram: What's the the best exercise for the lower abdomen? Also, I experience pain in my lower back after running seven kilometres for about 30 minutes. Please advise.

Samreedhi Sharma: Most ab crunches work your lower and upper abs. You need to strengthen your abs and back muscles for the lower back pain to go away. Also stretch your lower back (consult a good trainer first), after you finish running. It will help!

mira: I am 25, work from 8.30 am to 6.30 pm, and then go for my MBA classes from 7 pm to 9 pm? How do I inculcate exercise in my daily routine?

Samreedhi Sharma: Work out mornings -- three times a week from 7 am to 7.45 am!

swimmer: What is the right weight for a male, 33 years old, 5'10", medium frame? Is swimming a good workout form or does it need to be supplemented by other cardio forms, weight training, etc?

Samreedhi Sharma: Hi, you need to be 68 to 75 kilos. Swimming is good. Continue it if you enjoy it. If you can, try adding weight training to your routine -- for just 20 to 25 minutes thrice a week.

bobiyer: I don't get sound sleep. Please help.

Samreedhi Sharma: Are you stressed? Deal with what is keeping you awake. Doing any kind of exercise will also ensure a good sleep. Have a warm bath two hours before bedtime. A glass of hot milk will also help you fall asleep. No matter what time you sleep, wake up at the same time so you feel sleepy at the end of the day.

Imzi: In last two months or so, I have gained five kilos. I am 5'5" tall, male and weigh 69 kilos. I have not been working out for the last three months. I have started working out and am on a diet which consists of fruits, raw vegetables and juices. I have popcorn and peanuts for snacks. I have to lose eight kilos soon. Is my diet okay? Would you like to add or eliminate any of the things from it?

Samreedhi Sharma: Do not ignore cereals and pulses in your diet. Drink milk too. If you are a non-vegetarian, eat chicken, eggs and fish once in a while.

mira: Where in Delhi can I do a fitness instructor's course? What is the average cost of such courses?

Samreedhi Sharma: I don't know about Delhi, but you can do courses online. It will be better if you have a fitness/ science background. Check out ACE (American Council of Exercise), ISSA (Interntional Sports Science Association), ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine). I run a fitness academy too, AFE (Academy of Fitness Education).

vaibhav: I am 28/ 6 feet/ 89 kilos. Am I overweight? I often have backaches and am desperate to solve this problem. I work from 9 am to 9 pm. My job involves sitting for 12 hours. What should I do to reduce weight and prevent backache? My sitting position is good.

Samreedhi Sharma: Please go in for an X-ray and consult a good physiotherapist.

suhasnw: Can I do a daily surya namaskar in the evenings instead of mornings?

Samreedhi Sharma: Yes, but only if your last meal was two to two-and-a-half hours ago.

dd: I suffer from asthma. Please suggest some exercises for me.

Samreedhi Sharma: Never do any exercises that make you hold your breath. Always keep your inhaler close at hand. If you walk or do aerobics, try to not get too out of breath. Swimming is also considered a good exercise for asthmatics, but do it only with a trained coach/ lifeguard around.

vaibhav: Does drinking milk increase weight?

Samreedhi Sharma: No, but skimming the milk (removing the malai) helps cut fat calories.

rupal: How can I get shining skin? What diet should I follow?

Samreedhi Sharma: Drink lots of water, exercise regularly. That will get the blood circulating and throw out all the toxins through sweat!

Photograph: Ashish Rane, courtesy Mid-day