Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |   Volume 6, Issue 32, Tuesday, August 09, 2011



Pushing for push-ups

By Karim Waheed

When I announced this instalment of “Skip the Gym…” will cover push-ups, the editor of Star Lifestyle gave me “the look”. “Why are you being a sexist?” -- she asked.

I'm not sexist. I strongly believe in equality of the sexes; in some cases women are much stronger than men. But I understand why she, like most women [and men], would think push-ups are exclusively for men.

For ages, push-ups have been considered a military exercise -- used for men training in the army, inmates in prisons and boxers training for a fight. That's a cliché that should be busted in this age of gender equality. Push-ups are one of the best exercises for men AND women.

Why? Women should do push-ups to build upper body strength. Push-ups train the chest muscles, the triceps, the biceps and back. They also benefit the abdominal muscles.

Many women are afraid of doing push-ups because they think they will develop a large, unattractive “manly” physique. Or they're afraid of getting started because they think that push-ups are “too hard” for women.

If you start doing push-ups, you won't look like She-Hulk or those women from WWE [you'll need a whole lot of steroids to look like that, for starters]. You'll develop an enviable, toned body… think Angelina Jolie, Megan Fox, Katy Perry whose workout routines include push-ups.

The push-up is the ultimate barometer of fitness. It tests the whole body, engaging muscle groups in the arms, chest, abdomen, hips and legs. It requires the body to be taut like a plank with toes and palms on the floor. The act of lifting and lowering one's entire weight is taxing even for the very fit.

Push-ups are important for older people, too. The ability to do them more than once and with proper form is an important indicator of the capacity to withstand the rigours of aging.

Researchers who study the biomechanics of aging, for instance, note that push-ups can provide the strength and muscle memory to reach out and break a fall. When people fall forward, they typically reach out to catch themselves, ending in a move that mimics the push-up. The hands hit the ground, the wrists and arms absorb much of the impact, and the elbows bend slightly to reduce the force. And people who can't do a push-up may not be able to help themselves up if they do fall.

How to do a “real” push-up:

Lie chest-down with your hands at shoulder level, palms flat on the floor and slightly more than shoulder-width apart, your feet together and parallel to each other.

Look forward rather than down at the floor. The first contact you make with the floor with any part of the face should be your chin, not your nose.

Keep your legs straight and your toes tucked under your feet.

Straighten your arms as you push your body up off the floor. Keep your palms fixed at the same position and keep your body straight. Try not to bend or arch your upper or lower back as you push up. Exhale as your arms straighten out and pause for a moment.

Lower your body until chest touches the floor. Bend your arms and keep your palms in fixed position. Keep body straight, knees off the floor, and feet together. Inhale as you bend your arms.

Pause for a moment. Begin straightening your arms for a second push-up. Exhale as you raise your body.

Try starting with three sets of push-ups. Do as many reps as you can (read until failure) but try to do them perfectly, even if it means doing just one on your first day.

I realise this being the month of Ramadan, many might be wondering when to work out. For obvious reasons, it's not a good idea to exercise when you're fasting. You can work out about an hour after a meal (Sehri or Iftar).


Eating right during Iftar and Sehri


We all know that during Ramadan we get to “eat” twice a day - before sunrise (sehri) and after sunset (iftar). In between we fast for 14-15 hours (during summer) when we have to go to work. Therefore it is important that your body gets the right nutrients that will maximise your strength during the day.

So how to take advantage of food within the small hours we can eat? Well of course we need to eat the most nutritionally dense foods!

During sehri make sure you drink water first thing after waking up. Drink at least 2-3 cups of water, 8 oz. each. Then choose one source of protein, either chicken or fish, lightly steamed, grilled or curried. Make a big pot of vegetable curry with varieties of vegetables that are very filling -- pumpkin, green papaya, potatoes, gourd. Some nights it is also good to have a choice of leafy greens, fried bitter gourd or fried pointed gourd.

A bowl of daal or khichuri will cover your protein and carbohydrate needs as well. And then you can add lightly stirred vegetables with it. Or if you like salads then add raw, unsalted nuts -- almonds, cashews, walnuts -- or seeds like sunflower or pumpkin to your salad to make it delicious but healthy.

If you consider watching your portion size then you will have room for 1 small fruit such as apple, half a banana, ripe papaya, or star fruit (kamranga). Drink one last cup/glass of water 5 minutes after eating.

Fats are very important during this month as your body will be “holding on” to fats if you do not supply it with the right fats. So during the time you can eat try to consume 5-6 almonds or some other nuts and seeds. If you include fish and nuts both omega 3 and 6 will be covered.

You can also upgrade a few lifestyle habits. I recommend using neem leaf powder with a little bit of salt to clean your teeth and mouth. This is a healthy alternative as some toothpastes contain many toxic ingredients.

During Ramadan try to clean your teeth and mouth with a few natural ingredients that are anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Chewing on clove or mint leaves will also cleanse the mouth. Before having sehri please use a tongue cleaner to clean your tongue. Otherwise all “white layers” which are the accumulated toxins will be reabsorbed in the body. Even if you forget to brush you should never forget to clean your tongue!

Lastly, if you eat whole, nutrient dense and locally grown foods it will be filling and satisfying. Make sure you touch on all food categories - protein, carbohydrate, fat and vitamins/minerals. The choices I mentioned above will cover all of the categories.

Good food and sensible eating will help you get through tough times in Ramadan. And of course there will be indulges - but be mindful and your body will thank you.

I would like to recommend good health practices through diet and daily practices in today's article. If you have any questions during this month on health please feel free to send your questions to Star Lifestyle and I will answer them.


Good morning Chinatown

By Kaniska Chakraborty

Like most great cities, Calcutta boasts a Chinatown. Today, the hub of Chinatown, with its eateries and tanneries, have moved to the Eastern side of the City, in a place called Tangra. But they were very much a part of the Central Business District of Calcutta. In fact, it was right next to the police headquarters.

What remains today are a couple of old eateries and medicine shops. And makeshift stalls selling breakfast. Momos, meatball soups, steamed buns, fried crackers, dumplings of various sizes and shapes, fresh noodles, stewed liver, even some fresh greens and some fish.

I went there about five years back and remember a bustling street with at least fifteen stalls selling tasty morsels. So, when my friend from Mumbai came to Calcutta and I find out that Chinatown breakfast is on his bucket list, I was only too happy to accompany him.

The breakfast fever caught up with my wife as well and she decided to come along. The only hitch -- we were going on a weekday. The vendors tend to wrap up business and make way for office-goers by 7.30 in the morning. Which meant to do any justice to the place, we needed to be there by 6.30, a prospect that did not please my friend at all, neither did it cut much ice with the wife. In fact, I had to do my fair bit of emotional blackmail to ensure she comes along.

Steady drizzle since morning told us that the hot momos and the soup would be welcome. After a minor search, we found the alley. And we were disappointed.

Precisely four stalls, all with identical steamers, all looking like they sell the same stuff. My friend tried his best not to hit me over the head for dragging him out of a comfy hotel bed at 5.30 in the morning.

My wife was not so subtle. “Is this it?” is a civilised translation of her choice words. Suitably chastened, I walked toward one of those stalls, the one that had a few customers. Thankfully, my wife and my friend followed.

As we stood by the stall and wondered what do we do and in our respective minds worked out plan B, the lady who owned the stall took off the lid of the steamer. A warm mist of mildly spicy meat aroma hit us. It was magic.

We forgot that there were too few stalls. We gamely dug into whatever was on sale. And soon we hit pay dirt. A stall selling glistening meat patties. The same stall had fried sweet rice balls with sesame and nut filling. They also had a kind of fritter made with cucumber. The momos were absolutely average. We found some steamed buns as well with some mystery meat filling. There was meatball soup, to be perked up with bright red sauce of questionable ingredients.

We ate them all. My wife even bought some fresh greens. We also wandered into an old medicine shop to discover an equally old lady who refused to be photographed since her hair was wet from the drizzle! True to form, that shop had an abacus on the counter. A shop that belongs to a different era, a different setting.

We forgot our initial hesitation (putting it mildly) and came back happy souls. One thing kept me thinking all along though. Are momos of Chinese origin? Or are they Tibetan in nature.

Let us leave global diplomacy to others.

Photo: Kaniska Chakraborty


Ecstasy's Eid collection

Ecstasy has introduced a new style of cartoon-based T-shirts for trendy women. Besides this, it is also offering outfits with corporate and casual outlooks. The range of jeans is a special line of Ecstacy and is available at all outlets of Ecstasy.

Tohu's Creations

Keeping Eid in mind, fashion house Tohu's Creations presents Eid collection that will surely attract the buyer's. The dresses in the Eid Collection include shalwar kameez, sari, fatua for both male and female and panjabi-pyjama for men. For children Tohu's Creations is presenting three-piece, panjabi and fatua. Price range of these dresses is between Tk300 and Tk10000. Phone no: 01711-934851.


Like every year fashion house Nogordola has presented its Eid collection on a particular subject. This year's theme is ornaments with ancient designs.

Saris, shalwar kameez sets, panjabis, dhuti-fatuas, fatuas for women, skirts, shirts and saris for children are available in Nogordola's collection. Cosy cotton, voile, tant, nip, slab, khadi, muslin, endi cotton, endi silk, half silk, silk and dhupian are the dress materials that have been used this year. Nogordola has also introduced Angrakkha, long kameez, kaptan in its collection.

Shalwar kameez sets from Tk1290 to Tk7500, fatuas (boys) from Tk490 to Tk990, fatuas (girl) between Tk490 to Tk1090, saris from Tk1290 to Tk6590, panjabis from Tk690 to Tk1890, dhuti-fatua from Tk650 to Tk850, kurti (girls) from Tk690 to Tk790 and capri from Tk990 to Tk1590.


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