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The world of wrestling teaches a lot – about facing a fight, falling and rising. Former wrestler Ritu Phogat, who now carries the epithet of ‘The Indian Tigress’ in the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) world, is a true blue example as someone who has always seen defeat with a positive lens.
“As a sportsperson wins and losses are always part of the game. The most important thing is to rise back stronger after the fall.” This excerpt from a caption of an Instagram post that she wrote after losing a crucial bout, tells you that the woman’s resolve is made of steel!
Ritu, who comes from the illustrious Phogat family that has done India proud on the wrestling front, competed at the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix Championship Final recently. Even though she lost, she hasn’t lost the faith to work harder to be the first ever women’s MMA world champion from India.
Coming from a family that has stuck to the traditional sport of wrestling, it was rather courageous and unusual of Ritu to pursue MMA. All of 27, Ritu, a Commonwealth wrestling gold medalist, started training at the age of 8. She was so passionate about her wrestling career that she dropped out of school to focus on it.
Patience, perseverance and dedication took her to greater heights by winning national championships and cementing her space with a gold at the 2016 Commonwealth Wrestling Championship in Singapore. Not one to rest on her laurels, Ritu continued her wrestling journey before moving to pursuit a new arena with MMA.
Even as the world grapples with the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic, she continues to challenge herself every day physically. And she truly believes that staying on top of our fitness is the need of the hour, even though it may have been a struggle these past two years.
“Frequent lockdowns have not only affected our motivation, it has also made it difficult to get to gyms or meet with our fitness instructor or workout buddies. However, taking care of our health should be our top priority, especially as the pandemic teaches us once again why good health is more valuable than any other possession,” Ritu Phogat tells HealthShots.
Apart from taking care of our mental well-being, good health has two essential components – a fitness routine and good nutrition, she believes.
For most people, staying motivated after an initial burst of workouts can be challenging, especially as they realize the hard work and the importance of staying committed on a long-term basis. One of the strategies to stay motivated is to set a fitness goal. However, it is equally important to keep it realistic. Breaking up your bigger goal into smaller attainable steps can also help you stay focused.
For instance, losing 10 kg in a month may seem like an uphill struggle initially, especially as the scale doesn’t show any immediate results. It is easy to lose one’s motivation when that happens. It is therefore more realistic to set an achievable goal. Achieving these smaller goals will help you stay motivated for the long run.
Mix up your exercise routine. Not only does it keep things interesting,it is also important to target different groups of muscles or attain different fitness goals. For instance, yoga can be mixed with strength training for better agility, building muscle tone, bones and core strength. Even variations to the same exercise routine can be useful. For example, if walking is your preferred routine, try different terrains, such as a park or wooded trail. You can also switch it up with running and occasional swimming.
A part of any exercise routine must be adequate rest and relaxation. Rest is important to relax our muscles and our overall health, especially when following a rigorous exercise routine. This includes taking time off from your work and exercise to follow a hobby or routine like meditation or catching up with friends. The other essential element is getting adequate sleep.
Lack of sleep has been associated with weight gain, impaired memory, trouble with concentration, mood changes, and chronic conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. Without adequate sleep, you are more likely to have poor balance, which when combined with lack of focus, makes you susceptible to accidents. In other words, lack of sleep can mean poor exercise results with a danger of accident.
While it is not practical or even desirable to count calories for each meal, it can be helpful to know your eating habits at the beginning of your fitness and nutrition journey. A food diary can be very useful in this regard. For a week, jot down each meal you take in a day, including snacks. At the end of the week, calculate your total calorie intake and break it down into macros, including carbs, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. This can be an illuminating look at our eating habits and often reveal our tendency to reach for unhealthy food for snacking or lack of particular food groups such as proteins.
Lack of protein intake is a common problem and it can have long-term consequences. Proteins are the building blocks of our body and an important component of organs like bones, tendons, and muscles. Ideally, every meal must have 0.8 grams of protein for every kilo of body weight in a day. This translates to 56 grams of protein for the average sedentary man and 46 grams for the
average sedentary woman. Keep in mind that this is at the lowest end of the spectrum. People who workout regularly need a much higher protein intake. In such cases, where the daily diet is falling short of the mark, you can add protein supplements.
Many people resort to skipping meals to restrict their calories. This can be very counterproductive. Not only does skipping meals slow down your metabolism, it can also set us up for a binge when we do eat 3 meals. In addition, we are more likely to make unhealthy choices when we reach that starving point. How many of us have reached out for highly processed foods like chips or biscuits because we were too hungry?
Similarly, hydration is critical for the body. It helps in regulating body temperature, preventing infections, lubricating joints, transporting nutrients to cells, and keeping our organs functioning properly. So, make sure you always have a bottle of water nearby and pack a healthy and tasty snack when you are on the move.
Good health is a blessing and one that we must diligently work for. But while physical health can be achieved through these tips, we must also focus on our mental and social health by ensuring we focus on our happiness and general well-being.