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Running Helped Me Fight Cancer: Samuel Chettiar

Life has given cancer survivor Samuel Chettiar a second chance after he was detected with Hodgkin Lymphoma (Stage 4) in 2008. And Chettiar, who will be participating in this Sunday’s Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (half marathon), credits his recovery to distance running.

In 2008 Chettiar consulted an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist after suffering from persistent cough and weight loss across nine months. The doctor found a lump below his right ear and asked him to undergo some tests.

The doctors later found three lumps in his neck and one under his right arm. Chettiar underwent 12 intense chemotherapy sessions across six months as the tumours were dealt with. “Thanks to my wife Annie’s relentless support, I survived those trying times,” he said.

After the treatment (in 2009), Chettiar began leading a normal life but gained a lot of weight. “One day (December, 2012), I realised that I just could not bend to tie my shoe laces.

That’s when I decided that I had to lose weight and my colleague Ravikant Malan introduced me to running last year. He told me that he ran 10 km twice a week. Inspired by him, I started running and in 100 days I lost 17 kg. Running has now become my passion.

Samuel Chettiar on one of his morning runs

I start my day with a run and this gives me energy to go through the whole day. Besides, it keeps my mind fresh and positive,” explained the 37-year-old Schneider Electric employee.

Chettiar, who runs an average 30 km a week, says running has helped him fight the cancer lumps that threatened to re-appear.

“Since 2009, I have been visiting the doctor for regular check-ups. I am in a state of remission — currently no cancer — but there is always the chance of recurrence.

Earlier whenever I visited the doctor for my tests (once every three to six months), I would worry about the reports. But now, I am confident that my results are going to be clear. Thanks to running, my cholesterol levels and blood pressure are normal too,” he explained.

The Malad resident is confident of completing the 21.09 km race on Sunday in under two hours. “I finished the Bangalore Marathon (10 km race) last year in an hour and three minutes. Then I did the Vasai-Virar half marathon in 2 hours 20 minutes.

This time, I am confident of finishing the race in less than 2 hours,” said Chettiar, who will be wearing a t-shirt that reads: ‘I won the race against cancer but I’m still running.’

“I hope I can inspire some cancer patients with this message,” said Chettiar, who has also registered for the Paris Marathon in April.

Latest Book of Fitness Expert Namita Jain SEXY@SIXTY Tells You What It Takes To Sail Through The 60s in Style

Instead of the time to settle into a rocking chair, 60 is now the age to become a glamorous grandmom. With the right food, exercise and a little bit of mindful thinking, you can stretch your youth to the next next decade. Fitness expert Namita Jain tells you how.

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FOCUS AREA: METABOLISM

And you thought your body only burned calories when you were sweating it out? Not so. Thanks to a process called metabolism, some calories are spent even when you are sitting down, and apparently doing nothing… Metabolism refers to the amount of energy in calories that the body uses up to maintain itself. And if you hope to have your cake and eat it too, even as you grow older, you may want to make this one your closest ally.

MASTER IT LIKE THIS

• Don’t fast. Eat
Skipping meals doesn’t help. Hunger causes a drop in blood sugar, and this in turn generates food cravings. Suddenly you want to binge on all those calorierich foods you were trying hard to avoid. Do: Eat small, nutritious meals every three hours to kickstart your metabolism and avoid hunger pangs.

• Don’t bring your book to the table
If you like to read and eat, you are likely to continue eating long after you are already full. Eating rapidly and at erratic times, too, affects your metabolism. Do: Eat slowly, pausing in between to check if you are full. Chew, don’t gulp. And relish every morsel that you take.

• Shop with a list and never on an empty stomach
Being hungry makes it more likely that you will make a beeline for those chocolate chip cookies. Also, not having a list makes you more prone to filling your trolley with indulgences you would not otherwise pick. Do: Eat a healthy snack before you go shopping. Be an informed shopper. Read labels to avoid making bad choices, such as packaged, ready-to-serve foods with added colours or preservatives. Stick to your list; don’t let the displays distract you.

• Get a glass of water
Feeling hungry? It might be water that your body is craving; a sign that is often mistaken for hunger. Do: Have eight to 10 glasses of water a day to keep yourself hydrated. Foods high in water content, such as watermelons, oranges, pineapples, tomatoes and cucumbers, will aid weight loss by filling you up without adding on calories.

FOCUS AILMENT: HYPERTENSION

Why the sobriquet silent killer, you ask? Nearly 35 per cent people with hypertension don’t know they have it, and are therefore unable to seek treatment for it. Contrary to popular perception, hypertension has nothing to do with being hyper (a common epithet directed at restless people who are unable to sit still for long). In fact, someone suffering from hypertension may seem outwardly calm and display no signs to suggest that there’s a storm raging inside.

WHY IT HAPPENS

• Heredity
Family history and genetic makeup do have a role to play, as some scientists have proved.

• Race, age and gender
It is believed that high blood pressure is common among people from the Indian subcontinent. As far as age and gender go, in the premenopausal years, women may enjoy greater protection against hypertension but after menopause, falling oestrogen levels may make them as susceptible to the condition as men.

• Lifestyle
Cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, high-salt processed foods... they seem like friends you can depend on to cope with tension. In reality, they are worse than foes, slowly nudging you towards hypertension. A sedentary lifestyle, stress and obesity only add to your woes.

5-POINT CHECKLIST

Here are five essential dietary recommendations for hypertension:
1. Eat fish and white meat instead of red meat. 2. Remove skin from poultry before cooking. 3. Use low-fat milk instead of whole milk. 4. Consume no more than two egg yolks per week. 5. Avoid packaged and precooked foods.
Beat BP with this exercise plan:

• Always begin your session with a gradual warm-up that lasts 10 minutes, and end it with a cool-down.

• The mainstay of your fitness regimen would be low-tomoderate impact cardiovascular exercise such as walking, bicycling, rowing, swimming, playing golf, low-to-moderate impact aerobics; it should be performed five to six days a week for 30 to 60 minutes. It will make your heart stronger, more efficient and
keep your weight
in check.

• Relaxation techniques make a useful addition to this repertoire. These may include the following: Simple deep breathing exercises are recommended to lower blood pressure. Repeat each exercise 12 to 15 times.

• Simple deep breathing :
Perform slow, deep inhalations and exhalations. Benefits: It increases lung capacity, improves concentration and brings a measure of calm to your mind.

• Diaphragm breathing:
Feel your stomach expanding as you inhale, and contracting as you exhale. Benefits: It strengthens the diaphragm, slows down the rate of respiration and alleviates anxiety.

FOCUS AREA: POSTURE

A combination of several factors gives rise to poor posture (strained back or stooped shoulders). If the natural curve of your spine (which takes a gentle, sloping S shape) is overly arched or flattened over long periods of time, it is only a matter of time before your spine turns stiff. Bad posture can be categorised (and carry scientific names too!) depending on which way your body tends to stoop. The most common ones are:

• Kyphosis: Or the hunchback posture. Here, your upper back is excessively rounded.

• Scoliosis: The sideways posture. Your spine tends to lean more to one side.

• Lordosis: The potbellied posture. Your lower spine tends to excessively curve inwards.

WHAT CAUSES THE STOOP?

• Impossibly high heels look delectable, but can take a toll on your spinal cord. Flaunt them, but only for shorter durations and when not too much walking/standing up is involved. Keep a pair of sensible and comfortable shoes handy in your car, to be slipped on when the party is over.

• You like to carry your world with you, in your suitcase. Lifting heavy luggage can result in back strain. When travelling, be careful while lifting or carrying heavy objects such as your suitcase, in order to avoid straining your back. Here’s how to do it right: Assume a wide stance, bend at the knees rather than at the waist, keep your back straight and lift slowly with your arms and legs, not your back.

• An improper bra fit is likely to tug at your breasts, and consequently at your back. Spend some time on getting the measurements right and try out different styles before choosing one that falls in line with your centre of gravity.

• “I feel a tugging pain in my lower back every time I try to get out of bed,” is a frequent complaint of a client of mine. An improper sleeping position may be to blame. Lying on your back forces your back to stay flat, thereby placing excessive pressure on your spine. If you tend to adopt this position in your sleep, place a pillow under your knees for support, and to prevent lower back pain. If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between slightly bent knees. It will ease the pressure and help maintain the natural curve of your spine.

• Being overweight affects your posture and overburdens your back. If you tend to accumulate fat on your abdomen, it makes you a prime candidate for lordosis (excessive inward curvature of the spine). Actively work towards keeping the kilos off, especially around the waist.

BABY-SOFT OR WRINKLE-RIDDEN?

Every woman seeks a genie in her bottle of lotion. Each time she opens it, she hopes to release the kindred spirit that will grant her eternal youth in the form of smooth, unblemished skin. But how about unlocking youthful energy from within you?

EAT

Your skin will thank you if you incorporate the following into your diet:

• CITRUS FRUITS. Oranges and lemons are bursting with vitamin C, which aids cellular regeneration and repair.

• FISH. It is anti-inflammatory and provides Omega-3 fatty acids, leaving you with a good skin tone.

• SPINACH. It contains lutein, which keeps your skin hydrated and younger looking.

• TOMATOES . They are rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. It is also believed to help prevent skin cancer.

• YOGHURT. It keeps your digestive system in shape, and your skin glowing with health.

DO

Since the appearance of your skin relies on supportive facial muscles, doing the following exercises every day will keep them toned and firm.

EYES

Gently tone the muscles of your eyes by pressing two fingers on each side of your head, at the temples. Then open and close your eyes rapidly for 10 counts. Repeat this exercise three times.

FOREHEAD

Frown as much as possible, try to get your eyebrows together and open your eyes wide-all at the same time. Repeat five times.

NECK AND THROAT

Tilt your head back to look at the ceiling while keeping your lips pursed. Do a chewing movement for 20 counts and feel the muscles in your throat work. Repeat twice.

LIPS

Purse your lips together and lift them up towards your nose. Hold for five counts. Repeat this exercise five times.

CHEEKS

Maintain a relaxed smile; then suck in your cheeks onto your teeth. Hold for five counts. Repeat this exercise five times.

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