Have you joined Tweak India's 21-day fitness challenge yet?
The first day of every new year, we have a new-found determination to get fit. This will be the year we finally divorce refined sugar, complete 100 squats a day and run around the neighbourhood without collapsing in a puddle of our own sweat. But listen, we know how hard it is going from dessert-for-breakfast December to juice-fast January. But it’s those unrealistic resolutions to blame, not you. Instead of depriving ourselves of our favourite dishes and straining our muscles and mind until breaking point, we want to keep things real with a 21-day fitness challenge — #21Tweaks — for all the fitness newbies and lazy Latas who, like us, need to ease into action.
Take this journey with us where we will be tapping into our network of experts and enthusiasts, sharing practical, doable tips every day. Covering all things fitness, nutrition and wellness, we’re dishing out professional advice, healthy diet changes and ingredient swaps, meditation techniques, workout hacks, self-massages and so much more.
You can incorporate these small changes in our fitness challenge into your life, at your own pace, without worrying about falling off the wagon and into a bag of namkeen. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and turn on the notification bell so you never miss a post.
#21Tweaks Fitness Challenge
Day 1: Make one healthy swap in your diet
Carbs are the devil and fats are Mogambo… is exactly the opposite of how we’re kicking off our #21Tweaks challenge. This is NOT a deprivation diet.
Instead, nutritionist Nmami Agarwal (@nmamiagarwal) suggests starting off with ingredient swaps to make the most of every bite. Without compromising on flavour.
Amp it up with a 10-minute ab workout
Since it’s day 1 of our 21-day fitness challenge, we’re going to push ourselves a bit.
Follow along with yoga instructor Arezu Kanywanfar as she shows us the best moves for a flat tummy. Sweat out the evening samosas by adding these to your workout. Are you ready to do the (Russian) twist?
Day 2: Clear the kitchen of temptation
Just like a pothole-laden road is likely to lead to accidents, a kitchen full of unhealthy munchies is a recipe for snaccidents.
Swap out your old habits for Twinkle Khanna’s family-favourite makhana, and make sure you don’t add any high sodium, greasy indulgences to cart.
Fix those shoulders
Celebrity trainer Radhika Karle helps Sonam Kapoor and Jacqueline Fernandez stay in shape, and she has something to say about all of us walking around with rounded shoulders and strained neck muscles.
Day 3: Give weight loss a push with Intermittent fasting
You asked us for weight loss advice as part of our 21-day fitness challenge, so on Day 3, we’re going with holistic lifestyle coach Luke Coutinho’s favourite healthy method: Intermittent fasting.
Beginners can embrace the 16:8 format where “you allow the body to fast for 16 hours to eliminate toxins, cleanse and repair the systems, and eat only for eight hours in a day”.
Eat your last meal before 8pm, and resume eating at noon the next day. Perfect for those who are used to hitting the snooze button in the am, and skipping breakfast.
Coutinho’s tips for beginners:
– During the fasting phase, drink only plain water without any additives (no tea, coffee, green tea, apple cider vinegar).
– Break the fast with a lemon and water concoction, followed by a whole fruit. You can then eat nuts after 20 minutes and a light homemade meal (like dal, rice, cooked veggies) an hour after that.
– Follow this with a snack and dinner during the eating period, and then begin your fast.
Day 4: Include these 6 stretches in your daily schedule
On Day 4 of our 21-day fitness challenge, we’re saying goodbye to the aches and pains that have shown up like bin bulaye mehmaan while you’re working from home. “These pains are caused due to muscular imbalances,” explains physiotherapist Dr Prachi Lotlika, demonstrating 6 stretches that everyone needs to do daily to counter them.
The exercises help strengthen weak muscles and relieve the stiffness caused due to long hours of sitting in one position.
Day 5: Give this healthy sev puri recipe a go
Day 5 of our 21-day challenge, and we’re feeling the munchies kicking in. So here’s a guilt-free recipe for sev puri that is basically also a salad. Magic is real.
- 2 cups fresh curd; made from toned milk (3.5% fat)
- 25 slices of cucumber, approximately 0.5 cm in thickness
- 1 cup moong sprouts or 1/3 cup uncooked green moong (soak for 6 – 8 hours, drain and keep covered for another 12 hours)
- 1 small onion, chopped finely
- 1 green chilli, chopped finely
- 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped finely
- ½ tsp chaat masala
- 1 tsp powdered sugar
- ½ tsp jeera powder (cumin powder)
- ¼ tsp black pepper powder
- Salt as per taste
1. Hang the curd in a muslin cloth for half an hour to drain excess water.
2. Meanwhile, boil 300 ml of water with ½ tsp of salt. Add moong sprouts, remove from heat and cover. Drain after 20 minutes and let it cool.
3. Remove the thick curd from the cloth and transfer to a bowl.
4. Add sprouts, onion or tomato, fresh coriander, green chilli, sugar, pepper and salt.
5. Spread the cucumber slices on a serving dish. Ladle spoonfuls of the mixture on the slices.
6. Garnish with green chutney (optional), chaat masala, jeera powder and fresh coriander. Serve immediately.
Recipe: Nutritionist Suman Agarwal
Day 6: Pop some pills to lift your mood – B12, D3
On Day 6 of our 21-day fitness challenge, we are stealing a break from the stretches and the pantry, to focus on some mood-lifting, energising pills, err… vitamin supplements.
Vegan bodybuilder Roshni Sanghvi affirms that it doesn’t matter what diet you’re following, don’t forget to add a side of Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D3 supplements.
“Deficiency of both leads to low mood, depression, exhaustion, you feel lethargic, you don’t feel like working, there’s no recovery, all of this could be because you’re lacking certain supplements,” she says.
Day 7: Always warm-up before working out
Sometimes you may think warming up is unnecessary, you’re going to break a sweat while exercising anyway, right? But a good full-body warm-up will make sure you don’t end up pulling a hamstring mid squat. Try these 8 warm-up exercises by energy coach Urmi Kothari, founder of Mumbai-based fitness and wellness studio Kinetic Living.
Including what Kubbra Sait calls the “chaddi exercise”
Day 8: Steer your weight-loss ambitions with these expert-approved tips
These lifestyle changes will improve your mental health and overall wellness, while steering you along your weight loss ambitions.
1. Fat first: Make sure your breakfast includes more protein than carbohydrates to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
2. Swap out your non-stick pans for iron kadhais.
3. Don’t neglect your sleep schedule
4. Take a digital detox.
5. Revamp your dining space
6. Take public transport
Day 9: Shake up your fitness regimen with some Harvard-approved activities
We get it, hitting the gym and cueing up workout videos on Youtube can get boring after a point. What if we told you could relive your childhood with a game of Hopscotch, and lose weight at the same time. Make Sunday a fun day with these entertaining alternatives to your standard workout.
Day 10: Embrace these 5 simple moves by Rujuta Diwekar to tone the body while you WFH
Hour 1: Start easy. Place a chair atop the mat, against a wall. Stand with your back to the chair and slowly lower yourself onto the seat, working those glutes, quadriceps and your core. Once your butt touches the chair, stand up quickly. Repeat five times.
Hour 2: This move is targeted at the inner thighs — which, according to Diwekar, could lead to a sagging belly if ignored — “Sitting too much means your inner thighs get weak, stomach starts sagging and you put pressure on your lower back and uterus.” Face the chair and squat gently, widening the gap between the knees until your butt hovers just a few inches above the ground, the same way you might over an Indian toilet. Use the chair for support if you’re struggling to keep your balance. Repeat five times.
Hour 3: Diwekar explains that the head is the heaviest part of your body, (and not just because it’s currently filled with garbage news), and this move helps you battle the ‘tech neck posture’, while opening up your chest and shoulders.
Open your palms wide (“As women we should take as much space as possible at least in our own homes, and hearts”, Diwekar reminds us). Place your palms on either corner of the seat as though you’re going to push the chair towards the wall. Bend down from the pelvis, keeping your back and knees straight. Your palms should be spread wide and facing upwards. Focus on pushing your front thighs towards the hamstrings, and allowing your chest to move towards your thighs. Repeat five times.
Hour 4: Targeted at your back. Lie down on your stomach and hold the legs of the chair. Lift your hips up off the ground and bring your chest closer to the chair so your body takes on an L-shape. Slowly lower back down to the ground. Repeat five times.
Hour 5: You’ve made it to the finish line, so your reward is a supported plank. With your body parallel to the floor, place the soles of your feet on the chair and palms on the floor. Straighten the knees, squeeze your hips together and engage the core as you support your body weight using just your feet and palms. Your body should make a right angle from the chair to the floor. Hold for five counts, and relax. Repeat five times.
Day 11: Use the 4-7-8 breathing technique to destress
On Day 11 of our 21-day fitness challenge, we’re giving your sore muscles some down time, and focussing on an aspect of fitness that is often overlooked – mental well being.
Not anymore. We have for you the 4-7-8 breathing technique that will reduce the anxiety of having to go back to work after months of working form home, and will help you nama-stay calm.
“When we’re doing the 4-7-8 breath, you want to inhale really deep and powerfully for the first 4 counts, then hold still for 7, and very smoothly and slowly exhale for the 8 counts (make sure you breathe out slowly so you last all 8 seconds),” explains Kundalini yoga teacher Arezu Kaywanfar.
Day 12: Follow a diet plan that doesn’t kill your appetite
On Day 12 of the #21Tweaks fitness challenge, we asked the most frequently asked question, “What should we eat now?”, and Dr Vishakha Shivdasani (@doctorvee ) shared a diet plan that’s actually easy to follow.
Her simple diet plan helps you decide which foods to eat through the day, so, you can steer clear of temptation and finally get healthy (like you keep telling yourself every January 1).
Breakfast: “Begin your day with protein — like eggs with yolk, that’s where Vitamin D and Omega is. We also eat cholesterol (in the yolk) for the absorption of D3, because when you’re low on cholesterol, you’re not absorbing D3.”
Lunch: “Whether it’s your rice or roti, just mix it with some protein and have some green leafy vegetables. Make sure the green veggies are not high in sugar because you’re getting the sugar from the carbs.”
Dinner: “If you’re non-vegetarian, then you can do grilled fish, chicken and some veggies with soup. Don’t do just a roti and veggies, add protein to balance that. And make sure you have enough nuts, seeds and one fruit in the day.”
Day 13: 8 exercise videos for every mood to keep you motivated
It’s day 13 of our 21-day fitness challenge, and we assume that you’ve already had your first encounter with the inevitable dampener that is dwindling enthusiasm.
So, to mix things up a little bit and to pry you away from the cocktail of boredom, laziness and the need for instant gratification that is keeping you from following through with the challenge, we have for you a selection of workout videos for every mood.
From working out from your bed to the exercise regime that will help you tame the “Who ate my slice of pizza?” rage monster – we have something for everyone.
Day 14: Go with your gut
We usually brush off acidity as the consequence of binge-drinking the previous night, or ‘forgetting’ to eat a meal, but nutritionist Anupama Menon explains, “Acidity, bloating, inability to digest food, feeling discomfort, not evacuating your bowels every day, weight gain, sleep disturbances are the simple symptoms that tell you that your gut is unhealthy. People take these symptoms very lightly but if they become chronic, this actually means that the food you’re eating is not being digested well.”
Menon suggests simple additions to your diet, (Once you’ve confirmed your gut diagnosis with a doctor), like adding pickle to your diet, and Beet Kvass that contains probiotic bacteria. Food and drinks packed with probiotic-rich bacteria is a great way to better gut health, so opt for drinks like kombucha and kefir and of course, that good old bowl of dahi.
Homemade beet kvass
¼ cup whey (or juice from sauerkraut)
1 tbsp sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
1. Wash the beets and peel if not organic or leave skin on if organic.
2. Chop the beets in to small cubes, but don’t grate.
3. Place the beets in the bottom of a half gallon glass jar.
4. Add the whey/sauerkraut juice and salt. If you don’t want to use whey or sauerkraut juice, you can double the salt instead, though it may take longer to ferment.
5. Fill the jar the rest of the way with filtered water.
6. Cover with a towel or cheesecloth and leave on the counter at room temperature for 2 days to ferment.
7. Transfer to refrigerator and consume as desired.
Day 15: Get your kids involved in the fitness challenge.
For Day 15 of 21Tweaks get your kids involved in the fitness challenge.
After being trapped indoors for so long, away from the playground and school soccer field, they probably have the pent up energy of a ping-pong ball bouncing off the walls.
A mix of yoga, dancing and stretches, you’ll find that our collection of videos will keep them healthy, entertained and give you a new activity to do together.
Day 17: Follow Physique 57’s master trainer Anisha Shah’s abs, thighs and arms blast workout
On Day 17 of #21Tweaks, we are following Shah’s routine as she shows us how to crush a full-body workout in 15 minutes. Just grab some lightweights, a couple of peanut butter jars will work too, and let’s get started and get fit.
Make sure you keep that gym towel handy too.
Day 18: 10 fitness apps for every kind of lazy human
Every fitness unenthusiast knows that bookmarking sweaty videos for the mythical day you start working out is easier than powering through 300 squats. We burn more calories eye-rolling than we do walking
But being stuck at home, away from our torturers (read: trainers), we all need a little shakeup. Cue, fitness apps.
Day 19: Pick the right ingredients for mental fitness and wellbeing
On day 19 of #21Tweaks fitness challenge, we’re adding foods and ingredients which improve mental health to our plates.
An apple a day may keep the doctor away but did you know cheese contains amino acids essential for mood stabilisation?
The secret to finding true happiness has been in our refrigerator all along. Add these 5 ingredients to your diet and give your mental wellness a boost.
1. Blueberries – they can help you cope with the after-effects of trauma by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain.
2. Turmeric + black pepper – Curcumin and piperine in the powerful combination of turmeric and a pinch of black pepper in our meals can help soothe depression and help anxiety.
3. Beetroots – they contain a potent dose of folic acid in them, which stabilises emotional and mental health.
4. Curd – it is a wonderful probiotic-rich food which can help increase the levels of gut bacteria that are involved in dopamine production.
5. Bananas – bananas are a great source of tryptophan, the amino acid used to synthesise serotonin.
Day 20: Dance it out
On day 20 of the #21Tweaks fitness challenge, we’re asking you to sway with us — with a fun Bollywood-inspired dance workout.
“We’ve had the secret to the perfect workout in Bollywood movie songs all along, because they work on different muscle groups” says Bollywood dance fitness instructor Sabah Kadri, who shares a 10 minute session that’s both a Bhangra-filled dance party and perfect workout, at the same time.
Day 21: Try facial yoga and sculpting
On day 21 of the #21Tweaks challenge, a workout… for your face.
“Facial sculpting is for those looking to get defined cheekbones, a defined jawline, and get rid of their double chin. It even works for those working towards getting a slimmer neck or nose without going under the knife,” explains facial yoga expert Vibhuti Arora of House of Beauty.
Squeeze in a workout during lunchtime
Lunchtime workouts will take you from burps to burpees. According to experts, midday is an ideal time to work out.
“Your strength peaks midday, making it the ideal window to get in a strength-, speed-, or power-based sweat,” says researcher David W. Hill.