Animal Farm - Book Review

Animal Farm - This is a short story written by George Orwell in 1945.

Though I knew that it was and is a very famous work, I never had the chance to read it. Few months back, I got a copy of the book. But due to inevitable circumstances, I kept procrastinating reading the book. Finally, when I read the book, I liked it so much that I read it twice! It is around 45 pages in all and a good gripping read.

The book must have been written during the time communist philosophy was fighting for its rightful place in the modern world. The author brilliantly used the metaphor of animals versus human, 4 legged versus 2 legged, to bring out the tussle between the proletariat and the bourgeois.

In a farm in England, owned by a man called Jones, lived many animals. The author excellently portrays the characters of the different animals, Napoleon, Snowball and Squealer, the pigs, Boxer, Clover, and Mollie, the horses etc. He describes how they look like, their features, idiosyncrasies and even their way of speaking.  One day, the animals decide to take over the operations. They successfully stage a coup and seize power from the human owners of the farm, driving them out of the farm.

The humans try to take over the farm few times later. But the animals successfully defend their territory. The story goes on to show power struggle between 2 dominant pigs and how one of them is overthrown. The story illustrates how the message to the masses are twisted, how opinions are changed and others are made to believe what the leader wants them to!!

Finally, all the animals find themselves as slaves to the pigs, who had assumed themselves to be the owners, who had started living like humans and walked on 2 legs. The animals were then even worse off than when they were under their human masters.

Overall, it is an exceptionally brilliant piece of work. This a must read if you like to understand politics, public opinion shaping, and if you savour exquisite usage of English.

How to Look Good through Good habits

Good habits are difficult to form but make life easy. Bad habits are easy to form, but make life difficult. 

How can good habits to make one fit and look beautiful. While, I cannot say if any habits can make one beautiful from outside, there are certain practices that can make you beautiful from inside. 

Develop a morning routine. I typically follow this routine :

1.  Wake up early in the morning at 5:00 am 
2.   Drink 2 big glasses of water
3.  Meditate for 10 minutes 
4.  Practice affirmations and visualization of my goals
5.  Write and review my goals for the day
6.   Read something motivational 
7.   Go for a run. I run 5 km in about 30 minutes. 

By 7:00 am, I am done with my morning routine. This routine helps me prepare myself for the day, keeps me mentally, spiritually and physically fit. 

If your goal is just to reduce weight, my suggestion would be to do only 3 things, wake up early, review your goals, go for a work out or exercise or for a walk. What kind of exercise or work out you do would depend on your taste and ability. Generally, you have to start small. For example, if you choose running as your preferred exercise, start by walking. Over a period of a month, gradually move to running. Follow any walk to run program. 

Only with exercise, it may not be possible to reduce weight unless you look at your diet. Do not increase your food intake when you start exercising. Avoid all outside food and stick to home made food. 

Keep a journal of your daily workout and daily food intake. Review the same every week to see how you are doing. 

The key to sustaining a habit is discipline. Key to discipline is motivation. Keep your motivation high by reading up books, articles and posts on physical fitness. Form a group of like minded people on Facebook and post your workout. Encourage others to post their workouts. Form a small tribe of people or friends who help and push each other to achieve your fitness goal. 

It is a time taking process. But slowly and steadily, you will see progress and reduce your weight. 

Have food on time.  Sleep early in the night and do not stay awake for late in night . This is one of the prime causes of pimples. Drink lots of water and eat at least 1 fruit every day. This will help with reducing pimples. Avoid stress. Do meditation in the morning if possible. 

Groom your self well. Always wear clean clothes, clean and polished shoes, well trimmed and combed hair, clean shaven or trimmed face and have clean and trimmed nails. 
How well you dress makes a lot of impact on how you feel. Always buy good clothes. 

Now, to make yourself beautiful, help other people. Seriously. Serve others. Volunteer to help out the old lady next door in bringing the grocery for her. Or go to a hospital and help poor patients. Donate your old clothes and books to the orphanage. Invite someone to your house for dinner.

Finally, practice Gratitude and Forgiveness. These will make you beautiful from inside and then, it will reflect on your outside. 

Remember, any external change starts internally first. Believe that you can change, you will. 

All the best for your transformation!!

How to Lead an Active Lifestyle

Our thoughts are manifested through our words and our words create our actions. You have started thinking about having an active lifestyle. The thought has made you ask the question, seek guidance by writing the question here in words. Hence, kudos to you for reaching the second step of the thought, words, action process. 

Many people may suggest you many things. But I can suggest what works for me. You can see if a similar solution works for you. 

After being lethargic for better part of the first 35 years of my life, I reaped the benefits of my sedentary lifestyle. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, high BMI and high uric acid. It was not on a spur of  the moment, but over a period of several months,  may be bit more than an year, the realization dawned on me that unless I change my lifestyle, I will not be around much more. 

Being an introvert and a book worm, I did what I liked most. I took solace in books. However, I did not just read any book, I started reading up on books on fitness, motivational books on how people fought against all odds and regained back their health. I discovered sites on the Internet that were dedicated to fitness and health. I read up all articles that were there on blood pressure, cholesterol control and each one of those suggested lifestyle changes. 

I started going for a walk. It was not regular. I would go for a day and stop for three. Then go for three days in a trot and stop for a week. This went on for a few months. But I realized I was neither losing weight, not getting much benefits of the exercise. Some of the well meaning folks suggested me to join a gym. But I deduced that it is not the problem of the right exercise, but the problem of right attitude. My problem was I was not regular. 

To tackle this, I sought help from family and friends. I asked my cousin to come with me daily for a walk. It was a good incentive for both of us to walk for an hour, have a chat while walking and unwind from the stress of the day. If on a particular day, I didn't feel like going, he would prod me and vice versa. Slowly, we planned to graduate to jogging. We continued this for about 3 months. But my lifestyle was still far from active. Other than those 30-60 minutes of walking or jogging, I was a complete sloth for the rest 23 hours in the day.

As luck would have it, I got transferred out from Bangalore to Hyderabad. After settling down in Hyderabad, I started jogging alone. Over a period of a month, I found other runners in the area and we started running together. Then someone told me about Hyderabad Runners, a running group. I went along with my running friend and participated in few of their local events. There I was exposed to the running lifestyle. 
There were folks who were running like crazy. There were folks who rode the bike for 300 kilometers! There were ultra marathoners, iron man finishers, mountaineers, rock climbers and folks who were doing many adventure sports. It was a revelation for me that such a lifestyle existed. I didn't have a inkling of this in my 9 to 7 lifestyle. I got into few such groups. I learnt the tricks of the trade. 

Today, I run 5 kilometers every day. It takes 30-35 minutes. I do some push ups and planks daily. Apart from this, I participate in the running events organized by Hyderabad Runners on weekends. I join adventures organized by GHAC, an adventure club if possible. I completed a half marathon, then did a full marathon, did cycling, rock climbing, trekking, kayaking and other activities. Recently, I tried boxing and I really liked it. I plan to learn boxing and swimming in the future. 

Over a period of time, my medical tests have yielded better results. My cholesterol, triglycerides and uric acid levels are now normal. I still have a high blood pressure. My weight is under control. I no longer consider myself sedentary. These changes in me inspired others to take up an active lifestyle. There is no bigger compliment than someone saying you are my inspiration!! 

Thus, if you want to cultivate a healthy lifestyle,

1. Explore various activities and discover the activities that you enjoy.
2. Find a supportive group and join them. They will help, guide and motivate you when you don't feel like. 
3. Join virtual running, cycling or adventure groups on Facebook .
4.  Keep reading motivational material on health and fitness. 
5.  Eat less, move more and enjoy life!!