Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Too stressed for sex!

For a stressed out nation, sex has become the new contraceptive, reports Indrani Rajkhowa Banerjee

Real estate agent Virender Rathod observed an interesting trend in his life. His sex life was up when the property prices peaked and nosedived when they came down! It didn't take the shrewd businessman much to calculate that when he was stressed, he was less frisky in bed. Funny it may be, but not every infertility story is humorous.

Stress and sex make for strange bedfellows! Although there are no exact figures, experts say infertility has gone up to almost 30 per cent in the last two decades. And stress remains the most important killer for activity between the sheets.

In a dog-eat-dog world, where work hours have expanded and leisure time shrunk, spouses hold each other's hand with cell phones stuck to their ears. Laptops and phones are must-haves on vacations. In a nuclear family, working couples who pick up their children on their way home to ready-to-eat dinners are ideal couples. Divorce rates have never been this high in history, yet there's no time to grieve or pick up the pieces.

Infertility experts and counsellors are shocked at the country's shrinking libido, thanks to stress! In a worrying trend, it's hitting as many women as men, and when they're still young. Gynaecologist Dr Meeta Shah says, "The compulsion to plan one's life down to minute details is playing havoc in urban relationships. Forget conception, both men and women are finding it difficult to even perform!"

A global survey on sexual well-being conducted by the condom manufacturer Durex shows that Indians are low on sexual satisfaction. Just 46 per cent of Indians orgasm, according to the study. And, while 55 per cent Indian males achieve orgasm, only 26 per cent Indian women can say the same.

Stress remains a constant in a country that has seen a worrying rise in male and female infertility over the years. But does stress lead to impotence? Clinically, stress can be directly responsible for erectile dysfunction. It is known to increase the production of adrenaline, while it decreases nitric oxide, which is a muscle relaxant. So, when you are stressed, nerve impulses constrict vessels and smooth muscles in the male organ, thereby reducing the blood flow that causes an erection.

According to a study by the American Psychological Association, 48 per cent of Americans report their stress levels have risen over the past five years. Surveys report that between 20 and 52 per cent of American women say their sex drive isn't what it used to be.

Says psychiatrist Dr Jitender Nagpal, "Stress is a double-edged sword. It's a key motivator, but also has a tremendous hold over our physical and psychological well-being, and therefore our sex lives."

Take this: A 2003 survey stated that Indians made love 138 times a year. The same survey put Indians at a respectable eighth place, behind a clutch of Slavic nations and the French as the nations. But, the numbers have slipped since! Today, 60 per cent Indians say that sex is fun, enjoyable, and a vital part of life. However, due to stress, only 44 per cent are fully satisfied with their sex lives.
Dr Prakash Kothari observes, "Work, family, kids, parties, networking... there's no end to hyper activities. Sexual priorities are changing for a stressed out nation. People are looking for the softer, more gentler side of sex — quality time with partners, romance and a sense of security within the bedroom."

It's surprising that with so much salacious sex happening around us, very less action is taking place in the conjugal bed! Marriage counsellor Pallavi B Gillani says, "t's true that feeling loved, respected and secure all impact strongly on our ability to achieve sexual satisfaction, but thrill is the main driver of dynamic sex."

Experts say that psychological impotence is the real killer of physical love. "Just snap out of it!" says Dr Kothari, adding, "Prevent it from ruining your sex life. Try stress management techniques — they are real and they work. Make some lifestyle changes if necessary — change your diet, exercise regularly, stop smoking and limit your alcohol intake. If your job is causing you undue stress, get a new one."

Make stress your slave, not your master. Chances are that it's all in your mind!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Flat stomach food guide

Tired of not knowing what kinds of foods to eat? Not sure how much fat, calories and sodium you should be consuming everyday? All the tips you need are here....

In addition to regular exercise, you'll also want to add some fat burning foods to your diet to help trim your waistline.

Foods that are high in protein and fibre are the best kinds of food to eat if you want to burn fat around your middle.

Did you know that it takes more energy to digest protein than it does to digest fat? So the more protein you eat, the more calories your body burns.

Eggs are super high in protein and can help you burn that unwanted belly fat. They contain the vitamin B12 – a great supplement for breaking down fat cells.

You may have heard all the warnings about eggs and your health. That's because a couple of eggs will put you over the recommended daily amount of cholesterol.

Well, more recent studies have shown that dietary cholesterol has a minimal impact on blood cholesterol. Dietary fat is the real culprit. It's what raises your bad cholesterol levels.

However, if you're still worried about your overall cholesterol intake from eating too many eggs, you can remove the yolk and still benefit from the high protein contained in eggs.

Low fat dairy products
According to an article in Obesity Research, women who ate low-fat dairy products, such as nonfat yogurt and low-fat milk, three to four times a day, lost 70 per cent more fat than low-dairy dieters.

In another study done at Purdue University those who consumed 3 cups of fat-free milk gained less weight over the course of 2 years than those on low calcium diets.

So, not only do dairy products help you strengthen your bones, they can also play an essential role in burning that unwanted body fat.

If you are a regular consumer of milk and other dairy products, that's great, just watch your proportions and perhaps switch over to the low or no fat varieties.

While beans are often associated with the gastrointestinal disturbances they may cause, they are also very good sources of protein, fibre and iron.

Some of the best kinds of beans to eat are:
- Navy beans
- White beans
- Kidney beans
- Lima beans

And as always, limit baked and refried beans in your diet as refried beans contain tons of saturated fat, while baked beans are usually loaded in sugar. Sure, you'll be getting your protein but you'll also be consuming a lot of fat and sugar that you don't need.

Here's something else to remember. Be sure to cook your beans thoroughly because our digestive tracks are not adapted to breaking down some proteins that are contained in certain beans.

Tip: A vegetable called Edamame (pronounced ed-uh-ma-may) – an organic soybean in a pod often served at Japanese restaurants.

All you do is boil them for three minutes, add a pinch of salt and eat the soybeans out of the pods. They are surprisingly tasty and very good for you. One serving contains 10 grams of soy protein. The best place to find them is at a store that sells organic foods.

While it may not be the tastiest thing you can eat, oatmeal definitely has some great nutritional qualities.

You may have noticed that many of the oatmeal brands are now boasting that eating more oatmeal will help lower your cholesterol level. That's because oatmeal is loaded with soluble fibre which helps reduce blood cholesterol by flushing those bad digestive acids out of your system.

The best kind of oatmeal to eat is unsweetened and unflavoured. While it's tempting to select the apples and cinnamon flavour and load it with butter and sugar – you really lose out on all the health benefits. If you must sweeten your bowl of oatmeal, do so by adding fruit.

Or add a spoonful of honey (much better for you than sugar) and a handful of raisins or dried cranberries.

Oatmeal is also beneficial in fighting colon cancer and heart disease.

Olive oil
Certain fats are good for you and your body needs them. Olive oil is one of those 'good fats'. In fact, it's so good that it helps you burn fat and keeps your cholesterol down.

Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, a type of fat that researchers are finding provide outstanding health benefits. One ounce of extra virgin olive oil contains about 85 per cent of the daily value for monounsaturated fat.

So instead of taking a swig of orange juice in the morning, many dieters are picking up a bottle of extra virgin olive oil.

Whole grains
These days everyone seems to be screaming "No carbs!" It's as if the world has gone no-carb crazy and everyone is running from sliced breads and pastas.

Well the truth is, your body needs carbohydrates. If you go without them completely your body will start to crave them. So it's not a good idea to exclude all carbs because the right kinds are actually good for you.

It's the processed carbohydrates that are bad for you – the white breads, bagels, pastas, and white rice to name a few.

The above foods have all been processed, thus stripping out all the nutrients leaving you with loads of starch.

The key is to eat 'whole grain' foods because they haven't been processed and contain the fiber and minerals your body needs.

So don't be fooled by a loaf of bread labeled 'wheat'. Regular wheat bread is still lacking in vitamins and minerals. Manufacturers add molasses to it so it turns brown.

Don't let them trick you. The only kind of bread that's good for you is the kind that's labeled 'whole grain'.

Meat and fish
Turkey and beef are great for building muscle and boosting the immune system, but as always you have to be careful as:

Basted turkeys are usually injected with fatty substances while beef contains saturated fat. If you are going to eat beef, be sure to consume the leanest cuts you can find by looking for 'loin' or 'round' on the labels.

Salmon and tuna are also good sources of protein. They both contain omega-3 fatty acids which may sound bad, but are actually healthy fats. These two foods are also good for giving your immune system a nice boost and should be consumed at least thrice a week.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Love is a powerful painkiller

Intense romantic love is like a drug and can be as effective as morphine in relieving pain, says a new study.

Passions triggered by the early flushes of a relationship block physical pain in a similar way to painkillers and drugs.

Scientists in the US tested the theory on a group of male and female university students who were in the passionate early stages of a love affair.

They were shown photos of their partners while a computer-controlled heat probe placed in the palms of their hands delivered mild doses of pain, reports The Telegraph.

At the same time, the students had their brains scanned by a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine.

The study showed that feelings of love, triggered by seeing a photo of one's beloved, acted as a powerful pain killer.

Focusing on a photo of an attractive acquaintance rather than a relationship partner did not have the same benefit.

The scans revealed that the effects of love could be compared with those of morphine and cocaine, both of which target the brain's 'reward centres'.

Sean Mackey, study leader at Stanford University Medical Centre in California, said: 'When people are in this passionate, all-consuming phase of love, there are significant alterations in their mood that are impacting their experience of pain.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

14 Secrets Of Happy Couples

Sometimes the biggest problem that couples in our country face is the lack of communication. There is always a mind-block; a sense of embarrassment to share thoughts and feelings, especially once the physical intimacy sets in. But as this story will tell you, the biggest secret to having a happy relationship is having a wholesome communication with your partner.

Take a look at some crucial steps to have a satisfying relationship as on HybridMom:

1. Communicate – not just about your feelings – but about your day. Share stories with one another about what is going on at work or in a friend’s life; share what you saw on the news or in a magazine with your significant other if you found it interesting. Discussing regular day to day occurrences is just as important as staying in tune with each others’ feelings. It keeps you in tune with your spouse on a daily basis.

2. Take showers together – it doesn’t have to be sexual! My husband and I have done this from the beginning of our relationship, did it start out sexual? Probably. But over time it became an intimate thing, just extra time that we can spend together catching up on the day – it just happens that we are naked and in the shower!

3. Go to the park and swing, slide or just play – it’s a young and fun thing to do. It keeps you playful and is a great way to relieve stress. Real life can get so with overwhelming with work, kids, bills, laundry, chores – sometimes a play break is what’s needed to alleviate all of that, even if it’s only for half an hour.

4. Take walks – morning walks are a great way to start your day, not a morning person? Take an evening walk. Getting fresh air and exercise together is good for your health and the health of your relationship. Walking relieves stress, keeps you fit and allows quality time to be spent together.

5. Date nights – put everything on hold for an hour or two and plan on just doing something alone with your spouse. It can be dinner, a walk, the mall, whatever, just make the time for just the two of you with no one else around, catch up on your day or week or just joke around and have fun. But making time for just the two of you is important.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10 golden rules to keep romance alive in relationships

There are plenty of things, big or small, that can wreck an otherwise great relationship. Now, Dr Barton Goldsmith, a California-based psychotherapist and the author of '100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence - Believe in Yourself and Others Will Too' reveals what all can kill romantic relationships and how to save it from falling apart.

1. Money: It's the root of all evils, as they say. If a partner has been unscrupulous, getting the trust back can be a challenge, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

2. Sex/infidelity: A sexless marriage or unfaithfulness can extinguish love quicker than blowing out a candle. Don't let the flame burn out and try to renew your sex life.

3. Disrespect: Research shows that belittling, insulting or yelling at your partner can cut the chances of your relationship's survival.

4. Children: Some live for them, others would rather kill themselves. Make sure to keep things in balance with your partner, so you have the energy to deal with any child issues.

5. Opposite-sex friends: If you don't want your spouse/partner to dine out and have drinks with a member of the opposite sex, then you need to follow the same guidelines.

. Resentments: Don't hold your pain, hurt or anger inside. If you are harbouring some resentment talk it out and put the matter to rest, so you can enjoy your relationship.

7. Lying/broken promises: Even if you're afraid of getting in trouble, tell the whole truth and don't break promises, and find a way to make up for past mistakes.

8. Laziness: Keeping a relationship is hard work, and if you are unwilling to do it, your connection will diminish and you will begin to resent your partner.

9. Being mean: If you punish your partner when you don't get your way, or if the two of you give each other the silent treatment, you are headed for a lifetime of emotional pain. Stop the nastiness and learn to talk about it.

10. Discomfort/remodelling. If you are living in a construction zone, it's pretty hard to feel comfortable. Injury or illness can create a similar situation. Your home should be a place of serenity, so if you are remodelling or are dealing with physical issues, make your comfort a priority. (ANI)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

The key to a successful marriage essentially lies in understanding sex-equations. Unless you are in a same-sex marriage it is imperative to understand that opposite genders react to situations differently. If we learn to understand and acknowledge the differences and respond accordingly, we can avoid a lot of heart-burn.

So what are the conflict zones and what are the red flags we must watch out for?

Sex: Whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly, sex is an integral part of your married life. Marriage advice always stresses on how we should never take our fights to bed, sex should never be used to settles scores in a fight. That said, we must concede that when there are unresolved issues and nagging bubbles on our mind, activity between the sheets is the last thing you will feel inclined towards. So if you don’t want sex to become a weapon, make sure you resolve fights/disagreements before you head to bed.

Time: It is important to spend quality time with each, especially these days when most couples work five or six days a week. Every weekend you can’t be socializing with friends and relatives, you need to keep time aside for a special lunch or a late night movie together or to simply just watch television at home together.

Counterview: While it is important to spend time with each other, it is not always essential that you do everything together. Both of you need time out, so plan your boys/gals night out, catch up with a friend for lunch or dinner, party without your spouse. Do your own thing every once in while, you need to.

Share: Gone are the days when men and women played gender-specific roles in marriage, the husband was the sole bread-winner in the family and the housewife by definition took care of the home and children.

When both partners enjoy the benefits of a double-income household, the onus of domestic chores also lies on both of them. Whether it be cooking, doing dishes or helping change diapers make sure you share responsibilities and work together to stop stressing over to-do lists. It can be overwhelming for an individual and can later breed contempt when you are caught in the same routine without any help.

Decisions: Discuss, even if both of you don’t completely agree, make sure there is some consensus on the many decisions you take every day. There is nothing as annoying as individualistic decision-making in a marriage. Whether it is the choice of a restaurant when you are dining out or the colour of your first car, make sure there is some sort of agreement with your partner. If you have a strong reason to refute, try to show them a valid reason for why you are differing rather than stubbornly sticking to your point.

Finance: It’s all about money honey! Well, that might not be completely true but it’s good to have clarity in money matters in a marriage. If you follow the “Your money is my money and my money is your money” rule in your marriage and if that works for you, awesome! However, there is a need to be particular about expenses, savings and clarity in planning your finances. The financial burden should never fall on just one person and no matter what the disparities in the respective incomes are, there is a need to budget expenditure and prepare for eventualities.

Disclaimer: I don’t claim to be a relationship expert but we all learn our own lessons and a little fine tuning can go a long way in making your married life fun. Like I said it all begins with understanding that each of us as individuals react very differently to every situation depending on our unique personalities. The trick lies in not always trying to mould the other person to your needs but trying to work out the best possible situation.

Marriage doesn’t come with a guarantee card; no matter how many right questions you ask and right things you do there is always a chance that something might go wrong. But if you work towards it, it might be that one thing in your life that is consistent and that keeps you going. I have been a part of two such celebrations and there is no greater feeling than standing with your partner celebrating 50 or 60 years of togetherness and wondering how you managed to hold on despite all the odds and challenges.