What are the main elements of a healthy lifestyle? 7 essentials

“Health is wealth” and as every New Year brings in a sense of positivity and unending energy with plans to conquer the world let's get started with the basics and discuss 7 essentials to a healthy lifestyle.

  1. Set a routine:
    Nature works on a pre-set clock and so do our bodies. Setting a routine means making and sticking to wake up and sleep time schedules.It’s not easy to be sincere towards it but only when we do it will we realize the benefits. Waking up and sleeping at a set time aid in better metabolic functions essentially keeping us healthy and mentally awake from the moment of awareness in the morning till bed time. It reduces stress in us unlike when we rush in the morning to reach office in time or drop off kids to school before the hour bell goes. Ultimately it keeps us at peace as we get going without much of a hurdle.

  2. Know your morning mantra
    Everyone has a special thing he/she would like waking up to. That special 1st hour can be spending with family and pets or engaging in gardening, a nature walk, or simply sipping a mug of coffee. One must know one's pick and try to inculcate that in one’s everyday routine. What we do in the first hour of our waking matters a lot. What that first hour must give you is a happy feeling at the end of the day however hard the day at work has been.

  3. Eat right
    We are what we eat! Although not everyone's body act in a similar way, it is up to us to make wise eating decisions at least 5 out of 7 days a week. Sumptuous and energy providing breakfast followed by a balanced lunch or a series of small meals should be the plan before ending the day with a light yet satisfying dinner. You may choose any cuisine you prefer because all have good balanced dishes but ensure that you are consuming a balanced, well planned and healthy diet throughout the week to keep you physically healthy and mentally active and aesthetically vibrant.

  4. Drink enough water
    Water is the second most essential ingredient for survival water oxygenated air. And not drinking enough of it is not going to get us anywhere even if we lived ideal lifestyles. Water keeps the blood sugar levels right, reduces stress, helps eliminate toxins, keeps the skin supple and oil-free, reduces waste build up in the gut, and if drunk sufficiently also helps us lose weight beyond our imagination. It keeps us from overeating and suffering from mood swings and by supplying more oxygen to the brain it improves our productivity at whatever we are doing. Isn’t it an elixir enough?

  5. Stay mobile
    Staying active has become more of a choice than necessity with increasing comforts making their way into our lives. Choosing stairs instead of the lifts and elevators, lifting our stuffs than seeking help, planning to walk to a nearby place than renting a cab are the excuses we need to make to stay active. And best of all choose to deliver a message to your colleague on the same floor in person than sending out an intranet message. Flexing muscles every half to one hour keeps the blood from thickening. Those who can should certainly include a 30 minute walk/ cycling/ gymming/ dancing/sporting routine in their lives because who doesn’t want better health and physique!

  6. Short recesses
    Taking quick breaks helps us get back to our activity with a fresh mind and energy. Ending with the right people during such recesses goes a long way in staying positive, connected and successful.

  7. Plan an activity for every day
    We all have or at least want to have a life beyond a 9 to 6 work-day. Although many of us may be not be able to achieve a lot in this segment we can at least set small, tasks and targets for ourselves to make each day merrier by being able to accomplish them and at the same time doing what we love to or we ought to. Keep your expectations on the ground and plan your everyday in a different way so that you stay away from monotony and feeling the burden of daily mundane chores. Personally, I suggest set every alternate day for chores and self pampering... keeps me motivated enough to go through the grind.

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What are Interest Rate Swaps(IRS) | What happens in Interest Rate Swap ?

In the world of finance “Interest Rate Swap” is a financial technique used by financial institutions around the world. But we don’t realise that it is applicable to a common borrower like you and me. IRS is considered to be a complex financial arrangement but ironically it is barely a 5-10 minute simple read that can help you not only understand the process of an IRS but also use this in your next borrowing negotiation, thus helping you save a considerable amount of interest on your debt. Let's see how.

What is Interest Rate Swap with example? How does an interest rate swap work?

Let's break down the term first. ‘Interest Rate’ indicates that it talks about a rate of interest on a loan payable by any borrower (debtor) to the lender. ‘Swap' simply means to take something by giving something. So, IRS means that you as a borrower and payer of interest are going to come into an arrangement with another borrower whereby you will take up a fixed rate of interest payment on the debt in place of a floating rate of interest or vice versa. Now, this decision of yours will be completely based on your expectations of a rise or fall in interest rates in your country or with your bank or your lender. And an IRS can take place only if there are two borrowers who have different expectations about the future interest rates.

Interest Rate Swaps Example

So, suppose Mr. A has a loan of $100,000 from his bank with a fixed rate of interest on the debt @ 8%. And also imagine that Mr. B, another borrower, has borrowed $100,000 from his bank at a floating rate of interest @ LIBOR+2%. Suppose LIBOR is 5% now.So Mr. A is paying $8000 p.a. and Mr. B is paying $7000 p.a.

*LIBOR is a benchmark floating rate of interest
*(Floating rate of interest is a changing interest rate on your loan as and when your lender bank changes the rates due to economic changes)
*Mr. A & Mr. B need not necessarily be borrowers of same amounts but we have considered $100,000 for easy calculations.

From, fixed rate of interest and floating rate of interest, you must have learnt that at the time of taking a loan Mr. A has opted for a fixed interest rate on his loan because he assumes that the interest rates in the future are going to rise, while Mr. B expects a fall in the future interest rate and so opts for a floating interest rate.

Going forward, they both are unhappy with their interest rates i.e. Mr. A thinks that he was wrong about his assumption and Mr. B finds it a burden to pay an uncertainly changing interest rate as and when the bank changes its rate and so they decide to enter into an IRS agreement whereby Mr. A will be paying interest at a floating rate and Mr. B at a fixed rate after the Swap. So with this change Mr. A will be paying $7000 p.a. as interest when the interest rates are unchanged and Mr. B will be paying $8000 p.a. at all times.

If the LIBOR rises from 5% to 7% Mr. A will end up paying $9000 p.a and Mr. B interest remains same. Again if the LIBOR falls from 5% to 4% Mr. A ends up paying $6000 p.a. while Mr. B pays the same $8000 p.a. as he has shifted to a fixed interest rate regime after the Swap.

Thus, an IRS is a mutually benefiting agreement between 2 parties who are borrowers in some form and have an opposite expectation about the future interest rates or have an opposite risk taking ability.

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Difference between Fixed Rate of Interest & Floating Rate of interest?

Any borrower of money, either an individual or an institution is expected to pay an extra amount over and above the actual amount of loan to the lender at the time of repayment. The extra amount paid is called interest and the actual amount of loan is called principle. Interest to be paid by the borrower to the lender is calculated as a percentage of the principle. Hence, the term Interest Rate.

There are broadly two systems of interest rates charged by banks and financial institutions or any lender following an formal system of lending: The fixed rate of interest and floating rate of interest.

Here is a simple explanation for the two!

Fixed Rate of Interest

When a lender- a bank/ financial institution or an individual lends at a predefined and unchangeable rate of interest to be paid by the borrower on the principle (amount of loan) for the duration of loan irrespective of what happens to the interest rates in the country in the future, the rate of interest is said to be fixed.

Fixed rate of interest is a better choice for a lender if he expects a fall in the interest rates in the future. So, he would profit from receiving a higher rate of interest even when the general interest rate levels are down in the future. On the contrary, this would be beneficial for a borrower if he expects the rates to rise in the future. In this case, he would enjoy paying a lower fixed interest rate irrespective of the higher rates in the future.

Floating Rate of interest

Let's say that at the time of lending, the lender specifies the interest rate (to be paid by you) on your loan to be LIBOR+2%. This means that your interest rate is not fixed but rather variable. It may rise in the future if the LIBOR rises and fall if the LIBOR falls thus requiring you to pay more and less in the cases respectively. Thus, under this rate of interest the rates are completely dependent on the base – LIBOR.
Going by the same logic as above for a lender, floating rate of interest is ideal if he foresees a rise in the interest rates in the future but for a borrower it is rational to choose a floating rate of interest if he expects a fall in the interest rates in the future.

What are fixed and floating rates of interest?
Which is better, a fixed or variable rate loan?

Fixed vs Floating Interest Rate – Which Suits you The Best

From the above you may realise that you should opt for a fixed rate of interest for your loan if you are expecting the future rate of interest in your country to be higher than they are now and choose a floating rate of interest if you are expecting a fall in the interest rates in the future. The exact converse will be true in case of a lender.

You would know this if you're reading the newspapers or financial tabloids that discuss about the future plans of the Central Bank of your country or your lending bank/ institution. If there are signs that the Central Bank or your lending bank is likely to rise the rates of interest, you as a borrower should know that a fixed rate of interest is what you must choose today.

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How are Open Market Operations (OMO) and bond yields related?

OMO or open market operation is a quantitative financial tool by which a country’s Central Bank (The Federal Reserve System of the U.S.A., the European Union of the U.K., the Reserve Bank of India, the People’s Bank of China and all others) regulates the supply of money in its economy. A Central Bank’s main responsibility is to keep the inflation in check by managing the money supply, ensure that enough foreign reserves are maintained and the value of the currency is stable and not volatile in the constantly changing global relations and scenarios.

What is an OMO or Open Operation?

OMO means that a country’s Central Bank (central bank) involves in either purchase or sale of the government securities from and tothe banks operating in that country. The central bank performs this on behalf of the Government of that country. OMO takes place constantly between the banks and the central bank to keep the amount of money supply in the economy in check.

When does the central bank perform an OMO sale ad when does it perform an OMO purchase?

OMO sale-
If the central bank witnesses a rise in the inflation which means that more money is chasing fewer goods thus implying that there is money in the economy, the central bank announces an OMO sale i.e. the sale of securities in return for money from the banks. By this, the central bank has sucked out money from the banks which are the vehicles of money supply. Now, with quantity of money having become less, lending becomes difficult and so the lending rates rise. With this rise, deposit rates also rise in the banks.

OMO purchase-
If the economy is facing a shortage of money and the rate of inflation is below the required level it means that there is a difficulty in conducting day-to-day businesses in that country. So, the central bank steps in and decides an OMO purchase whereby it purchases the securities from the banks and gives them money. With this, the banks become money rich. Lending gets cheaper and easier. As a natural consequence deposit rates fall because the people are interested in borrowing at cheaper rates from banks and investing in business and infrastructure projects or simply any money churning activity.

So, how are bond prices related to all this? How does OMO affects bond yields?

Now, with higher deposit rates being offered by the banks after an OMO sale, the bond investors feel that the coupons they would receive from buying an older bond would be lesser attractive than the new deposit rates and as a result they are willing to pay lesser to buy the old bonds.Hence the price of the old bonds begins to fall with an increase in interest rates in the economy. Therefore interest rates and bond prices are inversely proportional. The exact reverse would happen in the case of an OMO purchase. Let’s understand this with a $100 investment comparison through this table.

Open Market Operations, Bond Yields, Inflation, Interest Rates, Fed, RBI
How are interest rates related to open market operations? 
It can be seen that after an OMO sale the bank offers a better return than the bond investment. And so the people agree to buy the bonds for lesser as they are getting lesser returns. Thus, an OMO sale brings the bond prices down and an OMO purchase pushes the bond prices up.

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10 Most Addictive Foods in the world

“Laughter is said to be the brightest where food is said to be the best.” Be it a choosy foodie who craves for his favourite foodstuff or the regular consumer , all of them have their personal choice of dishes that make their taste buds go mouth watering for their favourite dishes. An addict has cravings that get out of control. It could affect Physical and emotional happiness in the long run. An addict builds an “Illusion” of a state where one gets the pleasurable idea of eating even more turning out to be habitual. It is good to be in limits and restrict temptations as the end result might turn out to be bad.

My personal guide to top 10 food cravings that is healthy at the same time delightful covering a wide range from the morning breakfast to the evening meal.

1.  Oatmeal

It is a healthy breakfast food that nourishes one enabling them to work for hours together. It has low calories and is a high fiber diet that also stimulates body metabolism and digestion. One does not feel hungry for hours together as the body digests and absorbs it slowly. It also helps in reducing chances of health issues such as diabetes and high cholesterol. Thus it is the best suited dish for breakfast. Oatmeal can be classified to several types such as
  • Steel cut Oatmeal
  • Old Fashioned Oatmeal
  • Quick Cooking and Instant Oats.

2.  Chocolate

From a little toddler to a 90 year old. Chocolate is something one cannot resist temptation for. Dark Chocolate is said to be good for the heart compared to Milk Chocolate. One needs to thoroughly brush their teeth after having chocolate as the germ content builds up overnight. The best way to add a healthy twist to the meal with chocolate can be by making healthy chocolate dips or some dishes like
  • Black Forest Trifle-This is a new twist on the traditional multi-layered English dessert. It contains 16 ounces of no-sugar-added pitted cherries (frozen is fine) and it's low in calories, cholesterol, fat, and saturated fat.
  • Chocolate Tofu Mousse- made of soy milk and silken tofu, which reduces the fat content without sacrificing flavor.

3. Tasty choice of Salads

  • Fresh and tasty Macaroni Salad
  • Raw butternut squash and Kale salad
  • Carrot Avocado and Orange Salad
  • Lime Ginger and Parsnip particles made into a salad.
  • Carrot Parsley Salad

4. Choice Of Nuts

  • Maple Spiced Mixed nuts
  • Cinnamon Maple Mixed Nut Butter
  • Protein Breakfast Bars
  • Raspberry Coconut Paleo with walnuts

5. Burger

  • Cauliflower Veggie Burger
  • Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burger
  • Grilled Mango Peach Salsa Burger
  • Green Chile salsa burger

6. Cakes

Cakes can be baked with a twist with a great choice of sea food or healthy vegetables. Some of the healthy varieties include
  • Tuna Fish Cakes
  • Carrot Cake
  • Oyster Cake
  • Banana Cake

7. Chips

There are some healthy and much tastier varieties of chips other than Potato chips. Some of them are
  • Corn Chips
  • Banana Chips
  • Tapioca Chips
  • Carrot Chips
  • Butternut Squash Fries
It is good to consume them baked rather than frying them in oil.

8. Noodles

Noodles are something that all of us crave for here are some healthy options namely
  • Vegan Kale Pesto with Zucchini Noodles
  • Basil and Mint Squash Noodles
  • Vegan Creamy Ginger Coconut Kale Zucchini Spaghetti
  • Carrot Noodles with lime and spaghetti

9. Donuts

It is something that the American sheriff loves munching onto in the middle of the night. Some healthy choices include
  • Gluten free cake donut powdered with Cinnamon or Sugar
  • Cinnamon Sugar Donut Holes
  • Raspberry and Coconut glazed Donuts
  • Dark Chocolate Red Wine Donuts

10. Ice Cream

There is always room for ice cream. Without dessert a meal can never be complete. Healthy variants of ice creams are as follows
  • Chocolate Coconut milk Ice cream
  • 5 minute creamy mango ice cream
  • Raw chocolate Banana ice cream with strawberry toppings
  • Peach Almond Ice cream.

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