Ever felt your exercise regime wasn’t working? Dissatisfied about your diet? Wondering if you should try that new trainer everyone’s talking about? Or losing some pounds before Christmas? Well, you’re not alone. Recently, I read an article by researchers at Brown University which said that increased preoccupation with appearance and body dissatisfaction put people at greater risk for engaging in dangerous practices to control weight and size. In the study, 74.4 per cent of the normal-weight women stated that they thought about their weight or appearance “all the time” or “frequently.” But the women weren’t alone; the study also found that 46 per cent of the normal-weight men surveyed responded in the same way. Looks like we are predominantly a planet of traumatised beings.
This came to mind again while chatting with fitness trainer Pooja Bhatia Arora over a coffee, during which she recounted her own hard trek to fitness. The petite woman who’s an exemplar for fitness and health was once 90 kgs with a BMI of 31. “I was an obese child, pampered with parathas and sweets,” she says. As a teenager her weight fluctuated, and she piled on the pounds once again after her marriage and baby. Injuries kept happening due to her weight. “I tried every quick fix possible before realizing that fitness solutions are often about business. And myths surrounding fitness and diet cause more harm than good.” Pooja eventually did more than just lose weight – she got fit. With that, she says, her life changed. That’s when she decided to study to be an accredited trainer and health coach, and pass on enlightenment to students.
As the perfect person to be handing out advice, I asked her about her own fitness mantras.
“Make time for exercise,” she said, “Be careful what you eat. Food isn’t just about calorie content, but nutritional value too. We need a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat, all in correct percentages.”
So, cardio or strength training? “Both are a must. People believe if women lift weights it makes them muscular. Not true. We lift things every day – from our laptop bags to our babies. So do a mix of cardio and strength, whether your preferred exercise is aqua aerobics, Zumba, yoga or anything else. Fitness helps us lead a functional life. Activities become easier, skills are sharpened.” Simple stuff, indeed.
For it to work, make your workout simple, she added. “Pick an activity you enjoy, walking perhaps. If you like the gym and want to hire a trainer, check his certification and get references. Trainers must know which muscles to exercise and how. Finally, be mindful of your own fitness journey. If you can’t do your workout on a day, walk to your next meeting, or take the stairs instead of the lift. And challenge your body each time.”
So how much is too much…or too little? “At least 40 minutes of moderate exercise in any form, everyday,” she said, “Preferably six days a week. Along with eating well, regular exercise is non-negotiable. It’s your time.
So make it count.” Ruma Singh presents a column on observations, insights and what’s buzzing in the firstname.lastname@example.org