Get Size Wise with Dr Sheela Nambiar

25 Jul

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Dr Sheela Nambiar is a gynecologist whose interest in fitness grew after she interacted with women from all walks of life in her medical practice and realised that their lack of fitness, poor eating habits and obesity often impeded their quality of life. She trained as a Fitness & Lifestyle Consultant – and now runs a program called Training for Life, making a difference in women’s lives. She has been writing a fitness column in The Hindu’s Sunday Magazine for the last ten years.

My book, GET SIZE WISE, was published recently. The launch was held at Amethyst on Whites Road, Chennai, a sister concern of Chamiers. The warmth and ambience of these two places are very similar. I absolutely enjoy them both, depending on which part of town one wants to be in. Ideal, for a brunch with a friend or a chit chat over coffee. I find even quick business meetings are possible. The informal yet classy atmosphere is ideal when you want to have a semi-formal meeting with none of the stress associated with ‘meeting at work’.

So after the book launch the most common question I am asked is “Why write a book on fitness? There are so many!” The reasons are  simple.

I have been teaching fitness for close to 15 years now. The individuals who have stayed on track with me have experienced the benefits of not just weight loss but an improved quality of life. In their own words, their lives have been completely enhanced because of this simple inclusion of fitness into their day. They have seen more productivity at work, better management of their stress, greater creativity, confidence and an improved body image and so much more. The principles used in training these clients are the very same I have delineated in my book. Writing a book, I thought, was the only way these principles would reach a wider audience, (which I hope it will!) so more people could experience similar benefits.

With women who are already conscious of ‘fitness’ and ‘diet’ I see a strange phenomenon. At one end of the spectrum are women eating themselves silly to fill some void that they believe can be filled by food, not understanding that food needs to be a source of strength and energy. At the other end of the spectrum are some women half starving themselves, flitting between ‘diets’ or participating in bizarre practices like mud baths and alimentary feeding in the hope of quick and drastic weight loss. Many succumb to the pressure of trying fat burners and other supplements that are not only unnecessary but can in fact cause more harm than good. What is truly saddening is that women spend months on an eternal quest for this holy grail of weight loss. Had they spent those very months exercising and getting to understand food better to eat sensibly, they would have been halfway there already!

I also got tired of seeing all those books that read “lose 5 kilos in one week” or “get a flat stomach in 10 days” and what have you. All promising weight loss, and that too at amazing rates in order to “look” a certain way.

I think this obsession with just weight is so wrong at so many levels that I had to address it in the book. Of course one needs to stay within a certain weight range to stay healthy and not succumb to illness and lifestyle diseases. The problem is that we are going about getting to the right weight in all the wrong ways. We have also not clearly understood what ideally this “weight” should consist of. FAT or MUSCLE. For many women this word MUSCLE seems to be an extended four lettered word. They don’t want to become “muscular”, they are afraid to become “masculine” and so on. These are the misconceptions I have tried to address in my book.

Here’s  what I have tried to do in the book:

I have addressed what it takes to get fit and get to the right size, and how to make fitness and not just weight loss, a lifestyle.

I have stressed on the 4 Pillars of fitness which are essential to a well-rounded fitness routine. I have tried to explain that following any one form of fitness alone may not suffice to serve all your needs. I have stressed the importance of strength training, especially for the Indian woman who is inherently low on muscle mass compared to her western counterpart. This in itself is a cause for many of the health problems she faces.

I’ve touched upon nutrition in the Indian context in a very simplistic way. Serving sizes, food groups and so on, so that understanding food becomes easier. It also enables you to formulate your own diet instead of depending on someone to work it out for you. What I have tried to do is teach the reader to fend for herself and become independent, giving her autonomy over her decisions about her own body.

I have also extensively explored the female psychology behind attempts to exercise and lose weight. Some of the long counselling sessions I have had with women have been as rewarding for me as for them, as it gave me insight into the complex and fascinating  feminine psyche.

Writing this book has been an incredible journey. I hope women have as much fun reading it, as I had writing it.



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