Connecting the Dots……

This is why I teach Fitness & Wellness

This is why I teach fitness and wellnessOn returning from my post-graduation to work at my family-run hospital in Ooty, in
1994, I believed, if there was a condition where one may slowly and silently perish from isolation and a suppression of creative energy… this was it! I lived within the four walls of my home and hospital, working endlessly. That was all I did.

Of course, I felt plenty of self-pity for my ‘hard-working’ self. Felt very self-righteous actually! I thought, ‘Life is unfair. I am meant do bigger things!’.

From this came an opportunity to create something powerful and rewarding in ‘small town Ooty’ over and beyond my Obstetric practice. I nurtured my passion for fitness and
certified as a Fitness & Lifestyle Consultant to support my medical career, propagating fitness to women as a form of ‘Preventive Medicine’. I started ‘TFL’ (Training for Life’) in
Ooty in 2000 and in Chennai in 2007. It became an extension of my medical practice. One that I believe to be very relevant to women’s health and wellness and also enriched patients, clients and women across the board, from all walks of life.

Today, I am appreciative that I am able to translate my passion for fitness to touch and change women’s lives. Am ecstatic to see my alternate career lead to a metamorphosis in
several women who have benefitted from TFL, leading to an incredible improvement in their ‘Quality Of Life’. 

‘Connecting the dots’, I believe this is what I was meant to do……….change lives.

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Transformation for Life

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I have worked out in many gyms before and after TFL. I think at TFL one learns the true meaning and reason for exercsiing but also about right quality and quantity of food intake. Transformation for life!

– Nalina Kannan 

 

Bhutan

On a recent visit to Bhutan with two dear friends, I was witness to the most amazing architecture and natural beauty. The Tiger’s Nest monastery was particularly stunning. Built in the 17th century on the edge of a precipice, one cannot even fathom how such a feat could have been accomplished! It appears to teeter on the cliff, surrounded by the most staggeringly raw landscape. It is said to have been burnt down completely in 1998 (from one of the ‘butter lamps’ tipping over, no doubt). It was then restored to its original glory.

IMG_0878The climb to the monastery is no easy feat. Although the actual climb is only about 700 meters, it is steep and narrow almost all the way. Having rained the previous night, it was also frighteningly slippery in parts. A fellow tourist cheerfully told us that since we were wearing fluorescent bright jackets, there would be absolutely no problem finding us if we do fall off the edge! Not very reassuring,

IMG_0845The enormous number of beautiful wild dogs on the way up was another amazing sight. They looked like huskies, a little shy but happy to share your breakfast with you.

The dense forest surrounding the monastery comprised of the most incredible trees. On these trees grew beautiful strands of moss that hung down like gossamer curtains creating a surreal appearance.

IMG_0862Breathless much of the way, but exhilarated and awe struck it occurred to me just how many people would not be able to climb to such places solely on account of their lack of fitness. Fitness to many (such as me) is often a means to this very end – to be able to really enjoy life’s recreational activities without feeling uncertain about ones ability to
last out or follow through. No, its not the same thing to see these places on Tv or in photographs. The smells, sights, the travel with friends or family, the food, all make up for the entire experience. It is these experiences that also mould us in ways we don’t often recognise. These very experiences that add a different dimension and richness to
our days.

Getting fit therefore should have other objectives than losing weight. A more holistic approach keeps one motivated to continue to exercise and improve our fitness levels. After a while it stops being just about ‘weight’ and ‘size’, but also about how much we can do while enjoying it. These are little things that make all the difference.

 

Life Begins at 50

Like all women in Indian society, I put my husband and family first and took the back seat where my own wellness was concerned. I got my wake-up call one day in 2013, when I got on to the scales and was completely shocked! I was horrendously overweight, had swollen ankles, and was waddling around like a duck. I realised that I desperately
needed to turn my life around.I had heard about TFL, but… was apprehensive and embarrassed about starting exercise at this ‘late stage’ of my life. I wondered whether it would be possible to lose the weight I had gained. I met with Dr. Sheela Nambiar, got a physical and joined TFL. The first few months were really tough. The pain was excruciating in my back and in my legs. Muscles I had never used had woken up and were protesting! But, I was determined! The other ladies in TFL were also terribly encouraging. Now, after nearly two years, I have become healthier, my aches and pains have almost disappeared and I have lost a lot of weight.

Once we hit 50, we tend to throw in our gloves, wait for menopause and lifestyle diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure to pounce on us. Yes, this could be the case if we don’t exercise and don’t eat appropriately. But….who says that as you get older, life has to be a never-ending cycle of aches and sickness? Why should life stop or decline after 50? We are lucky to have Dr. Sheela as our guide/instructor who, despite her busy schedule, takes a personal interest in each one of us. TFL has built up my confidence, helped me to make new friends, has improved my health and changed my view of life. For me, life began at 50 and I’m going to make the rest of my life the best of my life.

By Rekha Peter

How to Begin Strength Training

This article was first published in The Hindu on March 12, 2018.

12mpsheelaARTGAQ3IFB1H3jpgjpgMyths debunked, questions answered and doubts cleared, here

Strength, like stamina and flexibility, is one of the primary pillars of fitness. It helps retain and build muscle mass, increase strength and even aid fat loss.

Know the means

There are two ways of increasing strength and muscle mass. You could perform exercises using your own body weight (pushups, squats, lunges), or you could use external weights like dumbbells, barbells or machines. I recommend that a beginner start with using lightweights with dumbbells or machines, and gradually build strength in order to be able to handle their own body weight. Once you build enough strength by using external weights, you could move on to using your own body weight to challenge your muscles further, and proceed to do a combination of own-body-weight exercises and those with external weights. All the exercises need to be learnt from a professional so that risk of injury is minimised. Before starting a strength-training programme, do get a clearance from your physician.

Begin right

A couple of pairs of dumbbells (about 2-4 kg each), a mat, weight training gloves, water and proper (fitted) attire is all that is required. How much weight you lift for each exercise will vary. Typically, the larger muscles of the body like the chest, back, shoulders and glutes will be able to lift a heavier weight than the smaller peripheral muscles like the arms and calves.

Know the terminology

A routine typically consists of a series of exercises addressing different muscles or groups of muscles.

Each exercise is repeated several times (repetitions or reps) until the muscle tires. After a short period of rest, the next set is attempted and the exercise is repeated again until the muscle tires once more. Ideally, for muscle growth, you should not be able to perform more than 6-10 repetitions of the given exercise in one set. This means that after about eight reps, your muscle begins to protest, and by rep 10, it is so fatigued that you cannot push for more reps. Only you can decide what weight to use for each exercise. The weight you use will also differ from exercise to exercise. In time, you need to be able to push yourself gradually to increase the weight you use for each.

Performing each exercise with perfect ‘form’ is important if you want to prevent injury. Each exercise has dos and don’ts. These need to be adhered to meticulously. Understanding and remembering all the instructions for each and every exercise, (such as breathe in as you lower, breathe out as you lift, keep the back flat, keep the core engaged, keep the head lifted, spine aligned and so on), takes time and effort. While the exercise may appear simple, many get injured, especially as weight increases. This is one of the reasons why it is always preferable to have a trainer guide you to correct mistakes during the first few months of your initiation into weight training. Make sure the same muscle is not worked within 48 hours. So for instance, if you perform all the upper body exercises on a Monday, you should rest those body parts and aim to work them again only on a Thursday. You could then perform all the lower body exercises on a Tuesday and a Friday.

Setting Goals For 2018

Untitled design (13)New year resolutions are a common practice. The turn of the calendar from 31st December to the 1st of January usually witnesses a flurry of declarations for a better life, better body, more money, greater happiness and so on. Setting a goal does not necessarily translate to achievement. Most New Year resolutions fall by the wayside by the end of a couple of months, if not earlier.

Here are some tips to ensure that your goals suit your lifestyle and are realised.

We’ve all heard the acronym set SMART goals.

Goals need to be –

  • Specific (simple, focused on something definite).
  • Measurable (something that can be evaluated).
  • Achievable (attainable).
  • Realistic (reasonable).
  • Time bound (time-based, time-sensitive).

While all the above holds true, I add that goals need to be Action based and not Result based. What does that mean?

A goal such as, ‘I intend to lose 10 pounds this year’ is result based. (Even though it is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time sensitive). The loss of ten pounds is the result of your effort.  The result is not always within your control. You may lose 10 pounds or, you may not reach your goal. On the other hand you may end up losing more.

A better approach is to focus on your effort or the action leading to that result. So for instance, your goal should not just be to ‘lose 10 pounds’ but perhaps one or more of the following:

  • I will walk for thirty minutes every day at a moderately intense pace.
  • I will stop eating sugar and desserts
  • I will consume at least five cups of vegetables a day
  • I will include two days a week of weight training
  • I will lower my intake of refined carbs and processed foods
  • I will remove alcohol from my diet.
  • I will be more mindful of what I eat

And so on……

The above actions are pretty much under your direct control. If they are adhered to, the result, the weight loss will emerge. The success of the result of course depends largely on the effort you put in. Your focus therefore needs to be on that effort that is under your control.

Many times however despite your best effort you may not achieve exactly what you were going for. While this may be the case, it is quite pointless lamenting this ‘lack of success’ as I said the result is not always under your control. Instead recall the positive spin offs from your effort (which may not have been on your agenda to begin with). Following the above goals will make significant ‘lifestyle’ changes for long term success. These changes are far more important that the mere loss of weight. You learn to incorporate regular exercise, you understand and apply the basic principles of healthy eating as a ‘lifestyle’ rather than a short-term solution with an end goal like ‘weight loss’.

Whatever your goals, focus on the action and give it your very best. The results may or may not be exactly what you expected but no matter. The effort invested is all that really matters.