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Transforming Lives

Mentor to some of Bollywood’s brightest stars, highly acclaimed celebrity fitness trainer Yasmin Karachiwala takes us on an inspiring journey of wellness and self-love.
By NASRIN MODAK SIDDIQI

Images courtesy of Yasmin Karachiwala

What wellness means to me…

A holistic approach to life, evaluating our fitness, food and lifestyle choices. Simply working out or changing your eating habits is not the answer—everything needs to be in tandem, without having to make drastic life changes. Start with small adjustments to achieve a balance in life. Check on how many minutes a day you spend on physical activity (aside from going to the gym, or for workouts and walks)—it could even be getting up every hour and walking for five minutes or doing a couple of stretches or squats. I make sure I avoid a sedentary lifestyle and stay active throughout the day, not just when I exercise. Humans are meant to move and hence movement needs to be a part of our life.

Food for the soul

It’s not solely about going on a diet or not eating this or that; it’s about avoiding foods that may harm your body and including those that nourish you from within—foods that love you back. Find foods that are good for you and not just the ones that make you feel good. These may taste great, but may not be suitable for your gut. Also, avoid fried foods and sugar—you can have these as part of your cheat meal, occasionally. When you choose to eat is also important. For instance, I do intermittent fasting for 16 hours; it helps my body heal and makes me feel very energetic throughout the day. I break my fast with a combination of good carbs, protein, good fat and fibre. If you feel peckish, keep a bowl of nuts handy and have a few every few hours.

Sleep like a baby

A good night’s sleep is an important factor in wellness. Make sure you get at least seven hours of sleep, not less.

Drink it up

Hydration is essential. That does not mean you drink a bottle of water at one go and then don’t drink any for the next two to three hours. Spread it through the day. You can also eat foods (fruits and vegetables) with high water content.

Find time for yourself

Grab those 10 minutes a day solely for yourself to either meditate, listen to music, or to just be—it’s enough to recharge you from within.

Images courtesy of Yasmin Karachiwala

Make time for fitness

While working from home during the quarantine, I realised I was spending several hours without any movement. So, I set an hourly alarm to walk for five minutes. I’d take calls walking around with my phone and headset. You don’t even need to make an effort. Imagine if you’re sitting for eight hours a day and you set a similar hourly alarm—you’ll end up clocking in 40 minutes of physical activity a day! Sip water before you walk. That way, you’ll stay hydrated and fit at the
same time.

My fitness mantra

Be fit, because you deserve it. A lot of us work out just to get into that special dress or to get that perfect beach body. Instead, do it for yourself. That’s where self-love comes in.

My favourite exercise routine

I exercise in the morning with a session of Pilates or by going to the gym, whichever I’m in the mood for that day. And I do a cardiovascular activity in the evening (an elliptical, a walk with my dog, or a mix of four machines, 10 to 15 minutes on each). I like to keep changing it up and doing different things every day to bring variety to my workouts—that’s the secret to looking forward to working out.

Images courtesy of Yasmin Karachiwala

My favourite wellness routine

I like to get away from the city and go to a place where I can completely relax, where I don’t need my phone and I can just focus on eating right. There should be fresh air, with plenty of trees around. I like a place where there’s not too much or too little to do—just enough for you to operate at your own pace and take in the surroundings. I always book my massages and make time for workouts. Also, know that it takes just a little bit of effort to tell the chef what you like to eat and how you want your meals prepared.

Getting started

The best way to start a fitness journey is to find something you enjoy doing. It could be walking, swimming, cycling or playing a sport like badminton, football, table tennis or squash—if you start with something fun, you are more likely to make it a part of your lifestyle. Never do it because someone else said they enjoyed it. For those at my gym, undecided on whether they want to join Zumba or Pilates—I tell them to try both and see for themselves. At the end of your workout, you should be able to say, “God, it killed me! But I really enjoyed it.” Only then will you stick to it.

If you’ve never worked out in your life, start slow. Try working out 20 minutes for a couple of days. Once you get used to that, then increase your workout session to 30, then 45 and then 60 minutes. Try to enjoy each milestone. It’s a sign of your self determination. Fitness must become a lifestyle; it’s a journey, not a destination and you want to stay on this journey till the very end. So, don’t wait. Today is already too late, but it’s early enough to take care of yourself for the rest of your life. Don’t postpone it. Find something you love because you won’t put it off till tomorrow or the next day or the day after. Get right on to it. Start with just five minutes if you don’t have 20, but start your fitness journey today.

 

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