Fitness expert and lifestyle consultant Dr. Sheela Nambiar exhorts women to keep an hour aside for themselves daily to keep fit

An obstetrician and a gynaecologist Sheela has trained women in fitness for the past 13 years. Her foray into wellness started with ante and post natal classes in her family’s hospital, Parvathy Medical Centre in Ooty.

She certified as a fitness and lifestyle consultant in 1999 and started the Training For Life (TFL) programme. Certification increased her scope to take classes outside medical cases, much to her liking. “I need to do a lot of exciting things. I like to push the envelope,” said the 45-year-old fitness expert who was recently in the city to launch her first book, Get Size Wise. Passionately involved in women’s health and fitness, Sheela came up with the idea of a book to spread the principles of her training methods, beyond her clientele.

Though her one hour prescription is not a tall order Sheela finds, through her counselling sessions, that women come up with all kinds of excuses, the most common ones being ‘the family’. “The husband, the child, the boss, the house…. are mere excuses”, says, Sheela declaring that fitness improves self esteem and should be a part of a holistic lifestyle.

The precious one hour can be split into weight training, cardio exercises, yoga and other forms of exercise that address the four pillars of fitness - stamina, strength, flexibility and endurance - which Sheela propounds in her book.

Dont obsess over weight

“Maintaining fitness levels are as important as shedding fat, and weight on the scales is not the most important thing,” she stated about the obsessive desire of women for weight loss.

The book focuses on ingestion of a balanced diet using a food guide programme. As Sheela is not a nutritionist she has kept the chapter on nutrition simple by explaining the food groups and serving sizes that are a part of the food pyramid. “One can formulate one’s diet using the food guide pyramid. Any diet that excludes any one single food group completely needs to be questioned. It cannot be sustained.”

At her studio in Chennai Sheela trains women of different age groups. She finds the couple of 80-year-olds who train to be most regular and serious, “because they know the importance of fitness”.

Changing trends

Over the years Sheela has noticed women getting serious about fitness, of women looking better but she cautions them not to fall into the vanity trap. “You should not restrict yourself to physical appearance. Fitness is so much about your ability to function better, ability to contribute to society.”

Her routine is a combination of different cardio programmes and strength training mixed with power stretches and yoga sequences. And her diet is nothing but intelligent eating drawn out from the food pyramid. Sheela concluded by exhorting women to “take responsibility for herself and her choices, about her health and well being.” The book is available in city bookstores and online.

Dr. Sheela Nambiar’s observations on women of different age groups

Teenagers - Start young. If you weight train from a young age then your basal metabolic rate remains high. Parents need to teenagers keep fit. They have to commit themselves to a diet and a fitness routine, incorporate in their lives and set an example.

20- 30 year olds

The biggest refrain of this age group is to shed weight quickly and fit into a desired apparel. They want results in a hurry but such weight loss is not sustainable.

On the positive side she finds this age group to be savvier now and work diligently towards losing pregnancy fat. Fitness exercises can be resumed after a six weeks rest period for a regular C section delivery.

For normal delivery the women can begin exercising as soon as she is comfortable. Lactation is alleviated with exercise is a myth.

40- year- olds

Till 40s it is all about appearance because women are caught up with the visual aspect of beauty. The 40 woman begins to understand fitness from a larger perspective. Women in the 40s should be seriously into weight training.