Sheela Nambiar’s Get Size Wise turns the spotlight on issues related to women’s fitness

“This book is full of stories,” said Sheela Nambiar. And, it’s these stories that make her latest book Get Size Wise (Rupa) special. For, they are stories she gathered over the years by observing the women she met as a fitness and lifestyle consultant. An obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr. Sheela runs the fitness programme ‘Training For Life’ in Udhagamandalam. Her book, said to be ‘training for life for the Indian woman’, was recently launched in the city by Nirmala Lakshman, director, The Hindu. Obstetrician and gynaecologist Gita Arjun engaged the author in a conversation.

“Women’s health issues always take second place in the scheme of things,” said Nirmala. “They are swept under the carpet. In the larger social context, women’s health is not given priority.” However, it is important that women pay attention to their well-being. Sheela’s book “talks about a range of issues” with regard to women’s fitness, she added. “The book is different from the run-of-the-mill health books as it is based on her experiences as a doctor. She has been able to delve deep into the psyche of people who come to her.”

According to Dr. Sheela, the important aspect of a weight-loss routine is that one must never aspire to look a certain way or like someone else. For, at the end of the day, we can only look like a new version of ourselves.

“Is it possible to lose weight only by exercising or dieting?” asked Dr. Gita, kick-starting the interactive session. “As far as weight goes, diet is more important than exercise,” replied Dr. Sheela. However, she added that diet alone did not improve fitness levels. “In moderation, everything is fine,” she replied to a question from the audience. “If you had an ice-cream or a sweet that day, make up for it by walking an extra 45 minutes,” added Dr. Gita.

Help from yoga?

Can yoga be a substitute to weight-training? “Indian women have low muscle mass when compared to their Western counterparts,” said Dr. Sheela. “This is the reason for half of our health problems.” Ashtanga yoga can be a substitute to weight-training to a certain extent, while regular Hatha yoga cannot, she said. Can millets be used as a substitute to rice? “Yes. Unrefined red rice can also be had in the place of rice. It has its own nutrients.” Answering a question on detox diet, Dr. Sheela said that “the human body is absolutely phenomenal. You don’t need to go on a detox diet. The eat-sleep-exercise routine is in itself a detoxification process”.

Though workout systems such as zumba and Pilates are sought-after weigh-loss practices, one should choose the right way to lose weight. “Doing this one thing will not help you; you have to find out what combination is good for you.”