While having an awareness and finding ways to stay physically active and lead a robust lifestyle is necessary, often a person may find themselves feeling confused amid a sea of information from various sources.
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Which is why, it is important to trust credible voices, and Yasmin Karachiwala is a solid one out there. The celebrity fitness trainer, who has trained many A-listers in Bollywood and Hollywood, interacted with indianexpress.com recently, and answered some pressing questions about healthy living, working out and dealing with body image issues, eating a balanced diet, and if it is okay to consume cheat meals.
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How do you start your day and what can you tell us about the importance of staying physically active?
I like to start my day with lemon water that boosts vitamin C and helps get rid of toxins. It is then followed by a handful of almonds. Almonds are rich in copper, zinc, iron that play an important role in the growth, development, and maintenance of immune function. Besides, it’s a good source of vitamin E that acts as an antioxidant to support pulmonary immune function. Vitamin E is also known to offer protection against infections caused by viruses and bacteria.
One cannot undermine the importance of staying physically active. It has significant health benefits for the heart, body and mind. Popular ways to be active include walking, cycling, wheeling, sports, active recreation and play, and can be done at any level of skill and for enjoyment by everybody. Being physically active also gives a sense of refreshment. Moreover, regular physical activity is proven to help prevent and manage non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and several cancers. It also helps to prevent hypertension, maintain healthy body weight and improve mental health, quality of life and well-being.
While you demonstrate many exercises on social media regularly, what is your favourite workout?
The reason I demonstrate different workouts is because I do not like to repeat the same ones; I feel the body needs to be challenged and subjected to different movements. Otherwise, it becomes used to a particular movement and then one stops seeing the benefits and results from the workout. I like to put in different movements so that my body is constantly trying to adapt to it and that’s when the change happens. I like to share the same with my followers. My favourite workout to do is Pilates. I also do a lot of functional training, HIIT, and Tabata among others.
What got you interested in physical fitness, and when did your journey begin?
I never set out to be a celebrity fitness trainer. I started out almost 30 years ago, with group aerobics. These were step classes and something I had learnt in a course abroad that I did for fun. I enjoyed teaching people, it was extra pocket money. My main intention in life was to become a teacher to little kids so simultaneously I did my teacher’s training course as well and took to teaching in a school in the mornings and evenings.
As my classes got popular, I realised I really enjoyed doing this and did a personal training course. I started a little studio in my house and ventured into Pilates. I never set out to be a celebrity fitness trainer. I wanted to help people be more fit and healthy. I still enjoy helping people with problems in their spine, knee or shoulder.
Healthy eating is a significant part of a healthy lifestyle. What kind of meals do you suggest people eat throughout the day?
I adhere to a weekly routine of 3-meals and 2-snacks a day. I ensure a balanced amount of food that is rich in fibre, calcium, proteins and vitamins. Also, wholesome snacks such as fresh and seasonal fruits, oats, fresh juices and almonds are a few things that I definitely recommend.
A balanced diet with proteins, vitamins, minerals, fibre help contribute to the body mass and maintain holistic health. Post the pandemic, most of us have understood the importance of being mindful and taking steps to strengthen the immune system. I always suggest healthy snacking. People should snack on foods that keep them satiated for longer intervals. Snacking on a handful of almonds may promote feelings of fullness. They are a rich source of protein, a nutrient which is not only energy-yielding but also known to contribute to the growth and maintenance of muscle mass. A study published by researchers at the University of Leeds found that snacking on almonds mid-morning resulted in a lower overall hunger drive and suppressed unconscious desire to consume high-fat foods.
Do you consume junk food in the form of cheat meals?
I do have one cheat meal in the week which is chicken biryani. Junk food is something that I am not fond of. Over time, I have trained my body to not eat junk; the journey was difficult but now my body rejects junk food. Sometimes, I do eat them in the form of chips or French fries. But even then taste-wise, I prefer sweet potato fries to regular fries.
A lot of people experience body image issues, feeling guilty after being indulgent. What suggestions do you have for them?
I think we all are smart and making smart food choices is a lifestyle change. I only educate my clients on which food is good and we all know that fried ones, sweets and alcohol are bad. Packaged foods are most likely to contain preservatives, which means more calories. Such foods may often taste delicious and lead you to crave for more, but they are not the best options health-wise. Instead, replace such foods with freshly-cooked meals. I am a true believer in mindful snacking. My go-to snack is almonds. Also, if someone is fond of spices they can simply churn almonds into a flavoursome snack with just about any Indian masala/spice.
Your meals should be a mix of all colours of foods which can lead to holistic growth.
You have trained many celebs. Who, according to you, is the most disciplined about their fitness schedule?
Today all celebrities, whether they are from Bollywood or Hollywood, focus on fitness. In my opinion, all the celebrities should be diligently working out and must be extremely disciplined, which they are. They are so disciplined that sometimes when they are shooting till late, I have to go to work [with them]. I had to go to work at 5 am. All the Bollywood actors today are disciplined; they’ve realised it’s not only about weight loss, but about being fit. They have also realised exercise gives them energy and a boost which helps them to get through the day.
I enjoy working out with all of my clients because I think each one is unique and there is something special about them.
What exercise would you recommend to people who work long hours and do not find the time to go to the gym?
Working out five days a week is imperative. For people having long working hours, I recommend to them to either hit the gym, perform a simple workout at home or take a stroll in the evening. The idea is to walk at least 10,000 steps daily. While eating right is important, one must not neglect exercising. Simple exercises like yoga and meditation, and walking indoors or in the lobby area will increase their energy levels.
How do you end your day?
If I have no plans for the night and I am at home, I eat my dinner and then I end my day by watching movies or shows. Usually, I like to spend about 2-3 hours in front of the TV. I catch up on shows and movies that I have wanted to watch but have missed.