Exclusive Interview with Fitness Expert Wanitha Ashok

Wanitha Ashok

Wanitha Ashok

A role model and inspiration for many, Wanitha Ashok is someone who has turned her passion into her profession. Not only a body transformation expert, she’s also a motivational speaker for fitness, an environmental and social activist and an aerobics instructor. She has a studio called Wanitha Ashok’s moving body, which is all about movement. With numerous certifications to her credit, her favorite is still aerobics. Whatever she learns, she tries to incorporate into her mainstream class which is aerobics. She has her own fitness DVD called ‘Aerobics for your mind and body’ and also is the author of the book ‘You have an excuse; I have an exercise’.

I had the pleasure of meeting her as she shared some insights about health and fitness.

 

On an everyday basis, what are the five foods that are good to eat and five foods that you have to avoid at all costs?

The ones that you have to avoid are deep-fried food, fast food, junk food, instant food and rich sweets.

Out of the good foods, water is number one. It’s the forgotten nutrient. It’s very important especially if you want supple skin and a hydrated look.  Make sure you drink a glass of water every 2 hours or even half an hour once, particularly for a person sitting in an AC cubicle and working. There are a lot of apps that you can download reminding you to drink water. You can also flavor it with mint, lemon, ginger or cinnamon. You can drink green tea too, there are so many flavors available now and of course, if you are having any of these, no sugar and try to avoid honey as well, because it’s still got calories.

Other things would be fruits and vegetables. We need plenty of both as they are very good sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber and they work at the cellular level.

The next would be your complex carbohydrates in small moderation. Not refined, not simple but complex.

And of course, make sure you have enough protein. Do not go overboard on protein, as excess protein is converted into fat and stored. In this protein era, a lot of people who are not well-informed, they go overboard on protein and wonder why they are putting on excess weight. Your workout should match your protein intake. So if you have excess protein without matching your workout, it’s a taxation on your kidney too.

Finally include nuts, as they are healthy fats.

What do you think about taking supplements?

I’m anti-supplements. I don’t take any supplement. I rely on natural sources. Every fruit or vegetable has protein, even broccoli and peas have protein, whole grains too, your first option should be that. And if you are a non-vegetarian and you take supplements, you are just overloading yourself with protein. Supplements are usually for body builders or for excessive weight training. For general fitness, just make sure you are having your right protein sources through food.

What exactly would you recommend for people to eat, before and after their workout?

You should never work out on an empty stomach, because your chances of loosing your muscles is very high. You can’t afford to lose your muscles, because they are metabolism boosters. So it’s important to have something small, before you step out for your workout, even if it’s an early morning workout. If you workout on an empty stomach, you burn out really soon and wont be able to perform well. Either finish your breakfast 2 hours before your workout, or if you are working out in the evening, just make sure you have something light half an hour before to power your workout.

If one wants to get into shape quickly, what would you suggest they do?

I would say that there’s nothing called quick. The best way to get into shape is to always be very careful. When you exercise you tone, strengthen and sculpt your body, but if you want to lose weight, its only through your calories. Managing your calories is the quickest way to get into shape.

How important is it to eat and not starve?

You have to eat every 2 hours to keep your blood sugar level stable. My favorite indulgence these days is a yoga bar. Its natural, its got date and honey as a sweetener, its my option as a dessert.

For a lot of people, especially for Indian body types, a major issue is loosing fat on their stomach and lower half, what tips would you give them?

There is no spot reduction. You got to be really careful. You can’t isolate and loose that area. You can do as much as crunches or lunges you want, you are working your muscles and not your fat. Your fat has to be reduced only through calories. It’s the mental strength that is required.

What do you think is lacking in Bangalore or even in India when it comes to health and fitness?

It’s lacking certified instructors. You just can’t be an instructor overnight. Everybody is getting injured. I love my country and I want my fellow citizens to train the right way and not hurt themselves. It’s important to workout under supervision, with a certified trainer. People really have to change their mindset. When you want to workout, you have the right to go ask the trainers for their certification. We are responsible for people who come trusting us. If you can’t help them, its fine but don’t injure them. You have to be really ethical. Everything has to be controlled and monitored from alignment, posture, execution to breathing.

There’s a lot of time constraints for people these days. What would you suggest they do?

You have an excuse; I have an exercise is my mantra. Plenty of simple exercises can be done anywhere. In my book, I have this one chapter called secret exercise, where you are exercising and nobody knows that you are exercising, so it doesn’t mean that you will lose weight, rather it’s for flexibility, mobility, strengthening, and improving the quality of your life. If you are sitting all day, everything becomes stiff, your joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and chances of snapping is very high.

It’s also very important to make time. Don’t have any food apps on your phone if you want to lose weight because its easy to get tempted from the illustrious pictures. There are so many healthy food options these days that you could go for.

What is the one thing that you love globally that you want to see in India?

Everybody exercising and getting fit. India is my mantra.

You motivate others? What is it that motivates you?

Everything that I see around me inspires me. It’s very important to draw motivation. Everything can be a motivation, the whole world speaks to us, you just have to learn to listen to that.

Who is your fitness inspiration?

I am my own motivation. I always tell my students also that mirror is your best motivation. If you are looking nice in the mirror, it’s a motivation that whatever you are doing now, you should continue doing it. If you don’t like something you see about yourself in the mirror, it’s a cue that ‘I’m not liking this and I’m going to change’.

Any final tips that you have for our readers?

Exercise is about being independent of being dependent. Always take care of yourself. If you don’t, you become older than you should even before your time. Apart from that, be a role model to your children, a disciplined lifestyle is a gift you give them for this lifetime.

For more on Wanitha Ashok, follow her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/wanithaashok

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