A conversation with Nishriin Parikh awakens my sleeping guilt over my previous week's missed zumba classes and the butter-laced parathas I had for lunch earlier in the day.
After all, how often do you see someone in their fifties working out for four to six hours a day while following a grain-free diet?
I soon set aside my guilt and decide to focus on learning the fitness secrets from Nishriin.
It is thanks to her years of disciplined diet and fitness regimen that Nishriin has been able to storm into the male bastion of bodybuilding.
A black belt in karate, Nishriin is a fitness trainer who keeps a hawk's eye on her clients' diets and devises suitable combinations of aerobics, pilates, yoga, martial arts and weight training to get them in shape.
Nishriin started learning karate at 15 and went on to win a medal in the national games seven years later.
However, post marriage and motherhood, she had to take a break from the martial art form, but continued to pursue her passion for fitness and gained proficiency in other fitness styles and yoga.
Nishriin impressed the audience and jury when she participated in the Gladrags Mrs India and Ms Fitness India bodybuilding competition last year, as she was competing with participants who were her children's age.
The dark horse in the world of fitness modelling
Nishriin ensures her water intake is high and drinks kokam soaked water, which helps in keeping her system alkaline.
She doesn't eat grains, not even the healthier alternatives to rice and wheat like bajra and jowar.
Her diet consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts and protein supplements from GNC, her favourite brand, which helps in building up her muscle mass.
Nishriin says, "Last year when I turned 50, I wanted to do something different and stepped into the world of fitness modelling for the first time.
"I had to go up on stage and be assessed on my physique.
"There are three categories in fitness modelling -- athletic model, bikini model or body builder. I fall in the athletic category as I have a good amount of muscles."
Apart from two hours of weight training, Nishriin does yoga alongside her students during each of her classes.
She says, "I have been a good personal trainer, and the best daughter, best mother and best wife.
"I now want to live my life as a best me.
"I want to prepare every single day and participate in several competitions that are lined up.
"Since I have already represented India, my current goal is to represent Asia in the international bodybuilding competition that is happening in Goa next year."
Being a psychology major, Nishriin does take education seriously, but ensured that her sons, who are 23 and 25 now, were active and fit right from their childhood.
Her husband, a diamond merchant, is a karate enthusiast and the entire family often do headstands together just for fun.
Change yourself and you can change the world
Nishriin says, "If you are unfit you are losing out on happiness and a sense of well-being.
"Everyone has time; the most efficient people manage their time the best and do what it is more important.
"Sedentary lifestyle which involves waking up, having a cup of coffee, being driven to work, have meetings after meetings, eating calorie-rich unhealthy meals, hitting the bar with friends after work to eat some more bad food with alcohol, and calling it a day -- how can you call this living?
"Why not spend at least one hour each day solely for the well-being of your body and mind?"
Nishriin feels that people nowadays carry their diabetes and hypertension as medals.
Helping business empires to become bigger at the cost of one's health isn't the right way to do things.
She says, "Parents buy samosas fried in carcinogenic oil as a treat for their young children. Think of what kind of legacy you are leaving for them."
These are Nishriin's tips to set you off on your fitness path.
- Join a football club, a yoga centre or some kind of group fitness activity to start off.
- Or else start off by going on a walk as it is better than sitting around.
- Become a little more active -- take the stairs instead of the lift. These little activities will help and increase your energy levels and reduce lethargy.
- Push yourself. If you have been walking for a couple of months, start jogging or try a few squats and push-ups. Just don't do walking in the park for years, it is not going to help you since your body will get used to it.
- If you can afford it, go to a gym and try weight training. It will change your life by transforming your metabolism.
- Choose healthy foods. If you are hungry, eat a banana instead of a vada pav.
- If you crave junk food, you can resist it by breaking it up in your mind. For example, a cookie is just maida, sugar, oils and artificial additives.
- Remember that your stomach is very small -- just the size of your fist -- so it doesn't really need much food.
Nishriin is now training hard for the Talwalkars Classique National bodybuilding championship later this month.
She signs off with, "If I can inspire even one person to take better care of himself, I will be happy." She did inspire me -- I attended my zumba class today!
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