In our health section, this time we have featured Ms. Swarnali Saha, a Certified Sports Nutritionist, Fitness Coach and Natural Bodybuilding Bikini Athlete. @Instagram thefitbonggirl. Hailing from a small town named Siliguri in West Bengal, Swarnali now resides in Pune, Maharashtra. An IT engineer by profession, Swarnali followed her passion towards bodybuilding. Following are some interesting conversation with Swarnali.
Editor: How did your start your journey initially?
Ms. Swarnali: When I first started out my journey almost 3 years ago, I had nobody to guide me. Everybody I knew told me the same things- "hey you are a woman, you should not lift weights. You will look like a man".
Initially, I was confused because I had no knowledge of bodybuilding, let alone weight lifting. But I knew one thing that I need to lose weight and get fit. I used to research a lot about diets and training, watched tons of videos on YouTube, read hundreds of articles and finally gained some knowledge and applied to myself.
Gradually, I started to see the difference in myself, I started to lose weight with the right kind of nutrition, people now started coming to me to get advice and tips and that is when I realized I am good at this and I should look up to it as a career.
And that is when I got myself certified, got into bodybuilding and started to train people. My transformation plans are in Online mode. I have clients living all around India and abroad. Some of my clients who are local to me also come down sometime to train with me or just meet me in person.
I check-in with each of my clients every week over calls and video calls to get an update on their progress and it feels so so good to see other people getting benefit from the knowledge that I have gained. It's just so fulfilling, it makes me happy every time I see happy clients.
Editor: What motivated you to be a fitness trainer?
Ms. Swarnali Saha: well, when I was going through my weight loss journey, I realized that there aren't many people who have the right knowledge about nutrition and training and always end up giving wrong advice to people who need them. And people believe in those wrong advice and actually apply them and get in a worse condition.
There are so many myths prevailing in the fitness industry and I have been a victim of many of them. So, when I realized that I can help people get the best consultancy through my experience and knowledge, I didn't hold myself back. I guess that's what motivated me to become a fitness coach.
Editor: How do you spend an average day?
Ms. Swarnali Saha: My every day is pretty much the same. For the past six months, I have continuously been into competition prep, which means quite a strict lifestyle than usual. So, I would usually wake up by 6 AM, get my morning cardio done, reply to some client emails if I have the time, then by 9 AM I am at my office because I have a full-time job too.
By 6 PM, I get off from the office and directly go to my gym to train myself. I reach home by 9 PM after which you will always find me in the kitchen, cooking and prepping my meals for the next day and answering the client calls. I always cook all my meals and carry them wherever I go, it helps me to stay on track. And by the time its 11 PM, I am off to bed and asleep like a little baby.
Editor: How often should a person workout?
Ms. Swarnali Saha: Well, that totally depends on an individual's goals. Say, for example, a person who is willing to build muscles and get lean, it's important that he/she works out at least 5 times a week so that each muscle group is trained properly along with a very clean diet. But if you ask me in general, then I would recommend to workout at least 3 times a week, to keep your body active.
Editor: Are abdominal exercises effective if a person want to lose extra belly fat?
Ms. Swarnali Saha: For a person who wants to lose extra belly fat, first have to understand that there is no spot reduction. When you lose fat, you lose from the overall body and belly fat is the last to go because we tend to hold more fat around that area.
And yes, its imp that you do abdominal exercises because like biceps, chest, and back, abs are muscles too and they need to be trained to get that tight cheese block core but what is important to lose belly fat is to add cardio, weight training, and calorie deficit diet into your daily lifestyle.
Editor: As a fitness expert, what mistakes do you think people make at the Gym?
Ms. Swarnali Saha: Oh there are so many, I will list down few!
Doing only cardio and no weight training.
Doing only weight training and no cardio.
Working out with same weights session after session.
Giving up before even trying to do certain exercises.
Oh yes how can I forget this-" Copying those Instagram girls weird workouts'. I mean exercise is a science and some people perform some weird exercises which don't even train a muscle in particular and they don't even know why they are doing it.
Editor: What's the best workout to do in the morning to have energy throughout the day?
Ms. Swarnali Saha: Any workout is the best workout. You can go for a run or jog early in the morning and feel fresh for the rest of the day or you can even hit the gym and feel energetic all day long. What works best for me is to get my cardio done in the morning and then in the evening I go for weight training.
Editor: Are Dietary Supplements mandatory for everyone who hits the Gym?
Ms. Swarnali Saha: Not at all! Supplements are called 'Supplements' for a reason. It's not mandatory to use supplements if you hit the gym. You can eat wholesome food and still get the same results. But what you have to understand is that sometimes it get really difficult to hit those huge macros with food.
For example, let's take me when I am prepping for a bodybuilding show, my protein intake is really high. I cannot eat that much chicken or eggs or tofu or anything to complete that amount, so grabbing a protein shake is easier for me. So it's totally n an individual's choice.
Editor: What are your three health tips for our readers?
Ms. Swarnali Saha: First would be to stop relying on fat burners, substitute shakes, weight loss powders that you get in the market and start eating healthy food and keep your body active.
The second one is for my fellow corporate mates who have got a full-time desk job- get up from your seat every hour, go for a 2 min walk or just stand up and stretch your body. It will help you to stay away from back pains, headache and body aches.
And the third one- drink enough water. Make sure to drink at least 3 to 4 liters of water every day.
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