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HEALTHY MORSELS AND HAPPY BITES

“Eat what your body can digest,” says Deepika Chalasani, lifestyle management expert and owner of Fit4Life. Her approach to diet, health and lifestyle surprises you as she never advises diets that make her clients crave for food. “Food satisfies the soul, so why should we deprive it of any taste?” On that satisfying thought, she breaks the myths around healthy living and gives a glimpse of her journey into the most misunderstood field - ‘Lifestyle Management’.

Deepika pursued MBA in Human Resources Management, Masters in Economics and Masters in Psychotherapy and Counselling, and was enjoying a successful career in the corporate world. But most unexpectedly, she ventured into the fitness field (lifestyle and weight management). A conversation with her is an eye-opener and redefines the approach to healthy living.

Formative years
I hail from Krishna district. Though born in Assam, I was brought up in Ooty. My parents Mr.Subba Rao and Mrs.Rama Devi used to travel across the country because of my father's job. So, all my formative years have been in boarding schools. Later, I went to Pune for my Masters in Symbiosis. In 2012, we finally shifted base to Hyderabad.

Healthy change
I had a successful career as consultant in the corporate world dealing with top 10 companies listed in the Fortune 500 list. Life was great with a wonderful husband S.M.Reddy & children- Aarav and Aanya. At 39 and at the peak of my career, I faced health issues. I had put on 30 kilograms and diagnosed with diabetes, high BP and knee pains. On the other hand, my 60-year old father was all fit and filled with energy. He could easily walk, cycle and run for kilometers, whereas I had lost complete control on my health.

Enlightenment
My parents are practising nutritionists and were in the field for over a decade. When I looked at my parents and then at myself, I realised that I have to take charge of my life. That was when I decided to tighten up my lifestyle. However, the first hurdle was weight. To get rid of it, I went to gymnasiums, dieticians, etc. However, none of them could give me a sustainable solution.
That is when my quest for a sustainable lifestyle solution began. This not only got me back to healthy living but also made me lay the foundation for Fit4Life. I tried to sort my life with my father's guidance.

Genesis of Fit4Life
Ours is the only country where carbohydrates turn to fat and insulin is weak resulting in more diabetic problems. We should not ape the west. Fit4Life was established with this understanding and a mission to provide healthy living as a sustainable model.
I feel an ideal lifestyle is all about having a good routine, indulging in your favourite food, late-night party once in a while and yet remain healthy.



Initial hurdles
Many! When we started, we had many seeking weight loss like 3 to 5 kgs in a stipulated time. I realised that people feel that being fit is having a perfect body, an hour glass body (if women) and more. Sad but true! When they look at actors, they aspire to have a body like them but they tend to miss out on the fact that their body has been built over time. Basically, 80-90%, this is the mindset towards healthy living and the balance 20% is diet. I can’t understand how one can refrain from having their favourite food. That would mean self-limiting. I have turned down many clients because they were looking for an instant reduction in weight or drop in the diabetic numbers. I never took up such cases. I want my clients to be ready for a behavioral change that helps them sustain their health for life. I urge them to come to me only when they are ready to look at life or health in a holistic way.

Diet dilemma
Every second day, there is a new diet. But statistics of Oxford and couple of other universities have proved that only 1% could get results from such diets and sustain them for long. Our body has a beautiful mechanism which is self-equipped for its functioning. We damage it by not listening to it. For example, if you are eating a lot, it means your body is trying to communicate with you through your food. It is important to identify whether the reason for eating so much is emotional, physiological or deficiency of nutrition. Weight is just a culmination of what you have done over the years or months and cannot shoot up overnight. People read something somewhere or someone tells them that that diet worked great, and they follow it.

One must realise that each body is unique and so is its nutritional requirement. So, there is no good diet or bad diet. There is only suitable diet. Maintaining the same weight for long should be the priority rather than losing it. One must realise that every food has some nutritional value. Avoiding any particular food would mean not giving your body that particular nutrition.

Let's move it
Just like food, physical activity is body-specific. Believing that exercise is all you need to stay fit is a myth. Exercising strains and after a certain point it tends to act negatively. For example, many women indulge in excessive exercise and put on a lot of weight. Whatever you eat after such heavy workout remains in your body causing a threat. So, a workout regimen should be designed on parameters like body type, age, lifestyle and more.

BMI is not all
BMI is not a parameter for good health. It does not take age into consideration. A 90-year-old and a 20-year-old with the same height are expected to be similar. It is not possible.

Common lifestyle problems
Most of India is either pre-diabetic or on the threshold of it. It bothers women more as it impacts the fertility. With men, it is more about cholesterol, triglycerides and more.

Impact of digital wave
You have to understand that when some information is put out there, it could be either based on personal experience or out of research done with hundred people. Hundred samples are not big enough to consider such information. It may or may not work for you. Therefore, one must check on what basis the research was done, who did the survey, for how long and more, and then decide.

Work Life balance
As I said before, healthy living is a blend of healthy mind & body. Therefore, when not working, I focus on building myself. I have recently started running and cycling. These activities calm my mind. Besides, I try to learn new things. My husband has been a great support. He helped me set up Fit4Life. I love to spend time with my family. When my family needs me, I am with it.

Women power
I don't believe in pre-conceived notions woven around women. We are taught to think about others first, So we constantly try to live up to the expectations and neglect our self. I don't believe that a mother must cook for her children. If I don't know cooking, I will hire a cook and get the best for my children. By doing so, we are giving a message to the boy that it's okay if his wife doesn't know how to cook. I believe true women power is all about doing your best without losing your identity. We need to get over this feeling ‘I am a superhuman’ where she tries to do everything. I don't need to prove that I am a great wife, mother or daughter-in-law.

Success mantra
I strongly believe in what I do. I stay unruffled by failures like losing a client to someone else.

Future
We are ready for the future and prepared to handle fads that keep popping up in the market. We shall continue to stick to our approach even if it doesn’t become an instant hit. Fit4life is for life, so I am not in a hurry. In a country with a million plus population, even if we manage to change a thousand families then we consider ourselves successful. We wish to build trust among the people.

OFF THE CUFF
Leisure
Spending time with family and children
Women empowerment
Balancing life
Life mantra
Love yourself the most
Healthiest country
Japan

Tips for healthy life

  • Eat right
  • Adequate physical activity
  • Stay happy and spend time with your loved ones

HER QUALIFICATIONS

  • Mind-body eating coach from the Institute of Eating Psychology Fitness Nutrition from Issa
  • Weight management and lifestyle specialist from Nesta
  • Diploma in nutrition and health education from IGNOU
  • Certificate in food and nutrition from IGNOU

 
 
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