Neethu Binoi is a self-taught fitness freak. She stumbled upon physical fitness as a way of life quite by chance, while grappling with much more “weightier” issues. The alarm bells went ringing when from a decent 62 kg, she shot up to a whopping 84 kg post delivery. Somewhere along her struggle to slim down, she was caught in the fitness loop, which fascinated her to no end. Caught up by the 'be slim, be fit' concept, Neethu decided to go in for a career change, which saw her ditching her engineering degree for multiple international fitness training certificates.
A much sought-after fitness trainer, Neethu’s journey from her native Kottayam to Dubai’s hi-fi fitness hotspots was not an easy run. A marriage that brought her to Dubai and childbirth after, the young woman saw the scales tilting against her weight gain. From a cool 62 kg, the new mom saw herself staring at a stranger packed in 84 kg of solid body mass.
Neethu remembers that the big mistake began with the old wives advise of “eating for two” while pregnant. A visibly ballooned-out Neethu was told by her doctor that she’d have to go on a weight-watch.
Since post-delivery weight gain is an accepted truth and pretty well received by Indians in general, her weight seemed hardly of any consequence. No snide comments came her way either. The days went by with Neethu eating more, working less and enjoying time with her baby.
That she was truly obese dawned on her when she went shopping for clothes one fine day. She caught herself struggling into her regular size, a medium-large, and then trying to wriggle out of it. It’s baby fat, after all, she consoled herself and tried an extra large, only to see the shock sinking in. The XXL she finally managed to fit into was an eye-opener.
She waited for six months when she took a break from feeding the baby. From then on, she began her workouts in all seriousness. With instructions from YouTube, she danced her way into exercises, pedaled away on the stationary bike and cut down on food. Her efforts bore fruit and from 84 she slid down to 60, which was what she weighed while in college. Reason enough to celebrate, the young mother told herself.
Then came the second baby and with the pregnancy, more flab and heavy weight gain. The biggest casualty was the bulging tummy which could not be tucked in. Not one to lounge around idly, Neethu began her workouts seven months after the delivery. Pushups, squats, lunges and other body challenging exercises became routine. YouTube once again helped her with high-intensity workouts.
A strict food regimen made work easier for her with rice only for lunch, the quantity of which was reduced by and by. When hungry, she snacked on vegetables and fruits. Once again, the fat started gliding off her.
When you enjoy your workouts, they give you a high, says Neethu. With fitness coursing through her veins, the young woman decided to apply for an international license in fitness training, which she got, but not before a grueling three-month course in fitness.
There are a lot of misconceptions regarding women and weights, says Neethu. Weightlifting is not a muscle-building exercise and she sought to dispel doubts regarding this. It’s testosterone, the male hormone that builds muscles, not weights. Women are low on this hormone and hence, devoid of bulging muscles. Besides, when they lose weight, the skin tends to sag and lie loosely on the body. It’s the weights that keep the skin taut and the muscles well rounded. True fitness lies in lifting weights.
Neethu started with 1 kg dumbbells each which went up to squats with 50 kg. In three months, she was back to her fit form at 60 kg, the body firm and the tummy as flat as a washboard. In the process, she also acquired a British certificate for fitness training.
A Malayali woman’s weak spots are her thighs, hips and tummy where all the fat gets accumulated. Unless the whole body starts shedding weight, this fat will stay put wherever it is. Thrice-a-week weight training would be ideal in such circumstances. Beginners can go for a 30-minute lift with weights of up to 2 kg. The weights can be increased with time and practice.
“Most women chicken out of a rigorous exercise pattern the moment they see their face and neck shrinking when the body begins to lose weight. It’s unwise to go for a sudden stop. The best option is to continue till the desired weight is lost and then go on a high protein diet. Lean meat and plenty of fish are good body-builders. Die-hard vegans must have plenty of pulses, cereals and nuts and continue with weights. Gradually, the face will get back to its original shape. The onset of osteoporosis can be held in check if weight training is made a part of daily routine. Once weights become a regular habit, women need not huff, puff or pant anymore,” says the fitness guru, excitement getting the better of her.
The fitness freak has an FB account, which is all about keeping the body fit and firm.