Fitness begins in the mind. These four beautiful women in their 50s are living proof that – no matter what your genetics – you can have a fit body and a fabulous look at any age if you stay true to the basics of wellbeing: fresh and healthy food; exercise and an active lifestyle; positive thinking; and caring for self and others.
They share their knowledge and experience with us.
ANITA PANDA, MUMBAI
Writer Anita Panda, 52, keeps fit with her active lifestyle and maintains her glow with yoga and meditation.
Born in the industrial coal-mining town of Brajarajnagar in Odisha, Anita was the youngest of four siblings and the only girl. As a result, she was quite pampered by her family. “My parents were the most mismatched couple intellectually yet the most loving couple I have known!” smiles Anita, whose father was a globally renowned paper technologist and mother was a homemaker.
Raised in Odisha and later Delhi, Anita graduated from St. Xavier’s, Kolkata, and did her post-graduation from Delhi University. She also holds a B.Ed and a diploma in advertising and public relations. A mother of a young son and a former newspaper reporter, she is now a freelance writer and poet.
LIFESTYLE: I lead a fairly active lifestyle. I don’t follow any fixed workouts to stay fit, rather I make it a flexible and variable mix of walking, jogging, gymming, yoga and household chores. This keeps me fit at my age. Meditation, chanting, Reiki and serving the underprivileged also help me stay fit mentally and spiritually.
BEAUTY: I rub my face and arms with fresh aloe vera juice. I avoid expensive creams, but I do dab sunscreen before stepping out and moisturise my face and arms with Johnson’s baby lotion at night. I swear by traditional homemade face masks made of multani mitti, turmeric, gram flour (besan), rose water or kewra mixed together. I also advocate using succulent veggies and fruits – cucumber, tomatoes, lemons, papayas – to hydrate the skin. Having said that, I strongly believe true beauty lies within us and practising joyfulness, kindness and compassion set the face aglow! Adequate sleep is a must too.
NUTRITION: I drink lots of water (two to three litres) a day, and eat fresh fruits and vegetables in the form of salads, boiled or steamed with a dash of butter, salt and pepper. A typical meal would be multigrain breads and eggs, or roti with lentils, and a mix of vegetables with cucumber yoghurt. Luckily, I don’t have a sweet tooth. My only sweet indulgence is Lindt’s Salted Caramel & Orange Chocolate.
HEALTH TIPS: I avoid sugary drinks. Instead, I have fresh homemade vegetable and fruit juices, nimbu-paani (lemon water) or chopped fruit slices in water sipped all through the day. I also avoid junk food and processed food. I don’t smoke or drink, though I am told the occasional glass of wine is heart-friendly. I also eat a lot of nuts, dry fruits and raisins.
Another thing I’ve learnt is to get enough sun exposure for vitamin D production and bone health. And your readers will probably not like my saying this, but though most of us hate doing household chores – mopping, sweeping, dusting, cleaning the kitchen – it’s actually a great way to stay fit and slim!
Finally, one mustn’t forget to smile: it’s the best beauty exercise for the lips, heart and soul!
KAVITHA GARLA, BENGALURU
Communications coach Kavitha Garla, 50, works out her mind and body every day and is unafraid to stand out of the crowd.
A multi-faceted person with numerous successful dimensions to her life, Kavitha is a passionate people enabler and enhancer. An authority on the importance and relevance of networking, she leads by example as a corporate trainer and communications coach in Bengaluru.
Born and raised in the Karnataka capital, she completed her MBA in the US and returned to India where she is now head of business development at Talk Temple. She is the mother of two grown sons and is happy that her work gives her the opportunity to be a catalyst for transformation in people’s lives.
LIFESTYLE: My lifestyle is pretty active and I am on the move until bedtime. I work out at the gym six days a week. I have fallen in love with CrossFit: the dancing, boxing and weights are all keeping me fit! It has increased my agility, stamina and flexibility. Lately, thanks to Luke Coutinho, I have been drinking sabja water every day. I also like to get seven to eight hours of sleep.
BEAUTY: One has to find one’s plus points and accentuate them. I use Plum Berry kajal pencil, and lipstick – I feel it unleashes your femininity! I also use sunscreen, and remove all makeup and hydrate the skin before sleeping. I make an effort to always be well turned out no matter where I am.
But besides this, my real beauty routine is taking care of the outside as well as the inside. I try to keep my positivity high at all times. I write blogs that help people see a different perspective and evolve their lives. Being a part of a Leadership Tribe, my mind is always engaged in high-level conversations with other leaders – this keeps me alert and in a learning mode. I make sure to nurture my relationships every day, and also to introspect and spend time with myself so that I am on the right path towards my passion and purpose. When I nourish my spirit, the right energy echoes into the universe.
NUTRITION: I like to indulge in ‘mindful eating’, without denying myself foods I love but eating in moderation. I like to savour the taste and flavours of food that I eat, it actually prevents me from overeating. I pay attention to how my stomach feels when I am eating and stop before I feel bloated.
HEALTH TIPS: I believe prevention is definitely better than cure so I get regular health check-ups including mammograms. As the empty-nest syndrome strikes, it’s important to find new things to learn and do, join groups that keep your mind sharp. I am always looking for ways to give back to the community. I also make sure to get my ‘Hour of Power’ – my daily me-time to exercise, read, meditate or any activity that adds power to my being.
Women are told not to stand out so much, and ‘to just fit in’. I did that for the longest time: stayed in the background. But lately, I have made a special effort to break out of the mould, to be more of me and less of what someone else wants me to be. Maybe this is what turning 50 does to a woman.
SEEMMA PURI, NEW DELHI
Etiquette and personality consultant Seemma Puri, 50, believes mental fitness leads to physical fitness.
A former fashion designer, Seemma certainly knows the art of being well-dressed. Now a soft skills educator and an etiquette and personality consultant, she trains teenagers, adults and corporate employees in how to be their best at all times.
Raised in Delhi – “I am a pucca and pure Dilli-wali” – Seemma did her Bachelor’s from Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi and studied fashion design from JD Institute. She honed her business skills as the former creative director of a popular kidswear brand for over a decade and has a son, 22, and daughter, 18.
LIFESTYLE: I am always on the go. I love waking up to a power-packed day. My day starts with a one-and-half hour of exercise and then it’s my work, family, running the home and taking care of our dog.
BEAUTY: I make sure to wash my face a couple of times a day, drink lots and lots of water, and to never sleep with makeup on. Actually, I use very little makeup, to begin with, as I believe less is more. I clean my face with kuccha (raw) milk and have a teaspoon of pure coconut oil now and then. I must get my seven hours of sleep – which does not mean to sleep at 2 or 3 am, and then wake up late! I totally believe that nighttime is meant for sleeping and days for working. My parents taught me never to go against Mother Nature if I want to stay healthy.
NUTRITION: I eat at least four kinds of fruits every day. My diet also has lots of water, vegetables, egg whites, fish and chicken. I avoid carbohydrates after 7.30 pm and no carbonated drinks, whatsoever. And I avoid mutton.
HEALTH TIPS: Seven hours of sleep is really important, as is eating natural and healthy foods. Exercise is vital – everything else can wait! I also think one must go for a mental detox at least once a week more than a food detox: assign one day when you do not allow any negative thought to enter your mind. After all, mental fitness is what we have to work on; physical fitness naturally follows.
CHANDRA DEO, ABBOTSFORD, CANADA
Educationist Chandra Deo, 52, has made it a habit to listen to her body and to nourish it with healthy food and lifestyle choices.
Born and raised in the island country of Fiji, Chandra moved to Canada at the age of 18 after marriage and adopted an active Canadian lifestyle early on. The oldest of four siblings, she was raised on a nutritious diet of homegrown vegetables and dairy. Even so, heart and cholesterol problems run in her community so after moving to Canada, she has always been extremely conscious of her diet intake and lifestyle.
Mother of a grown son and daughter, she completed her graduation after marriage and is now an educationist and counsellor in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada.
LIFESTYLE: By virtue of being a working mother in North America without domestic help at home, my lifestyle is very active by default. I am flexible about my fitness routine – it could be walk or swimming or yoga or even Bhangra classes. But I am very structured in the sense of time management and meal planning. I do all our grocery shopping and meal prepping over the weekend, and stock the refrigerator with healthy meals for the week so that we don’t eat outside.
BEAUTY: I don’t wear much makeup except on occasion, but I invest in my intake so that my skin is healthy inside-out. I follow the Indian guru Sathya Sai Baba and he talks about ‘ahaar’ (intake), which is not only the food we eat but also everything we absorb though our five senses. I have learnt to listen to my body, and I don’t deprive myself if I have a craving. I have stopped pushing my body at the gym unnecessarily.
Instead, I do Surya Namaskars every morning and I have noticed it keeps me pain-free despite my sedentary job. Also, taking care of our two-year-old dog has also been good for my overall wellness.
NUTRITION: I make healthy choices – oats, yoghurt, vegetables, fruits, fresh meats, lentils. Our food is very Indian and I grow many vegetables in my garden. We get all our herbs and spices from the Indian store here, and I completely avoid junk food and frozen food.
I have seen my family dependent on medication for diabetes or cholesterol, and I didn’t want to go that route, so I take care of my food choices. I make sure to have a filling breakfast including nuts before heading to work, and I have turmeric and ashwagandha water before going to bed every day. It helps with anxiety.
HEALTH TIPS: Learning about oneself is very important. No two bodies are the same, and everyone’s experience is different. I take my own decision on what works for me. And the body keeps changing over the years. So the idea is to listen to your body and to heed what it’s telling you. It all comes with practice.