Things we learn from Gul Panag’s fitness routine of 30 years

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‘Of late I’ve been cognisant of the fuel, my body needs, and demands, and have been eating accordingly. And that’s all there is to it,’ shared Gul Panag

One of the prominent celebrities who seems to have defied age is actor and model Gul Panag. The fitness aficionado recently spilt the beans about her fitness routine and how she has managed to keep it going for the past 30 years. Panag was quick to point out that one cannot exercise on a bad diet making it clear that nutrition makes up more than three-fourths of our fitness activities.

“Praying to the gods of strength training, NEAT, and ‘eating right’. That I may remain on track. The one big game changer in altering my body composition these last few months has been focusing on NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis) while continuing to do 3 to 4 sessions of strength, training, a week, and of course, ‘eating right’,” shared Panag.

Emphasising that she has “always carried a lot of muscle mass”, she mentioned that she has been training for the better part of 30 years. “The slight change in my appearance ( from time to time) is not me getting fitter or less fit, it’s the percentage of body fat going down. Or UP,” she quipped.

Which is entirely a function of how much energy one expends and consumes. And of course hormones. And perimenopause, she added.

What has worked for her?
Trying to hit 10,000 steps in the course of her day. And to NEAT too. “Walking @vegasandginadaku (with her dogs) is a great way to get that done. I try and make sure I do their morning and evening walks as often as possible. And the shorter walks during the day. Since Vegas and Gina are much older, I end up doing multiple walks, dropping the two older ladies back home, and going back and continuing on a longer walk with Daku 3 to 4 times a week,” said Panag.

Another best practice is allocating an hour of her time to do calls on the move. “So I walk up and down, whenever I am, pacing, as I do my scheduled calls,” she shared.

And of course, there is no absolving one of the sins of eating wrong through exercise. “One cannot out exercise a bad diet. I train, largely for muscle endurance, strength, and maintenance, and eat to fuel it. Of late I’ve been cognisant of the fuel, my body needs, and demands, and have been eating accordingly. And that’s all there is to it,” she added.

Gul Panag’s message implies making your body your priority and taking baby steps daily for massive results. “Adopting a healthy lifestyle for weight and body transformation involves comprehensive changes in various aspects of daily life,” said fitness expert Garima Goyal as she broke it down for us.

It’s about making mindful choices regarding what and how much you eat. This includes incorporating a balanced mix of nutrients, focusing on whole foods, and being aware of portion sizes. Eating right plays a crucial role in achieving and maintaining a great body for several reasons:

Fueling workouts – The right nutrients provide the energy needed for effective workouts. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats play specific roles in supporting different aspects of exercise, from endurance to muscle recovery.
Nutrient density – Choosing nutrient-dense foods over empty-calorie options ensures that your body receives essential vitamins and minerals. These nutrients support overall health, including the function of organs, tissues, and the immune system.
Hormonal balance – Proper nutrition influences hormonal balance, impacting factors like insulin sensitivity and cortisol levels. Hormones play a crucial role in managing body composition.
Satiety and appetite control – Eating a balanced mix of macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) helps regulate hunger and keeps you feeling full. This can prevent overeating and support weight management.

Physical activity inclusive of strength training
Regular exercise is crucial. It goes beyond short-term workouts; it’s about finding activities you enjoy and making them a consistent part of your routine. “The role of physical activity in transforming the body is multifaceted and extends beyond just the physical appearance. This helps build strength, improve cardiovascular health, and contribute to overall well-being. Your routine activity schedule should include at least 3-4 sessions of strength training per week,” said Goyal.

Caloric expenditure – Regular physical activity contributes to burning calories, aiding in weight management. This is essential for both fat loss and muscle maintenance, creating a favorable balance for body composition.
Muscle development – Resistance training and other forms of exercise stimulate muscle growth. Increased muscle mass not only contributes to a toned and sculpted appearance but also boosts metabolism, as muscles burn more calories at rest than fat.
Cardiovascular health – Aerobic exercises, such as running or cycling, enhance cardiovascular health. Improved heart and lung function not only support overall well-being but also contribute to endurance during workouts.
Stress reduction – Exercise is known to reduce stress by releasing endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifters. Managing stress is crucial for overall health and can prevent stress-related weight gain.
Bone health – Weight-bearing exercises, such as weightlifting and certain types of cardio, contribute to bone density. This is particularly important for overall skeletal health, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
Hormonal balance – Exercise influences the release of hormones, including those related to stress and mood (like endorphins).

NEAT, or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, plays a significant role in body transformation. “It encompasses all the calories your body expends during activities that are not formal exercise, such as walking, standing, fidgeting, and other daily movements,” described Goyal.

Consistency, mindset, sleep, stress management, and hydration are other pivotal factors.

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