Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m Sidra, a woman who tries to live every day to the fullest by balancing her many roles. I’m a mom to a 2-year old, a wife for almost 6 years now, an HR professional for about a decade and a lifestyle blogger. I’ve also recently become a part-time fashion model! I am a fitness enthusiast who loves food and travel. Though a Pakistani in spirit, I call Dubai my home as I’ve been here for almost 6 years now. Meeting new people and experiencing new things is my mojo.
Have you always been fit? What inspired you to live a healthier lifestyle?
I come from a family where adventure, sports and outdoor activities were always encouraged. I swam competitively until the Junior National Level, yet I struggled with weight until my teenage years. At 19, I had early symptoms of haemorrhoids. I am also relatively flat-footed, so putting on weight meant back and knee problems. To combat that, I drastically changed my lifestyle to stay healthy and fit. We also planned our daughter at 30, and I wanted to be a fit mom with an active pregnancy to post-partum. My biggest inspiration now is to be actively involved with her and encourage her to be adventurous, fit and explore outdoor activities more.
Describe what you’re doing to stay or get in shape. How often are you working out and for what duration?
I work out at least 5 times a week. The duration is about 30 minutes on average. There are days when my schedule doesn’t allow much time. I work out at home, even if it is just for 15 minutes. I have been following a few workout routines on Fitness Blender’s YouTube channel, which has really helped me exercise when at home. I plan my workout to balance out strength training, cardio, total body and targeted area exercises.
In summers, I love to swim, and that is my exercise and relaxation over the weekends. I do believe a huge part of fitness is healthy eating. I do watch what I eat.
What is your diet like?
I eat everything, and I love food! However, I exercise portion control, eat salads as a considerable portion of my meals. I avoid sugar, do not take any soft drinks or sodas and eat about 5 meals a day. Also, I try to balance the meals, e.g., a light lunch if I have to go to an event or out for dinner.
I am regimented when it comes to eating on time. I never skip breakfast! I try to eat dinner early, usually by 9 pm and have a quick bite for lunch even if I have a meeting. But I try to eat on time.
Lastly, I never drink water right after a meal or during a meal. I have green tea or warm water till I sleep, and periodically, I detox with an organic homemade detox drink which flushes out all the toxins from my body. Most importantly, I try to eat home-cooked food most of the time.
How do you stay motivated?
My husband is my biggest motivator. We are both fitness freaks, and when I am lazy, he pushes me. We do try to work out together once a week as a date night even if it is a late-night run together. I reward myself periodically for my fitness milestones. I keep trying new things, so I don’t get bored. I wish I had time for yoga or classes. I try to attend some when the time allows. Fitness need not be boring or punishment!
Do you have any mental tricks that you use when you just don’t feel like working out?
I try something on the outfits that I want to look good in. I enjoy styling, and so I put on my experiment and look at myself in the mirror. Looking good is feeling good. It motivates me. Secondly, on days when I really am tired, I try to walk with my daughter in a stroller or just go for a swim.
What advice do you have for moms who say they don’t have time for exercise?
Eat healthily and catch up on your sleep. I didn’t focus on weight loss for one year after my daughter was born as I was breastfeeding her exclusively. Give your body time to recover. However, try home-based workouts. I used to play Fitness Blender videos and exercise besides my daughter’s play mat so that she kept herself engaged as well.
Secondly, adopt a healthy lifestyle; I use public transport and walk as much as possible. Do outdoor activities as a family so you can stay more active. Eat healthily! Oh wait, I said that earlier — but I can’t stress on it enough!
Things you’ve you tried and hated — diets and working out?
I had cut down on carbs initially when I started my weight loss journey. I cut out rice from my diet completely for 7 years. I initially lost weight by a drastic amount. But I feel that it’s not a good idea to cut down on carbs entirely over a long period of time. If taken in the right portion, they give you the energy you need to function, focus and exercise with.
What are your top 3 tips to help women get into shape post-pregnancy?
- Give your body time to recover.
- Catch up on your 7 hours of sleep.
- Balance meals and get moderate exercise! DON’T DIET!