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Deanne Panday is putting her fittest foot forward at 50... here is how you can too!

The celebrity trainer reveals she hit a roadblock at 42, how she overcame it

Updated: Feb 16, 2020 00:43 IST

By Ananya Ghosh, Hindustan Times

Top and bottom, Victoria’s Secret Sport; shoes; Nike; hair and makeup: Mariyam Nagani; location: Antigravity gym, Bandra (Abhijit Bhatlekar)

It’s hard to believe that the woman in front of me at this gym, the one who’s making definitely insane gravity-defying moves, is aged 50!

But writer, columnist and celebrity trainer Deanne Panday is half a century old, though she certainly appears to be half that age. Responsible for the fit bodies of Bipasha Basu, John Abraham, Dino Morea, Lara Dutta, Jacqueline Fernandez, Sonakshi Sinha and even Shah Rukh Khan, it’s clear that Deanne, a stunning mother of two, indeed practices what she preaches.

“Eight years ago, I suddenly realised my body was changing. Certain parts refused to be toned and a little fat was starting to accumulate. At 50, I am at my fittest self: My endurance and stamina are so much more.” 

Her fitness journey was, in fact, hit by a sudden roadblock when she turned 42. “I suddenly realised my body was changing. Certain parts refused to be toned and a little fat was starting to accumulate. I couldn’t understand what was happening,” says Deanne. “I was doing the same things but without the same effect. So since I’ve never believed in crash dieting and I had stopped taking protein shakes and supplements almost 17 years ago, I substituted my existing diet with healthy options and incorporated a lot of plant-based protein. Also, I started making my workouts a bit more intense and put more focus on yoga.”

Top and bottom: Victoria’s Secret Sport; shoes, Nike ( Abhijit Bhatlekar )

Even so, the age-related changes in her body took Deanne a few years to figure out. For instance, she was hit with acidity issues when she was 46. But instead of depending on pills, she attempted to find ways to self heal.

“Find the right balance of weight, stamina, flexibility, strength. Your perfect workout is as unique as your fingerprint!”

“I started moving towards the wellness space and began focusing on yoga. I stopped coffee, switched to lactose-free milk, changed my diet, turned vegetarian for two years, and did a two-week long Ayurveda detox programme in Kerala,” she says. And she is still reaping the benefits of these changes. “After 46, not only did I manage to get rid of my acidity but I also managed to reverse my age,” Deanne says. “Today, at 50 I’m the fittest I have ever been. My endurance and stamina are so much more now.”

Long weigh home

Deanne was able to achieve this level of fitness partly because she was so young when she first started working out. “When I was around 12 years old, my older sister who was into modelling would often work out to Jane Fonda videos. When she left for work, my younger sister and I would surreptitiously play the cassettes and try those 90-minute challenges,” remembers Deanne. “And when I was in college I got a job and used my salary to join a hotel gym!”

Boxing shorts, Bia Brazil; shoes, Nike ( Abhijit Bhatlekar )

In those days only five-star hotels had proper gyms and she started weight training there. “It was totally a boy’s only club then! You’d hardly see a woman lifting weights!” As she started training harder it started reflecting in her appearance. “I was 21 then and my body started looking very fit. Although I didn’t know much about fitness at that point, I started getting a lot of opportunities to write on fitness,” she recalls.

“But eventually I realised that if I really wanted to do justice to these writing opportunities, I needed to know more about fitness. So I decided to enrol in a four-month course in Australia. And as I did those technical courses, I realised how good a decision it was to get proper training…I was clueless about even the very basic fitness terms!”

India first

She was married then and her kids were just two and four, so the idea was to remain a full-time mom and do some writing whenever she could manage some time. “But when I came back, I was the first person in India to have done a personal training course abroad. And one day I was offered a job to train the Miss India contestants!”

“I am a carboholic. But instead of potatoes and white rice, I just have sweet potatoes, brown or red rice, quinoa.”

She put together a team of trainers and thus began her journey as a personal trainer. She introduced weight training to tone up the contestants so their bodies were on par with international standards. And she did this in 40 days.

Deanne’s kids Alanna, 24, and Ahaan Panday, 22, are both fit, and are also social media superstars

With her success with the Miss India contestants, offers and requests started pouring for her to train various celebrities and socialites, eventually turning her into one of the country’s top fitness experts and personal trainers. Deanne would go on to work with the Miss India contestants for almost a decade. “But my priority remained my kids. I’d take a client for two hours when my kids were at playschool…my work schedule was adjusted to their routine. It was only when they got busy with their lives that I made this a full-time profession,” says Deanne.  

Deanne’s 10 points to a fit life:

Personalise the exercise: Each body is built differently and everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Listen to your body and find the right balance of weight, stamina, flexibility and strength. Your perfect workout is as unique as your fingerprint.

Weight and watch: It is a myth that weight training makes you bulk up. Strength training is a must for a toned body, and it becomes more important as you grow older as it helps you maintain healthy joints and bones. The more muscle you have the better your metabolic rate will be.  

Rest properly: Your body needs to rest to recover. Take a rest day after every 2/3 days of exercising. Training every day not only makes you susceptible to injuries but is also unhealthy.

Tights, Under Armour; sport bra, Puma ( Abhijit Bhatlekar )

Eat to be fit: I don’t leave out any food group. I am a carboholic. But instead of potatoes and white rice, I just have sweet potatoes, brown or red rice, quinoa and such healthy alternatives. Fats are also important. I get my fats from olive oil, walnuts and avocados. And I put veggies in everything I eat. Half a plate should be filled with protein, one quarter can be carbs, one quarter can be fibre and healthy fat. But cut out sugar completely.

Processed food: Anything you can’t understand while reading a food label is mostly a hidden sugar. Avoid anything that comes in a box. Also, it is a myth that if you train hard you need supplements. Go organic.

Diets: Diets are often scientific and work well. But once you give up, you gain that weight back. Make a few lifestyle changes than opt for shortcuts.

Sleep: The right amount of sleep at the right time of the day is essential: 11pm to 7am is the right time to sleep. It is not the same as sleeping at 3am and waking at noon.

Spirituality: People today struggle with stress. My first book was called I’m Not Stressed. Yoga, breathing and meditation have made me calm and composed. Yoga helps in almost every aspect of your life.

Positivity: It is not about looking good, but feeling good. Your approach matters. When faced with a challenge I don’t like to waste my energy cribbing about it. Instead I focus on finding a solution.

Water: This is the most important part of your diet. Stay hydrated. I have a lot of coconut water, green teas, green juices, fruits and water-based salads through the day.

Follow @ananya1281 on Twitter

From HT Brunch, February 16, 2020

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