Smitha focuses on four aspects of her clients’ lifestyles — food, exercise, sleep, and happiness quotient. She even keeps tabs on their — wait for it — gadget use!
Is a Vedic style of living, based on the diet and lifestyle of ancient times, possible in today’s urban context? It definitely is, if Mumbai-based nutrition and fitness expert Smitha Shetty is to be believed.
Mother Nature is the answer to all woes and every cure is rooted to the ground.
People often become obsessed with counting calories or force themselves into strenuous gym routines and eating tasteless food, which makes fitness seem like a punishment. Smitha believes such quick fixes will not result in a long-term impact; what’s required, instead, is small but permanent changes in one’s lifestyle.
Smitha recommends diets consisting of fresh produce with healthy sugars like fruits and good fats like sesame oil and ghee. With a clientele that includes movie director Imtiaz Ali, actors Chandan Roy Sanyal, Eijaz Khan, and Vineet Kumar, Unilever’s Chief HR Officer Leena Nair, and former CEO of State Bank of Mauritius Suvalaxmi Chakraborty, there are many who swear by Smitha’s holistic regimen.
When I speak to Smitha, she has just finished a yoga class and is happy to reminisce about her own fitness journey. It started by happenstance — from a judo class in college she went on to reach the national level in the sport. Her parents were not too enthused by their daughter’s sudden interest in martial arts but like most concerned parents, their only condition was that her academics should not be affected. She also started reading the Bhagavad Gita at that time and calls that phase the beginning of her spiritual journey. Smitha doesn’t find judo and spirituality incongruent since the final goal of martial arts is spiritual development.
As far as academics were concerned, Smitha says with a laugh, “I thought the world would end in 2000, so I didn’t really plan my career.” Jokes apart, it often happens that one’s life path opens up by itself. After her graduation, Smitha had cracked Narsee Monjee’s MBA entrance exam and went as far as the college counter to pay her fees when she had a change of heart. Choosing to do something that resonated with her, she opted for a course in nutrition.
Your body is a temple
Thirty-four-year-old Smitha works one-on-one with most of her clients, working out diet and fitness routines based on their interests, lifestyles, and specific health requirements. Instead of enforcing ‘what-not-to-eat’ lists, she encourages her clients to eat natural foods and just avoid processed junk. Whether it’s working out or doing yoga, she ensures the person enjoys the positive transformation their body goes through.
She also discusses the number of hours of sleep a person gets and the extent of time they spend on gadgets. If somebody has undergone sudden weight gain or loss or has any other symptoms of poor health, she tries to understand what has been happening in his/her life.
Happiness quotient is a very underrated factor in health and fitness. If you are happy, it results in a healthy glow in your face that no amount of working out can bring if you’re unhappy,
Smitha worked with Rujuta Diwekar for over five years and has associated with renowned sports physiotherapists Dr. Harshada Rajadhyasha (Sachin Tendulkar’s physio) and the late Dr. Vipul Chavda (who used to train Commonwealth medallists).
Smitha also regularly conducts nutrition and fitness workshops for corporate firms, NGOs, and educational institutions, where she talks on topics like modern spirituality and ancient food wisdom, Vedic super foods, label reading and food mall tours, smart food for smart women, and work-food balance.
Slow and steady
Smitha says, “The advantage of reading a lot on spiritual topics is that I never judge people. My clients can tell me whatever they want.” Smitha has several clients from outside Mumbai and a few in locations like Singapore, Hong Kong, and Amsterdam. She has virtual sessions through Facetime or Skype with them and guides them on a regular basis. For instance, if a client is travelling, she guides him on what he could eat based on the place he is going. Now that more people are coming in for nutrition consultation, Smitha has restricted the number of clients she takes up on a personal basis. She is also planning to set up a studio so she can take group classes for yoga and judo.
A lifestyle change is magic that happens gradually
says Smitha. “If you finish your last meal of the day before 7 pm, obviously nothing is going to happen in a week. But wait for six months, and you will see the positive effect on your body. So, the magic wand is in your hands.” Smitha also believes going back to one’s roots and eating traditional, home-made fare and staying active is the way to combat the proliferation of lifestyle diseases like diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, and obesity.
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