When Milind Soman talks on fitness, people listen. We listened too in rapt attention, at Hablis Hotels. A chat session on fitness and nutrition was organized at the hotel. Milind Soman, the brand ambassador for Pinkathon was staying at Hablis for their Chennai run and how could we let him go without engaging him in his pet subject and ours too? Wellness!
Hablis Hotels has been Pinkathon’s hospitality partner, rather the wellness partner for the last two years and Milind Soman and his entire team do not have to struggle with their wellness needs as the hotel understands. They love the ambience and the hotel’s commitment to mind-body-social wellness.
More about Milind Soman and Pinkathon:
Running 1500 kilometres in 30 days for Greenathon-NDTV to spread environmental awareness, he became a Limca record holder. A national swimming champion, he has sports and fitness in his blood I guess. In 2015, he completed the Ironman Triathlon in 15 hours and 19 minutes in his very first try. What did he have to do to win this title ? A 3.8 km swim, a 180.2 km cycle ride and 42.2 km race in that order without a break and required to complete within 16 hours. Whew! I am burning calories just writing this!!
In 2012, Pinkathon , India’s largest womens’ only running event was set up under his guidance to promote good health and spread breast cancer awareness and has since then been conducting runs in several cities of India every year.
Coming back to the wellness chat with the fitness freak that Milind Soman is, we gathered around him with the hotel’s chef team and many other wellness enthusiasts to collect as many health tips from him as we could. He had a point, he wished to address the chefs, for it is they he said that need to understand wellness as they roll out dishes that satiate the palates of the guests. He encouraged chefs to spend time working out despite their crazily busy schedules. A fit chef is a live example of what healthy lifestyle can do to a body. At the end of the session, he donned the chef’s hat and whipped up a simple healthy salad.
So they begin with the basics. What fosters wellness?
MS : A balanced life in all ways. Right eating, right exercising, enough sleep and mindful living. The word ‘right’ simply translates to ‘mindfulness’ in this context he explains. For when one is mindful, one begins to do most things right, cutting out negative habits, inculcating a positive approach and keeping an open mind. Hablis couldn’t agree more.
Do you know that our bodies produce happy hormones called Serotonin? Serotonin regulates moods and makes us feel happy and these hormones get released into our bodies when we eat healthy food and exercise. Exposure to sun also helps, but make sure you get a few minutes of tender sunlight and not the harsh noon sun. Ask people who exercise and they will tell you what it does to their beings – induces happiness!
How does one determine what is right when it comes to eating, exercising and all else?
MS : Life is all about learning and continuing to learn till our last breath. Remember your grandma’s words? She was and is right. Did she advocate moderation in everything that you did? Follow that. Our ancestors’ fundamentals were strong and that is precisely why most of them kept good health till their ripe old age. Did she use jaggery more often than she used sugar? Did she pour a spoon of ghee on your plate of rice? Did she admonish you in childhood when you grimaced at eating fruits and vegetables but ran out to buy sweetmeats and savouries from the neighbourhood store?
Get back to grandma’s wisdom. Couple them with sensible new-age concepts and you will get wellness on a platter. Getting there is not easy though, you have to become a student first.
FIX : Begin by consulting reliable nutritionists and fitness coaches to know whats best for you and from thereon, become a student of wellness – it can be life-changing!
Milind Soman firmly believes that to become fit and remain that way, we all have to invest time and money in getting familiar with the basics and then on, learning to apply them in our daily lives. True that. Fitness and wellness ‘learned’ will remain with us longer than when we are spoon fed by trainers and nutritionists. We have one body to last us a lifetime, we would do well to train our minds and bodies on the path to fitness.
There is so much information on health out there, it is confusing.
MS : I agree. Read only that is relevant to you, take one step at a time. Adopt simple eating habits and food. Avoid workouts that tax you and leave you drained. And as rule of the thumb, steer clear of crash diets and quick-fix workouts, even if they are suggested by your trainers. Good health is acquired over time, every cell in the body learns to absorb and reacts to every act of us, human beings.
When I say simple food, I am referring to food that is local, seasonal and easily available without having to chase fancy ingredients. Look for nutrition in them and learn to make a balanced meal that consists of carbohydrates, proteins and a reasonable amount of fat. If someone tells you to go off carbs or fat, pause. Unless it comes from your doctor or therapist! Please don’t worry too much about gluten that is being talked about in all circles. Not all are allergic to gluten and till you are, there is no reason to block it out. Try getting most nutrients from the food that you eat everyday.
Milind Soman practices what he advocates. His staple diet be it at home, or while he travels is Khichdi, the simplest dish to make and full of nutrition. It is accompanied by lots of vegetables, and fruits are a part of his breakfast. This is not say that he does not enjoy other foods. He gives in to temptations once in a while, but then sweats it out the next day.
Khichdi is a comfort food but healthy, made from rice and lentils spiced differently in different parts of India. Click here to get a recipe and then browse on google for variations in taste. He touched upon jaggery and ghee and here is what he said:
Jaggery and Ghee :
Milind Soman has moved over to jaggery from sugar long ago. Knowing his passion for jaggery, Chef Sathya of Hablis Hotels baked a jaggery cake to welcome him and it was yummy. We also felt encouraged to bite into an extra piece knowing it was made from natural ingredients. Milind extends a word of caution here : choose dark coloured jaggery, the light shaded ones could be bleached and try to buy it from organic stores – all that said, consume jaggery too in moderation like everything else. A tip worth noting.
MS : Ghee has made a comeback and for good reason. It was never bad, he continues. Ghee became a victim of health fads and thankfully the very same people have now embraced it as a must-eat. One spoon of ghee everyday has tremendous health benefits, but do consult your doctor if you have any health issues.
(More on ghee and jaggery in blogs dedicated to them, there is so much to write about!)
MS : Say No To Refined Foods :
If you wish wellness for you and your families, stay as close to nature as possible. By that I mean,
- Consume food made from natural ingredients.
- Refined foods are a no-no, they satisfy your palate but add empty calories.
- Keep tinned/canned food for emergencies only and discourage your kids at an early age to do so too.
- Reward your kid with a healthy food every time they win something, you are doing them goodness for a lifetime.
- Similarly, we do not need external health supplements. Eat healthy and balanced meals and try to make food your medicine.
- Our ancestors’ (Indian) eating habits are a treasure-house of home remedies. Read, consult, understand and apply those tips and you are well on your way to good health.
- Include lots of vegetables and fruits in your everyday meals.
- Eat fruits on an empty stomach or eat them one hour before or after a meal. Take this as nature’s command and do not ever eat fruits along with a meal.
I could see a smile of satisfaction on the chefs’ faces, for Hablis strongly implements the ‘no tinned/canned ingredients’ concept. Milind Soman was excited that the hotel uses only fresh and seasonal produce in all its cooking. Chef Sathya and his team do rounds of the market almost every day to procure fresh fruits and vegetables and every sauce and dressing is made in-house.
We see around us a lot of people injuring themselves while working out. What is the best way to exercise?
MS : Start working out under supervision and gradually build your knowledge of the body and workouts. Listen to your body. Challenge it but do not push too many barriers – leave it for later when you are in intermediate or advanced stage of fitness. The safest way to build healthy strong muscles is with body-weight exercises. The chance of injuries is lesser. That is not to gainsay the role of weights in building a fit body, but weights have to be borne with caution and a certain technique.
The key to a toned body is form or posture to begin with. When form is right, you cant go wrong. Practice proper posture in every walk of life. Chefs, you need to be on your feet for most part of your working hours, nothing is more important than maintaining right posture if you want your body to cooperate with your work!! Tuck your tummy in at all times and do not slouch. If you feel good within yourself, you will churn out good food.
Train your bodies for functional fitness. We need energy and a fit body to do all the pulls and pushes in our daily lives. We do not lead our lives in the gyms. I know people that can lift the heaviest of weights at the gym but ask them to bend down and pack a suitcase, they complain of back pain. Focus more on strengthening your body holistically rather than building it for how you want to appear. With fitness comes good posture, with posture comes confidence and with confidence you are bound to look good.
Milind Soman’s workout pattern : Run, run and run and at other times, do body-weight exercises. He runs long distances three to four times a week and works out to strengthen his core and upper body. He has trained to run marathons and is equipped to run right. Running does not come easily to many of us and so let us do what suits our bodies and life-style keeping in mind all of the above. Thank you Milind Soman!
We are hoping to get more from him on health and fitness when he stays at Hablis Hotels next. In the meantime, Hablis Hotels, Chennai’s urban wellness destination has a lot of interesting wellness facilities like their Infinity Swimming Pool, open air fitness zone, Spa with customised soothing, blended oils and all their restaurants serving food made from natural, seasonal fruits and vegetables. You can also take home wellness in jars that comprise of dehydrated fruits, whole spices and spice powders, seeds, millet cookies, jams and pickles. Contact :
Hablis Hotels, 19 GST Road, Guindy, Chennai 600032, India, Tel : 91 44 4023 5555