Sukhi Thapa (Khima) was inspired by her sister, who is a fitness instructor in Singapore, to get into the fitness industry. She started as an aerobics instructor at Step Fitness Centre, Lazimpat and a year later, she is now an aerobics instructor and a gym instructor. To keep herself in check and see how much she could push herself, she even took part in the first female body building championship in Nepal. The Week caught up with her to talk about the dedication required to stay on a healthy path.
Body building was a challenge Thapa set for herself. Although she was a trainer, she never took working out too seriously and often found herself doing the very things she would tell her clients to avoid. “I knew that if I were to enter the competition, I would be the guinea pig there and others would be pushing me,” she said. To prepare for the competition she was trained by somebody else and she looked forward to not just gaining experiences but to also acquiring knowledge from the other trainers. Having a specific goal in mind helped her focus and control her dietary habits as well.
“I have always been lazy and motivating myself has been quite a task. But having enrolled in the competition, I found that I didn’t have a choice unless I wanted to embarrass myself in front of everyone.” When the competition takes place again, she will definitely consider participating for the second time. But rather than entering to win, she wants to do it to continue motivating herself to stay on the right fitness path.
Her favorite work out are chest workouts that helps get rid of the bra bulge that makes wearing camisoles during the summer a nightmare. She does bench presses and bench flies in order to work on what she feels are her problem areas.
The workouts that she hates the most are shoulder workouts and shoulder press with pulses to be specific. After doing a set of shoulder press, she only brings down her arms half way and pulses. “I think I don’t like it because it hurts too much,” she said.
Her current workout routine consists of warm up which is followed by cardio in the form of running on the treadmill or Zumba. When she is done with that, she makes it a point to focus on just one muscle group a day. If one day is dedicated to the arms, the next day is dedicated to her core and so on. “The burn I feel the next day is greater when I focus on a specific area than when I do a whole body workout,” she says. Focusing on just a specific group of muscles everyday is more effective and you can see the results sooner.
Home workout hacks
With the lifestyle people lead and the onset of winter, most find themselves either too busy or too lazy to hit the gym. In such scenarios, Thapa shares easy ways to work out at home.
When doing squats, hold a 1.5 liter bottle of cola-cola filled with water. The extra weight puts more strain on your muscles and gives you more benefits from the same exercise done without the extra weight.
Hold a towel tightly over your head and slowly pull it down, making sure that the towel stays behind your back. This is a DIY, easily accessible shoulder press that you can do anytime, anywhere.
Alternate your exercise routine with one set of pulses. For each exercise you do, do about five repetitions followed by five pulses and repeat the set a few times. When you pulse, the muscles don’t get to rest as much and you will feel the burn faster. Incorporate jumps in your workout whenever you can. Even basic workouts like jump squats and jump lunges can add an element of cardio in your workout and make it more effective.
It is important to have your own towel and clothes made of breathable fabrics when you work out. Tight clothes help you track your progress and don’t get in your way when you are working up a sweat. Thapa recommends people to invest in proper shoes in order to avoid knee or ankle injuries as well. An iPod or even songs on your own phone and earphones are other things she considers important to get into the zone, even though most gyms already have music playing in the background. Invest in a gym bag. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy but nothing is more off putting than girls who show up at the gym with a handbag. She says that it instantly makes the instructors think that they aren’t really serious about working out.
Body building requires people to be very strict about their diet but a good diet is essential in any case. Thapa tries to consume just 1500 to 2000 calories per day. “There are people,” she says, “who count even the micro calories, which consist of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants etc, I could never do that.” She only counts her macro calories: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. “Fats are a crucial part of your diet. Opt for healthy fats found in avocado, nuts and olive oil,” she explains.
Her diet at a glance Breakfast
Thapa swears by a cup of strong black coffee, without sugar, in the morning. It helps accelerate your metabolism and gives you energy to power through the day. A cup of coffee is followed by two slices of brown bread and a spoon of peanut butter after finishing her morning workout routine.
Lunch consists of chicken breasts, mixed vegetables and either oatmeal or brown rice. The vegetables can be steamed or stir fried in olive oil and Thapa makes sure that she includes egg whites too. Egg whites are the best source of protein and a must for anyone who is trying to gain muscles mass. “You don’t have to strictly avoid white rice and white bread. But try substituting it with brown rice or bread whenever you can since it’s the healthier option,” she adds.
A rule of thumb followed by people who are into fitness is that they never let themselves starve. Always snacking on bits of healthy food keeps your metabolism high and helps you burn higher amount of fat. As her nibbles, Thapa likes having almonds, fruits, digestive biscuits and green tea to curb her fantasies about greasy food. “When you aren’t hungry, you will never find yourself dreaming about Chinese food or calorie laden items like pizza, burgers etc,” she explained. When your cells demand for carbohydrates go up, the brain signals you about your need to eat by fantasizing about food. You can easily avoid this by making sure you never go hungry.
Thapa advises steering clear of carbohydrates at night as it will only go on to be stored as fat. Since we aren’t that active post dinner and hence don’t need energy providing foods, she only eats something light. Although mixed vegetables sometimes make it to her plate, she has either soup or some fish to load up on her Omega 3 fatty acids.