In an age where six-packs and relentless training has become the new normal, the TRX trainer/Founder of Breakthrough Studio, Ashanti Mirchandani, and the professional dancer/Dance Fit instructor, Tarja De Silva, push for listening to your body and giving it the care it deserves. Here, they dish on all things, body — investing in it, taking care of it and slaying the fitness game!
What does your body mean to you?
AM: I believe that we are made of spirit, body and soul, and that all three play an integral part of who we were created to be. I am a spiritual person, and believe that God desired a long, healthy life for everyone. I work towards, and honour, that by taking the best care I can of my body.
TDS: My body is everything! As a dancer it’s my tool of expression. My body is my identity and so, I believe that taking care of it is taking care of myself. Through dance, I learned exactly how much my body was capable of, and how much I could push its limits. My body is the tool through which I display my skills, passion and emotions.
Have you ever struggled with body image, and did working out help you overcome that?
AM: As a teenager, I never liked the way I looked, and so I was constantly trying to change myself. Working out helped me lose weight, tone my muscles and feel really great about myself in general. But, for me, the most important benefit of working out was that it released serotonin, the happy hormone. Feeling happy on the inside plays a large role in how you look at the world around you, and working out gave me that optimism. Even though there are days I feel that my body isn’t in its greatest form, I keep telling myself that I’m my own worst critic! In general, a great diet and a workout regime works best for me!
TDS: As a child, I’d always been skinny and that never was a problem for me. But as a dancer, I needed my body to be in its best shape, which meant not just being skinny. I realized that taking care of my body, listening to it and responding to it was so important. As a result, I take my gym routine very seriously, and focus on the care my body needs. That has really helped me to keep it in its best physical form, and as a result, has allowed me to feel my best.
What does it mean to have a strong body?
AM: Having a strong body means to be healthy. It’s all about living longer and illness-free. Nowadays, people always associate being strong with a six-pack and zero body fat; it’s always about looking good. But, I beg to differ. To have a strong body, I believe you need to be the healthiest version of yourself; looking good is a great benefit, but certainly should not be the driver of your workouts.
TDS: There are different ways of determining what constitutes a strong body, but one way is by figuring out your body age in comparison to your actual age. If you find your body age to be younger than your actual age, I consider that to be a strong, fit body. I also believe in the importance of stamina—be it TRX or dancing, your body has to have the power to go at it and practice over and over again. So, if your endurance levels are up there with your willpower and body age, I consider that to be a strong vessel!
As fitness junkies, how do you treat your body with care and not be too harsh on yourself?
AM: I love working out, so I constantly challenge my body and push it to its limits. But I also believe it’s of utmost importance to listen and respond to your body, depending on its needs. There are days that my body screams for a break so I do just that; I stop everything and give my body the rest it needs. I become a couch potato and don’t feel scared about bingeing, sometimes even for a week, to give my body time to replenish itself.
TDS: I have an extremist personality, so I literally go at it until my body refuses to move, and then I take a much-need break. But, if you love working out and developing a healthy body, I think there’s already a built-in reward! I always get asked about how I do it, and how I’m not a wreck when I get home. The truth is, I can dance from morning till night. Yes, there’s physical exhaustion, but my heart drives me to it and it so it overrules all physical inabilities.
What do you think is the most beautiful part of a woman’s body?
AM: I believe it’s her brain. I believe a woman is most beautiful when she’s confident, knows what she’s doing and is unstoppable in her journey. I think beauty has nothing to do with shape or size, it’s about owning who you are, unapologetically!
TDS: I agree with that, too! But I also think there’s something so strong about a woman’s derriere. I’m not saying I’m a booty girl, but I find the silhouette of a woman’s back to be really feminine and beautiful.
What does body love mean to you?
AM: It means respecting, honouring and caring for my body, inside out. And that means making time to stretch it and work it out, no matter how hectic my day is.
TDS: It’s about giving the TLC your body deserves, from the food you eat to the physical activity you take part in, to make your body the healthiest ever!
This article was originally published as ‘Ashanti Mirchandani & Tarja De Silva: Your Body = Your Most Valuable Asset!’ in the August 2017 Confidence issue of Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka. For more stories of inspiring women, grab a copy of our latest magazine.
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