Blogs today have become an essential part of the modern world. Whether one needs any advice or wants to hear out other’s experience, all they need to do is to search online. No matter what topic you are searching for, you will have tonnes of dedicated blogs for it. Bloggers worldwide share their personal experiences and inspire people with their life journey. Meet Zainab, the founder of fitness & lifestyle blog “The Zash life”. With her platform, she provides fitness, fashion and lifestyle advise. Not only is Zainab a successful fitness blogger, but also, she’s a cabin crew member of the Singapore airlines. Take a look at this exclusive interview she gave to Qalfit.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR FITNESS JOURNEY?
“Unlike others, initially, I did not start my fitness journey to look good or to have a beautiful body. My story is different. I was a basketball player back then in my school time. But at a certain point, I decided to concentrate more on studies and I left all kinds of sports activities. This is when I got diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). More than 20% of women in India suffer from PCOS. Because of this condition, my health got worse, I gained an abnormal amount of weight, I suffered hair loss and I got shabby looking acne all over my face.”
“My doctor advised me to change my unhealthy lifestyle and that’s when it kicked in. I decided to make healthy changes to my lifestyle. I started working out regularly, I regularized my sleeping pattern, concentrated on a healthy diet and I made a lot of effort to get back on track.”
Zainab says that this has made her a better person and inspired her to follow this path of fitness and a healthy lifestyle.
DID YOU FACE ANY PARTICULAR CHALLENGES DURING THIS TIME WHICH YOU THINK WOULD BE COMMON TO OTHER PEOPLE?
“I faced a lot of challenges initially. At one phase, I followed a low-carb diet to lose weight. In a low-carb diet, your energy level goes down. I followed that diet because I wanted drastic weight loss. It was very difficult for me to follow my diet and workout routine. But I never gave up. I made a detailed diet plan that goes well with my workout routine and eventually balanced it.
I also came across 2 major injuries during that time. The first time, I tripped during jump squats and hurt my shin badly. I stopped working out and went into full recovery mode for a very long time. The second time, I suffered a shoulder injury when I was lifting weights.
In all these times, I only had one thing in mind- never give up. I got excellent guidance from my trainer and my nutritionist. They helped me get back on track. I am happy I faced those challenges. All those challenges made me who I am now.”
HOW DO YOU THINK YOU INSPIRE PEOPLE AROUND YOU?
“More than being an inspiration, I believe that I can give good guidance to people around me. I share my fitness story via my blogs. I share the challenges that I faced and how I overcame them. I want people to feel that nothing is impossible. If I can do it, they can do it too. I just guide them to make some minor changes in their lifestyle that helps them in their long-term progress.”
Zainab adds, “You can’t simply inspire someone with your writings and social media posts. You need to be an inspiration to yourself in the first place. Then you should guide others with your experience.”
WHAT ARE THE MISCONCEPTIONS THAT PEOPLE HAVE ABOUT FITNESS?
“There are many misconceptions about fitness. I have even seen a few things in my own family. One of my relatives went on a weight loss diet where she wouldn’t eat for days. This is wrong. If you don’t eat properly, it is more likely that your body will bloat more. It will affect your body drastically. You need to eat at least a small portion of a balanced meal daily.
In some diets, some people tend to totally avoid protein just because it builds muscle while others tend to take only protein-rich foods like paneer and tofu daily. Protein is very important for our body. You just need to find the right amount of protein that your body needs daily.
I have also seen people working out rigorously for 4 continuous hours. People think that this will make them reach their fitness goals faster. This is a misconception. You’ll only tire your body doing it. A good 45 minutes of HIIT or anything that suits you is good. If you feel tired, take a short break and continue. Engage your body and mind, and focus on your workout. An uninterrupted 45-minute workout session daily is more than enough to reach your fitness goals.”
WHAT IS YOUR DAILY FITNESS ROUTINE?
“My usual routine consists of HIIT and functional circuits for 45 minutes. It burns a lot of fat. I always advise people to do cardio at least twice a week, even if they do weight training daily. I also meditate every day regularly. I’m really proud of it.” According to Zainab, it helps her focus on her fitness and her work and keeps her going.
HOW DOES YOUR DAILY DIET CHART LOOK LIKE?
“I think diet is something that is very personal. Different people have different preferences. In my case, I’m lactose intolerant. So, I can’t take any dairy. I don’t follow a very strict diet, but I try to restrict myself to a simple Indian diet. Even though I travel to different places, I still stick to the Indian diet. I feel that the Indian diet is very scientific and is very balanced with all the nutrients. I prefer vegetable salad and jowar roti/ bajra roti. I also like pizzas which I eat once a week.”
Maintaining your fitness on top of being a busy cabin crew member and a fitness blogger- how do you balance it all?
“This is a tough question to answer. At times it feels impossible to balance these. Sometimes, I will be too tired to work out after work. But I eventually balance it.”
Elaborating on her fitness routine, Zainab adds “My fitness routine is very simple- A healthy diet and regular workout. I always make sure that I eat a heavy breakfast and at least do stretches in my free time, even if it’s a busy day at work.”
WHAT ARE YOUR OTHER HOBBIES?
“I don’t watch much Tv or Netflix, but I love to travel. Whenever I get free time, I travel. Recently I went on a Bangkok trip with my roommate. Other than travelling, I play basketball and other sports. I am also very particular about my music playlist. Work or workout, the right playlist will provide you with energy to go throughout the day. So, in my free time, I curate my playlist. The right playlist gives me the perfect adrenaline rush needed for my lifestyle.”
HOW HAS YOUR OVERALL JOURNEY BEEN AND HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF 5 YEARS DOWN THE LINE?
“I switched a lot of different professions over the years and believe me when I say this, you need to give up something everywhere! Your work time will not align with your exercise routine or you cannot follow your diet because of your work schedule. But I always make sure that I have a stable routine. I try to workout whenever I get time. I only eat healthy foods. Over the years, no matter what, I have followed my routine and that’s how I sculpted myself to this stage.
Zainab says that she wants to keep learning and maintain fitness for the rest of her life. “I would never let anyone or anything affect my fitness journey. I just want to become a better version of myself.”, she adds.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE JUST STARTED THEIR FITNESS JOURNEY?
“First thing, pick a good trainer and nutritionist when you start working out and always consult them. Focus on your workout and connect with your routine. Don’t just workout for the sake of it. Even if it’s a normal exercise, workout seriously.
Never go after any fancy diet or medication that promises you fast results. Only traditional workouts maintain your fitness in the long run. It will take some time but it will be worth it. Be patient and don’t take any shortcuts. A good diet and regular workout will help you achieve your fitness goals.”
Being diagnosed with a cruel medical condition at a very age, Zainab never backed down. She is now a successful fitness & lifestyle blogger and a cabin crew member at Singapore airlines Zainab’s fitness journey throughout the years is an inspiration for millions of women around the world.