On The Run With Malavika Varadan Sharma

She's a radio personality, a singer, and now an inspiration to fitness aspirants across the globe. Meet Malavika Varadan Sharma- the person behind #100 Healthy Days- a virtual health revolution that has motivated people to transform the way they live. In this session of Q & A, she talks about how she came up with the idea for the project, how important running is to her and more!

How did you come up with the idea of 100 Healthy Days? What was the inspiration behind it?

I saw this #100happydays thing doing the rounds on Facebook and thought to myself “I’m really ok on the happy front – happy enough for the whole city…. But if that theory holds good for happiness shouldn’t it for health? If I post one thing that I do that makes me healthier, fitter and stronger on social networking every single day for a 100 days – by a simple rule of habit forming I will be healthier person.

From the responses on Facebook, it seems like the project was a massive success! Congratulations! Share some of the feedback that people gave you with us.

I had plenty of people who were, and are, actively following the #100healthydays by posting 1 healthy thing everyday on the page but many more followed the campaign passively, making small and effective changes in their own lives. I’d often get a message or email from someone saying they have started swimming classes, running, eating healthier, shopping healthier etc. Even after the 100 days ended, the effect continued. Just yesterday somebody told me that they had gotten onto a fitness plan and lost a few kilos!

100 days is a long time! What motivated you to keep going, and did you, at any time, feel like you wanted to stop or take a break?

There were tiring days, yes. And days when I ate whatever I could find. And plenty of cheat weekends. But I also learnt to forgive myself and get back onto the plan. What I couldn't do overnight, I wasn't going to be able to undo over night either. What motivated me was definitely the 'peer pressure' of having to make a post everyday and live up to the expectations of those following the campaign.

Eating right was also a major part of your project. Most people find diets difficult to keep up with because of time and other lifestyle constraints. What advice do you have for those who want to eat right on a long term basis without having to alter other aspects of their lifestyle too much?

I have 3 major pieces of advice

  • Forgive. Eat to satisfy your soul. Make every bite count. If you eat something you love that isn't the healthiest on the menu, don't spend the whole weekend beating yourself up about it. Acknowledge you ate it, accept that you enjoyed it and move on!
  • Eating right is shopping right. If your kitchen is full of junk, then when you come home starving on a weekday - you will eat that. Don't fool yourself into believing otherwise. Spend that quality time and energy picking up healthy ingredients and snacks and you'll find that healthy eating follows
  • Eat what you can pronounce. The more processed it is, the more ingredients it has on the label you can't understand – the worse it is for you. Keep it natural, keep it simple.

You started 100 Healthy Days with a marathon. Tell us how important running is to you in order to stay healthy.

I do love running. I run to get away from the world, I run when I am angry, I run when I am stressed. More often than not, if I’m having a rubbish day – I’ll end it with a run. Dubai has some beautiful parks and in the winter – it’s a dream. It also helps that it is extremely safe and I can run at 10:30 in the night without worrying about safety.

After following a healthy routine for 100 days, how do you personally feel it has helped you? What are the changes you’ve noticed in your own body?

It has changed me in so many ways. First and foremost, I set out on a mission and I got to the end of it. That in itself gives me such a sense of accomplishment. I also lost a few extra kilos, though the numbers are far from dramatic. I lost more inches than kilos and I find my clothes fit better and I am more comfortable because I'm not worrying about bulges and bumps I’d rather not show. That's the other thing – these hundred days have taught me to love my body. As 'Oprah' as that sounds, I do. I look into the mirror and think 'HOT!', So if I have a few bulges and bumps - so be it! They are mine and I love them!

From being an RJ to now turning into a fitness guru of sorts… How does it feel to have people looking up to you for inspiration?

It feels great! A little pressure though. 'm very aware that I need to keep it that way for a while – so I better not fall off the wagon!

Now that the 100 days are over, do you have plans to start any other project that focuses on health and fitness?

Just today I have started training for a Dubai Women's Run. It happens on the 7th of November and I aim to complete the 10km road race in under 60 minutes. The last 2 marathons I have done my timings have been 67 and 63 minutes. I am looking forward to making this journey to a sub 60 time as fun as the last 100 day campaign.

What is your advice to those who want to make their lives take a healthy turn?

Start. Today. There is no fairy godmother who turns your pumpkin into a carriage. Even if you run 1 km – you are still doing laps around the person on the couch. You don’t need to be an expert, just an enthusiast.