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Self-care Isn’t Selfish—Deanne Panday On Finding Balance, Happiness And Being Healthy From Inside Out

With the right nutrition, regular physical activity, and some positive energy, anyone can live a long, healthy and fulfilling life.

By URLife Team
04 Jul 2021

“I rarely fall sick, and at the age of fifty-one, I’m the healthiest and fittest I have ever been,” says Deanne Panday in her new book Balance where she writes about harnessing the power and peace that comes with good physical and mental health. “Balance in an ongoing, lifetime project,” she adds. In a candid conversation with URlife, the fitness expert and celebrity trainer shares her secrets to staying balanced, happy, healthy and fit.

“Self-care isn’t selfish; in fact, we should always be available to ourselves. You can begin that by asking yourself what really matters to you.”

Make a list. Mine includes family, fun, food, sleep, growth, health, love, relationships and connecting to people. I encourage you to take ten minutes from your schedule and make a list for yourself too. Once you’ve made your list, ask yourself this: What are the things holding me back from ensuring my list is always ticked off? What holds me back is time and knowledge. I sometimes feel I don’t have enough information and time to do something new, such as learn a new skill.



“My physical activity of choice is lifting weights. I lift weights more than I do cardio, simply because I feel they suit me more. But I don’t neglect the cardio aspect. I don’t run on the treadmill because it is bad for the knees and lower back. Instead, I do a power walk.”

Physical fitness is more than just having strong arms or a toned stomach. It’s about self-care, good health and a positive, strong mind at the end of the day. It is important to learn to rest when you need to and push yourself on the days you’re just being lazy. When you get to the point where you’re in sync with the body, you’ll be in balance.

“One of the best tricks I have learnt is to add vegetables to everything I eat, whether it is salads, rice or curries. My dinner is very light—I just have a big glass of green juice and half an avocado… The green juice has blended crisp lettuce, romaine leaves, butterhead lettuce, Swiss chard, lollo rosso lettuce, red oakleaf lettuce, white pakchoi, baby spinach, red Russian kale and arugula leaves. The healthy concoction gives me a lot of energy.”

The high vitamin and mineral content found in superfoods can help your body ward off diseases and keep you healthier. Choose superfoods that work for your body. Every body is different. What works for one won’t necessarily work for another. Remember that there are few things that match the goodness of a plate of healthy, nutritious, home-cooked food. When you shop for the ingredients yourself, pick the best ones, and cook it using your own healthy methods or supervise someone else cooking for you, you know it will be a wholesome meal.


“Love looks good on all of us. At our core, we really want very few things—to be loved, to be wanted, and to belong. We seek these feelings throughout our lives and find solace in our various relationships and within ourselves.”

There is strong evidence that good relationships contribute to a healthy and happy life. People with strong social relationships are 50 per cent less likely to die prematurely. But why do good relationships impact us in such a drastic way? Well, no one is an island. Some are the high and mighty tides at night, some are the shells on the sandy beach, some are the birds flying far away from sight, some are the rocks that brace the harshest of weather, but all of these have come together to create the island. We depend for our well-being on a balance in our relationships.

“The key, I have learnt, is communication. Relationships don’t exist in a vacuum. When two people come together, they bring their own past experiences and expectations with them. ... The only way to understand the other person in the relationship is by talking to them, understanding what they want and then making sure your expectations align.”

Without being a good listener, your relationships won’t prosper. To listen, you have to develop a genuine interest in the other person. Be curious about their point of view, rather than just trying to have an answer for everything. Also, empathy goes a long way in saving relationships. That is why if you’ve had a tiff with someone close, instead of lashing out or sulking, ask yourself a few imperative questions, and if you can, the other person too: What is causing them to behave the way they are? Why did they say what they did? Is there something you don’t know about that’s really bothering them? ... Answering these questions will give you an insight into the minds of those you love.

“I’d also recommend spending time outdoors every day—preferably in the middle of nature—to reap its many benefits. You will come back home with a clearer mind.”

Exercising outdoors in nature—especially near water—helps ease stress, tension, anger and depression, and can increase happiness, satisfaction and energy. The benefits of exercising last longer when it’s done out in nature because fresh air means the body receives a healthy supply of oxygen. Even five or 10 minutes of daily physical activity outdoors is said to make a big difference in improving our well-being.


“Love the people in your life just as they are. Humans are hardwired to notice the negatives first. Break that pattern. One of the best ways to do that is to try what I call a thirty-day zero-negativity experiment.”

Be mindful about not seeing negativity in anything you encounter. Try not to judge. When you notice a negative thought, consciously bring your mind to a positive thought. Look at everyone with love, understanding and empathy. Appreciate them for who they are. Once you start this, your perception of things, people and life will start changing. Your conversations and actions, interactions and connections will evolve.

“When I’m not in the mood to go to the gym, I pick up something else instead, something that speaks to me and what my body needs. It could be a run in the park, some yoga or even a lovely long walk in the forest.”

There is no better feeling than being fit. You don’t need a perfect body or run a marathon to feel this way. All you have to do is not settle for less than the best for you. Physical wellness is not just following a regimen or workout because you’re supposed to. It’s about understanding your body, enjoying time with yourself and experiencing the true joy that comes from being active. This is why even after thirty-five years of working out, I look forward to it every day, eager to get started.

(*Excerpts from the book ‘Balance, published by Penguin Random House India 2020 carried with the permission of the author and extracts of conversations with Deanne Panday.)




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