Capitalising on Colombo’s health | Daily News

Capitalising on Colombo’s health

Key players behind ODEL Fitness Week
Key players behind ODEL Fitness Week

Following a global trend to be more healthy, Colombo’s clothing and food industries are capitalising on a calorie conscious and fitness frenzied elite. Health food restaurants and stores have popped up around the city, along with scores of air conditioned gyms, which allow their members to sweat comfortably. ODEL, Sri Lanka’s premiere department store, is no exception.

This year ODEL launched its first Fitness Week: a promotional feature offering 20 percent discounts on all sports items, 10 percent discounts on wellness teas, and integrating some healthful options into the promenade food court.

On Thursday, ODEL succeeded in promoting healthy ideas about fitness during a ‘scintillating discussion,’ in the company’s words, “on the importance of fitness, well-being and looking good, all of which are the cornerstones of ODEL’s ethos.” A number of interesting panellists were chosen, including Johann Peiris, a Sri Lankan who climbed Mount Everest, a nutritionist named Ronali from RAW, Omalka Guneratne, a burgeoning rugby star, and former international supermodel Jackie Mae.

A discussion on health

Johann Pederis discussed two of the most important elements of fitness while explaining his workout regime, as he prepared to scale Everest, “The whole journey was a long term plan, fitness wise and planning wise. There was a five year process that we had to go through, and the most important thing about it was-we had to remain consistent. You’ve got to be committed… be committed at what you do. I couldn’t make excuses, there was no one to push me to be fit or keep fit. I think you’ve got to be consistent, and you’ve got to commit yourself to it.”

In addition to that, Pederis said that making the commitment to be fit, “It’s a mental transformation that you need most of all. And then of course, like I said earlier, you need to be committed to it…. Everybody can’t follow the same routine. You have to do what’s right for you and what you suits you.”

It was refreshing to hear people at the event discuss the importance of making fitness work for the individual. Pederis’ sentiment was echoed several times by different panelists.

For example, Romali, the RAW nutritionist, offered a number of different healthful snacks someone could eat depending on how long it was before they worked out: “If you’re looking at starting your fitness regime in 30 to 45 minutes, before you should have a banana. If you are starting your fitness regime in one and a half to two hours, before have a protein smoothie with raw eggs, or overnight oats with fruit.”

Romali also analysed the well-known adage, ‘You are what you eat,’ saying, “I think ‘you are what you eat’ is actually quite accurate.” She expanded it to, “You are what you eat, so don’t be fast, easy, cheap, or fake. Make sure that you don’t put fast food into your body. Make sure that it’s not fake food, and make sure that it’s quality food. The longer the shelf-life the shorter your life. The fresher it is, obviously organic plays a big role as well. I have seen it in my life how it has affected me.”

The rising rugby star, Omalka Guneratne, talked about balance in his health regime.

“I balance everything,” he said, “I balance my training sessions, while maintaining a clean diet. So, you must focus on your diet, and you must make sure you get the right nutrition intake. When it comes to vitamins and supplements, you must make sure that you consume the right intake, not too much, or not too less. Basically, rugby evolves everyday, so we must evolve with it. You have to keep out fast food and carbonated drinks.”

Along with balance and maintaining a healthy diet, Guneratne offered some general advice: “Make sure that you are hitting the gym. Make sure that your trainer is giving you cardio and strength training both. Make sure that you research about [a nutrition plan], because it’s good for your own health.”

Some of the speakers, like beauty guru, Ramini Fernando, talked about the intersection of beauty and health, “visiting a salon in relation to looking good or working out and fitness—I think they are one and the same. Salons may seem quite cosmetic, [while] working out is for your body and your mind and your well-being, but both are important for a good life. Regular exercise is one of the key factors to great skin, to healthy skin. So I feel that by exercising your blood circulation increases, your stress levels are controlled…. most of your skin problems are due to stress, acne, eczema, even hair fall.” Apart from the exterior benefits of exercise that Fernando mentioned, she also discussed the psychological benefits. “Everything, you could manage, if you have a good exercise regime,” she said. Fernando also offered an important perspective that, “It’s never too late to start working out. I started working out in my early 50s I think. After I started working out, I’m a different person now. I think exercise helps overall.”

Model, Jackie Mae agreed with Fernando, saying, “When you’re working out, it builds your confidence, it clears your head, it boosts your immune system. It does everything for you.” And working out for Mae is a addictive, she said, “Once you start you don’t want to stop, because you feel good, you look good, your heads clear… the best thing is to be fit, eat good food, sleep well, have a good clear head, and if you can’t do that-go to the gym and work it out.”

One of the healthiest perspectives on fitness came from Dhanu, the Sri Lankan media personality, who talked about his experience losing and gaining weight, “I used to be not what I am right now. I used to not fit into a door. Then I got this inspiration to become a model and I lost a lot of weight. Before I started going to the gym I was missing seeing my toes. And when you don’t see your toes, you don’t see a lot of other things as well, and I was like, bloody hell.”

Dhanu said he went through periods of losing and gaining weight, a refreshing admission amongst the polished personalities on the panel. He said that most recently, he lost an astonishing eight and a half kilograms in five weeks, while doing high octane training. “My motivation every time,” said Dhanu, “is to get into a clothing. I’m so glad that ODEL is doing this. This has pushed me.”

Dhanu also mentioned the concept of having a cheat meal.

“Being fit, you have to have a treat day for yourself,” said Dhanu. “If you want to be a child, be a child. But that is your cheat meal, you deserve it. It’s all about balancing.”

“The reason for having fitness week,” said a spokesperson for ODEL, “is that fitness is virtually a lifestyle today. [It] is no longer the prerogative of the young, but people of all ages have embraced the lifestyle of being fit.”

Desiree Karunaratne, Group Director Marketing, Softlogic Holdings PLC expanded this point, saying, “This has been something that we’ve been wanting to do at ODEL for quite sometime. We realised the importance of really looking at fitness for something as important as it is.”

Karunaratna talked about ODEL’s mission to, “Create more awareness of fitness, and why one should stay fit.” If this fitness week goes well, she said, “I hope that we are able to make it an annual event.”

Pictures by Sarath Peiries


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