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Self-help books can be dangerous

health-and-fitness Updated: Oct 30, 2011 17:31 IST
Priyanka Jain
Priyanka Jain
Hindustan Times
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Unguided self-help can be as just as dangerous as irresponsible driving. India’s best selling fitness experts, who have penned books on the subject ranging from weight loss and special diets to leading a stress free life, insist that their readers need to use discretion while implementing the written word. The common consensus is — if it doesn’t appeal to your sensibilities or common sense, forget about it, even if the biggest star endorses it.

For instance, author of the best selling title From XL To XS and co-founder of Cosmic Fusion The Yoga Wellness Studio, Payal Gidwani Tiwari has mentioned many asanas, pranayamas and kriyas in her book. Yet, she insists that since she can’t predict the situations the readers are in, they must exercise certain amount of discretion and follow tips under professional guidance. Kareena Kapoor’s nutritionist and author of Don’t Lose your Mind, Lose Your Weight, Rujuta Diwekar, feels her books reiterate some elements that people are already aware of. Yet, they prefer reading them in print. "These are educational tools for eating right along with principles and strategies to adopt this wisdom to our fast paced and hectic lifestyles," says Diwekar.

Use wisely

Likewise, nutritionist Namita Jain, who has four books to her credit, insists on the need for ‘intelligent use of written material’. "I know many people who have injured themselves with over-exercise, wrong techniques and drastic dieting," she says, adding, "You need to combine a nutritious diet with an exercise programme, then the body fat percentage will decrease, as you will boost your metabolic rate, resulting in weight loss."

Jain informs, that even though her books specialise in fitness, anyone and everyone may not be able to make the most of them. “For instance, a sedentary lifestyle is a risk factor for heart disease. So people with special needs or medical concerns must consult their doctor for exercise and diet recommendations.”

Deanne Panday, who currently India’s best selling fitness author has written, I’m Not Stressed and also recently launched a fitness DVD with Bipasha Basu. Her book, unlike other self-help works, urges people to concentrate on maintaining mental health too.

“My book is about urban life stress management strategies. When you get stronger in your mind, you can deal with situations with much more ease. There are simple but effective things for that — like breathing right, which makes your focus better. These small habitual changes go a long way.”

Top Indian fitness books

* I’m Not Stressed
by Deanne Panday

* From XL To XS
by Payal Gidwani Tiwari

* Figure It Out
by Namita Jain

* Women & The Weight Loss Tamasha
by Rujuta Diwekar

* The Four-week Countdown Diet
by Namita Jain

* Don’t Lose Your Mind Lose Your Weight
by Rujuta Diwekar

Personal trainer v/s self help books

Some fitness buffs get great results by working out with their trainers, others prefer reading books or watching DVDs. This might be the oldest debate in the book, but experts say neither is wrong.

Says Panday, “Listen to your body. Don’t blindly follow what others tell you. You need to make sure that what you follow suits your body. Do something that you can sustain. Weight loss should be steady. You should lose a maximum of two to three kilos a month.”

Rujuta adds, “All fitness tips, where in a book or from a trainer, come from a well-informed source. The only thing that makes a different is eating right, working out and leading a disciplined lifestyle.”

Payal, feels books have a slight edge over personal trainers, as they are appropriate for busy people. “They are beneficial for those people who do not have the time to visit gyms or have tight work and professional schedules. They can just follow the books as and when they get time during the day work towards being healthy too.”