Saira Khan is exactly the fitness motivator we need this January to shape up for 2021.
After turning 50 last year, former Loose Women presenter Saira made it her mission to fit into a pair of jeans that were 20 years old. She achieved it – and then some!
Adopting a new passion for fitness, Saira now feels better than she has in years, and her menopause symptoms are at bay, too.
‘Fitness keeps my menopausal body in shape. My body functions better with movement,’ she tells Woman magazine.
Keep it simple
Having shunned fad regimes for a more straightforward approach, Saira says, ‘There’s no magic pill. It’s about being active every day. That means keeping your steps up – at least 10,000 per day, I’d say. Walking is the best exercise.’
Speaking of her own routine, Saira told Woman, ‘I wake up and I’ll definitely take the dog out for a walk, then I do 45 minutes of strength training and cardio – that includes things like skipping and bodyweight exercises.’
She adds, ‘Because I’m 50 and I’m on HRT [hormone replacement therapy], I really need to build my strength so that, as I get older, I can have a good quality of life and range of movement, so I do some weight training, too.’
While that may seem like a lot of exercise, Saira is also insistent that lots of sleep is a key part of her regime, too.
‘We forget that we do need to sleep,’ she says. ‘People think you don’t need it, but your body needs time to heal, repair and re-energise.’
If you’re struggling to get started, Saira has some handy tips for finding your mojo.
‘If I’m not feeling a big workout or a run, I just go for a long walk. Another top tip is to buy a really nice outfit for exercising in.
‘As soon as you get out of bed, wash your face and put those clothes on because, once you’ve got it on, you’re more likely to do something!
‘I might not do my workout straightaway – sometimes I get dressed for it at eight o’clock and don’t do any exercise until four o’clock – but it’s just a reminder for me.’
Food is medicine
Saira doesn’t believe in restrictive diets. ‘It’s not about counting calories, but if you want to keep in shape, you do have to keep a tally of the energy you use and the food you put into your mouth,’ she says.
As a busy working mum, Saira likes to keep weekday meals simple. ‘I do things that are healthy, quick, simple and nutritious,’ she explains.
‘After my workout, I have a protein shake, just to get the protein in. Lunch is a nice salad with sardines, and I’ll spice it up with a bit of chilli. Dinner is something like sweet potatoes, chicken or fish and veggies.’
Saira describes her diet as ‘very functional’ until the weekends. ‘That’s when I can cook things like a curry,’ she says.
Treats certainly aren’t off limits. ‘Chocolate? Yes, please!’ Saira jokes, ‘I do enjoy healthy food, but at the weekends I like to treat myself.’
Looks aren’t everything
While Saira clearly looks amazing, it’s not all about the aesthetics for her – another big motivator is the hidden health benefits of exercise.
She doesn’t believe in starting a fitness journey for any reason other than for yourself. ‘You’ve got to want to do it to feel good,’ she told Woman.
‘I do it for my mental health – it’s about positivity. I know how I feel if I don’t do it. It keeps my hot sweats at bay, it keeps my menopausal body in shape and I don’t have so many side effects, so I sleep better – and I don’t get a foggy brain if I exercise.’