Balancing motherhood, a thriving career, and an enviable body has shaped the better part of Deanne Panday’s life. As a bonafide self-taught fitness expert, she rose to a pro-status after studying fitness from Australia and training contestants for Miss India pageant for several years. She credits finding her purpose as a fitness expert, 20 years back, as the central reason for her flourishing life.

She believes that our mindset has to go beyond reaching out for the cover-page definition of skinny and towards accepting humans as bio-individuals. “A human body is a bio-computer. In individuals, greater factors, such as age, gender, ancestry, medical history come to play to decide what we should or should not eat; what is one man’s food is another man’s poison,” she adds.

Your workout and food intake are as individual as your fingerprint

“In India, we are slowly but surely understanding the true meaning of health,” says Panday. “Getting fit is more about the aesthetic appeal and losing weight in our country.” “Watching what’s on your plate”—an aspect she calls “secondary food”—is only a part of the broader spectrum of well-being.

“We are conditioned to look at our diet and hitting the gym as a means to lose weight. In reality, however,it is the ‘primary food’ that plays a vital role to ensure a person’s overall well-being.”

According to her, primary food includes healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career and a spiritual practice that can nourish your soul and satisfy your drive for life. When primary food is balanced and satiating, your life feeds you, making what you eat secondary.

“If these aspects in your life if they are not in balance, no matter how much we eat healthy on our plate or works out, we will not be happy or achieve wellness and happiness,” she adds.

The fitness expert practises what she preaches. While she takes care of her secondary food by consuming only organic food items—and growing some in her own kitchen garden—the secret to her well-being is her focus on taking care of primary foods.

She shares some secrets:

Physical activity

Her religious routine of yoga and weight training four to five times a week, for 45 min to two hours,nourishes her physical well-being. “I revolve my meetings and work around my training schedule. If I can’t hit the gym, I self-practice.”

Purposeful career

Over 20-years-ago, when she found her calling as a fitness expert, it was a very natural progression from exercising to Jane Fonda’s videos and being one of the first women weight training in the gym to studying personal training from Australia. Her passion for holistic well-being manifests in her conducting regular workshops to create awareness, and two best-selling books on fitness to her credit.

She has a venture, aptly called, Balance through which she spreads the word about the cause and also offers personalised health coaching.

Spiritual Practices

To harmonise her physical well-being with her spiritual self, she meditates first thing in the morning,“I sit in a meditative post—Vajrasana—and meditate for a few minutes to set an intention for my day. I visualise the things I want to accomplish as if I am already doing it. It puts me in a positive mindset. I also pray at Mount Mary regularly.”

Health relationships

It’s only when you self-care by fostering a healthy mind and a physical self can you be a pillar for those around you, shares Panday.

“To be strong for those around, you need to have a healthy mind, body and soul yourself.”

“If you find the thing that makes you happy everything falls into balance. Either you should love what you are doing or learn to love what you do. That’s the only way to thrive in life.”


  • Apoorva Mittal is a published author of the book Refugee Changemakers. As a Medill Scholar, she is pursuing MS in Journalism at Northwestern University, Chicago. She has a business and finance background with three years work experience in strategy and consulting. She has studied Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Stanford University, Graduate school of Business and Creative Writing at Oxford University.