How I manage my health: With Non-Executive Director Shirley Chowdhary

How I manage my health: Shirley Chowdhary

Each week on Women’s Health news, we’re learning how different women manage their health alongside their careers and other work.

This week, meet Shirley Chowdhary, host of our own Women’s Agenda podcast series, The Leadership Lessons. She shares with us her health routine, and why managing her health has become crucial.

Shirley is a Non-Executive Director, an Advisory Board Chair, Strategic Consultant, Mentor & Coach.

In the morning I…

After hitting the snooze button a few times, I race out of bed by 6am to help get our youngest to band practice, lunches done, a load of laundry on and makeup on for meetings and work. All of this after checking emails and having read the papers while listening to the news. I practice intermittent fasting overnight for 14-16 hours so usually start the day with hot water. (Even reading that I feel exhausted. Except for the fasting, it’s not really a healthy way to start the day!)

During lockdown, there is no more rushing. The snooze button still gets hits a few times before getting up at about 8am, doing a load of laundry (or not), pulling on track pants (nothing with a waist band in sight for weeks), concealer and lip balm (on a good day) and then sitting at my desk with a cup of tea or hot water (or fasting goes out the window and I have a coffee). On the days, I don’t have meetings, it’s a call to a girlfriend and reading the papers. It’s all very much more relaxed.

My exercise routine includes…

I’ve had consistent issues with my back over the years but after seeing an excellent physio during the last lockdown, I now have a daily routine which keeps my back healthy. I try and run through that routine for about 15-20 minutes on most days along with a stint on the elliptical cross trainer and/or treadmill. I have equipment at home so it’s usually in very daggy trackies or pj’s.

I love exercising on the machines because it’s time for me away from everyone else and I’m fairly religious about it. I will call a girlfriend (until I can’t speak anymore from being out of breath), listen to a podcast or audiobook or watch a tv series that no one else in the house wants to watch.

I’ve used exercise to break up my routine. So I’m trying to move every hour (my fitbit feeds my obsessive behaviour) and I will jump on the machines for a 2 minute run or walk each hour or the family will roll their eyes as I frantically walk the hallways trying to get my 250 steps in at 2 minutes to the hour!! I’m also walking outside more while I call a girlfriend for a chat and doing online classes that cause pain to muscles I haven’t used for too long on Alomoves.

I get bored, so 30 minutes is my limit on one activity unless I’m outside walking with a friend in which case I’m happy to walk as long as we can.

My favourite workout is…

Anything where my muscles tell me they’ve been used the next day. There are some shockers on Alomoves (All in Arms and Torch Thighs) where it hurts for a few days!!

I find balance in…

I’m either all on or all off. I love going at a hundred miles per hour and racing to get everything done and I thrive on the adrenalin. But by the same token, I love binge watching a TV series, reading and being lazy. There hasn’t been any adrenalin during lockdown and so everything seems to be taking longer!!

During the lockdown

I have been bouncing from one activity to another to avoid boredom and try and manage my own mental health. I’ve noticed that the list of things I have created as diversions to work has grown – knitting, TV, word puzzles, reading, podcasts, audio books, exercise, digitising photos, whatsapp chats with girlfriends, social media …Every few days another activity gets added to the round robin. I’m fortunate in that our youngest who is home schooling is 15 and very self sufficient. I feel for those who are home schooling!! 

On health, I encourage women to…

To be open and honest with themselves. My dad was a doctor so there was no shame or stigma attached to being sick or having an issue that needed exploring but my mum died of cancer because she had a lesion which she was too scared to face. The sad thing is that the cure rate for her type of cancer was high if found early. As a result, I am very proactive with my health. Get those mammograms, the pap smears and tell your GP if something doesn’t feel right. You know your body best, so your gut instinct is worth considering.

Times have changed dramatically since I was a young girl and I love that we are increasingly talking about women’s health and that there is (finally) innovation in the women’s health market. We should all be exploring these changes and taking advantage of the new market

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