The Instagram sensation and weightlifting star tells how to adhere to a realistic fitness lifestyle, with proper exercise, mentality and goals.

If there’s anyone who can convince a woman to consider weightlifting as a workout, it’s Nana Al Haleq. Blessed with striking good looks and a killer body with toned curves, she’s quashing the skinny female stereotype and hitting back with a healthy and strong physique.

A self-made fitness influencer and trainer with over 164,000 Instagram followers, Nana’s appeal ranges from the everyday Malaysian motivated by workout guides and routines, to the point of international #fitspo recognition on Buzzfeed.

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With fame catching up, Nana is constantly adding more shoots, client training sessions, meetings and events – with a spot of travelling now and then – to her plate, daily.

“It’s hard to pin down my routine – I can be in 6 different places in a day executing different tasks!” she revealed, of what goes on behind the lenses. No matter how busy it gets though, Nana carves out time for her fitness routine, 4-6 days a week, with her go-to total body combo giant sets workout.

On top of #bodygoals, Nana proves that staying fit whilst juggling multiple tasks is possible. Eager to get a step up our own fitness game, we sought her help for a smooth journey to fitness – complete with sensible tips, secrets and cautionary advice, too. 

1. A fitness motto to live by
“You are your own motivation. Educate yourself, learn more about diets and fitness, and please don’t succumb to crazy diets!” 

2. The diet that fuels her body
“I can safely say that I am 90% pescatarian. My every day protein is mostly deep-sea fish and about once or twice a week, I would have red meat. My guilty pleasure would be a fruit binge! I love persimmons, grapes, dragonfruit and mango. However, when I am on a strict diet—usually in preparation for competition, I won’t be able to consume any fruits except maybe a small handful of berries. Not having fruits in a day is a huge challenge for me.”

 3. The top three fitness myths to dispel are…
“Slimming pills, fat burners and shakes that will make you lose fat are false. If all of these really worked, there wouldn't be any obesity in the world.

Second, the ‘Oh, it's healthy so I can eat lots of it!’ mentality. Healthy food will also make you pack on the kilos if the portions exceed your body requirements. Get to know its nutritional facts.

Third, juices, smoothies, cereal, granolas and fitness bars are mostly loaded with sugar, carbs and fats. Whether or not derived from natural sources, they can still spike insulin level. Spare some extra minutes to properly read ingredients and nutritional facts!”

4. How to pick yourself up from a fitness rut
“Take progress photos along the way and note down your weekly/monthly achievements. Recognise even the smallest achievement. See your growth, for example, ‘I was able to do five perfect push-ups last week’, ‘I'm down to 1% body fat’ – These small wins will help you on your path. Remember, you are your own motivation!” 

5. Keeping active in a sedentary work environment
“Walk to lunch, stand up and walk every hour in the office – even if it’s just for five mins. Take the stairs. Take advantage of corporate wellness classes offered, or better yet, take initiative to join a fitness class close to your office!”

6.  On working out for your body type
“To me, there's no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ workout. Different body types respond to different training programs and diet is what usually plays the biggest role in changing one’s physique. Training programs are typically designed for a each an individual fitness goal. You need to try the program to see how your body responds and if it doesn't yield the desired result, then change it.”

7.  Preventing under-eating, over-exercising and under-nourishing among fitness junkies
“Go for regular physical check-ups to identify if you have any injuries, restrictions, and whether you are fit to attend certain physical activities! Periodise your training and give your body a rest. Listen to how your body feels and know your limits.

Light workouts don’t always mean they are non-effective workouts. Keep track of your body fat percentage and, at the very least, do a full health check-up annually to know your health status; which vitamins and minerals you need more of (and which you’d need to cut back on).

 Make an effort to understand how to read food labels and nutritional facts. Alter your diet to suit your health requirements. Eat a well balanced diet to fuel your body. Don’t starve to look skinny. Food should be a way to heal your body naturally. Better gut health and promote better digestion, which will lead to more effective fat loss overall.”

8. Her take on exercising and body image issues
“Having a goal is great as it pushes you to get active and improve your overall health and fitness, along the way. But people need to understand whether or not their expectations are realistic, some things can’t be changed, like bone structure and natural body build. Fitness goals must adhere to our own health and physical capacities, which sometimes, unfortunately so, depend on our genetics.

Instead of working towards wanting to look like another person, work towards being a better and healthier version of you – I strongly believe that everyone is beautiful in their own unique way. Our energy and light is what comes from within.” 

9. An effective 10-minute workout for anytime, anywhere
“I would suggest a (50-10) bodyweight total body work (50 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest):
Inchworm to push-up
Lunge with twist
Mountain climber to swivel
Plank shoulder tap
Squats with punches
Superman to lat pulls
Floor glute bridge
Cocoon crunch
Russian twist
Plank touch” 

Photos provided by Suppagood and nanaalhaleq.

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