Being a celebrity is no easy feat. Aside from being good at your work and opting for the right kind of projects, it is essential to look presentable as well. And this is not just limited to making the right fashion choices but also staying and looking fit and healthy. This week Instep talks to actor-director Adnan Malik, who has always believed in maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
From production and direction to modeling and acting, Malik has tapped into almost every field one can think of in the entertainment industry. Having made his television debut with Sadqay Tumhare opposite Mahira Khan just last year, the actor is gearing up for his big screen debut this year with Asim Abbasi’s directorial debut Cake alongside Aamina Sheikh and Sanam Saeed. His most recent works as a director include an impressive commercial featuring Atif Aslam that generated a lot of praise. Here the actor talks about his fitness goals, his life mantra and much more…
“Exercise has always been a form of catharsis for me,” he noted. “It’s a way to connect with my sense of self and with my creativity. I have spent a lot of time hiking in the mountains and also used to spend hours outdoors, playing all kinds of games and sports. I can probably count the days I haven’t done some kind of exercise or played a sport on my fingers because it’s always been a part of who I am. Otherwise I lose touch with myself. In high school I was the captain of most of the sports teams and learnt as much on the sport grounds as I did in the classrooms. Later on in life I discovered yoga and have been practising that for 13 years.”
The actor also shared that his fitness goals keep changing based on what he’s up to at that point in life. While preparing for a role, he takes into account the requirements of the character. “For Sadqay Tumhare I wanted to be lean and fit so I spent a few months trying to achieve that and now I want to develop more muscle. Let’s hope my schedule allows for this.”
When it comes to staying fit, a healthy and balanced diet is extremely important and Malik says he often finds it difficult for him to maintain his diet given his busy working schedule that also includes travelling.
“I try to maintain my exercise wherever I am but my diet plan slips here and there, especially when there is a lack of sleep. I generally start the morning with a glass of water with fresh lemon/ baking soda and/or turmeric and then a mix veggie and fruit juice. Whatever’s seasonal! When I’m working out, I’ll have some whey protein but otherwise it’s pretty standard stuff. I believe in a strong, healthy breakfast and smaller meals throughout the day. I avoid too many carbohydrates (except in the mornings), eat a fair share of proteins, fresh and seasonal vegetables and fruits and reduce my meat intake. I also try and drink a lot of water. I like to eat “real foods” and not things picked up off shelves if I can. My philosophy is to eat local, eat seasonal and eat fresh. Before modern times, that’s what we used to do.”
Malik is not very regular with workouts because of his shooting schedule but he does have a trainer – Junaid at Core – who he works with once in a while. The actor prefers to do a mix of cross fit, weight training and boxing at the gym while outside the gym, he practises yoga. These days he is playing tennis, however he also plays volleyball, football and cricket, depending on the season.
It is not just exercise and diet that guarantee an active lifestyle but a healthy mind is equally important to stay sane. Sharing his thoughts on the subject, Malik says, “I believe in a holistic approach to life. I think a healthy mind and a healthy body and a sense of well-being all go hand in hand. I guide a lot of my friends who are stuck in their heads about something, that they need to find an exercise outlet. I am lucky that my father inculcated this in me from a young age. Whenever I am stressed, I try and stretch. If I have more time, I prefer yoga or a run or a sport. Yoga and running help to build a stronger bond with yourself particularly yoga allows you to look inside, and to be present. I think the best thing we can all try and do in these busy, distracted times is be “present”. This is the best stress management strategy. We get too caught up in the future or the past. We live in urban jungles, completely out of harmony with our bodies and nature; hence, it’s imperative to realign ourselves with nature and the universe.”
Mental peace has a lot to do with the amount of sleep one gets. For Malik, sleep is very important. “Sleep is integral to a balanced life,” he shared. “I need a minimum of 8 hours to be in good shape the next day. 9 hours is optimal. Anything less than 7 and I can feel it the next day. It gets tough in our industry to sleep and wake up early (the opposite is common here) especially in Karachi. In Islamabad, I am in bed by 11:30. When I’m in the mountains, it’s 10!”
What helps Malik maintain his balanced lifestyle is that he doesn’t compromise on sleep and exercise. “The only place I am a little lenient is my diet and I need to keep that in check,” he said.
Piece of advice
“The first step is to be honest with yourself. Everything is connected: your mood, your work habits, your eating and exercise habits, your weight, your productivity, your family life, your sense of success and financial position! If one of these things is out of balance, then it’s all out of balance! The goal is to attain balance and be a centrist, not someone who lives in ebbs and peaks. We have to bring everything to the center, cut out excess in all shapes and forms, control material desires, exercise, eat well, sleep and understand that we are just humans and it will all end one day. All our material and ego driven pursuits don’t really amount to much at the end of the day. What matters is how we spend our time in this world, how helpful we can be to those around us, and whether or not we live ethical lives that are not solely focused on us. I feel once we realize this, life becomes simpler. And simplicity is the goal. The simpler your life, the happier and healthier you are!”