WOW | Fitspiration

How I got the body I wanted

Deepa Thapa Magar

She’s been a banker and fashion blogger. But that is all in the past. Kathmandu born and now based in Seattle, USA, Deepa Thapa Magar turned a new leaf when she started working fulltime as a Behavioural Health Counsellor for a non-profit company. Her Instagram account is filled with posts of her conducting impressive workout routines. Deepa is someone who likes to keep herself busy, juggling work, family/home life, studying, and the gym. The 30-year-old is currently studying for her personal training certification while preparing for her first ever NPC Bikini Competition being held in October. She says the latter is one of the most mentally challenging things she has done yet. This fitness enthusiast also believes that if we want to do well in anything in life, we have to be willing to push through all barriers.

What does fitness mean to you?

Even though I am a competitor, fitness means so much more than looking fit and having a great physique. It’s not just about your outer appearance or a temporary fix because you have to fit in a dress in a week’s time or you have to go on a vacation. It’s a way of life, a lifestyle that you choose. It’s more than just exercising and eating healthy. It’s more about you realising your own potential as an individual. You have to learn to love it. I really respect fit people, not because they look good but because it shows their dedication, their discipline, hard work, work ethic and passion. I can’t really put into words what it means to me. So if I am to put it simply, I would say it’s a lifestyle.

When did you get into fitness?

I got into fitness around five years ago. At first it just started as dance classes at the gym. I was doing Zumba and hip-hop dance classes, and also cardio machines. I wasn’t interested in weights at the time. Then in 2013 I went to the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio. After meeting and seeing so many of those athletes there, it really changed my view and my fitness goals. So it was in 2013 when I started weight training.

What are the most difficult aspects of following a fitness routine?

The most difficult part is being consistent and overcoming the mental barriers that you’ve created for yourself. There are days where I don’t feel like going to the gym. I come up with excuses for myself to not go. But I know that once I get to the gym all those excuses go away. Once I’m there I’m focused.

Your favourite routines

My favourite body part to train is shoulders. I like to do a lot of volume and keep the intensity high by incorporating supersets and reducing rest time in between sets. One of my favourite exercises is the Arnold Press. I also love pull-ups because I remember when I struggled for months and months to just to do just one. At first I struggled just to hang onto the bar. The feeling I had after I did my first pull up was so motivating for me to keep going.

Why is exercise important?

Exercise is important for so many reasons. It’s about a lot more than just how you look on the outside. It keeps you healthy on the inside physically by reducing stress, improves your heart and joint health, metabolic function, and helps with weight management. But what is really overlooked is the mental benefit. Personally, it’s such a great stress relief. I always feel great and happy after a good workout. It’s a mental challenge and that feeling of knowing I pushed myself beyond what I thought I was capable of, it’s an amazing feeling.

Do you feel women are more into exercise for body image rather than health reasons?

I think for a lot of people it starts out that way. Once they see results of not just the physical changes but the health and mental benefits as well, it ends up being about lot more than body image. They become more confident and feel a sense of accomplishment. It’s a really positive domino effect on your entire life. I think it doesn’t matter why start, as long as you start and commit. Make it a part of your daily life.

When do you know you have gone too far?

When you don’t listen to your body. Listen to your body, it will tell you if you need to lighten up the weight, a day of rest, or if you need more water or food. Train smart to avoid injury. One extremely important thing to keep in mind especially for beginners is to use correct form. A lot of times people lift with their ego and end up getting injured. So it’s very important to focus on form rather than weight.

How important is diet in the whole process?

It is extremely important. In fact, it is more important than exercise. There’s a saying in the fitness industry that it takes “70% diet, 30% exercise”. You have to learn to eat according to your goals. For me, I had to learn to eat a lot to get where I am because I am naturally very petite and my goal is to gain weight and put on muscles and if it was not for the change in my diet, I wouldn’t be where I am now. When I first started, people would always say, “Why are you working out, you are already so tiny, you might disappear one day.” They did not understand that my reason for working out was to get healthy and gain healthy weight, not to lose weight. Being underweight is as unhealthy as being overweight.