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Turning lemons into (sugar-free) lemonade

  • Published at 05:39 pm May 18th, 2019
Healthy eating
Photo: Kimsey Nanney

From a support group to a clean eating empire

You can’t really start talking about eating healthy these days without Simra Khan’s name cropping up somewhere. In just 5 years, this enterprising young mom has gone from a food blogger promoting the buddy system for losing weight within a closed Facebook group, to a certified fitness and nutrition coach, a motivational speaker, celebrity chef and the founder of a fitness food and wellness company. Witnessing the calm, confident, effortlessly graceful way in which she conducts her shows, it would be hard to imagine that this incredible journey began at a point of insecurity.

“I was a skinny kid, and was constantly receiving comments about my lack of weight, being called ‘malnourished’, and a ‘stick’, and always being told to eat more. When I gained weight while pregnant with my second child, there were pointed comments about my weight gain, where people snidely pointed out that I was starting to look older than my husband, so yes, I’ve seen body shaming up close, and it has not been pretty” Simra tells us.

You shoot me down, but I won’t fall

The negative comments didn’t break Simra’s spirit. “Growing up, my father was a real role model for health. He encouraged us to eat healthy, with lots of raw and semi-cooked vegetables, and would encourage me to exercise. My parents would go out twice daily to walk. Their positive reinforcement taught me to prioritize my health.” Realizing that not everyone was lucky to find encouragement in their fitness goals, and that women were particularly vulnerable to body shaming, Simra opened her ladies-only fitness group “Thinspired by Simra Khan”, in 2014. At present, the group has some 20,000 active members from all around the world, women inspiring other women to get fit, eat healthy, and stay positive.

“I’ve been blessed that Thinspired has always had a very positive atmosphere. I’ve been very strict about ensuring that there is no negativity, and this has convinced all the members to be respectful and kind towards one another.”

Spreading wings

The growing popularity of the Thinspired platform quickly gained the notice of other companies, who realized the potential of this medium. Invitations from sponsors and corporations came pouring in, and Simra was invited to provide motivational speeches and host healthy seminars, and even to promote certain products. She began working with brands like KK Tea, Bengal Meat, Pran, Purnava and Rupchanda, talking up their products in her Youtube series and later, her cooking show. This convinced her to improve her credibility by specializing in this field.

Simra went on to complete an online course to get a fitness and nutrition coach certification from National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association (NESTA). This enabled her to speak more authoritatively on diet plans and safe ways to maintain a healthy weight. She went on to do shows for  SATV, Bangla Vision, GTV, and more. In 2016, she was invited as a Guest Judge for Rupchanda Super Chef cooking challenge. “I was seven months pregnant with my third child at the time, and people were concerned about whether I’d be able to do this, being sensitive to smells in my condition, and with the long hours, but I was excited to do the show, and they were impressed by my tenacity’ she recalls.

Another opportunity

One thing that kept cropping up in all the weight loss discussions on Thinspired was the lack of availability of healthy food items for weight loss, particularly snacks. To address this issue, Simra started Fitfoods, a wellness brand in 2016. Initially, she was making the snacks at home and selling them, but last year, she acquired a BSTI licensed factory, which now produces healthy, heart-friendly, non GMO, preservative-free fitness foods.

“I believe people should cherish their bodies by eating right and exercising properly” Simra says, and this simple thought lies at the heart of all her ventures. Her passion for her projects is truly…well, thinspirational.