Walking the Walk of Weight Loss: A Conversation with Sharan Tash
A lifelong entrepreneur, Sharan Tash has worked in the fields of fitness, dentistry, education and professional speaking. She’s always been active, but found her weight creeping up and realized she had many habits and triggers that were making her very unhealthy and keeping her from the lifestyle she desired. Last November she used her background in fitness and networking to open Tash Fitness, a women-only concierge fitness facility in Skokie that helps clients reach their goals of healthier eating, increased physical fitness, fat loss and better overall wellness in a supportive environment. Tash uses her own success to motivate and encourage clients, and be able to empathize with them.
How did you decide to make changes to your own health?
I was a large baby and was teased about looking like the Michelin Man. Although I’ve been active my whole life, I’ve also always been heavy. I had dreams of being a dancer, but during an audition, I was told I would never make it as a professional because I was too big. By 1990, I weighed over 340 pounds and was on my way up to 400 pounds. I realized that I was on a path of destruction and I wasn’t going to be able to see my children and grandchildren grow up. At first, I took drastic measures that weren’t healthy. I was only eating 600 calories a day and not getting enough nutrients. Finally, I started seeing a nutritionist who helped me identify my triggers and had me talk about why I wanted to eat the whole bowl of candy instead of just one or two pieces. I started eating a high-protein diet that gave me energy throughout the day, and I don’t eat packaged or processed foods. It’s not a diet; it’s an eating plan that I can maintain for the rest of my life.
What types of services does Tash Fitness offer?
Many women don’t like to go to big-box gyms where they feel people are staring at them, and prefer to be in a women-only environment. The atmosphere at Tash Fitness is SAFE—Sizeless, Ageless, Fitness Education. We don’t have any machines, but instead focus on functional fitness that allows people to exercise in the way they would normally move anyway. We have TRX, ropes, elastic bands, balls, steps, butterfly nets and a lot of other fun toys. We offer a variety of classes, including Zumba, yoga and Pilates, semi-private training and private training. Clients can schedule a session with one of our licensed massage therapists and drop their kids off at our child care center. We also do a lot of work with seniors to increase their balance and muscle strength, reduce their risk of falls and improve cognitive function through nutrition and exercise.
How do you help clients meet their fitness and health goals?
Sustained fat loss requires nutritional changes and exercise, and we emphasize both. We don’t keep track of weight, but we measure body fat. We do ask that clients keep records of their food intake and be honest about it. This is a judgment-free zone. If they eat a whole pizza one night, we’re not going to berate them for that, but instead ask them what triggered it. What else is going on in their lives to make their eating out of control? What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another person, so we address their individual needs. I start each day with a protein bar, but some people can’t stomach food first thing in the morning, so we come up with a plan that works for them.
What are some suggestions for people that want to start a healthy eating and exercise plan?
You don’t have to go to the gym for two hours every day to be healthy. We emphasize that people focus on NEAT—Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Go out and garden for 30 minutes. Walk around the house during tv commercial breaks. It gets your blood flowing and keeps your body ready to move. Twenty minutes before eating a meal, drink two glasses of lemon water. It will keep you hydrated and curb some of your hunger. If you go to a party, take a look around at your food options before you start eating and decide what you’re going to have. If you want a piece of cheesecake, go ahead and have it, but maybe skip the fried appetizers. Also become aware of proper serving proportions. Restaurant portions are grossly large and are usually three to four actual servings. Also, if you splurge one night, don’t obsess about it. Tomorrow is a new day and another opportunity to do something healthy for yourself.
Once you accept you, the rest of it all falls into place. You no longer need to live in the shadow of other people’s judgments. We love our community of guest members.
Tash Fitness is located at 8816 N. Bronx Ave., in Skokie. For more information, call 847-379-5777 or visit TashFitness.com.
Carrie Jackson is a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings.