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CNN anchor's challenge: fitting workouts into 17-hour days

Randy Quan for The Globe and Mail/randy quan The Globe and Mail

Monita Rajpal

News anchor

Having worked in front of the camera in Toronto, Atlanta and London, Monita Rajpal may be comfortable in the public eye, but she feels self-conscious in the gym. The 36-year-old co-anchor of CNN International's daily news show, World One, and host of icon, a monthly arts and culture show, is working with a trainer to keep her confidence - and motivation - going strong.

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My goal

"Feeling comfortable in my clothes."

My workout

"I used to do kickboxing, Pilates and yoga classes when I worked in Atlanta, but I wasn't feeling it as I do now, both in attitude and results. I started seeing a personal trainer six months ago. I needed something for me to take my mind of the stress of the day. He teaches me each move, so when I'm travelling for work and going to a hotel gym, I know what to do. Now my arms look nicer, my torso feels leaner, I feel tighter.

"On a good week, I go three times. I go through a 15-minute cardio warm-up on the stairmill and rowing machine. Next, I go into biceps, shoulders, lunges, triceps, and then core work. This takes 45 minutes. My routine is always the whole body, and then I finish with cardio on the machines."

My lifestyle

"There can be two weeks that go by which are the same, but then one week I'm in another part of the world and we're working 17-hour days. Then I come back and I'm gone again.

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"If I'm in London, I get into work at 7:15 a.m. and have my breakfast there, which is granola with yogurt and a cup of tea. I have lunch at work, which is a wrap with avocado or a salad and soup. I work until 3 p.m. and then head to the gym. I have a light dinner, kale, greens with tofu. My comfort food is cooking my mum's recipe for Indian spice roast chicken. And I love daal with yogurt and naan [oven-baked flatbread]/note> or rice."

My motivation

"I look toned, my clothes fit better and I just feel good."

My anthem

"Spiralling by Keane."

My challenge

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"Staying committed. One reason it's a challenge is going there three times a week, because it's easy to slip into the work schedule and skip it. The other reason is sometimes I just don't want to do it."


Don't get worked up to workout

Kate Hays, the founder of Toronto-based company The Performing Edge, which specializes in sports and performance psychology, offers some insights into why Ms. Rajpal may flinch at fitness.

"Part of what Monita is uncomfortable about is intense aerobic exercise, and part [of that]is interpreting what that intensity is. People think, 'I'm going to have trouble breathing' - and spiral into that." It may be helpful for Ms. Rajpal to reframe the way she looks at exercise, Dr. Hays says. "It's possible to recognize that intensity is part of what this physical routine is about, and that it's a signal she's pushing herself as hard as she should."

Affirm feel-good vibes

Ms. Hays says people who pay attention to moments they feel good after a workout will reinforce positive thoughts, which get stronger over time.

"Monita could choose words that describe those feelings, finding an affirmation that makes sense to her and addresses things she's concerned about. These kinds of anxious thoughts are something we learn - they're not innate, which means we can learn to think differently. She can use these words on her way to the gym."

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