Evergreen songstress Datuk Sheila Majid credits her healthy lifestyle for her decades-long career, writes Aznim Ruhana Md Yusup.
ON a typical day once her morning rituals are done, Datuk Sheila Majid will step on the elliptical machine that she has at home. It gets her heart rate up, and the workout sets the tone for the rest of her day.
She also goes to pilates class twice a week. She’s been doing pilates for 10 years, since the birth of her youngest daughter.
“I started off doing aerobics and I used to play badminton and squash in my twenties,” she says. “Then I switched to home workouts, like treadmills. I also have my pilates and I love it because it teaches you how you should move your body without injuring yourself.”
Sheila, 52, says she stays healthy so she can better care for her children. She has two school-aged daughters with musician husband Acis, as well as two grown-up children from a previous marriage. The eldest is hip hop singer Kayda.
But she also works out because it is important to her career as a singer. She’s stepping up her fitness game in preparation of her next big show, Sheila Majid The Concert Kuala Lumpur 2017 on Aug 5 at Stadium Merdeka.
“I've been singing since I was 18 so I have to exercise whether I like it or not. You need stamina to sing and perform, especially as you get older,” Sheila continues.
“To have to go through 20 songs per concert you need to stay fit. Singing is my rice bowl and that’s why health is my priority. I know that if I exercise in the morning and I have a show that night, I will sing effortlessly with no struggle at all.”
DIVING AND CRYING
Meanwhile, Acis prefers the outdoors, and he joins running events regularly. Sheila tried running with him once but it left her sore for a week. She’s considering getting a bicycle, so she can ride with him while he runs. Acis is more successful at getting Sheila to go diving, even though she did not take to it immediately.
“He bought a scuba training package as an anniversary gift. Training was at a pool and I was fine, but out at sea, it’s a totally different ballgame. After the sixth dive, I told him that I wasn’t cut out for it and he looked so disappointed,” she says.
“So I tried again. We went to Sipadan and that’s when I began to love diving. Now we have clocked about 185 hours of dives each. My favourite was Raja Ampat (in Indonesia.)
“I'm happy that he has an active lifestyle so we do these things together and when the children have grown up, we still have things that we enjoy together. It’s important not to stop moving because of your age.”
Sheila may have a gentler approach to keeping fit nowadays, but that is not always the case. About 12 years ago after the birth of her third daughter, she hired a personal trainer, and the experience left her in tears and exasperation.
“She would come to my house at 7am but I’d have to already be on my treadmill for an hour before that. Then we go through the routines and then she’d check my meals. She’d ask my maid what I’ve been eating to see if I was cheating. I almost murdered her!” Sheila remembers.
She recalls that she was breastfeeding at the time, and her baby daughter didn’t even want to feed from her. For Sheila, that was the worst part of the experience.
“If the trainer is coming tomorrow, tonight I’m already crying. My husband pointed out that I didn’t have to do this, and I realised that no one is forcing me. So I terminated her service, and I did my own routine in my own time, and I was much happier.”
FOOD AND FUN
In addition to her exercise routine, Sheila also maintains a wholesome diet with lots of home-cooked meals.
She admits that she’s no foodie, and isn’t into trendy health foods such as quinoa or acai. She doesn’t stay away from rice either, only making sure that she has a balanced selection of protein and vegetable dishes.
Meanwhile, breakfast is usually yogurt and coffee. And as the product ambassador for Anlene, Sheila takes Anlene Heart-Plus, which contains Omega 3, plant sterol, collagen, calcium and protein.
“In my job, a lot of the times we have to eat on the run. But even on the run, I make sure that the food that I eat is nutritious. Not snacks, not junk food.”
Her comfort food is fried fish. When little Sheila had no appetite to eat, her mum would serve hot rice with a bit of butter, fried fish and soy sauce. It felt like the best meal in the whole world. These days, when her kids are feeling under the weather, she’d serve the same, too.
“Growing up, my mum, who’s now 93, always makes sure there’s nutritious food for us. So with my children, we have no carbonated drinks in the fridge. My children are used to drinking plain water, it’s what they order when we eat out,” she says.
“But I’m not that strict because kids that grow up in that kind of house hold will go haywire with sweets once they grow up, or they do it behind your back. So everything in moderation.”