I was never a fat or plump kid; in fact, I was skinny. But throughout school and college, I was reasonably fit as I was pretty much into sports. Currently, I work out and try to watch what I eat. The job we photographers do requires us to move around a lot and it becomes difficult to be an energetic photographer if you are fat and out of shape. So, yes, my job inspires me to be fit.
I think the diets of both male and female celebs get discussed. I remember reading about the diets of Hrithik, Aamir, and even Atul Kulkarni. But while we are generally appreciative of men being on a diet and see it as a measure of their commitment, focus and discipline, for women, we see it as their way of showing us down and putting pressure on us to lose weight. Blame that on patriarchy. If your husband knows how to make a chai, wow, how lucky you are! And he is very unlucky if you don’t know how to make garam chapatis. When I work with Varun Dhawan, Saif or Anupam Kher, the focus is on the complete lifestyle – food, exercise and sleep. Celebrity or not, male or female, there is no fooling or cheating the human physiology or its ability to adapt to the stimuli of diet and exercise.
People we refer to as celebrities are generally the ones who make it to the top of their field, and generally people make it to the top because they are much more disciplined and have a better sense of priorities than the rest. Chandra Kochar looks in better shape than the average banker, Anand Mahindra is in better shape than your middle-level manager, and this rule applies to actors too. Besides, acting is a physically challenging profession. You won’t find an artiste sitting at one place for too long. They walk, they move, they dance much more than regular people. So when Madhuri Dixit or Juhi Chawla look great even today, you have to acknowledge that they are starting at a different baseline. When Karisma Kapoor was giving her 12th retake for “Le gayi, le gayi,” you were chilling with a bowl of instant noodles. On a serious note, diets fail because they are not a culture fit. So choose a diet that is sustainable, make exercise a non-negotiable part of your life and regulate your bedtime to keep life-threatening illness at bay.
My reason was totally different. It had to do with playing at a certain level in the professional sport. I realised in the process that when I started getting fitter, I started thinking better. I had more confidence, clarity, focus and determination. And I started feeling that inside me as soon as I changed my physical regime. That’s when I began to think that everybody should be doing this. Getting fitter makes you confident overall. It makes you feel good about yourself. You need to feel good to have good thoughts. And then came about this idea of pushing people towards fitness to make them understand why this is so important.
I find a great need in like-minded communities that meet together to inspire each other and remind each other of what matters. You find fitness works best when it’s done in groups of people who remind each other of why it matters. Technology is a great place here, too, because watching motivational videos, setting a certain background on your phone plays equal priority to keep that memory going. When there’s a will, there’s a way. When there’s no will, there’s an excuse. We have to take the extra mile to get it right.
It is because when we go to see a doctor for backache, blood pressure, fertility, anything at all, we hear the words “lose some weight”. It is the same thing we hear at parties or weddings: “She is so pretty, if only she lost some weight toh shaadi jaldi ho jayegi.”. Loss of weight can be achieved by loss of health too – diarrhoea does it, so does AIDS. It is important to focus on improving metabolic health, to carry more muscle and bone than what we currently do, to make long-lasting changes in our lifestyle that lead to sustainable weight loss. And the only thing that can bring that ideal balance is education about the fact that fitness or fatness cannot be measured on a weighing scale.