Why run after the West when we already have the best? Join Shilpa Shetty and Luke Coutinho as they tell you just how nutritious your locally grown and sourced ingredients are and that theres no ...(more)
Hi! My name is Shilpa Shetty Kundra. Most of you know me as an actor, but I'm also a businesswoman, a fitness enthusiast, a wife and a full-time mother. My newest role, that of a 'health advocate', came about quite subconsciously through my journey of discovering motherhood. That made me realize the immense responsibility and role that food plays in making a life. I have always been complimented for my body and often been referred to as 'the body' (at the cost of being immodest), but most people don't know what goes into maintaining it. To be honest, I have never really paid too much attention to my body, but I value it and must have done something right to have remained at a constant 58 to 60 kilos for some twenty-two years.
Friends and fans generally think, 'What's the big deal? She's blessed with a great metabolism; she is born that way. Actors have it easy; they have money, which allows them access to the best trainers, nutritionists and supplements. You just have it without any hard work or effort.'
Here is the truth. Up to a point, maybe I believed it too. I just felt blessed to be endowed with good height and curves, but my health and my weight are completely the result of my habits, discipline and regime. I didn't truly value my body until I had my baby. It then struck me that I was only an ordinary woman who had the same fears, struggles and issues as any other woman.
I gained 32 kilos (yes, I was a whole new person and a half extra) during the pregnancy. The ideal Indian joint family I married into tried feeding me aloo parathas laced with white butter and gal gal ka achar (from Punjab, I had no idea something like that even existed, being south Indian), sarson da saag with makai di roti, and more white butter, and grated jaggery. I enjoyed those, to be honest, and I'm not complaining.
By the way, three kilos came from the halwa Bijee made for me every second day while I was carrying for Viaan, which I ate with no regrets. Today the family discusses grilled foods and boiled sprouts. I think it is the 'SSK effect'. You can't beat 'em, join 'em! Getting back in shape was quite a difficult and challenging journey. It was frustrating, dealing with all that extra weight, an alteration in body image and all the changes that pregnancy brings along with it. To confess, I did let go during that time. I thought I would do everything the old-fashioned way, and so I ate and put on more weight than I should have. After Viaan Raj (my son) was born, I wanted my body back really badly, not just for the sake of looks, but because I felt unhealthy. I did not feel my natural self on the inside or the outside. Seven months after the delivery, I decided to get my health back on track. I lost 28 kilos in four months, and believe me, it was far from easy.
It was difficult, but not impossible, and that's the way it will always be. The day you set your mind to a goal and decide to achieve it, you will see the change begin to happen.
Any weight loss regime, I assure you, is 70 per cent diet and 30 per cent exercise, coupled with good sleep and a positive frame of mind. I believe it's all in the mind; it's mind over body because that is where it starts. I had a vision of how I wanted to look and feel in my mind, and I worked only towards that. I refused to be blinded or confused by the theories, fad diets and exercise programmes that the media, magazines or social groups advocate. I had a vision firmly formed in my mind, and I just set out to achieve it.
What is my secret?
I don't diet. Yes, it is true. The word 'diet' makes the mind believe that the body is being deprived, and this deprivation leads to cravings. Sample this. During karva chauth fasts, I start to crave all kinds of things. It's all in the mind. I have never believed in diets and never will, but what I live by is a healthy regime, good food, real food--or what Luke and I call 'the Great Indian Diet'--adequate exercise that suits my body and restful sleep. I use yoga and meditation to manage any stress and stay positive in every situation. I also believe that it's important to understand the type of body you have. Ayurveda defines this in the best way possible. For example, if your constitution is vata, pitta or kapha, there will be certain foods that suit you and some that won't, and it's important to know this.
With my erratic schedules, sometimes I don't exercise for several weeks, but I balance it out with food to ensure that I don't put on weight. That's a choice we all have, and it's a great choice. Moderation and compensation in all ways to achieve a healthy and happy lifestyle is what works.
No matter what obstacles you face in your journey to weight loss or better health, stay positive. Negativity will drag you down. Pick yourself up and move on.
Why this book?
My journey through shedding my baby fat happened in full public view as I was shooting for a dance reality show at the time. People, friends, my stylist, everybody saw me drop weight, inches and dress sizes on a weekly basis, much to their surprise. By the end of seven weeks, I was lighter by 32 kilos. Everyone wanted to know my exercise regimen and what I was eating (or not). Some secretly believed liposuction was the secret behind my weight loss.
I won't deny briefly thinking of it as a last option, when I looked at myself in the mirror seven months after my son was born. I realized I had let myself go and thought I'd never be able to be my old svelte self again! (For an actor, vanity comes with the package, but honesty doesn't!) But I don't like things easy.
What I also realized was that everyone around me, including myself at the time, was 'weight obsessed' rather than 'health obsessed'. It made me wonder if that equation would ever change. We seriously need to change our perspective on that first. Despite belonging to the beauty business, I've always emphasized that health comes first!
The last three years, in my own small way, I have also been encouraging people I am close to, to make small changes in their eating habits and timings. Starting with relatives, I have often lectured my sister-in-law Reena, who lives in the UK, about throwing out all sugar-laden cereals and foods with artificial colours and preservatives, and monitoring my nieces' intake of fizzy drinks. She has sweetly obliged out of love, or perhaps just to get me to stop telling her about the mental and physical side-effects they have in the future. Not that she didn't care, but she didn't know any better. She, like most of us, is a working mother.
I understand that a lot of us tend to get over-indulgent. The first cause is that when we are back from work, mostly exhausted, we want to take it easy and so given in to our children's demands. Another cause is that it is hard to constantly keep an eye on them and become a nag. It is a hard, thankless job but someone's got to do it! Discipline is key and that's also my favourite word, as you will realize when you read through the book.
Reena has seen the difference the small changes have made in her children's lives and health. She is thankful today and that's all that matters. I think if I can play a catalyst in a few people's lives, my purpose on earth (without being dramatic) would have been fulfilled. This is my calling.
While all this sounded great, it dawned upon me that I can't do this on my own. I needed someone who shared the same vision and passion about Indian food as I. Someone who belonged to this milieu, to illustrate my thoughts with experience and experiments. And I found that person in Luke Coutinho.
I met Luke Coutinho, an acclaimed nutritionist, author, cancer specialist, speaker and fitness consultant, through a common friend who recommended him to me to help with a nutrition plan for my son.
I remember the first time I met Luke. I said, 'You look like a school boy; I was expecting someone older.' From then on, it's been an exciting journey, filled with a lot of learning, great ideas, memorable experiences and conversations. I had thoughts and he reiterated my beliefs with proof in surveys.
Luke and I are alike in so many ways. We have met more often as friends to discuss nutrition, eating habits, lifestyle, exercise, new fads, diseases and latest juice concoctions. We both don't believe in diets and are in complete sync about how making small changes in lifestyle is sustainable, long-lasting and the way forward.
We discovered similar likes and passions, and talked about new ideas to help people become healthier. he witnessed me shrink from 83 kilos to 58 kilos and saw Viaan grow up into a healthy young boy. We had the same thoughts and he backed it with knowledge and surveys. I'm so glad he helped me decode nutrition and demystify health and lifestyle. The most important thing we have in common is our dream to see people proud of our food-- the Indian diet--and use it to get healthier. We want to make people aware that it's not just food, exercise and sleep, but also your mind-body connection that is responsible for great health, well-being and happiness.
I can't thank you enough, Luke, for being a part of my journey, to good health as well as of writing The Great Indian Diet. This book has been a learning curve, even for me.
Meeting Luke was destiny, not planned, and that makes me believe that this book was predestined to happen. As Luke and I believe, every Indian and world citizen should own this book, because we believe and intend for it to change lives and health across the globe in the simplest way possible.
Shilpa Shetty Kundra