Fitness and nutrition expert Rujuta Diwekar talks about her weight loss methods, her bestselling book and, of course, Kareena Kapoor and size zero. An exclusive interview.
She is the brain and inspiration behind Kareena Kapoor’s size-zero figure, the svelte frames of Preity Zinta and Konkona Sen-Sharma and the fit physiques of actor Saif Ali Khan and corporate honcho Anil Ambani. Not just that, sports science and nutrition expert Rujuta Diwekar is also credited for magically transforming hundreds of others’ lives by teaching them how to lose weight without losing their minds! In an exclusive chat, Rujuta opens up about her magic mantras of eating, “not less but right”, even as she talks about her bestselling book Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight completing a very successful one year.
To begin with, tell us about your journey before you came into the limelight as the person behind Kareena’s enviable frame.
After my post-graduation in Sports Science and Nutrition from SNDT College, Mumbai, I started counselling people about nutrition and lifestyle. This was in 1999 when celebs were the only ones aware of the benefits of eating right. I began with actor Farah and director David Dhawan’s wife Laali. After that, there was no looking back. Today, I have hundreds of clients ranging from teenagers to senior citizens, and celebrities like Anil Ambani, Saif Ali Khan, Konkona Sen-Sharma, Preity Zinta and, of course, Kareena Kapoor (Bebo).
You are among the pioneers of advocating eating all you want and yet staying fit! Doesn’t this seem contradictory?
I advocate a common-sense approach to eating. First, never forget that our bodies need all nutrients; be it vitamins, protein, minerals and, yes, carbohydrates and fats! Depriving the body of any of these will create major physiological imbalances. On the flip side, stuffing yourself with any kind of food will also lead to imbalances: drastic increase in weight, increase in cholesterol levels, sugar levels, indigestion… The secret lies in eating not less, not more, but just right! So I say you can stay fit, despite having samosas and gulab jamuns; as long as you have them in moderation and at correct times. I advocate staying fit, not thin.
What is your take on diets and people resorting to extreme dieting?
A diet is a lifelong commitment to maintaining balanced eating habits. What we see are abused versions of the word, which obviously lead to disastrous results! I always maintain that choosing a diet is like choosing one’s life-partner! What works for you may not work for me! By opting for fads like liquid diet, low carb diet and others, you harm the body by depriving it of essential nutrients. You may lose weight, but at what cost? An ideal diet is one that is tailor-made for you. If you follow such a diet plan with commitment and without succumbing to contradictory fads, nothing can stop you from staying your fittest best always!
Tell us a bit about your Mitahar nutrition plan.
My Mitahar nutrition plan essentially advocates ‘eating food that makes you feel sweet (mita+ aahar) i.e. good about oneself’. The concept behind this is to evolve an eating pattern that fits into your work schedule and lifestyle so that there is no question of going “on” or “off” the diet.
Does one need to supplement a correct diet with correct exercise to gain optimum results?
Definitely! Both go hand in hand. Again, there is no ‘perfect’ exercise for everybody at large. Opt for whatever works best for you; be it cardio, yoga, kickboxing or Pilates. As long as your body is happy with what you’re doing to it and not rebelling. At our URJA gym, which works on the concept of ‘Use It or Lose It’, we focus on imparting the right training to each individual by offering tailor-made fitness advice and plans depending on a person’s current fitness levels, body composition, specific conditions and fitness goals.
You also provide Marathon training sessions. Now, that’s a novel concept…
The idea generated after I trained Anil Ambani for the 2005 Mumbai marathon. I realised that there are many enthusiastic marathon-aspirants who could do with professional training to build up fitness levels. My sports science background and a training stint in New York enabled me draw up a technically superior running programme, which is run in two stages: a year-long programme and the 14-week training programme just before the Marathon. It includes easy runs, long runs, breathing and relaxation techniques, suryanamaskars and so on.
I also believe that fitness can and should be practised beyond the four walls of a gymnasium. Trekking in the Himalayas has been an integral part of my life from childhood. I’m also actively involved with Gaurav Punj’s venture, “Connect with Himalaya”, which takes out interesting treks to these mountains.
Your book, Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight, has had a superb innings since its release last year.
I’m thrilled about Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight becoming the national No.1 bestseller and selling over 1,00,000 copies! The translated Marathi version too has been doing well. To put in a nutshell, the book is about what ‘ diet’ is and should be all about, the four principles of eating right, a relearn and rethink about eating, inculcating awareness and fundamental steps to adopting a healthy lifestyle.
No conversation with you can be complete without asking about Kareena’s transformation.
Bebo came to me in 2007 after she was dubbed ‘overweight’ in the Yeh Mera Dil number from “Don”. The first thing she told me was, “Rujuta, I’m a hardcore Kapoor who loves to eat! Don’t expect me to give up my pizzas and pastas! Tell me if you can help me on that condition!” Much to her relief, I told her she would not be put on ‘a lettuce a day’ sort of diet. She is a very dedicated person. Even in the most gruelling schedules, she takes a quick break every two hours to chomp on some peanuts. While travelling, she religiously follows the food-chart I give her that allows her to sample all the local cuisine while retaining her fitness. A lot of noise was made about her ‘size zero’ figure; but she was not toothpick thin and unhealthy or weak! That enviable figure is a combination of a correct diet of home-made food, no pre-cooked foods, fresh local cuisine (when shooting outdoors) and doing 100 suryanamaskars daily! Behind Kareena’s transformation lies discipline, dedication and a completely holistic diet plan.
Lastly, tell us about your future plan.
For starters, I’ve just launched the ‘Fettle Club’, an initiative to keep my clients focussed and informed about their food, lifestyle and fitness. I’m also working on a new book for women and the diet they should follow in the various stages of their life; teenage, pregnancy, motherhood, hormonal upheavals, a busy lifestyle…
Start your day by eating and not by drinking tea/ coffee. Fruits, nuts, milk or hot homemade breakfasts are great options.
Never leave home without carrying at least one dabba of a nutritious meal.
Grabbing lunch is an offence. Eat at leisure; it keeps you smart at work.
Exercise is something that you owe your body. Cull out time to work out at least three hours a week.
Restful sleep is non-negotiable and an integral part of staying fit.
Take a break from work, home and your “responsibilities”. Go trekking in the Himalayas. Check out my trips on http://www.connectwithhimalaya.com
Remember to eat when you are busy; it’s the smartest thing you could ever do.
Throw off those weighing scales; focus on feeling and looking better, not on losing kilos.
To know more visit, http://www.rujutadiwekar.com
“I met Rujuta Diwekar in 2007 when my friend Shaira introduced me to her. The first thing I told her was that I would NOT give up my pizzas, pastas and Christmas puddings for anything; glossies who termed me overweight, be damned! To my utter relief, she said I could have all that and still become healthily lean. I learnt some very imperative things about healthy eating from Rujuta: Eat something every two hours; or eat fresh food as far as possible. She made me chuck out all my pre-processed soups, soy chaklis, nachni crackers the first time she came home! They were my survival mechanisms but she made me see the logic behind eating freshly cooked food as opposed to the pre-packaged one. Rujuta has not just changed my physique; but has also changed my mind and soul. She is the best thing to have happened to me!”
Four basic principles
Never wake up to tea or coffee. First eat something that’ll help increase blood sugar levels that are always low in the morning, and then have your cuppa.
Eat every two hours; it actually creates a conducive environment in the body to burn fat!
Eat more when you’re active (working, travelling) and less when you’re inactive.
Try to wind up your last meal at least two hours before bedtime so that the body gets ample time to repair wear and tear and rejuvenate while you sleep.