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Celebrate the body

Last updated: 24 June, 2011

FIT FOR LIFE

She makes her living doling out advice to Bollywood celebrities on their diets and fitness. Aruna Chandaraju catches up with successful author and diet consultant Rujuta Diwekar

She has been autographing copies of her widely-talked-of latest book, working on the next one, playing diet consultant to India’s glitziest, attending a rush of family functions, learning Bharatanatyam, travelling extensively in India and abroad, and giving talks. So, when we call on her in the midst of this crazily busy schedule of hers, we first ask if she is up to talking now.

But Rujuta Diwekar smiles back and reassures us that, “It’s absolutely fine. I am used to multi-tasking. In fact, I love all of what I am doing, so none of this seems like an effort or is even remotely stressful. If you love and celebrate what you are doing, you will never feel hassled or stressed. Work is worship, it shouldn’t drain one out.”

So our interview begins with that piece of wisdom. A rather fitting start considering this celebrated young nutritionist dispenses wisdom on living right for a career. And to some of India’s most famous names –– she is consultant to Anil Ambani, Preity Zinta, Konkona Sen Sharma, Saif Ali Khan and also Kareena Kapoor –– the best-known association.

This Mumbai-based nutritionist’s first book Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight was widely appreciated for its practical advice and its simply-explained four principles of eating right. In her second book, Women and the Weight Loss Tamasha, she analyses the different stages women go through –– puberty, marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, etc. –– and the related anxieties especially with regard to weight and body appearance.

In her opinion, the weight-loss industry has become a multimillion business because it creates and feeds on fads, fears and insecurities. But actually, being fit is not so difficult, neither is it about exotic-sounding diets or esoteric advice. “Fitness is first about respecting yourself. Every woman is unique, and beautiful in her own way. If you love, value and respect yourself, it will show up as good health –– which automatically makes you feel and look good. Fitness begins with listening to yourself and your body carefully. You can be slim, sexy, swelte. Every woman can be her own health guru. Sadly, people have stopped listening to their own instincts, their own stomach and even to the sound advice grandma or mom was handing down,” she remarks.

Going on to her work approach, Rujuta says: “I allow my clients to tell me what their body, especially the stomach, is telling them and then give advice in sync with that. I use a lot of common sense that all of us already have access to. We are all blessed with adequate intelligence about our body and food. Actually, your stomach is the biggest diet guru you have,” she adds with a laugh.

For all this self-deprecating humour, it must be said that Rujuta is widely respected for her intelligent, practical advice which has turned around the lives of countless people from commoners to celebrities.

When the talk veers to these rich and famous clients, Rujuta is all modesty and humility. She says that whether it’s Kareena or lesser-known persons, the credit for their fab bodies is more due to them than her. “Unless my client shows maturity and returns home to practise my advice with discipline and regularity, there will be no results. And if they achieve fitness, but later slacken off, they are back to square one. So, I give a lot of credit I receive to my client’s endeavours and persistence!”

Rujuta regrets the paranoia about ageing especially among women. Ageing is about changing, not deteriorating, and often change is for the better, she says. Also, one shouldn’t hate one’s body. One should feel grateful for this vehicle which helps you do all your professional and personal work. Love your work and be happy for opportunities to do that work. That way one’s work doesn’t leave one fatigued or drained, she adds.

Eat sensibly and in moderation, don’t starve yourself, Rujuta advises. And when you have a fitness routine –– walking, gymming, dancing –– do it happily and confidently. Don’t be constantly calculating how many calories you are burning or fretting about what weight you don’t seem to be working off.

Rujuta herself follows admirably simple formulae for wellness. “I keep my food simple — vegetarian, traditional Maharashtrian food; and fresh — I don’t believe in reheating and I shop for vegetables every second day. I keep out plastic from my kitchen — the chemicals they emit contaminate food and lead to health problems especially when plastic containers are used to reheat food in microwaves. Unfortunately, many women love using plastic containers for storage in kitchens and fridges. I workout regularly, and I have a regular yoga regimen too as yoga works wonders.” And she always stays cheerful and positive. All this gives her the energy and enthusiasm to handle all the things she wants to do in life, she says adding that the same principles would work for any woman, anyone in fact.

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