Former model Shvetha Jaishankar pens her first book 'Gorgeous: Eat Well, Look Great'
Former model Shvetha Jaishankar, who is back with a new cookery book after a sabbatical, opens up on life after motherhood and the secret to good health and looks
The Last time we heard of Shvetha Jaishankar, it was nearly six years ago. For someone, who witnessed fame very early on in her modelling career — crowned Miss India International in 1998, Shvetha decided to call it quits even sooner, when she married Mahesh Bhupati, one of India's most celebrated sporting faces, in 2003. The self-imposed sabbatical that came with the abrupt end of that love story, however, isn't something that Shvetha has ever regretted.
In the last few years, there has been a whirlwind of change in her life. From finding love again — Shvetha married Chennai-based businessman Raghu Kailas in 2011 — to becoming a mother of two beautiful daughters (aged 3 and 1.5 years), she has now gone on to pen her first book, Gorgeous: Eat Well, Look Great with HarperCollins India. "Each [stage of life] has added to the next in beautiful and unusual ways," the writer says over the phone from her home in Chennai. "I am glad I had such diverse experiences and even disappointing ones. They have made me stronger and wiser and in some ways left me amazed at how life can keep teaching you new things," she adds contentedly. Shvetha, who is now a hands-on mum, describes this phase of life as "gorgeous" — that it inspired the title of her book is not lost to us.
Her foray into the world of writing happened accidentally. "After my two kids, I put on a lot of weight and did not feel great. Life had become too busy and fitness took a backseat. But, I had always relished tasty food. So, I wanted to find a way to eat what I truly liked and also look and feel my best even as I aged and metabolism slowed down."
Her own journey to getting back to eating healthy and right, has now, found way into this book.
For a cookery guide, Shvetha's book is quite unusual. Peppered with easy-to-make recipes, her food narrative is also interspersed with stories from former top model friends and colleagues, who were more than willing to share their secret to achieving the fine balance between "good food and looking your best". "I made a long list of models across generations and started speaking to them. Many were former colleagues I had lost touch with, but remember sharing many meals with. I wanted to know if they still ate the way they did, what had changed, what had remained. Through the making of the book, I re-connected with many others in the fashion field and it was heart warming to do that.
It actually felt like a college reunion of sorts," the former runway model recalls.
Former supermodels Sheetal Mallar, Fleur Xavier, Nina Manuel, Milind Soman, Dipannita Sharma Atwal among many others, have contributed to the book. Some even shared recipes. And, then there is WhatsApp, that's still the meeting point for many of her model friends, now settled abroad. "We have a group, quirkily named (I would get whacked if I reveal it), and we talk about a lot of things including motherhood…" That brings us to Shvetha, the mum. If she had her way, that's probably what she'd most talk about. "My kids are the best gifts I have ever received. It is a humbling feeling. As a model you always came first and then, suddenly you are only gauging yourself as a mother to your children. But, I will also say that it's tough because your life isn't yours anymore and there is no going back. I have to be honest that there were moments when I was bawling about this. It took a lot of energy and will power to get myself to start taking care of myself again," she says.
Shvetha remembers clawing out time to get her rhythm back. "When you take care of yourself, you can take care of those around you better. It is the key to a gorgeous life. Many of the models in my book took care of themselves right through their pregnancy and after their children were born. This was inspiring for me," she adds. In the book, Shvetha writes of how India's first supermodel, Madhu Sapre, is a perfect example of someone who has managed to strike that balance. "... she enjoys being a hands on mother to her daughter Indira. Madhu believes that being obsessive about your body and what you eat is a waste of time. Instead, she remains fit and graceful by balancing discipline with fun."
That food is so central to the lives of these former slendersized-women, is the biggest takeway from this book. "It pains me that there is a strong association in society between looking good and denying yourself food," Shvetha says. Like she writes in her book, "My idea of beauty has changed. I am now more conscious about what makes me feel centered and energised to take on life's myriad hues."
I stay away from alcohol. I drink a lot of water as it is the best detox and I exercise (cardio and a bit of weight training). Sleep is also critical. My workout regime is three days of cardio and two days of weight training and isometric exercises. I have a trainer to consult.
I love doing yoga and with consistent practice have become quite good at it. After my delivery, I developed lower back pain and yoga and acupressure helped me. I run or bike in the gym three to four times a week. While in NYC, I just walk everywhere. That in itself is a great workout.
I play tennis to break a sweat and sometimes take a walk with my husband. Other than that, I don’t do much, fitness-wise. I have maintained my figure by eating good food in proper quantities and combinations. I don’t give up anything but I play it smart. I only cook in mustard oil Excerpted with permission from Gorgeous: Eat Well, Look Great by Shvetha Jaishankar, published by HarperCollins India
There was a time after quitting modelling that I put on a lot of weight but now I am back to my normal weight. I am conscious about my body – I do yoga several times a week to keep myself supple and strong. I used to run a lot but as I age, I prefer not to.
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