Miss Sunshine

Updated: Feb 16, 2020, 08:25 IST | Aastha Atray Banan | Mumbai

She is not just flaunting a kill bod, but also a killer attitude. Mandira Bedi writes her first book to tell you why you should drop the excuses and work at being happy

Mandira Bedi says going for a run helps her keep fit, but more critically, helps dissipate the negative feelings. Pic/ Shadab Khan
Mandira Bedi says going for a run helps her keep fit, but more critically, helps dissipate the negative feelings. Pic/ Shadab Khan

Meeting Mandira Bedi is like meeting an energiser bunny. She is back from a whirlwind work trip, and off to another. Still. She offers us poha and coffee, and walks out into the porch of her ground floor Bandra residence to pose for photographs. She is stunning, in black shorts and an aquamarine cover-up. But, we are struck more by her smile than those legs.

It's no wonder that her soon-to-release book is called Happy for No Reason (Penguin Random House). "I am still a work in progress, though!" says Bedi, 47, "I [too] have done a lot of therapy, and hypnotherapy has helped me the most. You get to that spot where it all happens. You know where all the unprocessed feelings are coming from. Every morning, I put out an intent into the universe. I want to be happy for no reason at all. It's a state of being, so I manage it for five days a week. On the other two, things don't go as planned. On those days, I live by gratitude."

And, she swears by exercise. For all those who say they have no time, Bedi has a few suggestions. "Always carry your shoes wherever you go, and walk, anywhere and everywhere. Don't get daunted by lofty goals. Don't start by saying, I need to lose 20 kilos. Start with two. And for two weeks, imandari se, don't eat anything that's bad for you. You will see results. The best motivator is result." Look at her and you know she's not lying.

Bedi shares her top three happiness hacks.

Gratitude I once read this line that stayed with me. "Where there is gratitude, there is no room for unhappiness." So every time things go wrong, I practice gratitude. I look at the things I have. I always have 20 things I am grateful for.

Exercise For me, exercise has ceased to be about the physical. It's about how it makes me feel. It brings my negative feelings to the fore, and I watch them dissipate. Before I found therapy, every time Raj [Kaushal, husband] and I fought, he'd say, go for a run. Get the negativity out.

Let Go Of Expectations Expecting things sets you up for disappointment. A lot of my relationships and friendships have suffered because of my expectations. Accept, not expect. It's no good to expect.

Gave myself 6 months to drop 22 kg

My delivery was a C-section and I wasn't allowed exercise till forty days after. I also went through a huge bout of postpartum depression. So there I was, living in this new human being's body that I didn't know, recognize or feel. There were tears every day, along with worry and anxiety owing to this new responsibility that I didn't think I was ready for, and, of course, the utter disgust that I felt towards my own body.

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A fresh start isn't a place, it's a mindset. Regardless of the state of mind that my raging hormones had brought me to, on the forty-first day, I bought myself a new raincoat. And at 6 am, I went for my first walk, in the thick of the Mumbai monsoon. I told myself that it took me nine months to put on all this weight and I was going to give myself exactly six months to lose it. That's the biggest and most important piece of advice I can give any new mother who wants to get back to where she was (or do even better) post pregnancy. Lose the weight as soon as you can after your delivery. Within six to eight months, if possible. If you leave it for later, your body will get comfortable with and used to the extra weight. And then the task becomes a steep and uphill one. So I worked out hard and I worked out diligently. I ate well (because I was feeding) but nothing that was unnecessary. No sweet, no fried food. If I got only an hour's break from my mommy duties, I would exercise. When I had help and wherever it was possible, maybe once or twice a week, I even somehow managed a two-workout day.

I started running. I gave myself small goals of five minutes at the end of my walk. The five became ten and the ten became twenty. And soon I found myself running for an hour. People met me at the gym and asked me if I was Mandira Bedi's older sister. Because apparently, there was a faint resemblance.

When I did my first public appearance (and I was 10 kg down from the 22 I had to lose), I was asked at a press conference, rather innocently, as to when I would start to lose the weight. That's how insensitive the world can be sometimes. But all of this only drove me to work harder. These words made me push my limits. When they say you can't do it, do it twice and then take pictures!

The other motivation that kept me going was my wardrobe. I don't wear very fancy clothes, but I have jeans that I have from my college days that are very precious to me and they keep me honest. I just wanted to reclaim my wardrobe! I bought myself no in-between clothes. There were the pregnancy clothes and then my 26-inch-waist jeans. There were 74-kg kurtas and size 2 dresses. And six months to the day, I got back to my pre-pregnancy weight and to the clothes that fit me at my fittest. And before I knew it, I was back to work too. I shot for a couple of health magazine covers, and ran two half-marathons after having my baby, and I believe I am my strongest and fittest post being a mum.

Now, at the age of forty-seven, I love and accept my body, with all its strengths and flaws. I look back at my journey with so much gratitude at how far I have come from what I used to be in my twenties. I didn't plan for it, but by default, with the intent and energy I give to exercise and my health, I have a beautiful connect with the world of health, fitness and wellness. And even at this age, I know I can do, be or perform even better than this!

There was a time when I used to work out because I didn't like my body... now I work out because I love my body.

Excerpted with permission from Happy for No Reason by Mandira Bedi and Satyadev Barman, Penguin Random House India

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