she may not have a typical Bollywood actress frame, but is one of the fittest in the game. Sonakshi Sinha on chasing athletic prowess
"I have a broad structure, and hence, look bigger than I am"... "I can gain weight even if I inhale [the scent of] food"... "I would get defensive when people would write about my body"... "I considered exercising a tedious task"... "When I was young, I would often say that I disliked my body, and wanted to change it."
Assorted statements extracted from our interaction with Sonakshi Sinha may, at first, be reminiscent of the kind of conversations women usually have with themselves. It is only fitting, given that Sinha — not your quintessential Bollywood actress with a petite frame — is challenged with the same weight-related concerns that bother the majority. She must train to stay in shape, even though she is "not a fitness person", and needs to be mindful of her diet, an ability that "is a real task, even today".
But here is why Sinha's tryst with training is worthy of attention — on one occasion, she flaunts an enviable midriff, and only months later, she finds herself fielding criticism for gaining weight. Her training routine is often put on the back-burner when work commitments demand her attention, but her contemporaries still consider her among the fittest female actors in Bollywood. Asked to address these ambiguities, Sinha makes a case for herself.
"Although I was an obese child, hitting 95 kilos at my heaviest, I was active, and into sports. It is owing to that history that I approach training with the desire to enhance athletic levels. I work towards getting faster, better, and more flexible; the aesthetic benefits that I reap are only by-products. Because I am motivated by the right reasons, [I am as fit as I am]."
Yet, her routine is frequently disrupted. It took her a while to conclude that she is better served by taking up only as much work as she can, while accommodating time to exercise. "Consistency goes a long way in bringing about change. And one needs to find a routine that works for them. While I tried everything, including weight-lifting, dancing and yoga, I have seen a significant change in my frame in the last three years due to pilates. It elongates muscles, and has helped me develop lean muscle [mass]. Coupled with the right nutrition plan, it has been helpful. Given that I am tall, and have a broad structure, [I tend to] look bigger than I am, on camera. Pilates has helped me change that, and that difference has been visible in the [last few] films."
A stair-master and a treadmill placed right outside her bedroom enable her to get her dose of cardio, which, along with pilates, makes for "a dream combination". Sinha has become accustomed to beginning her day by spending 20 minutes on them, and has also taken to an assorted bunch of online dance classes during the lockdown. For the most part of it though, she allowed herself to enjoy the hiatus, even if it implied gaining seven kilos in the process. "I consciously fell off the wagon. Until the lockdown was imposed, I had been working out regularly, and had not [enjoyed] such a long break. When one is uncertain, [given the situation], and is trying to stay in good spirits, [this change is warranted]. During the period of isolation, I ate as I pleased, trained only if I wanted to, and woke up late. But, over the last month-and-a-half, I have shed the weight. When I look back, I am happy that I made the most of the time."
The actor is glad that she can be the role model that she never had. "I like it when young girls tell me they look up to me. I like to present a healthy image, and establish that one can still be considered beautiful if s/he doesn't look a certain way. No one told me that when I was [95 kilos]."
Sona's words of wisdom
Diet that works for me: Despite trying every diet in the book, I was unable to stick to one. However, intermittent fasting is easy to execute, and I have been practicing it since the last few years. It also fits into my shooting schedules. Also, unless I am going through a phase where I am off my routine, I usually eat as healthy as is possible. I have my share of carbs, proteins, and fats. Even when I travel, my [domestic help] discusses my preferences with the chef.
Mind over matter: Earlier, I had a love-hate relationship with my body. My friends wouldn't gain weight, regardless of what they ate, and here, if I do as much as inhale food, I would gain weight. But one must change the mindset. When I was young, I disliked my body. Now, I approach my routine by telling myself that I love my body, and [will train because I] want it to be better.
Workouts that show results: Cardio and pilates is a dream combination.
The cheats: Rahul Dev
What's your cheat meal:
I am not on a diet, so [I don't have cheat meals]. I eat parathas whenever I want. But, there was a time when I would eat five tubs of ice-cream while watching a film. And that was a bad practice.
Tips to maintain weight:
While I eat eggs, I am primarily vegetarian, and I think that has helped me.
A meal or drink that has immense health benefits:
There is a green juice [concoction] that I have four to five times in a week. It has four kinds of [leafy vegetables], and it is prepared at home.
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