Bollywood stars and billionaires in India have them on their speed dial.
If actress Deepika Padukone is craving a cupcake, she BBMs her nutritionist Pooja Makhija for a go-ahead, or if Reliance magnate Anil Ambani wants to shed 40kg he enlists the help of wellness guru Mickey Mehta. Though their means to achieve wellness and ultimately weight loss may be different, their goals, however, remain the same.
“Reducing your weight is an indicator of your wellbeing. Weight loss should not be your sole objective,” said Mehta, who helped magnates such as Ambani and Rajashree Birla to shed their extra kilos. He subscribes spiritual nourishment along with daily nutrition.
“People should enjoy being with themselves — never treat your body as your enemy. Love it and treat it well,” said Mehta, who plans to launch a Dubai outpost with Mickey Mehta’s 360° Wellness Centre.
“I don’t believe in cluttering the centre with gym equipment. There’s more to a work-out than just walking or elliptical machines,” Mehta said.
Meanwhile, nutritionist to the stars Pooja Makhija, who charts out diet plans for the likes of Padukone, Sonam Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor, believes in the “you are what you eat” theory.
“I don’t believe in fad diets such as low-carb or juice diets. Eating healthy food at the right time is what I want my clients to do. I want them to have a healthy relationship with food,” said Makhija, who has written weight-loss books including Eat Delete, and owns a wellness clinic in Mumbai called Nourish. We give you a round-up of their philosophies, their opinions, their success stories and more ...
His philosophy: “It’s all about wellbeing. Only 70 to 80 per cent is attributed to nutrition. It’s not just about what you eat, it’s also about nourishing your soul, consuming sunshine, meditating and taking rest. I call it the ladder of evolution. I adopt a multipronged approach to wellbeing. Health means healing from within, and it happens through physical, physiological and spiritual nourishment. Our ancient seers — who were scientists of inner engineering — called it yoga. I call it making lifestyle changes. There are no crash diets or needless aggression with the body in my book. In my head, appropriate food at the appropriate time in right quantities will work wonders. Also, just like you eat every day, you need to work out every day. I don’t believe in cheat days either.”
His one-on-one session: “At present I cater to the billionaires in India. My sessions are mostly equipment-free. There’s lots of meditation and relaxation of the mind. It’s all about culturing a body, rather than developing a sculpted body. My mantra is never be scared of your weight. Your body is a temple where your soul resides. I take a more integrated, wholesome approach to weight loss. My billionaire clients are the most discerning people. They have travelled world-wide and have tried everything in the world before they come to me. But I tell them — what’s the point of all the wealth when you can’t enjoy quality time with yourself or enjoy your holidays.”
His star clients:
Anil Ambani: I have been in this business for several decades. But I will always remember how he lost more than 40kg under my guidance. He was 100kg plus in 1999, but now he’s the fittest chairman in the world. I used to make him swim, run up and down the 22-storey home with sacks on his back and weights on his knees. He followed my plan to the last letter and did not bow out of it midway. Also, with Anil, it was never about obedience. It was compliance which stems from respect rather than from fear of gaining weight. Even today, no matter in which part of the world he is, he hits the gym at 6.30pm and works out for more than an hour. Today running 22km is nothing for him. He has come a long way.
Teaching Aamir Khan swimming recently was an interesting exercise. He had an underwater scene in his next film Talaash. I devised a unique way to teach him swimming during summer. I got a 6-foot tall drum and filled it with hot water. It’s safer than a pool and psychologically he was very relaxed. We practised breathing patterns for nearly three days. Apart from his eagerness to master swimming, it was his punctuality and discipline that won me over. We swam at odd hours, such as 2am, 5.30am — but he never missed a class.
Preity did exceptionally well under my training. She came to me while preparing for her role in Salaam Namaste. She was very fit but wanted to excel, and we had 45 days in hand. Her plate during those days were filled with raw vegetables, nuts and cooked spinach. Plus, we worked out at odd hours and had rigorous sessions of kick-boxing, bootcamps and stretches. I believe that wellness goes beyond walking and jogging,
Always remember: Say no to diet pills, because they just suppress your appetite and increase your metabolic rate through chemicals. Keep drinking green tea and never get scared of calories.
Wellness comes with a cost: Mehta, who owns several wellness centres across India, charges Rs30,000 (Dh1,960) an hour and Rs10 million for a year. For details, log on to www.mickeymehtahbf.com
His sample meal:
Green tea with jaggery
A platter filled with seasonal fruits, such as pomegranates, figs, bananas and mangoes.
Lunch: A balanced diet of pulses, two vegetables and two jowar (millet) rotis.
Dinner: Soup and vegetables.
Her philosophy: It’s purely diet-based. But many have the misconception that diet equals “not eating”. I believe in eating, but eating good food. You are what you eat, and the more you eat, the more your body burns and you are less likely to store fat. My clients eat every two hours. So my diet plan will have about 8 to 12 meals in a day. Also, leave the calorie math to me. I do the calculations, because the moment my clients get involved in counting calories and portion sizes, they tend to get obsessive about it.
Her sessions: I chart out a diet plan as per the schedule of my client and their lifestyle. For actors, you have to take into consideration whether they will spend weeks on a shooting set or whether they will have their kitchen set up or have food delivered. I often tweak their diet plan on a fortnightly basis. One of the misconceptions about stars is that they starve to remain thin. I don’t subscribe to that theory.
Her star clients:
Vidya Balan: We have been in each other’s life for a long time. I made her thin to voluptuous, and voluptuous to thin. From the outset, she never wanted to be a size zero, and when she said she has to gain 8g for a role in The Dirty Picture, I was game. But I gave her healthy food, and that made it easier for her to shed it later. Plus, she’s diligent. There was never an instance where I had to remind her to stick to the plan diligently.
Sonam Kapoor: Her life includes work and lots of socialising. I always tell her that when you are eating out, fuel your tank a bit. If you go on an empty stomach, hunger will take over mind, and your ability to make sensible food choices won’t kick in. Plus, my math is simple. If you want to be a little naughty for dinner, be good for lunch. Close accounts at the end of the day. If you have been bad for a day, go shopping or walking for 40 minutes. Your output and input should be tallied at the end of the day and not at the end of the week.
Deepika Padukone: Earlier, she used to either binge-eat or not eat at all. But re-conditioning her mind was our first goal. But once that was done, the rest was easy. Deepika loves her work-outs. She never looks at it as a chore, and that means she would cheat sometimes but compensate it by exercising a lot more. She makes sure that there’s input as well as output in terms of calories burnt. There are times when she tells me: “Pooja, let me enjoy the food right now, but I promise I will work out more later.” She sticks to her promise and I am therefore easy on her.
Ranbir Kapoor: It’s easier for men to lose weight and maintain their weight loss, since they have a high BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). Men generally prefer to eat three large meals, so my first step was to convince him to have small meals, plus a glass a vegetable juice. It’s a shot of goodness, and these days he never leaves home without having the vegetable juice.
Always remember: Eat within the first hour of rising. Eat four main balanced meals a day and have whole fruits instead of juices.
Being thin comes with a cost: I charge an average of Rs5,000 per month for providing the diet-plan. There are no binding contracts. Log on to www.poojamakhija.com
Pooja’s sample menu
Daily helpings of rice, chappatis, vegetables and juices. (Never restrict your body from having food, but choose healthy options.)