Jacqueline Fernandez Image Credit: A.K Kallouche/Gulf News

When Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez declares that she isn’t a fan of working out in a gym, you take it with a pinch of salt.

Here’s some much-needed perspective.

When she arrived for our interview at a lounge in Taj Dubai, overlooking the Burj Khalifa on Saturday afternoon, she looked like she had walked straight off the runway in a lacy black dress, pink Gucci headband and black YSL heels.

A few hours earlier, she was also the picture of dexterity as she performed complicated yoga poses like the downward dog and bow pose with the grace of a ballet dancer. But she swears that she isn’t a gym rat.

“I don’t like to gym. I do weights only when I don’t have an option around. It’s a preconceived notion that you need to go to the gym to be healthy,” said Fernandez. But the secret to her lithe body is a lot simpler.

The Judwaa 2 star and former Miss Sri Lanka is a big advocate of juice cleanses. She is now the face and an investor in India-based Raw Pressery, a line of healthy drinks and soups, an association that makes complete sense.

“I see juicing as a discipline. After a week or two week, your body may be screaming ‘give me food’. But the reality is that the human body can go without food for 21 days. We eat when we don’t necessarily need to eat as often as we do,” said Fernandez. Her fitness mantra is, give your digestive system a break from it duties so that the other organs can function well.

“I do intermittent fasting too. My last meal is around 7pm and in the morning I drink a lot of water with lemon and then have my first meal at 8am. This gives your body to recover and concentrate on other functions other than constantly digesting food… Fasting is an age-old system that the Muslims, Buddhists and Christians have practiced,” said Fernandez. But her lifestyle choices aren’t dictated by the need to fit into a certain image. Recently, actresses in Bollywood have been vocal about the industry’s rigid beauty and body standards. Slim equals beautiful is one of their many prescribed formulas.

“I don’t give into that pressure of looking perfect. To have that ideal body is not my goal. It’s always about what do I need to do with my body to make me happy. As I always say, health is wealth. My goal is always to question how healthy can I get,” she added.

She says she grew up in a household in Bahrain where her parents of Malaysian and Sri Lankan descent prepared their native food. But her mother, who is from Malaysia, inculcated the importance of food prepping like a boss.

“She had four kids that she needed to send to school, but once a week she would prepare packages for the whole week. So we ate healthy food because she knew what would be in our lunch boxes. The secret is to prep,” Fernandez says.

The ingredient that made their diets work was that her mother relied on local produce.

“You don’t need to buy berries from Brazil or nuts from France to be healthy… In India, we have a complete array of superfoods like turmeric, chia seeds, coconut, gooseberries that are simply amazing for you. Go with that,” says Fernandez. Even making small changes like switching to almond milk in your daily cappuccino or trimming the butter in your French toast can make a sizeable difference, the actress believes.

In her world, processed and sugar-laden foods are sacrilege. And that’s one of the reasons why she gravitated towards Raw Pressery.

“There are so many juice brands out there that claim to be healthy for you. But if you look at their ingredients, there’s so much of preservatives and sugar — the silent killer — in them. Raw Pressery prides itself in being farm-fresh, organic and ingredient-filled,” she adds.

While being healthy is a part of her life, it’s her work in Bollywood films that keeps her going. She is a part of Salman Khan-led thriller Race 3 and Drive with Sushant Singh Rajput.

“It’s a very exciting time. Salman is a great person to work with and he supports and pushes you to better yourself. And we did this amazing shoot abroad for Drive where we got to experience the local culture after the shoot,” says Fernandez, who has only good things to say about her colleagues and her career. A poster woman for positivity, does she ever get affected by scathing movie reviews? Although her recent blockbuster Judwaa 2 was a box-office success, the reviews weren’t kind.

“I don’t read reviews… I know I have done my job and I know to critique myself. I don’t need someone to tell me. It is my journey,” she says.

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What does Jacqueline Fernandez eat in a day when she isn’t intermittent fasting?

“I start my day with a bottle of Heal from Raw Pressery, which contains turmeric and cayenne pepper along with pineapple and coconut milk. It helps me kickstart my day and keeps the metabolism high. For breakfast, I love avocado on toast topped with some chia and sunflower seeds. I sometimes switch that with an acai bowl. Lunch and dinner are both high on green leafy vegetables. I snack on seeds, nuts and fruit. And I always stay hydrated with fresh juice and water.”

What’s her go-to salad and exercise regime?

“I love a kale salad; it’s amazing for your skin. I love to do yoga, pilates and jumping rope. I carry my skipping rope everywhere with me. All you need is 20 minutes of it.”

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Did you know?

Jacqueline Fernadez is a big fan of pole dancing, a routine that she mastered from a Dubai-based instructor for her film, A Gentleman: Sundar, Susheel, Risky with Sidharth Malhotra.