Indian actress Rakul Preet Singh is that slightly annoying but admirable person who will be at a gym even before its doors open and finds exercising therapeutic rather than a retribution after indulging in a calorific meal. The ‘Runway 34’ star views her body as a temple and treats it with immense respect. Even if she’s at the airport, she makes sure that she stocks up on homemade food so that she doesn’t eat anything greasy or unhealthy.
Need more proof? Just go through her Instagram account and you will see her feasting on ice cream as well as doing pull-ups with impressive agility a few posts later.
“But that yummy ice cream had no sugar and is made with jaggery [natural sugar cane] and trust me it tastes as good if not better than the ones with a lot of refined sugar,” said Singh in an exclusive interview with Gulf News.
The self-made star, who was in Dubai to launch the inaugural cover of a wellness magazine called GlobalSpa last week and to promote her native India as an tourist destination, is an authority of sorts when it comes to fitness and nutrition.
“My brother always jokes that if nothing happens in my life I can always become a nutritionist who’s thorough about eating right. He thinks I am that school in all things nutrition,” said Singh with a laugh.
Her brother isn’t wrong. We are at her hotel suite in Dubai and soon after this sit-down interview she was all set to check out a plant-based cafe owned by her friend in Dubai.
“You can eat healthy at any restaurant be it Indian or Italian,” she says.
When Singh isn’t acting in entertainers such as ‘De De Pyaar De’ and thriller ‘Runway 34’ with Ajay Devgn, she’s busy scavenging wellness spas that suck out toxicity from her body. She has a busy Bollywood release calendar ahead of her. She’s working with Ayushmann Khurrana for ‘Doctor G’ and ‘Chattriwali’, a social satire on contraception.
Here are the top seven fitness philosophies that we gleaned from our conversation with Singh, who seems to be a walking encyclopedia in maintaining a clean and lean life.
Lesson #1: “Carbs are not anyone’s enemy”
“This is the biggest myth. I have loaded myself on carbs in the morning and afternoon. I just don’t eat processed or fried food. I don’t eat sugar either, but I eat rice and they are good for you. I can just go and on about this. But it’s just how the marketing industry globally has made carbs such an enemy through gimmicks. Think about it: carbs are rice or rotis for us. Avoid sugary carbs like croissants. But if you eat sweet potatoes or vegetable loaded with fibre and simple carbs, then you are all good.”
Lesson #2: “Don’t work out for anybody but yourself”
“I go to the gym and put the right stuff in my body for myself and not for anyone else. I like to see myself a certain way and that’s self-love. It’s OK if I feel bloated one day, but I thrive for wellness and a balanced lifestyle because I like to feel a certain way. I feel energetic after a workout and I feel like I have achieved my optimum in terms of my energy levels or mental alertness. I want to feel my best all the time and it so happens that I feel best when I work out and eat right. I feel good when I have balance I my life. I have always grown up that way and I don’t know any other way … Go to the gym because you want to and not because you have to.”
Lesson #3: “Don’t be that couch potato who can watch content online for hours at a stretch”
“I feel very bad for this generation! I feel grateful that my generation was not exposed to phones when we didn’t eat as kids. Perhaps, our parents ran behind their kids and did whatever it took to feed them. I remember my mom finding a cow for me so that I would eat in peace … I had some weird fixations with eating when a cow is around. But I feel sad for this generation, but I am not here to correct them. All I want to say is that so much exposure to radiation is going to eventually affect us. It’s unfortunate that their reality is virtual and that their validation stems from social media … We are content creators as actors, but don’t watch our film 100 times a day or clock so many hours. Balance is the key to everything in life. And it’s important to expose your body to some physical activity to keep your heart rate healthy and your blood pressure going. In today’s times you hear of so many 30-40 year olds getting heart attacks which were unheard off earlier … All that boils down to lifestyle habits. If people don’t learn from that, then I don’t know how else they would?”
Lesson #4: “Make exercise your ally or take up a sport”
“If I don’t train for two days or if I don’t do any form of physical activity, I become a very grumpy person …. Just like how we are conditioned to eat breakfast, I am conditioned to work out. Imagine if somebody asks you to skip your meal, you will feel uneasy. And that’s what happens when I don’t work out. Even if my day starts at 6am, I will wake up at 4am and train at 4am. So make exercise or sports a part of your lifestyle. I love doing yoga to start my day too.”
Lesson #5: “Treat yourself right”
“If we don’t treat ourselves right, life will always throw something at us that will force you to do it. You don’t want to reach that state. Remember, we are all born with the same strength of immunity and there’s a limit to which your body can handle toxicity or bad food. We aren’t eating right any more, and we need to have a handle on it. Nowadays, we often don’t know what we are eating, the air we are breathing, or the water we are drinking. So take care of your body.”
#Lesson 5: “Even if you don’t cook, know what you put in your plate”
“I don’t cook but I do know what I have to tell my cook. I know well what I eat for lunch or dinner. I am not someone who will eat anything when they are on the go or when they are hungry. I carry my own lunch wherever I go — even if it’s some coconut curry, some rice, and veggies. Since I hate feel bloated with greasy food, I feel better carrying my own.”
#Lesson 6: “Losing or gaining weight rapidly is a bad idea”
“It’s not right. Sometimes, it’s our job as an actor to lose or gain weight rapidly. But we do it with utmost care because that’s our profession. And, during that phase that’s the only thing I am doing for that time. If an actor like Farhan Akhtar is doing a film like ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ and he has to have a certain physique, it’s OK. Or, when I lost 8 or 10kg in 50 days it’s because I had a deadline and I had the best of trainers and nutritionists on board to make sure that my body is recovering … We are extremely cautious on how we do it and if we are doing the weight loss or gain in the wrong way. Don’t abandon food and that’s never the solution. Picking healthier options works. But trust me, if I am asked to put on weight for any film in the future, I will not do it. It will take a huge toll on my body and can’t yo-yo so many times in my life. Even if it’s a kick-ass script, but I have to put on 15kg, I won’t do it. Losing those 15kg will need so much effort and it isn’t good for my body.”
#Lesson 7: “Wellness retreats are brilliant and you must give it a shot”
“I don’t think it’s a celebrity thing, because I know many celebrities who hate going to the gym or isn’t a fan of wellness spas. They ask me why I want to take a holiday to eat health and some of my friends even ask me why I go to health retreats for a detox since I don’t eat anything unhealthy. But for me, it’s not just about eliminating the toxicity … It’s about being in that environment and how it reboots my system. It help me cut off from the madness of the city and channelises my thoughts. The environment there helps me connect to my mind, body, and soul. And once I tap into that, I realise my own potential. It’s akin to recharging your batteries internally. Even I go for a four-day-long retreat, it helps me focus and persevere. As actors, we sometimes survive on five hours of sleep and if there’s a film shoot, the madness goes on for three months, and you are desperate to disconnect after that. You don’t want your phone to ring or want people come to you. All you want is to unwind and cut off from the world briefly … And I have no FOMO [Fear Of Missing Out] because I am not an insecure person. My FOMO happens when my friends are at a restaurant dining and I am stuck in a shoot. Then my FOMO is real. Recently, I did a 14-day panchakarma [detox] programme to align my five elements in my body. It was intense and I did that in February. I also tried the Naad Wellness in Sonipat because it’s so close to Delhi and the food was simply divine.”