Kareena Kapoor Khan’s nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar on how to be your fittest self
"They say if you love your job, you never have to work. A good diet and exercise is exactly like that"
If your 2020 resolution to bid goodbye to your office-induced, Netflix-fuelled sedentary lifestyle, you’ve come to the right place. We got nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar, who’s responsible for the svelte physiques of Kareena Kapoor Khan and Alia Bhatt, among others, to share her top health advice. Rujuta’s new book, The 12-week Fitness Project (launching on January 04), tells the success story of over a lakh people from more than 40 countries and how they got fitter and lost inches in a simple, sustainable manner. “The best way to not lose motivation is to follow a diet and exercise program that is not harsh on you and is respectful of your culture, daily routine and food preferences,” she recommends. Read on for more tips:
ELLE: What is your new book, The 12-Week Fitness Project, about?
Rujuta Diwekar: It will tell you what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat. It will help you engineer activity in your daily life and structure your weekly exercise. It will explain why and how to regulate your gadget use and decrease plastic use. It’s based on the ‘12-week fitness project’, a public health project we conducted in 2018 and that received international attention for using totally desi or local tips for the global goal of reducing obesity and preventing non communicable diseases. In that sense, it complied with the ‘good for people and good for the planet’ formula, which really is the need of the hour given the climate change threat that this generation faces.
Rujuta Diwekar and Varun Dhawan
ELLE: What are the most common fitness myths?
RD: The most common ones are that it must include non-native food, and that there must be restrictions of at least one of the following-food groups, calories, timings or portions. This is another myth: As long as you lose weight, it’s worth the headaches, acidity and irritability and that it must involve Instagram-worthy exercise poses.
ELLE: How do you recommend we stay healthy and fit in winter?
RD: The idea is to build a year-round diet and fitness plan that can then adapt itself to a change in season or schedule. Eat local greens like mooli and sarson, switch to the garam millets such as bajra, makai and mandua, relish the pinnis, halwas and goond ka ladoo made at home. Enjoy a more diverse variety of lentils like alsane, kulith and navrangi dal. Don’t skip exercising, just switch to a later time if you feel lazy or it’s too cold in the mornings. Do five rounds of surya namaskars every day, is my one-stop solution for every hormonal and digestion problem out there.
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ELLE: How can we keep our immunity up in winter?
RD: Eat makhan, for its butyric acid and I especially recommend it for kids and menopausal women. Turmeric with milk or sabzi and amla, it’s the booster shot you need for everything that winter brings, be it cold, flu or plain body ache.
ELLE: What Indian foods are the most misunderstood?
RD: The most nutritious food is the one that your grandma learnt from her grandma. It is highly region, community and even family-specific. It is made using local ingredients, in certain seasons, and only few times in a year. It’s relished with friends and families and eaten with your hands, while sitting on the floor. It’s a celebration of crop-cycle, culture and cuisine. For example, in winter, undhiyo is made in Gujarat and makhan-roti-saag in Punjab.
I believe that India will really come of age when these are the foods we will take pride in and will serve at weddings instead of the vulgar display of Mexican, Lebanese and Italian cuisines.
ELLE: How do you motivate yourself to follow a healthy diet or a fitness plan regularly?
RD: The best way is to follow a diet and exercise program that is not harsh on you, and is respectful of your culture, daily routine and food preferences. They say if you love your job, you never have to work. A good diet and exercise is exactly like that. It should resonate with you and should not be some one size fits all formula.
ELLE: Your top 10 diet and fitness tips for 2020?
RD: Here is a list from The 12-Week Fitness Project:
-Eat local, think global and workout three-five days a week
-Sleep and wake up at a fixed time every day
-Add ghee to your diet
-Enjoy a diverse variety of pulses
-Think of the environmental impact of your food choices
-Focus on feeling lighter on your feet and not on the weighing scale
-Listen to your dadi and nani over an Instagram influencer
-Don’t make fitting into a certain size your life’s goal
-Live life to its fullest. You owe yourself that