Tuesday, December 12

The Art of Losing it

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After the five-soaps-at-a-time life and then pregnancy, telly actor Prachee Shah Paandya wasn’t exactly in perfect shape. She is now. We ask her how she did it…

Ever wondered why they prefer shooting only close-ups of actresses in our television soaps? That’s because some of them are likely to be bursting at their seams from the neck downwards. TV folklore also has it that Smriti ‘Tulsi’ Irani acted out numerous episodes when she was expecting.

Prachee Shah, best known for her roles in Koshish and Kyunki… and Kayamat, lived a stressed life for most of this decade, before tying the knot and becoming a mother. She’s back on the sets, albeit with not as many shows in her kitty but is fitter. Here’s how she got her groove back…

One set to another
Like many actors from Ekta Kapoor’s thriving soap industry, Prachee lived from one role to another. “At one point, I was doing five soaps at a time. Working out was out of the question and the meals on sets weren’t exactly healthy!” she recalls.

Then, in 2005, she got married and took a hiatus from life in front of the camera for the months. Though she didn’t put on an unusual amount then, her pregnancy in February 2008 saw her weight zoom up by 17-18 kilos. “It wasn’t alarming, but I was worried since I have anyway been on the heavier side,” she tells us. Although she’s been a Kathak dancer since the age of four, “my lower body has always been bulky” she admits. At 81 kilos, it was an uphill task for her to get back in shape and hit work again.

Cutting down
Along with fitness trainer Leena Mogre, Prachee began on a new fitness regimen. “I would intersperse weight training with athletic training – running, jogging, squats and lunges. Many times, cardio – cross-trainer and the treadmill – used to be four days a week,” she explains. There were a couple of post-pregnancy pointers she had to know: “First, I had to avoid exhausting myself since I was anyway losing calories while feeding. Also, I had to take care of my knees since raising a toddler would also make me bend and lift weight numerous times a day,” she says.

The natural dancer that she is, Prachee took to salsa and jive in this period and completed three levels. This, along with her Kathak routine.

Cutting corners
Being a Jain does help when you decide to lose weight, if one hears Prachee’s story. “Plus, I am also against taking protein shakes and similar foods,” she feels. In her quest to be slimmer, she has made many minor and major adjustments in her diet: “I have cut down on potatoes and fried foods, and switched from normal tea to green tea. One eating habit which has worked well has been having jowar, bajra and especially nachni bhakris,” she says.

Though the post-pregnancy weight loss was initially quick because of feeding, it needed perseverance to keep going and not fall into a loss-gain pattern. Her aim, after all, was to lose more than 20 kilos, something which she accomplished in a few months at a time when many mothers take more than a year for the same. “It hasn’t come easy though. I had to strictly ban anything sweet from my diet,” she laments. The actor has returned to the sets now but with renewed habits. “I carry my own packed meals of home-cooked food. Also, having a banana every day before the workout has made a difference,” she tells us.

Second innings
From being 81 kilos post-delivery and safely termed ‘heavy’ in the middle, Prachee is now at 60 and in shoot-ready shape. Currently on a Rajshri production film, she admits this downward curve has been quick but tough. “There were days when I felt completely drained on the sets for lack of sleep and a strenuous workout. But then, setting a goal and working backwards has helped,” she tells us. Her day now begins early, the workout happening before the baby wakes up. For the 30-year-old actor who once won a Miss Bombay Teen contest in 1996, getting back to looking like a teenager has been a fruitful journey.


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