Everything was going unbelievably well. My husband and I shifted to a one-bedroom apartment in Bandra. I was soon everywhere, in posters, magazines, on TV. In a matter of three months I had already worked with the biggest photographers and done fashion shows for the biggest designers. It was like a dream come true…
Everything was amazing apart from one thing: my body. While everyone seemed to like me (and my body) just fine, I didnt… My old fears resurfaced. I felt fat again. So I went through a few bookshops and bought all the diet books I could find...
So I ate fat-free, sin-free meals and at the same time did tons of cardio in the gym every day. My typical diet would be sugar-free muesli for breakfast with plain yoghurt, salad for lunch and some steamed or baked fish with vegetables for dinner. One of my favourite salad recipes that I developed at that time was tomatoes with grated beetroot and one spoon of soy mayonnaise. It was yummy! So I didnt feel bad about not eating the other delicious Indian foods but I do have to say that when my husband ordered a burger, I often escaped to the bedroom to read a book just so I wasnt tempted looking at him.
At work however, I wasnt left with much option as all the models would eat a buffet meal at the five star hotels where we did the ramp shows. So I generally ended up having yellow dal and rice as I believed it to be the least fattening. I also made sure I got up early in the morning and did an hour in the gym in the hotel we were put up in even if we were all taking a morning flight and hadnt gotten much sleep…
Eventually I did lose some weight, but the thing was I couldnt lose all of it and at some point the weight loss hit a plateau so that the last bit of fat on my belly just wouldnt go away!
I just couldnt accept it the way it was. To me it was ugly. In fact even while making love I would get so conscious when my beloved touched my stomach that I immediately sucked it in, in a snail-like reflex. And I was so uneasy about my belly that if a guy brought his hand anywhere close to it, I would just catch hold of his hand and guide it elsewhere. I was also not very comfortable being seen naked. Even when I walked past my husband, I would either try to cover my stomach with something or stand straight, pull it in and quickly cross him hoping not to be noticed very much…
As my career thrived, my eating disorder was much more in control… However during this period I got on to a whole load of diets. I have tried every one in the book. One day my husband brought home a book on a diet Id never heard of before and following it made a huge difference to my weight loss. It was the low carbohydrate diet by Atkins, one of the most dangerous diets ever. I didnt know that of course so I happily cut down on all the rice and dal and stopped eating any carbs whatsoever (apart from a few fruits here and there but even that I limited). I loved this diet! Upon entering hotel rooms, I would open the minibar and eat a can of cashews and enjoy it without any fear. For breakfast I would eat cheese with some veggies (no bread though) and have a coffee with full-fat cream. My weight dropped noticeably and for the first time my belly almost disappeared.
By the third month, however, the weight loss stopped. But what was worse, I started feeling very weak. I then started depending on coffee just to get through the day or else I would feel exhausted, listless and drowsy. Each morning I started by having two espresso shots just so I could get myself to the gym and work out. By lunch I was already dead again so Id have another one. And as I worked out twice a day at that time — so obsessive was I — I would have to have another two shots just before I headed to the gym the second time.
Four months on, I had zero energy and was left with only crazy cravings for sugar. My workout routine was also killing me. It all came to a head one evening. I was waiting to have dinner with a friend at a Chinese restaurant in Taj Lands End in Bandra when I suddenly started feeling so weak (I had just completed an hour-long run on a treadmill at the Taj gym) that I excused myself to go out for some fresh air... My friend who had come out with me held me, feeding me sachets of white sugar, one after another. With this my low-carb dieting came to an official end.
The biggest victim of all this was my health. From the outside, I looked perfectly healthy and even strong. I could run for an hour on a treadmill, faster than anyone else… But my immunity was always very low. I was falling sick every forty days and it was always the same cycle. First I would get a cold, the next day a fever, and two days later Id be coughing my lungs out… I tried allopathic medicine, antibiotics, homoeopathy, ayurveda, but none of it helped. It was as if someone had laid a curse on me. Today I know it was me and only me who was responsible for my ill health. I had made myself this weak by eating what diet books prescribed and not what my own body actually needed.