Mandira Bedi's fitness tips and tricks

 Now that she's comfortably settled with her toddler, Mandira continues to work hard and at 41, feels fitter than ever.

Manavi Siddhanti/ Prevention Manavi Siddhanti/ Prevention
फरवरी 04, 2014

The last time we met Mandira, she had just gotten back into shape after the birth of her baby. What began with a run on the beach when one day the new mom decided to step out and shape up, has developed into a strict fitness schedule that has helped her regain her energy and strength. In less than a year, the 22 kilos she had gained during pregnancy melted away. Now that she's comfortably settled with her toddler, Mandira continues to work hard and at 41, feels fitter than ever.

Always the busy bee, Mandira has several TV projects and shows that she hosts in addition to the full time job of being a mother to Vir who is going to turn 3. Through all this, she manages to stay energetic and spirited. "Exercise is my greatest stress buster. Nothing sorts me out better than a nice 10K run," she says. Her toned body, six pack abs and a flat belly bear witness to this-Mandira looks phenomenally fit and on a perpetual happy-hormone high. Turning 40 has something to do with it too. "Some women want to hide their age. But when I crossed 40, I felt liberated. I feel very good for my age. And I shout it from the rooftops!

I know I am fitter than many women in their 20s and 30s and that's a good place to be," she beams. Flushed with the success of the television show, 24, where she had a meaty role, Mandira is now launching her own saree label. Her Twitter handle is buzzing with congratulatory messages from fans. "I think the reason I'm happy, healthy and energetic in the midst of a hundred things is only because I exercise," she says. It takes that extra effort to stay this way, so even on days she's swamped with work, Mandira sets aside time for her workout. "If it's an early morning shoot, I wake up earlier to squeeze 45 minutes of exercise. Frankly that's what makes my day go okay-maybe even better than okay. A good sweat keeps me sane and gives me peace to make it through the day," she says. That's the thing about exercise: it's not just what it does to your body but also to your mind. "Many women use various routes to get to a particular place. But for me, it's always been diligent exercise to get not just slim, but fit. I think a healthy body is one that is made to work and is strong. Thin isn't in! Fit is the new sexy!" she says, borrowing the Women's Health tagline that is now her fitness mantra.

Eat Right
Eating the right foods is an important part of being fit. "My mantra is pretty simple: when I need to be a certain size, I exercise and don't eat foods that are fattening. It's no rocket science really," she smiles. She avoids fried and processed foods, sweet indulgences and excessive carbs. Whole grains, plenty of vegetables, complex carbs, proteins and fruits get the thumbs-up. "As far as hydration goes, one can't stress on that enough. Even 20 minutes of cardio can make you lose plenty of fluids. So keep sipping on water or nimbu pani before and during a workout," she says.

Lights, Camera, ACTION!
Life in the glamour industry involves a lot of travel and late hours. So sticking to a routine despite the erratic schedules takes a fair amount of advance planning and making some intelligent choices. "It's not that tough, you know. On shoots, I carry a bag of nuts or salted broad beans. Wherever you go, there always are options. If I eat out, I opt for a salad and a main which is baked or grilled. Thankfully, Indian restaurants have plenty of vegetarian choices," she says. But surely there are those weak moments when taste buds take over? "Yes, of course. We all need comfort foods!" she says flashing a smile. "For me its arbi or kadi chawal or rajma chawal, or even a frankie roll! When I am under the weather, nothing nails it like a hot bowl of mushroom soup. But Raj (her husband) and I stay away from sweets because my biggest indulgence and my greatest downfall is chocolate!" Little Vir, is learning about food too. "I would like to say I plan family meals, but I don't! I'm a vegetarian and Raj isn't. So we've introduced Vir to good food and now he eats almost everything, fuss-free," she says.

Feel Good Factor
Mandira's 2014 calendar looks busy. The designer plans to make a debut at the Lakme Fashion Week this year. She's also hosted several shows like Indian Idol Junior and has TV shows lined up. In the midst of this busy schedule, the family manages to spend time together, or Mandira takes Vir along on her shoots. Like all busy, spirited people, Mandira has found her formula for happiness. "Fitness for me is as much for my mental and emotional well-being, as it is for physical wellness. I need that post-workout fix to feel good. I think every age comes with its own set of challenges and surprises. And all I'd like to say is, 'Bring it on!'"

What's on Mandira's Plate?
Pre-workout: 1 cup of coffee, 1 brown bread toast with marmite
Post workout/Breakfast: 1 glass of wheatgrass juice, 1 egg white omelette, 1 toast, /French toast/oats made with gur with 1 glass of cold coffee
Lunch: 1 cup lentils, 1 serving of vegetables, 1 bowl of yoghurt (raita), 2 to 3 rotis
Evening snack: 1 portion sweet corn/1 fruit/handful of nuts
Dinner: 1 bowl vegetable soup, 1 portion salad, 1 cup lentils, 1 serving of vegetables, 2 to 3 rotis. Mandira's favourite juice: I enjoy a vegetable juice now and then. It's made with cucumber, spinach and mint-and it tastes pretty good! It tastes of good health actually! I even like carrot and ginger juice. If I feel like sipping on a smoothie, it will always be yoghurt mixed with lots of strawberries and no sugar! Mandira's go-to-drinks: During or before my workout, I enjoy sipping on nimbu pani made with Stevia. If I want to indulge in something slightly fizzy, I go for a soda but never colas and energy drinks. Ideally, I stick to 6 to 7 tall glasses.

Stay fit routine
Mandira works out at least five days a week. "I follow a strict routine each week where I do a different regime every day to avoid hitting a plateau or letting my body get too comfortable with a workout," she says. Apart from running, swimming and playing outdoor games, Mandira does circuit training which targets different body parts and muscle groups. "I need to sweat and feel very tired at the end of each session," she says. Here's the lowdown of a typical week for Mandira:

Day 1: A 10K run in 1 hour: stretches targetting hamstrings, knees, ankles and hips
Day 2: An upper body circuit where Mandira does each exercise for 1 min for 1 body part upright row with a kettlebell, burpees, pull up, bent over row, bunny hop, push up, running up and down steps, biceps and triceps training, jump squats
Day 3: 1 hour on the cross trainer/50 laps of 25 m pool
Day 4: Circuit targetting legs and abs with cardio. Here too, she does each exercise for 1 minute. Regular squats with 8-kg kettle bells, step ups, upper ab crunches (lie down, legs up at a 90 degrees angle), lunges/walking lunges, skipping, deadlifts with 8-kg kettlebells, skipping on steps, double crunch (front and back, knees to your head), doggie raises to the side and the back, planks, burpees, sumo squat (your knees are turned out), jumping jacks, side planks (30 sec on each side).
Day 5: Another circuit with upper body and cardio: Lateral raise, burpees, inclined push-up on one leg and alternate, overhead jumping jacks, deep squat (lunge with medicine ball above the head, knee up close to the chest and bring the ball up to 90 degrees), pushup burpee, a kettlebell bicep curl, plank, belly swim (on stomach, raise legs and shoulders, arms and legs up), steps, tricep kickback (bend body with back straight, take the weight and straighten arm), skipping, shrugs, jumping jack planks.



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