Pratiksha Shetty has covered the entire graph that a person entering into the world of fitness usually does — losing weight rapidly, competing with others, getting injured, acutely affected by the needle of the weighing scale, binging and finally finding her pace and rhythm.
The visiting faculty at Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth was always overweight, and unapologetically so. “Throughout my schooling and college years, I was overweight. In fact, I weighed 89 kg at that time. But it didn’t bother me. My friends were also in similar weight group, so there was no peer pressure to shape up,” begins Shetty.
At the time of her marriage, she had lost about 10 kg, but piled them up again during pregnancy. The trigger to her ‘makeover’ was her tiny baby girl, Yutika.
“When we clicked pictures, Yutika could barely be seen. She was that tiny, and I was that huge. I felt rather unhappy about it, so I began exercising gradually,” she adds.
A big foodie, who still goes crazy over her plate of bhajjis, Shetty confesses, “I live to eat. So I couldn’t give up food in my quest to lose weight. Also, I was feeding my baby then, so I knew that I couldn’t go on those fancy diets. Instead, I regulated my meal times and portion size. I began eating home-cooked food; my last meal of the day was consumed by 7.30 pm. If I did feel hungry after that, I would drink milk or sip water.”
And, when she lost five kgs or so, Shetty would celebrate by eating JJ Garden’s Vada Pav! “That kept me going for the next few months, until I reached my target weight. I am 26 kilos lighter now,” she says.
Today if she wants to eat bhajjis, she does, but instead of gorging on a plate/bowl full of the oily snack, she eats three bhajjis, all spaced out in a specific time period.
“I also realised that if I have to lose weight or be fit, I can’t do that by skipping meals. I have to eat well, to keep my fitness levels up. In Shravan-Bhadrapad period, I give up non-veg food for about 45 days. In this period, my pace of exercise regime slows down,” adds Shetty.
She enjoys her weight-training and pilates. “I started doing pilates after Yutika’s birth. My gym buddies then were all into running and I didn’t realise when I started it. I also took part in the PYC Hindu Gymkhana’s Makeover Competition and we won in that year. I found that I could run, after I started running. So then I started exerting myself. In another competition, I tried to compete with a weightlifter and injured my back. For a year and a half, I couldn’t run. That demoralised me,” explains Shetty.
But she didn’t want to give up all that soon, so she went for walks, continued with weight training. “After I finished taking lectures, I usually walked back home, a five-six km stretch. So this is how my piled up frustration and anger found a release. I still go for walks, when I don’t run. I now know that I am comfortable doing a 10 km run, so I will stick to that. I will concentrate on improving my timing, better myself, instead of competing with others,” she says with a grin.
Shetty is also thankful to her exercise buddies who encouraged to put aside her inhibitions and start running and later cycling. “All my exercise partners are way older than me, so if I would start hesitating about not attending a particular event, or a race, because of my daughter, they would offer to look after Yutika. My parents and sister too took care of her when I was sweating it out. I guess it was all the positivity around me that motivated me, helping me transform from a hyper into a cool, composed person,” she concludes.