It began with a car. 'Curves are back,' announced Volkswagen when it relaunched its iconic Beetle. Next, Australian health authorities announced that underweight models should be banned. Now, here at home, though fashion designers seem content to work with models who look more like mannequins, such fitness fanatics as Kareena Kapoor, famous for her size zero status, are working to get back what they’d lost in the last five years or so – their curves.
“Speaking for 90 per cent of all men, I think the voluptuous look among women always looks better than the emaciated one,” says film director Mahesh Bhatt. “Watch any film for proof!” Well, films of the 2000s wouldn’t provide such proof, because heroines became skinnier and skinnier. Though they are now trying to get their curves back, how can that be done? How can women get curves and still be fit?
“In India, we have voluptuous bodies anyway. So it isn’t very tough to get curves,” says Honey Khanna, head of dietetics, Max Healthcare, Saket, Delhi. But when women try for them, they tend to make mistakes, she adds. “Obese or heavy people start losing weight aggressively and eating in an unhealthy manner, which leads to sagging skin and the breakdown of energy levels,” Khanna explains. “And slimmer people tend to overeat to get the curves, which makes them fat and unhealthy instead.”
What exactly is a healthy curvy body? And what constitutes a good meal? "A BMI (Body Mass Index – the proportion calculated between height and weight) between 18.1 to 22 for adults is good," says Khanna. "Also the weight of the body should be the right balance of water, fat and muscle mass. This varies for every person depending on the BMI."
If you’re going for the curvy look, keep in mind that the only areas of your body that can afford to have some excess fat are your hips and breasts. “But the chest-hip ratio must be proportionate according to your body type,” says Siddharth Bhattacharya, corporate fitness manager, Amatra Spa, Delhi.
Exercises vary according to your body type, and you must adhere to them – but only with proper guidance. While weight training is a must to develop muscles that get converted into curves, it must be combined with yoga to keep the suppleness of the body intact. “The trick is to not overdo the weight training. Balance it with yoga and pilates moves to accentuate flexibility and grace,” says Bhattacharya.
Actress Sameera Reddy agrees. “The Indian anatomy is essentially curvaceous. But most women in India become fanatics in the name of losing weight and so they lose their curves,” she says. The best way to get a curvaceous body, feels Sameera, is to lose weight over a longer period of time and not in a rushed manner. That helps to keep the skin tight and glowing, she says.
She was a plump child, she adds, and though she wanted to shed weight, she was conscious about not losing her curves. “I wanted to look feminine and sensuous on screen, not like someone who has just done push ups!” she says. So her fitness routine is composed of small meals and a mix of cardio, yoga, power yoga and swimming.
“I keep changing my exercise routines,” Sameera says. “Cardio and swimming keep my weight in check; yoga and power yoga give me feminine grace. And small meals are things like a handful of dry fruits, two pieces of fish, one fruit – anything. Also, I never eat full meals like lunch and dinner.”
A good workout depends on your current body type, says Bhattacharya. “For the obese or overweight, the foremost thing is to lose the excess and reach optimum BMI,” he says. “While hardcore cardio exercises like running, swimming and so on are good, they have to be supplemented with a diet that has a negative calorie deficit. That means, the calories in the food you eat must be fewer than the calories you lose per day.
The overall food intake should also be less.” This won’t be easy, Bhattacharya warns, because you will feel hungry all the time. But he also believes your body will adjust to your new food routine within 48 hours. Diet plan in place, weight training and muscle development exercises can begin, focusing on legs, calves, shoulders, hips and upper back.
However, the weight training should not be overdone as it tends to make the body stiff. “Women are recommended weight training only for about 15-20 minutes to avoid a muscular build,” says Bhattacharya. “And yoga and pilates should be done for about 15 minutes.”
If you’re thin and aiming for curves, then your diet should include 250-300 calories every day from complex carbs like breads, bananas, milk and nuts, and proteins like chicken and eggs. “Cardio is recommended for only about 10 minutes after a workout of squats, some yoga and pilates moves and abdominal exercises,” says Bhattacharya.
Actress Kim Sharma, known for her slim but curvy body, insists that going on a diet is depressing. So eating healthy and working out properly is her mantra. “It is important to eat right,” she says. “I eat what I want to eat, but always in moderation. And I keep timings in mind because I eat six small meals a day. I avoid carbs after 8 pm.
I have a nice healthy breakfast as it gets me going for the day. And I practice power yoga and have a proper exercise regimen that includes mostly weights and some cardio because my focus is not on losing weight but on getting nice curves with my excess muscles.”
Breakfast: Eat a heavy breakfast full of nutrients. Upma, poha, sprouts, milk and egg whites are healthy.
Mid day: Eat some little thing, like a fruit or some nuts. About 250 gms of anything is good. This will prevent acidity and low blood sugar levels.
Lunch: Have a balanced meal. Here’s how: Fill a quarter of your plate with greens, a quarter with veggies and carbs, one quarter with cereals and pulses, and one quarter with protein.
Tea: One cup of tea with bhelpuri, dhokla or sprouts.
Dinner: Have a balanced meal as at lunch, but keep it light by reducing the carbs or eliminating them entirely.
Shape of things
Legs and hips: Stationary lunges – three sets of 15 repetitions each. Or walking lunges – two sets of 15 to 20 steps each
Calves (knees to feet): Maximum 15 repetitions of calf raises with weights according to your body type
Upper back: Lateral pull down. Women should do shorter grips, about 12-15, so as not to get
Shoulders: Ten to 15 dumbbell shoulder presses and lateral raises
Abdomen: Three sets of 20-25 crunches each, plus three to four sets of 10-15 leg raises each
Core: About 30 seconds to two minutes of plank exercises and 30-90 seconds of side plank exercises, depending on your stamina. Add 20 minutes of yoga or pilates
“I want my curves back”
She created quite a sensation with her size zero status, but actress Kareena Kapoor seems to have had enough of it. She wants her original sensuous curvy figure, as seen in Chameli and Don 2, back. Having lost most of it for Tashan, Kareena said in an interview some time ago that she wants her curves back. “I think I look nicer with them. Even Saifu (actor Saif Ali Khan) says I look better that way.” Going by her last appearance in a musical show on TV recently, she seems to be working towards it.