Huma Qureshi on losing weight the right way
Body-shaming is something that has always existed in the industry. While there are many actresses who have lost weight before they started out their Bollywood careers, there are many who defied norms and still managed to become a household name. Huma Qureshi is one of them. Huma has now silenced her critics with her transformation. Losing oodles of weight in the healthiest manner possible, Huma has set another example of doing things the right way.
Striking poses and flaunting a fab body now, Huma still rues that nothing has changed in her life. She sits down after a photoshoot for an elaborate conversation on her weight loss…
You have lost so much weight in the last few months. How did you manage to do it?
Of course, I have lost weight but there’s nothing special that I have done. I am doing something which I should have always done. I am working out, taking care of myself and also working really hard. So it’s a culmination of a whole lot of things. But I think it is really important to take care of yourself and your health so it’s just that. I guess you should realise the value of being healthy and I am just doing that.
Why did you decide to lose weight?
I never decided to lose weight. It’s not like achanak, ek din maine socha ki now I have to lose weight. It just happened. I have always said that no matter what shape you are in, you need to be healthy. So it’s not an agenda that I need to lose weight or look a particular way. I think I’m working out with my new trainer and the results are there for everyone to see. The thought is not that there was something wrong in me and I’m trying to correct it. I am just trying to be a better version of myself.
When did you start training?
Since last November.
The results have turned out to be great and so quickly, too…
I’m a hard working girl, you see! (Winks)
So what’s your workout regimen like?
I work out with Yasmeen Karachiwala. She is one of the best trainers we have in this industry. I also have a nutritionist, Rashi Chaudhary. She makes whatever I want, like healthy meals and snacks. And of course, I try and eat ghar ka khana, which is again quite difficult if you are travelling and working. But that is the right way to go.
You are a self-confessed foodie. Did you take time to adjust to the new diet?
I am still a foodie. You cannot take the foodie out of me. I would always want to indulge in my favourite foods. What’s important is balance and also not to deprive yourself of anything. I am still against who take drastic or unhealthy measures to look a certain way. I think you should own your body and everything about you. You need to own even the little imperfections because that’s the way to go. Of course, you should always keep striving to be the best version of yourself. So whether it’s training , nutrition or health care – be it for your hair, nails- you should always do it. But taking drastic measures is a terrible thing because you set out a very bad example. As actors, we influence people even if e don’t want to. So we should not influence people to do something artificial or wrong. We should never show them shortcuts to be a size-zero.
How much has your diet changed?
I eat a lot. I haven’t stopped eating. If you ask people around me, they will tell you about my little dabba which I keep taking out and eating from always. I am not the kind of person who can ever go hungry. That gives me a headache and makes me cranky. But yes, I am eating healthier food. I am having six to eight meals a day. I’m eating good stuff so I have made healthy choices. That’s been the major shift in how I’m approaching food. I am not eating to fill my stomach. I am eating because I know it’s nourishing my body.
You still haven’t told me what food you’re having…
I can’t give you my diet. How can I do it? I find it very cheesy when people give out their diets. But I eat everything. I eat roti, dal, subzi… everything. I love non-vegetarian food, so I can’t live without my chicken. It’s just that I am eating everything, but it’s cooked in a healthy way, mostly ghar pe bana hota hai so all these things make a huge difference.
Do you have a cheat day as well?
Of course, everyone needs to have a cheat day. Without cheat days, it will drive you mad. But like I said, my nutritionist Rashi makes these healthy organic snacks which sort of cheats your mind to think it’ something else but it’s actually a healthy replacement. She makes desserts for me as well, which are made of wholesome, organic stuff.
You had always spoken against the constant pressures of changing your body prototype. From there to here, do you think it was really needed?
Not at all! I was never apologetic about how I looked. I will not be apologetic about how I look now as well. I am not going to feel sorry for who I was because even if I was curvier, I was still doing films and was still a part of the business. People still accepted me and loved me. Now, you are telling me I’m looking better. I thought I was looking better then as well. Better has got nothing to do with your weight. It’s just a frame of mind. Today, I am working towards an athletic body because of something that I am working towards. I don’t want to talk about it right now, but you will find out in the coming months. That mannequin cover also was needed because people in our country keep running to copy all the actors, how they look and feel that this is the ultimate goal of life. To be like them. And there are horrific stories of girls doing what not to their bodies surgically. Even the practice of anorexia which is very wrong. As actors, we need to be better role models for people. I was very proud of the cover back then. Today, if I do a cover, it will not be saying ki pehle main bahut moti thi aur ab main bahut patli ho gayi aur mera jeevan bahut behtar ho gaya hai. It was good back then and it’s still good now. As actors, you need to constantly change your body. Tomorrow, I might do a film, which might require me to put on tons of weight. I will do it. Maybe I might have to play an athlete and I will have to get really ripped for it. I will do that as well.
Do you think there’s a lot of body shaming in society today?
Absolutely! If you’re too skinny, you’re anorexic. If you’re fat, you are also not acceptable. I think people are never happy with other people. Body shaming is a serious thing and people should just stop. This is bullying other people and telling them that something’s not right with them. That’s wrong. Forget body shaming, people also talk about colour of the skin. If you are too dark or too tall or even too short, you can’t be accepted fully. So, basically, are we supposed to be clones of each other with perfect hair and a certain weight? Imagine how boring that would be.
There’s so much fashion policing and body shaming in Bollywood as well..
Of course, there’s body shaming everywhere and the industry is indeed a part of the society. So it exists here as well. But thankfully, there are people who are speaking out, who are saying that ‘Dude, let people be’. People are different with different bodies, different heights, different complexions. You can’t say one is better than the other. That’s kind of ridiculous.
Some actresses lost out on films because of their weight. Has that happened to you?
It has not happened to me, but I do feel sad to whoever it has happened. But I feel sadder for the people who make such decisions because I don’t feel the audience connects with your body in terms of whether you are two kilos heavier or two kilos lighter. They connect in terms of whether you can communicate what you are trying to do. And we always had curvy actresses. Only in the middle, we had this little phase where actresses needed to look as skinny as a clothes hanger. But actresses in all the eras have always been curvier, beautiful and no-one ever wanted to be a clothes hanger. Even today, these actresses have sworn fans so it proves that it has got nothing to do with the shape or the body weight.
After losing weight, do you feel more confident now?
This is what I’m talking about. This sounds like a testimonial. Woh jo TV par dikhate hai na ki pehle main bohut moti thi, ab main patli hoon aur mera confidence badh chuka hai. Again, confidence has to do with how you are feeling in life. So if you land a good job, or your salary increases or you buy a new outfit, of course you feel better. I think being fit is very important. Making healthy choices in life is very important. Unfortunately, this has been made to be a fat versus un-fat debate. What is the correct shape to be in? Nobody can decide that for you. I can also turn back and say I am more confident because it’s been so many years in the industry or I have signed X number of films and endorsements. Anything could be a reason for you to feel confident. I will always be confident because of my body of work, not my body.
There were jokes on your weight previously which you tackled really well. Now that the perceptions have changed, does that make any difference?
It never mattered to me then. It won’t matter to me now. People will keep saying things they want to, but you will have to do what you want to. If I am bothered about people, then I would have never been an actress. People kept saying I’m too tall or too fat, too this or too that to be an actress. You cannot bother about what people’s comments are.
People are talking about your dressing sense too now…
But I have always dressed like that. Maybe, people are noticing it now. I have to admit that when you are new, no one teaches you all this. I didn’t come from a family that was in the business or from the industry who taught me all these stuff. Neither did I have the resources to have an army of stylists who would teach me more about hair and make-up. I was finding out everything by myself through trial and error. So it took me a couple of years because I was new and I didn’t know how it worked. Also, Indian fashion and red-carpet fashion suddenly had this burst and boom. Even a few years back, nobody cared what Kajol was wearing or what Rani Mukerji was wearing when they went to a party or to watch a movie. Suddenly, now whether I go down my house or I go to the airport, what I am wearing or whether I have repeated my shoes is like an issue. So you have to think about all of this. I was not aware that all this is so important so I never actually gave it too much thought. I did make a fool of myself on a lot of occasions. I didn’t know how to step out on a red carpet or make an appearance. I didn’t now that the spotlight was on 24X7 and that it never goes off. But as I said, I am a quick learner. I am also thankful to people around me- whether it’s my managers, stylists, or hair and make up people. They keep advising me on what I should wear for different events and that’s nice.
How much inputs do you give while your stylist picks up an outfit for you?
I think, a lot. Because, eventually, I will have to wear it. So even if the stylist thinks that it’s the correct outfit for me, if I don’t feel it, I won’t wear it. Sometimes, we have these arguments about ‘Are these shoes good with these?’ Only you can decide what works on you. Of course, the stylist can put the whole look together and they definitely know their job but if you are not comfortable, it would show. And nobody likes an uncomfortable person. You might be wearing the best clothes but if you aren’t comfortable in it, it will be a disaster.
You said actresses being skinny sets out a wrong example. Don’t you feel you thinking of transforming yourself will also send out a wrong signal?
I am not trying to be skinny at all. See, you can’t insist that someone can’t be skinny. It works both ways. You cannot force your ideas of what is okay and not okay on people. There are some actresses who are naturally skinny because that’s how they are. You cannot turn around and say ‘Oh that’s not beautiful, you should be curvier’. Neither is skinny more beautiful nor is curvy more beautiful. Whatever your body type is, you will have to make it work for you.