Fit For Life

…Trans­formed record­ing artist Car­al­isa Mon­teiro’s life, es­pe­cially af­ter she suf­fered a huge per­sonal set­back – of los­ing her mother and sis­ter to can­cer – and was strug­gling with her own weight and health is­sues.

Health & Nutrition - - CONTENTS -

Jin­gle queen Car­al­isa Mon­teiro’s chal­leng­ing life jour­ney

Some­times grat­i­tude

and a pos­i­tive out­look to­wards life can re­ally up­lift you and those around you. Tagged the ‘Jin­gle Queen’ of In­dia, with over 7,000 jin­gles and med­leys (re­mem­ber ‘Sha Sha Sha Mi Mi Mi’ from ‘Shamitabh’? Yup, that’s her), Mum­bai-based record­ing artist Car­al­isa Mon­teiro talks about her dif­fi­cult days as a child, los­ing her mother and sis­ter to can­cer, her un­planned mu­sic ca­reer and de­vel­op­ing a pas­sion for fit­ness, all with a con­stant smile on her face…

I was barely two when my mother was di­ag­nosed with a rare mus­cle in­flam­ma­tion dis­ease called polymyosi­tis. Later, Giselle, my sis­ter, passed away due to breast can­cer in 1997.

sis­ter, passed away due to breast can­cer in 1997. She was only 26. She had had a feel­ing that some­thing was off but since we weren’t re­ally wellto-do back then, her con­di­tion couldn’t be checked at the off­set. She passed away within a year of be­ing di­ag­nosed. Not hav­ing a mom is and was dif­fi­cult. Thank­fully, my grand­mother and my aunts (mom’s sis­ters who stayed sin­gle) took care of us. Other than that, there was the fi­nan­cial bur­den. What­ever lit­tle was there went into med­i­cat­ing both mom and then later Giselle. Times were hard, and I only wore hand-me-downs till the time I grad­u­ated. MU­SIC PRAC­TI­CALLY RUNS IN HER BLOOD Mom loved to sing and she was a re­ally good singer. They used to call her the ‘Nightin­gale of Dadar’ and dad was ar­guably the best bass opera singer in Asia. So, for me, mu­sic was an in­te­gral part of grow­ing up. I have al­ways loved Gospel mu­sic, and Whit­ney Hous­ton has al­ways been my idol. How­ever, my aunts wanted me to grad­u­ate so that some­one would em­ploy me, but I wasn’t re­ally great at aca­demics. For­tu­nately, for me, Giselle was do­ing mu­sic pro­fes­sion­ally along­side her so­cial work and I re­al­ized I could do it too. I will al­ways be grate­ful to mu­sic com­posers Eh­saan and Loy for call­ing me for my first jin­gle. I don’t know how this tag ‘Jin­gle Queen’ came along but I like call­ing my­self a record­ing artist and that’s what I’ve been for close to 20 years now.

GET­TING FIT My mu­sic ca­reer was go­ing good but when I was 30 years old, I re­al­ized I weighed 88 kgs! I had blood pres­sure, mild choles­terol is­sue and I ate un­healthy. That is when I went to the doc­tor and he asked me if I was will­ing to change my life­style or go on meds. I pri­mar­ily started work­ing out sim­ply be­cause I didn’t want to go on meds! My hus­band Ryan D’ Souza has also been a big mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tor. He looks at ex­er­cis­ing very dif­fer­ently, and train­ing with him changed my out­look com­pletely. Now the fo­cus is to lift heav­ier, stretch fur­ther, and run longer, harder and faster. I re­al­ized that ex­er­cis­ing helps you look good in your clothes but train­ing helps you look good with­out them. There is no greater mo­ti­va­tion for a girl than to wear the clothes she al­ways wanted to! Run­ning, how­ever, came about very strangely. Since I never played any sport grow­ing up, I hired a per­sonal trainer and all I was told was that I was big-boned. My hus­band, who is sport ob­sessed, told me that in six months I would lose 25 kgs if road run­ning was go­ing to be a part of my rou­tine. That’s the last I had of a per­sonal trainer. The first time I ran, I could only run three kilo­me­ters. It took me three months to hit the 10 km mark. I got on to Twit­ter to share up­dates of my run from Mum­bai

An­gel In Dis­guise, my char­ity for can­cer, is the ex­ten­sion of my dream. I help peo­ple with­out them nec­es­sar­ily know­ing I helped them. Like an an­gel in dis­guise would!

to Pune. The names @car­al­isa and @car­al­isa­mon­teiro were taken, so keep­ing in mind my then ob­ses­sion with putting in miles, I called my han­dle @run­car­al­is­arun and it kind of stuck! Run­ning is now an in­te­gral part of my life. I try and run twothree times a week and gen­er­ally run about 50 kms a week.

BUT FIT­NESS ISN’T JUST PHYS­I­CAL Run­ning is also a great de- stres­sor. I don’t stress eas­ily and I’ve lived the hard­est years of my life as a child. I have a peace­ful life, re­spect of peers, a hus­band who’s sup­port­ive and ec­cen­tric and my dog Slayer who loves me un­con­di­tion­ally. And un­like the rest in my fam­ily, I have got the gift of life. So, I think be­ing grate­ful is the key to men­tal well-be­ing.

CAN­CER AND CHAR­ITY Hav­ing lost so much, I’ve learnt that life is too pre­cious and short to waste on in­signif­i­cant things. Re­la­tion­ships and do­ing things that sat­isfy you are more im­por­tant. I would like to create a legacy, no mat­ter how small, that will af­fect some­one else’s present and fu­ture pos­i­tively and help them. When mom and Giselle passed away, I re­al­ized that we had ab­so­lutely no money for their treat­ment and of­ten through the church and friends and rel­a­tives, the bills were paid. Post my mother’s demise,

dad was de­pressed and he walked out on us. With my aunts be­ing sec­re­taries, there was only that much money that was be­ing made. I was too young to be able to con­trib­ute. That’s when I de­cided I needed to do some­thing to help peo­ple when I am able. An­gel In Dis­guise, my char­ity for can­cer, is the ex­ten­sion of that dream. I help peo­ple with­out them nec­es­sar­ily know­ing I helped them. Like an an­gel in dis­guise would! Can­cer can of­ten times be cured by a healthy life­style, not eat­ing pro­cessed food and not be­ing stressed all the time. I think the im­me­di­ate sup­port sys­tem needs to come to­gether and fight it. I know some amaz­ing peo­ple who have sur­vived can­cer and oth­ers who are con­stantly chang­ing lives.

GRATE­FUL I credit my suc­cess to my fam­ily, my aunts for sac­ri­fic­ing their lives so that I got a fair shot at one, my sis­ter Giselle for teach­ing me at a young age that it is im­por­tant to give back and my hus­band who taught me the im­por­tance of go­ing out and help­ing oth­ers. And lastly our dog Slayer, who no mat­ter what, teaches me how blessed I am to be alive, to have a roof and three meals a day. Life is sim­ply awe­some. BHAVISHYA SHAH

Run­ning is now an in­te­gral part of my life. I try and run two-three times a week and gen­er­ally run about 50 kms a week.

Record­ing with Vishal Dad­lani

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