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.
Jingle queen Caralisa Monteiro’s challenging life journey
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