Paridhi Pandey, a victim of ridicule and bullying, speaks about a plethora of experiences she has gone through in her life. She spreads positivity through her work and wishes to inspire youngsters who are going through the turmoil she has now emerged from.
Storiyaan spoke to this talented fitness enthusiast, and she poured her heart out about her weight-loss journey, her love for Indian food and whole foods, exercising and much more.
Questions and answers
How did you overcome the bullying and ridicule you faced in the early stages of your life?
To be very honest, I did not overcome the bullying; I succumbed to it for a long time. In school, I didn’t realize that people saw me differently and that I was being ridiculed for my body and walk; however, in college, the whole idea was very much profound. I am an introvert, and so I created a shell around myself and always liked being confined to the four walls of my hostel room.
In the later part of my life, especially when I started working, I met people who were willing to listen to me. After talking to them, I realized that I was stupid back then to have succumbed to those taunts and bullies. Today, I would have probably fought back.
What was the first thing you did when you decided it was time to lose weight?
It was a funny incident. One day after college, I messaged my roommate, Darshita that I wanted to talk to her and the issue was a serious one. She was surprised, and I later shared with her, my intentions of losing weight. Together, we did our research and tried to look for effective and scientific ways of weight loss. The main reason for this step was that I was very low on confidence and no amount of grades and participation in college events was helping me rebuild my confidence, and so I decided to take this step. My roommate was very understanding.
Being a foodie, what is that one thing you can eat 24×7?
I am a huge foodie. I can eat all day. I love to eat a lot of things, but Rajma Chawal is something that I can probably eat the whole week. Every Friday, my lunch is fixed as Rajma Chawal, and everybody in my office and college knew this. I simply love this dish, and I will never get bored of it!
What is that one experiment you conducted with whole foods that you are extremely proud of?
I keep experimenting with a lot of food. However, there is one ingredient, beetroot, which I tried putting in every item during this quarantine. I had been anaemic throughout my school and college days, and so I thought of taking this step to increase my haemoglobin levels. Experimenting with beetroot benefited my health marvellously, and I fell in love with its taste. I have also tried adding beetroot in banana ice cream, which I initially thought was a weird combination, but it tasted so delicious, and it worked perfectly!
What are some of the challenges you faced in your initial days of exercising, and how did you overcome them?
I, like everyone else, had faced issues with consistency and motivation. In the beginning, I was very hopeful about losing weight, but subsequently, I was losing interest too. There were days when I felt that it was not going to happen, and it is not working out for me, but I would still push myself to do it. Honestly, I was not that over-motivated of a person from the very beginning, and therefore I would easily get demotivated. But again, I had no other option, so I made it happen.
What is your take on the online craze of wanting to prescribe the socially constructed idea of beauty?
I personally think that everybody will fall prey to this ideal body shape concept once in their lifetime and then they will grow out of it in their own way. I just hope that it doesn’t get too late. A lot of people are getting paid for maintaining their body, like actresses and models. But where we go wrong is that we compare ourselves with them. They are getting paid for what they do, and so are we. So, isn’t it better to stick to what we do and focus only on being healthy? After all, everyone is beautiful in their own way, and there is no such thing as ‘an ideal body’.
What is your go-to combination for a delicious salad?
I am a big Indian foodie, and I am not that fond of salads, they are too bland for me. However, I do eat chickpea salads a lot. I toss the chickpeas in some tandoori masala, just to make it a bit more delicious and also to give it an Indian touch. This is one dish that is a constant in my week’s menu, like at least twice a week. Other than that, I am a very Indian, Roti, Daal and Chawal type of person.
What is your message to people around the world struggling with body image issues?
All I want to say to people is that if someone has said that you do not align with the societal ‘ideals’ of something, be rest assured that it is not your fault. You should be confident enough about yourself and work hard to achieve your own goals to be happy in life. People say a lot of things, but what matters, in the long run, is your happiness, and this is what I learnt the hard way.