Actor, anchor and fitness icon Mandira Bedi wears many hats and is in the habit of reinventing herself constantly. As a part of that process, the 47-year-old has now come out with a book Happy For No Reason, co-written with Satyadev Barman. At SheThePeople's Women Writers Fest in Mumbai, Bedi was in conversation with author and SheThePeople.TV's Ideas Editor Kiran Manral. They spoke about her journey to not just being fit, but also developing an intent to be happy in her life, and then channelling this experience and much more in her book. Mandira said that the aim behind writing this book was to inspire people. “If someone could get even a slight bit of inspiration to want to do better, be better, get fitter, it is a step in the right direction,” she said.
When I got my co-writer on-board, I said I wanted to talk about things that have changed me, that have contributed to my mental health, things that I have worked on and things that have gotten me to this place.
The actor said that initially, her book was to be about fitness since she is known for her dedication to staying fit. However, her commissioning editor had decided that the title of the book is going to be Happy For No Reason because that is what Mandira’s bio is on Instagram. Bedi said, “When you are talking about happiness it can’t be just physical, it can’t just be about exercise and fitness. Over the years, even though exercise and fitness have become a very important part of my life and have helped me a great deal with my mental and emotional stability, I have worked a lot on myself otherwise as well. So we decided to broad-base it a little more,” further adding, “When I got my co-writer on-board, I said I wanted to talk about things that have changed me, that have contributed to my mental health, things that I have worked on and things that have gotten me to this place. Now I can’t say ‘I am happy for no reason,’ it is an intent that I put out every day, it is a place I want to be at.”
Calling herself a work in progress Bedi said that she has lived pretty much her entire life operating from a space where she felt she wasn’t good enough. She discovered self-love only in her forties and realised that it is never too late for anything in life, and that is how her book starts. Self-love and acceptance thus form a big part of her book, along with gratitude.
Mandira also revealed that she had dealt with a lot of anger and negativity, with the people closest to her; her mother and husband, on the receiving end of it. “I have had a lot of anger issues and I worked really hard on them. I underwent hypnotherapy for my anger and that has helped me a great deal. (In the book) I have talked about how much therapy I have gone for,” adding that she felt the need to speak to somebody who was objective and could give her some solid guidance. “I have gone for classic therapy, spiritual therapy, hypnotherapy, but hey, whatever works for you, just go to therapy if you need it.”
Just because you are going to the gym doesn’t mean that you can go home and have two scoops of ice-cream or a slice of cake because you can’t beat what you eat, it is 70 percent food and 30 percent exercise.
Being a celebrity in the age of paparazzi and social media isn’t easy as often people in the limelight have to court controversies which are unnecessary. Even Bedi isn’t a stranger to this, a tattoo on her back incurred her much wrath. “I had a tattoo that said Ek Omkar, which is the first utterance of our Guru Granth Sahib; Ek Omkar Satnam, which means there is one God, God is one. When I got this tattoo, I wanted to have something which I could still feel connected to ten or fifteen years along the way. I got it in 2004. In 2007, I was covering the World Cup and India was out within the first week of the tournament. And because the Indian team was out of focus, they decided to focus on me and that’s when they brought it up. There were effigies of mine being burnt in Punjab because I had an Ek Omkar tattoo, not on a place that was disrespectful, it wasn’t on my foot, or hip or my stomach, it was on my back. I looked at it as a protection and it was such a beautiful thought,” adding that people still called it disrespectful. Eventually, after a case was filed against her, Mandira got tired and had it covered up.
Mandira is known to be a fitness enthusiast, she said she initially got into shape because she had to participate in the reality show Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi in 2008. Realising that she was perhaps the oldest of the contestants, she worked on her fitness in a short duration of one month to be a strong contender. While Mandira didn’t win the show, fitness is now a way of life for her. “It got me into that space of fitness and wellness and eating well,” opining that you cannot beat what you eat. “Just because you are going to the gym doesn’t mean that you can go home and have two scoops of ice-cream or a slice of cake because you can’t beat what you eat, it is 70 percent food and 30 percent exercise. Maybe if you really train hard you can change that to 60: 40, but food is still the most important, you gotta zip your mouth a little bit.”