“I’m a mother, doctor and a bodybuilder. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“I was a sporty kid and was known as the ‘best athlete’ on campus. But my parents were wary of this, ‘If you hurt yourself, no one will marry you.’ Still, I’d skip my Bharatnatyam classes to attend Taekwondo training and then play cricket all evening! When I told Dad that I wanted to be an athlete, he said, ‘You’re a girl, you should pursue a more respectable profession.’ So, I went to a medical college and studied to be a gynaecologist.
Once, I was being ragged by a male senior at college; he asked me what my hobbies were. When I told him I play cricket, he challenged me to a game…and I won! Despite having a hectic schedule, I’d still play indoor games or football.
College ended, and I was married off as soon as I started interning. Within a year, I became a mom. I was also a successful doctor earning a six-figure salary. But I began losing myself–I’d put on a lot of weight and was tired all the time.
I broke down one day thinking, ‘This isn’t me.’ That’s when a friend suggested I start gymming. And so I did; I lost nearly 20 kgs in a year. My coach was impressed and said ‘Why don’t you try bodybuilding?’ I liked lifting weights, so I agreed.
After, I attended a bodybuilding competition and saw little to no women competitors there. That’s when I decided to participate. While my husband encouraged me, my parents and in-laws said, ‘You’ve got a stable job, what’s the need?’, ‘Bodybuilding doesn’t suit a mother.’ But I wanted to do it for me. And as I got recognised for my skills, I got an opportunity to train at an academy that had formal equipment. The members there told me, ‘You only have 3 months to prove yourself.’ I knew it was now or never and that made me train harder–as a result I got selected to participate in state and national competitions.
I remember earning my first paycheck; I won Rs 20,000 and a gold medal in a national competition. I saved Rs 2,000 for myself and gave the rest to my family as a gift. Papa looked at me So, I began training. I was still breastfeeding my daughter, and at times was working 36- hour hospital shifts. But somehow, I’d still hit the gym. It was exhausting, but I loved it. It took me 2 years to get on stage for the first time–I’d never felt so powerful in my life! Although I stood second, I went on to participate in state level championships. in disbelief and said, ‘Did you steal this?’ I hugged him and said, ‘No, I earned it!’
Three years later, I moved to Sydney for my PhD and had my second daughter. There, I found out that there’d never been an Indian female bodybuilder in the last 25 years. I wanted to show that an Indian woman could do anything she sets her mind to! So for the next 8 months, I’d train from 4 AM to 7 AM, drop my elder daughter to school, cook, and then leave for the hospital. After putting my kids to bed, I’d train from 10 PM to 1 AM.
My hard work finally paid off when I won the IFFB 2021 Australasian Championship! I became the first woman of colour to have ever contested on Australian soil! Today, at 30, I’m a practicing gynaecologist and I’ve been bodybuilding for eight years. Honestly, I’d have never thought I’d come so far with a demanding job and two children. But here I am!
The truth is, all I did was make time for something that I truly loved. And I stopped caring about what people have to say about MY choices–I have one life and I’m not going to limit myself. I’m a mother, a doctor AND a bodybuilder and I wouldn’t have it any other way."