SHE HAS BEEN breaking stereotypes ever since she was 16 years old. An avid biker, an automobile enthusiast, a licensed pilot and above all, an advocate of women empowerment, Gul Panag, finds similarities between the anatomy of her body and a car. In the city for the launch of Mahindra’s Her Drive campaign, an eight–city tour encouraging women to challenge set norms, Gul talks about getting more women in the driver’s seat, being a rebel all through her life and giving the right fuel to her body. Excerpts:
The analogy of your body as a car is quite interesting. What is your fitness mantra?
That is the easiest way to explain the importance of having a healthy body. I came up with this analogy in my flying school. I believe that my body is a car and it’s a fine car. It has a fixed fuel capacity, which affects the functioning of my basal metabolic rate. If my car is a diesel car I cannot put petrol into it. And if I am cognizant enough, I will take my car to a good and trusted station for refilling so that my system is not harmed. And yes, once in a while going to the highway and filling from one odd station wouldn’t matter. So, the same principle applies to our body. For an average person to be aware that the body is a machine, is important. We need to understand that food is fuel to our body and not meant for enjoyment or emotional support or to alleviate boredom.
How do you achieve your fitness goals?
I am fixed in my goals and flexible in my approach. If today I don’t have the energy to do an exercise, then I will walk adequately later and fulfill that goal. For me, it’s about eating right. Exercise is 20 per cent of the equation and the remaining 80 per cent is what you eat.
As a mother, do you follow the same principle for your son?
There are things I have not introduced to my son because they are addictive. For instance, artificial sugar, as it a part of a family of opioids and works on the reward mechanism. It is challenging but I have worked hard to break those addictions in my family.
How does it feel being a part of Her Drive?
This is the first year of what we hope and believe will become an incredible property for women to have conversations and engage with automobiles. Auto is a male-dominated spectrum world over and it bothered me to see women being sidelined though it’s never been about muscle and physical strength here. I have been a rebel since my college days. From opting for Math, because someone thought women can’t be good at the subject to earning a certified flying license because someone thinks a woman won’t be able to give enough time to the field. In my decade-old relationship with Mahindra, I have always had their support to break stereotypes. The idea developed months ago to create a property which would go city to city, and encourage women to take the driver’s seat