She wasn’t always Skinny Roti.
After she had her two kids, Harj Hadani gained nearly 45 pounds and suffered from mild postpartum depression.
But she didn’t want to take medication. So she decided to start working out.
She lived near Rotary Stadium so she put her young kids into their double-stroller and ran laps around the track.
As her toddlers played on the jungle gym, she used the same equipment for pull-ups in between sets of sit-ups. “I just wanted my body back after kids,” said Hadani.
She liked the results. “I felt really good. I became a better mom, a better wife.”
But there came a point when her weight loss from exercise alone plateaued. She needed to also modify her diet.
Indian cuisine is very rich, with lots of fried foods and liberal amounts of sodium and oil.
She knew her family wasn’t going to stop eating butter chicken and other Indian dishes so she decided to make what she was serving more healthy.
“Cooking healthy and clean,” she explained. “You can still enjoy the same tastes.”
Hadani – who is now a certified sports nutritionist – started sharing her healthy food journey on Instagram, where she began posting recipes she’d come up with through trial and error, and also offering other healthy living tips.
She now has 3,406 followers.
Hadani then started her website, skinnyroti.com, where the mother of two offers recipes, tips on healthy substitutes and fitness, and more. She shares all this information for free: from a young age, her father taught her that if you have a specialized knowledge, you should share it with the community.
She does, however, take on clients to provide meal plans and training.
One of the most popular recipes Hadani has created is Unbutter My Butter Chicken which is made without butter or cream.
“Less than half the calories,” said Hadani, who is currently working on her own line of Indian foods that are high in proteins and lows in carbs.
Her goal is to educate Indian women to create classic traditional Indian foods in a healthy way to help the community fight high rates of diabetes and obesity, which affect the elderly and young alike.
Her family enjoys the new meal plans.
“Everyone has adapted,” she said, including the grandparents.
Some of her other recipes include Guilt-Free Chicken Biryani and Lean Tandoori Chicken.
As she writes on her website: “You really don’t need to deprive yourself to eat healthy… Learn how to make healthy substitutions to your current favourite foods first. Small steps will get you there.”
Not long ago, after she got “cut-up” for a photo shoot for her website, she received encouragement to compete in a local body building event. So, she entered the Brandt Muscle Classic at the Massey Theatre in mid-March.
To get in shape for the show, Hadani dropped from 125 pounds to 106 in 12 weeks.
That meant a crazy fitness schedule, but she had the support of her family. “It’s all doable. You have to make time for what’s important.”
To get in shape for the contest, Hadani was up at 4:30 a.m. for cardio before taking her kids to school. While they were in school, she would weight train, as well as working on her business. After her kids went to sleep at 7 p.m., she’d train for another half hour.
It paid off. Hadani placed fifth at the Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic and qualified for the provincials. “It was just surreal. It was awesome.”
To celebrate, Hadani went out for dinner afterwards with her family. After dropping all that weight, she was hungry. After eating a steak, she had half her husband’s burger, an order of spicy chicken and a slice of double-chocolate cheesecake.
Hadani is now training for the provincials, which take place May 23 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
She likes being a positive role model for her kids. “That’s the best part, because they look at what I do and they are active because of it.”