[100 Emerging Women Leaders] How Dolan Acharya, a single parent, won a natural bodybuilding competition, became a Fittr fitness expert
In this week’s 100 Emerging Women Leaders, we feature Dolan Acharya, former Bank of America executive, who talks about her transformative journey.
Dolan Acharya is no stranger to naysayers. When she quit her corporate job at the Bank of America to take on fitness as a full-time profession, many discouraged her, posing questions like, “Are you sure? You have your children to take care of, what will people say?”
“It is one of the most common things people say - what will people say? But I am yet to meet these people who say anything,” says Dolan in a conversation with HerStory.
As a single mother, after her divorce, Dolan was forced to take a hard look at herself. For 13 years working at the likes of Cognizant and Bank of America — juggling marriage and household — Dolan’s health and fitness had taken a complete backseat.
“It was typical of any woman. Our health and fitness always take a backseat when compared with family and their needs. I realised that everything to do with personal mental and physical health had taken a backseat,” says Dolan.
It was then that she started her journey into fitness. Determined to make fitness one of her priorities again, she started weightlifting. Around the same time, she came across Fittr and used all its resources to train herself and eat right.
"I felt very sceptical about whether I would be able to manage as I had a full-time job, family, fitness, passion, and other challenges that life throws. But I had nothing to lose. Fitness had become my lifestyle, so I decided to go for it wholeheartedly without expecting anything. Just that I had to push a little bit more, but it was for the better maybe,” reflects Dolan.
She started to quantify her food intake and measured every bit she consumed, besides progressing with strength training and other new fitness skills. For Dolan, consistency led to a passion for fitness and soon, everything seemed to fall in place.
The weightlifting journey
Dolan spent hours building her body according to the fitness and weight loss goals she had in mind, and in 2019, she won the Ms Sports Model Pro Athlete Title in ICN, which is a natural bodybuilding competition.
She was also recognised by Fittr and won its Transformation Challenge for her remarkable turnaround.
"There were many unprecedented changes and uncertainties to disturb my daily routine, but I got back on track every time. After working in Bank of America for nine years, I decided to change my job. The related interview schedule and preparation followed that. During TC 8, I was also travelling to Singapore for a week, and I was afraid it may lead to a delay in my progress as during travel you tend to lose track. But it worked in my favour due to all the activities. Also, I made sure I carried my yoga mat and was doing bodyweight workouts even during my vacation. After winning the TC, I felt very happy with a sense of accomplishment. I felt honoured, humbled, and more confident. After that, I got an opportunity to be a coach in Fittr and transform other lives,” she says.
Fitness is different for different people
Resistance from society, Dolan says is part of life, and being no stranger to this, she explains it was about just focussing on what she wanted to do and achieve her goals.
“Most people are not comfortable with women weight lifting. They immediately discourage you. They say things like, your figure will become ‘manly.’ And if you happen to be a single parent like I am, they will say are you sure? But I was very clear. For me, it wasn’t about weight loss; it was about getting fit again. I understand the struggles that people go through in terms of balancing life, job, and other responsibilities, along with fitness,” says Dolan.
Today, as an Institute of Nutrition and Fitness Sciences (INFS) Certified Fitness Consultant at Fittr, Dolan works hard to help people achieve their fitness goals. She offers 1:1 coaching by conducting live personal sessions so that clients do not feel a lack of personal attention or motivation.
“Every individual has a different fitness goal and path. It is extremely personal. For some people, a thin body is fit, for others, it is a calm mind, for some others, it is about stamina. The idea is to understand each individual’s fitness goals and help them achieve that,” says Dolan.
Based on each person’s lifestyle, preference, and needs, Dolan works on nutrition guidelines, diet plans, and exercise charts. All of these are designed keeping their work and other commitments in mind.
“When I am not coaching, I like to be with myself and nurture my hobbies like gardening, yoga, learning more about nutrition, and planning what to be passionate about next,” signs off Dolan.
Edited by Anju Narayanan