Vik has a very dynamic approach to fitness; he likes to challenge himself and change it up all the time. From boxing to hiking to tennis, he makes sure he doesn’t get bored with exercise.
What was the “ah-ha” moment that made you start taking your health seriously?
For me, health is not like an on/off switch. I feel like I’ve always been on a journey with it. Along the way, there have been a series of ah-ha moments — a constant shifting of contexts, where I’m game to take on a new paradigm of health and fitness to inspire my life and lifestyle. Possibly my first ah-ha moment ever was being woken up in the mornings as a child by my dad before I wanted to get up. He would take me through his workout with him. It started the cultivation of the discipline it takes me to push through the inertia in order to achieve optimum fitness.
Another ah-ha moment may have been when I was a young actor, renting movies like “Raging Bull” and “The Last of the Mohicans.” I was struck by these actor/heroes of mine using fitness as a tool to transform their bodies into specific characterizations, thereby maximizing expression. The marriage of fitness and art became a real touchstone for me, and still is. And, of course, on a more personal level, anybody watching their parents age is confronted with their genetic destiny. While I’ve been trying to coach my parents into healthier habits, I discovered that my South Asian heritage is predisposed to develop diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. This makes me work like crazy to keep my system clean, lean and mean.
Do you have a secret habit that is part of your healthy lifestyle?
Though it’s been pretty commonly written about of late, the nutritional tip that says “put heat in your food in order to up your metabolism,” luckily for me, was second nature. Right out of the gate, I gravitated to spices, seeking those colorful powders, the comfort of my mother’s palate.
If you could permanently get rid of one bad habit, what would it be?
Skipping breakfast. I’m not always hungry in the morning, and there are times that I allow myself not to eat then.
If you could get a free pass forever with one bad habit, what would it be?
What is your greatest health achievement or milestone?
I think it’s my ability to carve out “training camps” for myself as I’m preparing to head into a role. They take enormous discipline and concentration, but whether I’m packing on muscle for a film to play someone who imposes himself physically, or whittling myself right down for a more pure and retreating character on the stage, these little camps root me in a place of mental clarity and commitment to my character that is essential for the work. It’s almost like pulling out of civilian life, which is not easy to do because we all crave company, comfort and relaxation. Especially in the beginning, you must cut your ties to all that to initiate one of these camps, which is tough. I’m proud that I’ve developed a muscle to go there.
What is your biggest health hang-up in others?
Excuses. Giving up. I completely understand how difficult it can be to get going, change bad habits and alter your paradigm, but sometimes you just have to be vigilant with yourself and not let yourself off the hook. Soon enough, eating well and exercising will become normal.
Run, walk, ride or swim?
Run. Yes, there is the “wall.” But my lord, getting to the other side of it, and finding your wind — there’s no better feeling.
If you were a fruit or vegetable, what kind would you be?
Maybe I’m a grape. In a fruit salad, it can be a healthy snack, but fermented in a bottle, it can be pure debauchery.
If you could “superpower” one of your five senses, what would it be and why?
Taste. I clearly have to be way more discerning about who I reveal my health secrets to!
If you could break a world endurance record, what would it be?
I’d love to beat Jordan Romero’s record of being the “youngest person to climb the Seven Summits.” I’m older than he is, so it’d be a real challenge.
If you could tell one thing to your adolescent self, what would it be?
Start climbing mountains. Now.