Europa Bhowmik’s body is her temple.

She is a female bodybuilder, a rare breed in Bengal, as she told TimesOfIndia.

“I am 18 now and when I started, I was the youngest bodybuilder in the country. I think I still am.”

In August of this year, Europa won a silver medal in the Lightweight category at the Asian Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championship.

The teen still recalls the emotional stress that fueled her transformation.

“It all started from the bullying in school. I am not tall. My friends used to bully me for being short and unattractive. This put a lot of emotional pressure on me. That was the time around puberty, when I was going through hormonal changes. I looked chubby and felt insecure. My mother suggested I join a gym. But that didn’t help. I started dieting and became anorexic. The only good thing about this phase was, I realised that I was suffering from anorexia.”

“One of the gym trainers identified me and started grooming me. ‘You need to be a bit more symmetrical,’ he said. He introduced me to a balanced diet and I started exercising on strength machines. This regimen suited me.”

In 2015, she began national level competition at a show in Belgaum, Karnataka.

“Though I didn’t win, I found my focus. I was floored by the chiseled bodies of other competitors. And there I found my coach Indranil Maity. I’ve never looked back. I am hoping for gold this year.”

Europa also described how she manipulates her appearance through diet.

“Off season is the time when you don’t look attractive but it is one of the most important phases. I eat a lot of carbs at this time. While many bodybuilders are wary of rice, I am happy. I also eat a lot of oatmeal but I am not a big fan of bread.”

During preperation, she reduces carbohydrates slowly, but the protein quota remains constant.

“I am a fan of meat. I don’t consider chicken as meat, as it is boring. I travel a lot and love various types of meat. I love pork and I have tried crocodile, shark and clams. I don’t consume bad fat. I learnt how to cook without oil. There was a time when I used to cook my own food but now I have taught my maid. She cooks what I need. But my all-time cheat meal is biryani.”

“When I started, not many women were interested in bodybuilding. My parents were not very sure about this. Since they have never stopped me from doing anything, I could continue. However, it took me one win to convince them and not they are now super-supportive. These days, girls are also coming to me to get into a fitness regimen. This, I would think, is my biggest achievement.”

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