It’s disarmingly honest. It’s fun. It’s funny. It’s inspirational. Kalli Purie’s Confessions of A Serial Dieter (Harper Collins) is a very smart, very readable take on the whole weight loss thing. And since Kalli is not a dietician or a fitness expert, but a working woman (she is the chief creative officer for the India Today group and head of the company’s digital business), and a married woman with two children (five-year-old Jianoor and six-year-old Jehanvir) who has been battling with weight issues all her life, the book is immediately relatable.
We met Kalli at Delhi’s trendy Oriental restaurant, Mamagoto, where she picked delicately at the papaya salad. She looked super slim – and super happy – probably the best advertisement for her book!
Why did you write the book?
I realised one day that all I was doing at parties was discussing other people’s diets. Someone finally said to me, ‘why don’t you write a book?’ So I did. It was an outpouring, my way of dealing with my weight issues. My publisher said, ‘But you haven’t written anything on how you put on so much weight in the first place.’ What was I doing in those 10 years when I put on 45 kg? I think I just switched that part of me off. I wrote my book at dinnertime for three-four hours every day. It helped me skip dinner. It took me nine months to finish the book. I’m very deadline oriented.
Do you need a deadline when it comes to losing weight too?
Yes. If I don’t have a date by which time I have to shed x amount of weight, I’m a mast maula. At the moment I’m about two or three kilos off. I’m thinking of this dress I want to get into – it’s electric blue, one shoulder, absolutely fitted, floor length. I have to get into that. When I was not focused on my body, I didn’t care. But now that I am, every little bulge bothers me.
Is it tough as you grow older?
It’s difficult after you hit 30. I know people who have been slim all their lives till 30. But after that they’ve put on weight. Your metabolism slows down. You can’t lose weight without a good workout and without watching everything you eat.
What is your weight right now?
I’m at a happy weight right now – 62.8 kg. My immediate target is 60 by the end of the week. But my goal for this year is weight nirvana. No more fighting. Right now, I’m fighting with myself. I want cake. No, I can’t have it. But I want it. I want not-having-cake to become an automatic choice. Anyone who is fit or thin is making these choices on a daily basis. Life is more than food. But when I deny myself food, I allow myself to shop a lot. It makes me feel good.
Yes. When I went to the Jaipur Lit fest, the food at the fest was not great. But I knew that when I was in Jaipur I had to eat laal maas with butter naan. Those are golden calories. Not tucking into airline food or mindlessly eating fries.
What are your golden calories?
On my birthday I must have a hot croissant with a big, thick layer of Nutella and a hot cup of cappuccino.
You don’t eat dinner, do you?
No, it doesn’t suit me.
Will you ever eat dinner again?
No. Not because I’m trying to be holier than thou. It doesn’t suit my body. If I eat dinner I feel nauseous the next day. My last meal of the day is at six in the evening when I usually have a glass of skimmed milk.
You stock no biscuits, chocolates, etc at home...
If there’s nothing in the house, you’re not going to find chocolate to eat at 12 at night. I’m the kind who wants an After 8 every night at ten. As for my kids, well, they get enough of all this during birthday parties. Whenever anything sweet comes to the house, it is sent away immediately.
So what do your kids snack on?
Cheese slices, fruit, Haldiram daal, digestive biscuits.
You don’t let them watch TV either...
No I don’t. I have an issue with TV – I can’t control the advertising. I’m a working mom. So I have to make strict rules. The thing is, I want to teach them about what is good and bad food. But if they’re watching TV, I won’t be at home to tell them whether what they’re seeing is healthy or not. I believe TV is not good for the brain or the eyes. And all advertising is lies.
How is your book doing?
It’s No. 2 in the HT Neilson bestseller list. But the book gave me its best payback when I wrote it. Freedom. Having dealt with my deepest complexes and my worst fear – my weight – I am now truly fearless. I feel like I have come out of the closet and I have nothing to hide. So liberating. The second amazing thing is how many people connected to the book. See the reader reviews on my website: theserialdieter.com/book-review.jsp. They blow me away.
How do you feel now that you have lost all that weight?
My weight was my excuse for not doing so many things. I hid in my fat suit. Now the first consideration for every decision is not what will the food be and what will I look like doing it. The decision is based on far more relevant and solid reasons.
Having conquered my weight and lost 43 kilos I feel I can do anything. It has become a reason to attempt everything and question everything I thought impossible. It’s like starting my life over. I talk about this in my book. About transformation which is not akin to ugly duckling to swan but caterpillar to butterfly. Same life but different life forms.
I also think I don’t have to work so hard to make people see my real self. When you are overweight you are pre-judged and not always positively. You have to work double hard to make people want to know the real you. I find myself more me because I already made the first impression.
Lastly, all my bits are in harmony. Some still not as toned as I would like but in harmony all the same! Like my body can finally keep up with my mind. It is incredible to feel your own skin finally fits!
Kalli’S daily diet
9.30 am: Two egg whites and a cup of masala tea
11 am: A skimmed milk cappuccino
Lunch: Sabzi (no potatoes) and a fist-sized roti. No daal. No rice.
Tea time: Coffee or chai with two Marie or ragi biscuits
6 pm: Either a cold coffee or a glass of skimmed milk. Or a salad
Post 6 pm: Green tea, herbal tea. If I still feel hungry I have a piece of almond and go to bed early
Through the day: I eat from a small bowl of fruit (papaya, orange, green apple, gooseberries, strawberries. No bananas, mangoes, pears). Also a few nuts – three almonds, one walnut, a couple of raisins
From HT Brunch, February 19
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