The truth is that we all struggle with our weight, one time or another.
How do you react when someone you meet after a long time tells you, "Wow, you’ve lost a lot of weight!" Do you gobble up the compliment as if it were a piece of cake and respond with a graceful Thank You? Or do you stick on a fake smile as you wonder silently about just how fat you were to begin with?
I have to confess that I find myself squarely in the second category. The moment someone asks, "You’ve lost some weight, haven’t you?"
I find myself cringing inwardly about just how overweight I must have looked before. And it doesn’t help that the scales have told me that morning that I am exactly the same weight I was a month ago. The compliments are probably down to clever tailoring or the brilliant use of black as a camouflaging agent rather than any real loss of weight.
Ah, weight! It’s been the bane of my existence for too long now.
Which is rather ironic considering that I was a wiry child, a thin teenager and a slim young adult all of it managed without the slightest bit of effort. Growing up in a Punjabi household meant that my day began with paranthas soaked in ghee, the packed school lunch was white-bread sandwiches slathered with butter and jam, evening snacks were pakoras or samosas, and dinner meant copious quantities of rice and curry, with potato chips to provide texture.
The motto of our home kitchen was: when in doubt, deep-fry. And yet, despite a diet that seemed to consist entirely of trans-fats and no exercise whatsoever I never put on even a scintilla of weight.
And then, suddenly, it all changed. I turned 30 and it was as if the switch to my metabolism was turned off as well. Now, every parantha found its way to the extra tyre rapidly building up around my waist, every samosa settled down comfortably on my hips, even as the white butter and cream went straight to my thickening upper arms.
Ever since then, it’s been a slippery slope down the road to porkiness. And it’s not as if I haven’t tried every trick in the book to get back the slim, lissom self of my twenties. I’ve pounded the treadmill, rocked the cross-trainer, signed up for Pilates, tried my hand at yoga, hired a personal trainer. I’ve joined slimming centres, gone to personal dieticians, tried every fad diet in the world in the world and then some.
Sure, the weight goes off though, with every passing year, it takes longer and longer to melt away. And then, once I get off the diet or slack off on the exercise, it comes creeping back on until I’m right back where I started.
Given how the diet industry is flourishing and getting bigger every day (ironic or what?) I’m guessing that this is probably how it is for every woman and most men who are on the wrong side of 35. We go on a diet, we lose weight, we lose our minds, we go off the diets, we put on weight... and thus the vicious cycle goes on and on.
Sounds familiar? I bet it does. We’ve all been there, done that, and have the stretch marks to prove it. Kalli Purie, however, has done one better. She has written what she calls a Weight-Loss Memoir to chronicle her path to skinniness. In her new book, Confessions Of A Serial Dieter, she recounts the 43 diets and workouts that took her from 100 kilos to 60.
I have to confess that I’m not really one for diet books. I invariably end up resenting the po-faced advice that dieticians keep dishing out in their best holier-than-thou manner. Especially since it’s so clear that not one of them has had a decent meal in years or even has the slightest interest in good food. Not to mention the fact that they’ve never been fat themselves and so couldn’t possibly know what it feels like.
Kalli is nothing like that. She is very much a regular woman a wife, a mother, a professional who loves her dark chocolate and her rajma-chawal. She has struggled over the years to control her appetites just like you and me. She’s failed sometimes. And sometimes she has succeeded. And she feels no shame in sharing both these narratives with her readers.
There is a certain searing honesty in Kalli’s account of her journey to her fattest self and the struggle to find the skinny girl inside her. It takes courage to admit to your own vulnerability and how heavy you really were. But Kalli has done just that, allowing us to accompany her on what is as much an emotional journey as it is a weight-loss plan.
She comfort eats; she binges; she purges; she works out like a maniac; she fall off the exercise wagon. She is full of self-loathing one moment; and on an endorphin high the next.
Yes we’ve all been there; but some of us have come through on to the other side. And for that alone, the story is worth telling. Try chewing on it instead the next time you find yourself reaching for the jar of cookies.
Follow Seema on Twitter at twitter.com/seemagoswami
From HT Brunch, January 1
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