Sheís walked the talk

Confessions of a Serial Dieter 
by Kalli Puri. Harper Collins. Pages 225. Rs 250

Reviewed by Aradhika Sharma

Do you have a friend who is fat? Then gift her/him this book. Itís a nice and honest way of giving her/him the direction and the motivation of losing weight without having to say the hard words: "You need to lose weight", without hurting her/his feelings. Basically, that way, you can have your cake and eat it too. Only figuratively, of course. This book is actually about totally avoiding that piece of cake. If you want to be thin, that is. Kalli has traversed the journey from fat to thin; from being a heavy 100 kg to a svelte 60 kg. And sheís done it with the tears and traumas and sweat that every person who has done this arduous journey is only too familiar with. Anyone who has laboured over shedding weight, gram by gram or sweated over losing inches centimetre by centimetre would stand up and applaud Kalli, the serial dieter.

In her introduction, where she declares how she is uniquely qualified to write this book, Puri says, "Because I am no dietician or trainer. I am a serial dieter. I have been there, done that diet. Rather, 43 of them. And survived to tell the tale." If you are an overweight person and are fundamentally against the regular "How-to" books (yes, many of us detest those), donít worry. In Confessions, You are not going to be kindly but irritatingly preached at. The author is not sitting on a pedestal, telling you how you must follow this diet and that, while she herself munches on a chocolate bar. Nope! Our Kalli has followed each one of those 43 diets that she talks of. Sheís not just written about the diets and recipes in detail but also about her experiences while following the diet as well as their pros and cons; why they were successful and why some of them didnít work and why a few were simply revolting.`A0 Her experiences with the Cabbage Soup Diet, which left her with a peculiar smell and bulimia when water from the toilet splashed back on her face and into her eyes during one of the eliminating incidences, maybe amusing but avoidable for would-be practitioners.

Kalli comes from a home where food is plentiful, though her mother was ready to put her on a diet since she turned (a very fat) four-year old. Still, as all compulsive eaters do, Kalli found ways and means of stuffing herself with food in the company of friends and cousins.

Why does this book work when so many others have failed? Simply because itís written by a woman who has been in the place of overweight hell and knows what being fat is all about- the tears and traumas and the self-hatred and loss of self-esteem it can cause. Kalli is kind enough and committed enough to want to be willing to share her experiences, her failures and successes with others struggling with weight issues. She strips away all the excuses that fat people have for not striving to lose weight because she knows all those excuses and more. Basically, she knows that fat maybe nice, but thin is sexy and she urges the reader to get sexy!

The book is not merely for the dieter or the person who wants to shed kilos. Itís a nicely written book with interesting illustrations and usage of page design features to break the monotony of the chapters.

While telling it like it is, she talks of the Panjiri Laddoo diet, Udipi diet, Champagne diet, Cabbage Soup diet, about yoga and detoxification, and about health farms. She gives you choices and while you read, you can pick and choose- make your lifestyle choices or just enjoy the book!