Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy
Published in Daily Times / Saturday, February 26, 2011
Under the Title: A Play-book for Losers
Reviewed By: Afrah Jamal
Author: Rujuta Diwekar
Master: “You are free to eat.”
Po: “Am I?”
Master: “Are you?” — Dialogue from Kung Fu Panda (2008)
They need not.
A thriving industry feeds off of ignorance about weight-related issues. And when health and happiness become collateral damage in the mad dash for the finish line, it is time to alter the game plan.
‘Nutritionist to the stars’ Rujuta makes this lonely trek to the promised land a joyful experience where food is not the enemy, and learning the art of making better judgment calls is on the menu. Since she labels the struggle with weight loss a tamasha (spectacle) at the very outset, readers know this session will be unlike any other.
Most of her advice is subcontinent-specific and, as the title suggests, women-centric. The rest is good old-fashioned common sense combined with conventional wisdom offered on an unconventional platter. In it are strategies customised to fit desperate women of all shapes and sizes from their teens to adulthood and beyond, only this time without reckless disregard for the stealthy changes that occur throughout a person’s life-cycle or social pressures that dictate the course of their journey.
She is persuasive, entertaining, creative and compassionate; what is more, she understands the mysterious forces that govern the lives of modern day women and factors in the million little things that threaten to knock them out of orbit. Her book takes both physical and cultural limitations into account when it walks them through the complex maze of family, career and commitments, elevating this from a simple lesson in weight loss to a crash course in life.
It puts a stop to bad habits like maniacally counting calories, seeking dangerous short cuts to fitness-ville or attempting to score nutritional value out of fat free/low fat substitutes. Suddenly, health takes precedence and weight loss is simply an interesting side effect. A vital shift of perspective that removes the focus from losing weight and puts it on re-gaining mastery over one’s life makes all the difference.
The way the obstacle course has been set up, there are different sets of hurdles positioned at unexpected junctures. Her research is designed to convince those confounded by weight-related issues, enamoured by new fangled diet/fitness trends or haunted by health problems to take a moment for self-evaluation. She writes up citations for bad behaviour brought on by social conditioning, misinformation or poor judgment to prevent the next person becoming a cautionary tale.
Here the target is improving physical/mental/emotional health. This much-needed intervention takes real life examples, actual diet recalls/evaluations allowing readers to take the initiative and devise personal recalls “based on current lifestyle and challenges.” Once inside, they find four strategies of well-being dealing with food, workout, sleep and relationships that leave them enlightened, empowered and inspired.
She has an interesting theory about how the past can come back to haunt us, in a good way. She asserts that “those with a history of keeping fit find getting back to original fitness levels that much easier,” adding that “detraining occurs within three weeks so going without exercise for longer is not recommended.”
Even when one is sceptical about certain recommendations (adding ghee to the diet), one cannot argue with the logic that drives her arguments. Readers will find themselves not only relating to the people featured in these pages but also eager to embark on a new journey and embrace a better lifestyle. Rujuta’s book may have been endorsed by a celebrity figure but the roadmap will guide anyone who chooses to listen to their destination of choice.
And leave them free to eat!
Westland; Pp 420; Rs 395
Images Courtesy of: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/PublishingImages/eatwell%20plate%20377%20sized.jpg