Rujuta Divekar’s book, “Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight” has everyone carrying almonds in their pockets trying to snack their way to shedding kilos.
The other day during a meeting over coffee my colleague discreetly took out a small plastic dubba and began munching away with her little snack. Granted it was an informal meeting and she finished in less than two minutes, I found this behavior unusual for even my friend who is perpetually on some weight loss scheme.
I overheard a conversation at the park. A lady was complaining that she has to pack, not one lunch dubba for her husband but five mini meals.

Almost everyone I know, including me, who wants to lose weight, has tried Rujuta’s method. I was curious to find out their experiences. Most of the people I have talked to are over 35, a time when weight loss begins to become more difficult and desperation sets in. All of the people exercise regularly, know which foods are good and bad and have been struggling with weight for quite some time. No one is obese but everyone has some extra padding they would rather not have and would like to wear those well fitting clothes that they once did in their twenties. Their names have been changed for this story.

My friend Reena lost a kilo on the diet. Rujuta advocates eating something first thing in the morning before the first cup of tea or coffee. Reena was very proud of herself for having papaya first thing in the morning before her first cup of tea. She began to eat healthy snacks at 11am and 4pm and was eating less overall. But then she went on a holiday and found she could not sustain the small meals and snacking when she returned from her trip. “I know that I should be eating smaller portions, but I just don’t feel full after eating two small pulkas. I think Karena Kapoor must not have been eating anything before she started with regime but for normal people like us it is difficult to shrink our stomachs” she says. Reena has since gained the kilo lost and is going back to her old trick of skipping dinner and having a glass of milk before bedtime, a method that worked for when she needed to lose her pregnancy weight. Reena had lost 10 kilos but she says it is more difficult to do now, 12 years later. “I find it difficult to skip meals now, but I have to try,” she says.

Abhijit is diabetic and is proud to announce that although his weight did not decrease substantially, he managed to significantly lower his blood sugar. “Of course, I am lucky to have a wife to pack small snacks for me. I also eat my dinner at the office at about 7.30pm. If I wait until I get home then I am famished and I eat everything in sight. Now instead of eating and watching television, I relax with my family in other ways. We still watch TV but with no food involved and we sit and chat before bed,” Abhijit says happily. His wife, Meena, is not the one cribbing about packing many small meals for him and is quite content with packing enough food for the entire day. She even programmed his cell phone with alarms every 2-3 hours for reminding him to eat the small snacks packed. “Actually it is nice not to have to wait for him at night. Most nights he would not eat until 9 or 10pm and then directly head for bed. Not only is this unhealthy but it was no fun waiting for him to finish dinner and close the kitchen. Now I also eat early with the kids and Abhijit and I have a glass of milk at night. He is not eating small meals but still has dinner early. Although he has not lost more weight, he has managed to keep the weight off,” says Meena.

“I have cut down my portions considerably,” says Sujata, an accountant. But Sujata’s problem is her sweet tooth. Although she has made most of the lifestyle changes like eating small meals, she eats just a little dessert every day. Rujuta advocates cheating only once a week and that too with only one item. Although Sujata feels her weight loss would have been significantly more if she ate dessert only once a week, she is satisfied with the changes she has made and has lost 4 kilos over 3 months. Way to go Sujata.

The principles in the book make sense. The entire premise is to keep your energy level up by eating small meals and snacks every 2 hours. You learned to be satisfied from small meals and keep a check on your portions. There are numerous insights Rutuja offers in addition to four main weight loss principles.

Gauri followed Rujuta’s principles, lost 2 kilos over a month and manages to keep them off for the past 3 months. “The weekends are tricky. There are always parties and so many temptations. I enjoy meeting my friends and letting loose on the weekend. I don’t drink very much but do enjoy one or two drinks now and then, and I love the appetizers that are served with the drink. I end up eating a lot of them,” declares Gauri.

Can’t blame Gauri for wanting to enjoy herself after a week’s worth of hard work and what’s life without a party. The key as we all know is to find a balance between fun and the mission to lose weight.

Eating small meals is not easy, especially for those on the run but it is not impossible. Rujuta’s methods are scientifically correct and are worth a try. Some people can form certain good life long habits such as Abhijit who managed to learn to eat early and any good habit incorporated into our busy lives is welcome.

Remembering to eat small meals was an effort for me and many times when I did eat the small meals they did not remain so small. I always ate dinner early so no change there. The final call – if you are willing to make long term lifestyle changes then “Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight” is worth a try but remember it is not a quick fix. Real weight loss is not an easy task for anyone and at any age and in any profession, whether they have a desk job, traveling job or work from home. It is mindful hard work…period. Whether you have your own course of losing weight or try different diets the bottom line is that you must do what suits you and stick to it for the long run. Easy to write about, much more difficult to practice but there is always hope…

Published in Pune Citadel, March 2010

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