I ran into a friend of mine at a soiree about two weeks ago. It was a sit down dinner and while we all did the sitting down bit to perfection, the folds around the abdomen of some of my gender in attendance did not quite manage to sit down much, in a manner of speaking. We have made our respective contributions to the planet by creating life. The process has left its telltale signs on some of us, signs that even the magical Spanx (it is the ultimate corset) cannot suppress too well. Jogging, gym routines, dieting etc have the same impact on our midriff as the moon on the sea. Like the tides in the sea our abs expand and recede, but they never really go back to their prenatal state, sadly. I have always hailed Botticelli’s women for this very reason. Botticelli and other artists of his time considered a mildly protruding belly to be a sign of beauty and femininity. It is a pity therefore that we are born a few hundred years too late, in an era where women with androgynous bodies or body parts are considered beautiful. This is truly the death of Venus. That evening of the sit down dinner my friend S stood out from the rest of us by the sheer might of her sylphlike figure that seemed to have been poured into her McQueen dress. She looked slimmer and fresher than ever before and even as I felt happy for her, my happiness was accompanied by a sudden loss of appetite. I began to feel remorseful about the three samosas I had done justice to while watching the violence of Agnipath just a few weeks earlier. The samosas seemed to dance in front of my eyes and were soon joined by the dessert I had been tucking into every now and then at dinners and the many French fries and chicken nuggets I had been polishing off from my children’s plates at birthday parties. Rhonda Byrnes says that we only get fat because we have fat thoughts. I promise I had been having thin thoughts the whole time I was pigging out. Clearly The Secret is a load of BS for my thin thoughts have not served me too well in the past. Either that or my weighing scale has not read The Secret. Over dinner the same evening I decided to hold back a bit and eat smaller portions. However, two units of wine later I found myself relishing the soufflé’ followed by lamb chops with mash and eventually the dessert. Moral of the story: Never make promises to self and follow it up with wine. Anyway S is extremely generous and happily mailed the secret of her svelteness to me few desperate text messages from me later. It is called the Clean Diet and is a strict detox programme endorsed by many ‘thin and glowing’ people on it’s website. I promptly went through the ‘diet recipes’ and realized that a trip to Nature’s Basket was imminent.Part of the reason this detox program has aided weightloss for me is because the list of foods it recommends are so hard to find in India that just walking around the aisles in gourmet stores has toned my calves and burnt off some cellulite even before I could embark on the diet. There are things like Agave syrup, Chia, Kale, Quinoa and a few dozen other exotic ingredients in the Clean Diet plan that are very hard to pronounce correctly let alone find in stores. I did not find most of these ingredients and decided to use my own logic and get going with the diet anyhow. And I have. I can get by in the day on the smoothies and quinoa with meat or veggies but I am loath to eat the insipid pureed raw vegetables for dinner every night. With that kind of unappetizing pulp for dinner, one is likely to go off living, to say nothing of eating. But I did it. I ate that green paste that looks and tastes like cud, night after night and lo and behold, within 5 days I had dropped a kilo and half if not more. I would have lost more had the husband not returned from his trip and asked me to join him over dinner. Noticing that he had gained a little weight around his midriff I proudly found myself boasting about the virtues of this diet not missing to draw his attention to my newly acquired self-control and receded abs. The same night over dinner, I had to exercise self-restraint till I turned purple as I saw him generously tuck into pan-fried noodles while I sat there swallowing my own vegetable pulp. As soon as he left the table I helped myself to the noodles with the desperation of a person who had just been released from an Auschwitz concentration camp by some stroke of luck. Next day the same thing happened again. I realized that now I was eating more than ever before what with me eating my diet meals along with meals cooked for the husband. Since my will power is nothing much to write home about, I have stopped having meals with my husband or with my kids. I eat alone. The dog who usually sits at my feet when I dine has also deserted his favourite place next to my chair. Sometimes while he is eating his meal he turns back to look at me with an unmistaken look of pity mixed with admiration. As for me, I may feel bovine at times on account of the pureed greens I am resigned to consume over dinner, but better to feel bovine than look it. Si?
P.S I have made the mistake of interrupting my 21-day detox plan with a week’s interlude to stay with my food-loving Punjabi parents. My mother takes offense when I turn down food that is constantly sent my way. She imagines that I am looking frail. She tells me gulab jamuns and cakes are good for health as “sugar gives us energy”. And through emotional blackmail calorie rich food is finding its way back into my stomach. I am tempted to remind her of the time she was channeling her inner Twiggy way back in the 70s and 80s by giving up food altogether. But I don’t, for what chance does a flashback, logic or detoxing stand in the presence of a mother’s love? And so it is. I will have gained my weight back by the end of this week and all that penance of the previous week will have been wasted. But at least my mother will be happy.