Thursday, September 25, 2008

Reviewing weight loss.

as i said earlier, i am on a weight loss mission. this started on 18th july 2008 to be precise, and today, on 25th sept, i am 11 pounds or almost 5 kgs lighter. Mission continues. While i slowly march toward the end of this tunnel, i cant help but think back on all those earlier attempts, which by the way were rather successful, i had made to lose weight.but gained back every single kg lost and more. it didnt make sense then, it does now. it is so simple, but one doesnt see what is most obvious oftentimes, does one?
after losing weight and arriving at a desirable level, one must continue one's efforts to maintain. that is the key. the trick. which so obvious though it is, is something i just did not do. one should remain conscious about one's weight, aware at all times. on one's toes so to speak. what i did, i think now, is that i managed to shed 'n' no. of kgs and then i thought the body would take over and take care by itself... "look, i have now brought you down to this level, now it is upto you" sort of thing. as if the body can do anything independent of the mind!!

i remember, when my daughter was born, i did put on some weight which i lost pretty much without making a great deal of effort. in those days, i did all the house work, running after the child when i was home and went to work too... so it didnt seem to be a major task at all. i did retain a couple of kgs but then i never was aware or bothered about these things. i just accepted that after childbirth, a woman just became a little plump...we didnt have internet then and the information avalanche that we now have. lifestyle diseases, illnesses, obesity, all these things were not something one heard of in the normal course of conversation, like we do now. slowly slowly the grams crept in. then my son arrived. after his arrival i remember how much i used to walk in the lawn at home in guwahati.. it was a semicircular pathway and i would just go that half circle a zillion times. passersby on the road would stop and gawk. and i slimmed down like anything! but like i said i let go that advantage, just let life pass by without realising that the blouses worn with the sari were becoming just a little tighter and i was telling the tailor each time to make them 'just' half an inch bigger.

we moved to delhi and lived in a beautiful house with huge, huge space all around. but dont you know, the open space, fresh air, walking opportunity, rang no bells at all. i now think back and ask myself how i could have been so very dumb! we moved after a while to a first floor flat and that meant a spot of climbing up and down . it was in this flat that for the first time ever i went on a serious diet with the express purpose of losing weight. i cut out oily food, no puris, no oily paraathas, no chappatis, no deep fried pappads and vathals, no sweets. only Phulkas, dal and subjis without too much oil. my excess weight vanished magically. again in those days i had no idea about bmr, bmi, calories in-calories out and such like things. yes, yes, i am a working woman,i have an M.A., i did a lot of reading back then.... and working for the Central Government, no less, and you would think i would have been smarter and more aware.. i cant imagine how i didnt know these things. back home, the elders in the family, specifically the women, our relatives constantly urged us to eat well, they told us that thatwas the only thing that would stand one in good stead when one grew older. even now, they frown on our non-eating. it is as good as not eating from their point of view if you dont have at least two cups of cooked white rice with lots of sambar, kai and thayir and so forth- in every meal!! a breakfast of idlis means 4 idlis...2 idlis is a no-n0. i have now learnt how not to displease them and please myself too.

often i have complained to the people around me, my near ones, that had they once told me that i was bloating, was becoming a barrel i would have done something about it. i wonder about that too, now. why on earth blame them for something that they probably didnt even give a thought too? anyway. all this information explosion has done me personally a lot of good. i stand in front of a mirror, and i really dont look fat to me. but obviously i am and others see that . some ten years ago when i thought i wasnt all that badly built, there was this officer, who asked another about me-....'oh, that fat lady...' i do believe that was the first time ever that i became really aware of the fact that others see me as 'fat'. that is when i started that serious diet in that flat. and i started aerobics at home with a jane fonda cassette, and it went well for some years. she still is my favourite, and i can see her in my mind's eye. how i enjoyed dancing to that tape. how my aunt and my mother were most impressed that i could be so flexible. i never was much of a moving person as a kid i guess, in the sense of dancing and stuff like that, and when my mother and aunt saw me do that 20 mt tape, they said hey, you are just a step away from dancing!! i still remember the delight, and i recall so clearly my aunt stretching her arms over her head in reaction to my aerobics!! sigh.... while i didnt slim down to levels which i now desire, i sort of 'maintained' myself.

it is in the past two years that all hell broke lose. i lost complete control over myself, no portion control. i ate voraciously, walked only 45 minutes a day, and thought that should and would do. obviously not. in two years i gained 12 kgs, and that is no joke by any stretch of imagination. the worst part of it is that i didnt think i was eating too much, and i attributed all that to perimenopause. and stress. it is true, i did have a bad case of mood swings, how easily i could cry in those days, i think they must have been the worst 8 months of my entire life... and the weight was a direct result of binge and emotional husband was overseas on a posting, else i am sure he would have taken me in his hand, under his wings so to speak and made sure i was ok. one year down the line, when i was visiting him, he casually mentioned, and i realise how big a risk he was taking telling me that, i can be very volatile! that was not my intake increased? he never remembered me eating 'so much'....luckily for me, i didnt hit the roof. and i had the good sense to think about it. that very night i implemented the 'eat less, work more' slogan. and i reaped rich benefits; that combined with a lot of walking, made me lose a kilo and a half in two weeks!! i came back home and went back to my routine. which involves a lot of sitting!! the lost kilo and a half came right back and a little more too!! gosh! how many times does one make the same mistake, over and over and over again? what a glutton for punishment i was turning to be!! then came my sister in law for her vacation-combined with my son working out and dieting and being strictly in control of himself, and my daughter home in the break before going off to pursue higher education...and the rest as they say is history.....
this time round, now that i am able to get out of my body, stand out and look inside, i hope i would lose weight sensibly and maintain it equally sensibly.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Walking to New Delhi

Folks, I live in Chennai that was Madras, in Tamil Nadu, in India and I have decided to walk to New Delhi our capital city! Well, not exactly that... you know I keep reading hazaar things on the net about people in America walking around the world, from one end of the country to another and stuff like that.. the walking clubs etc!! The 'America on the Move' stuff... I am kind of inspired by that and have decided to set myself this goal.... Walk the distance to Delhi, to start with and take it from there... 1749 kms/1087 miles. Thats going to take 300 days give or take a few days.. I do try to put in at least 6 kms a day, more on holidays. Delhi Chalo! Will keep you posted on developments.. must chart out the route etc. I am planning a trip to Rome come October, do you think any walking that I do there would count toward this DC walk? Should na, after all this is some kind of 'virtual walk'. I am looking forward to this.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Coconut Burfi.

Easy to make, good to eat.
Fresh, grated coconut: 2 and 1/4 cups.
Sugar: 1 and 1/2 cup.
Ghee: 1/4 cup.
Cardamom powder: 1 tsp.
A greased plate.

Heat the ghee in a thick kadai and fry the coconut in the ghee for 3 minutes. Add the cardamom powder and sugar and stir well. When the sugar is added and stirred in the heat, the mixture becomes a little 'loose'- keep stirring on medium flame till the mixture starts to show crystals and starts to leave the sides of the pan- when the heated coconut paste sort of starts looking whitish and snowy you know it is ready. Slip the paste onto the greased plate and pat flat with the back of a greased spatula. Cut horizontal lines and then vertical lines on the flat coconut paste-on-the-plate while it is still hot. Leave to cool. Once cool, diamond/square shaped burfis can be prised out. Enjoy!!


Here is a hot favourite of mine. A little time consuming, lots of ghee, but very yummy.
Maida (white flour): 1 cup.
water 1/2 cup.
ghee 2 tsps.
salt a pinch.
1 cup crushed jaggery soaked in 1/2 cup water.
1 tsp of cardamom powder.
1/2 cup grated coconut.
1/2 cup cooked chana dal.
Add the salt to the maida and the ghee and mix well. Now add the water and make a dough. Knead for a few minutes and keep aside.
Heat ghee in a kadai, add the coconut and fry for two minutes. Add the cooked chana dal paste, mix well and then add the cardamom and mix. Now slowly add the jaggery water such that whatever muck is there in the jaggery gets left behind. Stir the mixture well over slow fire till it starts thickening. Remove from fire and cool.
Use a thick plastic sheet about 6 inchces by 6 inches if you have no access to a plantain leaf of similar size. Pour a little ghee on the plastic sheet and spread it. Now place the maida dough the size of a small lemon on the sheet/leaf- pour a little ghee on it. Using the fingers and the palm of the right hand flatten out the dough to a plate of about 2 inches dia. Now place a tablespoonful of the filling in the middle and fold the dough over completely. Now again pour some ghee on this and start gently patting out the ball of dough containing the filling into a round shape till a thin poli is formed.
Heat tawa, reduce flame. Hold the plastic/banana leaf with the poli stuck to it at an angle to the tava and prise the poli off the leaf on to the tawa directly. you have to be a little careful here for, while it is ok when the banana leaf gets a bit singed, its not nice when the plastic sheet does that. Cook the poli on both sides using ghee liberally. Serve hot with ghee or Cold with hot ghee.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Ganesh Chaturthi brings Kozhukattais. Here is how i made them this year.

1/2 cup raw rice, soaked in water for about 30 mts.
1/2 cup jaggery grated and soaked in about 1/4 cup of water.
1 tsp cardamom powder.
1/2 cup fresh grated coconut.
1/4 cup chana dal cooked and drained of all water.
A pinch of salt.
1/2tsp ghee.

Wash the rice thoroughly, and grind to a fine paste. Add a quarter cup of water, the salt and mix well. Heat half the ghee in kadai, and mixing the rice paste well, add to the ghee. Reduce flame and keep stirring the rice batter till it starts coagulating. The white color of the batter now becoming dough would turn transluscent. When all the water is absorbed, remove from fire, and applying a little oil to your palms, knead the dough well taking care to remove any lumps that may have formed. This should be done when the dough is still hot. You could use the back of a laddle to do this. Cover and keep the kneaded dough aside.
For the filling:
Grind the cooked chana dal and keep aside.
Heat the remaining ghee in another kadai and add the grated coconut to it and fry for a few minutes. Then add the chana dal paste and mix well. Add the cardamom and mix well. Now pour the jaggery water in it slowly so that any dirt that may be in the jaggery is left behind. Reduce flame and keep stirring the mixture well till it starts thickening. Remove and cool.
Oil your palms again. Place a ball the size of a big nellikai/amla of the rice dough in your left palm, and flatten out to the size of your palm with your right fingers. Now place a spoonful of the filling in the middle of the flattened dough, fold by bringing the edges together and seal by pressing gently. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.
Heat water in a steamer. Place the kozhakattais on a greased plate in the steamer and steam for about 10 minutes. They are cooked/done when the kozhakkatais turn transluscent.
Serve hot with ghee.