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Interview with Kalli Purie

Post by: Deepti Khanna

We converse with the effervescent media personality Kalli Purie who heads the India Today Digital business and has authored Confessions of a Serial Dieter, a weight loss memoir. In this book, which she began writing as a lark, became a therapeutic activity for her. The memoir is motivational and a very personal account that elaborates how Kalli went down from 104 to 60 kgs in 18 months!

Please throw some light on your professional life. What does it take to be the Chief Creative Officer of the India Today Group?
Being the CCO of India Today Group is the reason why I do the rest of my roles at ITG. It’s my most fun role. I love agonizing over the cover of a magazine. They say a story is as good as its headline and a magazine is as good as its cover. 

Losing weight is a personal challenge one undertakes. What made you come out with a book on this with pictures, full of your weight loss successes and failures?
Losing weight is very personal but it’s also very public. And I think that is one of the biggest mistakes we make. It’s almost impossible to diet successfully in secret.  Having written the book and seen the connect it has made with so many women, I just feel if I had done it earlier or someone else had done it earlier I would not have felt so alone. I almost felt like such a victim. Having said that the book was not planned. I started writing it for a lark. It then became cathartic and just started pouring out of me. I could not stop. It forced me to look at my weight related issues straight in the eye. I was doing it for myself, more than writing a book. For me my weight had defined my whole life.  And so dealing with my life became a diet book because above all the things in life I was a professional weight loser.

Losing so much weight is emotionally taxing. You lose hope; feel down in the pits because the weighing scale does not reflect your efforts. People demand results once they know what you are up to. What was your support system that saw you sail through?
Losing weight is emotionally taxing but it is also liberating because you are in control. You have taken the decision to start the journey and are not in the mindless fat zone. I think what helped was to stay away from social situations for a while until I had lost a couple of kilos to be really invested in the process and was confident enough to stand up to jibes and temptation. Having a supportive husband and few supportive friends who were there to help me and often deal with other friends who were forcing me to eat or go out was really helpful. And time. Giving my weight loss process time and priority also was crucial. One you have decided this is your life’s number one priority everything falls in place. 

The famous book The Secret says that to lose weight you have to believe that you are already your ideal weight. The focus should be on loving yourself and thinking you are your ideal weight. It says your focus should not be on losing weight. Rhonda Byrne also says food has nothing to do with weight loss. Do you buy this theory?
No, I don’t. I do not love my body it’s what made me change it and kept me motivated to change it. I love it now. On most days. I am at happy weight but not at weight nirvana. The difference is happy weight is finding that weight that is healthy and makes you happy. It’s not size zero but it is not 20 kilos over your average height weight average. Weight Nirvana is having that naked body moment where you look at your naked body and love it.

I would say weight gain has a lot to do with an emotional imbalance which causes us to eat but losing weight is about wanting to correct that imbalance. Sometimes it doesn’t go quite in that order. It may be easier to deal with zipping the mouth then opening the mind and dealing with the emotions initially. The two are intrinsically inter-connected and you have to deal with both to bring harmony in your body.  

After 43 diets have you found a this-is-it diet? A weight loss formula that has the potential to make followers lose weight?   
I think like there is a soul mate out there for all of us. There is a diet out there for all of us. It’s our life’s purpose to find that diet. It took me very little time to find my soul mate but 43 diets to find that perfect diet. It is what works with my body. I think my book would help anyone looking for their perfect workout and diet mix. And for many it feels like their own journey so it’s an endorsement that we serial dieters are not alone.

Feedback on my twitter handle and facebook has many readers telling me about their weight loss stories.

I think more than specific tips the book is about finding the motivation to lose weight and it deals with why we put on weight.  It’s out there to tell people if you are short unfortunately you can never be tall but if you are fat (no matter how fat) you can always be thin.

Many people do not exercise or take care of themselves stating they don’t have the time. Considering you are a mother, media professional and a wife how did you pull it off? Did you have to put any of these roles on the backburner for sometime in order to achieve this?
Yes, it’s a very common refrain. I would say time is what we make of it. We always make time for what we really want to do. I firmly believe that. I cut out on things which were time and calories wasters and suckers like vegetating in front of the TV and eating a later dinner and then waking up late feeling lethargic. Just cutting out these two things gave me time. I cut out on being a social butterfly. I did cut out on being overly social. I decided my priorities. Also losing weight and regular workout gave me so much energy that I could stretch my day. I had more hours to fill with the things I wanted to do. I can now go from 6.30 am to midnight without an issue.  My mind always wanted to do these multiple things but my body could not keep up now it can.
But sometimes I am trying to wear so many hats I do lose my head!

Confessions of a Serial DieterInstead of a memoir did you consider penning a ‘how to’ guide, considering that would have been more beneficial to the target audience?
No, because I was not really thinking of an audience. I was writing it like a stream of consciousness almost. I think that’s why it’s so honest and people have been able to connect.

How has this ‘newer you’ helped you professionally?

The energy within and the energy around me has all changed for the better. I find at work I am far more confident, can multi task and take clearer decisions.  Also people trust me to lead them to success. That’s a great boost when motivating a team. I can physically work longer and harder. Lean mean working machine!

You have stated that when you had put on weight you would just be able to do one thing in a day. Then how did you manage to head the reputed news magazine India Today?
I headed the India Today Digital business. And the only way I could do it was at huge cost to my mind and body. I was always stressed out.  And that time I was not a mother. Now I can most days juggle it all without dropping the balls. Most days!

Your favourite book?
My five favourites
Shame by Salman Rushdie: Because it is a shame it did not get the same attention as his other novels. It is one of his best.
 Like water for chocolate by Laura Esquivel: Because the idea that you can mix emotions as an ingredient into food as you cook it is so delicious. 
Life of PI by Yann Martel: Because I still can’t decide whether the 450 pound Bengal tiger was real or not.
Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami: Because I love the randomness of the plot.
Rebeccaby Daphne du Maurier: Because it still sends a chill down my spine.

Since you have achieved your ‘happy weight’, any new book you plan to come up with?
No plans yet. I don’t see myself as a writer. I often write to resolve issues in my mind. I have always done it. This just became a book. Currently I feel extremely free and happy. Nothing bothering me particularly at the moment that I feel a pressing need to write. I may plan a new chapter for the book or a book on others people’s secrets. Or a pocket book on best wisdom gained.

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Fri,Mar 9th 2012 6:32 AM