Book Review: Women and the Weight Loss Tamasha – Rujuta Diwekar

Image Source: Author’s website

I’ll be honest, this book reads less like a diet book and more like a feminist manifesto 🙂 I bought it with very low expectations a couple of years ago as an add-on to qualify my order for free delivery but I’ve since re-read some sections multiple times. I recently gifted my copy to a friend and thought I’d post a review since I skimmed the book again.

“Women and the Weight Loss Tamasha” takes a simple approach. The emphasis is on eating right, sleeping well, and exercising regularly. The book is basically a thesis on why we should do these things and put ourselves first without feeling guilty. It seems silly to devote an entire book to this but I guess it’s a reflection of our society when a book telling women that it’s ok to cook what only they like and spend 30 minutes a day working out sells over a hundred thousand copies. I’m not saying this book doesn’t contain useful information, there is plenty of information about the roles played by different nutrients and an overview of how the body stores and burns fat, but the primary focus of the book appears to be the identification of various triggers that cause us to abuse our bodies.

In the first half of the book the author correctly highlights all the setbacks we face in pursuing good health right from adolescence to menopause. There is a chapter devoted to each stage of life – teenage, marriage, pregnancy/motherhood and menopause. In each she talks about all the challenges we face. The endless expectations, the need to mould oneself to one’s “new family”, strong conditioning that stops us even if the rest of the eco-system is in alignment, our obsession with size, our need to fit into clothes clearly not designed for our bodies – everything. What’s important is that, she holds us clearly responsible for not using the one word every language has – No. In other words, “they’re” not going to share your burden, so eat what feels right to you.

The last two chapters were more interesting to me. “Curses we bring upon ourselves” covers Hypothyroidism, PCOD and Diabetes. For each condition there is an insight into what it is, what causes it, nutrition guidelines, and exercise strategies to combat the problem. The final chapter is titled “Four strategies for well being” which is mostly a rehash of her earlier book “Don’t lose your mind, lose your weight” (catchy titles, eh?). However, it’s definitely worth a read if you haven’t read the earlier book.

My only complaint with this book is the excessive use of Hindi slang that will alienate almost all non-native Hindi speakers. I’ve wanted to recommend this book to my MIL a number of times since she’s a gynecologist who might find it useful for her patients but I’m not sure how much of the Hindi she or her patients would understand. It’s a pity because I think women everywhere in India could use this book. A second peeve is the endless self righteousness you find throughout. She really shouldn’t pile even more guilt onto women in the name of motivating them.

Overall, I rate the book 3.5 stars. The price makes it worth picking up and reading once. I’m sure everyone will find something new or interesting. Try borrowing it though.

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