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Rujuta Diwekar’s The PCOD Thyroid Book throws light on a baffling and complex disorder that affects women’s lives in very fundamental ways – physical and social.
I have a confession to make – this book makes me feel good. A book on PCOD, you say, are you nuts? All kinds of nuts in the world, including the ones recommended by this book.
Polycistic Ovarian Disease/Syndrome is my friend. Between 10 – 18% of women in India count this syndrome/disease as their everyday companion. PCOD/PCOS is a mother disease impacting fertility rates, predisposing us to diabetes, causing obesity, hirsuitism (excess body hair) but thinning hairlines, insulin resistance, irritability and high blood pressure. The cause is not known but we do know that weight loss is the answer to a disease that causes obesity. It is a frustrating cycle driven by hormones.
Yet, all doctors don’t accept that this is a ‘legitimate’ disease and we’re talking gynecologists. For a syndrome identified in 1935, treatment either stays in the olden times or has doctors guilting women on their weight. Believe me, I know. From being an athlete without one ounce of extra fat on my body in my teens and 20s to a 40-something mother of two with an extra 25 kgs, I have run the gamut of diets, exercise and doctors.
I had none of the common symptoms of the PCOS despite having it in my immediate family. After 15 years of trying/failing to lose the weight and personal guilt, I went to a doctor who diagnosed PCOD. She told me at the same time that I wasn’t doing enough to lose the weight, that calories in has to equal energy burnt, asking if I wanted to meet the bariatric surgeon. Since my regular swimming, some 10k runs every year and general energy tell me that I am doing more than most without seeing results, I decided to find another doctor.
The book review opportunity of this book came to me at this juncture, after much research on Dr. Google. I really like the book and give it 5 out of 5 stars.
This is an easy read. Rujuta’s style is conversational and humorous, making important points without judgment. A strong streak of empowerment runs through the book, asking women to value themselves, to take the time to care for themselves, to put themselves on their own to-do lists to start with.
How many of us juggle home, work, kids, relationships, social life, even down time on a regular basis? Yeah, that would be all of us. How many of our households make our health and exercise as much of a priority as they should be? How many of us do? If a spouse or in-law is diagnosed with x-y-z, the women of the house step in with good intentions, making this juice and soaking that nut to make sure the person in need is taken care of. Our health is normally not prioritized at the same level, whatever be our qualifications and levels of women’s liberation.
The book brings this up in a gentle but insistent way before going on to work on the mental parts that are critical to any kinds of health. The ‘doing’ in order to get to a personal ideal weight is impeded by the mental bits – the self guilt, negative self talk, low self image, relationship with food, etc. Any book that doesn’t discuss the mental part ends up an academic exercise, giving solutions that people are not able to implement.
The first chapter called The Tamasha talks about all that women do to themselves like being self critical, compromising on sleep, obsessing over clothes and running after results. The book is surprisingly technical, with enough to suit a para-medical professional, without boring you too much.
Rujuta’s humour brings in Bollywood and current affairs, taking you effortlessly through facts that you need to know. The book is organized around the four pillars of health and fitness: nutrition, exercise, sleep and relationships. She has specific suggestions, including real life examples, case studies and her remedies. There is also a question and answer section from real people at the end of the book. She questions commonly held beliefs like women and weight training, advocating it for the benefits it provides much after a person is done training.
Finding answers to a chronic problem feels good, finding it in Indian woman specific ways, keeping our habits and ideas at heart is quite invaluable. Rujuta brings in concepts that are integral to our way of life – farmer’s markets, eating seasonal, eating local produce, diets that change with the weather, etc., tying them into the plan she has to manage hypothyroid and PCOS.
A criticism of the book – the initial part by Kareena Kapoor is hard to read and seems to add value only because it is written by the actress. I had to skip that part in the absence of magnifying glasses in the house.
The book is enough for you to organize your diet, fitness and sleep routines and work on your self-image. From what I see, the author seems open to letters and questions, if a reader requires. I plan to start on this regime and continue on with all else that I have going on in life. From all that I read, that is completely possible, which alone calls for a shout out.
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Image source: woman talking to a doctor by Shutterstock.