Sunday, 11 January 2009

Memoirs of Fat Girls

I love books about food, weight, health and all that stuff. I've often posted about my favourite health books and vegan books, but never said much about the fat girl stories. So I thought I'd create a list of 'fat girl memoirs'. They're all books I've read or that I'd like to read.

Confessions of a Reformed Dieter I bought this book by AJ Rochester back when I still was a fat girl, in my early Weight Watchers days. It's very funny and I've read it numerous times over the years. I dropped it in the bathtub once and it's totally warped and crumpled. That's the test of a true favourite, I think, at least for me. If it looks like it's passed through the bowels of a goat a few times, you know I've loved and read it over and over.

The Secrets of Skinny Chicks
I reviewed this book about a month ago. I really enjoyed it because it takes a close look at the daily food and exercise of women who maintain a high level of fitness. It's a realistic look at what you have to do to maintain skinniness--and it has nothing to do with Atkins, South Beach or Sugar Busters, and everything to do with overall calorie-intake and exercise-output. That's all there is to it!

Passing for Thin: Losing Half My Weight and Finding Myself This one intrigues me because 1)many reviews are negative; they say the author is very disagreeable! and 2)it turns out the author gained her weight back and is involved with a blog called 'Angry Fat Girlz'! I don't think I'd find this book terribly inspirational, but it would be interesting to see the other side of the coin, I suppose. I mean, just the title, to me, shows that she never intended to stay thin to begin with! Not all fat girls are jolly...

Which brings me round to Fat Girl This one I've read, and I have to say it is NOT meant to be an inspirational I-did-it-you-can-too book. It's more akin to the misery memoirs, such as Dave Pelzer's excruciatingly harrowing and depressingly popular 'Child Called It' books and their dismal copycats. The author remembers what it was like to be a fat kid, a fat adolescent, and a fat woman. Her book is a combination of food porn, painfully detached descriptions of her own body, and anecdotes of varying degrees of emotional abuse. Offering no easy answers for how she got that way or how she might improve her situation, I found it an uncomfortable read. Here's Judith Moore's explanation for why she wrote it. I still can't help but think her 'I am fat and screw you' attitude is just the usual cover-up for wanting to be thin. I don't care what any of them say, all fat girls want to be thin. And while being fat is a very complicated and painful thing, it doesn't have to be the end of the world. And yes, there is a way out of that darkness...but sadly, not for Moore, who died in 2006, at age 66.

The Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl Now this one looks really fun. I browsed it a bit in a bookshop a couple of years ago and might pick it up yet! It's based on the blog of a Scotland-dwelling Aussie girl (the second Aussie girl in my list!) who lost loads of weight and was invited to write a book about it! Here's her website.

Feeding the Hungry Heart: The Experience of Compulsive Eating This one is a classic, and one I read about 20 years ago, long before I got the courage to make some changes in my life and finally lose the weight. It's a must-read for fat girls. If you've ever eaten from the trash can or managed to consume an entire loaf of bread while standing at the kitchen sink, this book will resonate with you. (Yes, I've done both. And more.)

Half-Assed: A Weight-loss Memoir I actually found out about this one while looking for the book Anna recommended, 'Secrets of a Former Fat Girl'. (I will post my review of that one as soon as I've finished it...) 'Half-Assed' is another weight-loss blogger's book! Apparently, her blog was noticed by a book editor and she was invited to write a book, same as Shauna Reid ('Diet Girl'). Wow! That's just amazing. I'd like to give the book a go. Here's the blog.

One thing that surprises me about both Shauna Reid (Diet Girl) and Jeanette Fulda (Half-Assed) is the maintenance weight they set themselves. At 5'8", Shauna settled at 175lbs (79.5kg), and Jeanette, 5'9", has stopped at 180lbs (82kg). While they both look great, I just wonder why they didn't go ahead and lose the rest. According to conventional wisdom, they both have roughly 30lbs to go. I'm just wondering--why not take it all the way? Shaun says she settled for a 'sane size 14.' So, is size 10 insane? I mean, I realise that their ending weight is not far from my starting weight, and each of them has lost nearly as much as I weighed when I started, but still. Curious as to why they didn't just continue with it.

Obviously, I don't have the money to buy all these books which I'll read in 2 days' time and then plonk on the shelf until they go to a charity shop! So it looks like I'm going to be busy making inter-library loan requests!


Anna Down Under said...

As for the gal who wrote 'Half Assed' she explains her reason for stopping at 180 on her blog:

I think if you're very large for most of your life, a size 14 sounds very sane indeed. I know I'd be happy there. It kind of depends on where you're happy -- I don't mean happy with your weight per se, but happy with your life. If I could easily maintain a size 14, but felt I had to work my butt off every day to maintain a 10, well I guess I'd be happy at a 14. But it's easy to say now when I've got a long way to go to see 14. Who knows if I'll feel differently if I ever get there.

Carla said...

You have to work your butt off every day to maintain any weight loss, whether it's 180 or 135, as the Half-Ass lady found out. Look here:

There is no 'I'm done, I'm happy where I am' weight. There is only work or getting fatter. That's the plain truth!

Carla said...

Sorry, I hit enter before I was done.

Which is why I wonder why they stopped. You can't stop. Even if you're no longer losing, you still have to work. Of course you get 'tired' of salads and running or whatever, but you can never just stop. Getting 'comfortable' leads to complacency, which leads to laziness, which leads to denial, which leads to 'Oh crap, I got fat again--how did that happen?'

Don't get me wrong, I admire both women for what they've accomplished, which is much more than I've ever done, but be careful, girls! 'I'm happy where I am' can turn into a primrose path!

flurogoddess said...

I'm interested in reading a couple of those books on your list. I've read Dietgirl and read her blog an awful lot. I can relate to "settling" for 180 or 170 or a weight around there, on a 5'8" frame it looks "normal". For women who lift weights and are reasonably muscular then this is "normal".

Personally my heaviest weight was 226lbs and I am currently 170. It's where I work out 5 days a week, eat pretty healthily and still have a cake on a day or two of the month.

I did briefly get down to a "normal" BMI - 164. I was there for about 3 days. It took 10 hours in the gym a week, tracking macros, being glued to fitday and going a little bit crazy! You could also see my ribs, which was just nasty!

Studies say that for previously obese people, it is harder to stay at maintenance because of lowered leptin levels and other hormonal differences between former-obese and people who have only ever been "normal" weight.

I guess each individual must find the balance between what they deam a reasonable amount of effort for the result of being slim.

Diane said...

I had read Half-Assed and thought it was pretty good.

Shauna said...

Hiya there! I found you via RTG and enjoying seeing another fab maintainer blog :)

I just wanted to clarify the "sane size 14" line in my book. I wasn't saying that a size 10 is insane! What i meant was, a size 14 was sane *for me*. I think a goal weight is a personal thing. This is where I felt comfortable, strong and healthy after decades of battling with my weight both mentally and physically.

You were curious about why I didn't continue and "lose the rest" - it was simply that this size was the one i felt i could maintain with my current eating and exercise levels. According to conventional wisdom 75 kilos is the top of my BMI range but for now (and the past 2 years) I've been happy to stop ten pounds short :)

Carla said...

Nice to hear from Shauna here! I guess my goal is always going to be to be at the bottom of my BMI range. Each person has their own goal, that's true. :)