Sunday, 18 January 2009

Secrets of a Former Fat Girl

Secrets of a Former Fat Girl

I picked up this book on recommendation from Anna Down Under.

There were some points in the book I could relate to, but overall, this one didn't do it for me. As Former Fat Girls, Lisa Delaney and I have different philosophies on several points. We share a few, as well, but overall, we will have to agree to disagree on a lot!

She's got 7 secrets, and I don't think she'd care if I mention them all here.

Secret #1: Forget dieting. Lisa says that you should start with exercise and not worry about diet when embarking on your journey. Since weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise, I think this is not particularly good advice. I get where she's coming from, I just don't agree with her. She strongly discourages working out at home as well. Basically, she and I approached the exercise part of our journeys in completely opposite ways. I lost 30 pounds with Weight Watchers before I even started exercising, she started exercising long before she eventually went to Weight Watchers. She says go to a club or join something to work out because you won't do it at home, I have always worked out at home on my own because I know I would never go to a club. So go figure.

Secret #2: Keep it a secret. Lisa says you shouldn't tell others too much about what you're doing because they question and sabatoge you. She's got a point. People trying to lose weight make the mistake of making big announcements about they're changing their whole lives, then proceed to bore you with the litany of every single thing they ate every day for the last week. This is because, as Lisa rightly says, Fat Girls are obsessed with food. And as she also rightly says, most other people really don't care about it and so we should just keep it to ourselves. I've been lucky in that my husband is very supportive of me in just the right way. He cheers me on and never says a negative word about any of it, ever. But not everyone is so lucky.

Secret #3: Adopt INO:'It's not an option' This is the best chapter in the book, the one I most strongly identify with, and is the closest Lisa and I get to sharing a weight-loss/lifestyle-change philosophy. I've been operating under INO for years. It works.

Secret #4: See yourself slim Part of every journey to the FFG status is learning that you're not fat anymore. This means dealing with clothing and how it looks on you, all that sort of thing. I still catch sight of myself in window reflections and get a surprise at my size.

Secret #5: Remember, you are not like other people Fat Girls spend a lot of time wondering why everyone else seems to be able to eat what they want and not be fat, and to not be obsessed by food. They wonder why they can't do that, too. As Lisa says, it's because we are not like other people. I am not, and never will be, like other people, when it comes to food. I am always going to be thinking about it, preparing it, eating it, shopping for it, working it off. As Lisa says,

I began to stop expecting myself to leave half of my dessert on the plate as other girls seemed to do so easily. I began to accept the fact that for me, it was better not to order it in the first place, because once it was in front of me, there was no stopping. I began to define a 'new normal' for myself, one that was based on a true understanding of my feelings and attitudes about food as a Fat Girl.

Lisa came to this understanding through Weight Watchers. And I did, too, to an extent. People talk about 'everything in moderation', but Fat Girls and Former Fat Girls know that doesn't work for us. We have our own version of normal.

One thing Lisa says in this section that I heartily approve of is her advice on 'obsessing':

Here's the thing: You have to obsess to some extent to break out of the Fat Girl eating habits and shed the Fat Girl mindset. By obsessing, I mean measuring, weighing, keeping a calorie tally. I mean using INO out the wazoo. I mean setting rules about what you will and will not eat and how much...You will get flack for this from outside observers, but trust yourself, trust me, and trust the Former Fat Girl program: you have to take a hard line if you want to reach your goals physically and personally.

Yes, your attention to your diet and your exercise may seem 'immoderate' or 'obsessive' to some. So what! It's your life. Do you want to be a Fat Girl that no one makes comments about (to her face) or a Former Fat Girl who is in control of her life?

Secret #6: Protect yourself from the pushers Another experience all FFGs share: people making comments about your efforts and your methods. People saying you've gone overboard, that you've developed an eating disorder. People trying to get you to eat more, offering you stuff, saying that you don't have to worry because you'll burn it off in your next insane workout session. Lisa's advice here is good: make a noncommittal noise, a vague smile and suck it up.

About 30 pounds ago, there was this one woman at work who used to say to me daily, after eyeing my lunch, 'You'll never be a stick insect, you know.' As the weight continued to drop off me, she changed to, 'That lunch looks remarkably healthy' or 'Here's a girl who will never have scurvy.' The content changed but the attitude remained the same: something was wrong with my choices. People look at my lunch and say, out of the blue, 'I could never do without meat!' or 'I have to have my cheese!' While eating their slices of ham or jacket potatoes smothered in melting cheese. I've learned it's best to just say nothing. Lisa has, too.

Secret #7: Happiness lives in the uncomfort zone. I felt uncomfortable with this whole aspect of Lisa's book, so I guess I should have been pretty happy! All through her book, she lists in same breath being fat, not having a decent career, and not having a boyfriend or husband. As if to say, you can't have a career or be loved if you're fat. I strongly disagree with that. I think there really can be a separation the three. Like when she says,

Food wasn't fun. Food wsn't nurturing or comforting. It wasn't self-love. It wasn't other-love--not the way I used it. It was keeping me stuck in my 'big-boned' body, in my second-rate job, in my always-the-friend-never-the-girlfriend love life. It was keeping me stuck in the comfortable place that I so wanted to escape.

Actually, umm, no it wasn't. Food wasn't keeping you stuck in a second-rate job with no boyfriend, Lisa, you were doing that. Food was just keeping you stuck in those size 16 jeans. Lots of Fat Girls have great jobs and fantastic husbands. Saying things like that perpetuates the magical thinking of 'if only I could lose weight my life would be wonderful and I would be empowered in so many new and exciting ways.' THAT IS SO NOT TRUE. Losing weight will make you smaller and, if you do it properly, healthier. That's it. I hate to think of the Fat Girls who read this book and come away with magical thinking. DON'T. Changing your eating and lifestyle might open your mind in new ways that could lead to a better job and 'true love', but don't expect those things to fall into your lap just because your thighs are thinner. And don't believe that you will automatically have the courage and conviction to go for a dream job just because you've lost a few stone. It's not the same thing. I mean, look at Oprah. She's the inverse of that old magical thinking!

Overall the book is okay. I still think 'Confessions of a Reformed Dieter' is the best Former Fat Girl book I've read so far, though. :)


Jeni Treehugger said...

Good blogging!

Lynn Haraldson-Bering said...

Hi, Carla. Just found your blog and have a lot to catch up on. Thank you for hooking up Refuse to Regain and my Lynn's Weigh blog. Mind if we link to yours?

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