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Book Review

29 Aug

I just finished reading The Fat Girl’s Guide to Life by Wendy Shanker

“Why would you read that book, you’re not fat?” DH asked.

Wasn’t that sweet of him? The answer is, I read it because, while I may not be fat fat, I feel like I have no control over my size–which I’d like to be a bit smaller but I am waiting until after I am not pregnant to do something, obviously.

It’s just that for the last 11 years I have been the amazing accordion woman, shrinking up and down in size to accommodate 6 babies. La Leche League will tell you that you loose weight breastfeeding and I have seen it to be true for some women. For me, my body hangs on to at least 10 or 20 reserve pounds until I stop nursing to make sure that baby has food.

It’s not so much that I want to be skinny. I’d just like to be the same size for maybe a whole year or two. I feel a little delirious dreaming about being the same size for 5 years in a row. About 2 years ago, I gave up on the fantasy that I would someday be as skinny as I was in high school and right before I got married. The truth is, that wasn’t a healthy weight for me and I had achieved it by not eating. So I just want to be a size and stick with it long enough to actually build one of those workable wardrobes that you read about that has a sensible amount of clothing that I can mix and match. Not a closet that has to have normal clothes, bigger size clothes, maternity clothes, post baby size clothes that I can still nurse in, etc.

But I’ve gotten off track.

The Fat Girl’s Guide to Life blows some serious holes in the whole “you have to have a certain BMI (Body Mass Index) to be healthy” rule. I love it. It confirmed some things that I have often thought from my own attempts to lose weight and watching people I love try to lose weight.

I know lots of girls who carefully watch what they eat and exercise at least 3 times a week and yet do not lose weight. At best, they lose and regain the same 10 pounds over and over.

I know lots of skinny people who say that losing weight is a simple matter of caloric deficit and getting of your fat butt to exercise. If a “fat” person insists that they do exercise, the skinny person will insist that it must be the wrong kind/not enough exercise. Yet these skinny people will eat large servings of ice cream twice a day and rarely exercise more than once a week but will stay complacent in their assumptions that anyone who wants to be skinny can be skinny if they just do the work.

Did you know:
*A moderately active fat person is likely to be far healthier than someone who is svelte but sedentary. What’s worse, American’s (largely unsuccessful) efforts to make themselves thin through dieting and supplements are themselves a major cause of the ill health associated with being overweight.

NEWS FLASH! Dieting and Diet pills are BAD FOR YOU

* There is in fact no medical basis for the government’s BMI recommendations or the public health policies based on them. The BMI range correlating with the lowest mortality rate is extremely broad, from about 18-32 BMI, meaning that women of average height can weigh anywhere within an 80 pound range without seeing any statistically meaningful change in her risk of premature death.

*In a decided majority of studies, groups of people labeled overweight by current standards are found to have equal or lower mortality rates than groups of supposedly ideal weight individuals.

*Large scale mortality studies indicate that women who are 50 or even 75 pounds “overweight” will on average still have longer life expectancies than those who are 10 to 15 pounds “underweight” aka fashionably thin.

*Numerous studies have shown that weight loss of 20-30 pounds leads to an increased risk of premature death, sometimes by an order of 700%

If you would like to hear some common sense and stop blaming yourself for all those failed diets, then this is the book to read. If you would like to stop feeling like the reason you are fat is because you are lazy, dumb, low on will power, and unable to delay instant gratification, then THIS IS THE BOOK TO READ.

Here is my favorite favorite quote from Wendy (who is 5’7″ and weighs around 220 lbs. despite the fact that she spends an hour on a treadmill 3-4 times a week and lifts weights as well and sticks to a healthy, reasonable diet.)
“Think about how much time you’ve spent thinking about that poundage, and the time you’ve spent punishing yourself about that poundage. Then I’d like you to imagine NOT doing that. Instead, imagine the relief you’d feel if you could walk past a plate-glass window without cursing your reflection. ….
Now imagine if we all did it. The Fat Girls, the Skinny Girls…..all that free time on our minds that we aren’t using to rip ourselves to shreds. All that money in our wallets that we’re not going to spend on fat-free, sugar-free, taste-free sorbet. That’s a lot of minutes and a lot of money from a lot of women who have a lot of brain power.”

As I read this, I couldn’t help thinking, we are doing exactly what Satan wants us to do. We are obsessing about something that isn’t important. All of us intelligent, powerful women are using up our time stressing and worrying about whether we are fat and beating ourselves up about it. Think of all the good we could do if we quit worrying about fat.

So I have a new determination to not worry about what I weigh. I am determined to exercise moderately so that I can be healthy. I am determined to eat lots of vegetables so I can be healthy. But I am not going to worry about what weight comes along for the ride. I hope you’ll join me. 🙂