Saturday, June 26, 2010

Book Review: Such a Pretty Fat

That's right, folks! I'm on vacation in sunny (hopefully) British Colombia. while I wallow in the hot springs and try to avoid eating my weight in spaghetti, I've prepared a few posts to tide you over. Stay tuned for workout questions, book reviews, a recipe and more.

Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster

Jen Lancaster knows she’s fat. But that doesn’t mean she can’t be a narcissist.

Weight loss magazines, books, diets and programs all rely on one constant: someone who is overweight must hate what they look like. Lancaster, on the other hand, doesn’t, and she’s not apologizing for it, either. As someone who generally thinks they look pretty darn good, I understand. It’s only when I see photos of myself that I begin to doubt, and then the loathing creeps in.

But if she doesn’t give hate what she looks like - in fact, Lancaster is pretty in love with her appearance - then what’s her motivation for weight loss?

An ill-fated doctor’s appointment and a case of writers’ block combine to set Lancaster off on a quest to drop the pounds and write a book about it. Turns out, when you both love what you look like and are morbidly obese, the only thing that will get you going on the diet and exercise track is a publisher’s deadline.

This book was funny, and I jumped right in and dreaded putting it down in favour of things like working or sleeping. I was amused as Lancaster tried diet after diet. Atkins, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, all to limited success. I’ve been there, preparing my own ‘meal’ of steamed vegetables and bland, poached protein, drooling while my friends or family eat succulent barbecued ribs and cakes and bread and butter. This book describes so well the special kind of crazy that diets can make even normal, slightly self-absorbed, witty women.

Lancaster touches on why she doesn’t think support-group meetings will work for her in Such a Pretty Fat. She recounts attending a Weight Watchers meeting years earlier, only to learn that the room was full of women who vilified cake, and the people who bring cake to the office. Every time someone has sent an email about free donuts or cake or cookies in the break room since, I’ve laughed to myself. This book isn’t long, it isn’t epic, and parts of it get a little trying - just stop eating already! - but it is memorable. The way Lancaster writes is memorable, her phrasing, her tone. The book is full of great situation-style comedy, mental images, and pithy wit. Also, Lancaster is one judgy lady, and her criticisms of the people around her were a riot.

When I reached the end of the book, I was pleasantly surprised. I won’t give anything away, but the major lessons of the book are good ones. There are no quick fixes. There’s a lot of hard work involved. It can be done, but you have to be willing to do that hard work and put in the time. Food is our friend, not our enemy.

And never forget that sass, plus a good string of pearls, will get you pretty far - even on the treadmill.


Amanda@BustingThroughIt said...

Great review Meg!
I've heard great things about this book from a lot of people, maybe I'll add it to my summer reading list :)

Lady Buttons said...

This book sounds great (esp. the pithy and judgy parts!). Thanks for the review, Meg!

Heidi said...

I cant wait to read this!