I have to get over to the office to complete preparations for RCIA tonight (those are the sessions through which we prepare people who are not Catholic to enter the Catholic Church - as a convert, they are big fun), but I wanted to share with everyone a book I literally (or literarily) just finished reading.
Before telling you about the book, let me tell you why the book caught my attention. After some 16 months, I have managed to lose 126 pounds and begin to implement a healthier lifestyle. I say "begin" because I know all too well how to regain as well as lose. At this point, I am about where I was when I began high school. For those poor in maths, that means I am at my lightest in perhaps 17 years. It has been an awesome, if tricky, journey along the way, but all the positive feedback I have received made it worth it. It's funny when people look at you and comment on how great you look, and of course, every landed kick in cardio kickboxing makes it all that much sweeter.
Valerie Frankel's new memoir, Thin is the New Happy, shed light on how she shed not just her weight, but bad body image and the pains of her past. While I recognize that how guys and gals deal with body issues are different, I understood her journey of self-realization. For Mrs. Frankel, the weight problem might have been set in motion by her mother but as an adult she had the power to take command of the situation. She does it by taking a counter-intuitive road: she stops dieting. Instead she works on the emotional well being side of the equation. This point really resonated with me. I am an emotional eater: I eat to feel better, I eat to feel good, and I eat to reward myself. Hell, I'll eat just to feel something other than what I am feeling right this second. Valerie's frank confrontation spans many years from early adolesence to the present. She masterfully combines humor and pathos to tell the story of her un-diet and the happiness it has brought.
I want to recommend this book especially to the guys out there. Most men don't appreciate the chaos that negative body image wreaks upon women in our Western society. I mentioned this at a recent talk I was giving, and the women nodded in agreement and the men looked stunned. It goes back to the bucket o' chicken analogy. (More on that another time.) For women, I think you will find a lot of similar experiences and a lot of hope for finding and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
This book inspired me in a couple of ways, one of I'll share here. I have been looking for a final seal for when I achieve goal and lose all the weight I want to. Clearly, clothes will be part of it, but that didn't seem ... permanent enough. That's a functional issue - you got to have threads. (On that note, I am planning on buying one or two dynamite suits: a Dolce and Gabbana or an Armani.) I toyed with the idea of a tattoo, but let's face it, biker priest doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in folks. So that's out. I thought maybe a nice ring or really pricey piece of jewelry would work, but again, trendy priest is as bad as biker priest to my mind. But Valerie gave me the idea. She mentions in the book the fate of winning contestants from Biggest Loser. I find that show inspiring but I knew, instinctually, that it was too easy. All but one have put back on most, if not all, the weight they lost, except one. The first season runner up, Kellie, has managed to continue to lose and keep it off. Part of her strategy is she keeps a massive picture of herself at her heaviest in her office. In essence, it's a reminder, "Here what you could go back to." For me, and for Valerie, that's the wrong way to look at it. The best way to never go back is to find a reason to stay in the new place. So, I think I am going to have a series of professional photographs taken of myself, something very classy and high end. Then those pictures go in my bedroom, so that every morning, upon rising, the first thing I see it the man I have become, and not focus upon the man I was.
Either way, the book is a sprint of a read and the only hesitation is some naughty bits and a load of profanity. If that doesn't put you off, then enjoy.