Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A review of *Half-Assed: a weight-loss memoir*

In the movie You've Got Mail, Meg Ryan tries to decipher what her online crush's handle, NY152, means. Most of what she and Tom Hanks come up with are absurd--Meg: "The number of people who think he looks like Clark Gable." Tom: "152 people who think he looks like a Clark Bar." Then Meg says "152 insights into my soul."

I won't list all 152 insights into my soul that I found in Jennette Fulda's memoir of how she lost half her body weight, Half-Assed: a weight-loss memoir. The insights she has for anyone who's struggled with her weight are dead on. Here are five of my favorites:

"I was waiting for an intervention. Surely if I were drinking myself to death, someone would get my friends and family together, sit me down on the plaid couch in the family room for a good talking-to, then send me off to a nicely landscaped facility for twenty-eight days. Why wasn't anyone ganging up on me because of my weight? I could guess it was only because weight is inexorably entwined with identity. Drinking and smoking are things that you do. Fat is something you are."

"I could accept myself and be working to change myself at the same time. I knew it would be only when I truly accepted myself that real change would be possible."

"All this healthy living was starting to make me feel alive. I'd never even realized I felt half dead."

"So many women focused solely on the weight loss, their self-esteem wobbling with every movement of the scale. I preferred to think like an athlete, feeding my body what it needed and pushing it to its limits, and the weight loss tended to follow. I needed to do what I was doing because I loved it."

"I'm on permanent probation. I'll be making weekly check-ins with my parole officer forever. His office is my bathroom floor and his face displays three numbers. He lets me walk all over him. If I stop exercising and stop eating right, I will go back to fat prison. There is no leniency"

If you're a fan of The Pasta Queen, then you know she's funny. Most days, you'll find a metaphor from Jennette on her website worthy of spewing coffee all over your laptop from laughter. And the book is no exception. I laughed out loud a lot, which burned some calories and added days to my life, I'm sure.

But there's so much more than laughter to be found here. Indeed, by the last chapter I had tears in my eyes because, as sappy as it sounds, I'd felt like I'd been taken along on a journey of self-discovery. Which, as you all most likely know, in Jennette's case has a happy ending.

Only it doesn't end. That's what's so great about reading a book by a current blogger. You get to really know this person--inside and out, the good bits and the bad--and instead of being bummed that you've finished the book and you have to end the relationship with the courageous heroine, you don't. You can log onto her website and pick up where she left off.

So if you haven't yet, you should buy her book. You can even buy an autographed copy.

It's not a self-help book and it's not an instruction book. You won't find any diet tips or recipes or "You can do it!" exclamation-point encouragements. And, as Jennette herself even says, just because she did it doesn't mean you can too.

But it's a great read, and if you've ever struggled with food or your weight, you're sure to find the other 147 insights into your own soul, too.


Vickie said...

What a great review - you wrote it very nicely.

Pasta Queen is one of the bloggers where I went back to the very first entry and read may way to the current entries - when I first started reading her - and that was one of the best parts - knowing that she was "doing it" and was going to get there in the end.

I did order my copy. And I am looking forward to reading it.

(PS - typo in your title today)

Grumpy Chair said...

Laura, excellent review.

I remember Vickie writing about reading the archives of Pasta Queen.

Marcy said...

Excellent review!!

Dang!! Look at you!! You're looking hawt chica!! ;D ;D

Laura N said...

Thanks, Vickie! Glad I got that typo fixed this morning. Silly spell check needs to do the titles, too.

Vickie said...

I forgot to mention that you are just TOO CUTE for words in your picture with jeanette's book!!!!

Carly said...

Nice review. I would like to read that.

You look Grrrrrrrreat (said just like tony the tiger)

Anonymous said...

My copy should come any day now - I can't wait!! I got an autographed copy, I wonder if she'll write the message I requested (to Jill, Get off your ass and start running!)???!!!

Great review! And look at you and your hot self in that picture!!!