Recently I finished reading 13 ways of Looking at a fat girl by Mona Awad. This book was highly recommended, however I have to say it was not enjoyable to me at all. Here is the review I posted on Goodreads and Amazon.ca:
“I had to process this book for a little while before writing a review.
This book was very well written. I felt like I really got to know the characters, and understand them. I like the way she told the the story in 13 vignettes.
However, I did not enjoy the book. I felt that it hit very close to home for an issue that I, and many other women I know, have. For those of us that are not genetically blessed with being easily slim, it seems like we are constantly at war with our bodies. We can choose to be overweight and relatively comfortable, but hate ourselves. Or we can choose to be thin, and obsessively uncomfortable all the time, but maybe just like what we see in the mirror a tiny bit more and feel a little more socially acceptable.
Of course, this is not true. There is something in the middle, it is possible to be a healthy weight and have a healthy lifestyle and be basically happy and self accepting that way. Sadly lot of women struggle greatly to find that place, and some never do. This book’s takeaway was that that place doesn’t exist. Of course it does, but has to do with more than weight. It has to do with self-love, self acceptance, and changing our focus of desires for our bodies from what’s socially desirable to what we want for ourselves.
This book says a lot about society’s attitudes towards weight, and the way women struggle to achieve and maintain a “healthy” weight… but leaves the general idea that women that struggle with weight are always going to be unhealthy, unhappy,, pathetic.
Of course, the author is under no obligation to provide solutions, or give a more palatable message… But I simply cannot enjoy, appreciate, or recommend a book that is so negative towards women and their struggles with weight.”
On a bit more personal note, I found this book scary. I have been on both sides of the pendulum, I have been overweight and relatively happy with my life however uncomfortable with the way I look and the health risks, and I have been very underweight and had to obsess about every single thing I ate and every bit of exercise to maintain it.
Right now I am not either, and I’m very happy with the balance I have found and maintained for years…but breast cancer has changed things for me (link to interesting article about it). I really want to maintain the comfort I have had over the last few years with my body and weight, and maintaining it with a balanced and enjoyable lifestyle. I’m really scared I’m not going to be able to, I have already added to my efforts in order to maintain my weight. This is not at the point where I would consider it excessively restrictive or obsessive…but I’m just scared of going there because I’ve been there before and know how miserable it is (and if you read 13 ways, you will too!). I’m also scared of just giving up and gaining weight because that feels like it would be so easy to do but I know that I would be very unhappy and much more likely to be unhealthy.
Anyway, that is me musing and worrying when I don’t need to right now. For now I am doing great!
As a matter fact if there’s one thing that I’m happy about, it’s that I learned that I do not have to work out as vigorously as I thought I did to maintain my weight.
For the last five years the majority of exercise I have done has been focused on maximum calorie burn. I’ve always been scared to let go of that, fearful that if I wasn’t doing intense cardio 4-5 times a week then I was going to automatically gain weight back. However, since I started chemo, my exercising has changed. I have walked a lot throughout my treatment and continue to do so. There have been periods where I’ve been doing well and feeling good and spinning or running a couple times a week, but also long periods where I wasn’t. Although I’ve certainly lost a bit of strength and stamina, OK a lot of stamina, I have not gained weight. More so I actually haven’t lost that much strength, I went to my first barre class in a few years on Thursday night… I kept up with the class without trouble. I’ve also been doing strength training at home, and have quickly gotten back up to doing my workouts with the 10 pound weights I was using before I got diagnosed. Stamina is definitely the hardest thing for me to get back, I have it for a while and then I start getting exhausted and lose it… but it also seems to be the least important thing for now. Moderate cardio when I am up to it (usually 1-2 times a week) combined with strength training and lots of walking seems to be more than enough to keep my weight in check and keep me feeling fit, healthy, and sane! Although I certainly hope to get most of my stamina back in time, and have set a goal for myself to do the Sporting Life 10k again in 2017 so I’ll need it…it is nice to no longer feel like staying fit and maintaining my weight requires killing myself with cardio on a near daily basis.