I'm a sucker for all food, weight, and fitness memoirs. I like reading the different experiences and points of view. Generally, I'm drawn to the eating disorder, weight loss, or fitness triumph books, but I just bumbled across a thoroughly enjoyable book on size and self-acceptance, Read My Hips, How I Learned to Love My Body, Ditch Dieting, and Live Large by Kim Brittingham. I don't want to ruin the ending, but she doesn't lose a hundred pounds and share her diet and exercise tips.
Kim says: "I've also vowed never to consciously try losing weight ever again. And make no mistake, there's no unhealthy complacency in this approach. I will continue making efforts to eat more healthfully. I'll continue to explore foods of good nutritional quality. I'll continue to address with curiosity the reasons I eat in absence of physical hunger. I'll try to respect my body while strengthening it."
I think most of us can relate to that. Except the never consciously trying to lose weight part. However, calm, flexible, evolved, and patient I become about this whole health and fitness thing, I'm still hyper-conscious of size/weight. It's not a disordered nightmare anymore. I'm at peace with it, but I believe that I'm at peace because doing what I love keeps me in my "ideal" size and condition. What if doing what I loved kept me 50 pounds heavier and many inches bigger? Would I be just as happy? Or would I have a psychotic episode? Sometimes I wonder.
She also says: "I believe we're meant to say yes to food, so that we'll become convinced of its abundance, and thus be able to think about something else."
And: "Sometimes change can only happen when the pressure is off."
Yesssss! Martha Beck and I are right with her on those! Restriction makes people obsessive and crazy. High-pressure tends to create temporary success followed by mega-backlash.
The book itself reads like a series of great essays. As someone who grew up in the 70's and 80's, I could so relate to her childhood and teen experiences. I loved the "Can't Stand the Farm Stand" chapter where she learned to love vegetables. "We Were the Weight Loss Counselors" was a scary look at her experience working as a counselor at a major weight loss franchise. Blind leading the blind much? "Bacon-Cheddar Melt" recounted the miracle of ketosis. In "Fat Is Contagious" she rode New York City public transportation carrying a book with the fake jacket "Fat is Contagious: How Sitting Next to a Fat Person Can Make YOU Fat." That landed her on the Today show.
I was amazed and repelled by the chapter called "Belly." I still have MASSIVE issues, apparently. LOL The idea of having rolls of fat, or a belly big enough to feel its weight sitting in my lap, wigged me straight out. I had to keep putting the book down because I was kind of freaking out at my reactions. I'm happy that she loves and accepts these things about herself. I'm not knocking it, in fact I'm a bit in awe. I'm just not sure I could do it. I love and accept my ribs and hip bones, being able to see the muscles moving under my skin. Does that mean one of us is crazy? Or wrong? This chapter really, really made me think. I'm still thinking.
Another chapter that got me going was "Gym Dandies" which is basically one big swipe at the fitness industry and fit people. However, considering the level of suffering she endured in the name of fitness and at the hands of fit people, I can't say I blame her.
Anyway, it's beautifully written, thought-provoking, heart-breaking, and laugh-out-loud funny at times. If anyone else reads it, I would love to discuss!