In my Sunday Books column, I wrote about a couple of weight loss books — among the heaping pile of such books that make their way into the Book Room this time of year — that I thought were actually worth reading. There is one more I didn't include because it came out last year. It's just now out in paperback, and it's new to me, so here it is: The Incredible Shrinking Critic: My Excellent Adventure in Weight Loss, 75 Pounds and Counting... (Avery, 276 pages, $13.95).
The author is Jami Bernard, a former film critic for the New York Daily News whose weight gain creeped up to 230 pounds — her personal breaking point to where she couldn't ignore it anymore.
What's good and different about this book is that it's not written by doctors and/or nutritionists who may not ever have had to battle with their weight. Bernard is a real person recounting the realities of living fat in a thin-obsessed culture. And she's funny.
"Shopping for clothes was depressing," she writes. "Typical styles for the overweight favor cheery constellations of rhinestones, huge flowers, or loud prints that scream, Hello! I come from the Planet Fat and I mean you no harm!"
She does dig deeper and still retains her sense of humor:
"When you're thin, you get more respect whether you deserve it or not. When you're fat, people look right through you as if you don't exist — if you're lucky. Otherwise, they act as if you've personally offended them. They assume you're fat because you're stupid, lazy, and morally bankrupt, as if you made a choice one day: You know, I think I'll get really fat so I'll suffer health problems, have trouble finding a job, be the butt of jokes and cruelty, court diabetes, endure society's wrath, and die young. That's the life for me!"
Bernard's story is like a lot of our stories, which is what makes it worth reading. If you're a person who needs/wants to lose a significant amount of weight, it's easier to digest the ins and outs of a "program" from someone who's been there than from someone with Ph.D. after their name who's practical experience is likely limited to classroom study and research.