2 Stars Out Of 5
Not That Great
July 16, 2011
I enjoy a good, motivational weight loss book as much as the next person does, and sometimes they do inspire me to do better in my own fitness walk. I'm afraid that 10 Lessons from a Former Fat Girl was neither truly enjoyable nor inspiring for me. Perhaps it would have struck a deeper chord with me if I had followed author Amy Parham's journey of weight loss through her participating in the reality television show The Biggest Loser. Instead I was left to read Parham's words as a stand-alone take on her thoughts on weight loss.
Like most inspirationally-based weight loss motivation books, Parham focuses only a bit on the practical nuts and bolts of weight loss - exercise and nutrition - and instead focuses the bulk of her writing on her own experiences, memories, family background, and journey of personal growth as she moves from being overweight to slender. This is good because most of us don't really need to hear how to lose weight (haven't we heard it a million times?) instead we need to see it walked out before us, to see it with flesh on as it were.
While Parham does succeed in doing this by sharing from her own life experiences, I'm afraid I didn't find her writing truly engaging. Worse yet, she has created a dichotomy between fat girl and fit girl that is at best an oversimplification, and at worse, could be a source of condemnation for many women. Parham's writing is no doubt a simplification at best, but she often compares and contrasts the fat girl and fit girl mind set so strongly that it almost seems that unless you are a fit girl, nothing in your life is really going to go right and that you can't have it together emotionally (in terms of forgiveness etc.) unless you are a fit girl. I don't agree.
Sadly, some of Parham's summarizations of biblical events were often inaccurate as well - as in her explanation of why Moses and the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years. And while I do want to lose weight, my reasons seem to be different in some areas than those that Parham offers. Honestly, thinking of myself wearing a bikini after I lose weight is NOT a motivator for me. I have never worn a bikini in public even at my smallest (125 lbs.), nor would I want to do so now or in the future. So imagining myself wearing skinny girl clothing and swimwear just doesn't do it for me.
There is one gem in the midst of this all though - the closing chapter where Parham shares how she dealt with transitioning from being an overweight woman to a slim one was very well done. She addresses the difficulties of shopping for clothing - the dangers on both sides - the necessity of changing one's mental image, and of the mental battle to adapt to her new appearance. This is really honest, and the best chapter by far.
Again, if I had gone into this book with more of a personal connection to Parham I may have connected with her thoughts more deeply. As it is, this one was a miss for me.